Category Archives: Better Living

7 Things I Learned from My Year of Training

“Let me start by saying I hated running, and I wasn’t good at it.”

I started out running a few 5K’s these last couple of years and they were fun, but I wanted to accomplish something more. Last year I was sitting on the couch feeling like crap due to a night of drinking and eating when I turned on the TV and started watching the Broad Street Run (one of the oldest & largest races in Philly). I was amazed by the energy and excitement of everyone out there, actually so amazed that I decided I was going to do it. Why not? 10 miles – no big deal. Actually I knew it WAS A BIG DEAL – for me.

There were a couple of reasons I signed up. First, I wanted to see the city – mindfully. I’ve traveled down Broad St many times, rushing to class at Temple, going out for dinner and drinks, or hanging at a friend’s place. But usually that was flying down this major artery into the city trying to make every green light all while bypassing neighborhoods and dismissing all of the historic richness and hidden treasures of the city. My second reason was to accomplish something great, running 10 miles with 40,000 people through the City of Brotherly Love. So I gave myself one year to train and here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Give yourself time/Go at your own pace

I started out barely running a quarter mile before I was out of breath, taking my inhaler and walking for the next half minute. I knew I had time so I took it one day, one step at a time. At first it hurt, my breathing, my calves, my shins, it was painful some days but the pain passed quickly after the run. I read up on tips to see if it was normal and slowly pushed forward. Don’t compare!  Just go at your pace, you’ll get there and there’s plenty of advice out there if you need it.

2. You can push further than you think

For a while I was doing about a mile and a half and then would stop to walk, then run again. It seemed like I couldn’t push further than that mile, until one day I did. You can do it, you just have to push a little. BUT make sure sure it’s little by little. You can’t go from running 1 mile to 5 or you may get hurt, slowly increase distance. And remember it’s ok to walk too, but breaking the mental barrier is huge. And for me I noticed once I got past the first 2.5 miles it seemed a little easier, I settled into my pace. For me I know that the first 1.5 is harder than the 4th or 5th. Take notice each step of the way.

3. Cut down/out bad habits

About 6 months into my training, I hit a plateau and most of my issues were around breathing. I knew what I had to do! The day I signed up for the race I quit smoking. I was a one-a-day smoker but still a smoker. Quitting helped me add more distance onto my runs and after 1 week I noticed a huge difference in breathing and endurance. Another change I made was to drink more water. I was still having calf pain so I tried to be more conscious of water intake as well as less alcohol consumption when training for those long  weekend runs.

4. You will have cheerleaders but not everyone is team YOU

This one is interesting because I was feeling good about my progress and dedication, and some people are with you on that. But you’ll have others who mock it and they may be joking but there’s truth behind every joke. Some people would poke fun, make comments or snarky remarks, but I just brushed it off. There is always a green eye in the crowd just remember you’re doing it for you.

5. The pain DOES go away

It seemed like forever – months, but the shin and calf pain does go away. Just make sure you have rest days and keep it up.

6. You will feel better

For the longest time, I hated the run but loved the feeling after I ran, so much so that I felt bad on days I didn’t run. My initial goal was to complete the race not to lose weight but during training I lost a little. However losing weight or not overall I felt better and that’s what keeps me going – even now.

7. You gain freedom

This one came towards the end. It was like an epiphany. The last couple of weeks in training, I actually started to enjoy running and it was at this same time, and maybe had something to do with it, but I felt a sense of freedom. Working out or going for a run was my time. I stepped out the door, put my headphones in and it was just me, myself and I.



Grow Your Own Veggies – Cheat Sheet

If you are like me and don’t have a green thumb maybe this can help you! I am interested to try.

Garden cheat sheet (via

New Year New Things (To Try)

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year and I’m still compiling a list of what I would like to accomplish this year. I figure I will write them down here, and then next year look back and check off what I did do and what I can repeat for the following year. So here it is:

Photo Manipulation based on a quote of finding yourself vs. creating yourself

1. De-clutter / Organize (this is a repeat one and will be next year)

This goes from emails, clothes, kids toys, anything in the home that is collecting dust. I feel like this one is and should be ongoing because it not only takes time but you constantly have a shift of out with the old and in with the new!

2. Brew my own Hard Cider – I love cider and a case of it is pretty expensive, I want to try to brew my own and see how it measures up to the ones I buy. Just for fun and for spirit!

3. Drop those few extra pounds + gain more energy – This is a typical one and hopefully I will stick with it

4. Save Save Save – It’s hard to save and pay off bills but I started doing it last year and although it was a small amount, it really made me feel good. It’s nice to see that you have some money at the end of the month when you’re working day after day, week after week. This was one I struggled with before because I thought oh it should go towards the credit card or a bill etc…but in reality that little extra is not making a huge difference to those bills but after months of saving, it becomes a big chunk of change that can make a difference somewhere and improve your happiness (at least it did mine)

5. Run 2 5K’s – I’ve been running about one a yr so why not up it to two?!

6. Knit – Maybe a scarf of something, but just to learn it and try once! Maybe I’ll like it and develop a new hobby.

7. Become more fluent in Spanish

30 Day Burpee Challenge – Sort of

I started the burpee challenge last week, why? just because. I wanted to incorporate another form of exercise and burpees are supposed to be one of the best exercises for your body. They work both upper and lower body muscles and strengthen your core.

What I didn’t realize is that after 15 burpees, you really do run out of breath! I knew my body would get tired and my muscles would ache (which I also thought would be after 35) but the breathing part I definitely underestimated.

So now I’m on day 10 and should be up to 35 burpees, but in reality I’m stuck on 25. And you know what, I’m ok with that!

So it might take me 40-45 days days to complete, hell it might take me 60 days to get to 100 burpees, but I will get there and it will be a new accomplishment.

The other day I split up my 25 and did 17 in one sitting and 9 in another, so actually I’ve hit 26. My husband says, I’m cheating and it should be all at once, and I said “says who?” The chart doesn’t say that it has to be one sitting, it says each day. I read a couple of blogs about it and one girl said if you need to break it up to fit your schedule then go for it.

From that moment on, I decided I’m not putting on the pressure to hit each number because of a chart. I will listen to my body and do what’s best for me. Yes I will push my limits but I will not over work my muscles for the sake of a chart. I will get there and I will continue each day and each day maybe it’s only 1 more but the point is…

I am doing it.

I will accomplish it.

And it may not be 30 days – but it’s better than nothing.

I am doing it for me and I am my own judge.


30 day challenge

Printable Packing List

I am getting excited to go on a mini vaca to the beach – my favorite! When it comes to traveling, I’ve always been a list maker – Packing list, grocery list, etc…

Before all these wonderful apps and the internet, I would actually write it out 😮

But now, I just find one that fits my needs and hit print! 🙂

Here’s one that tailored to my needs, maybe you’ll like it too!

Packing List via Hellocuteness


Favorite Blogs

A Life Less Bullshit

“It doesn’t matter how slow you’re moving as long as you’re moving” – Nicole Antoinette

Cordelia Calls It Quits

“There are better things to do with a life, and I aim to find them.” – Kelly Gurnett


She is an awesome photographer and features others in her blog. She gives some tips and ideas for people starting out with DSLR. Just looking at her photos is inspiring.

 The Positivity Solution
“There are two types of people in this world: The ones who make you feel better as soon as they walk into a room, and the ones who make you feel better as soon as they walk out of it.”
– Shola (Mom)



Benefits of Cucumber Water

Today’s Inspiration: Cucumber Water

wpid-20140528_102355.jpgOver the Memorial Day Weekend I tried a new drink, Cucumber Martini. It was delicious, very refreshing and even with a little simple syrup, not too sweet. I love cucumbers but I tend to only eat them in salads. So today I decided to try plain cucumber water. I hear it’s the thing at spas. I wanted to give my water a boost by adding some natural flavors in addition to increasing my water intake.  Turns out I love it! I can’t wait to try other flavors like strawberry mint!

Curious about health benefits? I was, so I did a little research and here’s what I found.

1. Plenty of Vitamins &  good for your muscles: Cucumbers contain silica, a trace mineral necessary to keep connective tissue healthy. Cucumbers are also full of Vitamin K, which keep bones strong and healthy. Plus Vitamins A, B and C, which boost immunity, give you energy, and keep you radiant

2. Skin Friendly: The silica and antioxidants help your skin stay clear and supple. It’s also an anti-inflammatory which can reduce acne redness. Try washing your face with cucumber water in addition to your usual acne routine to reduce redness.

3. It’s low calorie: An entire cucumber averages about 45 calories so a few slices in your water is not

4. You may drink more water: We like things that taste good. Better tasting water just increase your intake.

5. It’s detoxifying: Antioxidants help your body fight free radicals, thereby promoting healthy aging and fighting disease.

6. It’s inexpensive: Cucumbers are the 4th most widely cultivated vegetable in the world. Organics cost a bit more, however, they are less expensive.

7. It’s easy: It takes just a few minutes to fill a pitcher (or glass) of water and slice a few cucumbers into it.

8. Goodbye Bloat: Cucumbers also act as a natural diuretic helping you get rid of that excess water and bloating.

Tip: The cucumber slices should soak in the water overnight to give you maximum flavor. Discard any unused water after two days to keep your beverage tasting fresh.

Cucumber skins contain vitamin A so buy the unwaxed kind. If adding waxed cucumbers to your water, peel the skin off first.

All Natural Cleaning and More

The Age of Organics and All Natural

I don’t know if it depends on where you live, who you hang with, age, upbringing, or all of the above but being health conscious is everywhere. I hate to say it but it even seems trendy (which is a good thing). I know back in the 80’s when I grew up, TV dinners were the bomb. Now it’s looked upon as processed crap. And bleach! How else do you get your whites white?!

Fast forward to now, everywhere you look the marketing is all-natural, organic, green, whole grain etc..I’m not anywhere near being the perfect all-natural, tree-hugging, garden growing, non processed, only organic individual. BUT, I try a little more each week to position myself and my family towards that. Small changes over time make big differences RIGHT? I think so.

As far as food is concerned it takes a lot of awareness in the States, because pretty much everything in the supermarket has a ton of hidden ingredients (cough, chemicals) to preserve the freshness. However, I’m not writing about food today. I wanted to share some articles about all natural cleaners, something I have been doing for the past year and a half and have been happy with the results.

Here’s a list of ingredients to make all natural cleaners:

• Lemons

• Baking Soda

• Vinegar

• Spray bottles

• Hydrogen peroxide

Now here’s a list of some useful articles to achieve these all natural cleaners PLUS many other uses! You can these print these and post on the fridge so you don’t forget! I’ve done it myself.

Happy healthy cleaning!

50 Uses for Hydrogen Perioxide

55 Must-Read Cleaning Tips

75 Uses for Baking Soda

24 Things you can Clean with Lemons

Knowledge is power, information is liberating, education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

– Kofi Annan

The Design Process for Everyday Life

Taking the Design Process and Applying it to Everyday Life

I recently had a phone interview for a job that I really, really wanted. It’s known to be the Google of the East Coast. I haven’t had an interview in about two years and I’ve never had a phone interview. I didn’t know what to expect. It was with an in-house recruiter, not someone from the team whom I would be working with, or the creative director.

I know now, to expect it to be more of an introduction – less scary. Questions focused on my background, their background etc. Unfortunately, the interview stopped there, either I answered a question in a way that was not to the liking, or I didn’t have the right “field degree”, or maybe my portfolio was not up to par with others. Anyway, that is not going to stop me from pushing forward.

One of the questions stood out to me, “how would I describe my design process?” I think this question I might have slipped up on, and honestly, it’s not completely my fault. Every company works differently, and develops their own road map and ways to get there. We did follow this design process BUT some of the initial decisions [Identify the problem] [Design Constraints] were made before it hit my hands. Hence, me answering in the way that I did.

After I hung up the phone, I decided to do some research and then the ah-ha moment. This is it, the design process, maybe why I had so much rework at my old position.

Here is a flow chart of the basic design process. There’s different variations, but basically the flow is the same. And this is the process that you can use in your everyday life to maximize success and reach your goals. Everything is a work in progress.

(image via colemandesigngroup)

Think about it

“8-step process to succeed in hitting your goal”:

  1. Identify the goal. (Specific)What you want to achieve.
  2. Identify the the constraints/challenges and measures.
  3. Develop possible solutions (lists).
  4. Select the best possible solutions.
  5. Create a conceptual plan.
  6. Evaluate your solution (Did the plan meet the measures? Overcome the challenges and take you further towards reaching the goal?)
  7. Communicate with yourself and others.
  8. Refine your goal or plan. Are you closer? Are their changes to to be made to achieve your goal.

This process will not only allow you to see the big picture and guide you through, but will help you measure success along the way and solve some challenges you might be facing.

Hitting your goals gives you a spiritual lift – you find your happy place.

Steps to Live in the Moment

 Quiet your mind and listen to yourself at the deepest level possible. Then trust that what you hear reflects wisdom beyond your conscious mind. – Jason Kurtz
(image via Alice Wessendorf SkyBluePink)

Some days – most days – I feel like life is a mad rush. I’m just going through the motions to get stuff done. I wake up, feed the kids, pack lunches, stretch,  get ready for work, drop the kids off, go to work, make dinner, do homework…ok you get the point.

I find myself so focused on the next “to do” that I don’t live in the present, it just slips by. Before I know it, the day is over, then the week and so on. It’s like being stuck on a Ferris wheel  going ’round and ’round – you want to get off because your bored, and there’s more to see at the fair.

You need to soak it all in, do everything you can before the fair closes.  You rush to the next ride, see another attraction, win the big prize at the game booth. Meanwhile you’re snapping a bunch of pictures to capture these memories forever, because there’s so much going on in the moment.  The next thing you know the night is over. In the blink of an eye, it’s all just a memory.

Want to live a more mindful life? I sure do.  Here are some steps to follow that will allow us to seize the moment – carpe diem.

Eight steps to live in the moment.

1. Focus on the now. Do tasks slowly and deliberately.

2. Stop looking for other people’s approval to determine your own achievements and success.

3.  Put space between things. Don’t schedule things close together this will allow you to take more time on each task.

4. Stop worrying about the future, focus on the present

5. Stop over thinking. You can’t change what happened yesterday by reliving it today.

6. Pay attention to the small things – especially the little things that make you happy.

7. Perform random acts of kindness. This is really about living in the moment.

8. Stop explaining or justifying your actions to yourself or others.