This Is Your Life & Six Ways to Look at It

I came across this article yesterday and I loved it, so I had to share it. Mindfulness is something I became familiar with after my diagnosis over a year and a half ago. It is a practice that I continuously work at incorporating into my life. It’s one of those things that I always feel better when I do, but it’s easy to put off. Sort of like exercising.

The writer of this article interviewed the founders of Holstee, a company that designs unique products with a focus on mindful living. The company is most known for its’ Holstee Manifesto, which you may have heard of, and which I believe are words to live by. Here are the six tips the founders suggested for practicing mindfulness to reframe your perspective on life.

1. Presence

When in conversation, give someone your fullest attention. Put the computer away, turn your phone on silent, and get lost in the moment with that person. Be fully interested, rather than interesting.

2. Architect Your Life

Be considerate and intentional with your life decisions. Rather than let life happen to you, author the story of your life. Author and philosopher Howard Thurman says it best with, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

3. Taking time for yourself creates clarity and renewed energy. At Holstee, they strongly suggest all teammates take their birthday day off each month.

4. Ask “Why?”

Why am I doing this? Why are we creating this product? Why is this a design principle? Asking “why” encourages you to go deeper and become more aware of what’s driving you, and whether or not you want it to be driving you.

5. Know Your Food and Appreciate Meals

What are you eating and where did it come from? As a society, over the last 50 years, we’ve created a knowledge and geographic gap as we’ve distanced ourselves from our food. To stay aware, the team at Holstee cooks in the office almost every day, and meal times are savored without work.

6. Understand the impact of what you buy

Transparency is slowly being built into the operations of many forward-thinking companies. This movement is a direct result of the increasing number of people asking questions about the clothes they buy, where their electronics come from, and brands they choose to support. Before buying, understand the impact.

You can read the full article on Fast Company by writer Amber Rae, here.

fullsize-holstee-manifesto

“I’m a Grown Woman!” (Says me)

This post is mostly for the wonderful women in my life, who know me best, who will probably shake their heads when they read this, and who will hopefully laugh out loud.

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Yesterday, I had a moment. I’ve had many moments since I moved back home with my parents.

On this particular day, I was home reading when my brother called me. He was working alone and he asked me if I could bring him lunch. He is a small business owner and his shop is just a few minutes away from my parents’ house.  I jumped up right away (because I, myself, do not like to be hungry for long without food. My alter ego comes out, and its not a pretty sight!

So, I hurriedly threw some clothes on and scrambled out of the door. As I was walking out, I realized I had on shorts.

Not a problem, except that my brother is the epitome of an over-protective, big brother. And as a brother to three women, I sympathize for him. Really, I do. But he can be exasperating at times. He is not fond of his little (and big) sisters wearing short, tight, (i.e. attractive) clothes. I sighed to myself, and started to turn around to change. I should just save myself the lecture, I thought.

Then, I stopped myself. No, I am not going to change, I declared! I would not allow him to tell me what to wear (or how to live my life). Besides, I had an appointment on the other side of town at 2 o’clock, and I didn’t have time to go back and change.

My brother, the poor guy. He wasn’t aware that I was in the midst of the “Finding out who I am, and being my own person” stage of life. Or the “quarter life crisis” as some people refer to it. He had no idea that the culmination of me living back at home as an independent adult for six months was about to come down on him. Someone always has to bare the brunt of these things. Little did he know, it would be him.

On my way to get his lunch from Subway, I played the dialogue out in my head. I knew exactly what he’d say. I came up with a well-thought out response. Do you sometimes engage in conversations in your mind, that you intend to have with someone else? I know I’m not the only one who does that! I quickly grabbed his order and headed his way.

When I arrived, he was tending to a customer. I watched him carefully, noticing the quick glance he shot at my legs. I darted to the back of the store to wait for him. When hemfinished, he walked over to greet me warmly. And by warmly, I mean…

“Dude, where is the rest of your clothes??” he said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.  “First of all, thank you for lunch,” he said. And then he got to what was really on his mind.

“Now, you are a young lady, and you do not need to be out here wearing shorts showing your legs. There are perverts out here who are looking at you. Hmm. That’s true. My subconscious agreed with the last part. But for heaven’s sake, these were ordinary, stone-washed, denim shorts. Not that short.

But I was ready for him!

“I’m a growwwn woman!” I belted out at him (hearing Beyonce’s voice in my head). “And I will wear what I want, say how I feel, and believe what I want to believe!”

He looked at me with a perplexed expression. Clearly, he was wayyy in over his head, and this was a battle that he did not want to fight.

“Ok, Summer. You are a grown woman,” he said. Then, he shook his head slightly, and quietly retreated.

That’s it? No arguing? No chance for me to give a big speech about my coming out? So anti-climactic. I was a bit disappointed, but still satisfied with the outcome, overall.

“Now, I have an appointment to get to,” I said presumptuously. “Enjoy your lunch.” I flashed him a smug smile. My inner-self roared with delight, as I sauntered out of there, half of me proud, and half of me amused by my own antics.

Oh well. It’s the small victories that count.

Vitamin B12 and What it Does for You

Do you know about vitamin B12 and what it does for our bodies? I’ve seen it in passing, but never really paid much attention to it, until recently. I was doing some research on the medicine that I take, colchicine, when B12 caught my eye. I learned that taking colchicine at a high dose and for an extended period of time can cause depletions of certain vitamins and minerals in the body.

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B12 is one of those vitamins. After I learned this, I asked my doctor to test my B12 levels. My levels were average, but he wanted them a little higher, so he recommended I take B12 over-the-counter. So, I got to my research right away, like a good journalist would! This is what I found.

Here’s what B12 does for you:

1. It helps in the manufacturing of red blood cells in the body

2. It supports the nervous system

3. It is required for the replication of DNA–generating new and healthy cells

Vitamin B12 is found in the following foods:

  • Fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk
  • Beef liver and clams are the best sources of vitamin B12
  • Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other food products are fortified with vitamin B12

The recommended amount of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4mcg (micrograms). Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing it from food. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Have you heard of B12 shots? I heard of them but I didn’t know what the purpose or benefit is. Well, some proponents of vitamin B-12 injections say it gives you more energy and boosts your metabolism, helping you lose weight. But unless you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, vitamin B-12 injections aren’t likely to give you an energy boost, according to the Mayo clinic. Leave that to being active and eating healthy!

To learn more about Vitamin B12, visit this link at the National Institutes of Health website.

Dancing In The Rain

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I came across this picture last week. I remember hearing this when I was much younger, and thinking..”Who wouldn’t want to dance in the rain? That sounds like fun!”

Little did I know.

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Now, as an adult having faced some of life’s most enduring challenges..illness, death, and loss, I understand what this saying really means. When things aren’t going as we planned, expected or hoped, it’s about embracing those experiences and living in the moment, anyway.

This is no easy practice to apply.

Last weekend, my sister Ivan and two of my cousins, Huda and Linda were visiting . (I’m currently visiting my sister Nina in Philadelphia) We planned to go out and see some of the sites in the city and spend the day outside. When we made it to our first stop, the famous Rocky statue, it started raining. We tried waiting it out, but it didn’t let up. So we decided to leave and find a coffee shop where we could sit inside and wait for the weather to clear up. As soon as we arrived to the central part of the city, it started pouring down rain. There went our plans for the day.

The five of us huddled under an awning and waited impatiently as we watched the rain come down. Immediately, I started to think how annoying it was that the rain had ruined our plans. But then I caught myself. Instead of thinking that our day was ruined, I thought, why not make the most of it? You can’t change the weather. How often do the five of us get to spend time together (we each live in different cities) and just slow down? In fact, that moment is what made me recall the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

That’s what I’ve been learning, especially over the past year. We all make big plans for life, and we expect life to act accordingly. But often times, our plans, big or small, don’t work out the way we want them to.  And when that happens, it’s easy for us to feel discouraged or frustrated. I’ve found myself in situations saying, “This is not how it’s supposed to be.” Or “This is not what I was expecting.”  But instead of backing away, and waiting for things to change or get better,  we can appreciate our experiences for what they are.

Our day in the rain was just a small thing. But I thought, if I could adapt this way of thinking to ordinary things, then maybe I could learn to see the bigger plans that don’t work out the way I hoped, as opportunities to embrace too. I think the true test of our character comes when things don’t turn out quite the way we want, but we go forward with grace anyway.

Have you recently had an experience that made you think of this saying? Maybe it was an important event in your life, or a vacation you planned? Or even a social activity you were looking forward to? Please share if you have.

Germany: A Journey in History

The last stop on my trip was Germany. By this time, all the traveling had caught up to me and I was really tired. But I had to push myself because I had been looking forward to seeing Germany. I arrived in Frankfurt and my family, who lives about forty five minutes away in a small town, Diez, greeted me there. It was so nice to see familiar faces when I arrived. When we made it home, my aunt had prepared a nice meal for us and we enjoyed it outside on their patio.

The next day, I stayed at home and took another day of rest. After this trip, I learned that in the future, I will need to build days of rest into my travels. I’m excited about this, since I am finding new ways to better manage my health. It’s progress. However, there wasn’t too much time for rest. We had to start planning our next move. This time I had a little help. My cousin, Nadia planned all the travel arrangements. She is a native German speaker, so it was great.

That evening we went to nearby Limburg, which is known for some of the oldest homes in Germany. Much of the town was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1289, but the homes were rebuilt and their original style was restored. It is a charming little town, and it was a great start to seeing Germany.

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The next day we traveled to Cologne, which is Germany’s fourth largest city. What is really neat about Cologne is that it is located on both sides of the beautiful Rhine river. It was almost completely destroyed in World War II and was later rebuilt. Many of its’ historic buildings were restored, which gives it a dynamic landscape with both old and modern buildings. Also famous, is the Cologne Cathedral, or Kolner Dom. The cathedral was heavily bombed in World War II, but it withstood the damage. It is said that the two spires of the cathedral were used as navigational aids by pilots, which may have saved the cathedral from being completely demolished. Divine guidance? (I couldn’t help but wonder.) I would have loved to spend more time in Cologne exploring its rich history, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. We had to move on to our next stop, Berlin!

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cathedral

We arrived in Berlin Thursday evening. Later that night, I was  excited to reconnect with two of my friends, Sarah and Vivian, who I’d met while they were visiting fellows at CNN. They are both correspondents for one of Germany’s television stations, RTL. It was great to see them and talk to locals’  about their thoughts on German media, politics and history.

The next day, I met Sarah and Vivian for lunch and they gave me a tour of RTL, and I saw CNN’s berlin bureau, which is modest–a small room cramped with tons of television equipment. It was neat to see where our team in Berlin works out of. I’ve corresponded with them a lot at work, so it was neat to see where they actually work.

After my tour of the station, I went out to explore more. Berlin is a fascinating city. There is so much history in one place, yet it’s also a thriving, modern city. There’s so much to see there, you need at least a week. We only had two full days, so we had to make the most of it. On our first day, we visited the Brandenburg Gate, or Brandenburger Tor. It was originally built as a symbol of peace in 1788. It suffered serious damage in the war, and was only fully restored in 2000. It is now considered a symbol of Germany and Europe’s tumultuous past, and a sign of its unity as well. How ironic.

Then, we visited the Reischstag, where the German parliament convenes. I was thrilled to see it for myself. I am fascinated by Germany’s government and it was a treat for me. What a nerd, I know!

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Last, but certainly not least was the Berlin wall.  Its’ importance in German and European history goes without saying. It’s hard to believe that wall came down only a little more than twenty years ago. We also stopped by the East Side Gallery, which is where local artists have displayed their artwork on the wall. It’s really neat to walk along and see all the artwork. It’s a point in the city where history and art collide.

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Germany was a fantastic end to my trip. I am happy to have learned so much about it through my work at CNN, and have had the opportunity to see it myself. Most of all, I am grateful that I was able to experience it in good health.  That was the best part for me!

Everhealthier Women App Tracks Cancer Prevention

I read about the new Everhealthier Women app today and I think it’s such a neat idea! It’s a mobile app that helps women track cancer prevention through the web and text messaging. It was a first place winner in the Reducing Cancer Among Women of Color Challenge from the office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in partnership with the Office of Minority Health, which are both part of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The challenge was administered by Health 2.0, which promotes new technologies in healthcare.

Courtesy:everhealthier.org

Courtesy:everhealthier.org

“Everhealthier Women is a web app, designed for mobile devices. It empowers women to engage in important health behaviors by fitting tasks into their lifestyle. The tasks are the screenings and prevention behaviors that match users’ age and profile according to national guidelines, and can be shared with the users’ loved ones. The app provides up-to-date information on numerous health issues and links to online resources, including different organization’s care and prevention feeds on Facebook and Twitter. The app currently runs in English and Spanish.”

You can learn more about the features of the EverHealthier app and see the second and third place winners of the challenge here. The second place winner, Team Broadstone and third place winner, Hw-Technology and Cancerguard are great too. I love the mission of the challenge: to promote cancer prevention among women of color. But all women can benefit from it.

Fitness in Paradise

Last week I traveled to the Bahamas with my parents. It wasn’t exactly stress-free (love you mom & dad!), but I managed to stick to my workout routine, which I was excited about. We stayed at the Atlantis Resort, which had a fabulous fitness center, although there was a $15 fee to use the facility. I thought it should be included in all of the other resort utility fees, but I gave it a try anyway. The center offered pilates, yoga classes and individual health consultations (of course for an additional fee).

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Bahamas Pool

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 It had lots of cardio options, and weight training equipment. They also offered fresh towels, fruits, juices and headphones for guests. It’s all in the details!

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Bahamas chilled towelsI love chilled towels after a workout.

Bahamas resort view

The best part about exercising while you’re at the beach is, after you work up a good sweat, you can go dip in the ocean to cool off. You can’t beat that!