Thursday, September 27, 2012

Here's some food for thought...

...what are your thoughts toward food? Have you ever considered how you actually felt about the food you consume on a daily basis?

Personally, I think of food as nourishment. (I really like that word, nourish.) I like to think of eating as a way of feeding my soul. Now, maybe that's because I read one too many Chicken Soup for the Soul books as a child, but nonetheless. My mind: food = nourishment = feeding the soul.

Think of it this way: When you eat something that is very satisfying for your appetite, you inevitably feel delighted, right? It's because you're literally doing your mind and body a favor. You're giving your body the nutrients it needs while mentally treating yourself to something pleasurable for the taste buds.

I'm just kind of rambling here, but I find the relationship among mind, body, and spirit (or soul for the sake of this post) so very interesting. As I continue to explore the dietitian profession, I am discovering there's an intricate link between how we think about food and our eating habits. It's worth considering your own feelings and habits every now and then, don't ya think?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Once again, Parks & Recreation did not dissapoint

Fall season premieres are among us, and for me that means a sense of normalcy returning to my weekly routine. I like to make sure I know who got voted off the island and what Meredith Grey's insightful voice-overs was about. (If it sounds like I watch too much TV, it's because I do. I make no apologies for the wonderful inventions of DVR and Hulu.) So, I got the chance to enjoy the premiere of one of my all-time favorites Parks & Recreation recently, and this episode had a subtle message that really hit home for me.

To give a brief plot summary, Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) is visiting her boyfriend Ben in Washington, D.C. Leslie's a hardworking, dedicated councilwoman of small-town Pawnee, Indiana, and Ben is working on a big-time congressional campaign. He takes her to a fancy affair where dozens of successful politicians and senators are present. Ben introduces Leslie to all these people, a few of whom she really admires, but she is overwhelmed by all their success and status. And, it certainly doesn't help matters to know that her long-distance boyfriend is constantly around these, as she puts it, "smart and accomplished and pretty women...who are so tall". This feeling isn't necessarily envy or jealousy (which are two different emotions, just fyi), but it's a feeling of insufficiency - like you don't measure up.

I myself felt this tinge of inadequacy when I was at a professional association's meeting earlier this week. My professional and educational development is still at their root beginnings, so these meetings can be very daunting for me! And, even though I was somewhat making progress in my networking endeavors, I couldn't help but to feel a bit unremarkable among the various professional women present. It's easy to feel like you're floundering when you're surrounded by a sea of successful people. Just like Leslie Knope did at that fancy affair.

But, the thing that Leslie and I fail to realize is that merely being able to hold your composure in the presence of professionals is a testament to the fact that you do belong there. Maybe you're not at their level yet, but what better way to get to where you're trying to go than to immerse yourself in the environment? I think we all can take a thing or two from the moral of this 30-minute situational comedy episode: take confidence in the talents and skills you can and do offer, and don't even worry about how you compare to others. It's a lesson that we have all heard in a hundred different ways, but I just wanted to give y'all #101. :-) It's good food for thought!

And, just as a little aside, here - did y'all know that Amy Poehler has this amazing organization called Smart Girls at the Party? She offers some good advice through their YouTube videos and has a website to boot! I encourage anyone and everyone to check it out!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Send Love and Light!

Recently I have been on this beautiful journey of steadily reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Anyone who knows me knows that this book has definitely been influencing my outlook on life. (What can I say, I'm a sucker for self-reflection and self-discovery!) One concept from this book that I have been trying to cultivate in my own life is the idea of sending peace and kindness over someone's way.

Now, to be specific, the author writes that her friend Richard from Texas advised that she "send him some light and love" whenever she thought of her ex. I won't spoil the story, but I'll tell you that basically he was teaching her how to let go of a negative situation. And, somehow, someway, in my mind, this entire scene (Yes, I watched the movie first, 'tis true, but I'm actually reading it now, okay!) took on this whole new meaning of sending love and light (or peacefulness?) towards anyone who has annoyed or wronged you in the past.

You can think of it as sending positive vibes towards someone. You can even think of it as doing the opposite of holding a grudge. Instead of staying angry at someone who has upset you or holding on to that terrible feeling of resentment, why not release those negative energies and replace it by sending loving kindness their way? I love this idea, and I strongly believe it's one worth practicing.

I credit the book for bringing this idea to the forefront of my mind, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another medium through which I learned about this concept of loving kindness. In the Psychology of Mindfulness course I took while in undergrad, we discussed a variety of concepts that quite simply nourish the soul. The Loving Kindness Meditation was one of them. In this practice, you are encouraged to send loving kindness by saying a set of pleasant phrases like, "May you be happy" over and over again to yourself, to your friends, to your enemies and to all of humanity. I'm paraphrasing, of course, and I encourage anyone in their spare time to read the actual article by Marcello Spinella, Ph.D. in order to truly appreciate and understand the concept and the practice. It's amazing what healthful benefits can come from simply wishing someone, anyone, well.

Monday, September 3, 2012

One of the best speeches I've ever heard

I cannot quite remember how I first stumbled upon the 1999 song "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" by Baz Luhrman, but I do remember that when I heard it - at the tender age of 15, or something like that - it greatly renewed my perspective on life. And, whenever I need to hit the ol' Refresh button on my perspective on life - times like when you're in career/higher education limbo - I go to YouTube and mellow out to this spoken word track.

Interestingly, the older I get, the more sense these words make. The original 1997 article by Mary Schmich, from which the lyrics of the song originated, is aptly entitled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young". That's why this time, while I'm hitting the ol' Refresh button, I've decided to share why I think these words yield such calm clarity. Sometimes, I feel that advice is only wasted if it's not shared and spread.

I encourage you all to read the article and/or listen to the song. You surely won't regret it, and it only takes about 5 minutes. Below I have highlighted a few of my favorite excerpts and the reasons why I love them. So, if you're still not convinced, may they serve as a preview for you.
"Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth"
Adolescents and young adults cannot hear this phrase enough! There is truly something elusive and magical about being young. I once heard from some wonderful documentary about the 60's (which name fades me at the moment) that "It's important for the youth of today to believe that they can change the world because they actually can". And, though I'm sure I'm paraphrasing, truer words have never been spoken! It's many things, but certainly it's this type of hope and confidence that hasn't yet been jaded and faded by life's hard experiences that makes youth powerful and beautiful. Definitely qualities worth cherishing and cultivating for as long as we can.
"Do something everyday that scares you"
This quote by Elanor Roosevelt is simple yet daring. It's a great goal to have. It reminds me that no matter what happens even during the crappiest day, if you can say that you have in some way stepped outside of your comfort zone, then I would count that day as a success. Even if it's something as simple as studying for Microbiology or, I dunno, writing a blog post and sharing it on Facebook (yikes!) - anything that puts you one step closer to being more confident in yourself is worth the effort. I love this quote.