Monday, April 22, 2013

Music Monday #13

Happy Music Monday everyone!

I try not to get too personal on a very public blog, but my good friend Courtney recently reminded me that one of the main reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to attempt to inspire people. Not because I'm some genius guru on anything, but simply because people can relate to my very ordinary, non-guru experiences. And, so here we are.

Recently, love has seriously been in the air. In the past week or so, a few of my friends have gotten engaged and other relationships have blossomed and strengthened. Conversely, a few more relationships ended and yet another possibility fizzled and faded for others. I'm realizing that this cycle is life. Love is lost, love is found, but love certainly stays all around. When it comes to this idea of being in love, I experience a dichotomy of thinking. I'm an extremely hopeful individual, yet I'm often skeptical. To borrow from the Lifehouse song "Broken", "I try my best to be guarded, but I'm an open book instead." I think admiring the idea of being in love can sometimes get me in trouble. My admiration is what makes me totally relate to what Gigi says in that one scene from He's Just Not That Into You. But, this admiration is also what makes I think I'd rather embrace it (and, even blog about it - yikes!), but not criticize nor judge it. I think I can appreciate its value but also understand its effect on how I view relationships and potential relationships with the ones I just haven't met yet. I have come to understand that as we grow and evolve into the people we're going to be, we pick up on these types of nuances of our personality. Then, we learn to embrace and love these nuances. And, at that point, we should just do what Regina Skeptor suggests and "take that love you made and stick it into someone else's heart."

Yes, I know I incorporated a lot of songs into this post (I'm so clever...and indecisive), but today's official Music Monday selection is Regina Skeptor's "On the Radio". One of my all-time favorites!
Favorite Line: "No, this is how it works: you peer inside yourself, you take the things you like, and try to love the things you took."

So, to wrap it up: Love life, love love, and love yourself - every aspect of you. This works. =)

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I was practicing these yoga postures for spine health with this video on YouTube, and the instructor said something that really resonated with me:

"When the stretch is intense, the inclination is to hold your breath. But, if you take nice, deep breaths, it will allow you to relax into the stretch and really release that tension."

Whenever we find ourselves in challenging situations in life, I think we can unconsciously hold our breath, either literally or figuratively. We may find ourselves paralyzed with a choice to make, not knowing which direction to go. When we feel tense in the spot we're in, there is something to be said about breathing. Because breathing is something we do every single moment, perhaps we do neglect its value. But to really take the time out of those millions of moments to inhale and exhale long and deep can work wonders. I'll bet that rush of oxygen does something restorative in our bodies, minds, and spirits.

So, quite simply folks, don't forget to breathe!

A list of my favorite breath-related lyrics/songs that specifically relate to this idea of releasing tension through breath:

"All we can do is keep breathing, now." - Ingrid Michaelson's "Keep Breathing"

"And, breathe, just breathe" - Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2 AM)"

And, last but not least, my favorite:

"If I just breathe - let it fill the space between, I'll know everything is alright. Breathe. Every little piece of me, you'll see everything is alright. If I just breathe." - Michelle Branch's "Breathe"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #3

Hey guys! Happy Wednesday. Let's get right to it.

Update from last week's challenge:
I managed to spend some time around various bodies of water, and I believe that there is an undeniable sense of calm that overcomes you when you put yourself in the presence of water. I understand that the quotes specifically referred to salt water, but these fresh water scenes worked well for me, too. Hope you got your water on this past week too!

Lake or pond? I don't know the difference. But, this is where I went when I realized I had a little less than 48 hours to cover three chapters of complex material. And, I felt at ease!
This week's challenge:
So, lately I've been lighting up candles...

Like when I'm doing homework or studying for what is basically a pop-test (seriously, the test was moved up an entire weekend -- SURPRISE), I find it calming to have candles burning alongside me.

So, maybe try your own little aromatherapy this week. I don't know which is more effective: the scent from the candles or the slow burn of the flame. I think it's a combination of both that helps you to just relax and dive in to whatever you have to do.

My own little aromatherapy display. The quote on the Cucumber Melon candle says, "The best things in life are right in front of you." What a lovely thought! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Music Monday #12

This was a Zac Brown Band weekend for me. It was like music therapy; the playlist went something like this:

- "Let It Go"
- "No Hurry"
- "Toes"
- "Knee Deep"
- "Chicken Fried"
- "Free"

Over and over again. Nonstop. Until I felt overcome by the peaceful vibes exuding from these tunes. To borrow from the lyrics of all of these songs, the main message is to:

"save your strength for things you can change; forgive the ones you can't" and to realize that you'd be a fool "to worry about the things you can't change". Because honestly, "life is good today" and the "sunshine's gonna wash [your] blues away."

True: I couldn't really incorporate the last two songs into this string of thoughts, but you get the point.

So many options for Music Monday, right!? Well, for the mere chill factor, I have decided that today's choice is "Knee Deep"! Close your eyes and chill out to this one, guys. I guarantee you'll feel so chillaxed!

"When you lose yourself, you find the key to paradise"

Also! Check out my new favorite place! It's this restaurant on a lake. 
And, it's perfect. Reminds me of being "knee-deep in the water somewhere"!

Quackin' with the ducks 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

You DO NOT want to miss this Live Stream!

Neuroscientists, ocean advocates, educators, and adventurers meet to reconnect the human brain with our water planet.

Photo Courtesy of Wallace J. Nichols
BLOCK ISLAND, RHODE ISLAND – The third annual BLUEMIND Summit arrives on Block Island May 30th, 2013 to continue a fast-expanding conversation about the intersections between human neuroscience, psychology and the waters of our planet.

Founded in 2010 by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, the BLUEMIND Summit has created interdisciplinary conversations about how healthy waters can influence and improve our emotions and our lives. Topics explored include the science behind water-view real estate and hospitality premiums, the pull of travel, sports and recreation near or on water, stress relieving aspects of water, empathy and the ocean, and many others.

“The goal of BLUEMIND is to initiate a new kind of conversation about the cognitive values of healthy waterways, oceans and coasts around the world. When we stop to consider these ideas, it’s obvious stuff, but we’re putting cutting edge science behind the obvious,” says Dr. Nichols. "We want everyone to rethink their relationship to water and discover something deeper."

The summit is being held this year on Block Island at an historic inn atop a hill overlooking a full horizon of ocean. Event speaker and environmental attorney Justin DuClos chose the island locale for its natural beauty and ocean culture. “A lengthy relationship with the island has proved two things: it showcases both underwater and overland the best of what earth lends humankind, and its community is the vanguard of conservation and environmental stewardship.”

Invited speakers and presenters include Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. Helen Reiss, explorer, filmmaker and water advocate Celine Cousteau, artist Jill Hoy, musician Halsey Burgund, chef Barton Seaver, and neuroscientists David Poeppel of NYU and David Zald of Vanderbilt. Topics to be explored include the science of empathy and addiction, neuroaesthetics, neuroeconomics, neurogeography and neurolinguistics–each through a water or ocean lens.
Attendance is by invitation due to the limited size of the venue. Live stream registration is free and recommended in order to receive the final agenda prior to the summit and a copy of work products following.

Sponsors include Peak Teams, Ocean Revolution,, SNAP International, J Duclos Law & Policy, US Fish & Wildlife Service,, and The Ocean Foundation.

# # #

For more information please visit or contact:

Julie Starke /

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Just In!

I have come to an important conclusion about my personality and the people with whom I choose to establish various types of relationships. Basically, I'm finding that it is absolutely essential to surround yourself with people who promote the positive spirit within you. Not those who judge it, or those who don't really care for it.

So, when I ask myself, how I ended up in yet another situation that causes me to whip out my handy-dandy pep talk to self, I have only one simple answer. It happens. And, oftentimes, these unwelcome life experiences bring us to certain important conclusions like the one mentioned above.

I LOVE this song by Sugarland. I uploaded the YouTube lyric video because the lyrics literally say it all. So, whenever you find yourself down in the dumps for whatever reason, please give this song a listen.
Favorite Line to LIVE by: "Ain't no need to over-think it, let go laughin'"

And, laughing? That I can do. No matter how much "energy" it takes. I've been told a couple of times just today that I have "a lot of energy." And, if by energy, they mean the positive approach I take to oftentimes draining experiences,...I think I'll keep it up ;-)

Me & the infamous Margrette!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #2

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesdays, guys! Okay, so an update from last week's challenge:

I successfully managed to get around 7 hours of sleep for four days within the last week! I'm by no means drastically calmer or more energized YET. A few more weeks of this and I think I definitely will be! Consistent good sleep is key!

Now, on to this week's wellness challenge!

Yesterday, I was reminded of a truth that has been presented to me in so many ways this year:

Photo Courtesy of Wallace J. Nichols (Facebook Page)

I love this concept. It reminds me of this quote my friend Margrette shared with me a while ago: "the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea." (-Karen Bixen). Yesterday was kinda rough - just a typical side-effect of the part of myself that tends to over-analyze. But, I ran. I ran until I felt the sweat and felt that I had reached some sort of resolution. And, I felt better! I'm not claiming the "runner's high" because I'm pretty sure you'd have to run further than I did to release those endorphins. But, the sweat does not lie. This form of salt water healed the self-inflicted emotional wound, and I think there really is something to that quote. 

So, this week's challenge is to fully embrace the quotes above and use some form of salt water for its therapeutic value. Maybe you can visit the beach if you live near one, or go for a long run until you're drenched, or even have a good cry. I think this type of cleansing is so very good for the soul. 

I've mentioned the BLUEMIND Summit and related ideas before, and I continue to grow more and more enthusiastic about the work that's being done! I have an exciting update for you guys that will come on this upcoming Fridays with Friends post, so be on the look out! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Music Monday #11

Lately I've been feeling a bit unsettled. Like I'm waiting for something grand and extravagant to happen. Do you ever get that feeling? I think this feeling is the reason why I'm planning on cutting my hair, but that's kinda not the point here.

I had an awesome chat with one my friends the other day about being 22 and full of energy to relocate, find new jobs, travel, discover new projects -- all of these things that most 20-somethings I know are constantly talking about. Truthfully, 20-something or not, I think we can all relate to these feelings of wanting some sort of change of pace. This conversation of course led to yet another familiar career identity crisis, which tends to be simultaneously exhilarating and draining. Meaning: I starting dreaming up all the possibilities associated with my degree plan and failed to accomplish the homework goals I had set over the weekend. This poor work ethic then causes one to wonder if they will successfully completed said degree plan to realize those lofty dreams...and so the cycle continues.

Feeling somewhat exhausted and hopeless, I remembered something. My friend Margrette has pretty good taste in chill music, I must say. I mean, I know I think I do, but I gotta give her props! She shared this song with me near the beginning of our senior year in undergrad, and it continues to serve as a nice mood-booster whenever I'm feeling "happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time" (shout out to T. Swift!) So,  please enjoy this Music Monday's "Roll If Ya Fall" by Barefoot Truth.

"It's the beauty of a new sunrise; you can never see one the same" 

This song just reminds me to strive to be a more mindful individual when it comes to progress and evolving as a person. To respond more, and "knee-jerk" react less. And, on a final note, in reference to bare feet...

My own bare feet (don't judge!) at the Mat Kearney concert at school with Margrette our sophomore year! I told you we had good taste in music ;-)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fridays with Friends!

Hi friends! Happy Friday to all! I'm so happy that spring is finally here! It was super sunny and breezy today - perfect for a friendly Friday afternoon chat with someone I'm very excited to introduce to you all!

Karen Blessen is the founder and president of an amazing non-profit organization, 29 Pieces. I attended a talk she gave at school entitled, "Promoting Peace Through Art", and I was so inspired by the work that she is doing. This organization uses the act of creating artwork as a medium through which people can come to truly understand the importance of being kinder, more peaceful individuals. She, along with the artists and volunteers who work with her, also conduct MasterPeace classes for various students and children in the Dallas area.

The video really does say it all, and it's a quick 5 minutes for your viewing pleasure and convenience. I do hope that you all visit the website hyper-linked above, and also be sure to "Like" and "Follow" the pages below:

"We use art to uplift and awaken the human spirit to make genuine social change "

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #1!

Well howdy there folks! This is officially the first Wellness Wednesday post, so let me describe what I'm envisioning here:

Wellness Wednesdays are meant to be posts specifically about finding better ways to improve health and wellness (y'know, what this entire blog is supposed to be about). So, for starters, I'm going to give myself a Weekly Wellness Challenge and keep you posted on my progress (or lack thereof) in order to serve as tips on the topic. Please join me in these challenges and share you tips in the comments! As I learn more, I hope to make these post more, how should we say, scientifically reliable and helpful. But, for now, personal testimony!

This week, I'm working on getting 6 - 8 hours of sleep for the majority of the week. To be clear, the "majority of the week" means at least 4 out of 7 days in the week. I have heard that most adults should get about 6 - 8 hours of sleep per day. But, I'm thinking the amount of sleep one should get varies depending on what's going on in your life and body at that time. That being said, I'm going to follow the one-size-fits-all 6 - 8 hours suggestion just to start. I feel that over time, I'll find the number that works best. The body speaks, you just have to learn how to listen.

I've written about sleep before, so I'm sure I don't need to remind you guys that:

  • sleep helps decrease your irritability, and thus probably reduces anxiety 
  • sleep is your body's time to recharge and rebuild 
  • sleep allows your brain to do it's magically mysterious wonders 
Believe it or not, I have already gotten 7 hours of sleep twice this week! And, that's quite the accomplishment for me. The main thing that I have done differently is not going to sleep to any show on my computer. Now, obviously we've all heard that it's best to power down the computer and cell phone in order to ease into sleep. This is a concept that I understand and respect, but I'm just being honest and realistic here. I went to college during a period where going on YouTube or Hulu or Facebook all the time, any time, became second nature. What can I say, I'm a product of my generation! So, it's going to take baby steps to get to where experts say I should be, but I'm fine with that. 

As I was saying, what seems to be working well is allowing myself to watch at least one show, and then turning on Pandora to lull me to sleep (yeah, I know, still not "powering off" anything, but I told you it's going to take baby steps!). So, my wellness tips for sleeping: test out different routines that help you ease into sleep and that wake you up peacefully. Maybe it's not so much quantity as quality of sleep. Or, most likely, it's a combination of the two: 7 hours of pleasant sleeps will always trump 4 hours of restless "sleep". That's all I've got for now. Good luck and good health! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Music Monday #10

I've decided that Music Monday is here to stay! Midweek Melody sounded cool at the time, but I think it was because I really wanted to share Alabama Shakes with y'all. But, to keep in the spirit of alliteration (and in an effort to keep myself consistent and current on this blog), I give you...

Finding a Better Way's new weekly line-up:
Music Mondays
Wellness Wednesdays
Friday (Froyo) with Friends!

So, there you have it! More about Wellness Wednesdays later, but for now, let's continue with Music Monday:

I often have mini epiphanies, and one such epiphany occurred this weekend. I recalled how unattractive I used to feel when I was younger and surrounded by new people, old friends, old crushes, you name it. I think most of us can relate to that unwelcome but all-too-familiar unattractive feeling. I considered this and concluded that somewhere along the way growing up, we learned a falsehood. We learned that in some way or another, we were not enough: not pretty enough, not chill enough, not funny enough - something was lacking. And, it happens subtly. It could have happened when you were at a youth conference and a really popular boy said that "all light-skinned black girls are prettier than dark-skinned black girls." Or, maybe it happened when girls were their meanest in middle school and reminded you that your hair was really short. Or maybe it happens whenever yet another crush is one-sided simply because he's just not that into you. Sometimes these seemingly insignificant occurrences somehow pop back into our psyche when we're feeling less than confident.

So...great epiphany Jasmin, right? But, this next part is what I really wanted to share with you. What can also happen is we unlearn these falsehoods and reject them each time they try to creep into our sub-conscience  While rejecting those insecurities, we can embrace the truth that we are all unique and special and beautiful in our own way, and no matter what, we always will be. Well, this thought simply makes me smile. And, speaking of smiling, in the most unattractive phases of the preteen (and sure, sometimes young adult) years, my dad always reminded me that no one is considered ugly if they have a  big smile on their face! So, let Vitamin C lead us in this notion with this oldie but goodie "Smile"!

Favorite Line: "Life - it ain't easy; it's so tough; it ain't easy. Whatcha gonna do, say whatcha gonna do?!? Put a smile on your face!"