A Matter of Balance: A Woman's Quest for Health, Harmony & Kick-ass Heels

Friday, June 29, 2012

Unexpected Rewarding Challenge

Our lovely intern, Ashley, is the guest blogger today.  Post your comments and let her know what you think of her blog post and her challenge!


If you’ve been paying attention to celebrity activists lately, you may find that veganism is becoming more popular. Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Lea Michele, and many more have chosen to take part in this lifestyle for many different reasons, ranging from their love for animals to wanting to eat healthier. Twenty-seven days ago, I decided to take the 30-Day Vegan Challenge, to challenge myself and see if I could complete what seems to be a very daunting task.
Some of my friends used the words “crazy” and “impossible” in response to this news. The one question that seemed to stay persistent was, “Well, where are you going to get your protein?” Although I do understand where this question is coming from, I found it to be a very uneducated question. We are taught that meat is our biggest supplier of protein, but if you do just a little bit of research you will find that soy, nuts, and beans are just some of the ways to get protein.
I never go into a challenge without basic research. I knew that this challenge would have a direct impact on my health and wellness and spent many hours in the library and on the computer finding ways to get all of my nutrients. I found so many cool and creative recipes that I never would’ve thought of. One being cooked grapefruit with cinnamon sugar on top. I love grapefruit, but it never crossed my mind to cook it in an oven. Whole Foods has also been a helping hand in this experience. They have a wide selection of vegan foods. On my last visit I picked up a vegan pizza and I would definitely recommend at least trying it.
This challenge hasn’t been all fun and games though. During this challenge I have missed one ingredient especially, eggs. The taste and smell of a freshly cooked egg for breakfast cannot be replaced, however when you are cooking or baking there are many alternatives for eggs. This past Father’s day for example, I cooked my dad a vegan breakfast in bed. When the pancakes called for an egg, I replaced it with a banana. I have also read that applesauce works. I also, made French toast and a fruit salad. Now, I know what you may be thinking, how can you make french toast without egg. I used a mixture consisting of soymilk, cinnamon, and flaxseeds. One tip when using flaxseeds while cooking is make sure you use a non stick pan and vegetable oil or margarine, because they do get sticky.
Although my 30 days are almost over, I may just stick with this new lifestyle. This past month, I have felt so much better about myself and seemed to have more positive and energetic days. If you’re looking for a change in your daily routine, I would recommend trying this, if not for a month, for a week. Being a vegan is not for everyone and no should feel pressure to become one. As the last days roll in I realize that I have learned so much more than I ever planned. I learned that not only can I be a vegan, but also that I have the willpower to commit to something difficult and stick with it. Change is not always bad and challenges don’t have to be gruesome.

So take a challenge, make a change in your life, and you may end up learning more than you planned!
Ashley Volkens

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don't let "life get in the way"

Just about every day someone says to me some version of "I'd like to make my health a priority, have more energy, exercise, do more things I enjoy....(fill in the blank), but life just gets in the way, I'm too busy, things are crazy."

Hey, I get it.  I really do.  And I'm a work in progress just like you.  But since I'm hosting a daily radio show on balance, I got to thinking...what are the ways that you can maintain good health, do things you enjoy WHILST maintaining a busy schedule and juggling many demands.  So as I drove to work this morning, I decided to sort of analyze my day and see what choices I made to keep my eye on the prize, as they say.

Now, by no means do I do a perfect job of that every day.  And many of you will read this and say, what?  That's nothing.  You want to see busy?  I'll show you busy!   Today was a fairly typical day.  The only thing slightly out of the ordinary is that I don't usually eat both lunch and dinner out, so, even better to use today as an example of not "letting life get in the way."  I also didn't work as many hours as usual so I could celebrate my stepdaughter's 18th Birthday with her.  I no longer let work interfere with the most important stuff. 

So here's a quick recap of my Wednesday and how I tried to include healthy choices, balance, and create a day in alignment with what's important to me.

5:30 - 6:30 am - Meditate, read, catch up on Words with Friends
I've only been able to master meditating for about ten minutes.  It's a start.  Guided meditations work best for me and today I did Waking into the New Day with Aruni Nan Futuronsky. It meets my ten minute requirement and I have it easily accessible on my iPhone.  Today I used a little Scent of Samadhi which I LOVE and is so relaxing.  Reading is one of my favorite hobbies so I make sure I make time for it every day (I'm currently reading King Peggy in preparation for my trip to Ghana) and Words with Friends is my latest time suck, but it challenges my mindBy the time I start my day, I have already done things I really enjoy, so no matter what unfolds throughout the day, I've taken time for myself.
6:30 - 7:30 am - Get dressed, have breakfast, take supplements,  review routines for class, pack for the day

Had delish multi grain waffles with raspberries and coffee with coconut milk (I know - I get a big demerit for no protein this morning!), BUT the key here is PLANNING.  I packed two big water bottles PLUS a protein shake made with almond milk and chia seeds for my morning snack AND a container of fruit for an afternoon snack to ensure I had plenty of water and healthy snacks for the day.  I could NOT start the day without my supplements....took OPC 3, Vitamin D, Vitamin B complex, Omega 3, COQ 10

Packing for the day

7:30 - 8 am - Commute to work
I usually listen to The Morning Zoo on the way in to get my dose of pop culture news and a few laughs with Elvis Duran. 

8:00 am - General daily and administrative tasks at the studio

8:30 - 9:30 am Teach Jazzercise
Fortunately my job includes working out, but even when I'm not teaching I figure out where I'll work it in.  After all, it's only one hour, and you could do less if time is tight. Had my protein shake ready for after class.

9:30 - 11 am - Respond to emails, delegate projects to interns, social media and marketing tasks
What can I say, you gotta do the mundane stuff some time and as a biz owner you can't let a day go by without marketing.

11 am -Leave for quick early lunch with mom and friend/customer Sandra
Usually try to eat lunch at home, but chose an Asian salad with grilled chicken. And MORE water.

12 - 2 pm - Volunteer at Soup Kitchen
For me true balance always includes giving back. Plus we laugh A LOT!  You need a good sense of humor and a thick skin for this job. I also always leave with a profound sense of gratitude for all I have been blessed with in my life.

2 - 3 pm - Drop off mom and Sandra, head to radio station, prep for show, and answer emails, plus eat my fruit salad while returning texts from friends.
I find it most motivating to learn something new as often as possible.  Prepping for guests always brings new ideas and information for me to consider. And no matter what I'm doing, there's always time for a quick text to a friend.

3 - 4 pm - On air with A Matter of Balance

4:15 pm  Meet with coaching client on nutrition program
To save time and driving, we meet at a coffee shop right around the corner from the radio station and 'cause she was running late today, I got to enjoy some tea and quiet before the session started.  It's a cool atmosphere, I can sip tea and sit on couches which remind me of Central Perk from Friends. Might as well create the best environments possible for everything you do.

5:30 pm - Drive to Westport to meet up with hubby
More time in the car!  I'm usually in the car about an hour at day (at least!).  After the morning commute, I often listen to podcasts.  Some of my favorites are Cheryl Richardson, Tranquility du Jour and Kripalu Perspectives. You can find them all on iTunes for FREE.

6:00 pm Drive to Orange for family dinner to celebrate Megan's 18th Birthday
Time with family is ALWAYS a priority.  And the drive gave me and hubby time to catch up on our days.  Had some awesome salmon and veggies (plus some celebratory wine and five of us shared a dessert sampler, 'cause turning 18 is cause for a celebration). Plus two more big glasses of water.

9:15 pm HOME!  Time to soak in the tub!!  
Thrown in a load of laundry first, (always working in chores whenever possible),  then light the candles,  grab a stack of magazines (using the Seaweed and Arnica Foaming Bath tonight from my friend Sherrylee, perfect for sore muscles -- aaahh!)

Out of the tub...draft this blog, hang up the laundry to dry and slip into bed with my book for a few minutes of reading before crashing around 11 pm. 

All in all a fairly busy day, a shorter work day due to the Birthday celebration, plus no major crises today, but focused on healthy choices during the day, doing things I enjoy, and staying in alignment with the values that are most important to me. 

Believe me not all days go as smoothly but with some planning and conscious choices you don't have to let "life get in the way."

Monday, June 25, 2012

My summer wishlist...

Summer Hydrangeas from my garden.

Summer just arrived, but this morning's monsoon and 60 mph winds don't feel too summery today. 

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew Landon's Birthday at a baseball game.  Nothing sames summer like a baseball game and it got me thinking about what I want to do this summer.

Every season brings a fresh start and I love to set intention and hadn't yet taken the time to do that this year.

Years ago I'd always scratch my head and say where did the summer go?   Or spring would emerge and I'd think, why didn't I do any of those snow day projects I'd been thinking about?   You know how it goes.

So here's what I'm planning this summer....
  • Visit the Farmer's Market every week - started this week and came home with an armful of yummy fresh produce and had an awesome dinner last night in the backyard.
  • Go to the Botanical Gardens - have always wanted to go there and plan to take time off on Fridays for some exploring
  • Travel to Africa with the Yale Alumni Service Corp - I know, not your run of the mill item, but looking forward to an awesome and exhilarating adventure with some very cool folks
  • Create more white space in my calendar in August - I tend to cram too much into the week and don't leave openness for spontaneity and possibility
  • Eat lunch outside as often as possible- why not? 
  • Sand and restain bench in living room - this was on the list last summer and I never made it happen, though I did buy the materials to do the job last year (hey it's a start!)
  • Write....craft extra blog posts for later, ponder a submission for an essay contest (not for winning, just for the practice of writing), and who knows what else

What are your intentions for the summer?  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Soul, Less Proprietor

Image from http://exp.lore.com; available on estsy

Today's guest blog post is from  fellow entrepreneur, Jane Pollack.   I love Jane's plan of consciously choosing to nurture her soul. It's not just entrepreneurs that need to take this time to re-evaluate priorities.  We can all use some of that. Even if you can't take a whole month, look for the space you can carve out.  I have long admired Jane's creativity and talent, but even more, I appreciate her ability to make self-care a priority.  I believe it's crucial to her success, and by applying the same practice to our own lives, we will experience a richer, more balanced life as well.  

More Soul, Less Proprietor


Like many of you, I’ve been going through major transitions in the last couple of years. The economy has definitely impacted my business, and my personal life has also changed substantially. My long-term marriage came to an end, and a new relationship is beginning to blossom. I changed residences, took on new responsibilities and let go of others.

I’m finding that it’s time for me to re-evaluate my own priorities by using a coaching tool I offer every new client. It’s  called the Wheel of Life, and it allows me to see a snapshot of what’s working and what isn’t working in the areas of career, money, physical environment, significant other/romance, personal development, family and friends, fun and recreation and health.
The idea of the wheel is to rank each of these categories, notice where the gaps are between where you are and where you’d like to be, and how evenly distributed these areas of your life are. How smooth is the ride if your career is at a 6, but your health is at a 3?

In looking at my own Wheel of Life, I realize that I’m now choosing to focus more on fun and recreation and romance than any of the other pie pieces. As many of you have recently reflected back to me, I’ve been operating at a high level of self-sufficiency and can take my foot off the gas for awhile and still have plenty of forward momentum. That’s what I’m consciously choosing to do.

I have decided to take the month of July off from marketing, webinars, blogging and networking. I’m going to be quiet, relax, hike, spend time in nature and swing in a hammock during this time. I’m going to vacation with my kids for several days.

I’ll be attending the Kushi Macrobiotic Conference again (my 5th time) and will use the rest of the month to relax, swim, read and pore through old journals for inspiration and instruction. I’m going to watch grass grow and spend time doing nothing.

I often recommend this to my own clients. Now the coach is taking her own prescription and trusting that the Universe wants exactly that from me–to do nothing and allow it to manifest whatever is next. There’s a heap of trust involved in letting go to this extent, but I’m crystal clear that it’s what I need to do.

I’m looking forward to a busy June and an August that is full of promises for the fall. I know I’ll return to my office renewed and reinvigorated. You can expect a full report (after a month of silence) when I get back.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~Rumi

Learn more about Jane and her business at http://www.janepollak.com/

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Standing the test of time

Beth and I at our  First Communion, May, 1973, Our Lady of Joy parish.

Beth & I in Sand Diego, August, 2010

Today I want to give a Happy Birthday shout out to my oldest friend, Beth Phelan Stokes.  She looks good for being my oldest friend, doesn't she?

Having a friend for 42 (yes, I said 42!) years is a pretty amazing feat. At least I think it is.   We met when we were four and ready to head to kindergarten. 

We have known one another through many Barbies, boyfriends and major life events.

We were in sixth grade when my family moved out of state and over the course of our friendship we've collectively lived in many different states.   While we don't get to see one another often, and stay in touch with an occasional phone call, email, or Facebook update, she remains a dear and cherished friend and when we get together it's like no time has passed.

Don't get me wrong, maintaining a 42 year friendship is an investment of time and effort.  For probably 30 years we wrote letters (you remember those, you put a stamp on 'em and drop them in that blue thing?).  Our friendship continued long before the age of the internet and quick, easy text messages.

I'm still a big fan of the old fashioned, hand-written letter. 
But today's convenient and abundant methods of staying in touch are at our finger tips and it makes it easier than ever to continue to cultivate the important relationships in our lives. 

The only thing is that you still have to take action to make it happen, or as the old commercial said "reach out and touch someone."

I'm planning to give Beth a call in the next few days., and I'm sure it will be just like old times.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who doesn't like a good TED talk?

From inspirational-pictures.com

Have you gotten hooked on TED talks yet?

In case you're just getting into the game, according to their website, "TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design."

They're brief, they're interesting, and I'll occasionally listen on my computer, no doubt multi-tasking with other things on my list.

I recently enjoyed Matt Cutt's Try something new for 30 days talk and of course it got me thinking.

What could I try for 30 days??  Mediate? (I'm still struggling to make this a daily practice, but getting much better).  Go Vegan? (Nah, too many parties coming up and there's bound to be cheese!).  Avoid reality T.V. ?  (maybe....but then how will I know if Emily finds true love?)

I'm still trying to come up with a sound idea (suggestions welcome). 

I'm always pushing the boundaries (in fact another K&P adventure is in the works for this - a mild one, but still something I've never done), and working on adopting new and positive habits.

But what could I commit to do for 30 days? 

Studies have shown that if we do commit to a new habit for at least 22 days, it will stick.   So of course I want to choose carefully.

What would you be willing to try for 30 days?  Post your idea below and then send an idea my way too!

We can be be in this together..which of course is always more fun!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Creating white space

For a gal who talks about balance on the radio and makes a living of inspiring women to better help, sometimes I have trouble creating white space in my own life.  But as they say, we often teach what we most need to learn, and in theory I love the concept.

For the past twenty years I have rarely had a weekday evening free on a regular basis.  Initially I was teaching Jazzercise twice a week and going to Graduate School the other two evenings.  After collecting my Masters Degree, my schedule evolved into four nights a week of Jazzercise either on stage or at the desk.  Eventually I replaced some of the Jazzercise evenings with coaching clients facilitating a nutrition program, attending networking events to build my business, and whatever else came my way.

Then about a year or two ago, after twenty years,  I finally freed myself of working Thursday evenings.  Wow was that liberating.  I hardly knew what to do with myself, by that time 'must see t.v.' on Thursdays was a thing of the past. 

So I ended up filling most of my Thursday nights meeting friends for drinks or dinner, taking other classes, going to fundraisers, you name it.

How refreshing it was to find myself with a rare free night last night.  White space in my calendar. Aaaah!

I came home to find my hubby had picked up the flowers in the above pic ('cause it's Thursday, he said) and prepared one of our favorite 'ploughman' dinners, fruit, nuts, cheese, bread. This is our go to dinner when we want something simple, relatively healthy, and extremely easy to clean up.  We enjoyed it on the patio over drinks and conversation. 

After dinner I slipped into the bathtub with a bunch of magazines and a DIY mask of Greek yogurt, honey and almond oil (yes, I'm getting obsessed with making both natural cleaning and beauty products at home, but it's oh so fun!).  

Enjoying the white space was just as liberating as freeing up my Thursdays. It sure feels good, and I will not wait so long before I 'schedule' more of it.

 When was the last time you saw some white space in your calendar?  I highly recommend it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Burgers & bonding

Over the weekend I was flipping through Whole Living Magazine and happened to see a quote that said something along the lines of burgers and hotdogs can be part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Ok, I know there are some of my nutrition friends out there that will strongly disagree. But I was happy to see some balance being promoted in this magazine.  Personally I went for over decade without eating any red meat (except mom or Grammy's meatballs), but then a friend convinced me to give the good ol' burger another try.

These days I usually opt for the turkey burger, but every now and then I get a little crazy and go traditional.

Perfect timing to encounter this article, as I was headed to Plan B Burger on Friday night.  Plan B serves beef that is 100% Certified Natural, with no antibiotics, no hormones, no fillers, no added colors, no chemicals, from farms that have undergone the strictest natural food certification in existence today, Certified Humane.

I actually still went for the turkey burger, but it is great to know that you don't have to completely ban a food choice or entire food group from your life, especially when you make informed, healthy choices.

Something else that I read that same day talked about fostering friendships with people who are both older and younger than you. I reflected on my own friendships and realized that this really is so important and I'm blessed to have friends of all ages.

We enjoyed our tasty burgers and lots of laughs with friends Becky & Mike.  With well over ten years between us, we are currently navigating the maze of sending a child to college and watching her become a young adult, while they are preparing to welcome their first child into the world.  We're at very different points in our lives,  but we have so much to share and learn from one another.

Burgers and bonding...can't think of a better Friday night!

Monday, June 04, 2012

What would happen if you asked this question instead....

I have been in a delegating mood lately. Or more accurately I have two new great interns, Lauren & Ashley, who are assisting with lots of projects.  It's a whole new world to be able to concentrate on some key projects as they help me free up some of my time.

Guest blogger, Tina Forsyth poses a good question to help us to carve out time for what matters most.   See if Tina's thoughts strike a chord with you....

What would happen if you asked this question instead....

Something new pops up for you - be it a new client, a new idea or project - and what is the first thing you usually ask yourself?

If you are anything like me it is probably something like:

How will I find the time to do this?

And then for many of you the answer becomes "I can't find the time, I'm already too busy..." and so you feel like you can't move forward, you are stuck and probably frustrated.

Next time something new comes up, ask yourself this question instead:

Who can I get to do this for me?


Now I'm not going to take credit for this, as I heard someone speak about this at the GKIC Women's Conference I spoke at in February. (But for the life of me I can't remember who said it! It just really stuck with me...)

But I'm curious what comes up for you - how does this shift or change an opportunity in this business when you ask this question vs. the one above?
  • What does it mean you can do more of?
  • What can you do less of?
  • What doors does it open for you?
  • What projects that have been on your to-do list can now come off your plate and get moving? 

 Tina Forsyth, author of The Leaky Bucket Manifesto and founder of the Online Business Manager Movement  Contact her at tina@onlinebusinessmanager.com or  1 (877) 576-2229
Visit www.TinaForsyth.com for various goodies to setup your business to run without you.