Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving can be stressful.  There’s holiday traffic, fear of burning the turkey, and of course, praying for the entire day that no two family members end up in a screaming battle.  However, despite all the stress and the negatives that come along with the day, I see it as an opportunity for positivity: in the moments of panic, take a breath and think less of what bad could happen and instead of what good things you had.

I know, sometimes, thinking of the positives isn’t easy but we are all so blessed.  Let’s take one day to think in terms of gratitude instead of anxiety.

I want to share with you all just a few of the things I am so thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

  • The response to this blog.  I started this blog with no real expectations.  I had no idea if anyone would want to hear my self-care journey, but I felt like I would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t try to tell my story.  The response has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I have been so blessed to have so many of you reach out and tell me how I am impacting your lives and that means the world to me.  I could not be more grateful this Thanksgiving for all you have given me.
  • My support system.  This year has involved making so many hard decisions and just going through the general ups-and-downs of life.  I can say I would not have gotten through those moments without the people I am blessed to call my friends, my family, and my support system.  They pick me up when I’m down. They encourage me to take risks and follow my heart. They are so so special to me.
  • My opportunities. This year may have been a difficult one, at times, but it’s also been my most exciting.  I have gotten to work with two amazing companies in D.C. as an intern, I got to move to Disney World, and I’ve gotten to explore so much by being in leadership for my extracurriculars.  All of my development this year has come from being able to pursue these opportunities and I feel so blessed to have had these chances in my life.
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Disney World, Spring 2018.
  • My homes.  I’ve written on the blog before about feeling like I have multiple places I call home and belong in.  While this can be difficult at times, it is also such a blessing in my life. I close my eyes and I can see three places I truly and distinctly belong: DC, Orlando, and New York.  This is hard, as I always am missing somewhere, but I am so happy to be grounded in these three amazing places.
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There is nothing like coming home to a puppy.
  • My growth.  This one piece of gratitude is probably the most personal of all.  Over the last year, I have grown so much as a person. I have found an inner-strength I did not know I had.  I have grown in my beliefs, my values, and my abilities. I am thankful for all a year can do for a person.

 

I wish in this post I could spend time saying the name of every person I am grateful for, but if I did that, the post would go on for days.  If we stop to think about all the wonderful people in our lives and the little things they do for us, we will be amazed by how much we have to be thankful for.

Today, I will be taking time to sit down and send out some personal messages of gratitude to those whom I am thankful for this season.  I want to give some of the positivity that has been brought into my life back to others.

This Thanksgiving, don’t let the negatives overwhelm you.  Take the time to be grateful and appreciate your life’s blessing.  Let today’s holiday be ruled by positivity.

 

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

My childhood home was always full of the most wonderful smells.  In the morning, I’d often be awoken to the aroma of fresh chocolate-chip pancakes or French Toast.  After school, I’d often walk into my house to the sweet smell of my mom’s special apple cake in the oven.  At night, I cherished catching a whiff of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top.

When I got to college, I missed these familiar smells and the conversations I would have with my mom in the kitchen.  Cooking became a comfort to me– it was my connection to the home I was away from. As it connected me to my home, it also made wherever in the world I was start to feel like a home.  If I could sit down with a home-cooked meal in front of me, it felt like I could belong there.

Today, I’m sharing an altered version of my mom’s chicken parmesan, which I call chicken parm tenders.  

Ingredient List for Chicken:

1 cup of flour

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s three cheese pomodoro sauce)

1 beaten egg

2 chicken tenderloins (not breaded)

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (I use bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls next to each other.  Take each piece of chicken and first put it in flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
  3. Once your chicken has been breaded, spray a frying pan with cooking spray and set the pan to medium-high heat.  Fry both your pieces of chicken until golden brown and you can see that they are cooked through.
  4. Place your pan-fried chicken onto a tray and spoon tomato sauce onto the pieces of chicken so you are covering the entire top of the chicken.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella– you can put on as much or as little as you want.
  6. Bake your chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with your favorite side.

I served my chicken parmesan with my favorite simple pasta dish which I call parmesan pasta.  It’s light while still being filling and takes no longer than thirty minutes to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite pasta shape (I used linguine)

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta.
  2. Set your heat to medium-high and drizzle a frying pan with your olive oil and add your cooked pasta to the pan.  Move the pasta around so all of it is covered by the olive oil.
  3. Add your garlic powder and ground pepper.
  4. Add a touch of your parmesan and stir through.
  5. Gradually, add more parmesan, stirring through each time.  Your goal is to get the pasta slightly crispy.
  6. Once you have the pasta at your desired crispy level, serve.

I hope you enjoy these recipes that have helped me feel at home no matter where I am.  They may not be my mom’s amazing recipes, but they are great quick meals that will be done within forty-five minutes of starting.

Finding Time for “Me Time”

Finding Time for “Me Time”

As we enter the holiday season, the hustle and bustle is exciting, but also can be overwhelming.  It feels like there’s always another task to get done, another person to see, and another place to go.  The constant motion is exhausting. In these days more than ever, it’s important to take time to ourselves.  Call it your designated “me time.”

My designated me time is Friday mornings from 10 AM- 12 PM.  During this time, I have no obligations and am free to do what I want.  Sometimes, I’ll watch a television show I’m behind on. Other times, I’ll read some articles I had saved, but hadn’t had time to read.  Then, there are other mornings, like yesterday, where all I want to do is curl up on my couch with my warm drink and think. And for those two hours, I can do that.

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My me time is not at all extravagant– it’s simple and actually, boring.  But, when I cut those two hours out of my week, everything feels off. I feel more stressed out– like I’m constantly running with no end in sight.  Those two hours a week are what center, calm, and refocus me for the coming week.

It’s time to breathe.

I always repeat that self-care is a journey, with successes and failures.  Finding two hours a week to dedicate just to me has been a huge success. However, I want to emphasize that me time doesn’t look the same for everyone.  For some people, their me time will be a walk around the neighborhood. For others, it might be painting or drawing, while there will also be people who elect for meditation as their me time.  

Me Time is not one size fits all.

It’s a struggle to find what works for you.  I had tried making my me time going to the gym– while I still go to the gym, I didn’t find this was a calming time for me.  I tried making my me time when I journaled, but I still felt crazed. I struggle with meditation and so, it couldn’t be my relaxant.

It was in trying all these different methods though that I realized what I needed from my me time.  I needed no pressure and no obligation. I needed the ability to be quiet and loud, depending on the day.  I just needed free time.

And, when in doubt, I listen to Billy Joel’s Vienna, a song that I mention very often on this blog.

Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while

 

 

 

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Sometimes, we just wish for the past.  There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with our present, but something in us longs for an era gone by.  That’s the nostalgia kicking in.

My week started off with a midterm on Monday and has been followed by a packed schedule of interning, tutoring students, and juggling my extracurriculars with my academics.  It’s one of those weeks where there’s nothing really bad happening, but it still feels overwhelming. To add to matters, I’ve been starting to feel stir-crazy at school, just wanting to get out of Washington, D.C. for a little while and breathe.  What is this all the perfect recipe for? A lot of nostalgia for my Disney College Program.

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Working at Storybook Circus with two of my favorite people, Abbey and Amanda

My time at Disney wasn’t perfect and yet, there is nothing more that I yearn for at this moment.  I’m craving the winter days spent at water parks, the days spent laying on the Hub grass with a view of Cinderella Castle, and the unexpected perfectness of random days spent eating all the food Epcot had to offer.  It’s been six months since my program ended and as I’ve finally gotten used to school again, my time in Disney feels like nothing more than a fantasy I created. It’s become my perfect dream.

As I think about my time at Disney and this craving I have right now to go back, I wonder: is it the place I wish for or is it the people?  I have not seen many of my friends for six months now, with no end date to this separation in sight. As I think of the days I am looking at nostalgically, I realize it’s the people who make the stories so beautiful.

It’s ranting with Kelsey over noodles and ice cream.  It’s car rides home, singing Taylor Swift, with Julie. It’s the long talks at 2 AM with Destiny.  It’s gossiping with Sadia. It’s the smiles (and groans) that were shared with Jordan as we passed each other during a work day.  It’s the photoshoots with Jenn. It’s the laughter in the kitchen with Beth Anne. It’s the adventures with Kelly. It’s the random late nights with my coworkers who became my best friends.

I could go on for years, listing the name of each person who made my time at Disney so special.  I realize now that it’s not the Magic Kingdom nor the rollercoasters, not even Mickey or Minnie that I’m so badly craving and am nostalgic for.  It’s my people.

When it comes to feeling nostalgic, I think it’s important not to push those feelings away.  You long for a time for a reason: find that real reason, not just the surface one. However, don’t dwell on your longing.  You cannot live in the past and if you do, you miss out on the present.

I am grateful for my college program and I am so grateful for the people it brought into my life.  However, I will not dwell on my longing to be back in a day gone by. Rather, I will think of my friends and know that as Mickey always says, I’ll see ya real soon.

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