a year of Wooden: week 30

Hi, everyone! Hope you had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Dana is visiting and we spent a gorgeous day soaking up the sunshine in Santa Barbara. I love having this beautiful inside-and-out person for a friend!

me and dana sb

Now it’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge… and we’re into a new month, which means a new topic!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, back-to-school time seems the perfect season to return to this idea of learning, curiosity, and growth through reading. I want to include a special focus on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry. He could recite many poems by heart and even wrote poetry himself. So, for the month of September, we are going to delve into poetry.

But before moving forward, let’s wrap up August’s focus on balance. Last week’s challenge was to try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

Here are some activities I did this past week: spent quality time with my grandparents {my grandma is healing very well from her hip operation!} and extended family, as well as my parents, sweetheart, and Dana; put in a solid 12-15 hours of editing work; revised 80+ pages of my work-in-progress; submitted pieces to three journals; watched a fun movie and read some of my favorite blogs; wrote in my gratitude journal and meditated; and did lots and lots of walking in the sunshine!

I still want to get back into my yoga routine, which has been difficult with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately. Does anyone have good beginner yoga YouTube videos to recommend, since I haven’t been able to make it to my favorite classes in-person?

It can be overwhelming {not to mention impossible} trying to “have it all” and “do it all”… so last week’s challenge was important for me. I shifted my mind-set away from trying to cram 1,001 things into each day and instead focused on making time for two or three of my key categories every day. Just as I had hoped, over the course of the week I did feel much more balanced and peaceful — and happy! I’m definitely planning to continue this routine.

To kick of the month of September, for this week’s challenge, I am going to read Selected Poems of Robert Frost.

Selected Poems Robert Frost

You can also read many of Robert Frost’s poems online here. Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • How did your month of balance go? Did you learn anything about yourself?
  • Who are some of your favorite poets?

P.S. A special birthday shout-out to Holly, who turned 27 yesterday!

me and hol brunch

I love you so much, my dear friend!

goals + recipes for the week of 8/31

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! Hope you have something fun planned. :) Hard to believe tomorrow is September already!

I’m super excited because Dana is visiting me in Ventura for the long weekend! I’m happy to get to show her around all my favorite restaurants, hang-out spots, and childhood haunts.

me and dana sideboard

Plus a now cone-free {woo-hoo!} Mr. Mur-dog is ecstatic to have a new friend! Haha he is pretty much beside himself.

cone free murray

Last week I said I was hoping to get a LOT of writing done, and I was very successful in that goal! Now I’m hoping to continue that momentum into this week! #takingcareofmorebusiness

Before I head out, time for goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
revise 75 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 100 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– submit three pieces to journals/publications
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through five back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
pumpkin oatmeal bars via The Lean Green Bean
mixed berry granola muffins via Two Peas & Their Pod
– peanut butter honey yogurt dip via Two Peas & Their Pod
slow-cooker cinnamon applesauce via It’s Progression
– my own gluten-free oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

fabulous friday #30

Happy Friday, friends! What wonderful things are you up to today?

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being home with my sweet parents {who are celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary next week!} and of course Mr. Mur-dog! He is so stinkin’ cute, even in his cone/Elizabethan collar. Poor guy should be getting it off soon, fingers crossed!

murray conehead

2. This quote from Carolyn Hax:

“Even those of us who learn from our mistakes will also repeat some. This business of being human is basically a jalopy ride over potholes, which is why it’s so important to ride with the best people you know, wherever possible, and to make sure you take note of any particularly beautiful scenery.”

3. I can’t get enough of strawberries with vanilla Greek yogurt. To me, this tastes exactly like strawberries with whipped cream — BUT it’s even better because it’s healthy for you! I’ve been having this for dessert all week. And since it’s actually good for you, you could even have it for breakfast! :)

strawberries and yogurt

4. This beautiful and evocative short story written by my friend, Rebecca McKanna: “A Chain of Tiny Disasters” in Narrative Magazine.

5. First USC football game tomorrow! I am all decked out and ready to cheer on my team! #gotrojans #fighton

go trojans

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

mid-week meditation #9

Hi there, friends! Can you believe it’s Thursday already? This week is flying by!

Here’s a meditation that seemed applicable in these late summer days, as we transition into a new season of back-to-school and new beginnings. It’s a quote from one of my favorite books of all time, The Great Gatsby.

summer quote

Questions of the morning:

  • What is your favorite memory of the summer?
  • How do you feel renewed as the seasons change?

a year of Wooden: week 29

Happy Monday, friends! It’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” In July, we focused on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Now, in August, we are working to create better balance in our lives.

balance quote

Last week’s challenge was to look at the inventory of the key components that make up each of your categories and think about how these activities might come together in a balanced way to create your “perfect ordinary day.” My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

My “perfect ordinary day” would be a stress-free morning spent waking up slowly with meditation, gratitude journaling, and a hot mug of tea; three or four hours of diligent writing on my creative work-in-progress; an afternoon spent blogging, working on editing projects, and teaching; nourishment throughout the day from healthy, nutritious meals; yoga class or a nice walk; time spent with family and friends; and reading for half an hour before bed from a great book.

For this week’s challenge, try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. See what it feels like. Be flexible and give yourself grace. For example, if I’m having an especially busy day, maybe I can’t make it to yoga class but I am able to do a fifteen-minute core circuit routine before bed. Maybe you can’t meet up with a friend in person, but you can connect with them over email or text message to let them know you are thinking of them.

Remember: balance does not happen overnight, and it means cultivating a routine of mindfulness. The goal is to focus on making time for each of your key categories — each day might not be perfectly balanced, but over the course of the week you should feel balanced between all of your categories. Let me know how it goes!

Questions for the day:

  • What does a “perfect ordinary day” look like for you?
  • What activities do you want to make time for in your life this week?

goals + recipes for the week of 8/24

Hi friends! Just wanted to pop in say hello :) How is your weekend going?

Thank you for all of your prayers and good thoughts for my grandma and her hip-replacement surgery! She came through like a champ and is currently back at home, recovering very well. My grandpap has been very sweet taking care of her, and I have been trying to help out as best I can, however I can.

gparents gmas bday

My brother made it back safe from his summer internship in Washington, D.C. and is starting his second and final year of business school tomorrow. I love this photo of him and my mom that my dad snapped during Greg’s brief time at home before moving back down to Los Angeles. Have a great first week back at school, buddy!

greg and mom margarita villa

Other big news this week was that my sweetheart safely arrived back home, hooray! I have been soaking up time with him after being apart all summer. I also got to attend a couple fun events in San Francisco with him as part of his M.B.A. program at Presidio Graduate School. Presidio is really unique because of its emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues. I am so inspired by the amazing, world-bettering projects all the students are involved in. A really neat project is in the works right now that I will be letting you know about next week, with a chance for you to get involved — stay tuned!

This week I’m hoping to get a LOT of writing done! I have a handful of works-in-progress that I am really excited about and now, since I have a few weeks off from teaching, I have more time to devote to my writing. I’m ready and eager to get to work! #takingcareofbusiness

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– help take care of my Grandma as best I can
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 75 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
peanut butter avocado cookies via The Lean Green Bean
grilled zucchini, chickpea, tomato and goat cheese salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
– pesto, roasted red pepper & cheese crescent rolls via Two Peas & Their Pod
coconut curry popcorn via The Pajama Chef
– my own coconut strawberry chocolate cookies

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

a year of Wooden: week 28

Hi everyone! It’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” In July, we focused on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Now, in August, we are working to create better balance in our lives.

balance quote

Last week’s challenge was to identify the four or five key areas of your life. Here are mine:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

I differentiated “work” from “writing” because I do a variety of tasks as part of my job other than writing, but I feel the need to write every day in order to feel happy and productive. If I only do other work-related projects, such as teaching and blogging and publicity stuff — but no writing — then it doesn’t feel like a wholly fulfilling day to me. So “writing” is important enough to me to be its own separate category.

For me, “mental health” includes the things that I need to de-stress and center myself: meditation, reading for pleasure, volunteering. “Physical health” encompasses exercise {yoga, walks, core exercises} and also eating healthfully {and carving out the time to cook healthful meals!}

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/explore/inspiration-quotes/

Source: pinterest

For this week’s challenge, look at the inventory of the key components that make up each of your categories. Now, spend a little while daydreaming about how these activities might come together in a balanced way to create your perfect ordinary day. I want to make the distinction between “perfect day” and “perfect ordinary day” because I think to a lot of us, a “perfect day” would be comprised of vacation-type activities. This is certainly lovely and fun to think about, but probably isn’t sustainable over the long-term.

Instead, for this challenge, I want you to think about how you can make your ordinary, everyday days be the best possible masterpiece days they can be. And that means putting together a roadmap of balanced activities from each of the core important areas of your life!

Questions for the day:

  • What are the key areas/categories in your life?
  • What does a “perfect ordinary day” look like for you?

goals + recipes for the week of 8/17

Happy Sunday, everyone! It feels like it’s been for.ev.er since I popped in to say hi… I guess it’s only been a few days since my mid-week meditation post, but it was one of those weeks where a lot happened!

  • I got back to the Bay Area on Sunday night, and there were all sorts of little errands and such I had to squeeze in to get back into my everyday routine. You know how it is, getting back to real life after “vacation mode” :)
  • I taught a wonderful week of journalism and public speaking camp to a group of super awesome fifth graders. I was so proud of all of them!
  • I’m housesitting/dog-sitting for my aunt and uncle right now, so there was a bit of schedule juggling involved to make sure the doggies were comfortable and cared for throughout the day when I was at work. Everything worked out fine in the end!

poodles

There were also lots of fun events:

  • I got together with Dana for dinner at Pizza Antica — yum!
  • I got my first-ever professional massage {more on that coming soon!}
  • We celebrated Makena’s birthday on Tuesday and Bianca’s birthday on Friday! We had a joint party for them both on Wednesday evening, and it was so much fun. They are such kind-hearted and beautiful young ladies, inside and out!

m and b bday

This week is looking to be even busier! Tomorrow my grandma is getting much-needed hip-replacement surgery; she’s in a lot of pain, so we are all excited that this procedure will hopefully provide a lot of relief. Still, getting an operation is always a little scary, so we would be so grateful for your good thoughts & prayers! I will be sure to keep y’all posted on her recovery.

me and gma

Then on Tuesday, my sweetheart comes home!! He is currently driving back to the Bay Area from New Orleans… I think he’s somewhere in the middle of New Mexico right now. Your safe thoughts for his travels would also be very appreciated :) I am over-the-moon excited to see him!

me and al bday creamery

This week is the last week of summer camps for Communication Academy. I’m teaching a public speaking class for teenagers and I’m really looking forward to it. Gonna be a great week!

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: {I bit off a little more than I could chew, as I am so prone to doing!}
– revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– connect with three friends
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
drop off donation to Goodwill

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– help take care of my Grandma as best I can
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
salted caramel apple crisp via Panera Bread Co.
grilled zucchini and corn tostadas via Two Peas & Their Pod
– chunky sausage and veggie pasta sauce via Chew Out Loud
dark chocolate chunk peanut butter blondies via The Pajama Chef
– my own coconut zucchini muffins

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

mid-week meditation #8

Happy Wednesday, friends! I’m in the midst of a fun, hectic, enthusiastic week of teaching journalism & public speaking camp for a group of fourth- and fifth-graders. Even — especially — during these busy days, I am working to cultivate a morning routine of calm, joy and gratitude. This means getting up early enough to meditate, do a bit of yoga, eat a healthy and filling breakfast, pack a nutritious lunch, and have plenty of time to drive to work without feeling rushed. {Which also means going to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep … something that is a challenge for me, a natural night owl!}

Here’s a meditation that might be helpful for anyone else who is also trying to savor the mornings!

morning quote

Questions of the morning:

  • What is your morning routine?
  • What are the “little things” that refresh your heart?

goals + recipes for the week of 8/10

Hi there, friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday! I’m soaking up time with my parents & Mr. Mur-dog before heading back up to the Bay tonight. Tomorrow I start another week of teaching writing & public speaking camp for Communication Academy. I love the kids and am gearing up for an energetic week!

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my simple goals from a couple weeks ago:
submit new play to contest
teach a successful week of camp for Communication Academy
finish reading Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– connect with three friends
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
– drop off donation to Goodwill

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
charity’s bruschetta via sweet summer smiles
easy summer pasta salad & no-bake peanut butter chocolate pretzel cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
– peanut butter coconut banana muffins via It’s Progression
best ever homemade pizza via The Pajama Chef
– my own cilantro-lime quinoa with chicken

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!