Guest Post: The Surprising Benefits of Reality Television

Hi everyone! Oh my goodness, T-minus two weeks until my wedding day and I am a jumble of excitement, nerves, gratitude, stress… mostly excitement! ūüôā

I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to post nearly as much as I would like this summer. Wedding-planning combined with teaching summer camps, tutoring my regular clients, travel plans and trying to squeeze in some writing projects has kept me busy “on all burners” as a friend of mine says. Anyway, I want to thank you for your patience during this super busy season of my life! I have a few posts in the pipeline that I am working on finishing up for you sometime soon. In the meantime, one of my blog readers reached out with an idea for a guest post, and I am delighted to present it to you today!

I must admit, when I first read the title of this post, I wasn’t sure I would agree with the writer’s views… I am not much of a TV watcher myself, and I think of “reality TV” squarely in the “guilty pleasures” realm! However, after reading it, my views have broadened. I think this guest blogger makes excellent points and definitely leaves you with some food for thought. Enjoy!

reality tv

The Surprising Benefits of Reality Television

Looking across the television channels, from lifestyle and cooking to educational, reality shows are clearly monopolizing the televised entertainment landscape. Despite the wide range of subcategories, the genre is often regarded as trash TV, offering very little to educate or improve our daily lives and leading most people to focus on the negative aspects of reality television. Contrary to popular belief, plenty of good can come from a daily dose of this guilty pleasure, more than you would think.

On the surface, the only apparent positive effect of reality television is its power to help you unwind from a busy day. One of the keys to letting yourself relax, according to Psych Central, is by figuring out what works best for you, and while MasterChef may not have the same meditative effects as simple breathing exercises or a yoga workout, reality TV gives a sense of escape that allows us to disconnect from our daily stresses. For a moment, the only thing that you focus on is whether or not your favorite contestant is going to make it through to the next round.

But there’s more to game shows and other reality series than just its relaxation benefits. Positive influences have actually stemmed from this TV category. One of the finer examples that prove that TV can be very useful to viewers includes the show Hoarders, as How Stuff Works say that it has increased public awareness on a behavior that many don’t realize is a mental health issue. These documented cases of real people and real problems has made us socially aware and accepting of others, and even supplied us with the tools to make changes in our own lives and help others in need.

On the less serious side of things, talent contests such as The X Factor, which is now at the peak of its popularity with The X Factor Games and other related ventures, expose us to a world of unique and extraordinary abilities that inspire us to explore our own faculties, as well as support the contestants that hope to make a better life for themselves and their families. Weight loss competitions supply us with the guidance to lead a healthier lifestyle without the risks of extreme dieting. Segments that highlight teen pregnancy have encouraged the public to be more cautious with reproductive health, as Benefits of explains that teen pregnancy rates have declined since the premiere of shows like Teen Mom.

They say that television is only good in small doses, but it all depends on the content. Reality TV as a whole may not have the same educational caliber as the likes of National Geographic, though the average Joe and Jane stories are circumstances that we can all relate to, motivating us to become the best version of ourselves.

Questions to think about:

  • Do you watch any reality television? If so, what shows are your favorites?
  • Do you feel motivated by reality TV shows?

year of virtues, month three: silence

Hello, friends, and Happy Friday! Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day yesterday! I donned a lime-green shirt, made some deep green spinach-banana muffins {recipe coming soon; promise you can’t taste the spinach one bit!}, joined my grandparents for a homemade dinner of corned beef and cabbage, and then met up with my dear Dana for our third St. Patty’s celebration in a row! It’s become a new tradition for us and I love it. Her house is always all decorated for the holiday, we put on four-leaf-clover headbands, she makes delicious Irish coffees, and we chat away! Time with her always flies by and before I knew it, I was glancing at my clock and it was 9:45, and time for me to head home! Do you have any little traditions with friends that totally brightens up your year?

Photo from our St. Patty's date last year!

Our first¬†St. Patty’s date!

 

st pattys with dana

Last year!

 

me and dana st patricks yr 3

This year {with our leprechaun friend}

This month, my focus on Ben Franklin’s List of Virtues is on silence. He writes: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.” I am choosing to interpret “trifling conversation” to mean gossip, complaining, shallow arguments, etc. I do not consider myself much of a gossip, and strive to be an optimistic and empowering presence for myself and others, but I have noticed that sometimes it can be easy to try to connect with other people through mindless complaining, venting, or gossiping. I think conversation has an extremely valuable place in our lives, but truly nurturing and fulfilling conversation comes with deep reflection, listening, and thinking. We have all experienced the difference between speaking to express something true and important, versus jabbering away mindlessly just to hear ourselves talk. This month, I am making a conscious effort to be mindful of the way conversation ebbs and flows in my day-to-day life… and to choose silence more often.

Another way I am choosing silence is to focus on quieting down the chattering voices inside my head. My yoga teachers call this the “monkey mind.” I am spending just five minutes a day in quiet meditation/reflection/contemplation, simply trying to focus on my breathing and clear my mind of all the clutter. I have already noticed that this has made me feel more at ease as I go about my day, and helps me stay more present and worry less about what might happen in the future. Even good things we are looking forward to in the future can still be a source of stress or worry, as I am learning while planning my wedding! Sometimes the best¬†thing to¬†do is breathe and let go.

I am also experimenting with driving around in silence, rather than listening to music or podcasts during my commute. You all know how much I love podcasts, but I wanted to see what it would be like to purposefully add more quiet time to my day. And, you guys — a magical thing has happened! I look forward to my commute time more than ever now. It has become my time to daydream, to drift, and has become a super powerful time for connecting to the characters in the new novel I am working on. In the quiet, I can hear their voices speaking to each other, giving me dialogue and ideas for new scenes and development. It almost feels like I am able to hear the story straight from their mouths, and now all I have to do is write it down. This might sound crazy to some people, but as a writer this is one of the most magical experiences — when your characters come to life, and become companions you think about and¬†converse with¬†throughout your day. I believe this silent time has been absolutely crucial for this magic to happen.

The final way I have embraced silence is by listening to my heart about what I would like to share publicly, and what I would like to keep to myself. I have been a little silent on this blog of late, because I have been doing some deep reflecting about this subject — what I want this space to look like, what I am craving to lean into more, what I want to connect with you about… and what I want to keep private. I have a post all written and ready to go about how my sweetheart proposed to me, but over the past few weeks something in my heart has kept me from pulling the trigger and clicking that PUBLISH button. I can’t quite describe it, but I think there is something about the memory of that experience that feels too precious for me to share publicly, at least right now. It is something I want to keep between my sweetheart and me. And that is okay. I am hoping you all will understand.

I would, however, like to share this song with all of you, a song that has very special meaning to Allyn and me, that is perfectly fitting on this topic of silence. I think Ben Franklin would approve! ūüôā

Here’s hoping you are having a fabulous Friday and that your weekend is filled with all the good things your heart is yearning for… and maybe just a little bit of quiet time all to yourself.

xoxo,
Dallas

Questions of the day:

  • How do you find quiet moments in your busy life?
  • What are your favorite ways to reflect and slow down?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/14

Hi, friends! I’m happy to report that my parents are home safe and sound from their adventure in Ireland ūüôā After I picked them up at the airport, we drove across L.A. to have dinner with my brother before coming home to Ventura. It was the first time that all four of us had¬†been together since June, and it was soooo nice! I adore my family and feel so blessed to share life with these loving, supportive, amazing people.

fam wedding pic

Photo from my cousin Amanda’s wedding last year.

Today is shaping up to be busy with errands, exercise, family time, and a BBQ! But for now… let’s move onto goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†finalize tutoring schedule
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:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
–¬†prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
– soak up time with my family
– do yoga twice
–¬†read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
healthy crumb-topped zucchini bread via The Pajama Chef
baked apple chips via The Lean Green Bean
easy homemade peach butter via Two Peas & Their Pod
roquefort rotini w/roasted squash & walnuts via Panera Bread website
– my own pumpkin¬†oatmeal cookies¬†{let the pumpkin obsession begin!} ūüôā

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!

goals + recipes for the week of 9/7

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you had a great first weekend of September!

This past week I was able to continue my writing momentum and get a lot of pages revised — and some new stuff written!¬†They say it takes three weeks to really solidify a habit, so I’m planning to continue my strict routine into this week and hope it sticks. Every writer works differently, but for me it really makes a difference to jump into my projects first thing in the morning and get some words onto the page¬†before life gets in the way with other responsibilities and fires to put out!

I’m curious: how do you stay productive in your work? What schedule is best for you?

Now time for goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
revise 100 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul {started this, but didn’t finish}
submit three pieces to journals/publications
connect with three friends
do yoga twice
–¬†read through five back issues from my New Yorker stash

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†finalize tutoring schedule
– 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:
chocolate-chip buttermilk waffles with caramelized bananas via The Pajama Chef
easy homemade greek dressing via The Pajama Chef
–¬†apple zucchini muffins¬†via¬†Two Peas & Their Pod
best-ever black bean soup via Money-Saving Mom
– my own spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes

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!

goals + recipes for the week of 8/31

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! Hope you have something fun planned. ūüôā 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
Рmy 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!

goals + recipes for the week of 8/24

Hi friends! Just wanted to pop in say hello ūüôā 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
Рmy 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!

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” ūüôā
  • 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 ūüôā 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
Рmy 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!

fabulous friday #15

Happy Friday, friends! You know what TGIF means around here…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My dad and brother are in town visiting!! I love these two guys so much. They crack me up and we always have so much fun when we’re together. The only thing is I’m missing my mama — it’s weird for the three of us to be together without her — but she’ll be coming up to see me in just over a week!

boys

2. This quote that Danica shared last week on her blog — so, so true.

And it reminds me of something my dad always says: “T.G.I.M.!¬†Because if you don’t embrace Mondays you will wind up dreading 1/7th of your life. That’s not something I’m willing to do, how about you?”

3. The new Sara Evans album, Slow Me Down. My sweet dad got it for me as a little random, surprise gift because I love Sara Evans. This latest album of hers is no exception! I’ve been listening to it on repeat and dancing in my car as I drive around. The perfect anthem to springtime! Currently, I think my favorite songs on the album are “Sweet Spot“; “If I Run“; and her cover of/duet with Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You.”

sara evans cd

4. A company I just learned about, Warby Parker — like TOMS shoes but with eyeglasses! For every pair of eyeglasses they sell, they distribute a pair to someone in need. They emailed me about their¬†Home Try-On program, which allows¬†you to pick out your five favorite frames for five days, with no expense {they even pay for shipping.} This gives you the opportunity to try out multiple looks before you commit to anything, and all from the comfort of your home! I think it’s a cool idea and I love the social mission of their company. I’m looking forward to exploring their sunwear collection¬†in time for the summer!

5. I’ve been thinking and praying for the Holmstrom family, whose precious baby girl Brinley needs all our love and healing thoughts. I went to school with both Eric and Sarah, and they are such kindhearted, generous, loving people. Sarah blogs over at how is your heart? if you want to drop her a note or a prayer.

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans in store for the weekend?

a year of Wooden: week 3

My thoughts & prayers are with the Purdue community… there was a shooting at the university early today. Crazy to think that this time last year I would have been right there on campus. And I do have many friends who are still there. Please send your good thoughts.

Coach Wooden was also a Purdue alum, graduating in 1932 with a degree in English.¬†He helped lead the Boilermakers¬†to the National Championship and was the first player ever to be named a three-time consensus All-American. While at Purdue he¬†was nicknamed “The Indiana Rubber Man” because he was always diving onto the hard court after the ball. The West Lafayette community treasures Coach Wooden — I spotted photos of him and framed Pyramids of Success in countless restaurants and businesses there.

a year of wooden

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed. I‚Äôm beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January:¬†Drink deeply from good books.

This past week I read¬†Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, written by Coach Wooden with Steve Jamison. I have read this book many times, and each time I learn something new. I love how it is written in brief sections so you can pick it up and read one in a few short minutes. Each section feels like a meditation or prayer or poem — a great way to begin or end your day with a little thought and reflection. When I read this book, I feel like Coach is speaking personally to me, sharing anecdotes and philosophies from his life. This is a book that grows with you. Whenever I read it,¬†I always come away feeling refreshed and inspired.

For this week, I’ll be reading Coach Wooden’s children’s book, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. I think grown-ups will enjoy this easy and fun read, too! It’s perfect for the child in all of us. Better yet, read this book to a child in your life and have a conversation with him or her about the true meaning of success.¬†Here’s a little about the book:

Inch and Miles have one last assignment before summer vacation begins. Their wise teacher, Mr. Wooden, has asked them the meaning of success. Using a magic silver whistle, Inch and Miles set out on a journey to discover the blocks of the Pyramid of Success and learn how to try 100 percent to be their personal best.

I’d also like to¬†give a shout out to Harper For Kids, a really neat nonprofit organization that uses Inch and Miles as a teaching tool to change young kids’ lives! Learn more about their programs here.

Looking forward to hearing your comments about the book next week!

Question of the day:

  • What were your favorite books as a child?