Healthy Mind

Healthy Mind

Vision Making

May 24, 2015

I have always been a day-dreamer. I like making wishes on candles and stars, planning vacations I can't afford, ripping out pages of luxurious locales from magazines and walking residential streets to pick out my dream home. 

When I was younger, day dreaming was much more of an unintentional habit. Today, I embrace it. I love that I'm a dreamer. In fact, I try to make time for it every day. Before you think I'm getting all woo woo on you, hear me out.

Daydreaming is really just a form of life planning. Sure, it seems a little far-fetched when it hasn't happened yet. But if you're dreaming about a place you want to visit, a house you want to own, a job you want to land, or a family to call your own, then it's likely that you are trying to take the steps towards making that happen. 

Studies have shown that we may experience real world actions and imaginary actions in similar ways. It seems as if we activate many of the same neural networks whether we're physically sitting in our home office in our oceanside Southampton estate (see picture above) or mentally doing it1. If this is true, then we should all be daydreaming a lot more. 

Daydreaming, however, is really only the first step. I think that if there's a better way to harness these dreams, capture them, take a picture of them, put them on paper, etc., then we should be doing it. 

So I am.

In order for me to visualize my dreams as much as possible, I created a Vision Board. I know I'm not the first person to do this. Vision boards are commonly thought of as poster board collages with pictures and magazine clippings. But to me, this screams intimidation and overwhelm – who has time for craft projects these days, and where do you put this massive (super personal) daydream display? So I simplified the process and digitized my vision board. Now, I can access it anytime on my phone. I usually cruise through it on my morning commute. It takes me 15 minutes max and I always feel better after I've looked through it.

There's something really inspiring about starting my day with the dreams that I am working towards. And there's no doubt in my mind that doing this will lead me closer to those dreams. I know this because it's already happened. Every once in a while, I am forced to delete a slide from my vision board because I already achieved it. It's no longer a vision; it's a reality. Best. Feeling. Ever. 

I have no scientific evidence to back this claim up, but I have found it to be true:

The more I remind myself of my dreams, the more I want to achieve those dreams. 

If you're at all intersted in joining me in my daydreaming ways, follow the steps below to create your own digital vision board:

Step 1: Create a presentation using Microsoft Powerpoint or an alternative program.

Step 2: Pick out your favorite images (Pinterest is an obvious source of day-dreaming inspiration. But I also recommend Zillow for dream-home searching, travel sites like TravelChannel.com and luxury sites like VanityFair.com for dreamers with high standards.

Step 3: Copy and Paste images in-line with your dreams into your powerpoint presentation.

Step 4: Save the presentation.

Step 5: Upload it into Google Docs (free to create an account if you don’t already have one).

Step 6: Download the Google Docs app onto your phone.

Step 7: View your vision board presentation on your phone or your tablet.

Voila! Portable dreams – easily accessible to look at whenever you have five free minutes. Thanks for joining me readers! I want to hear from you. Do you love it? Already do it? Do you think I'm totally off my rocker? Comment belooooowwww.

 

1. http://westallen.typepad.com/brains_on_purpose/files/mind_over_matter_shackell_07.pdf 

Healthy Mind

Big Big (HUGE) News

March 10, 2015

A few months back, I stood up in my best friend’s wedding. A few days ago, I held my other best friend’s brand new baby boy in my arms. And, there’s one more life-changing thing that happened two weekends ago. What was it? Oh yeah…

I got engaged!

Wow. Yeah. Let that sink in.

Remember how when you were younger – on your birthday – people would always ask you if you felt older? I always said yes, but I didn’t really. Nothing was different afterwards. You were still in same routine with the same responsibilities (go to school, play with friends, go to bed). But when somebody asked me the other day if I felt different after being engaged, I said yes and I FELT yes.

(Cheese alert, I know, bare with me).

Not only am I so ridiculously excited to get married to my favorite person in the world, I do indeed feel very grown up and ready for the next stage of our lives. 

And part of being grown up and responsible is planning ahead. I’ll be the first to admit – when it comes to my personal life, I am NOT good at this. I often find myself double-booking dinners and birthdays, and always leave trip preparing and gift buying till the last minute.

But something hits you when the thing you need to plan is your wedding

It’s like this weird addiction that you catch, that you think you’re exempt from. But when it happens to you, you truly cannot stop. Pinning and Googling and magazine-flipping…there are so many ideas, so many places, so many options. Ahhhh!

I’ve got a growing guest list, beach ceremony dreams and very high standards for the wedding dinner (I’m thinking fresh herbs, grass-fed meat and fresh-caught seafood). To match with that, I’ve got some big numbers looming over my head that my grown-up self has to save up for. Welp. As of last week, I have put aside a good chunk of my paycheck on auto-deposit so I can save up for the big day. Which means a new challenge for this blog. 

For the next 14 months, please meet…

HEALTHY STACEY SAVES:

The health blog that teaches you how to live, eat and shop healthy for LESS.

Here are the rules of the game:

  1. If you can make it for cheaper, you can’t buy it. There are so many fun and tempting health snacks and convenience foods out there that are easy to get swept up in. But they’ll charge you an arm and a leg for them. I’m always happier when I make my own homemade snacks and treats anyways. Goodbye Go Raw sprouted flax snacks, Coconut Chips,  and Kale Crunch.
  2. Stick to a list. NO WANDERING THE AISLES. Especially at Whole Foods.
  3. You can go to Whole Foods – with limits. Only shop here for good organic produce and the things you can’t get anywhere else (turmeric root, plantains, etc). If you do buy packaged, stick to the 365 Brand and the Value-labeled items. And stay away from the snack aisle (see #1).
  4. Cost compare online grocers with brick and mortar grocers. Find out where you can get the cheapest prices at each. A few good ones I’ve heard of are Vitacost, Door to Door Organics and Thrive Market.
  5. Only stick to the Dirty Dozen for organic foods. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Dirty Dozen is a list of warning foods created by the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers). The produce on the Dirty Dozen has the highest amount of pesticides and other harmful chemicals, so it is highly recommended that you stick to organic when buying them. They have found that, just by eating organic for these 12, you can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80%. Awesome. On the other side of the coin is a money saving opportunity. The Clean 15 is a list by the same organization. These are the foods that pose much less concern by buying conventional. CHA-ching.
  6. Shop the Farmer’s Market (as soon as the season starts, CHICAGO psshh). Not only can you can save a ton of money on seasonal produce, the experience of sampling foods and chatting up the farmers and artisans is one of my favorite things to do in the summer anyways. On it.
  7. Use coupons. I am SO bad at this because I find it so tedious and time consuming. But brands and stores are making it easier and easier for the shopper to save money. Apps like iBotta, RetailMeNot and Cartwheel from Target are all currently downloaded on my phone. Now it’s time to actually use them. And BONUS, Whole Foods is one of iBotta’s retailers.
  8. Consult other health nuts like me who are showing me up in the savings department. A simple search helped me find these gems that I can’t wait to try out:
  • http://www.couponsforpaleo.com
  • http://paleoonabudget.com
  • http://www.organicdeals.com
  • http://allnaturalsavings.com

Alright. That’s all she wrote. I’m trusting you people to hold me accountable. This can and should be about more than just a wedding savings fund. It’s my chance to show you guys that you can eat healthy without going broke (and maybe, just maybe it can actually help you SAVE money).

Comment below with healthy saving ideas – especially all you Coupon-ers out there! I’m pretty sure it’s a ninja skill you are born with. But if not, I’d love to be taught. 

Healthy Mind

A Food Fight for Scleroderma

May 13, 2014

I thought with my last post being about my new love for butter, that this post should be about one particularly spectacular food event that I'm sure relied heavily on butter and fat. And I'm so glad it did.

Two Sundays ago, I got the privilege of attending a fundraiser that could not have been more up my alley. It was called Food Fight.

It’s intention: to raise awareness and money for Scleroderma.

The concept: Pair top Chicago chefs against each other and let the guests decide whose dish wins the Food Fight.

My reason for attending this event was by word of my good friend who has had one too many people in her life affected by the disease. I have to admit – I really knew very little about it myself. I soon found out that unawareness is a big part of the problem. So for everybody reading today, we can at least fix that part by reading on. 

SCLERODERMA: An autoimmune disease in which a person's body attacks its own tissue.
THE CAUSE: Unknown
AWARENESS: LOW
THE EFFECT: Life-threatening
A CURE: Not yet

The ladies who put on this event call themselves Two Daughters on a Mission. Stephanie and Jennifer's mom was diagnosed with Scleroderma back in 2005. As they so eloquently put on their website and in the event video, their response was, "What the heck is that?" With little treatment of the disease available and a lot of questions unanswered by the medical community, they made it their mission to raise money and awareness. Although their mother lost her battle in 2010, their mission lives on. In honor of their mother's love of cooking, they created Food Fight.

The event was perfect. It was small enough to talk with strangers, but big enough to make an impact. I could tell that everybody in attendance was there for the right reasons. I didn't cross one person who didn't seem genuinely happy to be there, and somehow personally invested in the cause.

Good smells, great chefs and food gurus were everywhere. From the MC, Amanda Puck who was the former host to Channel 11's Check Please, to the wonderfully gifted Chicago chefs making their dishes on stage for all to see. I was in my element talking to people like Rick Gresh, the James' Hotel's head chef and Chef Heather Terhune, Executive Chef of Sable Kitchen & Bar and recent contestant on Top Chef Texas. I may have even jumped into a picture with all of the chefs onstage (above). They called for chefs and food bloggers so I really had no other option.

Here’s what was on the menu.

Lobster Bruschetta with Pistachio and Grapefruit

Grapefruit = sweet, citrusy and summary, Lobster = rich, buttery and summary, Pistachios = crunchy, earthy and summary. This reminded me of being on a yacht with P. Diddy wearing white linen pants and sipping a beachy concoction. And I liked it a lot.

Spring Vegetable Ragout, Creamy Goat Cheese Grits, Kale, Balsamic Reduction

Creamy and cheesy with pops of fresh greens from the peas and a hearty bite from the kale. This was my clear winner, but even more impressive was it was also my meat-eating boyfriend's first choice (major props to Heather Terhune for being able to get his vote over lobster and duck). 

Duck Terrine, Pecan Toffee, Pickled Ramps, Citrus and Lavender

I love nuts in pretty much everything, but add them to duck and it's like cheating it's so good. I didn't taste the lavender as much as I would have liked to. But overall, a solid dish and I love the neon green speckled plate.

One last thought before I leave you. It blows my mind that people like Stephanie and Jennifer's mom had to go through multiple diagnosis before they arrived at the correct one, all because many doctors don't recognize Scleroderma's symptoms. It just shows you how low awareness of a disease can negatively affect it just by not giving the medical community enough reason to do research and find out more. I hope by reading this post that, at the very least, your awareness stays with you. Could we do one better, though, and pass it on to somebody else? 

Visit the Scleroderma Foundation website to learn more. 

Thanks for reading – As always, I appreciate it.