Monthly Archives: September 2013

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a letter to kristen

One of my best friends is getting married today and I couldn’t be more thankful to stand by her side as a bridesmaid. It’s this weird and exciting and funny and scary and bittersweet feeling watching friends move on to the next stage in life and Dean is the absolute perfect person for Kristen to do that with. I’m pretty new to the whole wedding thing, as this is my first time being a bridesmaid and I can already tell that today will be a jumble of emotions. There will be a lot of laughing and giddiness and excitement and a lot of tears {I teared up like three times during the rehearsal…}. When it comes down to it, I’m just really thrilled to be a part of her and Dean’s big day and spend the day celebrating these two amazing, kind and beautiful people and their future together. We surprised Kristen with a book of letters from her family and the eight bridesmaids – I wanted to share my little piece of the book with you.

P.S. The pic above is all of the bridesmaids minus one from last night – I’m standing with a group of pretty fabulous ladies, wouldn’t you say!?

I hope you spend your weekend finding something to celebrate, whether it’s a friend’s marriage, a sunny Saturday afternoon or the amazing fact that you have a brand new day in front of you. xo!

Kristen,

First of all, I am THRILLED to be there with you celebrating your life and marriage. I feel so incredibly grateful to stand by your side as a bridesmaid tomorrow! The past eight or so years of life being good friends with you has been such a blessing to me. From the hilarious visits to OU and Kent and reunions back in Bowling Green over the holidays to the flights across the country (and soon-to-be across the globe!) and sleepovers (ummm…always), we’ve always made our friendship a priority and can always pick up right where we left off. You’re someone I’ve always looked up to for your laid back attitude, confidence, willingness to do anything or talk to anyone and excitement for life. I knew when you first brought up Dean that he was a keeper. I could tell from your voice on the phone and the way you lit up talking about him. Once I met him in person, I was 100% sold (the accent AND impressing MY parents? Double win ;))

Tomorrow will be a huge, monumental day celebrating the greatness of your past together and the beautiful present where you’ll stand up and get married in front of everyone you love. I have no doubt that your wedding day, September 27, 2013, will be an extraordinary day filled with happiness, joy and most importantly, love. What I am most excited about though is the stories and amazing years you guys will have together after your wedding day. Your future. You and Dean are going to laugh together, cry together, travel (a lot!) together, explore together, move furniture together, learn and then unlearn new things together, start a home together, start a family together. Your road as a couple has lots of big adventures in store – and I wish you both the absolute best. I wish you both more good days than bad days and hope that you always come back to your love story on those bad days to remind yourselves just how much and why you fell in love.

Now it’s time to start looking to flights from SF to Sydney!

Lots and lots of love to you beautiful friend,
Andi

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habits of happy people

I shared this article last week on Facebook and Twitter, but knew it was right up the Polish My Crown alley. The Huffington Post article shares 21 habits of happy people and statistics and studies behind the statements. I included the habits and shortened blurbs of the statistics and info below, but definitely read the full article here. Happy Monday!

1. They surround themselves with other happy people.
Those surrounded by happy people “are more likely to become happy in the future.” That’s enough reason to dump the Debbie Downers and spend more time with uplifting people.

2. They smile when they mean it.
Even if you’re not feeling so chipper, cultivating a happy thought — and then smiling about it — could up your happiness levels and make you more productive.

3. They cultivate resilience.
Resilience, not happiness, is the opposite of depression: Happy people know how to bounce back from failure.

4. They try to be happy.
Those who actively tried to feel happier in the studies reported the highest level of positive moods, making a case for thinking yourself happy.

5. They are mindful of the good.
Being mindful of the things that do go your way (even something as simple as the barista getting your coffee order right) can make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment throughout the day.

6. They appreciate simple pleasures. {read more about thankfulness for simple things here}
Finding meaning in the little things, and practicing gratitude for all that you do have is associated with a sense of overall gladness.

7. They devote some of their time to giving.
“Volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression.”

8. They let themselves lose track of time. (And sometimes they can’t help it.)
Happy people seek this sensation of getting “caught up” or “carried away,” which diminishes self-consciousness and promotes the feelings associated with success.

9. They nix the small talk for deeper conversation.
Those who take part in more substantive conversation and less trivial chit chat experienced more feelings of satisfaction.

10. They spend money on other people.
Spending money on other people has a more direct impact on happiness than spending money on oneself.

11. They make a point to listen.
A good listener may walk away from a conversation feeling as if their presence served a purpose, an experience that is closely connected with increased well-being.

12. They uphold in-person connections. {more on real-life conversations and friendships here}
Social media, while it keeps us in touch, doesn’t allow us to physically touch, which harvests the warm-and-fuzzies and even decreases feelings of anxiety.

13. They look on the bright side. {more about positivity here}
Optimism touts plenty of health benefits, including less stress and a better tolerance for pain. When you choose to see the silver lining, you’re also choosing health and happiness.

14. They value a good mixtape.
Patients who simply listened to music had the same decreased anxiety symptoms as those who got 10 hour-long massages.

15. They unplug. {read more about unplugging here}
Whether by meditating, taking a few deep breaths away from the screen or deliberately disconnecting from electronics, unplugging from our hyper-connected world has proven advantages when it comes to happiness.

16. They get spiritual.
Transcendent spiritual and religious experiences have a positive, healing, restorative effect, especially if they are “built in,” so to speak, to one’s daily, weekly, seasonal, and annual cycles of living.

17. They make exercise a priority.
Exercise has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, thanks to the the various brain chemicals that are released that amplify feelings of happiness and relaxation.

18. They go outside.
Just a 20-minute dose of fresh air promotes a sense of vitality.

19. They spend some time on the pillow.
“A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety,”

20. They LOL.
A good, old-fashioned chuckle releases happy brain chemicals that, other than providing the exuberant buzz we seek, make humans better equipped to tolerate both pain and stress.

21. They walk the walk.
Ever notice your joyful friends have a certain spring in the step? It’s all about the stride.

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Inspiring Women, Part 3

I’ve shared about inspiring women before here and here and couldn’t be more excited to feature the lovely Maddie today! Maddie is someone I met during college and even though she’s two years younger than me, I look up to her for her poise, confidence and genuine goodness she brings to each and every environment she’s in. It’s been so awesome for me to watch her learn and grow into the lovely young woman she is today. I am so thankful that she was willing to share a few words today on my blog and I just know you’ll be equally inspired by her! Don’t forget to catch up on her blog here. xo

1. What story is your life telling you today?
Hmm. Talk about a loaded question! Recently my life has been undergoing some major changes: a new job, a new apartment, a new social calendar, and even some changes close to the heart. And unfortunately I wouldn’t say I’m particularly adept in “going with the flow.” For me, big shifts in my life are often tied to more anxiety and stress rather than excitement and anticipation. But you know what? I think I’m actually starting to embrace the newness of it all. I decided to stop focussing on “how things used to be” and instead take note of all the positives I now have. Yes, I really miss OU and it’s proving to be a real challenge to keep in touch with everyone outside of the college bubble. Sometimes I let myself feel guilty for kinda sucking at that. But on the other hand, I’ve fallen in love with Cleveland and the people I’ve met in last two months. So I guess the challenge, for me, is continuing to see the glass half full EACH AND EVERY DAY. This is really, really hard to do, especially when so many changes are happening at once. But life is all about change. I know this won’t be the last city I live in nor the last job that I have, so I might as well learn to embrace the “now,” now!

What woman inspires you and why?
Can I pick 3? I’m picking 3! First is my sister, Alana. She’s the younger one, (by two years), in the family and I often forget that. She has this silent-but-strong mentality that I admire so dang much. As the only girl (yes, GIRL) on her college football team, I’ve watched her overcome stigmas, naysayers, and jealously from others. But she lets it roll right off her back. Why? Because being the kicker on a football team makes HER happy. She isn’t intimidated by what other people think or say- she just goes out on the field and does her thing. And when your “thing” is kicking 40-yard field goals WHILE looking gorgeous, even in some shoulder pads and a helmet, well, you kinda become awesome by default.

2nd is my mom. We usually don’t go a day without talking. Once, when I was working in NYC for the summer, she freaked out after not hearing from me for over 24 hours (I hadn’t “tweeted” anything during that time, either. So in her mind, the only alternative was for me to be lying in a ditch somewhere in Brooklyn.) Our personalities are very similar; we both tend to over-think things and have been dubbed the “worry warts” of the family. But I honestly question what I’d do without her. Even though she knows how to push my buttons, it’s all worth it for the unyielding support I get in return.

Thirdly? Beyonce. She’s just everything I want to be. (Which yes, includes being BFF w/ Kelly Rowland.)

What are three things you’re thankful for?
The random kindness of strangers, my roommate Nicole, and the current trend of pumpkin-flavored everything.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned that you can share with Polish My Crown readers?
About two years ago I had a pretty scary mental health problem that really changed the way I view myself and those I hold close to me. It wasn’t the type of illness that had me admitted to a hospital. In fact, I bet the majority of people I was around on a day-to-day basis had no idea there was anything even wrong with me. But I felt like I was sinking. Looking back now, I am actually THANKFUL for what the ordeal taught me. I learned how to be patient with myself– rough patches will come into your life and sometimes they will stay longer than you’d like. But eventually they go away. The beauty is in learning how to stay afloat, even in the roughest of waters. And for me, that was accomplished in two ways: forgiving myself for feeling “out of it,” and not being afraid to lean on others. I feel incredibly blessed for my own little support system (whom I like to call “my people”). I bet most people feel the same about THEIR friends and family. The trick is not being afraid to reach out to them when you need to.

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September Bestowed Box

I shared about Bestowed previously and was thrilled when they asked me to review their September box! Bestowed is a healthy, organic monthly subscription box service. Their September box is the best yet with EIGHT delicious healthy snacks:

La Tortilla Factory White Whole Wheat Soft Wrap Minis: I don’t count calories, but 50 calories for one wrap?! That’s a huge yes.

Funky Monkey Fruit Snacks: these guys pack in three servings of fruit in one pack! They are 100% real fruit, freeze-dried, gluten-free with no added sugar. They taste like crunchy fruit chips!

Pearls Black Pitted Olives to Go: I’m new to the olives game but really enjoyed these. Love that I can throw them in my purse as an afternoon snack!

Popcorn, Indiana FIT Popcorn: all-natural, gluten-free popcorn! I’m literally eating this as I type and would 100% buy this in stores. While it makes sense to microwave popcorn for movie night, options are limited when you want popcorn on-the-go. This is a perfect {and super yummy} solution and I’m intrigued by their other flavors {sea salt? parmesan and herb? yes please!}

Somersault Snack Co. Cinnamon Crunch Somersaults: these are my airport go-to! I could eat these things all day, every day literally. I’ve tried seriously every flavor, including Pacific Sea Salt and Santa Fe Salsa. They are made of sunflower and sesame seeds and packed with 6g of protien and 3g of fiber. It was such a pleasant surprise to receive them in my Bestowed box!

I still need to try these three items, but have no doubt they will be delicious:

Happy Family Happy Squeeze Greek Yogurt Pouch

Nonni’s THINaddictives Cranberry Almond Thins

Pacific Natural Foods Hazelnut Chocolate Dairy-Free Milk

My favorite part about Bestowed is that the service enables me to discover healthy, delicious and easy snacks that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. Also check out these AWESOME recipes from the Bestowed community from items in the September boxes.

Bestowed boxes are just $19/month but you can receive $5 off your first box! Just use the code 5OFFBESTOWED03 when signing up. Seriously…this would be the best $14 you spend all month, I promise. Enjoy!

Bestowed

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Lovely Links

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a great week. Here’s a few of my favorites from the Web over the past few days. I hope your weekend is full of sunshine, delicious meals {that graphic up there is just too amazing}, good friends, laughter and a lot of relaxation.

xo!

Highly recommend this one: How to go on an actual date

Everyday decisions 20-somethings are really bad at {I’ve been laughing about this A LOT}

“It’s very hard

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to be vulnerable. But those people that do that are the dreamers and thinkers and creators and they’re the magic people of the world.” – awesome advice from Amy Poehler

I’ll take one of each of these prints please?

Emily’s honesty and beauty in this blog post

A beautiful interview by Darling Magazine with Robin May {love her Instagram!}

Dear Blank, Please Blank {hilarious website/guilty pleasure}

Omg. Avocado pasta!

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on vulnerability {and more}

Love this quote advice from Amy Poehler  about being vulnerable – read lots more advice here.

On expressing your love… “Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person, and only attracts more love into your life.”

On decisions… “Most decisions aren’t final. Feelings change all the time; you can always change your mind. And taking risks and taking chances is what makes life so exciting because we never know what’s gonna happen. Every day something new comes our way. Isn’t that amazing?”

On stress and productivity… “Just figure out what you can do today, and go to bed knowing that you’ve done everything you can.”

 

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Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing

This Huffington Post article was one of the best things I’ve read in awhile. I know, I know…I say that about A LOT of articles I share on Polish My Crown, but this one truly does offer some practical, real-life advice for women. Read the full 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing article here. I was originally going to only share my favorite “things to stop doing” but realized…I can’t just pick a few. Hope you get as much out of it as I did! xo

1. Apologizing all the time. Research has shown that women actually do say “sorry” more often than men. We’re all for taking responsibility when you make a mistake — but constantly apologizing for having your waiter split the check or asking a date to hang out on a different night or telling a friend about your problems, does more harm than good. There’s no need to qualify everything you do. Own your preferences and decisions.

2. Saying “yes” to everyone else. Yes, I will meet you for coffee even though I’m exhausted and just want to go home and crawl into bed. Yes, I will edit your resume even though I’m swamped with my own work. Yes, I will go on a double date with you, your almost-boyfriend and his awful friend who’s in town. Stop saying “yes” when you don’t truly mean it. People actually respect you more when you set boundaries.

3. Saying “no” to yourself. A lot of women spend a whole lot of time deciding what we can’t do or shouldn’t do or aren’t good enough to do. Don’t allow your insecurities and anxieties to make your decisions for you — you’ll only end up missing out on worthwhile experiences. So go talk to that group of people you think you won’t fit in with, stay out late against your better judgment every once in awhile and treat yourself to that blowout even if you don’t really need it.

4. Viewing food as the enemy. Women often receive the message that our ultimate worth lies in our looks. Our hair should be smoothed or perfectly curled, our makeup on at all times — but natural-looking — and our bodies bangin’ (read: thin). In the quest to achieve these impossible standards, it’s easy to see food as something to contend with rather than to enjoy. Be cognizant of what you put in your body — after all, it’s the only one you have — but try to do away with the guilt. Savor every bite of that gnocchi with gorgonzola or that Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream or those fresh cherry tomatoes. Food should not come with regrets. As Nora Ephron wrote, “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”

5. Body-snarking — out loud or in your own head. Stop putting your looks down, period. Nothing good will ever come of it, unless you’re working through body issues with your therapist.

6. Feeling like an impostor when you accomplish something professionally. Women are more likely than men to feel like “impostors” at work, often doubting whether we deserve the successes we achieve. Start taking your accomplishments at face value. You got that new job or promotion or grade or public recognition because you were worthy of it.

7. Obsessively untagging every “unflattering” photo of you that ever existed online. While it makes sense that you don’t want that photo of you blinking showing up all over your Facebook profile, we probably cause ourselves more anxiety than necessary making sure every image that doesn’t show us in perfect lighting doing something totally amazing goes away. It’s not only just one more way for us to obsess about our looks — after all, people will post what they’ll post and we have little control — but online photo albums have largely replaced physical ones. You may not want to remember the unflattering face you made at your brother’s graduation party now, but down the line you might want to conjure the moment.

8. Comparing your real life to someone else’s virtual one. Spending a ton of time obsessing over your own online life can be anxiety-provoking — but so can obsessing over other peoples’ virtual personas. Research has shown that Facebook addiction is correlated with lower self-esteem. And who wouldn’t feel bad sitting in bed on a Monday night scrolling through your ex’s vacation photo album or the enthusiastic statuses your friend in the fashion industry posted during a celeb-filled party? Instead of playing a constant game of comparison, which studies have shown can actually magnify feelings of depression, just close your laptop and enjoy the present. At least it’s real.

9. Holding on to regrets and guilt. “I’m pretty anti-regret,” Lena Dunham said at the 2012 New Yorker Festival. Guilt and regret are two emotions that usually serve to torture the person feeling them. Acknowledge your regrets and guilts, and then move on to the best of your ability.

10. Wearing heels every day. Look at this terrifying infographic and then tell me why it’s a good idea to force your poor feet into stilettos on a daily basis. We love a gorgeous pair of pumps, but embracing comfort (most of the time) will not only make your commute a whole lot more pleasant, but your feet a whole lot happier for years to come. Plus, flat shoes can be super stylish.

11. Judging other women’s sex lives. No woman deserves to be put down for who she sleeps with, how many people she sleeps with or how she chooses to express her sexuality. Next time you’re about to call another woman a “prude” or a “slut” just zip your lips. Even Miley Cyrus and her twerking shouldn’t be slut-shamed.

12. Judging your own sex life. No one needs to know your “number.” And honestly, you probably care a whole lot more about what the sex you’re having (or not having) supposedly says about you than anyone else does.

13. Trying to be “chill.” Maybe you truly are the “cool girl” who loves nothing more than kicking back with a six-pack and a movie. But for those of us who don’t possess the “chill” gene, let’s stop trying. Striving to be the mellow girl at all times keeps us from expressing our needs, desires and opinions.

14. Fearing the label “crazy.” There is no easier way to discredit a woman’s opinion or feelings than to accuse her of being overly emotional. “I don’t think this idea that women are ‘crazy,’ is based in some sort of massive conspiracy,” wrote author Yashar Ali in a blog for The Huffington Post in 2011. “Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis.” Being scared of the label only encourages women to silence themselves. Plus, everyone has a little bit of crazy inside of them — regardless of gender.

15. WebMD-ing everything. Your glands may have been swollen for a week but it does not automatically mean that you have a massive tumor in your neck. Step away from the Internet doctor and go see a real one if you’re truly worried.

16. Worrying that your life doesn’t look like Pinterest. You are not Martha Stewart. You will probably never make that DIY floating bookshelf. And your Eggocado will never look as delicious as this one does.

17. Fearing being alone. There are certain things you have control over — like trying to go on dates, and actively meeting new people — and others which you simply don’t. Finding a life partner (or even a temporary one) is one of those things. You can’t pinpoint when or where or how you’ll meet someone to spend your life with, so stop freaking yourself out over the idea that you never will. And there are far worse things than being alone. “The most profound relationship we’ll ever have is the one with ourselves,” Shirley MacLaine once said. Preach.

18. Being in relationships for the sake of having a relationship. If you’re terrified of being alone, the worst thing you can do is jump into a relationship you don’t really want. Nothing good comes from tying yourself to a person who isn’t right for you simply because you feel the need to couple up. As Nora Ephron wrote when she launched HuffPost Divorce: “Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.”

19. Not taking advantage of your vacation days. More Americans than ever are forgoing their (already meager) paid vacation days — despite the fact that we know that people who take time off are more likely to be healthy, happy and productive workers. We swear, no one will die if you turn off your cell phone and head to the mountains for a long weekend.

20. Holding on to toxic friendships. Banish any Regina George-like frenemies from your life ASAP. Life is too short to waste time with people who make you feel like crap.

21. Spending time with people out of obligation. Just because you spent every waking moment of your elementary school days with someone doesn’t mean you have anything in common with her now. There’s no need to see every old friend and third cousin who passes through your city. Be intentional about who you spend your time with and allow yourself to let some relationships fade away naturally.

22. Being embarrassed about your interests. “I want to be a f**king feminist and wear a f**king Peter Pan collar. So f**king what?,” said Zooey Deschanel in Glamour magazine’s February 2013 issue. Take a cue from the actress and stop caring what you “should” look like/care about/talk about. If you love girly things, love girly things. If you don’t, don’t. Embrace your lack of knowledge about music, your hockey obsession and your weakness for both “Breaking Bad” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” And if there’s a particular subject area you don’t know about but you encounter someone who does? Take the opportunity to ask questions.

23. Setting deadlines for major life events. Don’t try to meticulously plan out when you should find love or have babies or get that dream job or buy that amazing brownstone. Enjoy the uncertainty of life and allow yourself to be overjoyed when you hit those milestones or pleasantly surprised when you realize you want to skip out on some of them altogether.

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