Easy Ways To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

At this point in life, I’m learning that things that used to be easy in my twenties, like sitting cross-legged for hours on end, just aren’t quite as simple now. Or running a 5K. Or staying up late to go to see The Cure in concert night after night.  Passing 50 last December was certainly a milestone I’m proud of. But I’m equally proud of the work I’ve done to embrace a healthy lifestyle. I’ve realized that while some things used to be easier in my twenties and thirties, many struggles I had back then have ceased to be as anxiety ridden. I’ve learned that embracing a healthy lifestyle means more than just counting calories and getting enough sleep; I’m learning that for me to feel whole and balanced and joyful requires a few key elements.

Easy Ways To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Setting boundaries

Like many working moms, I struggled in my thirties with how to balance my teaching career with motherhood. I wanted both. I knew I needed to work outside the home, and I felt the opposing pull to stay as close to my babies as possible. I tried every schedule I could think of. I switched schools, changed the subject I taught, and quit then worked part-time then quit again. Finally, after six years of this yo-yo life with teaching and mothering, I landed in the right school with the right schedule. In the fourteen years since, I’ve become adept at drawing the home/work boundaries. I didn’t grade papers when the kids were awake. I took time off to drive on field trips, and volunteered in their classrooms. I was home (mostly) in the afternoons and did the things with them that I wanted to do. It wasn’t always easy, but setting boundaries then has prepared me to set boundaries for myself. I draw a line between my work life and my creative/at home life, and rarely cross it.

Contributing to my community

When my four-year-old son started karate, one line of his daily pledge was to ‘contribute to my community’. I loved that message, and because of him we took it seriously. I tried to weave age-appropriate acts of giving into our lifestyles, and to teach my children that you get what you give. I love simple acts of kindness like bringing our neighbors some fresh cookies out of the oven, or bringing the kids to visit their great-grandmother at the senior center. We evolved into more involved, planned contributions such as trash pick up around our favorite creek, or cooking and serving meals at the homeless shelter. As teens, I’ve taken my kids to help improve schools in Nicaragua and am encouraging them to study and find jobs in order to make the world a better place.

easy ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle

Getting outside every day

In my twenties I used to love to run. Now, I love to walk. And I’m ok with that. yes, I have to walk much farther to burn the same calories as running, but to me, walking is meditation and exercise. I walk the dog, walk to errands, and walk to socialize with friends. I love to walk in cities I’m visiting, or along the beach. In the mountains, there’s nothing better than walking along a trail and just paying attention to what’s around me. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, but often it’s just me and my dog, and my teens (if I’m lucky!). A daily dose of nature lifts my spirits and reminds me that I’m just one small part of a very big universe.

Enjoying the ordinary moments

When my kids were little, I was obsessed with videotaping everything. I’m old enough that smart phones didn’t exist during their early years, but I faithfully recorded life from behind the lens, then followed up with daily journal entries. Looking back, our favorite memories aren’t necessarily the ‘big’ moments of life; instead, we love seeing the ordinary ones, the moments of everyday life when smearing yogurt on their faces made them giggle, or running after them when they rode their bike down the street, or just noticing the book we were reading or the car we drove up to Tahoe one summer. Now that I’m older and more reflective, I’m embracing those daily, extraordinarily ordinary moments. With one kid in college and one still a teen, my ordinary moments are less likely to involve my children, allowing me to slow down and really pay attention to the curve of the branches of a tree outside my window, or how the clouds flirt with the sun on an April afternoon. I treasure the first blooms in my garden and the way my students’ eyes light up when they understand what I’m trying to teach. Enjoying the ordinary moments leaves me joyful and grateful even on the most difficult of days.

easy ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle!

Eating well

I love to cook. A Saturday spent shopping and baking and preparing a creative meal for my family is one of my favorite ways to show my love. I’m a rabid fan of Food Network, having grown up on Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet. Now, my love of eating well has transfused to my son, and we get downright giddy together in the grocery store. For a sixteen-year-old, he has sophisticated taste buds and reminds me to think about the flavor profile and what we’re eating, sticking to foods as pure and unprocessed as possible. Restaurants are a special treat; we’d rather spend a Sunday watching over a slow-cooker full of authentically spiced carnitas, or rolling out our own dough for cinnamon rolls. Eating well, to me, isn’t just about keeping a calorie count – it’s about indulging in food as a simple pleasure and displaying my creativity and caring towards my family.

It’s never too late – check out these fun and easy ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle with Chobani Simply 100! I’d love to know what you love to do!

Easy Ways To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Life Has Left Her Footprints

Life has left her footprints on my forehead.

But I have become a child again this morning.

The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,

is back to smooth away the wrinkles,

as the rains wipe away footprints on the beach.

Again a cycle of birth and death begins.

sunrise

I walk on thorns, but firmly, as among flowers.

I keep my head high.

Rhymes bloom among the sounds of bombs and mortars.

The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.

I feel calm hearing its sound on the thatched roof.

Childhood, my birthland, is calling me,

and the rains melt my despair.

 

I am still here alive, able to smile quietly.

O sweet fruit brought forth by the tree of suffering!

Carrying the dead body of my brother,

I go across the rice field in the darkness.

Earth will keep you tight within her arms, my dear,

so that tomorrow you will be reborn as flowers,

those flowers smiling quietly in the morning field.

This moment you weep no more, my dear.We have gone through too deep a night.

 

This morning,

I kneel down on the grass,

when I notice your presence,

Flowers that carry the marvelous smile of ineffability

speak to me in silence.

 

The message,

the message of love

and understanding,

has indeed come to us.

 

~written in 1964 in Saigon by Thich Nhat Hanh

 

I share this with deep gratitude to my friend Vicki, who spreads love, compassion and knowledge as we walk in friendship on weekend early mornings.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Friday Photo-Things I Would Not Have Seen

He left in the dark this morning. I woke to dark, torrential rain, not sure what time it was. The rain thundered on the roof, and I pulled the covers up. A winter Saturday, and for the first time in 12 years I was not in Tahoe for opening day of the ski racing season. My broken boy quietly slept in his downstairs room, arms flung out to the side. 600 miles away, my college girl prepares for her own ski day, without us. I lit a candle, grabbed my journal, and started wondering about what I was missing.

I grew restless as soon as the light crept through the window. I pulled on my yoga pants, laced my tennies and grabbed the dog leash. Enough is enough. I needed to shake it off. I let Cola take the lead, desperate to find the message from the Universe, looking for things I would not have otherwise seen.

Raindrops on red
Raindrops on red
Palms praying
Palms praying
Message from Santa
Message from Santa

 

Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Damp ducks
Damp ducks
Running through gold
Running through gold

This life, these moments. The Universe reminds us to be present where we are. To remember the things we would not have seen.

“But the beauty is in the walking — we are betrayed by destinations.”
Gwyn Thomas

l

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Friday Photo: Things We Cannot Change

Sunset over UC Davis
Sunset over UC Davis

I like to walk, especially in the early mornings or early evenings. I try to change it up, to not take the same path every day. Usually I bring my little 16-pounds-of-fury with me for company, but this week he decided to take a vacay with grandma so it’s just me. Alone.

Sometimes my kids walk with me. Used to walk with me, I should say. Now, with one in college and one with a broken leg, I’m usually on my own. It’s ok, though – for me, walking is meditation. Time to clear the monkey mind that’s developed after a day of teaching and simply get back to center. Alone.

Often I walk onto campus to see what’s going on. It kinda is like I never left college – I love seeing the towering buildings with kids spilling in and out. I wonder what they’ve read the night before, and how the professor will excite their brains. I smile when I see a crowd waiting for a midterm to begin, blue books or scantrons in hand. I remember that anxiety well.

Last night I walked with a teacher-mom friend, a woman just like me, going through the changes of a child in college and a teenager at home. We talked about the emptiness of a house with only one left, and how sad and lonely and strange it sometimes feels to be at home now. Alone.

Some things we cannot change. Some things we just need to trust are working out exactly as they are supposed to, even when they don’t feel that way in the moment. Some things, I know, the Universe has put in front of me for a very good reason, requiring me to pause, and think, and feel, and take a very long walk. Alone.

p.s. – Have you read my other Friday Photo essays? You might like the ones I wrote about harvest, beacons, and the world out my window.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Best Life July 2014: A Month of Quiet

My Best July:

The month of July was quiet -sometimes, WAY too quiet. My grown-up girl has spent her summer working as a ski camp counselor at her beloved Mt. Hood, Oregon. My thinks-he’s-grown-up son has been back and forth between Mt. Hood and Lake Tahoe, and when he’s actually at home his social life keeps him WAY too busy for my liking. Even my husband took off for a few days, leaving me and the dog alone to deal with the 100+ heat and a kitchen flood that’s turning into a big-deal-long-awaited remodel. When my kids were little I longed for the kind of quiet I have now, but as time passes more and more quickly every day, I realize that those crazy, hectic, sweaty summers with two little kids were absolutely ethereal. With a blink of an eye, ten years whooshes past…so this July, I made my best life amidst the quiet. I’ve read, written, photographed, cleaned, organized, traveled, and walked, attempting to find the best in every moment. To read all of my blog posts from July, click here.

Best Quotes:

I’m a collector of quotes. I find great wisdom and inspiration in words, and I’m frequently suprised and delighted at the end of the month when I look back at those quotes I’ve chosen to share on my blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Here’s some of my favorites from July:

“Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.” #AnneLamott #quote

“The reality of what we really are is often times found in the small snips, way down at the bottom of things.” Jean Shepherd

“There are voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world.” Emerson

“After all, it is those who have a deep & real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.”E. Underhill

“Prayer is not asking for what you think you want, but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine.” Kathleen Norris

Best Moment:

I’ve found myself having a bit too much quiet time this month; I know, you parents of small children are thinking I’m crazy, but honestly, my kids are growing up and going in different, independent directions, and they’re hardly ever at home. Combine their wanderlust with their ski training at Mt. Hood, and I’ve found myself away from my daughter since mid-June. The best moment for me this month was when she took her only day off and hitched a ride (or convinced two boys to drive her, not sure which is the truth) from Mt. Hood to Bend, just to spend five glorious hours with me. We packed in a day of shopping, great coffee, hugs, river swims, coloring (yes, teens still like to color) and catching up with the fam. Peanut, thank you so much for that gift of your time. It kept me going for the last few weeks!

L on the Deschutes River
L on the Deschutes River

Best Blog Reads:

My dear friend, Dawn Wink, introduced me to the BraveGirlsClub.com, and I just had to share it with you all. Not only do they use gorgeous art work to share their mission statement: “We are on a wild and crazy mission to find all of the brave women of the world…to help them find each other…then to change the world with good news, good ideas, good people, and good times,” but they also have lots of great essays, blog posts, and even a daily truth email, Facebook page and Instagram feed that offer lovely doses of inspiration. I loved this one from their Facebook feed titled, “Dear Super Smart Girl”. I think every mom should subscribe!

Best Photo:

Ok, I’m gonna brag a bit here…I didn’t take this photo myself, but I love it so much because it captures my brave girl in all her glory! Not only has she worked away from home all summer (I know-harder on me than it is on her!) but she has become a licensed Class 2 bus driver in the state of Oregon! Love her confidenc

e!L is a licensed bus driver!

Best Books:

Oh, this one is easy-peasy! I stumbled onto Nancy E. Turner’s amazing series about turn-of-the-century Arizona, and fell in awe of Sarah, her feisty, feminine and all-around awesome main character. I’d actually bought the first book in the series, These Is My Words, for my mom as part of a Christmas book bonanza gift (she’s a voracious reader, too). I could not put that book down, and to my complete delight, I discovered that it was merely the first in a series of three novels that trace Sarah’s life as she fights to survive on the ‘territories’. If you love historical fiction with strong female characters, you MUST read this series!

These Is My Words

Best Road Trip:

I took two amazing trips this month: one to Bend, Oregon, and one to Calistoga, California. I’d have to call the Bend, Oregon trip the ‘best road trip’ simply because I got to spend eight hours in the car with my mom. It was such a treat to have her all to myself-the hours whizzed by, and I was keenly aware of how precious time with your parent can be – are you hearing me, kids? Aside from the drive, the three days I spent in Bend with my extended family were pretty spectacular-I shared some of the highlights in my post, travel with mamawolfe: Bend, Oregon for Rivers, Books, Coffee and Consignment Stores. 

Best Quiet Place:

During my stay in Bend, we spent a bit of time down on the Deschutes River. The kids loved to jump from rocks, swim, and hang out on the ‘island’. I’m not much of a swimmer, but certainly hovered while my girl flew through the air into the water. The morning I left I took a quiet walk alone down to the river and just sat and thought about this amazing life I get to live.

Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon
Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon

Best View:

This one ties in with my best road trip – the most amazing sunset I’ve seen in a long time. I found myself glued to the deck chair, snapping photos every few minutes. I was convinced it couldn’t get any better, and after two hours of beauty, this took my breath away.

Sadie at sunset
Sadie at sunset

Best Selfies:

My kids get so mad when I try to take selfies with them…here’s a few of my faves from July:

L at Mt. HoodBend, OregonL and Mom in BendC on the way to Hood

Best Tweets:

From Stephen King: Revised Tea Party Gospel: “Suffer the little children come unto me. Unless they’re undocumented kids from Central America.”

This one really hit home for me; I’m so tired of all the arguing about these children being brought by their parents to our country. When I heard one of our country’s politicians call them ‘criminals’, I just about lost it. Despite what you might think about our immigration policies, these children are far from criminals. They are children. Their parents are doing what any one of us would do – well, maybe some of us wouldn’t actually be brave enough to do what they’re doing. Having spent time in Nicaragua and seen first hand the absolute poverty many families are living in in Central America, all I can think is that extreme situations call for extreme actions, and we need to do better than labelling innocent children as ‘criminals’. They are humans, and we can find a way to figure this out.

Best Morning Ritual:

I’m definitely a creature of habit, which sometimes drives my husband crazy. I’ve been thinking a lot this month about solitude – maybe because I’ve had so much of it forced upon me this month – and one thing I know about myself is that I require a certain amount of it as a morning ritual. My best day starts off with quiet, coffee, reading, writing, and after approximately 1.5 LARGE mugs of a good Central American roast, I’m able to face my day. Throw in my list-making, dog-walking, #quoteoftheday tweet and a small bite to eat, and I’m good to go on full speed for the next 15 hours or so!

gratitude

Best Wardrobe Staple:

I’m totally into the maxi dress this month – have you tried them? If I can wear them (I’m only 5’2″, you know), so can you! I picked up a little black one during a shopping spree with my girl last month, and am absolutely in love with it. It’s super hot here in the summer, but when I slip this on I just feel comfy!

Best California Food:

Since our kitchen has been torn apart this month due to a minor flood (it’ll all be back better than ever next month!), we’ve been eating out WAY more than normal – kind of awesome, actually. We’ve had it all this month – Thai, Italian, Chinese, American, and LOTS of Trader Joe’s prepared foods (have you tried their butternut squash/quinoa salad? It’s delish), but the memorable meal and true California food goes to our dinner at Season’s in Davis – the three of us devoured our plates of mozarella stuffed turkey meatballs over penne pasta, tiger shrimp skewers with peppered fettuccine, arugula, garlic mushrooms, copacolla ham and a white wine sauce, and a rosemary rubbed pork chop served over a mushroom risotto cake, swiss chard, pancetta jus, roasted red pepper and gorgonzola sauce. And no, we didn’t have room for dessert!

tiger shrimp at Season's in Davis
tiger shrimp at Season’s in Davis

Best Recent Read:

I’m smack in the middle of Erin Lindsay McCabe’s novel, I Shall Be Near To You, and so far I cannot put it down.  Combine that with getting to know the writer via Twitter, and I know this will be one of my fave summer reads! Look for a review (and if I’m lucky, and author Q/A, on the blog next month).

I Shall Be Near To You

Dear reader, what word best describes your month of July? Wishing you great possibilities and bit of quiet in August – and as always, thank you for supporting mamawolfe.

Each month I write about what makes up ‘my best life’. To see all ‘My Best Life’ posts in one place, click here. I’m always on the lookout for what makes life amazing – I’d love to connect with you on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, too!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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