Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A day to be thoughtful

Today is Giving Tuesday. While Giving Tuesday is only 5 years old, I think it is an excellent antidote to the excesses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And the entire holiday season, really. It is just as important, however, to be mindful of the organizations to whom you give.

I remember once, when I was at my grandparents' house for lunch, my grandmother received a phone call, and she went and got her purse and started pulling out her credit card. I asked her what she was doing, and she said the "Cerebral Palsy Foundation" needed donations, and they couldn't take them by check, only by credit card. I told her that was bull, and she needed to hang up the phone. She looked concerned, so I took the phone from her, told the woman on the phone that my grandmother only makes donations to organizations by mail, and hung up. The Cerebral Palsy Foundation may have been a legitimate organization for all I know, but anyone who tells you they can only take donations over the phone by credit card is trying to scam you.

We all know there are a lot of crap foundations out there, but there are a lot of amazing organizations doing amazing work, as well, and since I started working for a non-profit, and have become older and more cynical, I have become more mindful about the causes to which I will donate. If you invite me donate to "breast cancer," believe me, I will be asking to which organization you are donating. A lot of people don't know - or they'll figure out after they've raised the money. Breast cancer is by far the most exploited disease, as far as disreputable organizations are concerned, from what I've seen. You may remember in 2014, an organization calling themselves Breast Cancer Society, Inc. allegedly bilked donors out of $187 million in donations. The leader of the organization has since been banned from running a non-profit.

All of this is to say, I am selective about the organizations to which I will contribute, and I thought I would tell you some of those, just in case you were looking for a good cause.

International Rescue Committee: This has been my cause of choice this year. They respond to the worst humanitarian crises, around the world, and here at home. From Syrian refugees to homeless youth in Los Angeles, IRC is a well-run, reputable organization committed to helping with emergency relief and long-term support.

Wildlife Conservation Network: Works to save endangered species. When I'm donating in honor of children, I generally stick to this one. They do good work.

American Cancer Society: Yes, I donate to my own organization. We work hard to fight cancers of all kinds, and I believe in the work we are doing. All of our financials are public record, so nothing is being hidden; your donations are not buying anyone's private jets. I've met a lot of people who have benefitted from what we do here, so I feel good about donating.

Breast Cancer Research Foundation: A 4-star rated organization, they specialize in, you guessed it, breast cancer research.

Want something a little more local? I also donate to:

Friends of the Shelter/SPCA KY - opposes cruelty to animals, promotes humane treatment, promotes spay/neuter programs, supports shelters
Brighton Center - a local organization that provides everything from emergency assistance, to recovery programs, to children's aid, to senior services.
Rob's Kids - helps children suffering from mental illness, suicide prevention
And of course, this bleeding heart liberal donates to her local NPR station.

Giving Tuesday isn't only about donating money - your time is worth so much. Food banks, homeless shelters, Ronald McDonald House, preparing and serving meals, driving cancer patients to treatment (ask me about this one, if you're interested)...there are so many ways you can give your time to people who need it. Or donate supplies to an animal shelter or homeless shelter.

This is a day to remember the world beyond your small space. A good way to start a habit of giving that will hopefully continue throughout the year. Happy #GivingTuesday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy...

I love reading about routines - I often read from MindBodyGreen.com and Greatist.com (both are health blogs,) and my favorite posts are different health and fitness professionals describing their routines. Perhaps I hope if I follow their routines, I too will become healthy and fabulous. Except - my very favorites are morning routines, and very few of these people seem to have realistic routines, at least not to me.

Look at this woman! Still in bed, and it's light outside! Get up, lazy!
Let's ask Tiffany Lester*, functional medicine practitioner, how she begins her day...

"My body is programmed to wake up around 6:30 a.m. no matter what time I went to sleep. I've always been an early bird and enjoy the stillness that morning brings. To get energized, I've recently begun jumping on a rebounder (mini trampoline) for 10 minutes while listening to my favorite cardio playlist. This gets my blood pumping and lymphatic system flowing for the perfect start to my day!"

First of all, "gets my lymphatic system flowing?" Ew.
Second, who considers a person who wakes up every day at 6:30 a.m. an "early bird?"

Ok, while I generally just enjoy these sorts of posts (it doesn't have to be a wellness professional, either, I love reading about anyone's routines,) sometimes I just like to judge a little. And feel really superior. Let's compare here:

Fern Olivia, Thyroid Expert
My alarm is set to wake me up at 7:00 a.m. to Oshuns of Love, a beautiful sound bath with vocals, shamanic healing, and didgeradoo by my dear friends Aya and Tyler.

Missy K, Admin with Ridiculously Long Title
If I wake to an alarm, it's at 4:20 a.m. to whatever is playing on whatever station I've programmed. More commonly, however, I am awoken by my cat sitting on my face and meowing, or jerked awake by some jarring noise emitting from my husband, generally between 3:50 and 4:00 a.m.

Fern Olivia, Thyroid Expert
Once I rise, it's time for herbal tea, lemon water, my daily Thyroid Yoga Practice, and essential oil routine.

Missy K, Expert of Nothing, but Goddess of All
Stumble blearily into workout clothes, probably step on a cat or two. Fill up the water bottle, and if it's earlier than 4, make coffee. Drink some coffee and sit on couch, where cat cuddles up like a sleeping baby and makes me want to go back to sleep. Sometimes I do. This morning, however, I finally convinced my butt out the door, into the car, and to boot camp.

Fern, Crazy woman with more time on her hands than I do, apparently
This ritual is a habit made holy, and I look forward to waking up to luxurious self-care.

Missy, Crazy woman, in general
Get home around 6:10 a.m., wake up the girl, shower and dress, feed the cats, throw my food that I (hopefully) prepped last night into my lunchbox, refill the water bottle and coffee mug, and try to get out the door before 6:45 to beat the worst of the traffic. That short period of time is an insane sprint, but worth it if it means I got a good workout in.

Now you ask, gee, Missy, what does all this have to do with that uber-motivated post you wrote several weeks ago about losing weight and you were going to be posting honest weigh-ins, and really committing, etc...yeah, nothing. And I am aware that I said all that at the beginning of October, and then did not post again, because I didn't do a darn healthy thing, and I may have actually gained a little weight, and I was embarrassed. October is a stupid busy month. Not an excuse, but true. It's Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I work for a health organization, and we work a lot in October. Also, Halloween, and volleyball, and most importantly, my Girl's birthday. She likes scary things now, and it's fun. We went to a haunted house, and she had a lot of fun.

Anyway, no, this has nothing to do with anything, other than the fact that routines and habits make weight loss doable, and we've discussed this before, certainly. I was just having some fun comparing my morning routines with these people. Reading Organize Yourself Skinny, where she discusses the importance of routines and habits. And perhaps considering ways to overhaul my own routines so getting healthy does not feel so freaking hard after a while.

The first change will be getting my butt to boot camp more often. I know, the best way to get myself back into a workout habit is to move every day. I can't boot camp every day, but I can most days. And the days I don't, I can move. I joined a mile a day challenge for November, so that's a start. And I actually have to be accountable to the group.

I've also been wanting to incorporate some mindfulness meditation into my days. A lot of these wellness people do this at the beginning of the day. So, I am going to start with 2 minutes of basic breathing meditation after I go downstairs and fill my water bottle. Perhaps these two steps will bring me a little closer to Fern, Angel of Luxury, and a little further from my current state of Oh Caffeinated Lady of the Eye Bags.

*Fern and Tiffany shared their routines in this post.