Acting On Inspiration

red kite

I watched season 2 of The Carrie Diaries yesterday after devouring season 1 a few weeks ago. A coming of age story for a group of high school friends from Castlebury, Connecticut in the mid 80s, it is a prequel to the Sex and the City television series and based on Candace Bushnell’s book of the same name.

What I most enjoyed about watching the show, perhaps even more than catching the warm and fuzzies from the theme of strong friendship or drooling over the GORGEOUS Austin Butler, was observing Carrie’s determinedness to go for her dreams of becoming a writer and to make her way in the city that has always electrified her. Like Carrie, New York City, in all its dizzying chaos and harsh extremes (rich, poor, overcrowded, intimate, uplifting, depressing), has dazzled me from a young age. Seeing her coming into her own, navigating her way from sheltered suburban kid to bold, street-smart young woman who wants what she wants badly enough to risk embarrassment and failure struck a chord with me. Carrie, just 17, was mature for her age, as I have always been. She has always seen herself doing big things in life, just as I have. I grew more and more inspired to work on my goals with each passing episode.

The thing is, it’s easy to say you’re going to commit to making things happen for yourself, changing what you know needs to change, and going for the life you feel you want and deserve while basking in the touching, beautifully blinding light of inspiration. A centering vacation, revelatory spiritual retreat, enlightening personal development book, or powerful sermon, for example, can fill us up with hope and excitement about our futures that often brings us to tears.  These moments remind us of the non-jaded, unafraid little kid inside who had big dreams that not only seemed possible, but certain. We’re rejuvenated and filled with fire…all from the comfort of our couch, a gorgeous beach, or cozy place of worship.

But what happens once we get off the plane, when we finish the book, when the sermon is through, or in my case, when the show is over? Continue reading

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14 Suggestions for How to Spread a Lil’ L.O.V.E. on Valentine’s Day

hearts

February 14th doesn’t just have to be about romantic love. Frankly, the whole WORLD could use some more heart ‘n’ soul from each and every one of us. And while we should do our best to come from a loving state of mind every day, Valentine’s Day serves as a nice reminder. (And there’s roses and chocolate everywhere, so, you know…I’m pretty much all about it.)

Here are 14 doable ideas on how to dish out some much-needed compassion this VDay:

1. Volunteer (or sign up to volunteer) your time or money to a cause you believe in.
2. Smile at a stranger. (…Or 14 of’em)
3. Give at least three people a genuine, heartfelt compliment.
4. Send a “love letter” to anyone you know who could use a pick-me-up.
5. Keep your language (including the self-talk in your head) as positive as possible and try to avoid gossip.
6. Do at least one small thing that could help the planet and/or animals, both which cannot ask for help themselves.
7. Support a local business. (Perhaps one that sells chocolate, perfume, lingerie, or jewelry?!)
8. During your commute, offer up your seat to someone else if you take public transportation, or patiently let someone cut in front of you if you drive.
9. Practice listening without simultaneously thinking about your own agenda for the conversation.
10. Consider how you can share your unique skills, talents, and PASSIONS with the world–we all need what only you can bring to the table, and it would be a crime to hold that back.
11. Spread positive news that is not directly about yourself.
12. Practice empathy and allow yourself to feel whatever emotion(s) comes up for you without judgement.
13. Educate yourself by doing ten minutes of research on a far-reaching controversial topic you are unfamiliar with. (Less ignorance is the key here.)
14. Give someone a kiss, big hug, or at least a solid pat on the back while looking them in the eyes. The sensation of touch and eye contact is huge for creating trust, good vibes, and peace.

What other things can we do to bring more love to all on Valentine’s Day and every day of the year? Let me know in the comments. xo

Peace, love, and glamour…
Rika

Suga, Suga, How’d Ya Get So SICKENING?!

sugar skull and crossbones

Hey, everyone! Happy New Year! It’s been a long time..I shouldn’t’ve left you..without a dope beat to step to….  *Corrrrnyyy* 🙂

SO, as part of my New Year’s resolution to eat mostly healthy [vegan] food, I have committed myself to going sugar-free for one week of every month in 2014. For January, I chose this past week (Monday-Sunday), since I had no social obligations to attend where tempting goodies might have called my name. I should mention that at least for now, I’m not at the point in my journey where I [want to] eliminate ALL sugar, such as that found in fruit, certain condiments, etc. I’m currently just choosing to go without any kind of obvious, sugar-filled junk food. (I never add sugar to my coffee or tea anyway.) I have had a HUGE, almost insatiable sweet tooth all my life, so just eliminating cookies, cake, candy, etc. for a full seven days is a ginormous leap for me. (It’s the second time I’ve challenged myself to do this in my whole life! The first was back in November.)

Today begins a week where I’m allowing myself to have junk-sugar (in moderation) again. Now, most nutritionists would NOT recommend rewarding oneself with the thing she is trying to avoid or have less of, but uh…EFF THAT! This afternoon I went to Fairway and got about 6 regular-sized cookies (white chocolate macadamia, double chocolate chip, chocolate chip, and granola), as well as a soy mocha cappuccino because I’ve been meaning to treat myself to coffee from Fairway since I moved to Harlem and began doing my grocery shopping there. I was planning to have about three cookies today and then save the rest for later this week. Continue reading

How to Feel the Magic of the Holiday Season as an Adult

lit tree in woodsFor some more drastically than others, the holiday season can seem to lose a bit of its luster as we get older. Decorating, baking cookies, and exchanging presents are still fun, but not as fun or fulfilling as they used to be back when we weren’t ruminating on our financial woes and checking email every five seconds while passive-aggressively being pissed off at several people in our families. 🙂

For those who generally like the holidays, but just wish they could feel a bit more of the magic they did as kids, it’s surprisingly pretty easy to get that old-fashioned joy back without much more than an open mind.

I don’t need to tell you how great traditions are—you likely already know this and have activities you enjoy participating in this time of year. Furthermore, I don’t believe we get the full experience of doing those festive things anyway without giving some thought to the following:

In my opinion, there are three main components that affect how we experience this time of year.

1) Mindset and Use of Time
2) Relationships
3) Belief in the Inexplicable

Mindset and Use of Time:

  • Give yourself a break from some responsibilities for a few weeks and spend more time enjoying holiday-specific activities or volunteering for those less fortunate.
  • Surround yourself with more positivity than usual, possibly in part by switching up your media intake until after the new year.
  • Commit to a playful, lighthearted attitude and let loose!

Relationships:

  • Accept family and friends for who they are and who they are not.
  • Forgive those who have hurt you for your own peace of mind.
  • Remain unaffected by negative or jaded people.
  • Check in with yourself here and there through journaling or meditation, for example.

Belief in the Inexplicable

  • Feel grateful for who you are and what you have.
  • Try to remember some of the times you felt the universe/God/whatever saved your butt or brought you some kind of miracle.
  • Rule out anything as being impossible.
  • Acknowledge love itself.

Do you have any more categories or tips you’d add to this list? How do you feel about this time of year overall?

How I Did on My First (Sort Of) Sugar Detox!

no sugar I'm sweet enough

YOWZA–long time no post!

Sorry y’all. I’m not even gonna give you an excuse–frankly, I’ve just been slacking. Want to strive for that to happen less. We’re here together now, though, so that’s what’s important. 🙂

I wanted to update you on how my sugar detox went! I’m proud to say that I did the unthinkable for me: one whole week without any kind of junk food sweet. No chocolate, no candy, no ice cream, no cake, no cookies, no cherry-flavored wallpaper a la Willy Wonka–nunna that. It tripped me out when I realized that the last time I went a week without sweets was VERY likely before I could chew food! (My mom has always been a sweet-a-holic, and I inherited that, thanks to all the goodies that have always been in our house. Thank God she and I are such busy ladies running around all the time, or else we wouldn’t be able to fit through a door…seriously.)

I think what really helped me get through this was telling myself that Continue reading

My First Attempt to (Sort Of) Sugar Detox

sugar cubes

Give mama some suga? No ma’am–not for a week!

Lately, I’ve been falling back into some unhealthy old habits, and have been totally overdoing it on the sweet stuff. Fortunately, it’s more so out of laziness than the strong pull of addiction, which I experienced when I was in the throes of Binge Eating Disorder a little over five years ago. (I’ll get into that in another post.) I know I have the tools to make better choices, but a bit too often I’m just like, “Fuck it. I could get off my ass and take a walk or grab coffee with a friend, but that takes effort, and I’m tired. That triple chocolate cake that’s in the fridge right now sounds fantastic though, and it’s RIGHT THERE, so whatever.”

While my binges are nowhere near as frequent or as large as they used to be, they occur enough to sabotage my productivity (excess sugar makes me EXHAUSTED) and potentially jeopardize my health over time. I’ve heard over and over again that sugar is the devil (haven’t we all?), but I think I’m finally ready to start listening.

Generally, I’m all for everything in moderation, but at this point I’m not sure if sugar is something I can only have a little of. I’m okay when I’m at work and enjoy one chocolate kiss or cookie, but if junk sweets are in the house? FUHGETTABOUTIT. Game over.

I should mention that I’m not trying to cut out all sugar— Continue reading

Forgiving Myself After Succumbing to My Ego

forgiveness

I came home (to my parents’ house in Jersey) this weekend for a close friend’s wedding, taking Monday and Tuesday off as well to really soak up the quality time at home. I was excited to see close friends, hang out with family, spend a little time in nature, and leisurely write and research my career interests over the four days. I saved today (Tuesday) for the latter part, knowing I’d have some quiet time with both my parents being at work.

I woke up this morning in a sad, grumpy mood. I often used to feel this way on Sundays (the day before work) at home, and sometimes still do at my new apartment. It’s like I’m counting down the hours I have to be completely free and do whatever I want before having to head into the weekly rat race again, and it depresses me. (Sound familiar?) There’s also the pressure of having to be productive and use those precious hours wisely.

Because I’m really trying more than ever to work on curbing my ego to advance myself towards my dreams, I said, “No, Erica. Don’t start this again. Nothing bad has happened. You have no reason to be sad or grumpy. Let’s just go make the best of this beautiful day.” I was happy that I had at least convinced myself into a five minute meditation, but this positive mindset didn’t last for long. I was irritable with my mother and we got into the kind of argument that we haven’t had since I moved out. I didn’t feel like exercising, even though I felt gross from eating lots of junk the night before. I was just feeling annoyed with a tinge of hopelessness.

Long story short, I ended up watching The Wendy Williams Show, Bethenny, and Wendy Williams’ aftershows and hot topics videos ALL. DAY. LONG. in my lavender bathrobe, something I used to do often, just wallowing around in my grumpiness and giving up on my plan to be productive. (Or the idea of running a comb through my hair, evidently, which ends up looking like quite the welcoming nest for a family of sparrows after a long day of lounging around sulking.) Continue reading