You want to be the girl with the sunny attitude on an overcast day. The woman who smiles at strangers as she sips her Starbucks, who hums aloud unself-consciously in the ladies’ room, who throws her arms out wide and lifts her face to the wind because it’s just so good to be alive.
You want to overflow with joy.
Because even if you’ve lost that enthusiasm for life somewhere along the road (or could never seem to find it to begin with), you haven’t forgotten what it feels like, or stopped wondering what it might feel like, to be that excited about being alive.
You haven’t stopped wanting that gusto, that vivacity, that zest.
You haven’t stopped needing it, craving it.
You ache to live with Radiant Abandon … but you need some guidance.
You’ve come to the right place.
I’m Elizabeth, and I help women like you get fired up about their lives. If you’re hungry to start living life with the unbridled joy that you just know is your birthright, then put on your yoga pants, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or better yet, an indecently large glass of wine), and stay awhile. You fit right in here, hot stuff.
I’m so honored to have Lindsay as my first Radiant Soul interview because she truly embodies the Radiant Abandon spirit: she’s living her life in line with her (not anyone else’s) dreams and values, and she’s doing it with overflowing enthusiasm and joy.
Enjoy my interview with Lindsay, then be sure to scroll through to see the recipe she shared with me … AND to enter to win a copy of her new cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean!
Elizabeth: I believe that physical, emotional, and spiritual health are co-dependent. In your experience, have you found that diet and exercise have an impact on your personal happiness?
Lindsay: I talk a lot about this in Light & Lean I am a better, happier person when I exercise (we all are, according to science ) and I found I was a lot happier, more energetic, more aware (less mental fog, for example) with more stable moods when I adopted a whole foods, no oil, plant-based diet. As I always say, good has to go in for glow to come out!
Elizabeth: You come across as a genuinely happy person. What strategies/habits do you use to make joy a priority in your daily life?
Lindsay: My happiness is always my focal point. I spent a lot of years depressed, and even more years really unhappy. I was miserable. When I climbed out of that darkness I vowed to keep my happiness a priority. I remind myself each day it’s okay to be a little selfish. I’m no good to anyone if I’m miserable or unhealthy. Steve Jobs has an amazing quote about how if he was unhappy too many days in a row he knew it was time to make a change. I’ve adopted that mindset and philosophy as my own.
Elizabeth: What advice would you give to women who feel like they don’t have enough time to eat healthy or exercise regularly?
Lindsay: You do Stop making excuses A little tough love but true. We make time for what’s important, but anyone can find 5 minutes to do an exercise… and it takes less than a minute to make a bean burrito. It’s all really simple, we just overcomplicate it in our mind. Adjust your thoughts to I can… not I can’t.
Elizabeth: What’s your favorite inspirational quote?
Lindsay: My mantra is “progress, not perfection.”
Elizabeth: Can you tell us something dorky that you really, obsessionally love?
Lindsay: Mustard on rice cakes.
Now for the yummiest part of our post … Lindsay was kind enough to share a recipe from her new cookbook. Microwave Peach Cobbler … does it get any easier (and tastier!) than that?!
Microwave Peach Cobbler
Lindsay says: “After the success of the Mug Cake in Everyday Happy Herbivore I wondered if I could make a pie or cobbler in a mug in my microwave. Still working on the pie, but this cobbler rocks!”
1 peach, sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
1 tbsp white whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp instant oats
1 tbsp rolled oats (optional)
1–2 tbsp brown sugar
1–2 tbsp nondairy milk (more with fresh peaches; frozen peaches are juicier)
1–2 tbsp vanilla vegan yogurt
Place peaches in your mug and set aside for a few seconds to thaw peaches if they’re frozen. In a small bowl, whisk flour, instant oats, rolled oats (if you want a slightly oat-y cobbler), brown sugar, and a few dashes of ground cinnamon (about 1⁄8 tsp), and a light dash or two ground nutmeg, until combined. Then stir in nondairy milk. Place the oat mixture on top of the peaches and microwave 1–2 minutes, until the oat topping has cooked and looks a little like oatmeal. Top with yogurt and serve.
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for … the giveaway!
Lindsay has generously offered a copy of her new cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean, to go to one lucky Radiant Abandon reader. She says, “L&L still embraces my whole foods, no oil, low fat, “everyday” ingredient cooking style (and the recipes are just as fast and easy!) but this time my focus was on making meals that were not just delicious and fuss-free, but crazy filling and without a calorie bomb. I’m also celebrating that balance between a healthy body and a healthy mind (and a healthy diet) with L&L. You’ll find workouts and get moving tips in the “lean” section — any body or fitness level welcome!”
Use the form below to enter. Make sure you go for the bonus entries … you can get LOTS of extra chances! Plus, come back every day to enter again until the giveaway closes next Saturday night.
Good luck, loves, and a HUGE thank you to Lindsay!
Gratitude is a virtue always in season, but as we enter into the holiday hubbub, it’s an especially perfect time to start practicing more thankfulness in our daily lives.
The best part is, building a habit of gratitude is easy and takes virtually no additional time out of your jam-packed schedule. Here are five ways you can start being more grateful today.
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
Keeping a gratitude journal is an easy, joy-fostering habit that helps you to recognize all the awesomeness in your everyday.
It’s a super-simple routine to start: (1) Get a pretty journal or notebook; (2) Keep it by your bed; (3) Every night before you go to sleep, write the date and five things you’re thankful for from your day.
I started gratitude journaling at the beginning of 2012, and it’s since become one of the most meaningful parts of my day. Taking a minute or two before I go to sleep to reflect on the blessings of my day is my nightly prayer to the Universe, offering thanks for all the good in my life. This habit also helps me to get perspective on the less-than-great days: I figure that if I can still come up with five reasons to be grateful, things aren’t so bad after all.
2. Don’t just think it, say it.
How often does a kind thought pop into your head but never make it out of your mouth? In day-to-day interactions, it’s so common for us to think things like, “That was nice of her to say” or “Thank goodness that ______” … but not actually say them out loud. We think the moment has passed, or that the other person will think we’re being silly for thanking them for something so mundane. Don’t worry about it; just do it. Verbally showing gratitude just might make someone’s day, and it certainly will attract more thankfulness back your way.
3. Use social media for good.
If you’re like me, you spend time each day on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. Why not start incorporating gratitude into your social media use?
As you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, comment on a friend’s post that you found helpful, inspiring, or funny, and thank them for adding that bright spot to your day. On Twitter, use #gratitudechain to thank someone and encourage them to pass it on (see an example here). Give a public shout out to someone who helped you out or blessed you with their presence that day. Send a private message to someone you think could benefit from knowing how much they mean to you (i.e., anyone!).
4. Bless your troubles.
So many of our daily grumbles are “first world problems,” trivial frustrations experienced as a result of our good fortune to live in a privileged, wealthy country. There are countless people around the world (and of course, in our own midst as well) who would give anything to have the problems we do. We should thank our lucky stars for these comparatively small troubles.
You know those little complaints that have been circling in your head today? See if you can turn them around and bless them with gratitude. Sick of another boring day at work? Be thankful you have a job to pay the bills. Grumbling over the piles of laundry, stacks of dishes, and herds of dust bunnies that need to be attended to? Be grateful that you even have the clothing, food, and shelter in the first place (there are people even in your own town who don’t).
5. Be a gracious receiver of compliments.
A compliment is a form of appreciation, a type of thanks. Just as important as showing others your gratitude is receiving that love with an open heart.
One day at work, a co-worker complimented me on my outfit, to which I responded along the likes of, “This old thing? I just got it at the thrift store, I’m not sure if I like it, I feel kind of fat in it…” Luckily, my dear friend stopped me and said, “Elizabeth. Just say ‘thank you’.”
Don’t dismiss a compliment given to you in sincerity. Accept it with gratitude, and both giver and receiver experience a soulful dose of thankfulness.
YOUR TURN: Try out at least one of these strategies to practice more gratitude in your daily life. Then come back and comment to tell us how it went!
T-2 days for Turkey Day … the stress is starting to hit, isn’t it?
Let me get extra-real with you for a sec … this morning, my stress level went from 0 to 60 in about 30 minutes. I was blessed with a “bonus day”, a snow day off from work … and quickly ruined it for myself my turning it into a stress fest for all the things I “should” do with that extra time today.
Luckily my loves, a day can be saved just as quickly as it can be ruined. I stopped. I called a friend. I rubbed on some of my hippie stress-busting oils. And I laughed at myself.
I laughed at myself for taking a blessing and turning it into a burden. I laughed at myself for thinking that anything “had” to be any certain way for our celebration on Thursday. And I laughed at myself for thinking whether or not I complete my laundry list of last minute to-dos could really have any impact on the love and gratitude I will celebrate on Thanksgiving.
Are you feeling the stress, my lovely? Stop. Breathe. Air it out with a loved one. Laugh at your ridiculous human-ness, then love yourself for that humanity.
What do gratitude, magical thinking, and Rumi have in common? They’re all in my first ever Radiant Giveaway!
One lucky winner will take home these three books, a $42 value (based on cover prices):
Blessed: Living a Grateful Life by Ellen Michaud
The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane by Matthew Hutson
The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi from Daniel Ladinsky
About Blessed: Living a Grateful Life:
“For so many women wrapped up in the craziness of modern life, blessings can be hard to recognize. In this heartwarming collection of stories, award-winning author Ellen Michaud offers a glimpse of the everyday joy that is frequently tucked unnoticed in and around the edges of our lives. Her tales of inspiring women and life’s magical moments will fill your heart with light and remind you of the beauty and potential of your own life.”
About The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking:
“Drawing on cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology, Hutson shows us that magical thinking has been so useful to us that it’s hardwired into our brains. It encourages us to think that we actually have free will. It helps us believe that we have an underlying purpose in the world. It can even protect us from the paralyzing awareness of our own mortality. In other words, magical thinking is a completely irrational way of making our lives make sense.”
About The Purity of Desire:
“These poems thoughtfully capture the compelling wisdom of one of Islam’s most revered artistic and religious voices and one of the most widely read poets in the English language.”
This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. The winner will be contacted by email so I can get your mailing address to send you your goodies!
Use the form below to enter … after your initial entry, you’ll get access to bonus entries so you have more chances to win!
Why is it so essential to make gratitude your way of life? Read on, my lovelies.
1. Grateful people are happier.
As explained in this video from Soul Pancake, one of the greatest contributing factors to happiness is the expression of gratitude. In other words? Practicing gratitude makes you happier. This has been scientifically proven, people! When you’re feeling down, give thanks. It’ll lift you up.
2. Being grateful for what you have opens you up to receive more.
In my own experience, I’ve found that the more I appreciate the good things in my life, the more I seem to be blessed. I’m no scientist, but I have a theory that the Universe (or God, or karma, or however you might call it) sends more good fortune to those who use it with a thankful heart.
Imagine you run a business. Would you promote (or even keep on board?) an employee who’s constantly grumbling or completely apathetic about their current position? No way; not impressed.
By showing the Universe how much happiness you take in the little things, you’re paving the way for even greater things to come. A bunch of spiritual mumbo jumbo? Try it out and decide for yourself.
3. Gratitude calms stress.
When I’ve had a not-so-hot day and am full of stressful mental clutter about how sucky I think things are, I stop and make myself write down five things I’m grateful for. This really helps me to gain perspective: I figure that if I can still come up with five reasons to be grateful, things aren’t so bad after all.
4. Being grateful makes you popular.
As humans, we naturally like to feel valuable. Unfortunately, most people go way underappreciated: at work, at home, and in their relationships. Simply taking a second to say “thank you” to the people around you will instantly bump you up in their esteem.
This is especially helpful for bosses, teachers, coaches, and other people in leadership positions. You want someone’s respect? Thank them for what they bring to the table, however seemingly insignificant that contribution may seem.
This should go without saying, but just make sure you’re sincere in your thanks — humans are also naturally good at recognizing schmoozy BS.
5. Living gratefully transforms your world.
You know that feeling when you get a new pair of glasses, put them on, and think, “So THAT’S what I’ve been missing all around me this whole time!”? Gratitude works the same way.
When you start building a habit of gratitude, your whole point of view changes. You start noticing blessings you didn’t even realize were there before. Your senses awaken. You start hearing “What a Wonderful World” in your head. It’s pretty sweet, man.
That old phrase about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses? Those glasses are called gratitude, and they look lovely on you.
YOUR TURN: What are you grateful for right now? Big or small, comment to share!
Twinkling lights, old, familiar tunes, parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting, deck the halls and all that jazz … and all that STRESS.
So many of us (myself included!) pine for this season year-round, we build it up in our minds and hearts as the warm and fuzzy shangri-la of our childhoods, counting down the days until it’s socially acceptable to dust off Mariah Carey’s Christmas album and play it on repeat ad infinitum … and then when it comes, we’re slapped in our fa-la-la faces by the harsh reality of HOLIDAY STRESS. Bottomless shopping lists, who’s hosting what, cookie exchanges, this party this night, that one the next, making the house look presentable (and joyful! and effortless! and Martha Stewart approved!).
But here’s my shocking little secret that I want to share with you … it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can savor this special time of year without the bitter taste of stress in your spirit. With a bit of planning, some simple strategies, and a few gentle reminders, you can minimize holiday hassle and get closer to that basic feeling of love, warmth, and well-being that the holidays should inspire.
That’s why I’m offering a free holiday happiness coaching group. And that’s why throughout November and December, I’m going to focus on sharing my own strategies for a truly joy-full holiday here on Radiant Abandon.
Which brings me to today’s tip!
Last week, I majorly reduced my own holiday worries with a few quick emails. Together with my friends and family, I decided to have a no-presents Christmas. I wrote or spoke to the people that we usually exchange gifts with, and proposed that we leave it aside for this year.
I didn’t do it because of the money (although we certainly will save some as a side effect!), I didn’t do it because I don’t like shopping for presents (I actually really love it!!!), and I didn’t do it because I don’t like getting gifts (I do, a lot!).
I did it because we don’t need anything, and although there’s plenty of stuff I want, I don’t want to want so many things. I did it because I want to focus my energy and time on being completely present in the feelings of the season and in sharing this special time with my loved ones in authentic, connections-based ways.
I wasn’t sure what my friends would think when I clicked send, but before the day was out I’d received messages back from everyone saying they were on board and actually appreciated the chance to save money and focus on other holiday tasks. I immediately felt more peaceful and excited about the approaching festivities knowing that I could enjoy them free of the stress that goes along with exchanging gifts … because no matter how much I may enjoy giving or receiving presents, there is a financial and time-oriented stress that goes along with it.
Having a no-gift holiday isn’t for everyone, especially when there’s bright-eyed, Santa-Claus-adoring children involved, but if you think it could work for you, I really encourage you to try it. To help you with the wording, I made a pin-able template for you to use as you present (ha! a pun!) the idea to your friends and family, and below that I’ve typed it out so you can easily cut and paste.
Dear ____, So I know I’m thinking ahead, but I want to talk a minute about Christmas! I want to suggest that between us, we don’t do presents this year. This year, we really want to focus on the “meaning” of the holiday (as cheesy as it may sound!) and not get caught up in the stress of shopping, money, etc. We just would love to leave presents aside this year — we don’t need anything, and we really just want to focus on each other’s company and spend holiday money on our time together (food and drink!) instead of stuff. Does that sound okay? Let me know what you think! Love, _________
Even if you don’t do it with everyone on your list, going gift-less with even a few people can give you a beautiful opportunity to focus more on the feelings of the season and less on the to-do’s. I challenge you to try it with at least one set of friends or family this season, and see how it affects your holiday experience.
YOUR TURN: Will you try going gift-less at all this season? Tell us why or why not in the comments.
Last week on Facebook and Twitter, I asked you to come up with a theme word for November, and I shared that mine is SERVE.
I’m so excited to now share why I chose service as my motto for the month … I am thrilled to share that from November 4th to January 2nd, I will be offering a FREE holiday-themed group coaching session on Facebook!!!
The Deets on My Heart-Happy Holidays Coaching Group
Anyone who wants to savor the holiday season, sans high levels of stress, guilt, and emotional and physical burnout
A free holiday coaching group with daily tips, inspirations, and resources to make your holiday season more joyful, restful, and back-to-basics meaningful
Remember that feeling when you were a little kid, that spark of magic that flickered in your heart at even the thought of the holidays? I don’t know if we can ever really get that feeling back, but I’m on a mission to recover it as much as possible … and I’m inviting you along for the ride!
Go here, click “Join Group.” I’ll be sure to approve your membership within 24 hours. Easy-peasy!
He’s fine (thank God), but it gave us both a scare.
And it’s got me thinking about what he did right before he left for work that morning.
Tomás had to leave the house about ten minutes before me yesterday morning, so on his way out, I asked if he’d start my car for me (it’s getting chilly here in Pennsylvania!). He said sure, grabbed the keys, and gave me a kiss goodbye.
About 60 seconds later, the front door opened, and he came back in … for one more kiss.
Ten minutes later, he hit a deer. Like I already said, he was unhurt (thankgodthankgodthankgod), but there’s all those scary what-ifs … what if he had been going ten MPH faster, what if he was in that spot two seconds earlier, two seconds later, whatifwhatifwhat. I’m pushing those aside in favor of the gratitude that “what if,” was not.
And I keep thinking about that one more kiss. Squeezing my eyes as tight as can be and thanking the universe that it wasn’t one last kiss.
We never know when it may be the last kiss, last hug, last “I love you.” It’s scary to think about, and it’s not fun, but you know what? I think there’s such a thing as a healthy dose of morbidity. By reminding ourselves of the fragility of the present, we may better embrace the gift of every moment.
Yesterday, one of my wonderfully introspective coaching students asked me this question: “How can I be sure that I’m not being too selfish?”
This question grew out of a conversation on priorities. A big theme in my Jump-Start Your Joy course is “the good kind of selfish”: putting your own happiness at the top of your priority list so that you can better take on all the roles you juggle in your daily life. Because when your own joy is fully charged, it just naturally overflows to the people in your life and the universe at large.
Easier said than done, right? That’s because you are a kind, caring, responsible person, and it can feel downright WRONG to put yourself first.
Leave that pile of paperwork on your desk instead of sliding it in your bag to finish at home? Irresponsible!
Skip the PTA meeting in favor of staying home with some wine and that novel you can’t put down? Scandalous!
Run off to yoga instead of scrubbing down the kitchen after dinner? What will the neighbors say?!
I know that these choices that prioritize your happiness are often guilt-inducing. So back to my student’s question: How can you be sure that the good kind of selfish isn’t crossing over into too selfish territory?
It’s really a question of reassurance. Darling, I will bet that 99 out of 100 times, you are NOT being too selfish. How do I know that? The mere fact that you would even click through to read an article about making sure you’re not too selfish shows that you have a golden heart and that doing the right thing is seriously important to you.
So really, it’s less a matter of knowing if you’re being too selfish (you’re not, you wouldn’t do that) and more an issue of talking yourself through the guilt that comes from your old habit of putting your needs below any others. Because allowing yourself to do what’s right for you (and thereby what will most benefit those around you) takes practice.
This is something I’ve been really working on personally over the past year, and I’ve found that thinking through the following three questions helps me to reassure myself that I’m not being too selfish, and it’s led me to be more and more comfortable with prioritizing my own needs.
If you can answer “no” to all three questions, you are not being too selfish. You can feel reassured that your decision to put yourself before another duty or responsibility is an act of self-care, not selfishness.
Let me lead you through a real-life example of this checklist in action. Earlier this year, I took a personal day off from work so that I could spend the day just hanging out in our new house we had just bought. As soon as I hung up that phone after calling in, the guilt came a-knockin’ on my door. I thought, “Did I really need a day off? Shouldn’t I have saved that day for sometime when I might really need it? Am I just lazy?” My fun day enjoying my new house was feeling tainted by my doubt that I had been selfish is wanting to just stay home.
So I talked myself through it with the checklist:
Does this decision hurt anyone? No, it doesn’t. The only stretch of possibility would be that my students would be harmed by not having me there today, but come on, I’m not Annie Sullivan. They can get along just fine for a day with a substitute.
Is this decision morally wrong? No, personal days are one of the perks of my job and are there to be used when I want — for personal reasons.
Am I likely to regret this decision down the road? No. I will just carry over 1.5 personal days instead of 2.5 next school year, and will still start the year with 3.5, still ahead of the given 2 per year.
The result? I felt confident with my decision, ready to enjoy my choice to put my happiness first, sans guilt.
Your turn! Do you ever feel guilty or selfish for prioritizing your own needs? Do you think the “Selfish or Self-Care?” Checklist could help you out with that? Leave a comment to share!
I’ve made a lot of wrong turns this week – both literally and figuratively.
First, I got lost on the way to see a friend who seriously lives five minutes away. When I finally pulled over and called her to come to my rescue with some directions, at first she just couldn’t comprehend the issue … because really, HOW COULD I GET LOST WITHIN FIVE MILES OF MY HOUSE, following a route that goes from point A to point B in less than the length of a Justin Timberlake song?! But I did, and it was okay.
In fact, it was more than okay. I saw a part of my immediate surroundings that was completely fresh to me. I drove through a stretch of crunchy gravel road that was totally covered in fiery orange and red leaves, a sight that filled my heart with wonder and peace. Aaaaand I had a good laugh with my girlfriend which has turned into a new in-joke between us (“Now are you sure you know how to get home okay?).
Another day, I goofed at work. I planned an activity with my students that totally didn’t work out, and I should have known from the get-go that it would be a flop. But I didn’t, it was, and you know what? We were all fine.
I told my students I didn’t think the activity had been very useful. They agreed, and we had a conversation about why the exercise didn’t help them with the lesson, and how it could be tweaked to be more useful next time around. A mistake turned into an opportunity for me to be human with my students and to be awed by their insight and kindness.
Then last evening, my husband and I set off on a walk in the woods behind our house, and we took a wrong turn — on purpose. We decided to veer from our usual path and set off in a different direction, to a section of the forest we’d never explored before.
What an absolutely delicious detour that turned out to be. We found a glorious, gnarled old tree just dripping in sweet green apples. Tomás ran home to get some baskets, and we had the most idyllic experience picking apples from our “wrong turn tree.”
Well, to tell the truth … Tomás did most of the picking. I was too busy taking these photos. I felt so floored by the beauty I was experiencing in that moment, and shooting it with my camera was my way of being totally in it and savoring it for all it was worth.
So, what wrong turns have you made recently that turned into something wonderful?
The next time you make a “mistake”, how can you approach it as an adventure or learning experience?
Most importantly, are you brave enough to drift off your own personal beaten path?
(Answer: You are. You just may not realize how courageous you are until you prove it to yourself.).
Jump in your car and head somewhere without being absolutely certain how to get there. Try something without being even fractionally sure it will work out. Get lost on purpose.
Because wrong turns? Can be beautifully, exquisitely, this-is-life-and-you’re-living-it right.