Happiness

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Besides going through the gazillion pictures I took on my cruise and then on my recent trip to Nashville, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. What is happiness really? Why are some people seemingly happy all the time and some people never happy? How do you know if you’re really happy? What do you do if you’re not?

In general, I’m a pretty happy person most of the time. But this wasn’t always the case; I’ve had periods of depression where I really just wanted to give up. And while I haven’t slipped into depression, stress has been creeping into my life like a fog I can’t keep out. Not going to share details here, but times are tough right now and the situation is not going to improve anytime soon.

When you’re going through a hard time, you have to work at being happy. So in an effort to do that, this morning after my breakfast I kissed my man goodbye (while feeling grateful to have such a wonderful partner in life), and headed to the park for a run. It’s been a while since I’ve gone for a run – somehow I just got out of the habit without realizing how long it had been – and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.

Well, it went awesome. It felt so good to be running outside in the fresh air, through the trees, hearing the birds and just being out in nature. I think gratitude is a major component in happiness and running in the park I felt grateful for the ability to run outside, something not everyone can do. I finished feeling strong and grateful that I hadn’t gotten as out of shape as I thought. And grateful that I had found a training program that was challenging but doable.

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My happy place

Running through the park actually covered four things on this list of ways to jumpstart your happiness. I got exercise while savoring life’s joys, giving thanks for the ability to run outside, and definitely hit that state of “flow.”

Call me crazy but I think the universe sends signs to help us along, if we’re paying attention. In the same day that happiness was on my mind I came across the picture at the beginning of this post and felt compelled to share it, found a doable running training program, found the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin (can’t wait to read it!) and this post by Karen at One Salty Kiss, which reminded me of the importance of gratitude. It’s like happiness was just jumping up and down, waving its arms yelling “Hey, don’t forget about me! I’m right here!” Well okay, universe, I’m paying attention.

Remembering to be thankful for even the smallest blessings can make even the biggest problems easier to get through. We all have something to be grateful for. What are you thankful for? What is your strategy for getting through stressful times?

 

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Savory Chicken Breasts with Garlic-Thyme Sauce

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One of my favorite things to do is to play around in the kitchen and see what I can come up with. Yesterday I decided to try to make something new with what I had on hand and this is the result. I’m calling it Savory Chicken Breasts with Garlic-Thyme Sauce. Doesn’t that just sound all fancy and delicious?

Well it is delicious and it might taste fancy, but it’s super easy to make and not too hard on the budget either. And it’s full of garlicky goodness. I’m a garlic fiend, can’t get enough of it myself. Now on to the recipe:

Savory Chicken Breasts with Garlic-Thyme Sauce

2 – 5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 – garlic cloves, sliced very thin
1/2 tbsp. butter
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. white wine
1 lemon
1 large pinch dried thyme

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten to a uniform thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
In skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and brown chicken breasts about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Melt butter over low heat and soften garlic in the butter until it’s almost translucent. Don’t brown the garlic.
Pour in chicken broth and scrape brown bits off bottom of the pan. Add white wine, lemon juice and thyme. Turn heat to high. Simmer and reduce the sauce until it’s thick, about 20 minutes.
Pour any juices from the plate into the skillet and stir. Pour garlic and sauce over chicken and serve.

See, easy-peasy, right? Hope you enjoy it!

Besides coming up with fabulous recipes I’ve been mostly working out indoors because it is just ridiculously hot. I mean like, it’s literally 95 by 10 a.m. here almost every morning for weeks. And it rains every day. Which you would think would cool it off, but it doesn’t. It just makes everything more muggy.

So basically I’ve just been lifting free weights in my living room while watching Desperate Housewives. Such a fabulous life. The only cardio I get these days is the 2 mile round trip I walk to the grocery store. Until this heat wave passes, that will have to do.

But I did manage to get one big thing off my Birthday Bucket List. I ran (well, mostly walked) a 5K! It was a virtual 5K through Will Run for Bling and Charity and it was to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I ran it at the Sunbay Fitness up the road from me and which I am now trying to save money to join. And I got this awesome medal –

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See how the lid flips up and you see the treasure inside? How stinkin’ cute is that?!

My time was pretty miserable – 42:24, which officially makes me a turtle I think. But that’s okay! I did it, and that’s what matters, and I loved it so I’ll do it again. There’s a new race coming up soon, and since it’s held September 5 – 13 I can run it on the treadmill on my upcoming cruise. This one benefits Doctors Without Borders, which is a truly awesome organization.

And the medal is super cool, too!

 lifesabeach-finalI can’t wait for this one. Hoping to come in with a much better time on this one. Never thought I would ever actually be in a 5K, virtual or otherwise, but I guess never say never.

Well, off to work out and watch Desperate Housewives, hahaha. Have a great weekend!

Monday Weigh-in and My Newly Discovered Happy Place

My new happy place!

Okay, so it’s actually Wednesday by now, but the weigh-in did happen Monday. I just didn’t get a chance to post until now. First week results? Now at 154 pounds so have lost 2 pounds so far. Quite happy with that!

And on top of that good news, I finally found a place to run! I mean a place to run that’s not 2 buses away. I know you’re thinking why not just run around the neighborhood? Well, i’ll tell you. I don’t live in such a good neighborhood and I don’t like a million cars passing me…and random guys offering me rides – I’m in workout clothes walking fast or running, do I look like I want a ride?! Also, sidewalk concrete is something my back just cannot take.

So I headed to this park about a 10 minute walk from my apartment the other day to see if there was room to run there, and there so is. Not such great pics but this woody area goes on for quite a ways. It’s such a great place to run, through trees, on pine needles and grass instead of concrete. Even though there are houses on 2 sides, for most of a lap around it feels like running through the woods. Kind of like trail running only no hills because it’s Florida.

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And…when i’m done running, there’s a swingset so I can swing for a few minutes before I head home. See that swing in the middle? That’s my swing lol