Experiments in Happiness

Experiments in Happiness: "Meatless In San Diego"

Last week I talked a bit about my vision board, Happiness Bootcamp, and finding my theme for the year. Today, I'm going to tell you about a pretty substantial life change that I made around one of my theme words, ENERGY.

While for me, "energy" has a few different meanings (surrounding myself in the positive, not being tired all the time, having the mindset to be able to be a good parent and wife, etc) I realized the first step is to make a change to impact the physical part of this theme. Basically, I need to not always be exhausted. Since physical energy levels affect so much of your happiness, I decided to tackle that first. And since energy comes from our food sources, that's where I started. And?

I stopped eating meat.

I know that current diet fads are more about more meat and no grains, and that cutting out meat is not very vogue at the moment, but that is the direction I took. I don't really have a gluten allergy but I do have other health issues, mainly high blood-pressure and a history of heart disease and diverticulitis in my family, that made me weary of eating a high meat diet. After talking with my Doctor, she suggested going to more of a vegan platform, but we both felt that to be a bit extreme for me to launch into. So she challenged me to eat less meat and cut back my dairy intake. We had a follow-up appointment in four weeks, so I gave myself a month to see if I could do it, and if it made a difference in how I felt. 

That was six weeks ago. Six bacon, steak, chicken and pork-free weeks ago.

Additionally, it was also 12lbs ago. 

It became a challenge to me to see how long I could go, and I just did it. While there have been moments (of PMS) that I have wanted to swing through the Carl's Jr drive-thru and shove a bacon cheese burger in my mouth, for the most part it hasn't been that hard. Since it's a diet thing and not an "animal" thing, I am still eating fish and having the occasional egg.

But contrary to popular belief, I'm not just sitting around eating pasta and grilled cheese sandwhiches. In fact, since I'm limiting dairy, I haven't had a stand alone piece of cheese in 6 weeks either. Yes, I've had cheese sprinkled on things or lightly added into a dish, but I have not sat down and gotten personal with a wedge of brie or a loaf of cheddar in over a month. 

So, how do I FEEL? 

Actually, I feel good. I'm not bloated anymore and no longer have that "too full" feeling after eating dinner. While I'm still tired a lot, I know it's not from what I'm consuming. What I am consuming is a lot of greens and "clean food"; Kale, arugula, beans and fruit have become a go-to for me. I'm having raw almonds and avocado and some whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and farrow. I've been so bored of food that it's actually been a nice change-up for me. Having to go outside my comfort zone for food, I've discovered a few things that I really like that I hadn't thought of eating before. 

I'm not sure this is a permanent change for me, but the funny thing is that I don't think I'll go back to chicken.. I do miss a good steak, and I'm sure this summer I will need to break down and eat carnitas at some point. But right now I'm almost afraid to. My digestive system has adjusted, and I fear what a burger may do to it. 

An interesting side note is that it's caused me to start cooking more and experimenting in the kitchen. Tonight I made a toasted quinoa and kale salad, the other day I used "hemp hearts" on a salad (que college drug paraphernalia joke). I've never paid attention to the vegetarian area of restaurants menus before, and I'm kinda digging this change up in my diet. 

Experiment Outcome: So far, so good. But I can't guarantee I won't be swayed by a good 'ole Santa Maria tri-tip sandwich in the future. 


Experiments In Happiness: The Vision Board


Earlier this year, Red Lotus Mama Nicole and I took a wonderful workshop aptly titled "Happiness Bootcamp: How to do a Vision Board and Keep Resolutions." I took away so much from this 2-hour class, but one of the things that stuck with me is this idea of putting together a mass vision board that includes hopes, thoughts, goals and ideas for ALL of us. 

But instead of listing out traditional resolutions, coach Stacie Somers suggested finding a THEME for the year. Words or a simple phrase that you will strive to achieve, and build your vision board around them. I loved this idea. Resolutions are so finite... and so breakable. But a THEME can grow and change over the year. 

But how do you FIND your theme? Here is an exercise that we did with Stacie to figure it out. 


1- Re-Write these questions down using your dominant hand (your normal writing hand - for most of us, the right hand.)

2) Answer the questions writing with your SUB-dominant hand (for most, the left hand)

Crazy, huh? But using your "other hand" triggers parts of your brain that you normally are not using and really helps with figuring these things out. 


1) How do I want to experience the world this year?

2) What do I yearn to have more of in my life?

3) What do I need in my life?

4) What was missing from my life last year?

5) What would it feel like to have these missing things in my life this year?

Now, did you notice something in your answers? A recurring theme or words that stick out more than others? Use those to create your personal theme. It can be one or two words, it can be a phrase... but use that to build your vision board and guide your year. 

Without getting too personal, for this year I chose two key words: Energy and Clarity. Two things I'm striving for and working to achieve in many different aspects of my life this year. As far as my actual vision board is concerned, I will admit that just like me,  it's still a work in progress....





Staci's Happiness Bootcamp was a free event held at Bliss 101 in Encinitas, CA. If you are local I highly suggest "liking" thier Facebook page for more information on upcoming events.  

The Red Lipstick Experiment, Can A New Lipstick Make You Happy?

So, I've been working on this thing called HAPPINESS. 

This doesn't mean that I'm unhappy, or that I'm sad per-se, it means that I'm working towards a positive mental and physical state for my life. I, my friends, was in a funk -  and needed to do SOMETHING. So over the past month, I've made a few changes to help ME be a better ME.

Mental and physical go hand in hand, so some of what I'm doing is for body, while some things may just be simple, everyday things. What I'm looking to find is that key combination... that elusive word "balance". Not just in my life, but in my body and soul. 

I'm calling these "Happiness Experiments;" Something I try out to see what, if any, affect it has. After attending a "Happiness Bootcamp" last month, I realized the main reason that habits don't change and resolutions don't stick for me is because I throw them all out there at once. I'm also keen to declare FAILURE when the outcome isn't what I envisioned it looking like. With "experiments" there are no passes, no fails. You are trying something out. Taking it out for test drive. Trying it on for size. Some things may stick, while others don't. 

Which brings me to Lipstick. 

{Yes, you were wondering how I was going to get back around to make-up, huh?} 

It is a proven fact that new lipstick makes you happy. This has been a phenomenon tracked in women since World War 2. Lipstick is an inexpensive, non-permanent change that can spice things up. 

This particular experiment was inspired (and enabled) by my good friend, Romy of RomyRaves. Romy is the queen of fun accessories and make-up, and she's lucky enough that she's channeled this into an amazing online presence and working relationship with top beauty brands. A few weeks ago when she came down and spent the weekend with me, not only was she sporting this super hot new lipstick, she brought some for the rest of us to try. I mentioned my current love affair with Avon's Totally Kissable line a few weeks ago - but the shade I was loving over was a very pretty, but very neutral pink color: totally right in my comfort zone. 

But there was Romy - rocking this red hot lip (in Avon's Make-Out Red) that made people stop and stare. And honestly, I was in awe by her bravery and ability to work that shade. Over the next week or so I kept trying on the same color that Romy wore, only to wipe it off a few seconds later. It wasn't doing it for me - it wasn't right. Digging into my bag of Avon goodies that Romy brought for me (she knows a way to my heart is through my make-up bag!) I finally got up the nerve to try another color - Red Embrace

WAY better for my coloring, this red is more of a coral-red, rather than the pink-red Romy was wearing. While bright and eye-catching, with minimal other make-up I actually wore it in the daytime... and loved it. It gave my casual jeans and shirt look a kick, but it wasn't too much. It was way different than what I normally wear, but every time I caught my reflection I kept thinking how much I liked it. 

This experiment was deemed a success! I'm throwing this lipstick into heavy rotation and going to wear it with a smile.