What I learned from a Brittish Pop Star

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing an old friend play his live music in New York City.

Jscott

My insanely talented friend, Jamie Scott has been tirelessly pursuing a music career for the past 10+ years.  I met him what feels like a lifetime ago in Los Angeles while he was filming a scene in the Dance Cult classic movie “Step Up”.  At the time, I was a cocktail waitress on Sunset Boulevard pursuing a career in musical theatre.

Many years have passed since Jamie and I first met and became friends.  I have since given up the pursuit of professional theatre.  While I am ecstatically grateful and happy with the new chapters of my life that continue to unfold, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that at times I felt a little creatively deprived and disconnected.   Watching Jamie on stage last week, fully present in his talent (in a room full of maybe 50 people) and enjoying every second was a pretty big reminder of this for me.

Jamie has not reached the international icon status across the world that I’m sure he would love at this point in his career.  While he has had much success in both the UK and USA he still has yet to reach Beatles type fame; and he has been doing this for over 10 years!  What’s even crazier is that he writes all of ‘One Direction’s’ HIT songs, I mean this guy is talented enough to write the # 1 songs for some of the biggest stars in music today.  While I’m sure he enjoys writing for others, I know that what still drives him today is his passion for his music, the pursuit of his own career and the opportunities to be singing all of his own songs that he pours his heart and soul into   He does this because he has to, it is a part of his soul and his creativity must be tended to. Yes, I’m sure he will not turn down international fame and notoriety when it comes knocking, and believe me it will- but  that is not what drives him perform one gig at a time.

Watching him live in his talent, creativity and passion inspired me in a way that I haven’t felt connected to for quite some time.  It made me really question: Where in my own life do I feel disconnected from my talent? Where can I find more passion and purpose?  The truth is that there are many ways in which I know I can feel on purpose and they have nothing to do with earning a living.  Writing this blog is a creative outlet for me, but if you notice I haven’t even done that for a while.  The truth is that usually these things feel pretty SCARY.  What helps is to see examples around me of people acting in spite of their fears; taking chances in spite of the fact that they might fail.  Last week Jamie was this example for me and I cannot Thank him enough.

I have decided that I am fully committing to spending the month of April focusing on my creativity and passion in big and small ways.  Maybe it will mean taking a painting class, or a long stroll.  Or maybe it will be spending an hour going through some old music I used to sing for FUN.  Or maybe it is writing more.

I invite you to consider, where in your life are you blocking your own creative expression because you are too caught up in the daily grind of life, or too afraid to take that chance?  I hope you will fully embrace your creativity and passions and do it just because you want to to.

If you feel inspired to listen to the man that inspired this post, check out http://www.jamie-scott.com/

 

xo

Shondie

 

 

 

 

Easy Healthy Apple Pie Quinoa Bake

Recently I’ve made a commitment to be really mindful of my sugar intake. Sugar is SO addictive for me, I swear as soon as I have a little bit, I spend the rest of my day thinking about my next fix.

As I result I’ve been getting crafty in the kitchen finding new ways to satisfy my sweet tooth. This past Sunday night I was at home and was really craving a warm slice of apple pie, but it was SO cold out and I couldn’t bring myself to leave my apartment. So, with the ingredients I found readily available in my kitchen, I made this instead! I am calling it my healthy apple pie quinoa bake. Perfect for a lil desert to satisfy that sweet tooth, OR it makes a really cozy warm breakfast too!

Quinoa

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 c dry quinoa (red or white, doesn’t matter)
2 c Almond milk (coconut, soy, or regular work too)
1/4 c Maple Syrup (honey works also)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c slivered almonds, or chopped walnuts
1/4 c raisins or dried cranberries
1-2 apples, diced

Directions:

1. Preheat Oven to 350˚F .

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the dry quinoa with the dry spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and raisins. Pour into a greased glass baking dish.

3. Sprinkle the chopped apples on top of the quinoa.

4. Next, whisk together the maple syrup, milk and eggs. Pour the mixture over the quinoa in the baking dish.

5. Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and a little extra cinnamon for good measure. Pop into the oven to bake for 1 hour.

Let cool and enjoy! You could also put some fresh whipped cream or yogurt on top as well.

I have also warmed up myself a slice in the morning for an easy breakfast this week and it has been extra delicious!

I would love to know any variations you make on the above recipe and how you like it!

xo
Shondie

My Birthday :)

I celebrated my Birthday this past weekend with about 16 of my nearest and dearest in the Big Apple. I wanted to do something different this year, so I decided to hire someone to throw me a dinner party, meaning they did all of the cooking, cleaning, planning, setup, EVERYTHING! My only job was to show up, pay for this beautiful experience, and enjoy the whole production while soaking up the love from those around me. At first I waivered on if this was the right choice, I mean I was going to shell out a nice chunk of change to do this, AND I was handing over complete control to do so (this is no easy feat for a control freak as myself). In addition, I don’t always feel so comfortable having the spotlight turned on me in this way, it can actually feel a little scary sometimes. Plus I kept thinking, “who do I think I am, a fricking Kardashian or something? I mean why do I deserve such an extravagant party?” Plus I’m usually more of a lets downplay my birthday and grab drinks at a dive bar kinda gal. It was really tempting to not plan anything, and stay inside and hibernate with my lonesome self. Even though I felt so many mixed emotions about celebrating myself in such a big way, I knew that I just had to do it. I couldn’t really express why, but I just knew. Well, coming out the other side of it, I will tell you exactly why I had to do it. It all boils down to this :

Celebrating yourself is an investment in your own joy.. Even though it was scary to do this, I am quite sure that it will pay off in dividends, I can already feel the magic brewing in a way that I cannot quite express. It is as if I quite literally said to the universe “hey there, I’m ready for MORE, more joy, love, money, abundance, passion, all of it. I’m putting it on the line right here and now because I am worthy, now it is up to you to meet me there, see you on the other side”. It was quite honestly one of the most special and magical nights I have ever had and I feel completely energized and rejuvenated from both the act of giving to myself and my friends in this way, and all of the love I received. Knowing that our thoughts and feelings usually dictate what manifests in our physical world, I now feel completely confident that not only did I give myself joy for the evening, I gave it to myself for the not so distant future.

Here we all are, celebrating after dinner.

Group

 

This doesn’t just apply to Birthdays either. I will certainly remember this the next time I am tempted to stay at home on my couch b/c I am trying to save money, or don’t want to dish out that $15 for a manicure or a 10 minute massage. There are opportunities for joy everyday in big and small ways and it is easy to sometimes allow my petty fears prevent me from experiencing them. This weekend was a very big reminder for me that it is absolutely necessary to allow joy to be my guide. It is an investment in yourself and in your future!

Oh, and if anyone is looking for assistance planning an event in NYC, I cannot recommend anyone more than Karin and Alanna, they absolutely exceeded my expectations x100. Shoot me an email here (Shonda@shondahoward.com) and I will pass along the info :)

Wishing you a lifetime of JOY. xo

Meeee

Is Yoga really that awesome?

So I’m just not one of those “yoga” girls, You know the kind I’m talking about, the tall lanky, vegan eating, mala bead wearing, Patchouli smelling, incense burning, ones with the killer arms that can’t wait to tell you about their next pilgrimage to India, (green juice in hand blessing you with a namaste as you part). Now let it be known that I am in no way judging or putting down these gals, as I have several people like this in my circle of friends. I also think its important to note that I also subscribe to many of these ideals, I just happen to think that yoga is NOT in fact the greatest thing since sliced bread. I actually think is pretty fricking hard, and is one of the more challenging things I’ve ever done, physically and mentally. I usually end up in a battle between crying from the pain or running out of the room ( I never do either, I just silently complain to myself and wonder if all those blissed out yogi’s would judge me if I left) which sums up why I never go to yoga.

Occasionally, I reach the point where it’s been so long since my last torturous yoga class that I forget how bad it can be, and willingly pay money to relive it all again. The other day while at work I thought to myself hmmmm, I should switch up the exercise this week, maybe try a yoga class, I mean, I’d LOVE to have arms like Jennifer Aniston, I’ll just go to a beginner class where the lunges won’t be so damn long. Before I knew it I had signed up for a “Basic” class at Yoga Vida in Soho. The reviews sounded great and everyone stressed how elementary this class was. You can imagine my surprise when I accidentally ended up in the wrong room, the one with the two hour advanced arm balancing workshop. Actually surprise doesn’t quite do the experience justice. It was more like sheer terror mixed with a little mortification. I had already been thinking that I was going to have to leave the room 20 minutes in because, if THIS is beginner yoga then I give up, yoga just isn’t for me. Just when I thought I couldn’t take another second, the teacher came over and tried to coerce me into a handstand. My reply was a knee jerk “I can’t do that, I’m scared”. The yogi laughed a little and said “ That’s what this class is, come on”! He quickly realized that I had wandered into the wrong room and after a chuckle he told me I was wonderful (I of course, agreed). He was so nice and encouraging that I felt I should stick it out and give it my all, so I did. Well, at least until they moved to the wall for headstands and I discreetly snuck out. Nonetheless, I have to say I am pretty proud of myself for staying. Not only is it a great story ( I’ll go pretty far for one of those) but it was a really good reminder of some pretty important lessons that can be called upon on a yoga mat or during a breakdown.

1. Breathing is everything. The ONLY thing I could do in many of those poses was focus on my breath and breathe into it. Same goes for any trauma or drama in life. Remember to breathe.
2. Stay focused on what is directly in front of you (instead of freaking out bc there is another hour of this class how will you ever survive).
3. You can always do more than you think you can, just give it your best shot. Showing up is half the battle.
4. Out yourself, tell the truth. Otherwise how else will you figure out you are in the wrong room?
5. More often than not, people are rooting for your success (not snarking behind your back at your shitty of half moon pose).
4. Know when you need to take a break and come to child’s pose, and allow yourself to do just that, w/o judging.
5. Know that you are becoming a stronger person and growing from this, remember to give yourself a proverbial pat on the back.
6. This is the most important one. Double, no TRIPLE check and make sure you are in the right yoga room before class starts :)

I may or may not challenge myself to a yoga class again soon. Either way I am definitely glad for the experience. and I will keep you posted!  I would love to know your opinion on Yoga below if you feel like sharing!

xo
Shondie

Why I refuse to make a resolution this year.

More times than I care to recount I have made a New Years Resolution.  It usually fell somewhere in the vain of “I’m going to Lose 10 pounds” or “I vow to never eat sugar again, starting January 1st” or even, “I am going to save ALL of my extra money this year, no frivolous spending”.  I’m sure you can guess what the outcome was.  By February 1st I ended up face first in either a chocolate cake or sale rack at Bloomingdales feeling defeated.  While I do think that the beginning of the new year can be a clean slate worthy of evaluating our lives and even implementing a few changes, I think that the resolution approach is all wrong and really sets us up to fail, and here is why:

1. Resolution is derived from the word “Resolve” which by very definition means: to settle or find a solution to a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.  Sure, maybe there are a few changes that I would like to make but I certainly don’t want to view myself and my life as a problem or contentious matter that needs fixing. That feels pretty crappy and overwhelming and actually makes me want to binge on the chocolate cake immediately. My life isn’t a problem, neither is yours.

2.  I don’t know about you, but usually when I try to deprive myself of something (eating, spending)  It usually backfires and becomes the ONLY thing I think about until I can have it or do it.  Deprivation sets us up to fail, its just how it works.

3. Why is all of the focus here on the negative stuff that needs to be changed?  What about the last 12 months of our lives that we just lived, completed and deserve to celebrate? My gal pal Erin Stutland has a ritual that she calls the “Top 5 Nailed it list”. Simply put its a list of your 5 biggest accomplishments of the year.  Focusing on what I have accomplished and what I am proud of makes me feel MUCH better than focusing on all of the things that I don’t like about myself.  When I come from a place of feeling proud of myself, I can then, with a clear mind and heart feel inspired to think about what things I would like to feel proud of a year from now.

So instead of a resolution I am going to do two things, 1) make a list of things that I can celebrate about the last 12 months that have just passed (First on my list will probably be that I built this little corner of the internet), and 2) consider what small changes I can make that will have a lasting impact on my year and life. Instead of saying that I want to lose 10 pounds or deprive myself of any one food group, I will commit to moving my body in some way 3-4 times a week, take breaks from sugar for a few days when I’m feeling super addicted, and make sure that I am consuming lots of veggies. That just feels easier than trying to overhaul my life completely, which means I will stick to it.  If I don’t do it one day then it won’t be a big deal (since I wasn’t trying to solve a huge problem that is my life) and I’ll just move on with my day and life!

I’d love to hear your approach to the New Year in the comments below, and feel free to share any of your successes from 2013 as well!  May the year ahead be filled with Peace, Love and lots of delicious food for us all.

xo