• Categories

  • Follow Dustin’s running journey

    Running Training Log
  • Follow Tracy’s running journey

    Running Training Log

Everything Just IS – How the Law of Relativity Works FOR You

Hey everyone!  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts on the seven laws of the universe.  It’s some pretty interesting stuff! Each post will focus on one law and give you some clear examples on how you can use it to make your life a more pleasurable and worthwhile experience.  Regardless of your religion or faith, the concepts behind these laws are fundamental to freeing yourself and achieving a life a happiness.

If you this is your first time hearing about them, our hope is that this series of posts will give you a completely new perspective.  If you have heard of them, but have yet to apply them or truly understand them, then hopefully these posts will help you utilize them to your full potential.

Below we’ve listed the seven laws:

  • The Law of Relativity
  • The Law of Perpetual Transmutation
  • The Law of Vibration and Attraction
  • The Law of Polarity
  • The Law of Rhythm
  • The Law of Cause and Effect
  • The Law of Gender

First up is:

(source)

The Law of Relativity

The law of relativity states that nothing is good or bad, big or small.  Everything just IS.  Something or someone only takes on a certain quality by relating it to something else.  The problem is, as humans, we have a tendency to compare everything and everyone to something or someone better, therefore making our world seem a lot worse than it actually is.

How often have you caught yourself looking at someone’s life and thinking, “Wow.  That person has it all.”  You then look at your own life only to feel miserable about the little that you perceive you have.  Society and the media help perpetuate this problem by placing certain people on pedestals for their material achievements or outward appearances.  You begin to feel pressure and stress, realizing that you don’t have enough, you’re not smart enough, or you’re not attractive enough.  That stress causes you to work harder to achieve something that you believe you should have.

But here’s the problem: when you put yourself in a constant state of stress or anxiety, you prevent yourself from achieving what you actually want anyways.

So here’s the beauty of the law of relativity.  You have the power to choose to whom and what you compare yourself.  You also have to power to choose non-judgment and just exist. You can change the way you feel, and therefore the way you react, simply by switching to a thought that puts yourself in a more positive light.  The power is in your hands.

Here are a few common comparisons that the majority of the population tends to make.  These comparisons can be detrimental and keep you tied down to a life that doesn’t truly satisfy you.

I’m broke.

How often have you said this, or something like it? Personally, we used to say it all the time.  In reality, we weren’t broke at all.  Did we have debt? Sure.  Did we have late payments?  Yep.  Was our bank account always saying, “please feed me.”  You betcha.  But we weren’t broke.  We had a roof over our heads, food on the table, took care of our pets, had transportation, and had every other necessity covered.  That, my friends, made us rich relative to others who can’t afford such things.  We started focusing on what we did have, which gave us the peace of mind to start working towards new sources of income.

I’m fat.

How many times have you said this, or heard someone else say it?  I’ve had people, who relative to me were slim, think that they were fat.  This happened because they were comparing themselves to someone on TV or in a magazine or a skinnier version of themselves.  Even if you’re someone with weight to lose, you don’t have to be fat.  If I sat around all day feeling bad about myself and labeling myself as fat, do you think that would motivate me to nourish my body with healthy food and go to the gym?  No way.  Appreciate your body in its current physical form.  Realize your strength.  If you have two legs that walk, get out there and do it.  Or two arms that can lift, get out there and do that.  Even with weight to lose, I never feel fat because I know I am making healthy choices and work out.  That makes me fit relative to people who don’t choose to do the same.

I’m not good enough.

Whether it’s going for a certain position or trying to start your own business, how many times have you caught yourself saying, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not qualified”?  What gives this statement power is your comparison to others who have different qualifications, which you perceive to be better.  They may have a higher degree than you or more experience in a specific field, but that doesn’t make them any better.  You can choose to look at your strengths relative to people who are weaker in those same areas.  By utilizing this form of empowerment, you gain the confidence to go after and achieve any goal.

Now the point of this is not to dwell on thoughts of people who have much worse lives than your own.  Or to just settle with the way your life is.  The point is to realize that you remove  your personal power for change by always comparing yourself to people with better lives.  It is important to shift your focus to more positive thoughts about yourself and others.  When you start to do this, it becomes easier to change your life for the good.  You take away the negativity, fear, and stress and replace it with positive emotions.  With a positive state of mind, you’re able to achieve anything.

How to Become a Morning Person…and Enjoy It

At the beginning of the year, Dustin and I made a commitment to take charge of our health, in all aspects.  We decided to make better food choices, start exercising again, and focus on our emotional well-being.

sunriseWhile a healthy diet and exercise are extremely important, one aspect of optimal health that is often overlooked are our sleep habits.  The fact of the matter is, when we don’t get good sleep, we won’t have a very productive or satisfying day.

For us, the problem wasn’t that we weren’t getting enough sleep. In fact, we were getting too much, poor quality sleep.  We made countless attempts to wake up early, and nearly all lasted for only a day or two at a time.  This past week, however, we decided to become extremely committed to this goal.  Below, we share with you ten tips that have helped us not only wake up, but wake up feeling refreshed and happy.

10 Tips for Becoming a Morning Person and Enjoying It:


  1. Keep a light near the bed.

    In a perfect world, we would all be pleasantly woken up by the rays of the sun.  But we know that modern society doesn’t always allow for that.  The next best option is to stimulate that same light response.  Light stops the production of melatonin in our bodies, which is responsible for making us sleep.  When the alarm goes off, immediately turn on a light and you will feel significantly more awake.

  2. Put your alarm clock across room.

    If you’re like me, you know it’s all too easy to hit snooze or reset the alarm clock for a later time.  The problem is you’ve already disrupted your sleep, so in reality, that extra snooze time will only leave you feeling more exhausted when you attempt to wake up again.  By putting the alarm clock across the room, we’re forced to get ourselves up, making it unlikely for us to go back to sleep.

  3. Don’t eat within 2 hours of going to sleep.

    Digestion is a highly involved process, and although we may not be conscious of it while it’s happening, our bodies are fully aware.  By eating too close to bed time, we unknowingly let digestion disrupt our sleep.  Dustin and I were both big-time snackers at night, and once we cut it out, we felt a huge difference in the way we felt in the morning.  Try not to eat within two hours of going to bed, or at least minimize carbs and sugar.  In most cases, it’s simply a mental habit since you’ve been conditioned to do it for so long.  Try having some tea or a banana if you really feel the need to have something.

  4. Have a reason to get up and a plan.

    This is key.  A common trend with successful people is that they always have a plan, a reason to be motivated.  If you are attempting to wake up earlier with no real need or desire to be fulfilled, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to stay consistent.  This is where we failed at first.  We wanted to work out, but we had no plan set in place.  Once we committed to writing out a schedule the night before, we were much more motivated when the alarm went off.

  5. Get sufficient sleep.

    If you’re going to wake up earlier, you need to get to bed earlier.  It’s as simple as that.  Give yourself at least 7-8 hours of good sleep each night.  It is a lot easier to slowly transition your body to a new schedule, so try waking up just 15-30 minutes earlier every day.  This means getting to bed 15-30 minutes earlier as well.

  6. Avoid stressful situations before sleep.

    Stress makes us feel tense and severely impacts our health.  It releases a hormone called cortisol, which in high and prolonged amounts, can be detrimental, leading to higher blood pressure, blood sugar imbalance, lowered immunity, and a number of other health problems.   You’ve probably heard the quote, “never go to bed angry; stay up and fight”.  We’ll I’m not recommending fighting, but if you do have an argument with someone before bed, make sure it is resolved before going to sleep.  Meditation and night yoga are also extremely beneficial to help rid yourself of stressful emotions from the day’s activities.

  7. Overcome mental blocks.

    This is one of our biggest obstacles in achieving most goals.  We have the power to move ourselves forward or hold ourselves back with our thoughts alone.  The night before, mentally commit yourself to waking up happily.  Create a vivid mental picture of yourself waking up and going forth with your morning routine.  It might sound crazy at first, but your body must obey whatever your subconscious brain tells it.  So ingrain this habit mentally every day, and within a month’s time, you will wake up without second thought.

  8. Enjoy your quiet time.

    The early morning hours might be the only time of day when you are free from obligations placed upon you by others.  Use this time to write, read, exercise, or simply just be at peace.  Beginning your day with a sense of peace will help you overcome any of that’ day’s challenges.  When you wake up early, you feel like you have all the time in the world.  When you don’t leave yourself enough time, you feel rushed and create unwanted stress.

  9. Plan a delicious breakfast or morning treat.

    Recently, breakfast has become one of my favorite meals of the day.  We started planning out exactly what we want to eat in the morning, ranging from pancakes and eggs to oatmeal and yogurt.  We also have a variety of pre-run snacks that taste so delicious, we literally get excited the night before about what we get to eat in the morning.  When you’re excited, sleeping extra is no longer a priority.

  10. Create a routine.

    Finally, since humans are habitual creatures, setting up a night and morning routine will help immensely.  An evening routine that has worked well for us has been having some tea, brushing our teeth, washing our faces, and reading a chapter in a book.  In the morning, we turn on the light, turn off the alarm and fan, turn on the heat, splash our faces with water, get dressed for the gym, eat a pre-run snack, and go out the door.  By doing the same thing every morning and night, you create consistency.  Consistency is vital to success.

Hope these tips were useful to you!  So far, they have been working great for us.  We’ve felt energetic all day and for the first time in a while, get amazing sleep.

We’d love to hear what kinds of tips and secrets you have for getting up in the morning.  Is there anything unique you do that you think would be useful to others?  If so, let us know!

Turning Over a New Leaf

Hello, beautiful people!  I hope you’re still there and that we haven’t lost you yet!.  We went MIA for a brief moment, as we’ve been brainstorming where we want this blog to go.

Honestly, the more we thought about it, we realized we didn’t just want a space to document our daily food and exercise.  That is so far from our original purpose of creating a blog in the first place.  Not to mention, I think it was starting to drive us crazy trying to make sure we got a picture of everything we ate.  It works for some people, but not so much for us.  (I still enjoy reading blogs that do this though and have so much respect for people who can!) It is especially difficult to do that as a couple.  So we decided we have to do what works for us.  The beauty of blogging is that you can try many, many different things until you figure it out.  What’s most important is STARTING.   

We want to take this blog in a slightly different direction.  We are going to start writing more informative and inspiring posts from which you can LEARN something, posts that just make you think, “hmm that’s interesting!”, and posts that challenge you to live the life of your dreams.  Although we may still dedicate a page or a certain time during the week to update our own progress, we mainly want to focus on letting you know about things we learn or come across that we think may help you lead a healthier, happier life.  The main point is, we will try to only write about ourselves or our journey when we feel it is something that will be of use to you

If we get down to it, the name of our blog, “The Passionate Pair”, came to existence because we wanted to help people realize there is so much more to life.  We want to inspire others to ignite passion in everything they do, whether that means leaving a job that is making you miserable or incorporating new habits into your life that can help you appreciate and love the life you already lead.  We’ve been on quite a powerful journey, both spiritually and health-wise, for the past year.  Now is our time to start sharing with the world what has led and continues to lead us down this positive and fulfilling path.  Our outlooks on life have done a complete 180* in one year, and we hope we can show others how easy it is to just be happy.  Once you learn this secret, everything else in your life starts to come together and make sense.   

For now, our main topics will focus on health, nutrition, fitness, and inspiration

We hope if you’ve been following our blog, you continue to do so.  There will still be plenty of yummy food and fitness fun to come!       

We’ll get into more details in the next coming posts, but we’re so excited and think you will be too!  Please leave us feedback with your thoughts.  Let us know if there is anything in particular you’ve been wanting to change in your life to make it more rewarding, and we’ll do our best to help you make that change.

Remember, we’re all in this together.  ;)

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” – T. Alan Armstrong

Skip the Dunkin’ Donuts Drive-Thru and Make Your Own Everything Bagels at Home!

Hey everyone! Dustin here.

Today we decided to make our own homemade Everything bagels.  Tracy loves ordering these at Dunkin’ Donuts, but $2 bagels can add up.  And there’s never enough seasoning on the ones we get at the store.  Not to mention all of the crazy ingredients that get put into them.  We wanted to make some that were slightly healthier and more delicious.  We dusted off the bread machine and put it to use!

Our inspiration came from this recipe from Recipezaar.

INGREDIENTS:

DSCN3730

  • 2 1/4 tsp of dry active yeast (equivalent to 1 packet)
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (nuked for about 45 seconds)
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached wheat all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T canola oil
  • Cornmeal
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dry chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper

STEPS:

1. Take out your bread machine or kitchen mixer with dough setting. Note: I’m sure you can mix and knead all by hand.  I’m just not too knowledgeable on that subject.

DSCN3731

2. Combine 1 cup of warm water, 1.5 T sugar and 2 1/4 active dry yeast into the bread machine.  Let it stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is activated.

DSCN3736

The yeast will start to look like this once it activates.  You will see foam floating on top of the water, as it bubbles up.

DSCN3744

3. Once five minutes is up, add 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 tsp of salt to the mixture.

DSCN3740DSCN3743

4. Set the bread machine to the dough setting and mix until it forms into a ball-like shape or until the ingredients have formed dough.

DSCN3746

While the dough was being created we turned our counter into a work space to work in the dough.

5. As you can see we added flour to our counter top.  One the dough is done you then add an additional 1/2 cup of flour and work it into the ball.  Add a little more flour if you need to make it less sticky.

DSCN3751

6.  Put the dough ball into a greased bowl (with canola oil) and rotate it a few times so that all areas of the dough are covered.

DSCN3753

7.  Put a dish cloth or other small towel over the bowl and set it in a warm spot for 60 minutes to rise.

Trick: Turn your oven on 350 degrees for 30 seconds and then back off so that the oven is warm inside.

DSCN3754

8. After one hour of rising, your dough should have doubled in size.

DSCN3759

9. Next take the dough back out and punch the air out.  Then divide it into 6 equal pieces, and roll them into 6 inch logs.  Or you can make 12 mini-bagels.

DSCN3761

10.  Connect both ends of the “log” together to form a circle. Be sure to press it firmly to ensure it stays connected.

DSCN3764

11. Place the bagels on a greased pan and cover for another 20 minutes to rise some more.

DSCN3768

12. While the bagels are rising, get out another cookie sheet.   Drizzle with oil and cover with cornmeal.

DSCN3773

13. Mix one egg yolk. (You will baste this on to get the spices to stick.)

DSCN3775

14. After 20-30 minutes, the bagels will be ready for the final steps.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Then, take out a large pot and boil up 4 quarts of water with 1 1/2 tsp of sugar.

DSCN3776

While we waited for the water to boil and the bagels to rise.  We got together our poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chopped onion and salt and pepper. The bagel toppings!

DSCN3782

Here is the system we set-up for the next part.  Boiling water, empty bowl for draining, and cornmeal pan.

DSCN3783

15. When bagels are done rising and your water is boiling, you’re ready to go. Drop the bagels in (3 at a time) for one minute. Then, drain for 5 sec in a bowl and then place them on your cookie sheet.

DSCN3790

DSCN3787

DSCN3796

We then took a butter knife and perfected the holes in the center.

16. Put the bagels in the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes is up your bagels should look like this.

DSCN3797

17.  Now, baste each bagel with the egg yolk and then sprinkle with poppy seed, sesame seed, copped onion, salt and pepper.

DSCN3798

DSCN3801

DSCN3800

Now that’s how I like to see a bagel coated!  No skimping on toppings when you make your own!

18.  Bake at 375 degrees on the middle rack for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.  We took them out at about 20 minutes to test the center and found they needed another 7 minutes or so.

DSCN3802

19.  When don baking, place them on a cooling rack.  You’re done!

DSCN3804

If you did everything right you should have a tasty everything bagel like this!

DSCN3809

A note on storing homemade bagels:

Since we don’t use any kind of preservatives, these bagels do not exactly have a shelf life.  They will harden quickly if you don’t have a plan.  They are best enjoyed immediately.  However, this can be unrealistic if you have a hectic schedule.   You can keep them fresh by freezing them in an airtight container.  Simply take one out, defrost, and toast it whenever you’re craving it!

Seriously, the best bagels ever!

Do you have any great bagel recipes that you would like to share?  Please feel free to drop us a comment.  We would love to try your bagel creations!  Or if you’ve never made them, what’s your favorite to eat?  Next up for us will be jalapeno-cheddar!

Panda Express Style Chow Mein

Having a Panda Express across the street from your apartment can be a dangerous thing when a large order of chow mein only cost $3.  We recently discovered this, having been eating vegetarian since January 2nd.  It was one of the only options we could eat…thankfully!  For the first time, we actually didn’t leave feeling overly full or sick to our stomachs. 

Anyways, it made us crave even more the next day, so we decided to take on the challenge of making it.  We Googled some recipes and ended up going with a video series we found on YouTube.  It was super simple and easy to follow.  Check it out here!  We only ended up adapting a couple of things.      

Panda Express Style Chow Mein

INGREDIENTS:

DSCN3707

  • 8 oz package of egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup sliced white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cabbage (we’ll be using 1/2 cup next time)
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup mung bean sprouts (we chopped them)
  • 1 T vegetable oil (we used olive oil, but I think we’ll try veg next time)
  • 2 tsp of minced ginger
  • 2 T of minced garlic (or 4 cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 T of water
  • Note shown: Splash of rice vinegar

STEPS:

1. Slice the onion and chop the celery, cabbage, and bean sprouts.  Note shown: Bring a big pot of water to a boil for the noodles.

DSCN3708

2. Heat up the skillet on high and put 1 T of oil.  Once hot, add the vegetables. 

DSCN3709

3. Add the garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper.  Bring heat to medium-high and stir fry until the cabbage is wilted. 

DSCN3713

4. While the vegetables are stir-frying, the water should be at a boil.  Add the 8oz package of noodles and cook for about 6 minutes.  Drain the water in a colander. 

Sorry! Hard to get a picture with the steam.

DSCN3715

5. When the stir fry is ready, it should look similar to the picture below.  Now you’re ready to add 2 cups of low sodium soy sauce and 2 T of water. 

DSCN3717

DSCN3721 DSCN3723

6. When the soy sauce has been stirred in, pour the cooked noodles on top.  Stir all ingredients together completely.  Put a splash of rice vinegar and toss once more. 

DSCN3725

Voila!  You are done.  Now enjoy with your favorite Asian-inspired entree. 

DSCN3727

We’re definitely excited about experimenting with various Asian-inspired dishes after creating this one. 

Cream is the Theme

Happy Sunday!  We’re enjoying a beautiful day here in Texas. The SUN has decided to grace us with its presence once again, and we’ll be seeing the 70s this week!  Let the pool party season begin.

After enjoying some Amy’s soup this past weekend, Dustin and I realized that we really love soup..a lot.  This week shall be devoted to finding lots of new soup recipes to make.  It seems like one of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat veggies if you ask me.

Today’s soup was inspired by a recipe we found on Taste of Home, called Garden Chowder.  We wanted to be a little adventurous and make our first “creamy” soup from scratch.  We took the original recipe and adapted it to make a healthier version with some added flavors.  Definitely check out the original recipe, where you’ll also find about 22 more pages of vegetarian soups.

“Creamy” Vegetable Soup

THE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup each of the following chopped ingredients: carrots, celery, broccoli, red potato, onion, bell pepper
  • 2 T of olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 T pre-mixed garlic and herbs blend (sesame seeds, black pepper, dehydrated garlic and green onion, lemon peel)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups rice milk
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 green onions (chopped)
  • Colby jack cheese (optional topping)

1. Chop the carrots, celery, potato, onion, broccoli, and peppers into bite-size pieces.

DSCN3542 DSCN3556DSCN3544 DSCN3552 DSCN3554 DSCN3558DSCN3553DSCN3557

2. Heat your soup pot on high and add 2 T of olive oil.  Then add the peppers and onion.  Add 1 T of garlic and herbs blend.  Sauté for about 3-5 minutes or until the onion is browned.

DSCN3561 DSCN3563

3. Once the peppers and onions are sautéed, throw in the rest of the chopped vegetables.  Mix together.

DSCN3567

5. Add 4 cups of water.  Mix.  Bring to a boil.

DSCN3568 6. Add 2 vegetable bouillon cubes.  Mix.

DSCN3569 7.  Put in one dry bay leaf, 1 T of dry parsley, and 2 T of garlic blend.  Mix.

DSCN3573 DSCN3574 DSCN3577

8.  Once it reaches a full boil, add 1/2 cup of brown rice.  Bring to a simmer and cover for about 35 minutes or until rice is tender.

DSCN3578 9. While soup is simmering, prepare your “cream” mixture to the side.  Pour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups of rice milk into a mixing bowl.  Mix until smooth.

DSCN3582 DSCN3584 DSCN3585 DSCN3586

10.  When the soup is finished simmering and the rice is tender, slowly add in the milk mixture.  Stir until it is fully mixed in.  Cook on medium-high heat for another 5 minutes or until you reach your desired thickness.

DSCN3588 DSCN3589

11.  In the final 5 minutes, throw in 4-5 thyme sprigs and 3 chopped green onions.

DSCN3591 DSCN3595 DSCN3597

12.  After about five minutes, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Your soup is ready to serve and eat!

DSCN3598 DSCN3601

We cut up some little cheese cubes and added a DROP of habanero hot sauce.  Delicious!!

DSCN3603

Honestly, we were extremely nervous about how this would turn out, as we chose whole wheat flour over white flour and rice milk over whole milk.  It turned out so great!  Obviously, the appearance won’t look as “creamy” as traditional cream-based soups,  but the flavors were phenomenal.  I highly encourage you to try it or create your own adaptations of it.  We were satisfied, but not stuffed.  It also didn’t leave me with an icky feeling after eating it, as most dairy dishes tend to do.

And finally, a new green smoothie recipe!

BLUEBERRY-STRAWBERRY CREAM GREEN SMOOTHIE

We experimented with some new flavors in our green smoothie today.  Vanilla coconut milk was on sale this week (plus $1 OFF coupon I had). I snagged a carton for $1.99!  Blueberry pints were also on sale for $1.77!  Hellooo, antioxidants!

THE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana (frozen if you can)
  • 3 frozen strawberries
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • Handful of spinach
  • 2 T vanilla yogurt
  • 3 ice cubes

Throw in a blender (or Magic Bullet), blend, pour, and enjoy!!

DSCN3604 DSCN3608

This may be my new favorite green smoothie.  That is, until the price of blueberries goes up.  Then, I’ll be getting creative again.  The combination of blueberries and coconut is out of this world!  :)

Have you ever had a green smoothie?  If so, what is your absolute favorite recipe?  We’re always looking to try new ones!

Reflections on Gratitude

“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally “count our blessings,” give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” — Shakti Gawain

The devastation and tragedy that has and is continuing to take place in Haiti has really forced me to put my life in perspective.  I’m typically someone who tries to show my gratitude every day, but like so many other people, I can often let the most trivial things bother me.  In the grand scheme of life, this is not OK.  In taking some time to pause and reflect on my life, I have come to truly appreciate just how lucky I am.

After reading an inspiring post by Ashley on Daily Goods earlier, I couldn’t help but start coming up with a list of all that I am grateful for in my life.  I encourage everyone who reads this post to do the same.

This is my list.

1. Roof over my head

I have a place where I can be safe at any time.  This roof protects me and my loved ones from the sometimes harsh outside world.  When the weather is cold, I can be cozy and warm.  When the weather is hot, I can cool down.  I have doors and windows that lock making me feel secure. Many people do not have this. There are places in the world, including your very own city, where people do not have a place to protect themselves.  They face all weather conditions.  They face dangerous situations when the sun goes down.  Some are not even protected by a roof and four walls.  There are people who at any time can have their houses bombarded by tyrant governments and militias. I am grateful.

2.  Clean water

I have filtered water through my refrigerator.  And if I didn’t have this, I could buy a filtration system.  And if I couldn’t afford that, I would at least have water running through the faucet in my kitchen, which I could boil on my stove top.  Many people do not have this. There are places in the world where people have to walk for miles and miles just to access water, not clean filtered water either.  They must carry this water back to their homes in order to boil it for safety.  Many people die because they do not have access to water at all.  I am grateful.

3. Abundance of Food

I not only have food stocked in my fridge, freezer, and pantry; I have healthy, organic, and natural food.  I have access to local farmer’s markets and organic grocery stores.  I also have a chain grocery store that sells unlimited food directly across the street from my apartment.  If I’m making a recipe and forget an ingredient, I am able to get it in less than 5 minutes. I have a choice in what I eat.  Many people do not have this. World hunger statistics are scary.  1,021,110,977 people are under-nourished, 13,789 people have died of hunger TODAY, 412,966 people have died of hunger this YEAR (note it’s mid-January), and 63,694 tons of food were wasted in America TODAY (Source).  Keep in mind this number is growing.  Check the stats later today and you will be blown away. I am grateful.

4. Ability to Smile/Laugh

This one might seem silly, but think about it.  If you’re reading this, it means you have access to the Internet, which means you have the ability to watch funny videos, read funny websites, or laugh at funny pictures.  There are so many opportunities to smile and laugh throughout our days.  Whether it is a compliment received, a message from an old friend, or funny show on TV, I can not count the amount of times I smile or laugh each day.  Many people do not have this. There are people battling depression and other mental disorders which cause a heavy and deep sadness in their hearts.  There are people who are in actual physical pain every day, from battling various diseases.  There are people whose problems are SO big that smiling seems near impossible.  Although I am a firm believer that your mindset can change your life, there is no doubt that smiling and laughing are luxuries and come easier to some of us than others. I am grateful.

5. Pets

I look at our cats and can’t help but feel happy.  Knowing they were all rescued from lives that were not so great keeps my heart light.  We are able to provide them a comfortable home , homemade food, play, and lots of love.  Many animals do not have this. So many animals are confined in dark, dirty, and crowded crates.  Both domestic and animals used for food.  Many are not provided with proper nutrition.  Many never know what love feels like.  Many never live out a full and vibrant life.  Many live out their shorts lives with abuse and torment.  For the ability to care for my beautiful babies, I am grateful.

6. Transportation

I have a vehicle that gets me everywhere I need to go.  If that vehicle breaks down, I have friends who could give me a ride.  If they were busy, I have access to public transportation.  I live in a world where planes, boats, and trains can take me to new, exciting places.  I have two legs that allow me to walk should all other transportation fail. Many people do not have this. There are people who have no legs or do not have the ability to use them.  There are people who don’t own cars that can take them far distances.  There are places with no public transportation.  There are people who live their whole lives in the same small space due to these factors. I am grateful.

7. My Health

I fuel my body with nutritious foods.  I can work out at a gym or go for a walk outside.  In comparison to so many others, the little pain I may feel on occasion is nothing to complain about.  I have no diseases that plague my body.  If I were to get sick, I have the resources and people in my life to help me get better.  Many people do not have this. Millions of people suffer from mental and physical diseases.  Every day brings new challenges.  Some people live the majority of their lives in a hospital being poked and prodded with various medical tools.  They may be forced to take drugs and go through procedures that in turn make them feel worse.  They may rarely experience the beauty of the outside world.  Others do not even have access to health care, forcing them to experience a long, lonely and painful battle. I am grateful.

8.  Community

One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that there are a whole lot of people out there who can help me become the person I want to be.  I’m able to read others’ stories, get to know them, and ask them for advice.  I can become good friends with people who I’ve never even met in person and who live 1,000s of miles away.  I live in a city with groups for any and every kind of interest and hobby.  Everywhere I look, there is some group of people able to help me achieve my goals or provide me with companionship.  Many people do not have this.  There are people who live isolated lives and must achieve their goals without the help of others.  There are people who are so judged by the outside world that they never find a place where they feel accepted.  And there are even those who do not have access to the Internet and therefore never get to experience the powerful impact that millions of others around the world can have on you.  All they may ever know are their immediate surroundings.  I am grateful.

9. Ability to Help Others

I am able to volunteer my time and donate my money to others who are not as fortunate as I am.  I can spend time with someone who is feeling lonely.  I can lend an ear to a friend who is going through a hard time.  I can use my creativity to create things that make others smile.  Because of the amazing opportunities I have been given, I am able to give to others.  Many people do not have this. In a world with so much turmoil, there are people who have to focus all of their energy simply on making it through another day.  When survival is your main priority, it’s nearly impossible to be able to help others.  And like they say, in order to help others, you first must help yourself.  I am grateful.

10. Being Able to Make Mistakes

Yes, you read it correctly.  I spent my whole childhood trying to be perfect and learned very little about myself.  Living on auto-pilot and doing the “right” things to make others happy is no way to go through life.  I am grateful for every rash and stupid mistake I’ve ever made since those times.  As hard as some of the lessons may have been to learn, they helped mold me into the person I currently am.  I transferred schools on impulse.  I’ve blown money and credit cards on things that really didn’t matter.  I quit jobs that didn’t immediately satisfy my longing for something better.  While I don’t consider these all mistakes now, I did at the time.  Although they put me through difficult times, I know they all happened for a reason.  Many people do not have this.  For some people, a mistake may mean being abandoned by your family or loved ones.  It may mean criticism and feelings of worthlessness.  For others, a mistake might mean you can’t get something or someone you love back.  And for some, a mistake can mean the end of their lives. I am grateful.

11. Fiancé

From my impulse decision to transfer schools, I was able to meet the love of my life.  I get to spend every day with someone who loves me more than the world, as I love him.  I have someone to sleep by my side on dark nights and someone to cheer me up when I’m having an off-day.  Many people do not have this. There are people who search their whole lives for their soul mate and never find them.  There are people who are married, but who are not truly happy or satisfied.  There are people who are in love but unable to share equality by law or unable to openly show their love due to harsh judgment.  There are people who are in abusive relationships with no escape.  There are people who must be apart from their loved ones for months or years at a time.  And there are people who have lost the love of their life.  I am grateful.

12. Family and Friends

I have family and friends, who despite many of my crazy decisions, love me regardless.  I know that no matter where my life takes me, whether good or bad, I have their undying support.  I know that were I to lose everything tangible in my life, I would have a place to stay filled with love.  Many people do not have this. There are people who have lost their whole families to a tragedy.  There are people who have been disowned by their families.  There are people who were given up at birth or a later point in their lives and forced to create their own family.  Some people never experience a family at all.  There are even people who still have family around, but a family that is unwilling to help them or show them love. I am grateful.

13. Freedom

As much as we like to complain about the government and the “restrictions” in our lives, the reality is we have it made.  We have the freedom of choice.  If we’re not happy with something, we can fix it.  We have more luxuries than nearly every other country in the world, and as much as we like to blame big business and big government, the truth is that it is our individual choices that make the difference.  If we really want change, it starts with ourselves.  We can’t depend on a few people to make us happy.  The more we focus on that, the longer it will take to make progress.  And if we do become that unhappy with our country, we have the freedom to move somewhere different.  Most people do not have this. Many parts of the world are ruled by governments that severely limit individual freedom.  There are millions of people who live in some form of slavery.  There are places where women are still viewed as objects, rather than equal individuals.  There are people who do not have freedom of speech and could be killed for writing the way we so freely do on our blogs and in our books and magazines.  I am grateful.

14. My Mind

The mind is perhaps the most powerful thing we have as individuals.  Regardless of your situation in life, the mind can transcend you to a very different time and place.  The thoughts we think have the power to transform our lives.  We are able to think intellectually with it, as well as create masterpieces.  The minute I changed my thoughts from constant complaints and negativity was the minute I literally set my life on the most inspiring path.  Many people do not have this. There are people who have suffered brain damage from accidents or disease.  Their entire personality may have been changed from such an occurrence.  There are people who live their lives as “vegetables” unable to effectively communicate or even think the numerous and amazing thoughts that once filled their minds.  By losing the ability to think, they have lost the most powerful trait we have as humans.    I am grateful.

15. The Air I Breathe

Were I to lose everything I just mentioned and still have the air I breathe, it would mean I still have a fighting chance.  So long as I am alive and breathing, I know my journey is not yet over.  Every time I inhale and exhale represents more life I have to live.  And believe you me, I will do everything in my power to continue living such a rewarding life.

I AM GRATEFUL.

I hope you enjoyed reading this.  My hope is that it got you thinking about some of the people and things you are most grateful for in your own life.  Although I am grateful for many, many, many more than 15 things, I believe these are the foundation.  Remember to seize every opportunity that enters your life and never take what you have for granted, even if it doesn’t seem like much.  I truly believe that as you start to show appreciation for what you have, the more you will start to receive.

So look around and smile.  And know that where you are now is exactly where you are meant to be.  The thoughts you have now will create your future, so focus only on what makes you happy and never settle for less.  Take chances to live out your dreams.

With this I also wanted to leave you with a link from Google listing some of the many ways you can help the victims in Haiti.  Even if you, yourself, do not have a penny to your name, you can spread the word by posting on social networks, tweeting on Twitter, blogging about it, or telling those around you.  Everything little bit helps!

Here’s the link:

WAYS TO HELP HAITI

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.