Music and Joy

To me, these two words have become almost interchangeable when it’s about music that sparks joy in me. Literally, since I remember myself I could be in a good mood for at least a day when one of my favorite singers produced a new album.

I was born an a family of two musicians and was taught to love this joyous experience every time when I hear a good bass guitar improvisation or someone sing in this naturally flavorful authentic tuneful manner coming from the heart and soul of the singer. My parents and my elder sister would always point these moments to each other and taught me feel so grateful for the existence of this amazing thing – music.

Sometimes, when I feel sad or overwhelmed with something, music becomes my healer. At those moments when I feel weak, I just need to listen to Diane Shuur or Etta James and sing along to feel better about myself. Yes. I feel so much better after singing and sometimes even crying at the same time. I do it when nobody sees me.

I used to study vocal back in Russia and my teacher Galina Filatova would listen to a song I chose for my performance and even though, sometimes, she wouldn’t understand the lyrics, she would still try to make me match emotions of the singer and talk to me on a very emotional level about my personal life, use my demolished hopes or fantastic experiences in order for me to make her cry by singing as emotionally as I could. We had two posters on the wall at the singing room, – two posters of famous black musicians and she made me imagine that they were alive and talk to them pronouncing the lyrics of my song before I start singing. I remember it felt pretty real.

Even though I understand that my life is wonderful and there are so many things to thank God for… but sometimes, when there’s an obstacle on my family’s way, I become very sad. Especially if I can’t fix a problem myself at that moment. This morning I woke up sad. I needed joy and it wouldn’t come. So I decided to sing. I sang until I couldn’t control my voice anymore, until I couldn’t see the lyrics of the songs I chose through my tears. And you know what? I felt enlivened. Music brings this feeling in me – the feeling of being alive. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to love New York, – the heart of jazz music.

Some Etta James for you. And some Ukrainian heart-singer also. EnJoy.

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What I eat in a day tag.

Dear friends, as I promised, I am going to show you what I do and how easy it is to keep the weight in moderation, eat relatively well and substitute bad foods with foods that will make you feel happy, healthy and energized!:)

2 things that help me do this are:

This kind of food scale:16805031_1535363756481553_172769851_o

And  this app:2709036278373Screenshot_20170218-204009.png

This app is built into any Android phone. It will help you to playfully put calories in and see how healthy you actually eat. I set my limit at 1500 calories a day, but almost always go a little over it. I am trying not to go over 1800 calories and today I did 1700 calories, which is good for getting rid of calories. I try to take a yoga class or/and workout 4 days a week, so it will make it easier for my body to constantly maintain my weight and metabolism rate.

So, what I ate today for breakfast:

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Of course, I, as a person who, before moving to GA, used to live in NY, drink coffee. To make it less harmful I add about 100 grams of Dream Blends Rice and Quinoa instead of milk and 15 grams of honey to it, so it feels warm and tastes delicious.

In this breakfast I used:

Cinnamon Raisin Organic Gluten Free Bread (Rudi’s) – 1 serving

Low Fat Turkey Bacon (Butterball) – 2 slices

1 egg – to fry it I used extra virgin olive oil. In order to use less oil, I use a cooking brush to oil a pan.

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Broccoli Sprouts – 0.5 serving

Portabello Mushrooms – 0.3 cup

Tomatoes – about 50 g

Arugula – 15 g

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise – 5 g

All of this including coffee came down to 374 cal and was super-delicious!

I subbed the regular bacon with the turkey bacon and still used a slice of a delicious, but organic and gluten- free bread! Yumm!

Next meal was very simple but scrumptious! I didn’t have time to cut the peaches and the strawberries, but a promise is a promise, so here it is:

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Snack: Oh My Yog! 3 layered strawberry yogurt with 1 peach and 2 large strawberries – 259 cal

Lunch! Oh My Lunch!

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Baked Chicken Thighs with no extra oil added – 130 g

Hint of lime tortilla chips 32 g

Guacamole: 1/2 Avocado, red onion – 15g, tomatoes – 50 g,  jalapeño peppers – 4 g, cilantro.

1/2 Lime Juice

salt, pepper

600 cal

Well. It was VERY GOOD!

Then I had my cheat drink Starbucks Green Tea Latte!

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Well, I wouldn’t usually do this, but today my husband and I had a meeting at Starbucks so

130 cal

Dinner – salad. Very nutritious!

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Zesty Sriracha Carrot Hummus (Eat Well, Embrace Life) – 52 g

Sweet peppers – 20 g

Strawberries – 57 g

Broccoli Sprouts – 17 g

Avocado – whole – 131 g

Cress – 17 g (0 cal!!!)

Arugula – 16 g

Spinach – 21 g

Peach 1/2

Seasoning

360 cal

So, guys, you can see here how simple it is to eat delicious and fresh food with JOY!

All I had today was only 1723 cal and my nutrition score, given by SHealth is 81, which is pretty good. Here’s the breakdown:

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Also, I am trying not to eat a lot of diary products, so as a result I usually lack Calcium. But I promise, tomorrow I’ll be better!

Have you seen all this food?! It is so much better than this:

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(I took this picture from here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2828587/Hungry-Horse-s-Double-Donut-burger-1-966-calories-53-grams-saturated-fat.html)

So, guys! Let’s watch our diets and support each other in our healthy lifestyle.

I myself can eat a couple of servings of lo mein here and there, but generally I try to eat healthy and love my body as it deserves to be loved.

EnJoy your dreams and cheers. 🙂

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietician, and I can’t give you 100% right advice, but this is what I do and what works for me.

To diet or not to diet; that’s the question!

It is so hard! It’s so hard to start dieting! But a good thing is… you don’t have to! Tomorrow I will show you what I ate in a day today and you will see how easy it is to maintain your weight or slowly (which is the best way to do it!) get rid of pounds and stay healthy without starving yourself to death! Posting some pics of healthy fruits, veggies and berries that I recently took on our porch!:) Hope you enJOY!:)

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Self-Appreciation, Self-Love and the keys to it.

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Despite all the information on self-love that we have access to nowadays, every person has to find their own key to unlock this door to the self appreciating power. Therefore it is hard to generalize the ways to this important discovery. Sometimes, we get caught up in our own patterns of self-hatered and do not even notice how deep down the hole we are until someone subtly points it out to us, subtly because from my own observation, when we are fought against or blamed for something, we tend to perceive things in a wrong way, and again, not pay attention to the true meaning of the received message. So I hope I am subtle enough! Ha!:)

So today I would like to encourage you to find little ways to enjoy yourself. And this is a SECOND of the JOYS I’m pointing out to you. I will try to give you “molds” of my little “keys” and maybe then you can adjust it to your own shape and form.

I stumble on my path to unconditional self-love myself. But here is how I get up and continue going forward. I am not a professional you totally need to listen to, but I am a practitioner who has different experiences and wants to share them with others.

I’m not asking you to love yourself fully right now. I mean, if your can, you’re very lucky, and that probably means that you or/and your parents most definitely worked hard on your perceptions of yourself and your life and now, as a result, you are fully satisfied with your reality and your present self no matter how you look like, how much money you make or, for example, if you have friends or romantic relationship at the moment. This kind of self love is truly remarkable! Then, maybe you do not need my advice and I am sincerely happy for you! But we are all different and sometimes it seems that there is no happy place for us in our own hearts and surprisingly it occurs that all we need is just a little push forward. I hope to give you one and inspire you today by telling you what I do to uplift myself and love myself one step at a time.

So the FIRST STEP is drinking a glass of WATER in the morning. Yes this simple!

While you are drinking it think about love and you are literally nourishing your body and enlivening it by every gulp. After you finished your cup, close your eyes and feel the little movements of the water going through your body. Imagine that you just had a glass of love because it is true! It was an act of self-love! Open your eyes! Feeling better? Good job!

The SECOND STEP is going OUTSIDE for a moment or a little walk, or just simply looking out the window. Sounds silly at first right? Haha!:) But it’s actually not.

Try looking and perceiving whatever you see in a positive way. If you see a pile of snow and think “Blah… cold again…” – it is not going to make you feel better. Instead you can substitute this thought in a surprisingly natural way and think about a good side of it. For example “How magical it is that this snow is falling from the sky.. from so far away from me! I can actually touch it, it’s almost like if I could touch the clouds!” I mean.. why not? That is how you will learn little ways to see beauty in something that you haven’t found attractive before, including… yourself! So, redirect your gaze from the window or come back inside and look in the mirror. Smile at yourself. And do the same thing as you did outside: look at yourself from a different perspective. If you do not like your nose, try to look at it as a person who really likes this type of nose. WHY NOT? See? You already love your nose. At least you’re smiling!:)

Next, THIRD STEP is cleaning your SPACE.

There is a wonderful Japanese writer named Marie Kondo. In her book “Spark Joy” she talks about removing all items that do not spark joy in you from your space. I didn’t read the book, so I am not the one to recommend it, but I watched multiple videos about her and her ways of tidying living space and was amazed how simple her technics of tidying were. So if you are curious, just search her name on YouTube and get inspired.

Why do I point it out to you when we are talking about Self-Love? Again, very simple, because when you love someone or something, you want the best for them! You do want yourself to live in a clean room that you can enjoy being in right? It is that not complicated: EnJOY!

The most important, though difficult at first but yet eventually joyous FOURTH STEP is EATING HEALTHY.

This is a crucial step that I am going to talk about in my next post. I think pretty much every language has a saying “You are what you eat” because it is the truth that we sometimes ignore. For some people this saying became a cliche that they don’t perceive seriously. They hear it here and there and it sounds empty or, quiet the opposite, – too humiliating to them until it changes their bodies and/or self-perseptions and then, depending on what negative change unhealthy nutrition brought into their lives, they either finally listen and change their lifestyle or as the worst case scenario, do not have time for that.:( Changing the lifestyle doesn’t mean forgetting about tasty hamburgers or sweet delicious pastries, it means taking your time to look into the ingredients and find better options for yourself. And this is again an act of Self-love. I will expand more on this topic in my next post, I promise!

So, I invite you to enjoy yourself starting today. Even if you were reading it while chewing on a McDonald’s sandwich, you still can start now by confidently eating your last bite, not blaming yourself for that. Instead of blaming, Love YOURSELF! Show yourself love by committing acts of your authentic self-love, caring for your body and mind.

P.S. This post wasn’t proofread by my husband. So you can read it and see how Russian I actually am. 🙂

Happy Everyday Day!

TODAY I LEARNED SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT FROM MY HUSBAND. AND THIS IS THE FIRST JOY I’m going to talk about.

16776956_1530010757016853_1080620511_oMy husband is mostly Italian, and even though he was born in the US, he still has this passionate Italian personality that shows when we talk about things we perceive differently. I’m Russian and I feel and act the same way. 🙂 So very often we find ourselves looking for compromises to fulfill emotional needs of each other.

TODAY I LEARNED SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT FROM MY HUSBAND. AND THIS IS THE FIRST JOY I’m going to talk about.

I’ve always thought that Holidays bring special moments into our lives, I’ve always looked for opportunities to experience this Joy of giving and receiving, and holidays have been something I couldn’t do without. When I found out that my husband wasn’t really interested in celebrating anything, I was not only surprised, but also sad because Holidays to me were special days when you share love and kind words with your close people and feel accomplished when you see their smiles, teary eyes, give and receive hugs etc. So when I asked my husband what we were doing on the Valentine’s Day, he looked at me and asked why we had to do anything and of course I felt very offended. I didn’t even pay attention when he was trying to explain to me that our marriage – our every day already became celebration of our love. I didn’t want to see it, until… I sat down, calmed down and started thinking about every moment we have spent together during past two weeks and I understood that even if we sometimes argue over stupid little things, we do celebrate love every day. And here is the question… why do we need to celebrate only today, if we can do it every single day in our little ways? Then, a celebration of anything would turn from an obligatory action into a voluntary, everyday love-giving.

So, today for Valentine’s Day I received a Polish-Russian can of smoked fish, some German waffles and pirogues. I also received kisses and hugs. I received my husband’s warmth and his smile. I received his understanding and most importantly, Love. And I think I am one of the happiest women on this planet.

This is my DAILY JOY that I haven’t really noticed the way I should have noticed it. I decided that from now on I will be grateful for it every day.

So in order to feel happy today I thought that this might be a nice exercise for all of us:

Sit in a comfortable position in an empty room, park, backyard or any available space where you can be alone for some time. Close your eyes and ask yourself these questions:

Do I appreciate my life enough? Don’t judge yourself. Just answer.
Do I see miracles in my life every day?
What are those miracles I see?
What are those miracles that I might not have paid attention to?
What should I celebrate today?
How can I cheer someone up today? Do it.

Answer the questions. You can even write the answers down if you want after this little practice. But aren’t you feeling better? Told ya! 🙂

Enjoy your Valentine’s day every day! Love yourself, your families and friends!

P.S.

In the picture you can see a gift that I made for my husband after experiencing my “enlightenment”, just to share an idea! 😛 And yea, I’m 33 y/o! 🙂 Making cards or gifts can show deep authenticity!

Introduction

kt22I’m Tsvetana and I’m from Russia. Now, I live in the US with my husband Kyle and our lab-mix, Kanga. There was a time I once fell in love with healthy, joyful living and, since then, never came back! (aside from the occasional bottle of vodka – kidding -)  This is my story about how I practice joyful living and you are invited to share your story as we journey together.

Joy for me comes in many forms: Cooking, painting, making jewelry, doing yoga, working out, traveling and, most of all, taking care of my family bring me joy every single day! These daily joys I share are mostly healthy and I want you guys to join me today on this healthy journey!