How to Not Hate Your Thighs and other #GlobalGoals

In this week’s Mindful Monday video, titled How to Not Hate Your Thighs, I talked about what I think is the only cure for insecurity. I call it zooming out.

Youtube.com/MissVranHalen
Youtube.com/MissVranHalen

In my experience, the reason I have felt insecure or entertained feelings of self loathing, is because my focus was entirely too myopic and self-centered. Which is human I know, but I believe that humans are capable of rising above their animal tendencies with the use of reason and compassion. It may be normal to feel insecure or to hate my body from time to time, but the extent in which those insecurities affect me can be dramatically altered by zooming out. Which occurs when I realize that I’ve been focusing too much on myself– when I’m too zoomed in, if you will–and that I need to zoom out. It means I turn my focus to something more important, something big picture, something that brings me joy, gives me perspective, and most importantly, reminds me that my value has absolutely nothing to do with the way I look.

I will never deny that looking good on the outside can make you feel good on the inside, but I strongly believe that the flip side holds even more truth: If you feel good on the inside you will look good on the outside.  When you are fired up about life, living with purpose, and savoring the good parts of each day, you are the most beautiful. And believe me, there is no beauty product, exercise routine, or amount of attention that can match the way it makes you glow.

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It comes down to this: you have to really care about something in life. You have to find what matters to you and do it. Even if it’s a hobby, or as simple as enjoying quality time spent with friends. Be present and aware of the sacred moments in everyday life. Appreciate those moments and focus on cultivating more of them, instead of focusing on your thighs.

From a health stand point, I do understand wanting smaller thighs (insert whatever body part you dislike here) and in that way, I agree with focusing on them. If you could be healthier, get healthier! But not so that you can have perfect thighs–NEWS FLASH: There is no such thing as the perfect body! Aim to be healthy; to be fit and strong so you can live with the energy that your one, precious life deserves. You have to give life your all, and being healthy is a part of that.

What I am arguing is the importance of perspective. When you are busy living and loving your life, the amount in which your thighs play into your happiness is very small. A lot of things help give me that perspective, most notably is my Blog and YouTube channel. I jokingly call them my boyfriend, my child,  my best friend, etc, because I am obsessed and spend the majority of my time writing, filming, editing, sharing, and managing my videos and posts. I was lucky to learn early in life that my raison d’être is to live this life to the fullest, appreciate each moment–good, bad, and ugly–as all are precious components of life, and then share these experiences with anyone who may find them useful, entertaining, or comforting. Wether it’s sharing a kitchen gadget that squeezes SO MUCH JUICE OUT OF LEMONS AND IT’S ONLY 3 DOLLARS!! or a great book, or sharing a personal lesson that I learned the hard way, I want people to know about it and see why it’s made my life that much better so that their lives can be better too. It’s about cultivating goodness, and sharing what I’ve learned a long the way. That gets me out of bed in the morning, keeps me working all day, and gives me the motivation to continue working late into the night editing videos and plotting all of the things I want to tackle the following day. I simply do not have time to sweat the small stuff because I’m on a mission and though it can be stressful sometimes, I gotta tell you, it is the best feeling in the world. I am alive, and alive on purpose.

You can be too, just explore. Open your eyes, learn, read, watch, go, do, reflect, and repeat until you find something that you care more about than the insignificant, superficial, ephemeral problems in your head.

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In the video I mentioned an organization that may ignite similar feelings of passion and purpose in your soul and that is getting involved with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. In four days, 193 world leaders will meet in New York City for a three-day conference where they will commit to work together to make these 17 goals a reality within the next 15 years. You can get involved by picking a number that correlates with the goal you feel is the most important to you. Then tell your friends about it, take a picture of your number on your hand and post it to social media with the hashtag #GlobalGoals like Kate Winslet, Kristen Bell, and I did. The idea is that you spread awareness about these issues and help motivate others to learn about them.

a1What does this have to do with your thighs? Everything. Sometimes what we need is to care about something more than we care about ourselves. We live in a very self-centered world, and it’s important to realize that there is so much more to life that the moment and feelings we are currently experiencing. Right now, all over the world, waterfalls are rushing down the sides of magnificent, sun-kissed mountain sides. Babies are being born, movies are being made, policies are being written, someone just got engaged, and another just got their first big business deal. Imagine the world as montage of moments, with clips from all parts of the world, all skin tones, all landscapes, all cuisines, all modes of transportations–like one big movie trailer of life. And then take a moment to fully grasp that it is all actually happening. Right now. And now, and now, and…. now. It’s amazing. And it’s a quick way of reminding yourself that the traffic you’re stuck in is not that big of a deal. In a month from now you won’t even remember that you were in traffic, let alone in 5 years from now. Big picture perspective is everything and getting involved with this Global Goals campaign can provide that much needed perspective.

The number I chose to be a “self-proclaimed spokesperson” for is 4, with 2 as a close second. I think education has a ripple effect that can help fix a lot of the issues above such as poverty, hunger, health care, promoting tolerance, and using sustainable energy. It boils down to information and quality education. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, when you know better, you do better.  I think, the more information you have, the more deliberately and compassionately you live, and that can change everything.

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Quality education is so important. Not only to us in America, where education is necessary by law and to one day have a career, but also to children around the world. In some parts of the world, parents have to choose between feeding their families or sending their kids to school. They know choosing the prior means their children will mostly likely have no way to live a better life and will end up continuing the cycle of poverty. It’s devastating and unnecessary. Education is something everyone–rich, poor, male, female, everyone– should have.

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I also feel very strongly about number 2, Zero Hunger. Watch the documentary Living On One Dollar and tell me you don’t appreciate every single bite of food you eat ever after. In the film, young children were licking salt off of their plates because they didn’t have any other food. They had no energy to play outside. They were severely malnourished and had to rest for most of the day until they could eat again–whenever that may be. It was horrifying, and again so unnecessary. We have the resources to feed the world. There is no excuse for hunger.

This also makes it hard to hate your body or feel bad about your fat thighs. Some people don’t have the privilege of gorging themselves on junk food until their thighs get fat. You begin to realize that hating your body is a luxury. Zoom out.

I’d like to know what your number is and why so please comment below. If it’s not one of these 17 goals then tell me, what is your raison d’être, or purpose for living? What excites you? What helps you zoom out? And while you’re sharing, what is something you LOVE about yourself or your life?

Comment below or find me on Twitter (here) and Instagram (here.)

A Weekend in Woodstock, NY


Having never been anywhere in upstate New York, I jumped at the chance to accompany my friend on a getaway birthday celebration. A mere two-hour bus ride at about 25 bucks each was just too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I packed a bag and headed to Woodstock.

The first thing you notice upon arriving in Woodstock is, and I mean this with the utmost respect, the cuteness. The bus dropped of us on Tinker Street–sort of the main drag–in front of darling boutiques, cafes, bookshops, and bakeries where the cuteness is met with a laid back, simple vibe that is instantly enjoyable.

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How New Yorkers (have to) Do Ikea

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via Instagram @ikeausa

In most places, a trip to Ikea involves very little effort.

– Get in car

– Drive to Ikea

– Walk around

– Convince yourself that you are really good at putting furniture together

– Release nagging memories of the time(s) you were really bad at putting furniture together

– Contemplate getting a cinnamon roll (because they smell so good!)

– Wonder if they sell something that makes your house smell like cinnamon rolls

– Google “are cinnamon rolls Swedish?” on smartphone

– Complain that there’s never any service in here

– Disregard the fact that knowing this never stops you from trying to get service in here

– Buy stuff

– Drive home

So easy.

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This is NOT how New Yorkers Ikea.

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The Only Little Girl in New York

IMG_3462Moving to New York City was every bit the whirlwind I’d hoped it would be. I had quietly dreamt of living  here for years and when I made the choice to pickup and move from LA to NYC, I was elated.

The initial excitement was soon met by extreme anxiety, fear, and sadness as I packed up everything I owned, sold my car, quit my job, and said “Goodbye for now” to my closest friends. I made the choice to move across the country to pursue my dream of hosting a morning television show like Good Morning America and although it was hard, I knew it was the right choice.

IMG_3755I arrived on cloud nine and a head spinning concoction of drive and delusion. What and who I left behind was a (temporarily) distant memory and I couldn’t take in New York City fast enough. I would get up in the morning, put on one of my brand new outfits and go explore. Every building I saw–every park, every hot dog stand, piece of art, and enraged taxi driver–made me smile at the New York-ness of it all. During that summer, I walked the entire island, and parts of Brooklyn too. I would come home in the evening saturated with the sights, sounds, spirit of New York City. I felt so alive.

IMG_3947This feeling continued as I began writing for the Observer. I couldn’t believe I was able to go to this amazing office, interview people, and publish my writing! It was and continues to be a dream come true. During this time I was also in school online, and continued managing my YouTube channel. I couldn’t believe it, I was here and I was really doing it.

After about three months of this new life in New York City, it–so predictably–became too much.

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