Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

As the sun shines in my apartment on this beautiful (almost) winter’s day, I am reminded of so much light, positivity, and happiness that I am blessed with in this life. More so than that, the sun reminds me to SHINE.

Image by jubileelewis

We were so lucky last night to have a holiday get-together with friends old and new and truly catch up on the exciting and sometimes frightening unknown of THE FUTURE…dun dun dun.

There was a common theme of existential uncertainty in all of our conversations: “life is good for right now, but….”, “I’m not sure if this is what I want to be doing forever, but….”, “How did this whole adult-hood thing happen? What’s next….”

If you’ve been reading my posts, you may also notice a common theme, I LOVE to give advice.  I truly believe in the positive, I truly believe in trusting a Greater Plan, and I will always try to advise the silver lining and find the positive in any situation.

I had a moment of clarity while I was listening to my friends’ existential internal conflicts and while I was finding a way of spinning to the positive last night. If you read this far, here comes my unsolicited advice!

We all have this light. Like the children’s song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” It is our personal light; the positive side of our personality. Our sense of humor, our courage, our strengths, our compassion, our empathy, our love.

Sometimes, our light gets covered up. Sometimes there are circumstances or events or words exchanged or [insert what upsets you here] that shovels a scoop of dirt and darkness over our light. With conscious thought, we can quickly sweep away the dirt and darkness and continue sharing our light.

But sometimes, the circumstances are too constant, too overwhelming, too heavy to quickly sweep away. We let the darkness, dirt, toxicity sit there and become our new norm. We become detached from our light and we feel like a piece of us is missing. We feel like we have lost the warmth of our soul.

When this happens, we can do two things: one) we can accept the darkness and let this new norm consume us and live knowing “something isn’t quite right, but I can learn to be okay with how it is now.”

Or two) start the intense, mindful, conscious process of shoveling away the darkness.

“Hide it under a bushel. NO! I’m gonna let it shine.”

How does one start this intense, mindful, conscious process of removing the dirt, you ask?

  • Trust in your family, friends, faith! Talk it out, cry it out. Your family and true friends will love you unconditionally. You may even experience comfort in knowing that you are not the only one feeling this way and you can work on shining your light together!
  • Practice self-care! Even if it’s taking a few minutes each day to listen to music or sit in silence.
  • Keep a journal that focuses on Gratitude. Gratitude is a CHOICE. Be mindful, be conscious, be appreciative and watch that dirt disappear and your light shine through!
Image by BK
  • Be open to change. If something is not making you feel like your true self, have the courage to lean on your loved ones and “take a risk, take a chance, make a change, and breakaway” (thanks, Kelly Clarkson!)
  • Practice patience. When weeks, months, years have passed with your light being hidden, it will take weeks, months, years of conscious work and heavy shoveling to chip away the layers of dirt, toxicity, and darkness.

You are unique. You are beautiful. You are enough. YOU ARE RADIANT. Let your light shine bright. Be a beacon of hope and an anchor of love.

Image from PublicDomainPictures.net

Brightly yours,

Ariana xo


Sometimes, you have to follow…

I learned a valuable lesson this afternoon and I had to share.

My husband, bless him, knows how much I love to dance – around the apartment, in the car, moving down the street – and I’m ALWAYS trying to get him to partner dance with me (but really, it’s dangerous for all parties involved). For our anniversary he got us ballroom dance lessons to boost his confidence on the dance floor and to quell my lofty ‘Dancing With The Stars’ dreams.

Since I’ve been taking dance lessons for most of my life, I feel like I know a thing or two about rhythm. I instinctively become the dance leader when we are dancing at weddings, parties, and when my husband gives in and dances in the kitchen with me.

Leading has become a common theme in my life. It was second nature to me to come up with plans and carry them through, so naturally I became a teacher, an instructor, and a coach. But recently, I recognized the incredibly important need to still be a student, to continue to learn from others, to close my eyes and LET SOMEONE ELSE TAKE THE LEAD.

There is something so therapeutic about letting go of thinking and planning and just being. Allowing others to lead you through a workout, a flow, a routine, a lecture, a meeting, a class, a mass, a meditation, a conversation. You don’t have to be “on”, you just have to be present.

So today, I closed my eyes and let my husband take the lead around the dance floor. Tomorrow, I will close my eyes and let my instructor lead my workout or my practice. The next day, who knows! That’s the beauty of allowing yourself to follow! I do know that each day, I will consciously be thankful for all of my blessings and my opportunities to learn, to grow, and to follow.

Image from pixabay.com

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Welp, it’s the most wonderful time of year again…the holiday bustle is in full swing, the stores are splitting at the seams with people, the travel plans are laid out, and the GERMS ARE FLYING!

As an elementary health and PE teacher, I teach over 600 students a week. Each child cracks me up with their unique personalities: their sweetness, their sassiness, their silliness, and…their grossness. I adore my students. I do not adore the germs they spread through our school.

I try really hard to keep my immune system healthy!

  • Hot water with lemon and turmeric each morning
  • 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Vitamins C and D3, probiotics
  • Regular exercise
  • Wash my hands ALL THE TIME
  • Healthy diet

No matter what preventative measures I take, I cannot seem to avoid getting a cold. Sometimes my stress levels get too high, sometimes I stretch myself too thin for too long, sometimes I get lazy with my vitamin and herbal routine, and sometimes my body “just knows” that a holiday and break from routine is coming up.

So what can you do about it when your nasal passages are so stuffed? When your head is pounding and your eyes are heavy? When your throat is scratchy and muscles are achy? Laugh.

Your body knows best. Your body is speaking to you. By getting sick, your immune system cannot keep up with the amount of pathogens in your body. Your body is screaming: Slow Down. Rest Up. RESET. 

Resetting gives you a chance to get back to basics in your health. Get back to basics in your life. Get back to basics with your family and friends. Resetting in turn helps you appreciate what you have.  Appreciate your body. Appreciate your family and friends. Appreciate your life.

So with a stuffy nose, heavy eyes, and a grateful heart, I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Oh! And Magic Soup (make when you are feeling a cold coming on and the healing properties of the garlic and onion will lessen the symptoms of your viral infection)

  • 6 cups broth: 4 cups low sodium chicken broth and 4 cups water
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot
  • dash of cayenne or red pepper
    • chop the garlic, onion, celery, and carrot
    • add vegetables and cayenne to the broth
    • bring to a boil





The words “fear”, “doubt”, and “uncertainty” have been popping up quite frequently in my vocabulary lately…and I loathe them. These words cause such unsettlement in one’s head, heart, and body. In light of the recent horrific attacks going on in our world, it is really easy to fall into the terror and fear of the unknown future…

As a late 20-something, I find myself straddling the line of the YOLO mentality (quick! before it’s too late!) and the fear of consequences from my actions (will I lose an entire day of productivity because of one uncharacteristically fun, wild, late night?). My heart and my gut are telling me to Go! Do! Live! But my mind is overthinking and getting in my way.

Your mind is POWERFUL. It can raise you up and just as easily tear you right down. Personally, I have been constantly questioning: my thoughts, my ideas, my lessons, my workouts, my food choices, my outfits, my decisions…was that right? was that a good idea? was that tough enough? does this look okay? am I reaching out to others enough? should I have that? should I think that? should I do this?

What bothers me about the mind, these fearful questions, this overthinking is the “who”. Who am I trying to please? Who am I trying to impress? Who am I trying to “wow”?

Recently, my dear friend Maria eloquently scribed these uncertain feelings, this overthinking, into a thought-provoking question of truths (“Says Who” Blog) “Who says” what is good, what is right, what is enough? The answer should be YOU.

YOU should strive for personal excellence. YOU should strive to make yourself better than yesterday. YOU should make morally conscious decisions that better you and the community around you. YOU should close your eyes at night pleased with the choices that you made.

Sometimes, okay, a lot of times, that personal power is still scary.

The Disney/Pixar movie “Inside Out” (FANTASTIC, by the way! Have your tissues nearby!) shows the cooperation between 5 major emotions in our brain: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. The writers show us that Fear is always present. If it weren’t for our other emotions to keep us in the positive, we would be stuck asking, “What if I don’t make it across the finish line?” We must respond with:

Image by BK

I hope that you are all in tune with your minds and your bodies. I hope that when you find yourself second guessing/comparing/stuck by Fear, you find the will to ask yourself “says who?” and to let your other emotions take the reigns. Trust your gut. Trust your heart. Quiet your mind.

For me, I have to let my emotions be handled by God. After perfect motherly advice, I finally went back to church. The reading, the homily, the songs felt tailored to me and my cerebral struggles. The homily was powerful: “fear should be the catalyst for change, not despair…. When you are in the protective hand of God, fear can bring you hope.”

I urge you to trust. Find solace in meditation. Find comfort in prayer. Trust God, The Universe, the wind, that twisty-looking tree, whathaveyou. Trust your decisions. Trust your choices. Trust in your journey.

“’What if I fall?’ ‘Oh, but my darling,what if you fly?’” –Erin Hanson


Workout Anytime, Anywhere

Image by Victor R. Ruiz

Do you frequently feel like you have “no time” to exercise? For me, it feels like the “I’m too busy” bug has been running rampant…especially with the holidays looming and the sun setting far too early for me to be productive after work. If you’re stuck in the same mentality as I am, it’s time to change it up!

The American Heart Association, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization recommend adults to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like jogging or dancing) per week and participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week. When you break it down, these leading health and wellness organizations are recommending you exercise at the minimum 21 minutes per day.

21 minutes. That’s one sitcom before commercials! Come on Netflix and chill-ers, stop binge-watching and start moving.

What I teach my students year after year, is that you don’t necessarily need to hit your recommended exercise minutes in one activity. That’s the beauty of physical activity! It’s defined as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”. Break it up! Five minutes here, ten minutes there, one-minute plank hold during the end credits of your latest TV kick. By the end of the day, you’ll probably surprise yourself and exceed the minimum 21 minutes.

Here’s where you can get creative – SAFE – but creative. Below are my top 5 favorite muscle-strengthening activities that I have turned into daily habits…

  1. Exercises while brushing my teeth: strive for 20 reps for each side
    1. back lunges and side lunges
    2. arabesques (slow and controlled leg lifts to the back)
    3. attitudes (slow and controlled leg lifts to the front/side/back with a bent knee)
    4. wide-squat hold with side crunch
  2. Squats when you step into the restroom: strive for 10 squats before taking care of business
  3. Walking lunges when moving around the apartment: if you have a larger space, choose your most-lived in room (i.e. kitchen) and make walking lunges your go-to locomotor move
  4. Curtsy lunges when making copies: depending on the number of copies I have to make, the more I change up my movements
  5. Exercises during commercial breaks: I’m just as guilty in my television indulgence
    1. Plank holds
    2. Sit-ups
    3. Push-ups
    4. Wall sit
    5. Jump rope (aerobic, but any way I can add it to my 21 minutes!)

**When performing any exercise, be aware of your BODY PLACEMENT**

  • knee and ankle in alignment – 90 degree angle
  • shoulders and chest lifted in good posture
  • belly button scooped back toward your spine
  • hips slightly tucked under and forward
  • Parallel squats: “find the chair”
  • Wide-leg squats: straight line with your upper body – shoulders-chest-hip

Alright, alright, alright. Challenge yourselves:

Simplify the word workout, move more often, and surprise yourself.

Wishing you new exercises and that wonderful “second-day sore”!

xo, Ariana


“Waaaaaater’s GREAT! It’s really, really great!” -The Waterboy

There is not much better than a HUGE glass of water after an intense workout. Actually, I love water anytime. I feel like I am in the minority of water-drinkers though! I want to help you change your mentality to an openness for loving water…

I have read many articles on the incredible health benefits of drinking 1 gallon of water each day. Recently, I completed a monthlong “reset” cleanse and each day of the cleanse I had to consciously drink 1 gallon of water. Since my daily practices crept back to my normal, I see and FEEL different when I don’t drink at least a gallon of water.

  • My skin: when I drink enough water throughout the day, my skin is tighter, those lovely dark circles under my eyes disappear, overall it’s less dry, I break out less!
  • Eating habits: when I consciously drink enough water, I don’t indulge in mindless snacking! Our hypothalamus signals our body when we are thirsty and hungry. Oftentimes, we confuse the two signs, we eat or overeat, and could end up dehydrating ourselves. This is a great article on identifying when to drink water: Thirsty or Hungry?
  • Energy: when I have enough water, I have more energy! I admit I am a coffee, tea, and wine drinker, all of which dehydrate our bodies. I can reset and regain my natural energy when I have my beloved gallon of water throughout the day.

How can we make our water more enticing? A lot of people I consult about the importance of water say the same thing “I don’t like the taste!” Well, as the woman who basically has a salad in her water on a daily basis, here are my go-tos for fancy, colorful, delicious water. *Note: I infuse my water in BPA-free plastic bottles, glass bottles, and ceramic pitchers. Avoid stainless steel for infused water.

  • Lemon water: a classic combination that boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation by removing uric acid in the joints, aids digestion, and freshens breath!
  • Cucumber water: a refreshing combo with many health benefits! Cucumbers are a hydrating food with antioxidant properties, adds natural vitamins and minerals to your diet, lowers blood pressure, and curbs your appetite.
  • Mint water: a fresh combination that has physical and mental calming properties.
  • Combination of the three aforementioned is my favorite!

You will gain all of the health benefits of infused water when you use whole, fresh, natural fruits and herbs. Find your favorite combination of infused water and you will easily reach your new goal of 1 gallon of water a day!

Image by GlassDharma

Challenge yourselves:

Keep a journal on your 1 gallon or water journey! Note how you look and feel before you begin your challenge. Take pictures to really SEE the difference.

Drink 1 gallon of water each day for at least 7 days and watch your face and body transform.

Wishing you well!

xo, Ariana