3 Lessons From Mother Nature

My one and only planned vacation for this year was a recent trip to North Carolina. I've visited this particular spot on this mountain numerous times throughout my life and yet I saw things very different this visit. My perspective on my life has drastically changed over the past 6 months, allowing me to see things from a different lens, a different perspective. Here are three things that I learned from my stay with Mother Nature, turned into mini lessons for life. 

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. - Lao Tzu

I first read this quote on a tea bag tag one night and of course, I thought how genius the idea was and made a little note of the quote. But it wasn't until I was having a mini meltdown at the cabin that this actually started to mean something to me.  Even though this was my only planned vacation for the year, I decided to put some silly and grand expectations in my head about using the time there to create content for my business. I really badly wanted to take advantage of the setting and to crank out a bunch of work so that I could use it to build the dream I have in my head, FASTER!!! My expectations were not being met and then all it took was one other hitch in my day to just leave me in tears. Don't worry, the tears were counter attacked with a shower and a meditation session, and those tears are the reason for this lesson. They made me stop and take a further look at what the root of the meltdown really was. 

Life is not about getting somewhere fast. When you move fast you tend to miss things. You miss important tasks, you miss errors in your work, you miss all of the good that is happening around you, you miss the view. You also miss the lessons. Each experience is a chance to learn something new, making you that much stronger to take on your goal. I am learning that no amount of speed will ever be better than really working to prepare yourself, showing up to do the work, and learning from your mistakes. This is how life works. 

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All of the calm is in the quiet. - Me

I had lots of quiet time on this trip. Hammock hangs, challenging hikes, meditation and long drives provided lots of space for thoughts. The quiet is when you really get to connect to what is it you want out of your life. Its when you hear your thoughts and if your willing, maybe even hear some guidance in the stillness. THIS IS SCARY. Some of my thoughts are beyond scary, as in, "I'd rather not think about you right now, maybe ever." But the best way to move through those thoughts and let them free is by sitting with them. The more you take quality quiet time the more space you give yourself to work through stuff, its the time in which your best ideas will emerge. If you use mediation as a regular source of your quiet time you will also get better at creating more calm on the spot, as this is the practice of not reacting to the noise - both the inside and the outside noise. Find the quiet regularly, even if just for a few moments each day. 

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After all you're just as tall as the mountains that you climb. - Thomas Wynn and the Believers

The analogy of a goal being like climbing a mountain is of course a popular one. Well, when you actually start climbing mountains, I guess there's a chance that this could start to really take shape. You set a goal and you are stoked. You are at the bottom of the mountain with all of your gear and you are off, but first a selfie :) The first few steps are exciting and the setting is crazy cool, but then you realize just how many steps its going to take to get to the top. The enthusiasm starts to fade and your focus turns from the trees and the sights to putting one foot in front of the other and just breathing. Now, it will depend on your mountain and it will depend on your attitude just how long that miserable stretch will last. If all you focus on is the pain you feel and the distance left to climb you will suffer more. But if you notice fatigue yet focus on what's happening in the moment, you will find spots for loving rest and breaks. If you simply continue to place one foot in front of the other, and maybe even ask for help along the way, your focus will be on what's thriving in the moment, providing yourself with the motivation to keep going. 

Once you reach the top, make sure to take in the view and be grateful for the climb. Then understand that the work is not over. It is now time to do the ever so tedious task of walking down the mountain, to then start searching for the next mountain to climb. Every time you attempt to climb you are growing into a stronger, taller version of yourself with handfuls of wisdom from your climb. 

I am going to leave you with this gem of a song by one of my favorite bands Thomas Wynn and the Believers. And FYI they are locals and they are amazing. 

Meditation is Medicine + A Morning Meditation

If I told you I had a pill that would significantly decrease your chances of suffering from all sorts of disease would you buy it and take it daily? How much money would you spend on that wonder pill? Would you share it with your family and friends to help keep them healthy too? What if I told you that you didn't need a pill to make this happen. What if I told you that you could reduce your chances of suffering all sorts of disease simply by meditating daily. Would you be as gung ho as you were about the magic pill?

What is mediation?

Meditation is the practice of training your brain to work at different frequencies. Our brain has five different categories of brain waves, each correlating to different kinds of activities. The higher frequencies are associated with active learning and an alert prefrontal cortex, where we spend most of our day. With meditation, you can train your brain to move into the lower frequencies which are associated with calm and peaceful feelings. Lower, slower, wave length frequencies allow more time between thoughts. Meditation allows you to move from highly active thinking mind to a more quiet and visual mind. 

What are the benefits?

The studies on mediation are vast and the benefits are outstanding. From young to old, healthy to ill, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and Oprah Winfrey to busy moms and students, meditation can help to not only make you more focused and productive, but it can help you to stay calm and make tough decisions in crazy and hectic moments. Look at this list below. I have never seen anything with proven results that positively affect such a wide variety of human life as meditation (sleep and exercise are a close second). Benefits include but are not limited to the following:

  • Decreases depression
  • Regulates mood and anxiety disorders
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces panic disorders
  • Increases concentration
  • Reduces alcohol and substance abuse
  • Improves focus and attention
  • Improves ability to work under stress
  • Improves information processing
  • Improves decision making
  • Trains mental strength, resiliency and emotional intelligence
  • Relieves pain more than Morphine
  • Improves pain tolerance
  • Helps manage ADHD
  • Improves learning, memory and self-awareness
  • Improves rapid memory recall
  • Prepares you to deal with stressful events
  • Fosters creativity
  • Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Increases resiliency to stress and therefore increases immune system
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Decreases inflammatory disorders
  • Helps prevent asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Helps treat premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer's and premature death
  • Helpful for those with Fibromyalgia
  • Helps to manage psoriasis
  • Improves empathy and positive relationships
  • Reduces social isolation
  • Increases compassion
  • Decreases worry
  • Decreases feelings of loneliness
  • Reduces emotional eating

All of these benefits have studies to back them up. Check out this post for links to all of the science. 

How do you begin a meditation practice?

First, take a look at the list above and count how many of those things would benefit your life. I counted 10 for myself. Next, decide how important those benefits are to you. Are they no big deal, or are they differences that would greatly change your day to day life. Take a moment to notice the value that a mediation practice would bring to your wellbeing. For me, this is a no brainer, pun intended. Looking at my list of things that meditation can help allows me to recognize the massive need for a practice in my life. Tap into what your life would look like with a solid meditation practice and then set yourself up for success.

  • Just Breathe. You can start with just 2 minutes of sitting quiet and focusing on your breath. Feeling your inhales and feeling your exhales. If your mind wanders simply bring it back to your breath. Building to 20 minutes daily is ideal. 
  • Find a video or app to help guide you through. If you want more than the two minutes you can search for all sorts of specific meditations, such as gratitude, lovingkindness, forgiveness, or increased energy and they range from 5 minutes to hours long. I love an app called Calm and people rave about one called Headspace. You can find morning meditations all over the internet, just find one that you like and stick to it for a while. I have one below that I created just for you :)
  • Create a special place to do your meditation. This can be as basic as a yoga mat on the floor or can incorporate pillows, candles, photos of people and places that make you happy, or any other objects that make you smile. The more enjoyable your space the more likely you'll come to it. 
  • Connect meditation to another habit. I personally like to do my meditation before anything else, unless I have to pee, then that comes first. But if you need help making it a regular part of your day, connect it to a habit you already have each morning like brushing your teeth. Don't go too far into your routine, try to get it done within the first few moments of your day so you don't get distracted.
  • Add it to your calendar or daily checklist. I have a daily checklist in my journal that has all of my daily tasks like, hydrate, track my food, read, write, move (exercise), walk Coconut, etc. This allows me to see how consistent (or not) my practice has been. 
  • Use it throughout the day. If you missed it in the morning, find time to squeeze it in later. My practice generally looks like 5-10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes in the evening, however I squeeze meditation in all day long. I use my 30 Breaths meditation (in which you sit and focus on your breath for 30 breaths) all the time. When I'm stressed and feeling frazzled, or when I'm antsy and feeling like I need something right this minute or i might snap, like sugar, junk food, buying crap, more coffee, or a nap. I used meditation so much when I was first trying to quit drinking. It is a tool in your tool box to help you deal with the stressors of life, all while bringing so many benefits, way more than a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream ;)

Use this 11 minute meditation to consciously start your day with purpose and intention, placing your health and wellbeing at the top of your daily to-do list. Remember that this is a practice, just like building a muscle, you have to regularly practice in order to notice the benefits. Give it 30 days and see how it feels. I promise you, it will be worth it.

Subscribe to my YouTube while you're there so that you never miss future meditations and workouts. 

 

One conscious breathe in and out is a meditation. – Eckhart Tolle

Becoming lit from within.

If you're not hip to the lingo the term lit is now being used to reference anything that is awesome, turned up, exciting, intoxicating in any manner, that lights one up, as if lit from within. Parties, outfits, substances, music, food, places, possessions, money, careers, and even people can be a source of awesomeness and excitement that helps to light us up, providing us with an intoxicating hit. Throw them all together and you will start to understand why it is so hard for most individuals to light themselves up naturally. It is why we struggle to just be. To just be alone, to just be quiet, to just be still, to have less, to let go of our ego, all of these things are foreign because of this mash up of an overwhelming 24-hours-a-day stimulation. We have slowly grown accustom to receiving multiple sources of these outside things to make us "happy", "calm", "content" or more appropriately, just distracted. 

The problem is these will only work for a short moment, and then you're back to the sadness, the solitude and the quiet. If this place is uncomfortable and unfamiliar it may be time to get to know this place a little better. Inside each of us is a comfort zone and an un-comfort zone. They both have really valuable things to each us but we will only decipher what they are by spending time in both spaces. That space where we are sad, fearful, stressed, frustrated, angry, jealous, or whatever other spaces are uncomfortable for you, are meant to be explored. They are meant to be felt and to be experienced fully and presently, and no this does not feel good. But that does not mean that we aren't meant to feel it. It is only through the mud that the lotus flower can bloom. It is only by sitting with those feelings (whether on your own, with a loved one, or with a professional) that it can it all start to become clear again. The clouds may come but behind the clouds the sky is still blue. You have to learn to sit in the cold, cloud covered, lots of times stormy spaces, and patiently wait the suns return. Nurture your self and do what's best so that you can be in the mud, perhaps you turn it completely into a mud bath, fancy spa treatment. #selflove

It is in these quiet, cloudy moments that the challenges start to unfold and become lessons, making you stronger and wiser than you were before, preparing you for the next step on your path. If you run from these moments and instead drown them out with all of the outside noise and nonsense, you will miss out on that lesson and be forced to stay right where you are, you will be stagnant, forced to sit around and wait for this same lesson to come around again. You will continue to encounter the same storm over and over, a groundhogs day moment everyday. Sitting in this space is no easy feat, but just like anything else it is a practice. The more you choose to experience it the easier it is to move through, and if there is ever a truly unfortunate circumstance such as a family members illness or death, you will have been practicing moving through these emotions and it may be just that much easier to endure.

You have a choice to run or to stay. If you choose to run start to ask yourself why. If you choose to stay start to ask yourself why. These thoughts are scary at first but then comes that moment of enlightenment, your ah-ha moment and then you move on, tackling the next mountain and peeling the next layer all while moving closer to the truest, happiest version of yourself. You will be learning to become lit from within. 
 

Sadness give roots. Happiness gives branches. Both are needed. - Osho

Food does more than make you fat.

Have you ever wondered why you get "butterflies" in your stomach when you are nervous? Or why you develop a stomach ache or nausea when you're stressed or angry? This is because of a crazy cool connection between our brain and our guts. Hippocrates, a greek physician known as the father of medicine, is quoted saying "all disease begins in the gut". He said this over 2,000 years ago and most are still struggling with creating a healthy gut today. 

We have all felt the reaction that our stress and worry can have on our digestive system, but now it is time to understand that that path works both ways. The food you eat is not simply, "good for you" or "bad for you", or simply food that will make you fat or food that will make you skinny. The food you decide to eat each day is information for your body. Our bodies begin breaking down the food and send the necessary components, such as protein or vitamins and minerals, to their appropriate places to be used, while waste is sent in another direction.

This process works great when you are choosing to eat real fresh organic foods, because your body knows exactly what do with that information. When you eat fruits and veggies, the vitamins and minerals found in these foods are sent to be used for many metabolic processes, the phytonutrients are sent to be used to fight inflammation in the body, and the fiber is sent to assist in digestion and to trigger the feeling of being full.

The trouble arises when you start to replace fresh organic foods with processed, hormone filled foods with fake, laboratory-made ingredients. Your body has no freaking clue what to do with artificial colors and flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate (msg), high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and most other ingredients in processed foods. If the ingredient list looks like a science experiment that is because it is. Studies on these foods long term are few and far between. High consumption of these foods will give your body the wrong information and cause malfunction in some way, shape or form. You are giving your body the wrong information. 

Now before you get all stressed out about what you should be eating, I want you to simply start to witness how frequently these processed and fake foods are in your diet. Take notice of how often a restaurant is in charge of what you're eating. Start to look at the food labels of the foods you are regularly eating and see if you can possibly find a more natural version to take its place. This will be a slow process and will require an open mind. Most of these fake, foreign-to-our-body ingredients are in the foods for a reason. They make food super sweet or super salty without the need for real ingredients, saving them money and altering your taste buds to only like really sweet or really salty things. Are you someone that always needs to add salt or sweeteners to your food? This may be due to consistently eating foods that are hyper salty/sweet. Your taste buds can change back if you start to remove the processed junk. 

Companies use hormones and antibiotics to make animals really big so they can make more money (despite the health of the animal and the quality of the product). They add artificial colors to appeal to kids that like to eat things that make their tongues turn blue. Unfortunately, this is not an accident. The people responsible for our mass food production are more interested in getting people hooked and increasing their profits than they are in caring for the health and wellness of the people that eat it. Not cool man. 

That is why it is imperative to start to witness and educate yourself on what you are regularly consuming. Understand that your food choices will affect more than how you look in a bathing suit, they will affect your sleep, your moods (depression and anxiety), your energy levels, your ability to focus, your motivation to stick to your wellness goals, your entire body and therefore your entire life. Your food is information. What messages are you sending your body?                                 

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.” - Michael Pollan

Self love is not a luxury.

The term self love has been exploding on my Instagram feed. This could be because my feed is filled with yoga lovers and positive vibes (weed out the negative shit). Even though I am starting to feel like the idea is being overplayed, I am still 100% behind spreading the message of placing your health and wellbeing above all else. That's all self love is. It's the practice of showing yourself love and doing yourself no harm. It is an act of service. When you take care of yourself you have the best chance of serving and positively impacting others. In order to meet the requirements for proper self love you must put forth effort in improving your mind, body and soul. 

This is not a simple task. This is by design. If it was simple it wouldn't be as rewarding and feel so good. If you could see the amazing view from the bottom of the mountain, would you climb to the top for the exact same view? If you have to put in some work to see that view, a sense of accomplishment and "self love" is also enjoyed as you soak in the view, giving you a boost of motivation to tell others about your climb and then climb a different mountain.

Self love, self care, self respect, whatever you want to call this, call it Fred for all I care, does not have to be grand. Simple and accessible is always better to have on hand for emergencies, such as a traffic jam when you're already late and a no smoking sign on your cigarette break. Wait... if I've never said this before, smoking is bad. Alanis is good. 

  • Essential Oils - Peppermint, Lavender, Chill Pill, Rosemary (Rosemary is amazing!!!!!) 
  • Herbal Tea
  • Whole Foods pit stop - Kombucha, Dark Chocolate, Dates, a new Oil
  • Meditation
  • Book Break
  • Dance Break
  • Sing Along
  • Duolingo - Learn a language app
  • Daily Reflections type book
  • Quick yoga video or workout
  • Bubble Bath
  • Brisk walk
  • Dog snuggles
  • Chat with a bestie
  • Making a healthy meal
  • Jump in water!
  • Three deep breaths.

These are some of my favorite instant mood changers for my mind, body and soul. And like I said these are so crucial in achieving true wellness BUT I also think there is a place for more "luxurious" things to be apart of your daily self love journey and they should be guilt free. Such things as massage, acupuncture, therapy, spa treatments, yoga retreats, trips to quiet places, trips to places where you have to use a foreign language, workshops and continued education. For so long these things were on my, "One Day" list, as in one day ill have enough money to maybe afford some of those things. This is where I went wrong.

By treating such acts as getting a massage and booking a vacation as mere luxuries that I will maybe have one day, they became just that. I recently heard a Home Podcast episode with a yoga teacher by the name of Elena Brower where she explained that these luxurious things are what enable her to be the best yoga teacher she can be. They are not luxuries, they are necessities. You know when you feel like you've heard something for the first time, even though you know it's been told to you 100 times? It clicked. The lack mentality of one day getting something I wanted was actually getting me no where. I am going to start finding ways to include these necessary activities into my schedule. Now, this will have to be done in sneaky, coupon-y ways and involve cutting back on some other UN-necessary activities. That is fine by me. You know why? Cause I just had a massage and I feel fabulous. 

100 Days Alcohol Free

So before I dig into why I quit drinking and how things have changed over the past 100 days, I want to be clear that this is not a call for others to quit drinking (although I will recommended it to anyone who is curious). This is not a push for prohibition or a source of judgment for those who continue to drink. This is just MY experience, and seeing as it has affected my health -- physically, mentally, and spiritually, I thought sharing MY experience on MY health and wellness blog made perfect sense. I am sharing for those who might question their relationship with alcohol as I have. 

Why did I stop? This is a big question. The short answer is that I realized that I was using alcohol as a coping mechanism for life's stressors. It was my go-to when I felt I needed to "relax or unwind". Now, this was not an all-day, everyday kind of coping mechanism, but it was a regular tool in my toolbox. It was a part of my week, even more so a part of my weekend. It was the way I socialized and slowly became engrained in my habits over the past 15 years. The second part of this is that as a sufferer of depression, the alcohol, which is a depressant, was making things worse. This is like drinking coffee and then wondering why you can't sleep. It was affecting my every day life, as it was taking me, not 1 or 2 but 3 days to come back to my real self after drinking. Even knowing that the alcohol was adding to my depression the thought of completely removing it was incomprehensible. But my life and body were craving a break. I am a firm believer that when "bad" things happen it is actually being presented as a lesson to be learned. If you ignore the lesson you will just be presented with another version of that "bad" thing until you actually stop and take a look at why it is happening. So, I finally chose to look at the root of this problem and see what life would look like if I removed the source of inevitable ickiness.

Mind

When I first removed the alcohol it was constantly on my mind. It was hard to ignore as I was seeing it in every aspect of life. It is such a common thread in todays society. Everywhere you turn there is a song, an advertisement, a social media post, hell, Lululemon even has a beer now. It shows up in every social event, even fitness events, sometimes its the only part of the event. As a 30-something single woman, finding new ways to socialize has been a very big task and is a work in progress. 

As far as my state of mind, I am noticing the little things much more than previously. When you take out alcohol, and the time, money and energy that went along with it, you find you have a lot of extra time. That extra time has allowed me to notice the small beautiful things around me that I previously overlooked. This might seem like nothing but those little beautiful things add up to make my day a little brighter, even when life's throwing lemons. 

My depression has lessened significantly but unfortunately it is still here. I started doing research on other factors such as sleep and food and have made significant changes in hopes of further lessening my depressive states. I found Dr. Kelly Brogan's work to be of great help in this area.

I have had to create more routine and have been way more productive than in the recent past. Without hangovers and the dullness that alcohol can sometimes bring, I have been able to use the momentum gained from this change and parlay it into all sorts of other projects. I have some really cool ideas and I am excited to see where they lead. I have more time, energy and money for my to-do list/dream list. I have saved an additional $600 over the past 100 days :)

Body

Removal of alcohol has made me truly understand the value of self-care. Cravings for things that we are trying to steer clear from are less intense when you are taking care of yourself. When you consistently check in with how you feel and then take action to reduce stress and nourish your body, there is less urge to snap and say "damn it, just give me a cookie!!". I have however noticed the use of other things to get that comfort feeling. Things such as food, sugar, social media, coffee, and shopping. My eyes have been opened to how frequently I rely on stuff outside of me to deal with stress, loneliness, or just life in general. 

Starting my day with hot lemon water and a filling breakfast, instead of jumping right into the coffee and sugary treats, helps to keep blood sugars stable. Continued hydration, healthy meals, meditation, yoga/exercise and regular mind/body compass check-ins, help to keep the water from boiling over. Sleep, hydration and daily movement are now at the top of my priority list everyday

My skin has cleared and I have noticeably less cellulite!! I have not lost weight but many have commented that I "look skinny" or have asked how I lost so much weight. I am not sure if this is meant as a compliment or not, as it sometimes just feels like a concerned question with a kind of puppy dog face, but there are a handful of reasons why I have leaned out. First, I have not been lifting weights regularly over the past 2 months, resulting in a decrease in muscle mass, however yoga and long walks have been consistent. Secondly, I have been witnessing my diet and reducing grains, sugars and diary where I can, although they are all still present in some form. This has also led to reduced stomach issues and bloating.

The last factor is that I have removed all of the alcohol calories as well as the stellar food choices that tend to accompany the use of alcohol. I have started lifting again so we will see what happens over the next few weeks. Something else that I have noticed is intense sugar cravings. Because alcohol is primarily sugar, the removal has resulted in strong sugar cravings which I have been fulfilling with yogurt, dark chocolate, dates and kombucha throughout the week and ice cream on the weekends :)

Soul

This is where some really unexpected changes happened. Seeing as having wine after a stressful day was a regular activity, I was forced to find other ways to unwind. Baths and long walks are good but they do not have the same mind-numbing results as a glass or two of wine. This means that I always have to be PRESENT! Whoa. It has led me to examine every aspect of my life; my health and fitness, my business and life goals, my finances, my daily routines and habits, my social life, my friendship/relationships, my thoughts and my spiritual life, which was pretty lack luster before.

I feel more level headed and calm than ever before. I feel more confident in my decision making skills. I am able to create boundaries and say no to things that do not align with my goals or that I simply do not feel like doing. I understand now that I cannot expect to have the truly fulfilling life that I have always imagined living, if I am dulling my sensations, avoiding discomfort, and ignoring life's lessons. So, naked as a jay bird I am going to tackle another 100 days. Here's to 200!

Shout out to Holly Whitaker from Hipsobriety.com as she is why I made it this far. I also want to thank the friends and family members who have stuck by me through this and have continued to check in. Sometimes, a simple "How's it going?" can change someones day. 

"If you drive down the same dirt road day after day, your car will form ruts in the road that will limit your ability to maneuver. Unless you pay attention and become mindful, your car will default to the ruts, and in doing so, reinforce the prior patterns in the dirt. If you want to get out of the rut, you will need to consiously choose another path and reinforce this new path until it becomes your established way of traveling." - Deepak Chopra

 

 

Night time is the right time.

I am a night owl. I come alive at night, I get my best ideas at night and I am a grumpy monster in the mornings. I have been trying for years to "make" myself a morning person. I have all of these visions of early morning yoga sessions with hot lemon water, long walks with my dog and reading and writing, followed by a healthy breakfast and getting ready with tons of time to spare. In all reality, while I've made progress, I still only have time to make lemon water and toast, maybe meditate for 5 minutes and then run out the door to start my day.  

I am not sure why it took me so long to try a different method, but instead of placing all of my focus on forcing a morning routine, I have taken a step back and started focusing on my night time routine. The hopes are that with regular, quality sleep I will be able to get up more easily, allowing time for all the things I'd like to do before my day starts. 

A night time routine will be different for every one. Because I am single and only have a snoring, bed-hog of a bulldog to deal with, I can place a little more time and effort into my routine, but you do not have to do what I do. As with every habit change, it is best to start small so that you can gain some consistency and then add on if you want. So start with 10 minutes before and grow from there. 

The first step for my routine is an alarm on my phone at 8pm that alerts me to start wrapping up my day-to-day tasks and start the switch into night time mode. My lights out time is usually around 9/9:30pm. From the time that my alert sounds until then my routine looks something like this:

  • Make dinner with a Relax and Unwind playlist playing in the background. 
  • Clean kitchen. Tidy up house.
  • Prepare for the next day - clothes, meals, etc. 
  • Hot shower - w/ lavender oil infuser.
  • I then move the infuser and music to the bedroom and dim the lights - Our bodies are designed to sleep in the dark, hence no TVs, phones or computers. 
  • Brush teeth.
  • Meditate or yoga for sleep - Try this 7 Minute Bedtime Yoga (I love me some Yoga with Adriene).
  • SleepyTime, Nighty Night Tea or Golden Milk.
  • Face and body lotion and essential oils - I put lavender and frankincense on my feet. 
  • Set alarms and double check calendar.
  • Horoscopes - This is my guilty pleasure. Instead of gossip about celebrities I read about real stars :)
  • Sip tea and read or write until lights out. 

This routine will help to trigger your body for sleep. You cannot expect it to swiftly transition from a go-go-go, race through the day mentality and staring at a bright TV or computer screen, right into peaceful sleep. You have to train it to know when its time for rest. This will not only help you sleep better it is a form of stress relief and self care. It shows your body some love as you drift of to Neverland. 

"Let her sleep for when she wakes, she will move mountains." - Napoleon Bonaparte

More than a cup full of love.

I'm sure you've heard the quote, "You can't pour from an empty cup" or maybe "You can't love anyone until you love yourself"? Either way, as cheesy as it sounds the concept is important to reaching wellness goals, quite frankly, any goals. Self-care, self-love, pampering, listening to your body, whatever you want to call it, taking care of yourself is the only way that your life as a whole will make sense and make you happy. 

I have talked about this concept many times but its because its where I keep having to return to and is what really makes a difference in my everyday life. When I fall off my healthy habits pathway, in mind, body, or spirit, its always when I've neglected to check in with myself and make choices based on what I need, not what I want. This happens when I choose to push through and ignore feelings of frustration, stress, tiredness. When I choose to procrastinate and then cram to finish something before a deadline. When I stay up late, not getting the 7 hours of sleep that I know I need. These things happen all the time, however since I've made myself aware of them, they are happening less frequently. Now I choose to take a relaxing bubble bath when I am stressed or need to relax. I meditate and use deep breathing to bring my stress level down a notch, even if just one little notch. I no longer open a book, my phone or my laptop if its getting close to my "lights out" time at night. Individually these things are not miracle workers, but collectively and done on the regular they keep me from exploding from a days/weeks/months/years of pent up frustrations. 

I liken this to watching a pot of water on the stove. As the heat rises and stress increases, the water starts to boil. If you ignore it it will eventually boil over. If you can begin to notice what happens in your body before this boiling over point you can take a moment to use something from your Stress Less Tool Kit to help bring you back into a more balanced state. This tool kit is not a product Im selling (although... mental note), it is a kit you are going to start making for yourself. It should be filled with things you enjoy both big and small, that also bring you wellness and rejuvenation, not just calories and chemicals. 

Your kit will be different but here is what mine currently looks like:

  • Multiple Herbal Tea Bags - Twinnings Peppermint & Yogi Kava Stress Relief.
  • Essential Oils with relaxing and calming benefits - Chill Pill, Grapefruit, Wild Orange, Rosemary (Rosemary is my favorite).
  • Lemon Balm Liquid Extract - I put a dropper full in water or tea to help calm the nervous system.
  • Reflexology Ball - Right now I just use it under the ball of my foot to promote stress relief.
  • An inspiring or funny book - Currently, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg & Born Standing Up by Steve Martin 

I keep these physical items in a pretty zipper pouch and now even seeing the bag starts to relax me :)

Non-physical items in my tool kit are specific meditations and breathing exercises, taking a walk, going to water, reading outside, taking my shoes off and walking in grass, listening to podcasts or YouTube interviews, listening to my favorite music, cooking healthy meals, journaling, doing yoga, taking a nap, taking photos, writing, playing with my pups. The list continues to grow the more I look for healthy stress relievers. The only way to find these is to experiment by swapping the normal "unhealthy" stress reliever with something new. If you like it, add it to your tool kit. Very slowly you will start to crave these rejuvenation habits when you are feeling stressed out. Go ahead and get crazy. Instead of filling my cup full of self love, I am stocking up enough self love to fill up a well, a wellness well if you will ;)

 

Screw Your New Years Resolutions

So when I say "screw your New Years Resolutions" what I really mean is, well... screw your New Years Resolutions. Majority of the people who set them, including myself in the past, get all excited to start new each January. Its when my personal training schedule blows up and when yoga classes are busting at the seams. I am all about new beginnings and starting over to reach a goal, I actually think it is the most important part of achieving your goal but I think this mentality should come with you all year long. 

If you've done any reading on "successful" people you will find that many of them had to try over and over again to reach their goals. It took Thomas Edison 1000 times to create a successful light bulb. One thousand times!!! This simply means that it may take multiple tries to make your New Years goals become a reality. The problem is that after the 2-3 months that we allow ourselves to reach success, we give up and go back to our old ways, quite frankly because it's easier. Then, we start the cycle of beating ourselves up because we "can't ever stick to our plans", or we fill our heads with negative blubber when we realize we've completely fallen of our path. Even worse, we just push those emotions down and make excuses. 

I'm trying something new this year. I snagged this idea from one of my favorite podcasts and it is to simply pick a theme, one word to represent my life in the year 2017. I love picking themes for a yoga class so this was very easy to get excited about. My word for this year is FOUNDATION. There are a lot of new things happening in my life and in order for these wonderful things to continue to grow I must, I must, I must create a healthy, solid, built-to-last foundation. You can't build a high rise on a foundation designed to hold a single story building. 

I sat down with my journal and mapped out what a solid foundation would look like in each area of my life. I didn't get create crazy overwhelming plans or get ahead of myself. I simply made a blueprint for what I hope my foundation will look like this year in the following areas: Spirituality & Creativity, Body & Wellness, Relationships & Community, and Livelihood & Lifestyle.  What would a sturdy foundation look like if I could create it? I then put an alarm in my calendar to pop up monthly as a reminder to reflect and regroup if necessary. As long as I am moving towards creating a foundation in any of those areas I will consider it a win. Brick by brick I will build my high rise, except maybe my high rise will look like a beautiful lake house. 

How's 2017 so far?

I have a had a really up and down 2017 so far. I know that its only been 18 days but I am so looking forward for my life to settle down. I had grand plans of meal prepping every meal and working out and going to yoga regularly. And then I got sick. Since then I've been struggling with a sinus infection while my dogs are itchy and irritated from pesky allergies and annoying vet visits. While I have had some really awesome training session and absolutely loving teaching yoga, I've also had some silly car mishaps as well as distance from close friends and long nights that led to mornings of regret. My boyfriend is selling the home we're in, requiring all sorts of cleaning, and projects filling up free time and now we get to begin the process of finding a new place to live, packing, moving and finally settling in. While I know that every experience is an assignment, I'd like to take a break and just chill for a bit. Can you help me out with that Universe?

Today I came upon this quote by Deepak Chopra:

"Knowing that you co-create your reality is powerful information. It means that you can relinquish the idea that your life is rigidly predetermined and open up to the possibility that whatever has transpired thus far, you have the capacity to create something new. This shift in awareness is the first step toward manifesting your deepest desires for happiness, health, and love.
Once you recognize the possibilities of creating a new reality, it becomes your opportunity and responsibility to envision what it is you'd like to create. Despite the script you've been reading up until this point, you have the capacity to begin writing new dialogues. Assuming authority for your life means accepting the role of author as well as the leading character in your story."

Now I've read this a few times before but this time I was meant to completely understand it. I don't have to just sit back and wait for the Universe to make things happen for me, I am responsible for my story. This came as great reminder that no matter where I am on my path to living my truest life, I can always make changes and turn down a different path. I am not stuck in the land of ups and downs. While they will always be there in some way, shape, or form I can rewrite my story to be filled with balance and self care. I will be continuing to turn my efforts inwards and neglect the outside stressors, instead of the other way around. Still hopeful for 2017.