Crystals… just another pretty rock?

holistic healing

Really mom? You are going to move your giant stones all the way from Indiana to California? That is nearly 2,500 miles. But dad agreed & the big rocks moved with us. On the road trip to California mom bought me a gold heart necklace laden with pyrite. I was just excited to have a bit of “fools gold” & to know the secret… it wasn’t worth anything compared to “real gold”. Or was I the fool? These are my first rock memories. I was 9 years old. Mom continued to collect rocks, precious stones & crystals. They were pretty. I never got it.

Last year, a friend into the Chinese art of Feng shui, gave me my first crystal. Or so I thought. I realized I had already been given a similar one by my mom as a teenager. She called it a prism. She showed me how it reflected light & cast beautiful rainbows around the room. I think she knew there was more to it. She always felt the connection. I thought it made a fun necklace charm. Maybe she thought my teenage self would laugh at the suggestion that crystals carry a real energy. Or maybe she did suggest it & my doubtful teen self chose to ignore it.

crystal

It is funny. The more I learn about feng shui, the more I realize my mom actually has a knack for this whole energy balancing thing. If you want to incorporate some fun & simple Feng shui tips into your life, check out designchime.com or follow @designchime on instagram.

pyrite crystal

Soon after receiving my first crystal as an adult, I was given pyrite from another friend for my thirtieth birthday just this month. It draws money & good luck? What!!?? Prosperity? Strength? Could the gold diggers that threw this stone out have been adding to their bad luck & failure? Did they miss the point? Could this be another great wellness tool that so many of us dismiss without fully understanding? The questions keep coming. My curiosity is piqued.

Himalayan Salt Crystal

Himalayan Sea Salt Lamp

After receiving several crystals for my recent birthday (pyrite, a Himalayan sea salt lamp & an amazonite charm), I have been drawn to learn more. What is it about these rocks that some people feel connected to? Is there something more going on that I just didn’t see? Or maybe it is a feeling? A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a sweet rock shop in Morgan Hill called House of Poppy Jasper & got to spend over an hour there learning from the owners on a sleepy Thursday afternoon. I left the shop with two quartz abundance crystals, a bundle of sage & much excitement for my new appreciation for rocks.

Quartz Crystal

Quartz: healing,generates electromagnetic energy, dispels static electricity, cleanses

Sage for Purifying Crystals

Sage: when burned the smoke can be used to cleanse the home or crystal

If you have interest & are open to discovering something new, I recommend venturing into a rock shop near you. Explore. Pick up crystals. Hold them in your hands. Close your eyes. Listen. Who knows what you will discover?

Crystal Guide Book

I just got this book on Crystals to learn more. So far I have learned the benefits are endless, how to choose & cleanse a crystal, and set intentions for use. As I talk to others, go into rock shops, incorporate crystals into my home and routine, I am learning there are many subtle, yet powerful, tools I have been missing out on. As I work to quiet my mind & allow the voice inside me to grow stronger, I am urged to listen to intuition & open myself to new possibilities. Looks like mom was onto something all along…

Crystal in Wealth Corner for Abundance & Success

Jade, orange essential oil & pyrite for abundance. All hanging out in my home’s wealth corner 🙂

Crystals transmit and receive energies. They transmute & transform, attract or repel. The most powerful may appear dull – until the beneficial effects are felt. They bring serenity to a home, peace to an individual. They protect or heal, attract abundance, and create love. Objects of beauty in their own right, they enhance the environment wherever they are placed.

-The Illustrated Guide to Crystals by Judy Hall

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Embracing “That time of the month”

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the female body & how it reflects and is in sync with the cycles of the Earth. Everything is connected in a beautiful way. Despite the messages we receive daily from society & media, our body cycles are beautiful in this same way.

Check out this cool video by Laci Green about reconsidering your relationship with your body – specifically your attitude and approach to menstruation.

***Men – before you go running from this topic – this applies to you too! We can all learn a little and rethink our attitudes towards “that time of the month”.

Really though, this post is about passing on a cool new thing I just learned about! The menstrual cup! Say, what?

Menstrual Cup

Yep… a medical grade silicone cup that is used in place of tampons to catch menstrual flow! Say goodbye to that monthly expense – you only need 1 cup which ranges from $20-40 & can last up to 10 years!! No more bleached, chemical-laden products that can leave behind micro tears in the vagina & leave you susceptible to infection (no more TSS worries)! Plus, one silicone cup compared to 10 years of pads/tampons in a landfill? Sounds like a great way to reduce the ecological footprint! You can find out more or purchase a menstrual cup at Gladrags.com & Divacup.com.

Remember my post on charting your fertility signs? Once again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this alternative method that embraces the natural cycles of life & the female body. I am simultaneously empowered and also stunned that I am almost thirty years old and only now learning about this option! Spread the love & spread the world people.

Looking for ways to take better care of & honor your body but not into the menstrual cup idea? Check out gladrags.com for reusable pantyliners & pads that are better for your body & much more sustainable for our planet!

 

 

 

Give Thanks: A Month of Gratitude

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”

 

fall1

Did you notice the date on my chosen FALL photo? 3 1/2 years ago. Wow. Watching a little person grow up is great way to cultivate gratitude. I have so much love for this little man & I am truly blessed for every moment I get to share with him.

Focusing on the people & things that we love and are grateful for will bring more goodness into our lives. One awesome suggestion from Tiffany Peterson (life coach & leader of this Gratitude Series) is to make your first conscious thought every morning: “Thank God for another day of life”. You can thank God, your belief of a higher power, or thank the universe – whatever touches your heart. The important thing is that if we begin each new day by giving thanks we are setting up our day (& life) to be filled with happiness & opportunity.

This month I am participating in Tiffany Peterson’s Gratitude Series – check out this link to follow along & be inspired to bring more Gratitude & Generosity into your own life.

And what better time then November? The month of Thanksgiving for all of us Americans. A time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. A time to give selflessly to others. The perfect time to set a precedent for the type of person we want to be all year round.

Let’s focus on being grateful this month! Here are some ideas & actions we can take to express & cultivate gratitude:

  1. Gratitude Journal: write down at least 3 things every day that you are thankful for
  2. Posts: Take a photo, video or post every day this month to share what you are thankful for (ex: Start your 100 Happy Days)
  3. Tell someone specifically what you appreciate about them
  4. Random Act of Kindness (ex: buy the person behind you their coffee or pick up someone else’s task/chore)
  5. Send a hand written note (consider challenging yourself to write 1 per day all month!)
  6. Donate to your favorite non-profit or charity (ex: Grow a mustache &/or donate to support Movember)
  7. Tell yourself (in the mirror) what you love about yourself
  8. Call a friend or family member you haven’t reached out to lately
  9. Organize or contribute to a holiday food drive

What other ideas do you have for creating a life of gratitude & generosity starting this month? Maybe I’ll save the last piece of pie for someone else this year…

 

Our Water Use: The 5 Gallon Challenge

big sure waterfall

The sound of water splashing against the rocks as it falls into a pool below is a beautiful thing. Between our trips abroad & here on the central coast, our summer has been pretty full of beautiful (yet fairly small) falls. The power & beauty is striking. However, standing in front of a waterfall is a sharp contrast & reminder of the harsh drought California still faces. (Read this article on the current state of California’s water usage).

I talked about water conservation earlier in my post: Big, Blue & Beautiful: H2O.  As the conversation continues to grow, more & more Californians (and people all over the world) are becoming aware of the urgent need to preserve our precious water resources. Check out this beautiful & inspirational video that was made in response to the ALS challenge: The Five Gallon Challenge.

Our Five Gallon Challenge

The average American uses 75-100 gallons of water per day. So for a household of two (like us) that would be around 150-200 gallons per day. (Read more stats & facts at EPA.gov/watersense). So today, me & the hubby completed this challenge in response to the ALS Ice Bucket challenge (thanks to my eldest nephew for the nomination!), The Five Gallon Challenge, & the growing water crisis in California.

First we measured out 5 gallons of water…

…and then we taped the faucets off, limited our number of toilet flushes, and went about the day as usual.

Okay, our day was a little different than usual. We couldn’t shower (as a ten minute shower would be at least 20 gallons of water each), so we used washcloths to get clean. Dish washing took a little longer taking care to conserve every precious drop. Watching the water level go down in our little supply was an eye opening experience. Even a midst drought, we are so very blessed to not feel an immediate threat of going without water in our daily lives.

I couldn’t brew new tea for my kombucha because I didn’t want to risk running out of water before the day was over. Having to stop & think before every water use was a different feeling. It was hard to be patient & weigh priorities before consuming water. It was also empowering.

A few work colleagues & I started pairing up when we needed the toilet. I don’t mean we went in together, but everyone would do their thing in turn & the last person flushes. It sounds kind of gross in terms of hygiene & definitely outside of our normal privacy comfort zone. However, it turns out to be a pretty effective strategy with each non-flush saving between 1-7 gallons depending on the toilet. TMI?

So, here are the numbers…

4.5 gallons of water: total water used by our household today. This was all our water usage (excluding toilet flushing), which included personal hygiene, dish washing, drinking, cooking, cleaning & watering plants (the outdoor plant didn’t get watered).

10 gallons of water: This is our estimated water usage for toilet flushing. We used 7 gallons of water combined for all our flushes while at work (both our employers use low-flow toilets). Since we were not sure the gallons per flush of our home toilet, we kept our home usage to just TWO flushes – pretty good, right? Turns out it is hard to break the habit of always flushing. Have you ever pre-flushed in a public restroom to clear the bowl? I’m guilty. And that doubles your water consumption! Okay, moving on…

The cool thing about this challenge is we were mindful in every choice we made about our water usage today. I feel so much gratitude to our water & a deepened desire to contribute to making this world better for everyone. We will start by donating to three of our favorite organizations that strive to make a difference in people’s lives.

I now challenge you to complete The Five Gallon Challenge to support water conservation efforts & be part of the change our planet needs!

 Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Give & Give Thanks

I received a gift yesterday that I am beyond excited about & must share. A set of essential oil blends for mood management. There are many ways to use these oils to promote feeling grounded, motivated, hopeful & at peace. I have several routines for self-regulation using these blends & will share more about using essential oils for managing emotions in an upcoming blog post (hopefully soon!).

Essential Oils for Emotions

Yes, I just started a post about giving by talking about something that I received. But that is the beauty of giving – whether you are the giver or receiver – you win either way. As the receiver I have been filled with appreciation & gratitude. And when I give, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of love & purpose. We have many opportunities every day to both give & receive if we are open. Giving to others what we can is a simple way to strengthen our connection, community & world.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life but what we give.    -Winston Churchill

With this in mind, I incorporated giving into my Thirty before 30 list. Although the project is centered around self-growth & experience, service to others is a priority. My giving goals for this year include donating blood, volunteering at a local fundraiser & a random act of kindness.

This month I have been focusing on donating: select 1 item to give every day for a month. It is a simple way to reduce the number of things that we have and also give to a charity in support of those in need. This is a fun one because it is in line with my values of living minimally & serving others. (For honesty sake, please note I selected all 31+ items in a two day period after a friend – who is also doing the challenge – suggested this technique. Once I started collecting items to give – sifting through my wardrobe, kitchen & cupboards – it snowballed quickly into more than 31 items.)

Giving feels good. Everyone wins. It can come in all forms. We are all capable of giving to others. A smile or acknowledgement. A hug. A piece of food from your lunch. Kindness. Love. Give for others. Give for yourself. Give and make our world a happier & more loving place.

One last thing. Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? This relatively new holiday dedicated to giving falls on Tuesday, December 2nd this year. Check out givingtuesday.org to start planning ways that you can give back. With the holiday season upon us, what better time then now to help out a friend, neighbor or fellow human being?

The International Day of Peace: September 21, 2014

Guess what?

This Sunday, September 21, 2014 is the 33rd anniversary of The International Day of Peace. I bet you already knew that after reading the title of this post. But, what an important thing to be aware of! I just found this out thanks to my local chapter of TM (read more here about Transcendental Meditation). They are organizing a group meditation for peace that I am planning to attend this Sunday.

I am looking forward to connecting with my community and meditating on peace & love. Our world needs more of these things. Meditation is a small step that we can take to find greater peace within & thus send more peace out into the world.

The president of the Global Union of Scientists for Peace, John Hagelin, discusses how meditation is a key factor in the Global Peace Initiative:

“Violent behavior is rooted in the brain. The only way to prevent violent behavior is to restore balanced brain functioning. The Brain-Based Approach to Peace restores balanced neurological functioning on the individual & global scale.”

If you are interested in reading more about how the brain & behavior are linked, or just want to better understand how you can directly influence Peace through meditation, check out the Global Peace Initiative website as it breaks down this brain-based approach for reducing violence & global conflict. It explains the science behind & reasons why every person who meditates can make a big impact on global peace.

“It means that only a few thousand individuals are needed to produce an extremely powerful & scientifically demonstrable effect of orderliness & calm in the surrounding society – even on a national or global scale.”

-Global Peace Initiative

This day encourages us all to look at ways that we can make a difference. So often I hear folks (& my own internal dialogue) talk about how insignificant their actions are or how they are not wealthy or powerful enough to make change. Every small effort we make contributes to the whole. Awareness. Action. Compassion. Love. We can all send positive ripple effects out into our universe. We must believe we make a difference.

If you want to find creative ways to celebrate the International Day of Peace  or find events near you check out the official website for more information!

I want to share some photos of places that have inspired Peace…

peace4 peace5 peace3 peace2 peace1

FAM: Fertility Awareness Method

“Whether you say you can’t or you can, you’re right.”
― Walt Disney

I have been feeling empowered lately. Empowered to make some tough, positive changes in my life. Set goals for the future (see my 30 before Thirty post & set your own milestone goals with me!). And listen more carefully to my inner voice.

On that note – I would like to share a resource that I feel so lucky to have been given and recommend that all woman read (& men can educate themselves too!). The book is called Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler. I also just came across the TCOYF website which is a great starting point if you have not yet heard of this book or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).

As someone who is passionate about wellness, woman’s health, preventative care and all things natural & good for us, I keep wondering how I never heard of the FAM method of birth control before. I have studied health in college, watched countless documentaries, spoken in depth with women of many different generations, researched and educated myself over the last decade. Did I really never hear about this? Or perhaps I didn’t find it relevant at the time?

Whatever the case may be – I am so grateful to have learned about this book. It is written with honesty & simplicity. It teaches us, as women, to understand our bodies & take a proactive approach to fertility, birth control & family planning. I am more in tune with my body & now have tools to take a more proactive approach to reproductive health. It teaches & talks candidly about anatomy, the reproductive cycle, reading fertility signs, using fertility awareness for birth control or pregnancy achievement, gynecological health, sexuality, relationships, babies, menopause, & self-esteem.

I hope you check it out & find it as life changing as I have! Thank you Toni!!

Meditation: finding peace within

It’s Tuesday. Monday was tough. Life is tough, sometimes. It is also beautiful & wonderful. There are highs & lows. So much joy. And sorrow. Everything whirls by at such a fast pace unless we intentionally slow things down. Practice mindfulness. Live in the present moment.

I am happy I made it to Yoga yesterday. I think it had been almost three weeks since I made it to class. When I’m not going I start thinking about the wasted membership money & consider quitting. I could practice at home, right? But then I go to a class & remember. Reconnecting with the yoga community and syncing my mind & body re-inspires & motives me.

meditation

Another way I slow down and find peace within is through meditation. Before I knew much about meditation, I thought it was more of an alternative lifestyle (just for hippies, right?) and that it would be difficult to learn. My mind is usually racing with endless thoughts and “clearing” it seemed impossible. But, as stress & anxiety continued to build in my adult life, I knew I had to do something to manage it. Eating well & exercising wasn’t enough to combat the negative effects of too much stress. So with guidance (my hippie mamma who grew up meditating in the 70’s) & instruction (a knowledgeable & inspirational teacher) I began meditating two years ago.

The technique I learned was simple. Meditate using a mantra for twenty minutes, twice a day. First to start the day off right (soon after waking up) & again to transition into the evening (right after work). With education & support from my teacher I felt connected & at ease with the method. To learn more about the Transcendental Meditation technique I learned watch this short clip from Good Morning America. You can also check out the official TM website for lots of information, research & videos!

I have enjoyed many benefits from regular meditation including elevated mood, increased patience with others, more frequent feelings of joy, greater ability to regulate emotions and relief from anxiety symptoms. I am excited about the continued potential for regular meditation to strengthen my relationships, increase creativity & clarity, and be a vehicle for growth & positive change.

What I love most about meditating is that it builds inner peace & the ability to contribute to a more peaceful world – the ripple effect. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this & gives strategies for practicing mindfulness in daily life in the book Peace Is Every Step:

Practicing mindfulness in each moment of our daily lives, we can cultivate our own peace. With clarity, determination, and patience-the fruits of meditation-we can sustain a life of action and be real instruments of peace. I have seen this peace in people of various religious and cultural backgrounds who spend their time… watering the trees of love and understanding throughout the world.

There are lots of methods out there so do some research to find out what is best for you! For me, this works. As long as I practice regularly. So, this is my committment to one week of regular meditation. Scheduling in self-care & making healthy choices a priority in our daily routine is essential. A week is short enough to be realistic & long enough to re-commit myself to a practice that brings great joy & calm to my life.

oaks in the sky

Let me know what meditation techniques you love & the benefits you have found through adding a meditation practice into your life!