Morning Yoga: Greeting the Day

I’ll be honest. Thirties aren’t quite like twenties. I used to jump out of bed with “morning person” energy. Eat a banana with peanut butter. Run 3-4 miles. Eat a couple bowls of cereal or make a big breakfast. And smile all the while. At least that is how I remember the majority of mornings from the last decade.

Now? I am thirty. Only since August. But I wake with more freedom than ever. Good intentions to find relaxation, peace & gratitude as I greet the day by following my well-thought out morning routine: drink water with lemon oil, meditate twenty minutes, 20-60 minutes of yoga or other exercises to wake up the body, daily affirmations, and a light & protein dense breakfast. Ideally, followed up with 10-20 pages from my current self-development book (check it out, it’s a good one!).

This does happen sometimes. Even for a week or two at a time. But today? Like many days… I wake up feeling thirty. Anyone over forty just laughs in that “you have no idea” way when I say this. But thirty is more work than twenty. The body is stiffer. The urge to wrap in a warm blanket, make a cup of tea & scroll through social media posts is a very tempting morning routine. This is all fine & well until it rolls straight into work and forgetting about any sort of morning self-care.

So this is my current struggle. Making time to take care of the self: physically, emotionally & spiritually. Maybe you can relate. So often other people, priorities & demands pull us away from self-care. So today? I challenge you to spend 15 minutes doing something kind, pleasurable, & loving for yourself. I’m going to start today with yoga…

Yoga connects the mind, body & spirit. It allows us to awaken fully, feel alive & grateful for this day. Whether one pose, a couple minute home practice or 75 minutes at the studio, I have never regretted doing yoga. This gentle, challenging & holistic practice can benefit people of so many different lifestyles & health needs. I often turn to this “Good Morning Yoga Sequence” when I am struggling to get moving.

Oh, & be sure you love your mat, feel home there. This is how I keep mine happy, clean & smelling fresh…

Yoga Mat Spray Recipe

Yoga Mat Spray

Ingredients

Yoga Mat Spray Recipe

 

Directions

  1. Add 2.5 ounces water to glass jar (I eyeball about 1/3 of the jar full).
  2. Add 5 drops lavender & 3 drop melaleuca (to switch it up, try subbing other favorite essential oils with similar cleansing properties).
  3. Fill to top with distilled water. Add spray top.
  4. Shake. Spray. Wipe clean (test a small part of your mat first).

 

Peace with Yoga

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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

Mother: thank you

IMG_3555

Mom. This woman amazes me, every day.

I am not a mom, yet. I know there are things I will not understand until I am. But I do know how lucky I am to have her. To be like her. And to have developed into the woman I am on the foundation of her unwavering love, acceptance & admiration. As our national Mother’s Day arrives, I want to acknowledge the woman who gave birth to me, lived to love and care for me & who still teaches me so much every day. I am humbled & in awe. And so very grateful.

440

A lot of important women in my life are having babies. Family. Friends. Women I have known a long time & respect greatly. It is so fascinating & inspiring watching the transformation to motherhood. It is profound. Magical. And deeply instinctual. Every single experience is different. Each on their own beautiful journey. I have so much love for each of you.

me and mom guggenheim

As I walk along my path in life, sometimes I wonder, what it will be like to be a mom & still be me? A balancing act to love in a new way – a way we are born to love – but to still prioritize & honor our self-love. Rooting deep into who I am, yet still open to transformation beyond anything I can be imagine. To stretch. And grow. To give unlike before. To love in a way I have not. They say: it is the best & hardest thing you will do.

I look forward to becoming a mother one day. I am grateful for all the strong, loving mothers in my life. You all fill the world with joy & love. Thank you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Yoga & turning inward

Happy Saturday my friends. What will you do with this beautiful day? I just hiked with my mom… I am so lucky to have her near me, both of us be fit and capable of hiking, and live in a place that is seventy plus degrees in winter. I am filled with gratitude as I reflect on the beautiful morning we had connecting & being in nature.

Yoga with Mamma

That said, I want to apologize for my absence. I committed to a post per week when I started this blog last year. I have been closer to a post per month since the holidays. It’s that balance thing again. On the one hand I love getting sucked into the latest project or relationship and soaking up all the beauty of the present as I immerse into FLOW. On the other hand, I do not want things I love or value to fall to the wayside. Can you think of a time you experienced FLOW?

In positive psychology, FLOW, also known as ZONE, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields, though has existed for thousands of years in other guises, notably in some eastern religions.

-Wikipedia.org

For now, I am accepting my sporadic posting & relishing in abundance of other joys in my life. I still intend to set more goals around & improve my blogging skills in the future! Baby steps. I recently had coffee (no, tea actually – delicious tea with steamed, fresh almond milk & honey) with a dear friend who generously shared some amazing insights into the blogging world. Have you heard of SEO? New concept for me, but totally logical. Anyways, I am rambling off topic, just to say, I have much to learn about the online & blogging world.

Warrior Woman Yoga

In my absence from posting, I have been looking at my life and identifying areas I want to give more attention. I am learning that to grow, achieve my goals & realize my full potential I must emphasize personal development. Refuse to be stagnant or unchanged. Always challenge myself to become a better person. So I have been looking inward. Working on improving the consistency of meditation, my anxiety is alleviated and sense of peace elevate. I have a better understanding of myself, feelings & desires when I take the time to be quiet and listen. Check out my post on meditation for more on what I do in my practice.

Lotus Meditation: Yoga on John

But lately, it has been yoga. I love yoga – the safe place of self-love that is my mat, the joining with others for greater peace within & worldwide, the strength that shows up when you least expect it, the calming of the inner chatter that mindful breathing encourages… I could go on and on. I have been trying out a new hot yoga studio this month & enjoying the new faces, challenge & re-commitment to this practice. I left my previous studio in the summer to get outside more to hike, develop my personal practice further & save on the costs of going to a studio.

Yoga in Solitude

All this yoga has been encouraging and reminding me to look inward. My recent introspection has given me greater confidence in who I am & the goals I am setting for this year and beyond. When regularly looking inward and simply being with myself, I find grounding, purpose & confidence.

Yoga with an Open Heart

Another cool thing about yoga – it is for everyone. There is no room for judgment of the self or others. Yoga holds a different experience for everyone yet brings us together. Most studios have free intro classes, so if you have never tried a class I encourage & challenge you to do it! Get outside your comfort zone – this is where change will happen! Even if you don’t go to a class, just starting the day with a couple loving stretches or winding down the evening with a mini bedside practice can make a big difference in your peace, your day & your life.

Celebrating with Yoga

Lastly, here is one of my favorite people finding some balance & strength in yoga…

Early Morning Yoga

Polar Bears & New Year: It’s 2015!!

Sandalwoodyogi

Happy New Year to you!

I hope you are finding what you are looking for today – the first day of a new year. Whether that be a fresh start, resolution for change, acceptance, openness, renewal or just a new day to fill with love & gratitude.

I for one, was ready to jump start the new year. It’s not necessarily about packaging time up in a tidy little box and getting to forget the troubles of the year just past. 2014 was a beautiful & challenging year of growth – a year of inspiration. I have come to love January. I just realized this today. January is the month we had our wedding (I got a sun burn that day). It is the month my husband was born – thankful for that Capricorn! As a sun-loving Californian, January has it all. Crisp air, stunning sunsets, possibility of rain (at last – the hills are green for the first time in a year) & no shortage of sunshine.

green hills

And January marks a new calendar year. For me the new year is encouragement, motivation, & a reminder to seize the day. It isn’t about waiting until tomorrow, or Monday, or even a New Year to make a positive change. Personal growth, working towards goals & even being a happy human being are active & ongoing processes. However, there is something about a new year that says, “Go ahead, you can do this”. Starting a new year, like starting again, is a new beginning. We may need many new beginnings on our journey & this time of year reminds us that it is okay.

In celebration I chose to spend the day with a couple of the people closest to me.

We hiked & connected with nature.

We connected with our community in celebration & renewal (via the Polar Bear Dip – it was playful & restorative).

polar dip

And lastly, carved some time to be with myself in meditation & reflection.

Oh, & we ate good food together too. Yum.

However you begin the year, go for it. Open heart. Courage. Authenticity.

May 2015 bring much love, gratitude & joy.

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?

Fall Detox: 21 Day Whole Food Challenge

Summer seems to be blazing on as usual in California despite the onset of Autumn throughout the world. The tireless heat & bright sunshine seems to almost convince us that winter isn’t coming this year. But it will, of course. Daylight savings time actually ends on November 2nd this year. That means we have 7 weeks left to get outside & enjoy the lighted evenings. Hikes. Bike rides. Beach sunsets. Once time changes most of us will trade these outdoor activities in for cozy nights at home, cuddled under grandma’s afghan, sipping hot licorice-mint tea & reading Outlander sequels (no, just me?). The point is seize the day – literally. Get outside & cherish this beautiful time of year.

As the season changes, I like to embrace the transition with a bit of a cleanse. A fresh start. This comes at the perfect time as I have just returned from a vacation filled with over-indulgences (like eating every piece of Scottish caramel shortbread I laid eyes on) & I could use an immune booster as I am recovering from a nasty cold. With a couple supportive team mates (my brave husband & competitive office mate), tomorrow – Monday 9/15 – launches our 21 day primal challenge.

primal laws

I love Mark’s Daily Apple & his 21 day challenge – this will be the third or fourth time I have completed it. However, the goal is to get back to the basics:

  1. Eat whole foods (with lots of raw veggies!)
  2. Get active throughout the daily routine. 
  3. Practice mindfulness.
  4. Sleep well.
  5. Play in the sunshine as much as possible!

1. Eat Whole Foods – Menu for the next three weeks:

Breakfast: Chia bowls (variations of this one from Oh She Glows) OR coconut oil fried eggs (eaten over sauteed vegetables with salsa & avocado)

Lunch: Salads, salads, salads! I love red cabbage & carrot salads lately. Lot of tiny chopped veggies with olive oil & balsamic. Roast chicken on top. More avocado.

Dinner: Lamb, fish, beef, chicken. Either baked, barbecued, pan fried, slow-cooked, shredded, or as burgers eaten on portobellas. On top of (or next to) lots of veggies.

Snacks: Mixed nuts. Fruit (berries are best as low-glycemic).Teas. Kombucha. Beef jerky. *After the first few days of missing the carbs, this high fat (the good kind!) & protein diet keeps me full easily & I rarely get hungry between meals.

AVOID: grains, legumes, sugar, processed foods, packaged items, dairy & alcohol

2. Get active throughout the daily routine. 

Take the stairs. Park farther away from the office. Commute by bicycle 1-3 times per week. Utilize a stand-up work station for a least 5 hours & take 3 walking breaks during the workday. Walk to the grocery store – or anywhere within a mile of home. Try this 90 days of action workout plan & see how many friends, family & co-workers you can get to join in!

3. Practice mindfulness.

Begin & end the day with yoga – even just a couple poses. Practice headstand daily (today is day #144 of my #headstand365 challenge). Meditate twice a day. Slow down. Stop & think (ie: be less reactive, pull over to look at cell phone, etc…).

4Sleep well.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. Drop lavender essential oil on pillow case to calm the body & mind. Use blackout curtains. Natural alarm clock (slowly brightens like the sunrise). Keep cell phones outside of bedroom at night.

5. Play in the sunshine as much as possible!

Get outdoors first thing in the morning (water plants, take a walk) & after work (hike with friends, walk on the beach). Plan group activities, games, picnics & beach days on the weekend. Spend as much time in good company & in the great outdoors as possible! Oh, & go barefoot. Ahhhh – toes in the damp grass – what a feeling!

picnic

Gratitude Challenge: 100 Happy Days

It’s Monday again. I feel pretty accomplished for a Monday. But maybe that’s because I have a shorter work week than usual. Or maybe because I kept this past weekend free to get things done & relax after a busy week before. Whatever the case may be, I am grateful.

Speaking of grateful… I just finished my most recent gratitude challenge: 100 Happy Days. Being happy doesn’t have to mean every day is perfect or void of hardships. For me, it means living an authentic life, actively engaging & enjoying the process while accepting there will be good days & bad ones. Hard times & joyous times. Understanding that for all the achievements, connections & belly laughs, there will also be frustrations, losses & tears. This challenge was about being mindful & grateful. Choosing one thing every day that brings joy & taking a photo of it. Using that moment (& that photo) to bring focus on something that was good in the day. We are healthier & happier when we show appreciation & savor our experiences. When we focus on the positive in our day (& in our our lives) we attract more of that to us (learn more about the Law of Attraction by watching The Secret – I highly recommend it!)

I could go on (& on) about gratitude and will definitely have future posts on the topic. But right now, I just want to share some of my photos from the last 100 Happy Days…

Happy Day 1: Run or Dye – We laughed, exercised & turned into “Team Smurfs”

Happy Day 1

Happy Day 2: Silver Linings – Car broke down & I got to practice headstand!! Plus so many people stopped to check on us that I couldn’t help but be thankful for all the love in humanity!

Happy Day 2

Happy Day 12: Wednesday Hikes – Connecting with nature & the strong, beautiful women in my life!

Happy Day 12

Happy Day 16: A Perfect Day – outdoors, live music, great friends, & playful innocence of children

Happy Day 16

Happy Day 21: Beach Day – blessed to live on the coast & have this amazing woman as my mother!

Happy Day 21

Happy Day 43: Outdoor Yoga – fresh air & shared energy

Happy Day 43

Happy Day 58: Farmer’s Market Blossoms – simple pleasure in this gift from natureHappy Day 58

Happy Day 62: Hiking in Lake Tahoe – mountain air, endurance & shared adventure

Happy Day 62

Happy Day 87: Mug of Love – Feeling connected to the grandma I never met when I discovered my hand-me-down mug was once hers over 45 years ago!

Happy Day 87

Happy Day 91: Birthday Skyping – technology can be wonderful for reducing distanceHappy Day 91

(Check out the 100 Happy Days Website for more details & consider taking the challenge)

What are your favorite gratitude practices?