Try This Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Last night, I managed to make time to soak in an epsom salt bath, do a bedtime yoga video on YouTube, and meditate before bed. If asked to describe my ideal day, this is exactly how it would end. continue…

Travel Yoga: Kundalini in Nashville

Every conscious breath is a meditation.” Yoga instructor Bethany at Kundalini Rising Yoga

I had been hearing about kundalini yoga from a friend for at least a year before I went to my first class. During a weekend getaway to Nashville this past June, a few weeks before my wedding, I took time Monday morning to go to Kundalini Rising Yoga.

The studio is a short Uber ride outside of downtown, where I was staying. I figured since there was a kundalini studio nearby, it was the perfect time to give it a shot. continue…

Travel Yoga: Flagstaff and Las Vegas

 “Remember: You are your own fire keeper.”

– Rachel at The Yoga Experience, Flagstaff, AZ

A year or so ago I set a goal to start going to a new yoga studio each time I traveled. Sadly, I only sporadically kept this promise to myself and hadn’t been living up to my full travel yoga potential until recently.

There are so many great things about going to a yoga studio while traveling. Depending on the style of yoga, you will get at least some level of exercise. Whether it’s a strenuous class or a class meant for relaxation, there are physical benefits that are certainly welcome with the change in routine that comes with travel.

Every time I have gone to a yoga studio while traveling, I have been so glad I did. There is a serene ambiance at a yoga studio that you don’t exactly get at the airport or the gas station.

When I think back to the times I have gone to yoga studios while out of town, I can remember how the studios looked and, more importantly, how they made me feel. Each studio is fresh in my mind no matter how much time has passed.

While I have missed out on travel yoga opportunities over the past year, I am happy to report that I got to attend yoga class in both Flagstaff, AZ and Las Vegas over the past few weeks during weekend getaways. continue…

Meditation Mondays: A Mantra to Let Go of Negative Thoughts

I wish I had taken yoga more seriously 10 years ago. I wish I had taken better care of myself last year, or even last week.

These are thoughts I often catch myself thinking, wishing I had done something differently in the past so that my present would be better.

Last night I was thinking about things I wish I had done, as I often do. And then I thought about future me. I can’t go back 10 years or 10 days to do things differently. But it’s not too late to do some of the things I wish I had done in the past that the version of me five years from now will thank me for.

Consider Future You

A year from now is going to happen, whether we do good things for ourselves now or not. I know that a year from now I will feel happy if I am looking back on time that I took good care of myself and did the things that took me millimeters closer to my vision for myself each day.

But sometimes those ugly thoughts creep in. And they can completely take our good intentions down.

They are sneaky, these insidious thoughts of regret. They take up so much mental space and energy that before you know it the version of yourself that felt motivated to do yoga or clean out a drawer is dozing off for a nap.

I don’t like it when my mind replays things without the consent of the happiest version of me. Really…how rude!

So I try to think of words or phrases that I can think to remind myself that those thoughts are not welcome. Me a year from now will totally thank me. continue…

Gratitude Tuesday: Good Things That Happened Last Week

Check back this coming Monday for the launch of a related series called “Everyday Miracle Monday Weekly Recap Series,” in which I recap my everyday miracles from the previous week.

Gabby Bernstein introduced me to the concept of an everyday miracle. According to Gabby’s work, largely based on the teachings from A Course in Miracles, a miracle can be simply a shift in perception. When you are in a bad mood and have an epiphany that it doesn’t have to be so hard, that could be your miracle that day.

Last year, I randomly found out Tara Stiles would be teaching a yoga class down the road from my house, and was able to attend and even meet her that day at her book signing! It was right around that time that I started noticing the little and sometimes big good things that happened in my life everyday.

We have access to experience a miracle everyday. It might be a little tiny shift in perspective, or the universe might come in and hit us with a lucky stick. The exciting thing is that we never know what this day will bring. Who knows? You might get to meet your favorite author later today! Or get a perfect parking spot at the store. Or an unexpected opportunity might sail right into your life at 3:06 p.m. It could happen!

Weekly Miracle Recap

I have had this idea of recapping my own everyday miracles on a weekly basis for a while now. My “Everyday Miracle” series will be a recap of one good thing from each day during the previous week that I identify as being my “miracle” for that day. Some days it will be something that I could never have dreamed of, others it will be something relatively small but still good.

While I haven’t kept a gratitude journal before, I feel that this aligns with the idea of keeping a gratitude journal in my own way. I also want to inspire other people to look for their own little or big miracle everyday. I believe that by expecting good things to happen each day, we are more likely to attract them into our lives.

This past week, I forgot to keep track of my everyday miracles until Thursday, when a big one happened for me. That’s when I realized I really have to start keeping track of these and do this blog post series. So here goes, my everyday miracles from this past Thursday to Sunday (next week will include the full week): continue…

Feel Good Through Breakfast

I recently started reading Co-creating at Its Best: A Conversation Between Master Teachers by Dr. Wayne Dyer and Esther Hicks. One of the points that has come up several times in this book is the importance of feeling good immediately when waking up in the morning, and then sustaining the good feeling for as long as possible through the day.

Feel Good Little by Little

One suggestion in the book is to work our way up to feeling good all day in increments of time. Focus on feeling good for the first minutes, then hour of the day. Work on feeling good through breakfast at first, then work on extending the feeling through lunch, and eventually through the entire day.

The idea of feeling good through breakfast at first makes the idea of converting from a person who feels good only part of the time to one who feels good the majority of the time seem much less overwhelming. There is a momentum of our thoughts and feelings. Good feelings make it easier to have more good feelings, while not-so-good thoughts and feelings tend to lead us down the path of more not-so-good thoughts and feelings. continue…

One Way To Decide What To Do Next

How do you know if what you are about to do next is what you are supposed to do? The thing that will be for your highest good, propel you towards the life of your dreams? Or at least not result in catastrophe or other unpleasant outcomes.

This morning I woke up remembering that there was a free yoga in the park event today at 9 a.m. I hadn’t signed up for it yet, but it was in my calendar and I told myself yesterday that if I got up in time, I might try to make it.

I didn’t set my alarm or anything, since these days I am all about getting the maximum amount of sleep (I slept for nine hours last night – go me!). But I woke up a little more than an hour before the event.

Getting excited that I could possibly make it (the town is only about 15 minutes away), I hopped on the website to see if I could sign up. I did, and then got a message that they would be contacting me shortly.

Unfortunately there wasn’t an automatic email message, and the exact address of the park wasn’t included in the event information. I called the studio, but no answer (not surprising, since the first class wasn’t until 9 a.m.).

So, I sat there. My phone telling me if I left at that moment I would arrive at 8:51 a.m. But I still wasn’t ready. And I still didn’t know at which park exactly the outdoor yoga would be taking place.

I had a choice to make. I could try to rush around, brushing my teeth, washing my face, throwing on yoga clothes, grabbing my yoga mat. Only to arrive with probably no minutes to spare, and the possibility that the location I was thinking was right was actually wrong. continue…

Do you have enough time to sleep enough?

How much sleep do you get each night? How much do you wish you could get? How much do you think you need?

I have been listening to Thrive by Arianna Huffington on audio book. I could have used this book about three years ago. But as it is, I found it after I already found my way out of an overwhelmed existence. There is only one word that comes to mind as I listen to Arianna’s insights into the downfalls of the chronic stress so many people find themselves buried under: validating.

I thought it was just me. I thought I was the only one who felt they had too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Not even if I stopped sleeping altogether (which I seriously entertained as a temporary option).

Somehow, over a period of time, with a big thanks to meditation, I developed a more balanced approach to my life. I started to realize that I was not the only one who could do all the things I felt obligated to. And that I could let some things go and make my world a much better place in the process.

I haven’t finished the book yet, but so far there has been a substantial focus on the importance of mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and sleep.

I have a pretty good grip on my yoga and meditation practice. Unfortunately, I have viewed sleep as a more optional component of a healthy lifestyle. continue…

Meditation Mondays: What is Yoga Nidra?

There are so many different types of yoga to choose from: hatha, Bikram, ashtanga, kundalini, restorative. And many more!

I have been gravitating to the more relaxing yoga styles lately, such as restorative yoga. I actually didn’t know this type of yoga was a thing until recently, when I started doing the 10 minute restorative yoga video on YouTube by Sarah Beth.

Since then, I discovered that my local yoga studio, Ignite Yoga, offers a restorative yoga class on a regular basis. If you are in the mood to relax, get a good stretch, but not be out of breath and sweaty, this is a great type of yoga to try.

After reading the descriptions of offered classes on the studio’s website when a restorative class wasn’t available, I decided to give Yoga Nidra a try.

I had no idea what to expect, but figured it would be some type of relaxing class, based on the description. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Yoga Nidra is actually a meditation class!

continue…

Meal Planning: Breakfast Protein Smoothies

My favorite smoothie is my peanut butter banana smoothie and its yummy variations (my latest favorite will be posted tomorrow!).

My fiancé likes to drink protein smoothies for breakfast on days he goes to work. I don’t think it is necessarily for the taste. This is more of a utilitarian smoothie. I tried to do protein smoothies a while back when he got into them, but I couldn’t add enough peanut butter or bananas to mask the taste of the protein powder. We even tried to make a green smoothie with protein powder and almond milk once – I would warn you to not try this! You might be scarred for life!

The protein smoothie isn’t all that bad, and we have tried to add other ingredients to make it more palatable. I share this smoothie recipe not because I am particularly excited about this specific drink (can you tell?) but because I am so excited about the system I came up with for preparing the smoothies ahead of time so I could easily make them in the mornings without having to pull out 10 different things from the cabinet.

I came up with this idea after my idea of preparing green smoothie ingredients ahead of time and storing them in baggies in the freezer. As you will see, the ingredients for this particular smoothie are mostly dry, allowing them to be stored in an airtight container in the cabinet, simplifying the smoothie making process.

One day I was making a protein smoothie and figured I would try to see if the dry ingredients would fit into one of the cute little spice jars we are using for our labeled spice collection. They did! continue…

Need a super quick yoga routine?

Do you do want to practice yoga, but struggle to find the time to get to a yoga studio? While studios are great and live instructors invaluable for teaching proper technique and making pose adjustments, I think of yoga studios as supplemental to my  yoga practice at home.

I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years. I am by no means an expert. I started going to yoga at the gym in college just once a week. I played around with some of the poses at home occasionally, but didn’t have the confidence or resources to develop a true at-home practice.

Over the years, I continued to go to studios here and there, and probably have stretches of years where I didn’t step a toe in a studio. I also haven’t had a regular practice of daily at-home yoga until recent years.

Hulu and YouTube revived my yoga practice! For the longest time I did 20 minute videos by Yoga Zone on Hulu. They were my favorite. They don’t seem to be on Hulu anymore, but you can still find them on YouTube.

One of my greatest barriers to ensuring I do yoga just about everyday has been time. Some days 20 minutes for yoga just doesn’t seem feasible, especially when I really love my 20 minutes of meditation. Given the choice between practicing yoga or meditation, I will probably choose to meditate for 20 minutes and skip yoga that day.

Until now. continue…

4 Free Apps That Will Motivate You to Be Healthier

It’s exciting that there are so many ways for us to choose to be healthy, and probably just as many corresponding apps to track everything. Everyone has their own personal health and wellness goals. Having a plan is what makes those goals attainable.

My personal health and wellness plan rests on the foundation of daily yoga, meditation, and drinking lots of water. I continue to work at incorporating daily walking into my routine. Whether you have already developed your chosen healthy habits or are looking to step up your game, it’s probably a safe bet that a free app already exists to both motivate you and help track your progress.

Today I share my favorite health and wellness apps and a few more that might be interesting to try. continue…

What is Thai Yoga Massage?

A few weeks ago, my fiancé and I attended a Thai Yoga Massage Workshop at Ignite Yoga Studios in Goodyear, Arizona for Valentine’s Day weekend. I had no idea what Thai yoga massage was when I signed us up, but have been wanting to take a massage class for years and thought this would be the perfect place to start! My fiancé was skeptical, but he was a good sport to go along with it!

After signing us up, I did a Google image search for Thai yoga massage. It was pretty much what I expected: cool looking yoga-like poses of couples of people stretching together.

The class was packed when we arrived! Having no idea what to expect, we brought two yoga mats. Turns out, you only need one. Our instructor gave us a blanket to cover the yoga mat to make it more comfortable.

The Evolution of Thai Yoga Massage

Thai yoga massage is a healing technique that was developed in Thailand over 2500 years ago, based on Ayurvedic medicine and yoga native to India. The practice was founded by  Shivagakomarapaj, who apparently was the Buddha’s physician, and has been passed down over the centuries.

Thai massage uses leaning pressure, reflexology, and yoga to compress and stretch the body to improve balance and wellness. Together these actions result in a comprehensive full body treatment with the aims of relieving muscle tension, improving circulation, boosting the immune system, and balancing the body’s energy.

Thai massage is a branch of Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM) and is considered a medical discipline in Thailand. Practitioners can be found in North America and Europe as well. continue…

Yoga Is the New Club

This past weekend, Ignite Yoga celebrated their two year anniversary with a series of special free classes at their studio in Goodyear, Arizona.

Ever since moving to the area, one of my goals was to find a local yoga studio that I could go to on a weekly basis as a way to expand my current yoga practice beyond Hulu and YouTube, and hopefully make a few yoga friends.

The studio in Goodyear opened up a few months ago, but the company has been in business for two years, starting out of a room in the owner’s house (how could anyone not be inspired by that!?).

There are a few other studios in the area that I had driven by but didn’t feel crazy inspired to visit. When I saw Ignite this past month within walking distance of our house, I was so excited!

Glow in the Dark Yoga

yoga-party

The weekend kicked off with free “Glow in the Dark Yoga” on Friday night. After seeing a picture and reading the description on their website, I figured it looked fun and signed up.

I would describe glow in the dark yoga as cosmic bowling, but way more awesome. There were blacklights overhead in place of the usual yoga studio lighting, glow in the dark balloons, and glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets and paint were passed around.

Next to taking class from Tara Stiles at The W Hotel pool deck in Scottsdale several months ago, this was my coolest yoga experience ever! The music had a cool, lounge-y, club-y vibe. While the essential spiritual elements of a yoga class were still there, the class had a lighthearted, fun feel to it. We even played a bit of yoga volleyball with the glow in the dark balloons at one point!

I would love to do glow in the dark / cosmic yoga again, and I think it would be so cool to have this class as an option every Friday evening. Such a fun, upbeat, yet relaxing way to kick off the weekend on the right foot.

After class, red wine and red velvet birthday cake were served to mark the two year studio anniversary.

Yoga for Kids & Restorative Yoga

yoga-om-sweet-om

On Saturday morning there was an event for kids which I didn’t attend, but I love that Ignite Yoga addresses the need for yoga from a young age through their kids room, after school yoga program, and other events. Yoga Ignite believes that yoga is for all ages, and I couldn’t agree more! continue…

A Moment of Clarity: Seeing How the Pieces Fit Together

Have you ever done an exercise in a book where you were asked to brainstorm or choose from a list of words to capture your one word or phrase that best describes your theme for the next phase in your life?

I have seen this in several self-help books. The one that jumps out at me is SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Julie Morgenstern. In the past, every time I have done one of these exercises, my word or phrase has been inner peace.

Inner Peace & Transformation

In the past, I was pretty much constantly in a state of some combination of anxiety, panic, and worrying, so inner peace made sense for me as the thing that I most needed. I couldn’t imagine wanting anything else, like adventure, creativity, or any of the other theme words that were on the lists. Inner peace seemed like the best place to start.

And it was! I am so happy to now be able to say that, for the most part, I have it. After a long journey of developing a regular practice of yoga and meditation, I feel pretty peaceful most of the time. And I am starting to take back control of my own life that I used to so freely give away to the demands and whims of others. Yay!

Realizing that I have come to the place I wanted to be for so long is a great thing. I was driving the other night, and this idea came to me: what if one day I looked up to notice that my life totally transformed and I didn’t even realize it?

Isn’t that a cool idea? That your life could totally change without you even knowing it because you are so focused on feeling good in the moment? continue…

Why It’s Essential To Give Away Your Gifts

What is the one thing you would do all day because you love it, even if you weren’t paid to do it?

I recently finished listening to Super Rich on audio book by Russell Simmons. This book is very inspiring, and I would recommend anyone with an open mind and love of self-help (and yoga!) to check it out.

Russell emphasizes the importance of sharing our gifts with the world, even if no one is paying at first. It can be scary to put ourselves out there, to offer our gifts to the world and wonder if they will ever be valued, monetarily or otherwise, by others. So scary that we might hold ourselves back over it. continue…

What Expansive Feels Like

I have come across the term expansive here and there over the past few years in my unending quest for continued personal development. The most recent example I have is in the book Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup.

There are several exercises in the book asking the reader to decide whether a certain purchase or money decision makes you feel expansive or contracted. For example, you might take out your credit card statement from last month and highlight in pink the purchases that make you feel expansive, and highlight in yellow those that make you feel contracted.

I got the concept: one feels good, the other, not so much. But I also wanted to get the physical sensation along with the logical thought process. continue…

Create a Yoga Room in Your Home

The appearance of a space affects how we feel. External clutter makes me feel unsettled, knowing that things are out of place and have not yet been dealt with. Clutter or junk in a space represents unfinished tasks and forces our brains to constantly reconsider and recalculate when we will deal with them. Ugh!

Organized Space

Organized spaces. Ah. An organized space makes me feel like I can take a big deep breath. I might as well be relaxing on the beach in an organized room.

One of my someday dreams is to have a ballet studio type room, like the one Hannah has in the movie Troop Beverly Hills; not for  dance or gymnastics, but as dedicated space to do yoga, meditate, and any other activities of wellness someone might want to do. Feeling zen all the while.

The room would have hardwood floors, a mirrored wall, yoga mats, and some yoga props. Very uncluttered. Very zen.

Undefined Space

I grew up in a house with an “extra” room. This room didn’t have one specific purpose, other than to be the room I slept in sometimes if we had a guest, who we would give my room to (because it was more accomodating than said “extra” room).

From my own experience, I can only suspect that there are a good number of households with such an “extra” room, or other type of “extra” space that isn’t exactly defined in its purpose.

The problem with not defining the purpose of a space is that it can become a catch-all for the clutter in the house that hasn’t yet been dealt with. Especially when it comes time for company to come over. Kind of like the garage. No time to deal with this pile of stuff now. Let’s just put it in the extra room for now.

Dedicated Space

Our “yoga room” is my favorite room in the house (well, besides the kitchen). I don’t quite have the complete in-home yoga studio, but it is close enough for me! The room has a very simple layout with a few essentials: continue…

Meditation Mondays: Refuse to Be Overwhelmed

Today is the day many people return to work after the holidays. Today, I refuse to be overwhelmed.

I refuse to be overwhelmed by my multiple email inboxes, and any new task that comes my way. I refuse to be overwhelmed by requests from others, or the feeling that there isn’t enough time to get it all done.

Been there, done that, no thank you.

Today, I firmly choose to remain calm in the face of whatever drama I might come across. It is my choice, and no one can make me feel anything other than calm except me.

I simply refuse to entangle myself with any sense that everything isn’t going to be okay. I just can’t. continue…

Organize Your Life

When you think of getting organized, what comes to mind? A planner, pretty containers from The Container Store, perfectly lined up shoes?

These are the things I typically think about, but while reading last night, I realized it is about so much more. I am reading Money, A Love Story: Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create the Life You Really Want by Kate Northrup, which is a book about personal finance from a spiritual perspective (I am loving it, and hope to post my review by the end of the week).

Money, A Love Story is about way more than the numbers, focusing on us as whole people and what we actually want to be doing with our lives and discovering ways to allow money to facilitate our dreams rather than work against us. I am near the end of the book, and it is all starting to come together.

“Focus on how you want to feel, organize your life to feel that way more often, and then sit back and watch how it all comes to pass…”

So far, this sentence has had the greatest impact for me. You mean I can actually organize my life, as it is right now, to feel the way I want to feel so the things I want in life will happen more readily? Yes, that is exactly the idea. continue…

Review of Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles & Giveaway

Yoga, meditation, and healthy eating are the foundation of complete mind and body well-being.  Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles focuses on these three areas as essential for living a fulfilled and joyful life. I was lucky to unexpectedly meet Tara Stiles at her book signing after taking her Free Flow Lets Go yoga class sponsored by Goyogaco and W Hotels in Scottsdale, AZ. It was cool to get a hug from her, and then to read in her book how much she values the joy of hugging! At first, I thought Make Your Own Rules Diet would be primarily about recipes and healthy eating. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is so much more, offering motivation to cultivate daily at home yoga and meditation practices, and a glimpse into Tara’s history with food – the healthy and the unhealthy.

Create Space & Sensitize

The first part of the book spends time convincing us of the importance of getting back to the necessity of feeling. We are so programmed to put what everyone else thinks and what advertising tells us we should want before how we feel. It is too easy to get caught up in doing the things we think we are supposed to do because everyone else is, and to ignore all the signals our bodies send us about what is right and what is not. Tara Stiles sends a gentle yet powerful wake-up call that there is a better way through her latest book. She calls us to create space in our lives, remembering to breathe and allow our power to know whether something is on the path to our greatest life or not to shine above everything else. continue…

Book Nook Review: Walking with Elijah

“The life journeys of humans are not random.” – Elijah, in Walking with Elijah: The Fable of a Life Journey and a Fulfilled Soul by Doobie Shemer

Shamanism is one of those practices with which most people are unfamiliar. I was one of them before reading Walking with Elijah by Doobie Shemer.

Doobie Shemer is a corporate computer software engineer-turned-shaman after an Introduction to Shamanism workshop. What is shamanism, you ask? continue…

Amazing Yoga Class by Goyogaco & Tara Siles: An Everyday Miracle

On November 13, 2014, Goyogaco hosted the finale class of their Free Flow Lets Go yoga series at the W Hotel in Scottsdale. The instructor? None other than Tara Stiles!

I was ecstatic from the moment I found out Tara Stiles was teaching a class in Scottsdale that very night… for free! I have heard Tara speak on various Hay House webinars, watched her inspiring YouTube videos, and practiced her unique Strala yoga routines in the comfort of my own home.

Never did I think I would get to partake in a yoga class led by the awesome Ms. Stiles myself – until I someday traveled to NYC to visit her studio. Even then, it has got to be difficult to get into one of her classes, right? continue…

How to Go on a Mini-sabbatical This Week

A few weeks ago I started getting up at 4 a.m. I tried this a few years ago, but felt like I couldn’t sustain the insanely early hours, so it didn’t stick. This time around, I feel completely different about it.

I have gone back and forth about what to do with this time. The two hours before I have to start my job is just about enough time to get in 20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of meditation, and about 40 minutes of walking.

How early is too early?

I also would like to have a good hour or two in the mornings for my writing. I attempted to get up at 3 a.m. one Monday a few weeks ago. I was very excited about the idea of getting in three extra morning hours to work on my dreams.

Getting up at 3 a.m. didn’t seem to work as well as 4 a.m. has, at least for me at this time in my life. I know there are people out there who do it, so who knows? Maybe someday. I found that I had a hard time sleeping because I was so preoccupied with waking up on time, and then later in the day my whole body felt off and very tired. So for now, 4 a.m. it is.

I haven’t run into the same issues with getting up at 4 a.m. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I have more energy all day after getting up at 4 a.m., even if I got to bed late the night before, than if I got out of bed with hardly any “me time” to spare during the weekday mornings.

Turning Early Morning Hours Into an Ongoing Sabbatical

Have I mentioned my obsession with the idea of a sabbatical? If I could do anything in life that I wanted, I would go to Europe for one year to write my first book, à la Emily Giffin. As it is, I have other things that call my attention away from writing, and taking a year for my writing is not exactly in my foreseeable future at the moment. continue…

Wedding Planning Wednesdays: A New, Calm, Less Stress Approach

Over the past few weeks, I have calmed down a bit on the feeling that I am not on task with wedding planning. This is partly due to a recent revelation that we might be able to hold the wedding weekend at one location that is experienced in hosting weddings, rather than trying to coordinate multiple venues.

Last week we were contacted by the location where we got engaged. I told myself I would check into it, even though I figured it would be way too expensive.

After speaking with the catering sales manager at L’auberge, I was starting to feel much more content about the idea of working with one single location that has already crafted wedding packages, and that we know will do an over-the-top amazing job with every detail they touch based on our experience with our engagement weekend (oh, and did I mention they have free yoga?).

Planning Progress Status Update

Here are the items from my to-do list last Wedding Planning Wednesday and my progress so far: continue…

Meditation Mondays: Week 1 Recap of the 21-Day Meditation Experience

I started the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience one day late, on August 12th. I also missed yesterday, so I am currently two meditations behind. Fortunately, the meditations are available for five days after their original release date to catch up on missed days or go back and review the material.

The purpose of this meditation experience is to expand and deepen our own experience of happiness so that we can share a joyful energy with the world. Each day, a meditation lasting approximately 20 minutes is emailed to participants. Oprah kicks off each session by providing an introduction to the day’s meditation, and then Deepak provides his own short introduction and moves into a guided meditation.

I have enjoyed every meditation so far. Each day is focused on recognizing that we have what it takes within ourselves to be happy, and we have had it all along. Our happiness does not depend on external factors as our culture would have us believe, such as achievements, praise, or pleasing others. Both Oprah and Deepak are working to help us realize that happiness is our true nature. continue…

Why Exercise is Essential, Found Time, & a Blogust Status Update

Over the past few days, I have revisited creative ways to find the time to go for walks and get in reading on even the busiest of days. I was inspired by Robin Sharma’s video on You Tube the other day in a moment of desperation for a glimmer of hope and insight into how I might get on top of my life.

Why Making Time to Exercise Matters

He mentioned the power of exercise. These days I am not big into exercise that requires excessive amounts of exertion and sweating, but I do enjoy light yoga and moderately paced walking. The idea of getting up even earlier popped into my mind, and I have been doing it ever since. continue…

I Am Not Getting a Sabbatical Anytime Soon, & I Have to Accept That

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

I remember when I was younger thinking that older people who took sabbaticals were really boring. Ha! What I wouldn’t give for a sabbatical!

I have dreamed of taking a sabbatical for years now. I’m not even really sure what the official sabbatical duration is, but I am guessing it’s at least a few months. I actually took my own mini-sabbatical this past January.

I loved it. I loved every second of it. I took a nice long walk almost every day, I woke up early just because I was excited to have the whole day to do whatever I wanted, and I did yoga and meditated almost everyday. During the day I got to spend time reading and writing, and had the time to take care of the house and get things done. And felt relaxed!

Yesterday, I fell slightly ill and ended up sleeping for pretty much the whole day. Mostly feeling depressed about all of my nagging tasks and wondering how I would ever get them all done. Hence the first Blogust fail.

Why I Want a Sabbatical

I want to feel like I have time to write my book, make my blog a success, take walks, do yoga, meditate, and take care of all of my personal tasks (including planning a wedding). Not to mention crocheting. I love to crochet! When does a working girl have time to crochet? I would like to know? There are winter hats to be made, people! continue…

A Glass of Wine in the Bathtub and a Mid-week Pick-Me-Up

“All I want to do right now is have a glass of wine in the bathtub, pay a cleaning service to clean the kitchen, then order pizza and eat cookies all night.” – me, about ten minutes ago

The middle of the week is my Monday. I know this. I have observed it about myself in the past, yet somehow I am still blindsided by the overwhelming feeling that I will never get caught up that often hits me on Wednesdays and Thursdays. So far, I have eaten four cookies over the past two days. Um, and several handfuls of M & M’s. Not my shining moments of self-control. And I still want to order pizza. The cleaning service is a bit ridiculous, I will admit. But the glass of wine in the bathtub might win.

Taking 100% Responsibility

I am pretty sure the times I feel overwhelmed I am not taking 100% responsibility. I learned about taking 100% responsibility from chapter one of Jack Canfield’s book How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

Jack Canfield says to take 100% responsibility for everything in our lives. Whether or not we think we are responsible for everything in our lives is irrelevant. Take responsibility for it anyway. Taking responsibility for everything that happens in our lives means we are coming from a place of being empowered rather than the place of playing the victim.

Oh and have I played the victim! In the moment, it feels easier to try to blame everyone and everything outside of myself for my present moment misery. Too many things on my to-do list? Not enough time to get it all done? Why not repeat over and over in my mind how everyone but me is responsible for it, rather than just doing it? continue…

Meditation Mondays: Overview of the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience

When I got the email in my inbox for the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience, Expanding Your Happiness, I considered ignoring it. My first thought was that it would be something I would have to pay to participate in, and that I already have my own meditation regimen going on.

I am so glad I decided to click the link and learn more about the program! First of all, the 21-Day Meditation Experience is free. They have put on similar events in the past, which I have probably seen ads for or heard about, but never paid too much attention to. I listened to the introduction to learn more about it, and discovered that it would fit in perfectly with my current meditation routine.

Inspired by Oprah & Deepak Chopra

I started reading books by Deepak Chopra in 2006 when I discovered that the public library had a pretty substantial self-help book collection. This also led me to my love of Wayne Dyer’s books. I found Dr. Chopra’s books to be intriguing, but sometimes way too heavy and I would get lost trying to follow his ideas.

My favorite books by Deepak Chopra are The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga: A Practical Guide to Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit. I read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success first, which led me to The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Both books are short and to the point, and could probably be read in a day each. If you are looking for a quick inspirational guide to life, the first one is it!

I LOVE Oprah. She inspires me, and millions of other people. If Oprah and Deepak are providing a free meditation experience, I am not sure how much better you can get than that! continue…

Blogust Schedule at a Glance

Since I have committed myself to 30 more consecutive days of posting, I figured today would be a good time to plan out my posts for the month. I have been wanting to do this ever since I started blogging but never got a grip on the organization of my thoughts more than a few days in advance.

Themed Days

I have always liked the idea of posting based on specific themes on certain days of the week. This is how I came up with the idea for Meditation Mondays. Here is the general idea for my posting schedule during Blogust: continue…

A New Way to View Health, Life, & Beyond

“People are starving for love, not knowing their heart is a magical kitchen. Open your heart. Open your magical kitchen and refuse to walk around the world begging for love. In your heart is all the love you need. Your heart can create any amount of love, not just for yourself, but for the whole world.” Miguel Ruiz

I was first introduced to Anita Moorjani at an I Can Do It, Ignite! conference in San Jose, CA in February 2013. Wayne Dyer introduced her, and there was an obvious buzz in the room from the people who had already heard her story.

Her presence on the stage was peaceful yet powerful. Instantly I was endeared to her unique British accent with something else mixed in, and her wonderfully descriptive explanation of life as she now knows it after her near death experience (NDE).

Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing is the story of Anita Moorjani’s NDE, her life leading up to it, and her new life now that she “knows better” than the old version of herself. The story begins with Anita as a child, and we get a brief glimpse into her upbringing in Hong Kong. From the sound of it, her upbringing in Hong Kong was not all that different from that of a brother-sister pair in the US.

She loved to play and have fun, and she also learned at a young age that girls are looked upon by some as inferior to boys. She loved yet feared her father, and aimed to please her parents even if to her own detriment. She loved her older brother, and was teased by seemingly mean-spirited kids in elementary school for being different.

The Struggle to Please & Live

Anita then moves onto her somewhat unique struggle of having to deal with the sentence of an arranged marriage. Being of Indian descent, Anita’s culture expected her to marry based on the man who was chosen for her, not the one she truly loved. It is at this part of the book where the consequences of people-pleasing start to become apparent. continue…

How to Remain Centered While Traveling

Yoga is my movement of choice. More than any other activity, this exercise takes into account the complete person. Not only does yoga perfectly address the body’s physical needs for health and well-being, it also considers the need for balance of the mind and spirit.

After falling out of regular yoga practice for several years, I have noticed tremendous benefits from getting back into a practice in my own home. I currently don’t regularly attend classes at a yoga studio (although I plan to get back into that habit soon!). I have been keeping it simple with at-home videos, primarily those available on Hulu (Yoga Zone is my favorite).

Traveling Yoga Mat

Earlier this year I got the idea to start traveling with my thinnest yoga mat folded up in the bottom of my suitcase so I could maintain my morning routine of yoga and meditation away from home. It worked quite nicely, and got me thinking about taking it a step further and seeking out yoga studios at travel destinations on a regular basis. continue…

How I Set Goals for Summer: Seasonal Review

The summer seasonal review will round out my first year of doing seasonal reviews. I have really enjoyed the process of reviewing my goals roughly every three months, corresponding with the changing seasons. I feel much more in touch with my goals than I did with the concept of New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t feel overwhelmed by a too frequent review such as weekly or monthly.

As with each of my seasonal reviews, I will be reviewing my affirmations by my core value categories. If you are interested in establishing your own core values (highly recommended!) I would suggest Tina Su’s Discover You Now ebook. There is an exercise in this book that led me to establishing my own core values. This was the first step in defining what my goals are, because I had to figure out my major life categories before determining specific goals.

I only write affirmations at this point. I write about 3 to 5 in each core value category, and I read through them immediately when I wake up in the morning most days. I quickly scroll through them on the Evernote app on my phone. Any actionable steps related to achieving something in one of my core value categories go on my reminders or rituals lists. If you want to read more about my use of affirmations, click here.

Of note, my life has gone through a few dramatic (good) changes over the past few weeks and months, with a recent household move and engagement! These are all exciting changes, but have also caused my many lists to explode and call for the creation of a few new lists. I am still working on catching up to everything, as I have fallen out of some of my routines while we figure out where to put everything in the house and now where to have a wedding. I hope to stay on track with my personal goals while remaining flexible with the many upcoming changes.  continue…

Motivation to Get Up On Time

I have struggled with getting up on time forever. This week, I managed to get up on time on Monday, and told myself I was going to do the same the rest of the week. Today, I share my feelings on the whole issue of getting up in the morning.

What Does On Time Mean?

Determining what time I need and want to get up in the mornings during the week has been a constant issue for me for the past several years that I have worked from home with a login time of 6 a.m. For the most part, I have aimed to get up at 5 a.m., but have also gone through phases of convincing myself that 5:30 a.m. would give me more time to rest, and others where I attempted to get up at 4 a.m. to have time in the mornings to write.

I don’t want to get up early just because I have to go to work. I want to get up because I am ready to start my day. Many mornings in the past I have stayed in bed beyond my appointed wake-up time out of dread for the upcoming day. That is no way to start any day. continue…

Seasonal Review: Mid-Season Check-in

It’s not quite time for my summer seasonal review, but I have been thinking a lot about where I am in my goals for spring and thought it might be a good time to do a mid-season review. Spring is a great time for changes and there are certainly many good changes in my life this time around.

Shortly after I moved to Arizona I developed the daily ritual of starting to read my affirmations as soon as I get out of bed in the mornings. By the time I’m doing mouthwash, I’m wrapping them up. It takes less than three minutes to read through these 15 or 20 items, but before I hadn’t been referring to them on a daily basis. I am happy to have finally found a method that works for me. It makes sense to start the day with positive thoughts and reminders about what my goals are, and to review these before practicing yoga and meditation in the mornings.

Based on my core values, here is a brief look at where I am in my personal goals so far for spring: continue…

Meditation Mondays: Review of a Meditation Massage

Now that I live less than two hours away from Sedona, land of spas and tranquility, a quick Sedona weekend getaway is within the realm of possibilities. This past weekend, I was lucky to spend time at the Sedona Hilton Resort and Spa.

Resort & Spa Experience

The Sedona Hilton Resort and Spa is very nice, and pet-friendly! All the rooms have gas fireplaces and either a patio or balcony. The property offers three pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, and beautiful views of the Sedona Red Rocks. There is a nice restaurant and poolside bar and grill onsite, as well as several restaurants within walking distance.

Being somewhat of a spa newbie, I didn’t realize before arriving that the spa offers fitness classes (including yoga), a steam room, and a sauna all included in the price of staying at the resort. Unfortunately we arrived just after the last yoga class of the weekend. Major bummer! Next time I will plan to arrive in time to enjoy a yoga class.

I haven’t indulged in a professional massage in over a year, so I talked myself into splurging a bit. When I saw the menu of spa services, I was deciding between the Meditation massage, Sedona Stone massage, and the Sedona massage. The Sedona massage is a traditional Swedish massage. Wanting to venture out and try something new, I debated over trying either the Meditation or Sedona Stone massage. continue…

Spring Seasonal Review: How I Planned Out My Goals for Spring

I am so excited that my long-awaited spring seasonal review is finally here! The seasonal review is my new system of goal-setting and reviewing that I came up with this year, in which I review the goals I set for the previous season, and look forward to changes I would like to make in the upcoming three months. This is my alternative to setting annual New Year’s resolutions. If you would like to read more about my thought process behind my seasonal review, click here. continue…

Meditation Mondays: Travel Yoga & Meditation

Staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge. Traveling for any reason usually catches us off guard and causes at least one, if not all, of our healthy daily habits to go out the window. I recently packed for a road trip and decided to try a few new things this time. One of them was to bring my yoga mat along for the ride in my suitcase.

Newly Prioritized Travel Items

Usually there is an option to take a yoga class at any travel destination. There are also hotels and even airports that cater to this world’s need for more yoga. I was especially excited about the “yoga channel” offered at The Argonaut in San Francisco. In fact, I went to the hotel’s website to see if they were still offering their “yoga baskets”, and I discovered that Kimpton Hotels offer yoga mats in some of their hotels. Click here to find other yoga-friendly hotels.

I had never thought to bring my own yoga mat on trips with me until I recently got the idea from listening to an author speak specifically about how to stay healthy while traveling. She was reviewing what you would find in her suitcase, and a folded up travel yoga mat was at the top of the list. continue…

Meditation Mondays: Morning Candlelight Yoga & Meditation

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha

I went to a yoga class with a friend the other week called “Candlelight Yoga & Meditation”. I was so excited for the class, because I had never been to nor heard of a candlelight yoga class before, and many times yoga classes will include only a few minutes of meditation at the very end of class.

The class was great, and the meditation component was amazing. It didn’t hurt that the teacher was new to the studio and accidentally gave us an extra ten minutes in meditation. I didn’t mind one bit!

A Morning Ritual

After attending the class, I started thinking about my own morning yoga and meditation practice. This is an absolutely essential part of my day, especially days that I work. Taking this time in the mornings sets me up to feel in control of my day and activities. If I don’t give myself this time, I feel victimized by tending to the needs of others and not having any time for myself until late in the afternoon when I am worn out and sometimes frazzled.

This past week I started lighting a candle in my room before I start yoga in the morning. I realized that I can have my own candlelight yoga and meditation session everyday right in my own home! It is still dark out during this time of day. I turn off the light, and do yoga by candlelight for about 20 minutes, followed by meditation by candlelight for about 20 minutes. It is really nice to open my eyes after I meditate to the peace of a flickering candle. continue…

I Should…I Mean I Choose

“Communicating in ‘have-to’s’ and ‘shoulds’ are ineffective self-leadership.” – The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, Ph.D.

I should do yoga. I should have gotten up earlier. I shouldn’t have said that, or done that. I should read more. I should do more. I should be a better person.

Does anyone else talk to themselves in shoulds as much as I do? I am willing to bet I am not alone in the should department. As I am writing, I am even trying to restrain myself from either thinking or typing the word should on auto-pilot. continue…

How to Deal with Negativity from Others

“The love I invest in my relationships returns to me multiplied many times over.” – Alan Cohen

Sometimes when I am meditating, a negative thought or two will sneak into my mind. The majority of the time, I am able to send these little unpleasantries out of my realm of consciousness, and continue to enjoy my blissfully undisturbed twenty minutes of me time. But what about the other 23 hours and 40 minutes of the day? continue…

Meditation Mondays: Feel Good

“I am realistic – I expect miracles.” – Wayne Dyer

When I am trying to focus during meditation, I think of the word “in” as I breathe in, and “out” as I breathe out. This helps control my thoughts. Beyond the in/out mantra, I have experimented with other simple words to focus on to overcome the monkey mind during meditation. Today, I have a new one. continue…

Hi, This is Your Natural Energy Cycle

Our schedules do everything in their power to fight our natural energy cycles. Sadly, this innate part of our existence often gets ignored.

When I set out on my mini-sabbatical just a few days ago, I proclaimed that I would attempt to get out of bed at 6 a.m. each day by my alarm, with few exceptions for special occasions.

As a special treat, I decided to not set my alarm clock for the first day, and ended up getting out of bed around 7:30 a.m. By that evening, I decided to do away with my alarm clock altogether for the duration of the month. I certainly want to get up early each day so I can get a jump start on all the things I want to get done, but I decided to ease up a bit on all the pressure to stick to such a regimented schedule.

Rather than use an alarm clock, I am experimenting with my ability to set an intention for the time I would like to wake up the next morning right before going to sleep. I have read about this technique, but never got into trying it. I would be too afraid not to set an alarm clock if I have to work, and on the weekends I have tried to give myself a break and just sleep in. continue…

This Time of Year

Christmas is upon us! Merry Christmas Eve! ‘Tis the season of joy, giving, and feeling overwhelmed and majorly stressed.

Things never seem to be just perfect at Christmastime, as much as we might like them to be. I know I do. This time last year I could not begin to get a grip on relaxation. Fast forward one year, and there is no comparison for me. I have still felt behind on my Christmas preparations, but this time I am continually reminding myself to relax and it is actually working.

Prepare to be Calm

I attribute this feeling to a few habits I have been working to develop over the past several months. This past fall I sat down and converted all of my goals and tasks into a personalized system (my hipster) that I created to suit my unique needs (based on recommendations in productivity books). For so many years I could never get a grip on my to-do lists, especially my work-related to-do lists.

Over the past few months, working from my new system and a renewed sense of self-worth, I am proud to say that I was able to truly get my work-related task lists down to zero before my month long mini-sabbatical that I am currently enjoying. It is an amazing feeling to know that I have done everything I needed to, and to be completely free from the worry that overflowing task lists and inboxes can induce.

Exactly one year ago, I had arranged to have a week off over Christmas, but ended up not enjoying the time at all because I had so many unfinished work tasks that I unfortunately spent my whole vacation worrying about. Never again! continue…

Meditation Mondays: How much time a day should I spend meditating?

If you are brand new to meditation, start here.

This is a question I have asked myself for years. I don’t think there is one right answer that will serve everyone, but rather, it is based on personal preferences and current lifestyle. I have read many different opinions on the subject, and it seems that anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes a day are recommended.

A Personal Preference

I have found that 20 minutes a day seems to be the optimal amount of meditation time for me. Twenty minutes is a period of time in which I can really feel the benefits of meditation, but also feels accessible. Twenty minutes doesn’t take away too much from the time available in the day to get things done. continue…

A Mini-Sabbatical

Today is officially day 1 of my 30 day mini-sabbatical. Although I wasn’t planning on posting anything until Monday, I figured I would outline my plans for my time since it is so heavily on my mind and I am so excited about it.

First of all, I have to say that this is truly a dream come true for me. I can’t even count the number of times I have wished that I could get a month off to focus on myself and my direction in life. I know I am so lucky to get this chance, and I do not take it lightly. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Additional Storage & Decor

“You deserve to have everything in your life exactly the way you want it.”How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

The Angels’ Den is so special to me because it is the space in our house that I can call all my own and decorate and organize in whatever way I want. Although the closet is the bulk of my organization system in the Angels’ Den (which I will go through in detail next time), other areas of the room also serve as storage for a few items that either don’t fit in the closet or just don’t make sense to be in there. continue…

Meditation Mondays: Beginning Yoga

I first learned about meditation through yoga, and in many ways yoga is its own form of meditation. Since yoga and meditation are so closely linked, I decided to make this week’s Meditation Mondays post about getting into yoga, and hopefully meditation as well!

It can be intimidating to start anything new. I am still surprised when someone tells me they have never done yoga before. Yoga has done so much for me, so I am always eager to get other people involved with the hope that it will help them as much as it has helped me.

I have been wanting to review the Introduction to Yoga video from Yoga Zone on Hulu for a while. I have never watched this video before, primarily due to length (this video is about an hour). I was lucky to have a yoga newbie with me the other day (my mom!) so we figured we would give it a shot. continue…

Sleep Drama

My first alarm goes off, I am rudely awakened in cozy pitch black. Do I really want to get out of bed, I ask myself? Maybe I will just lay here for ten or fifteen more minutes, then I will get started with this day that is like the others. Ten or fifteen minutes go by, and I continually pop my head up to check the time on my phone, each time recalculating how much time I have left and re-deciding if I should just skip yoga and meditation today and stay under the covers until the last possible second.

I am usually okay on Mondays, I guess because I have a renewed sense of energy after getting rested up over the weekend. But the remaining days of the working week typically go something like this, unfortunately. Some days I am good and just force myself to get out of bed right away, but I am sad to say that more often than not I cannot seem to get it together enough to want to get up at 5 AM. continue…

Turn Your Home into Your Own Spa

It is really nice to go to a spa, but also really expensive. Day to day life can get stressful, and going to a spa once every few years, if that, isn’t gonna cut it.

Who says you have to pay a ton of money to feel relaxed? Here are a few around the house ideas to kick off a relaxing weekend, or break a stressful day: continue…

A Trick to Start Good Habits

Some things that are good for us aren’t particularly fun. I don’t love taking vitamins or flossing my teeth, and even though I enjoy yoga and walking, many days I don’t feel like it. But I almost always feel better afterwards.

It takes work to maintain health and peaceful surroundings, but once the work is done, there are generous rewards to those who put in the effort. continue…