Simple things

It’s been such a good feeling to have the camera back in my hands at home. It probably sounds silly to imagine a photographer who doesn’t spend much time photographing her own family. But let me tell you, it’s more common than you might think.

So what happened this week?

On my way home from the gym I spotted a really adorable old wicker chair sitting out by the road free to a good home. I’m not usually one to just bring home “stuff”… especially after falling on love with Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering, but, I think this chair will be a really nice addition to the studio space that we’re working on downtown. It just needs a teensy bit of TLC.

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Clover the bunny is also adjusting to her new life at the Livingston household quite nicely. I can’t help but scoop up some dandelion and clover pretty much every time I step outside. And, when Mike loves anything he loves hard, so she’s to say the very least she’s going to be one spoiled bunny.

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We’ve had such beautiful weather this week. The rain finally stopped and it’s been sunny and in the 80’s. I miraculously edited 4 weddings this week and two sessions, and still seemed to find time this week to enjoy, like really enjoy, downtime with Camilla. Aside from playing outside our current favorite past time is sitting on the sun porch building puzzles.

And although it feels like I could say a zillion other things about the seeds that have been planted lately, the changes that I’m experiencing and the ideas that have been presented to me, I think each of those things need to be their own separate entity.

So I leave you now with the bible verse that I keep coming back to this week:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 15:13

A Day of Rest

What has happened in the last 20 years that time is suddenly moving far to fast? We are busier than ever, more efficient than ever, more stressed than ever, sicker than ever, and less connected than ever. I know for some of you this is wildly obvious, and maybe you are already awake to what types of steps can be taken to begin to turn this ship around. But, for those of you who feel like your in the dark wishing things were just a little bit different, this is for you. 

I write this post from personal experience. I have a tendency to take on ALL the things, and, I often get asked how I do it. After my 2015 YFH (year from hell) I sort of made it a personal mission of mine to prevent myself from ever again allowing my life to become so overwhelming that I didn't know which way was up anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, I do still have days, even weeks in the fall season, that feel a tad out of control, but, I also know how to handle them better than I ever did before. 

The single handed most important piece of advice I can give you is to give yourself a day of rest. The Fourth Commandment reads: "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God". Now, whether your a believer or not, this is valuable advice. Without a day of rest, you have no gap. You have no anticipation for the work to end. No closure, no glee for the start of something new. Without rest, your well is bound to dry up and your sense of self is bound to burn out. It's just a matter of time.

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We must give ourselves an opportunity to turn the switch to OFF; to break the habit of going and going without a life giving day. You may be one of those people who need to squeeze everything in before your day of rest, and if that's you, then have at it, squeeze it in. But, at some point, please do allow yourself to surrender. Begin to appreciate the day that is unlike any of the other days and allow it to replenish the soul. 

So how do I do this? I will literally write on my calendar "Do Nothing" or “Sabbath”. This way if someone asks me if I'm busy, I can honestly say, my calendar is full for the day. It's literally full of me…doing nothing. And doing nothing ideally should also include unplugging, getting outside, being with your loved ones, filling your cup with your favorite book or hobby and meditating on the fact that you are a human being not a human doing. This can be any day of the week. Whatever works best with your schedule. The bottom line is we must cease from busy-ness to become replenished in the mind, body and soul. 

You can reap the same benefits of a rest day, each day on a much smaller scale by incorporating a meditation practice into your day. Even just 5 minutes of time spent focusing on your breath can help to settle the busy-ness of your brain, heightening your sense of clarity, and improving your ability to become more decisive, productive, and HAPPY. If you would like more information on meditating just click here

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I also recommend reading the book, “Boundaries”. I actually feel like this book may have been the first piece of the puzzle to my life changing in such a dramatic way. I didn't even know what boundaries were before reading this. But now, they are everything. Boundaries are the key to having happy, healthy relationships, a manageable daily schedule and making space in your life for REST.

My final piece of advice is to give yourself grace..... peace and grace. 

Meditation: It's Easier than you Think

I believe there is a misguided view of meditation that causes many to veer away. Some believe that during mediation something miraculous is supposed to happen. Or, believe that you are supposed to have visions, or epiphanies, or God knows what and if you're not then you're not doing it right. But, that's really not the case, at all. 

Meditation is simply a time set aside to bring our awareness to the breath. Most people might not do this even once in a day and our breath is SO vital. It is first thing we do when we come into this world, and the last thing we do before we leave. The quality of our breath influences the state of our mind, and vice versa. 

So how do you meditate? 

Tips for Meditation:

1. Come to a comfortable seated position (or you can lie down)

Ideally I would recommend that you be seated on a block or a pillow (so that your hips are higher than your knees) or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. If you are sitting, try to sit with a straight spine lifting through the crown of your head. But, this isn't all together necessary. Your practice can happen anywhere, in any position. Maybe even in your car for a few minutes before you walk into work. Be creative. When I first began meditating I was in a deep depression, and the best I could do was to lie down on the couch, close my eyes and mentally repeat "Sat" with each inhale and "Nam" with each exhale. Little did I know back then that Sat Nam would later become my favorite Kundalini mantra, meaning  "I am truth". 

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2. Begin to follow your breath

Following your breath can be done as I mentioned above, by pairing a mantra to your inhales an exhales. Or, you can simply recognize your inhale as you take it and recognize your exhale and you release it. You can also count the length of your inhales and the length of your exhales, OR, count down from, let's say 50, inhaling 50, exhaling 49, inhaling 48, exhaling 47. Whatever feels most suitable for you. 

3. Start small

When I first began meditating I would set the timer on my phone for 2-3 minutes. I recommend you do the same. Choose a time frame that is attainable for you so that you don't give up on the daily practice. You will soon feel yourself being drawn to longer meditations. I quickly gravitated to 10 minutes in the morning, which still feels like a very comfortable time for me. But, if given the quite time, I can now easily sit down and breathe through 30-40 minutes in meditation without even realizing it. There is no rush to get to longer meditation times though, so just remember to start small. 

4. Eyes open or closed?

It's up to you! Meditation should however be a practice of wakefulness, so with that said some people prefer to keep the eyes open to help reinforce that very thing. However, you may find that closing your eyes is more helpful as a beginner and that is totally fine too. Just remember, the goal isn't to fall asleep. ;-) 

5. Give yourself Grace

During your meditation you want to be focusing on your breath. Now, because our minds are designed to think, you are bound to have other thoughts arise. Maybe thoughts of something someone said, or a commitment you have for later that day. As these thoughts arise, simply recognize them, and dismiss them coming back to your inhales and exhales. Try not to be judgmental of yourself for having other thoughts come into your practice as it is bound to happen and instead give yourself grace.

There is nothing outside of us. It's all in us. - Yogi Bhajan

Through meditation we become more aware of what we are thinking, how our mind and body feels, and what our current breath pattern is like. Through this awareness we then begin to recognize when we need to come to our breath in our daily life, to settle anxiety, frustration, stress or unwanted thoughts. Meditation helps us to settle our nervous system, cultivate mental clarity and  achieve Sukha; a state of elevated comfort or bliss.

Meditation also helps us to experience more vitality.  In Sanskrit we refer to breath work as Pranayama. "Prana" meaning life force or energy, and "Ayama" meaning to stretch or extend. The Heart of Yoga reads, "the breath relates directly to the mind and our prana. But, we should not imagine that as we inhale, prana simply flows into us. This is not the case. Prana enters the body in the moment when there is a positive change in the mind. This can be observed in our relationships with other people. Relationships are the real test of whether we actually understand ourselves better..... Without prana there is no life."

Give yourself the opportunity to begin a breath work practice. The benefits of meditation go far beyond what I've mentioned here. You may even consider beginning to a 30 day practice, and then see where your practice takes you from there. 

2017 Year in Review What Happened When I Quit Alcohol

In celebration of tonight’s New Moon, I’ve decided to finally write the post I’ve been considering writing for weeks. This new moon encourages us to find liberation. And, putting this together feels very liberating, like I’m owning my past year, closing it off, and embracing the New Year. Like I said, I’ve thought about whether or not to write this all out for weeks. Afraid that it would be received the wrong way. But, have now decided that it’s important to me that I write a year in review for personal reasons. I have this inkling, that like most things, 5 years down the road I will just hardly be able to remember what this time in my life really felt like. So, why not write it down for myself, my family, and most importantly for even just one person that it may inspire to take the leap, make the change, or do the undoable.

Looking back at 2017 it seems kind of surreal. I know the common phrase to use when looking back at the previous year, is “man I’m glad that year is over!” For me, this isn’t so. I feel an immense amount of gratitude for the year 2017 and every single thing it entailed.

I really don’t know if I believe that all of this would have come to fruition had I not quit drinking. And, that in itself is still hard for me to put into words. Because I was so much like so many of you. I was finishing off my day with 2-3 glasses of wine, SOMETIMES a bottle. I was lying in bed from 9 -11 pm trying to bring myself to some cozy, warm, relaxed, happy, care free state of being while eating combos and watching 3 episodes of my current fav on Netflix. It really was what it was. It wasn’t disrupting my life, but it was disrupting my ability to expand, my ability to go deep, my ability to come into being the person that I was mean to be.

With that, I thank God that I woke up on that November morning, and just like a switch and flipped, I knew I would never drink again.

What quitting drinking delivered into my life:

1.     I entered the year sober, on the right foot, with intentions to be the best mom, wife, daughter,  and friend that I could be.

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2.     I completed yoga teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center’s 3 week immersion with my best friend and business partner Courtney Singer. While I was there I was able to be fully present, to disconnect, and to bring 100 percent of myself to class every single day.

3.     I started this blog. I stopped telling myself that I didn’t have time, or that I didn’t have something valuable enough to say, and instead I told knew that I had gained time. That my time is now bettered spent and far more efficient. And, I realized the power of our words. The power of authenticity, vulnerability, and compassion. And, the bottom line is that I want to share as much of that as I can.

4.      I began to wake up early and go to bed early. I have wanted to wake up early for years, just to have some time in my day for myself. But, staying up until 11 pm watching Netflix and drinking wine wasn’t getting me there. Now I go to bed by 9 and wake up at 4 most days. It feels so much better to have a substantial chunk of my day under my belt before the kids wake up. I am a happier, healthier person because of it. Read more about waking up early here!

5.     I read 413 pages of my Bible. Being new to the Bible, I figured it would be best to start from the beginning and just read. And, that’s what I did. It has given me so much clarity. And, I have to say, the Bible is the most interesting book that I’ve ever read!

6.     I ran two-half marathons. At the end of 2016 I swore I would never run another half marathon. I think I was even saying that up until the week before I asked my running partners Courtney and Kayla to train. Guys, it felt so good to be run free of dehydration, fatigue and with a yoga practice incorporated into my training. In previous runs I didn’t do these things. What a difference it made! We ran the End of the Road Half Marathon in Waterfall PA and the Novant Health Charlotte Half Marathon.  The End of the Road Half was brutal with 41 degree weather and a literal torrential downpour the whole time and the Charlotte Half was beautiful and gave me my best time ever!

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7.    I started saying what I think. I realized this year that my strongest qualities are my intuition and communication skills. This year, I felt like I broke out of chains. I am no longer living a life in fear of disappointing others, and am now living a life that truly resonates with who I am and what I believe.

8.    I opened The Yoga Garden. With the help and support of my Mom, Stepdad, husband and best friend, I was able to bring to life something that I pray will serve my community for a long time to come. I thought I wanted to open “A Place for Grace” but I realize now that The Yoga Garden is a A Place for Grace. It is a platform for myself and other incredible men and women in our community to share knowledge, resources, yoga, and wellness with others. It will be from here, that my ideas for A Place for Grace will too come to life.

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9.    I lost a friendship, a soul sister. This has been a profound experience for me. I haven’t really ever lost someone that I really consider dear to my heart. At least not after the age of 2.  So this has really taught me a lot about loss, grieving, compassion, and forgiveness.  I am certain that everything happens for a reason. And although I don’t know what the reason is for this, I am certain that it is shaping me to be a better person in many ways.

10.  I went to Kundalini training with the lovely Sierra Hollister. OH how I could just swoon and swoon and swoon here over her sweet soul. I feel so blessed to have her as my teacher. She was a direct student and friend of Yogi Bhajan and it gives me an incredible about of gratitude to be learning from such a knowledgeable, kind, inspiring, human.

11. I didn’t have a meltdown in October. Every single October I breakdown. It’s busy season for photography, the kids schedules are jam packed, and this year I was also opening the doors of TYG. BUT, this year, I had boundaries, I had self care, I had exercise, and I had meditation. I stayed focus on what was important and did my best to remind myself that we can only do one thing at a time. This year, I was solid, and for having learned these tools I am also very grateful.

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12. I quit coffee and gluten.  After struggling with red bumps all over my skin, back and arms, I came to realize that I was sensitive to gluten. It only took a couple of weeks after I quit consuming it for me see a huge difference in the health of my skin. I also decided this year to quit consuming coffee regularly. I might have a sip of a cup here or there, but to actually drink a cup of coffee hardly ever happens. I find that for myself personally, having that stimulant isn’t good for my nervous system, and just like with all things, it’s better to be, and just be.

13. I completed 96 days of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya. I almost have no words. Doing Sodarshan for 90+ days was a revolutionary experience for me. I highly recommend to every single person that I get the opportunity to, to do this Kriya for at least 40 days. It was my experience that on day 87 I was surrounded with a bright green haze that ebbed and flowed and slowly became blue and then back to green. This continued to happen every single time that I did the kriya thereafter, until I made the decision to stop.  Sodarshan Chakra Kriya, according to the tantra shastras, “can purify your past karma and the subconscious impulses that may block you from fulfilling you. It balances all the 27 facets of life and mental projection, and gives you the pranic power of health and healing. It establishes inner happiness and a state of flow and ecstasy in life.”

So what do I feel about this year to come?  

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Well, I feel excited. I feel prepared. I feel like I am going to be propelled forward in a way that I never have been before. And, to make this year even better, I made a vision board at our vision board workshop at The Yoga Garden. It was such an invigorating experience to spend the evening with a group of women all manifesting so much positive energy, completely present in the space, focused on tuning into creating, leaving the rest of life’s demands at the door. You could really feel it. The room was buzzing with good vibes. And each day I am reminded, by this board, of  where my focus really needs to be. And that is on my spirituality, on my family, on being present, on expansion, and on noticing and appreciating this incredible beautiful wonderful life we have. 

May You all have a wonderful year, full of prosperity and loving kindness. 

Peace and Grace

Tips and Benefits to waking up early!

There was a time, not that long ago, that I was lucky to roll out to bed by 8 am. UNTIL, I was introduced to the magic of waking early. And, I can't ever imagine having my day go any other way. So now I typically get out bed between 3:45 and 4:45 am, and reap ALL the benefits with gratitude. 

What are those benefits, you ask?

1. Starting your day in Gratitude: You can of course do this at any waking time. BUT, with having a husband and children in the house it is really hard to take a moment to acknowledge this with so many things going on. Waking early gives me an opportunity to take a moment for gratitude.  I’m inspired by the Dalai Lama, who said,  "Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.'"

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2. Quiet time: Waking up before the world (and the kids) gives me time to enter into my day with clarity. It is truly the most peaceful time of the day. It gives me time to think, prepare for my day, make a warm drink, and breathe. This is a great time for a meditation practice as well. 

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3. Exercise: I completely acknowledge that exercise can take place during any part of the day. BUT, for me, I find that exercising before my family wakes up does two things. It creates less guilt around taking the time for myself to exercise, and, it releases dopamine first thing in the morning, which creates feelings of happiness and readiness to take on the day.  I have also found that if I do it first thing in the morning , it is less likely to get opted out of. Get up and get it done!

4. Less Rushing: I don't think that there is any feeling worse than starting your day, leaping out of bed, panicked because you hardly have enough time to get out of the door. Add to that skipping breakfast, or forgetting things on your way out the door, and you have a recipe for disaster.  By waking early you just have more time. Bottom line. No rushing, time to make a nutritious breakfast, gather your belongings and get out of the door.

5. Productivity: There are so many facets here. If you are a stay at home mom, that works from home, this is your time to get stuff done. If you are in the working world and have a personal goal or a hobby that you have desperately wanted to find time for, this is your time! I am so productive during these hours. My brain is on. I'm not yet bombarded by emails, phone calls, fb messages, kids, friends, appointments, or other commitments. It is truly THE MOST ideal time to get anything accomplished. 

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6. Sunrise: During the summer months waking early allows you to be present as the sun rises. Reminding you thus again, that you have another day to be thankful for. In the winter months I feel very tuned into the idea of forest animals beginning their day before dawn to forage for food. It creates a oneness with nature, during months where it's might be less desirable to be outside. 

"It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom." -Aristotle

Ok, so now that I've got your attention, you might ask, but how?? How do I make such a drastic change to my schedule. Heres the answer:

 

How to Become a Morning Person

1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier each day - baby steps. Don't expect to do it all at once. You will more than likely be miserable if you do.

2. Drink lots of water before bed. Your body performs a plentitude of functions while were sleep. This is when most of the repair and replenishment happens and in order for these processes to work most effetely, your body needs to be well hydrated. Being well hydrated will also help you to sleep better, and will help to flush your body of toxins. 

3. Set your alarm and place it away from your bed so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.  If you can your feet on the floor,  that's the first step. GET OUT OF BED!

4. Go to bed earlier. I used to think that the end of the night (9pm-11pm) was my time to unwind and relax. I've now realized that if I really want to unwind and relax the best thing I could do for my body and mind  is spend about 20 minutes reading a book (not a phone orcomputer screen) a legit book, and get some SLEEP.

5. Set the timer on your coffee pot so that you have something to look forward to. I've recently boycotted caffeine, so coffee is off the radar for me. BUT, when I first started waking up early, this was a MUST. The smell was enough to bring me down the steps. 

6. Make a plan the night before for what you will do with your newfound time. Plan ahead then night before. Write it down, make it real and reap the benefits of sticking to it!

It might not feel comfortable at first, but it is when we step out of our comfort zone that we are really able to make changes in our lives for the better. 


Peace and Grace

Lifestyle Tips for A Healthy Fall

AHH Fall! It seems to me that fall is a season that very few people flat-out dislike. Most of us either love it and claim it as our favorite season, or if it's not your favorite,  there are still probably aspects of this season that you love or appreciate. 

The past three fall seasons have been very difficult for me. And, it was through a dear friend that I was introduced to Ayurveda, which has helped me tremendously with the transition into this cool, windy, and rather raw season. Ayuryvedicaly, Fall is the season of the Vata, and having a Vata constitution myself, I have been personally inclined to learn as much as I can about caring for ones-self during this season. 

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So first, what is Ayurveda? It is one of the world's oldest Holistic systems of medicine. Depending on your Dosha (constitution) you require a different diet and lifestyle than those of the other constitutions. Find out your constitution

Now onto my tips for avoiding illness, depression, anxiety, and fatigue during the coming months.

Become More Grounded

Start by making a schedule and stick to it. This is so good for you year-round, but especially important during the season of wind, when it's easy to become erratic. Take the most fundamental parts of your day: wake time, meal times, work, exercise, meditation, and sleep, and try to do each of these things at the same time each day. It helps me to write it down. If I don't write it down, it is significantly less likely to happen. 

Eat Warm, Oily, Grounding Foods

Bring on the soup! Soup is an excellent food the fall season. As are heavy foods and oily foods, as they help moisturize the body. This includes: sweet potatoes, oatmeal, avocados, bananas, beets, squash, quinoa, honey, cooked vegetables and spices. Also, fall isn't a great time of the year to be cutting back on food intake, if anything, eat a little more than you usually do. 

Use your Essential Oils

Since anxiety and fatigue are the culprits in my life during the fall season, maintaining my health and staying uplifted is my greatest concern. Using essential oils in our home has significantly reduced the need for doctors visits more times in the past few years than I could possibly count. That said, diffusing OnGaurd and using OnGaurd handsoap, in our home, is a must. Especially with the kids back to school, and therefore bringing home more germs and bacteria than we are typically exposed to.

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Additionally, vetiver is excellent for helping to ground your emotions and combat anxiety. Any of the citrus based oils are excellent for uplifting your mood and increasing energy.  

If you would like to add any of these oils to your collection you can shop for them, or if you are new to essential oils, head on over and learn more about them

Self-Oil Massage

Stay with me here. As I mentioned earlier, fall is a very dry season. We do of course get some oils from our diet, but we can help ourselves along by doing a self oil massage. So, before showering, heat a small pot of boiling water. Place a small container of oil (sesame, olive, avocado) in the hot water to heat the oil up. Before showering, massage the oil into your skin. Make long strokes along your limbs and clockwise circles on your abdomen/diaphragm. Your diaphragm is especially important. I also recommend massaging the oil using small circles on your face and neck. Once your finished, take a hot shower, and remember that the intent while showering isn't to wash the oil off, but to open the pores so the oil can be absorbed into your body. Do this once or twice or a week.

Yoga

My go-to solution for all things, yoga. We want to focus on sticking with very grounding poses during our yoga practice this fall. Doing sun salutations in combination with poses such as Warrior I, Warrior II, childs pose, cat/cow, cobra, legs up a wall, and corpse pose are great for helping to emphasize that feeling of stability. Additionally, this would be a good time of the year to back off on any fast paced exercises, and instead wind down and spend time hiking, doing yoga or biking - says the girl that's marathon training during the fall. ;-)

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Stay Warm

This is going to be especially important if you have a Vata constitution, and your in Vata season. If your out and about wear layers, keep a jacket handy and keep your ears covered (especially in wind). When  your at home wear slippers and a warm sweater, or snuggle up with a cozy blanket. Nurture yourself. 

Be Well-Watered

When I say to be well-watered, not only do I mean, DRINK LOTS OF WATER! It's dry season y'all! But, also, give yourself what you need. Do something for yourself that you love. Whether that be reading a book you have been wanting to read, or taking a walk in the evening around your neighborhood, or going for a hike on Sundays. Whatever that THING is, that you wish you had time for, make time for it. Give that to yourself. Be, well-watered.

Peace, Grace, and love to all.

Easy Meal Prep Side Dishes

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Don't you love when things are easy? I know I do. And, that's why I started meal prepping side dishes and snacks for the week. Some of these ideas may seem pretty basic, but just committing to doing them has made a world of difference. Making healthy choices can be hard sometimes, BUT, if you have them on hand ready to eat, it suddenly becomes a lot easier.  I find myself eating more nutritious food throughout the day, as opposed to just at breakfast and dinner. And, if you can't do it all in one day, split it up. Meal prepping can just mean that you prepare more than what you would eat in one sitting. Don't make it hard on yourself. I firmly believe that the best way to obtain more energy, is through the food you eat, the amount of sleep you give yourself, and prioritizing exercise. 

For today, let's talk food...

1. Wash and prep your fruits & veggies when you bring them home. Rather than having to do it later, get your fruit ready to grab. I recommend putting your washable fruit into a bowl with water and about 5 drops of lemon essential oil. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then allow them to air dry on a paper towel. This will not only clean your produce harsh chemicals and bacteria, but also improve their shelf life. Some of my favorite fruits are grapes, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon and pineapple. Once you've ringed your grapes and blueberries just put them in your fridge, ready to go!  Then, cut your fruits such as strawberries, watermelon and pineapple and have them also ready to go. 

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2. Roasted Cauliflower This is just so delicious that we literally snack on it all day. I could easily sit down and eat a portion much larger than planned at any time. Give it a try, even if you "don't like vegetables". Prep time: 5 mins

  • cut the florets of cauliflower off of the head. Making them about the size of a ping pong ball
  • Toss them in olive oil with garlic salt or minced garlic, and pepper. I like a good bit of pepper on these guys. 
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 7-10 minutes 
  • Turn the oven onto broil and let it cook until the tips begin to turn brown. (Pretty quick)
  • Remove from the oven and transfer them to a sauce pan with a tablespoon of butter and toss them in the butter for a minute. 
  • TADA. Delicious. We typically eat about 2 heads of cauliflower per week.

3. Garlicy Kale Have I  lost you here? Guys, I admittedly snagged this recipe from whole foods while we were there in Asheville for 3 weeks. Courtney and could not get enough it. So, I of course want to share it with you also.  Prep time: 10 mins

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  • Pull apart 1 bunch of kale and rinse.
  • In a blender or bullet I mix: 1 TBSP of Braggs amino acid (or soy sauce), 2 TBSP of tahini paste, 2 TBSP Lemon juice, 2 TBSP of water, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped and a dash of black pepper. Then, blend in 4 TBSP of nutritional yeast. 
  • Put your kale in a large Tupperware container and pour the dressing over top. Put the lid on and shake shake shake. Done.

4. Caramelized Onions Great on all meats, burgers, mashed potatoes, salads. WHATEVA! And they take forever to simmer so make a lot when you make them. 

  • 1, 2 or 3 onions- whatever you can fit in your skillet really - sliced (but not too thin) 
  • Heat a TBSP of oil on low
  • Add Onions and 1 or 2 TBSP of butter (whatever it looks like you'll need)
  • Stir occasionally, cook for 45 mins (or more) 

5. PROTEIN BALLS! Who doesn't love protein balls? For this one I would recommend finding a recipe that sounds good to you from this list. My favorite though is: 

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  • 1 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of raw honey
  • 1/2 cup of mini dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds 
  • 1/3 cup of coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup of flax seed

And then of course keep your favorite snacks around. Some of mine are dried mangos, dried pineapple, pistachios, almonds, trail mix, apples or celery with peanut butter, dark chocolate squares, hummus, and babybell cheese! 

Anchoring the Soul | OCMD 2017

Sometimes we just have to listen to our hearts and book a very impromptu few days away. Since this trip was so short and sweet, I found myself carrying my camera around more than usual so I thought I would share our trip with all of you. I needed these few days so badly. WE needed these days together so badly. Family time is hard to come by with the hustle of today's world.  We needed time to look into their little faces. To slow down. To regroup. To realign. To pray, and pray some more. I got all of those things. As well as a new personal aspiration: to reclaim a slower life and follow my heart. More on that later... for now on to my cuties....

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"Mightier than the waves of the sea, is his love for you" Psalm 93:4

6 Months Sober and What I Think You Should Know

It's Mother's day. May 14, 2017. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of the lovely ladies out there that have helped influence the life of a child. Biologically, or not, the role of a mother comes from the heart and doesn't look any certain way. 

Today is also the day that I celebrate 6 months of sobriety. Choosing to abstain from alcohol, to be a #teetotaler, has been the best choice I have made in my entire life. The term Teetotaler is a somewhat newish trend, for those choosing to take this approach at life. Holly Whitaker is helping brand it with a rather cute periodic chart inspired symbol, which I love, because I genuinely think it will help inspire todays youth to identify with a better choice, as a group of individuals who want to choose to say no. All of this, is why I want to share my story with you. 

On Mother's Day last year, my husband and daughter took me out to dinner. I had a few glasses of wine with dinner, shared lots of smiles, loved my meal and rode home feeling cozy, loved and relaxed. I told myself that I deserved this. I deserved to get a chance to "relax" with a few glasses of wine. I read Camilla a bedtime story and went to sleep. This was common. I considered myself "High Functioning". My behavior, demeanor, and voice wouldn't change, I would just be more relaxed. No big deal, right? The next morning I woke up and reflected on the previous day and realized what a shame it was that on this special day, intended to celebrate me,  I couldn't be fully present. I decided that day that I was going to not have a drink for 30 days. 

No big deal.... right?

Well.

June 28, 2016.... Negotiating

June 28, 2016.... Negotiating

Have you ever taken notice of how many things are associated with alcohol? I've had a bad day, let's have a drink. I've had a great day, let's celebrate with a drink. It's a nice warm day, let's go have a margarita. A friend is having people over, OH more drinks. It's dinner time, a drink? It's so NORMALIZED that it has actually become ABNORMAL to say, I don't drink. 

You don't drink? Why? What's wrong? Is there a problem? Are you okay? Are you pregnant? Oh common... just have one. You deserve it. 

Anyways, I made it to day 26 and then we went to a concert. I fell off the bandwagon and about 6 margaritas later, the idea was tossed. THEN came the negotiating. 

I knew, drinking alcohol wasn't serving me, but I felt like it's what people did to enjoy themselves and the company of others, so, I started compromising with it. That looked something like, "I'll only have a couple of drinks on Tuesday and Saturday". Or, "No more than 8 drinks per week so that I stay within what the CDC defines as manageable drinking. 

How could I live a lifestyle in which I vowed to treat my body like a temple and then counteract all of my efforts with wine. How could I run, exercise, eat clean and encourage others to do the same, and then top it off with a night cap. Makes no sense. And this slowly became more and more apparent. 

Then, on November 14, 2016, I woke up in the morning and decided that was it. I had 1 glass of wine the night before and I just felt like it seemed stupid. I can't say for sure from where or why the shift came on so strongly. But it did, and I am so thankful. At that moment I got on Pinterest and there was a pin for "10 Shocking Facts about Alcohol". I read it. My mind was blown. And it was from this moment that my world changed. And, from deep within my soul, I want to share with others what I've learned from that point. 

My everything, Kolby (14),  Krew (11) and Camilla (4) 

My everything, Kolby (14),  Krew (11) and Camilla (4) 

Reasons to be a Teetotaler

  • Health -If you really want to be the healthiest, happiest, most successful version of yourself. I knew I was never going to live out my full potential with alcohol constantly being thrown in my own way to set me back. 
  • Family- Our children see what we do. They are fully present all the time, learning from our actions and lifestyle choices. Knowing that 1 in 3 adults will have an abusive relationship with alcohol, tells me that if my child chooses to drink, there is a 1 in 3 chance he/she will have alcohol negatively affect their life. That's not a gamble I want to take. 
  • Finances - YOU WILL SAVE SO MUCH MONEY. Period. No, really, do the math.  
  • Alcoholism - If alcohol is negatively affecting your life, your relationships, or your health then you should strongly consider choosing to abstain. Completely. 
  • Wellbeing- Some of the most successful people in our culture are teetotalers. The list is shocking.

The Major Misconceptions

  • You don't have to hit rock bottom to decide to quit drinking
  • You don't have to be homeless, jobless, arrested, have a DUI, a failed marriage, immense debt, or liver cancer
  • You don't have to think your alcoholic
  • You don't have to be drinking "a lot" to decide that you want to be a healthier version of you
  • You can quit drinking

What it's done for me

Happy, healthy, and proud. 

Happy, healthy, and proud. 

  • I am more present with my family and friends than I have ever been
  • I have more energy than I have ever had which is a beautiful thing as a mother
  • I think so much more clearly and my emotions are more balanced
  • I go to bed earlier
  • I wake up at 5 am
  • I never feel dehydrated
  • I don't snack late at night
  • I've saved a ton of money
  • I actually have more fun than I did before as drinker
  • My skin looks healthier and my eyes are brighter
  • I feel proud. Always. Of who I am and the choices I am making. 

And, if you would like to educate yourself further, I strongly urge you to read that blog post that encouraged me to make this change, the "10 Shocking Facts About Alcohol." I could never thank Holly Whitaker, of Hip Sobriety enough for doing what she does, and sharing what she knows. She is changing the lives of women all over this country and it's really an incredible thing.  

As women, as mothers, we are the foundation of our families, the strength in every moment, and if there is anything in your life that is making you feel weak, all I can say is face is head on. Surprise yourself. On the other side of fear is love. Know that you are worthy, you matter, and most of all your children matter. I say this to open my self up to you, if ever you feel that you need someone someone to talk to. Cause mama bear, I believe in you!

Happy Mother's Day!

 

Is your kiddo ready to read?

If you are a Mom (or Dad) of a 3.5-6 year old, with 15 spare minutes in your day, then you are in the right place. I would like to share with you some techniques that I used with both Krew and Camilla to teach them out how to read at the age of 4. It was through the process of teaching Krew to read, and seeing the excitement and gratification that he encompassed during this process that led me to switch my Masters Degree from that of Behavioral Ecology to Early Childhood Education and Curriculum. And, although that did not turn out to be my path in the way that I had envisioned it, I did still learn quite a bit from the experience that I am now able to implement  with my youngest today. 

Before I share my go to book for teaching early reading, I want to emphasize how important it is to acknowledge that not all children are ready to begin reading at the same age. We all have very different learning styles, and we all develop at a different pace. A good way to know if you child is ready to begin reading, is by integrating early literacy into your daily activities. Things such as  "what rhymes with ball" or "what sound does the word dog start with", or pointing out letters that  you see on boxes, signs and magazines that are found in your childs name; "do you see the letter 'C' in the words on this magazine, Camilla." If your child is responding the these questions, rather than fighting to respond, then I would say that your child is ready to begin their path into early literacy.

So, what's the tid bit of useful information that I've got for you today?  It's a book called "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." It is my belief that the method taught in this book is especially effective because it does such a thorough job of teaching necessary pre-reading skills as well as implementing repetition. At first I didn't quite understand why some of the methods in the book existed as they do, such as 'saying the word slow' or 'rhyming a sound with a word'. However, these techniques later proved to be fundamental in the process of sounding out a word independently. 

To teach a lesson it typically takes approximately 10-15 minutes. Following the lesson I have always had the kids write a handful of the letters or words that we worked on in the lesson. Teaching the handwriting has always been the hardest part. So, on days when their attention span just doesn't extend into the handwriting portion,  I just save that for later. We will sometimes work on it during desert or before/after breakfast the following day while I'm cooking or cleaning up the kitchen. 

I also recommend repeating a lesson if your child struggles with it. There is no rushing this process, it's not a race. And we all have bad days, even our little ones. If you do this, I can nearly guarantee that by the 15th lesson you will see a drastic change in your child's ability to read. 

I recored a short video of Camilla completing a small portion her 15th lesson from this book.  I think it speaks volumes to how far she is come from being a non reader....  and, pay no mind to her self proclaimed intro, she's got a mind of her own. 

Because it is so important to offer multiple tools to compliment a child's specific learning style,  we also use standard flash cards to review letter sounds as well as THESE foam letters that are designed like puzzle. I like the foam letters because it's something your child can hold, touch, manipulate and work back into the puzzle space. It is also nice because once Camilla is able to identify that letter and it's sound, we take the letter out of the puzzle and it goes into a zip lock bag. This helps her see the letters she has learned. Right now her bag has 21 letters in it and of that she is very proud. Likewise, she sees that she only has 5 letters left on her foam puzzle board, which is also inspiring for her. 

What I love most about this system is that it doesn't require much. A book, paper, a pencil, possibly ABC flash cards, and a foam ABC puzzle board. Nothing extravagant or time consuming, and you don't have to be super crafty or organized. If you've made it this far, I hope that these tips prove helpful to you and I believe that you will have a very proud reader in no time at all! 

xoxo -Cait

How I kicked the cold & flu in 3 days!

After coming home from a 3 week stint out of town, I soon thereafter woke up feeling bad, like really bad. In hopes that maybe it would just go away, I simply opted to spend the day doing as little as I could to wear myself down. By the end of the day, my voice was nearly gone, I was terribly congested and my head was pounding. 

My mother-in-law calls. 

HALLELUJAH! After hearing the way that I sounded, she said she was headed right over to bring me the ingredients for  a "concoction that she recently came across to help kick cold and flu symptoms. She was sure it would work, as long as we were starting it at the first signs of sickness. I, of course, am open to try just about anything. So, I went with it.  And, as with all things that I come across and find fascinating or worthy of sharing, I would like to share this with all of you. 

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THE Antiviral & Antibacterial Superhero Tonic           

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of BRAGGS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey (preferably local to your area)
  • 4 cloves of garlic - sliced (mix them in sliced, not crushed, you want as much of the allicin to be retained as possible.)

Take 2 TBSP every 2 hours for 2 days. IF you are feeling better continue taking 1 TBSP every 2 hours until no longer needed. Guys.... it worked!

I'm so impressed by the outcome of drinking this mixture that I decided to dig a little deeper into why it worked so well. I knew the ingredients were all natural antibiotics, but I wanted to know more. And, I know you do to so...

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Garlic-  A natural anti-fungal, anti-viral, antibiotic. Garlic works inside the body by promoting the ability of white blood cells to fight infections. Once sliced or crush the two key compounds of garlic interact and create an enzyme called allicin. Allicin is a powerful natural antibiotic. Which, is why you slice the garlic cloves before placing them in the apple side vinegar.  Allicin works by stimulating other immune cells which fight viral and bacterial infections as well as cancer. Garlic was used in the 18th century as a preventative for the plauge and in both world wars to prevent gangrene.  And, I have to say the list goes on. This is an natural medicine. 

Briggs Apple Cider Vinegar- Braggs contains “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearence. These "mother" strands contain malic acid -- a substance known for having anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. 

Honey - The use of honey as a traditional remedy for microbial infections dates back to ancient times. Honey is proven to be particularly effective for wound care and as a cough suppressant. 

So there ya have it! Just 60 hours after taking my first two tables spoons and I am, dare I say 90% back to normal. There is something really quite riveting about knowing that with a little help from natures medicine cabinet, a little faith in our own immune system, and some patience, it's not always necessary to turn to synthetic antibiotics. GO NATURE! 

Forgiveness will set you free

We all want peace, right? That's a fair enough statement to make. But, we all don't always see what it really is that is keeping us from having peace in our lives. Most of the time, what’s keeping us from that peace is within our own selves. We are keeping ourselves, no one else, from experiencing peace and happiness. 

Forgiveness is a battle that is easily avoided. Sometimes we don't want to forgive or don't even consider forgiving, because it feels so powerful and invigorating to have this strong-willed feeling toward another person. When else do we feel such an immense emotive state? In a state of love, of course, but that in itself is a difficult feeling for much of the population to muster up, right?  I have been faced, as of lately, with the task of having to forgive someone for an action that is upsettingly difficult to forgive. It’s an action against a person that I love, that feels, well, unforgivable. And, having been forced to face this experience, I want to share with you a meditation, mantra, bible verse and prayer that have really helped me to work through this. 

First of all...

Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could be any different than it was. 

For me, that in and of itself is almost enough. It's almost enough to just tell yourself, “it is what it is and I can't change the past.” We have a difficult time forgiving others because of our subconscious desire to cling to our past experiences. We cling to the feeling of self-victimization. If you forgive, then you are no long the victim. That can be a nasty pill to swallow. 

Meditation: I forgive you. I know that you suffer too. 

This meditation comes from a much longer, very beautiful meditation from Heather Waxman. It resonated with me so profoundly. For any person to do any hurt to another person, they MUST be suffering. They must be aching deep within their soul, in ways that may be completely unrelated to the situation that you are faced with. I have been using this mediation for the tiny life hiccups I've encountered as well as the challenging, deep struggles, and as all things are relative, it is applicable regardless of the circumstance. 

"be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as god in christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

Fundamentally, we all want forgiveness and to be forgiven. Let's be honest with ourselves. We are not always the parent that we wish we were. Yet, our children always forgive us, almost instantly. Their hearts are pure and full of unconditional love. The same love that God offers us. We need to forgive one another with the mind of a child. Even when we do not understand, we have to be okay with that and forgive anyways, because to misunderstand is worse than to judge. 

Finally, for those of you who have read my previous posts, or who know me personally, you may know that I am a sucker for signs. I pay close attention to what the universe is telling me, and I see 333 and 11 ALOT. Any combination of ones and threes and multiples of threes tend to stand out to me.

Well, as I looked for a prayer for my struggle with forgiveness, I randomly opened my go-to prayer book, A Course in Miracles. The page that I opened to, by chance, was “Lesson 333.” A lesson regarding forgiveness. Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

And it reads:

"Father, forgiveness is the light You choose to shine away all conflict and all doubt and light the way for our return to You. No light but this can end our evil dreams. No light but this can save the world. For this alone will never fail in anything, being Your gift to Your beloved son." 

.........................Be the light

If you refuse to forgive, it is because you are holding onto something. You want something from someone, whether it is an apology, a confession, revenge, or restitution, and that person just might not be able to offer that to you. You then, are clinging, even suffering. As with all things in life, forgiveness is a choice. Choose not to suffer any longer. Let the hurt and hate melt away from you.  I promise you, forgiveness will set you free. 

Crockpot Recipes for the Busy Family

Answer each of the following questions; yes or no:

I have a crockpot
I understand what a crockpot's purpose is
I rarely use my crockpot
My evenings are busy
Dinner is hard to fit in
We eat out more than we should
I could use some help in this area

If you answered yes to most of those questions, then I am hopeful that I can help!

My husband and I would have answered yes to all of those questions 5 months ago. Fortunately, with a little dedication, I am happy to say we eat out only 1 time a week if that. And, we spend about 5-15 minutes early in the day preparing for dinner that night. Hallelujah! 

That said, I am going to go ahead and give you the 4 most successful and delicious crockpot recipes that we use for our family of 5, with 2 picky eaters. Bare in mind, 4 recipes, covers 5 days of meals, 1 day of "cook whatever" and a day for leftovers. Week done.  Here we go! 

Apple Cranberry Pork Chops

I've never been one for pork chops, but this recipe in combination with the quality meat that the Stone House Butcher and Provisions sells, makes for some really delicious pork chops. 

Ingredients:

4 Pork Chops
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 sliced and peeled apples
1 cup of cranberries (dried or fresh)

Direction:

  1. Add 1 cup of water to the crock pot
  2. Add in your pork chops
  3. Put 1/2 cup of brown sugar on the pork chops
  4. Cook on Low for 4-5 Hours or High for 2.5-3 Hours
  5. Add in apples and cranberries either in the beginning for softer fruit. OR, add it in half way through if you would like to have slightly firmer fruit .

Honey Pork Roast

This is a favorite of mine because it covers dinner for 2 days.  On the first night, we make it with a side of rice or potatoes and the sauce at this point is more of a glaze than it is a sauce. Then, after dinner we shred the meat that is left over and save it for the following day. The following day we add BBQ to it, and have Honey BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Easy peasy! My favorite sides for any sandwiches we have for dinner are either hand cut fries/yams. Or, store bought cole slaw or potato salad. 

Ingredients:

3-4 lb Pork Roast
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp basil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 Cup of soy sauce
2/3 cup of parmesean
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Put your Pork Loin in the slow cooker
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and pour onto pork loin
  3. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours
  4. OPTIONAL: remove meat from slow cooker. Pour the liquid from the saucepan into a pan and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until thickened. Pour over meat. 

General Tso Chicken

This is a favorite for the kiddos, and makes for such an easy dinner, accompanied with rice. The prep time on this one is closer to 20 minutes, but it's well worth it. You can always make enough for 2 days, or dinner and lunch the following day. Make it worth your time. 

Ingredients:

Chicken Breasts (4)
Hoisin Sauce  (1 jar/1 cup)
Light Brown Sugar (4Tbsp)
Cornstarch (or flour) about 1/4 cup usually does it
Rice Wine Vinegar (4 Tbsp)
Sesame Oil (2 Tbsp and 2 tsp)
 

Directions:

  1. Put 1-2 tablespoons of oil into a pan and turn on med-high. You want your oil hot. 
  2. Cut your chicken into small pieces. Put in a ziplock bag, with your cornstarch and shake. 
  3. Put the chicken into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. The idea here isn't to cook the chicken, it's just to brown the outside, this is why you want your oil to be hot. 
  4. Put the chicken in the slow cooker.
  5. Mix remaining ingredients (hoisin sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar and 2 tsp of sesame oil) in a bowl and then pour over chicken
  6. Cook on low 2-3 hours

Mustard Bacon chicken aka.... heaven

This recipe also takes about 20 minutes to prep, but it is so delicious and worth the time. 

Ingredients

Dijon Mustard (1/3 cup) 
1/4 tsp paprika
Bacon (just fill up your pan) 
Onion (we like about a half an onion)
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
S+P to taste
Chicken (4 breasts)
 

Directions

  1. Mix Mustard and Paprika to make a paste, then spread on your chicken breasts
  2. Cook your bacon in a pan. Remove bacon, set aside on a plate, and leave the fat in the pan. 
  3. Add chopped onion to the pan, cook the onion until soft. Remove onion, put on plate with the bacon. 
  4. Add 1 Tbsp of Olive oil to the bacon fat, then cook the chicken for 2 minutes on each side  in the oil/bacon fat.  Add S+P to taste. 
  5. Put the chicken in the crock pot. Add the bacon and onion and chicken broth. 
  6. Cook on low 2-3 hours. 

 

Grocery List for the week

Meat: 
8 Chicken Breast
3-4 Lb Pot Roast
4 Pork Chops
Bacon
Condiments:
Honey
Soy Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Rice Wine Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Olive Oil
Dijon Mustard

Other:
Light Brown Sugar
Apples
Cranberries
Parmesan Cheese
Cornstarch or Flour
Onion
Chicken Broth
Spices:
Oregano
Basil
Minced Garlic
Paprika

And please, remember guys, dinner doesn't have to be fancy. It's nourishment. Americans, I believe, are intimidated by the idea of cooking dinner at home because of the misconstrued perception of what that should look like. Multiple sides, garnishes, sauces- overcomplicated. It doesn't have to be that way. I hope you give it a go.

I think I can apply my mantra for 2017 to this very concept. 

Expect less, experience more. 

Whitespace: Reclaim your Life!

I was going to title this post "I Quit" and talk strictly about habits that you can quit to better your life. The idea popped into my head just as I was falling to sleep and so I sent myself a text message so that I wouldn't forget. As I fell asleep that night, I rolled the idea around in my mind, kind of outlining how I would present it. I decided at that moment that I would omit connecting it to anything spiritual, simply because I didn't want to deter any readers. The concept really needed to be something that anyone could appreciate it.  Then, the next morning I attended  the first of eight classes in a new women's group that recently enrolled in. I was handed our workbook for the session and in small italic print beneath the title were the words  "previously titled: I Quit." Coincidence?  A sign?  Interpret it how you like, but what I am sure of is that it helped bring  it all full circle, and now I am even more excited to share with you why quitting can be good for you.

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Society glorifies busy-ness. The more we do, the more we work, the harder we work, the more successful we are, the more value we have.

Subsequently, we have a tendency to fill our schedules as full as we can, without even thinking much of it. We say yes when we should really say no, we try to make each day equally productive so we aren't "failing ourselves," and we don't set boundaries for self-care, because we hardly know where to start. And, THAT is  just the truth. 

Can I get 1995 back, please? 

I truly believe, at the soul level, we are getting tired. And what happens when our souls wear down?  Our lives begin to become consumed by worry and fear. Your worry might be of what others think of you based on your response to the requests and demands of others. Whether it be emails, extracurricular obligations, requests from family, invitations from friends, or the needs of your children- Yes, them too, it all begins to take a toll. You can't pour from an empty cup.

Which brings me to this....

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" 

- MATTHEW 22:39

When most people read this, what they get out of it is - be kind to people. Is that what you receive from it? It's really interesting how the "as thyself" bit gets omitted subconsciously. But, this is really the root of it it all. You have to love yourself. You have to take care of you first in order to love others. 

 

 

"The decisions you make determine the SCHEDULE you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. and how you live determines how you spend your soul."  

                                                          - Lysa Terkeurst "The Best Yes"  

 

 

 

So, let's create some white space. How do we do that you ask? You QUIT! There is a guy named Bob Goff, and he has a really cool concept. He does something called "I quit Thursday." And every Thursday he quits something. The idea is that for every "thing"  you quit, you create more white space in your life, and from that newfound white space you will then generate more time for your soul. 

I went ahead and brainstormed a list of actions and emotional responses that we can quit to help you wrap your brain around this idea and how it can begin to impact your life. 

Actions we can Quit

Quit looking at your social media or emails first thing in the morning
Quit sleeping with electronics in the bedroom
Quit looking at your phone while driving- give it a designated space in the car
Quit staying up past 10 pm
Quit a bad habit, or a food/drink that isn'g good for you
Quit screen time 1 hour before bedtime - talk/read/craft/relax

Emotional Responses we can Quit
Quit saying yes when you really want to say no
Quit agreeing with people you don't agree with
Quit engaging in conversations that don't sit well with you
Quit putting others needs before your own
Quit making excuses for why you should do something you don't want to do
Quit hiding how you feel- say what you think!

These things sound hard, I know. You're probably thinking, "easier said than done."  But, I promise you, if you just give quitting  a tiny chance, you might find that with a little determination and discipline you can start changing your life one moment at a time. It may take 6 months for you to find your footing, but, mindfulness is the first step to achieving any goal or change in your life. Even that 10 minutes of white space, is 10 more minutes for you- to create space in your heart. And from there, you will begin to find joy in life AND your true authentic self. 
 

So you think you can't run...

"I'm not a runner."

"OH, I can't run."

"I've always wanted to run, but I can't." 

I used to say, "I was born with a cleft palate, and that makes it really hard for me to breathe through my nose, so I can't run. I wish I could though."

I wanted so badly to be a runner. I remember joining the cross country team in high school just to give up after the second week of training. I also started running on Mike’s treadmill when I was about 22 years old with the goal of running one mile every day. I also gave up on that.

Do you want to know why?

I was doing it all wrong. I had the wrong perception of what it meant to be a runner. How to properly train to run. Oh, yea, and how to run at all. It is really just like anything else. It’s difficult… until someone shows you how to do it right. It’s no different from having trouble solving a math problem… until someone shows you the right way to do it.

So, let’s talk for a minute about that. It was a beautiful spring day in 2014. I was at the soccer field and crossed paths with my now dear friend Shelly Piccolomini who had just ran to the field to watch her son play. I said, “Wow, I wish I could run like that,” to which she replied that I could and asked me to meet her at the park the following week to prove it to me. Wouldn’t you know, I met her at that park, followed her direction and subsequently ran three miles for my first time out running. Not even kidding.

So, you think you can’t run? Well, you can.

This blog post evolved in my mind as I went out for a run last week for the first time in two months and was reminded of what it feels like to be a new runner. How intimidating it can be. And, how, if I didn’t know what I know about the evolution of the running process, I would probably give up, yet again. Which leads me to sharing this with all of you just in case you feel like you’re in that boat. Hopefully I can help correct some misconceptions about the experiences you might have as you begin your journey into running.

1.  YOU CAN WALK!!! You don’t need to run the whole time. Walk/run/walk/run. When it feels like you need to walk, walk. When you are going up an incline that you’re not acclimated to run, walk it. If you wear a watch that tracks your heart rate, and it goes to about 175, slow down…. Or walk. There is this guy named Jeff Galloway whose entire training program is based on this run/walk combination, thus coining the term, Gallowalkers. So, throw out the misconception that runners run the whole time – lots of them don’t!

2. Stay in your box.  This tip came from Shelly on one of our first ever runs. She explained how when you run, you don’t really want your stride to be too long, or your arms flailing about. And to help with this, as you run, imagine yourself inside of a box. I’ll never forget her saying, “Stay in your box.” This has been critical to me. It helps me feel intentional and keep my body erect and form firm. When I feel myself getting sloppy, I imagine pulling myself back into this rectangular 2x2x6 foot box.

3. Breathe the way it feels best for you. Breathing is pretty much my worst enemy. Can I say that? I struggle with it in yoga, I struggle with it on runs, I struggle with it just carrying on a conversation. Sometimes, I completely forget to breathe. So, for me, it’s really difficult to follow the cues of someone else. That said, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to achieve one of the 15 different ways that the Internet tells you to breathe when running. I mean really, just Google it. Everyone has an opinion. Do what feels right.

4. Forget about your pace. If you have read this far, it’s probably because you genuinely want to learn a thing or two about starting to run. That said, you’re not someone who should be giving yourself a hard time about your speed. It’s not about how fast you run. What counts is that you’re doing it. Now if you’re a seasoned runner, or someone with a PR to beat, then this of course isn’t directed at you. But for anyone starting out, don’t be your own competition. Just love yourself, love your body, thank your body for every step and be proud.

5. Don’t increase your distance too quickly or too soon. Take it from me: my knees were a wreck when I first started. But, I believed that just because I could do it, that I should. WRONG! Don’t increase your distance more than 10 percent per week. Meaning if you’re running two miles per run during week one, then during week two run 2.2 miles per run. Take it easy. Life’s not a race ;-)

6. STRETCH!!!  I never placed much emphasis on stretching before or after a run until I took my friend Brynn Cunningham’s “Yoga for Runners” workshop. After attending her workshop I realized that the only way I was going to become a healthier runner was if I started caring for the very muscles, joints and connective tissues that were carrying me. I had never heard of foam rolling (get a foam roller!!!!) or understood how certain yoga poses were not just going to stretch my muscles but also STRENGTHEN them. Her workshop incited some real “A-ha” moments for me. I highly recommend it to anyone, but, if you can’t catch it, at the very least, stretch. Even more, try yoga!

7. ENJOY IT! Enjoy the sunshine. Enjoy the adrenaline. Enjoy the smells, the sounds, the peace, the quiet, the moments when you struggle, and the moments when it feels like you have wings and your feet are as light as feathers. Some of my absolute favorite moments are found in those early morning runs when no one else is awake, and in solitude, I watch the sun come up over the mountain. It’s a beautiful thing.

 I hope I have inspired at least someone out there to give running a shot or maybe a second, third, or even fourth chance.  It’s not easy, and it does require patience, but the payoff of feeling invigorated and powerful is so worth every step of the journey. And hey, if you would like more information about where to begin, I would recommend checking out Hal Higdon's 5k Training Program. He is kind of like a guru trainer in the running world and a 5k is a great place to start! So, grab a friend, screenshot his training program, and give it a go. Shoot me an email if you have any other questions, I'd love to chat!