Meditation for Beginners – 3 Ways to Start

meditation for beginners - 3 ways

Beginning to meditate can be daunting to some people. It sounds all so easy – just sit and quiet your mind. But if you are anything like me, learning to calm that crazy monkey mind is tougher than it sounds. It’s why so many quit trying to meditate so quickly. Their practice ends before it begins. Which almost happened to me too. So if you need a little extra help meditating, why not try a different method? Here are 3 ways to meditate that I’ve seen or experienced working for beginners or just people who have a lot on their minds.

Guided Meditation

meditation for beginners - guidedA guided meditation, uses visual mental imagery. By focusing on a relaxing scene, you give your brain something to keep it from wandering while also calming your thoughts.

To do a guided meditation, we actually like to use youTube. There are some great resources on there. One we particularly like is The Honest Guys. My daughter listens to a guided meditation by them to help her fall asleep at night. Boho Beautiful also has some great meditations I like to listen to.

If you have listened to a few guided meditations you may have figured out what works for you. In that case, you can always guide your own meditation.

Even if you haven’t, you can picture a scene that relaxes you. Perhaps you are on the beach at twilight, hanging on a hammock between two palm trees. You can close your eyes and listen to the waves peacefully crashing into shore. Or maybe you are camping in your favorite campground. Your sleeping bag is warm and cuddly around you. Close your eyes and listen to the crickets chirping. Think of whatever scene most relaxes you. I try to choose nature scenery. And then experience all of your senses using your mind’s eye. See it. What does it sounds like? Smell like? How does the  breeze feel? Can you almost taste the sea air on your tongue?

Walking Meditation

Ymeditation for beginners - walkinges, you can actually meditate while you walk. If you are new to meditation, this can be a good method because walking can be so peaceful and relaxing.

Find a quiet, calming location. Or somewhere you feel comfortable.

You can experiment with your focus.

Ffocus on the natural rhythms your body creates when walking – your breath or your footfall.

Or  use a focus word, such as “courage,” “dream,” or “create.” Say the word, out loud or in your head, with the rhythm of your feet.

Meditative Coloring

meditation for beginners - coloringColoring books are all the rage right now.

When you are coloring, your are completely focused on the task at hand. It helps keep you in the present moments and  let go of the other distractions.

It’s a great way to practice focus and mindfulness, if you have a hard time reeling it in.

 

Do you meditate? What method do you use?

 

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January 2017 Lifestyle Favorites

Lifestyle Favorites - January

2017 is already shaping up to be better than 2016. I’m already excited about what it has to hold. I know great things are in store for us. I have high hopes!

It’s so exciting when I find something or someway that makes my/our life a little easier, better, or more fun. I just thought I would share a few of my recent findings. So here are some awesome products/recipes/apps that I love.

        1. S’well Bottle
          My brother and sister-in-law got me this new water bottle for Christmas. I truly love it. I know S’well bottles are expensive but now that I have one, I totally understand why. I fill this puppy up every night (as well as multiple times during the day), put it on my bedside table, and when I wake up in the morning my water is still cold. It’s amazing and I love the color. It’s so fun and so pink which is amazing. But you can get almost any color or design if you prefer.
        2. Cuppow
          Another gift from my brother and sister-in-law. She gets me. 🙂 These are coffee style lids that go on top of mason jars and are then secured by the metal ring. They allow us to take drinks in the car or during family game night. (For some reason, cups and mugs seem to be ever more precarious during board games.)
        3. Minimalist Baker’s Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
          I am always looking for ways to streamline our routine. I love cooking, but I love even more when I find a way to make meals that are quick, easy, and kid-friendly. I love overnight oats because being able to toss a mason jar and spoon to my kids (and myself) makes mornings so much simpler. So when I found this recipe for overnight oats, I had to give it a try. We ALL loved it. My kids even said it tastes like peanut butter ice cream. I made it by the recipe (almost never do that!) and added bananas on top in the morning. It is absolutely superb!January Favorites - Overnight Oats
        4. Laser Tag
          I am always looking for ways to play together as a family – inexpensive and active ways especially. These galaxy blasters are especially great for that. My kids will happily grab one, toss one to someone else, and start firing without a thought for the TV at all. Of course, I enjoy being ridiculous because it makes it more fun for all of us. So run, hide, and roll around. They crack up and do it too. It makes us all laugh and hopefully creates some positive memories for them.
        5. App: Plant Nanny
          Plant Nanny is an app that my daughter found out about from one of her friends. Both of my kids have it downloaded on one of their devices. It’s an app that helps you to track your water consumption. When you drink water you record it on the app and the cute little plant grows. So they keep drinking water because they want to see their plant grow. After a while they will get sick of it, as they always do, but it’s nice that they become more conscious of their water consumption.

 

Have you found any new passions, strategies, or discoveries so far this year? How has January been for you?

* Mom is Such a Nerd is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no extra cost to you and I truly appreciate it!*

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The 90/10 Rule of Health – Give yourself grace

The 90/10 Rule of Health

I originally had a separate blog for my wellness coaching business. In an effort to keep things simple in 2017, I decided to merge the two blogs – to this one as it is older. In the process, this post somehow never imported. While I wrote it about Halloween, it is relevant all year round. I wanted to share it now.
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Did you raid your kids’ Halloween stash?

Feelin’ guilty about it?

Don’t!

For one, you know they aren’t going to eat all that anyway. (Or at least they sure don’t need to!)  It’s okay to splurge a little every once in awhile – both for the kids and for you too.  A few Reese’s sticks or Kit Kat bars isn’t going to derail all of your hard work.  In fact, quite the opposite.

The 90/10 Rule of Health is all about balance and compromise.

If you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle 90% of the time, your body will be strong enough and resilient enough to bounce back from a little indulgence. Afford yourself some leniency 10% of the time. Not only will it not hurt you, but it could be quite helpful to the long term maintenance of your healthy lifestyle.

It happens too often that people follow a diet or nutrition plan to a “T,” only to end up going on a binge and beating themselves up about it or just giving up entirely. Being strict with yourself and expecting never ending willpower is basically a recipe for disaster.  I had a good friend who was my accountability partner when I was trying to lose the baby weight after having my son. She was trying to lose weight too. One night, when we were checking in with each other, she announced “I don’t know about you but once I hit my goal weight, I’m going to just eat a whole pizza…or maybe two!!”  One insane meal might not derail your health or body forever. But really? Are you going to be able to hold out that long if you’re already dreaming about devouring two whole pizzas? Plus, I know if I ate all of that, I would not only feel terrible physically, but the guilt and self-hatred following eating two pizzas would eat me up inside.

Instead of losing self control and pigging out, instead of beating yourself up, build “cheats” into your lifestyle. Feeling guilt about what you ate can cause stress. Stress can have  a number of physical and psychological effects on you and your body which, in turn, can lead to other unhealthy habits or issues and create a vicious cycle.

10% of your diet can be 200 calories a day (given a 2,000 calorie diet) or it can be 2 meals a week (given you eat 3 meals a day). So if you are craving a pizza and know that if you try to hold out you will end up eating two entire pies, build a slice or two into your diet. Plan a pizza night this week. Or if you are a sweet treat in the evening kind of person, plan for that. Decide how you are going to use your 10% at the beginning of the week. That way you can keep track of it without obsessing and be sure not to go overboard.

And then, when it’s “cheat” meal time, know that it is a part of your health plan. Savor it. Enjoy it. And pat yourself on the back for contributing to your own long term health and success.

And next Halloween, plan your stash raid as one of your cheat meals ahead of time!90/10 Rule of Health on Link Party

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3 Types of Journaling that have Changed my Life

Journaling life changing ways

As a writer (and long time aspiring writer), journaling is something I’ve always done. Even as a young child, I had journals to use as diaries, some to use just to make lists, some to write short stories in, and some to come up with ideas for exercises and choreography for dances, just to name a few. It was rare to find me walking around the house without a journal tucked under my arm. And my mom could never take me to the store without my begging for a pretty new journal I happened across. 

I stopped journaling sometime in college (because it wasn’t cool enough), but began again a year or two ago. Since then, I’ve changed my thinking and worked through different situations in my life. It helped me to tap into my creativity, find clarity, and sometimes just practice writing. There are many different ways to journal. I’ve tried, and still use, many versions of journaling. They all serve a purpose at different points in time. Three types of journaling that have really had an impact on my life include:

Stream of Consciousness

I began regular journaling again as an adult one summer on a family vacation. I still had the horrible habit of going to bed with a television. But the house we were staying in had only one television and it was in a communal seating area – not really conducive to sleep. So I pulled out my big journal I was using to just take notes, make lists, pull out paper, whatever. I put the date at the top of the page and began to write. That first day, I figured out where the problem in my budget was and ended up laying out a whole new one. The second day, I started to understand my relationship with certain people in my family and came up with ideas to try to begin to mend them. And on and on. (I now journal on a regular basis.)

Stream of consciousness writing simply means just that. Just pull out paper and start writing. Whatever comes to mind, put it on paper. Sometimes, you will find yourself writing gibberish and sometimes you will find yourself addressing major stressors in your life. Just the other day as I was journaling, I found myself doing just that. Venting, rephrasing the question, and brainstorming solutions.

The entry went something like:
“I love my kids so much. Why am I getting so frustrated and stressed out around the same time as when they get home from school? I don’t want to yell at them. I hate when I do that. What is wrong with me??? Wait no bad questions get bad answers, let me try again. What can I do to alleviate the stressful feelings I experience in the evenings?”
Then I started brainstorming solutions. The next day, I worked on implementing many of the ideas I came up with and now, I’m still not perfect, but I am much calmer.

Stream of consciousness journaling has allowed me to work through many issues in my life. It has given me so much clarity and allowed me to sleep so much better. I’m able to clear my thoughts and get everything out of my mind and onto paper. This is my #1 type of journaling that has had the most impact on me and my life.

Visualization

Visualization journaling involves picturing a future event or a future you and writing about it. You can write in any fashion or as broadly or as specifically as you would like. Picture your future – where you will be when you accomplish your life goals or doing the tasks that you need to do tomorrow (or today depending on the time of day you journal). You can write about how great you feel accomplishing your biggest dream (even if you haven’t yet). Or you can write about how good your morning routine will feel.

For example:
“The buzzing sound penetrated Valerie’s ear drum. She sat up and smiled knowing that today she would get one day closer to her goals. It was one more day to experience life. It was one more day to hug her kids and fill their hearts and her own with love. She plodded to the bathroom, put her hair up, and washed her face before beginning her morning workout…”

Visualization journaling helps to keep me on track and keep me motivated. It makes me excited for the future and for accomplishing my goals and dreams.

Gratitude

Gratitude journaling is simply writing down things you are grateful for. I did a post on it last year.  Simply get out a journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for. The first few days are easy. I was able to rattle off things like “my kids, my health, my kids’ health, etc” no problem. But I challenged myself to name 3 different things every time.

Gratitude journaling can easily be done at night or in the morning. I like to journal at night before bed. It calms me and puts me in a good mindset for calming sleep. Doing my gratitude journaling at night, slows me down, and gives me a chance to really think through my day, and all the beauty and happiness it has brought me. Some people (including Tony Robbins) advocate for gratitude in the morning because it is a good way to start the day off on the right foot. My opinion is that the best option is whatever works best for you. Either way, feeling grateful and feeling miserable cannot happen at the same time.

No matter what time of day it is, thinking about things you are grateful for will retrain your brain to search for the positive in any situation. I often find myself searching for the good in any given situation, not only because I’ll need something to write in my journal that night, but because my brain is now trained to find the good now.

Do You Journal?

Journaling Types Pin
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Resolutions that Stick – Part 3: Goal Setting

Resolutions Part 3

We’re back to the third, and final, part of Resolutions that Stick!

So you figured out your priorities in Part 1 and then figured out where you want to be with them in Part 2. If this is enough for you, then by all means stop there. Just doing those two steps changes how I approach days and situations. I remind myself of my priorities when I get sidetracked or am having trouble figuring out just what to do.

But to make real progress, weekly goals are where it’s at!

It’s also the fun part if you ask me!

Let’s start with a brainstorm, or brain dump if you will.

Get out the list you created in Part 2 and start breaking them down into weekly goals. Write down any and every task/tactic that can be done in a week to get you closer to where you want to you want to be in the next month/quarter.

The reason we do this is because it is too easy to start writing your goals for the week and suddenly realize you have now have 567 goals to accomplish in 5-7 days. I fell into that trap time and time again.

So to avoid overloading yourself immediately, just write down everything. Take a piece of paper and write down ALL the goals you can possibly come up with. Once you have them all out and on paper, it is easier to look at them and choose the ones you can focus on this week. Try to keep it to 10 or under if possible.

Your goals should be action oriented (use a verb!) and measurable.

(Example: Exercise 3 times this week. At the end of the week, you can definitively check off whether or not you accomplished this goal.)

When writing your to-do lists, consult your weekly goals. Make sure that you include activities that will help you achieve your goals. And then at the end of every week, review your goals. Did you accomplish them? Are they getting you closer to where you want to be? Then decide on the goals for the upcoming week using your brainstorm, making changes, or adding tasks/tactics you hadn’t thought about before.

If you continue to set quarterly (or monthly) and weekly goals, you will not only keep your resolutions but you will SMASH them!

Don’t forget to check out Parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t already!
Resolutions that Stick Part 1
Resolutions that Stick Part 2

Resolutions that Stick Part 3

For more information and inspiration on making goals check out:
The 12 Week Year – a great book and guide on breaking your year into 12 week “quarters” and setting weekly goals, it’s more from a business standpoint, but also includes examples with personal and familial goals
Money Saving Mom – weekly goal examples from Crystal Paine here
Making Sense of Sense – Michelle gives us all a monthly income report, looking back on her past month, and sets her plans (where she wants to be) for the upcoming month
I plan to share my goals in 2017 as well.

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Breakfast Quinoa – Easy Breakfast Ideas

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

Easy breakfasts that are also healthy, filling, and delicious are like gold in our house. They are what make our morning routines run smoothly.

This recipe for breakfast quinoa is not only all of those, but it is nice and warm for these colder mornings. It can also be a make ahead meal or as a bulk meal – you can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge and warm it up with some more milk (or make the quinoa and add the ingredients in the morning. And it’s good for a backup plan meal because it uses ingredients I generally have stocked while still being plant based – not processed! After a nice big bowl of this, I feel like I’ve given myself and the kids a good start to the day!

This can be made the night before or made in the morning with fairly little fuss. It does take about 15 minutes to cook quinoa but it’s fairly low maintenance. So I can start waking the kids up once I’ve turned the heat down. Just make sure to set a timer and don’t forget it’s on the stove!

Breakfast Quinoa with BerriesEasy Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients
1 cup water the
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup-1 cup frozen berrie
maple syrup (approx 1-2 Tbsp)
almond milk (about 1/2 cup)
cinnamon (approx 2 tsp)

*Easy Breakfast Quinoa Recipe*This is generally enough for my kids and myself. I’ll often double it and then keep whatever’s left for the next day. It will be super pink from absorbing the liquid and might need an extra dash of milk if you like it a creamier consistency the next day.

Make it:
Boil 1 cup water.
Rinse off the quinoa and add it to the boiling water.
Turn the temperature down, cover your pot, and let the quinoa sit for about 15 minutes or when the water has been absorbed and you can see the “tail” separating.
Add the frozen berries when the quinoa is still warm, mixing them in to melt them.
Stir in the maple syrup (to desired sweetness), almond milk (to desired consistency), and cinnamon or other spices (to desired flavor).

 

Let me know what you are loving for breakfast these days!

Easy Breakfast Quinoa

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Resolutions That Stick – Part 2

Ah, back to setting our 2017 resolutions! Now that we’ve set our priorities in Part 1, we need to break down our year.

I think that part of the reason New Year’s Resolutions are so easy to break is because we have a whole year to do them! If you wanted to get in shape, but you don’t today. That’s okay! Because you have a whole year to get in shape. But tomorrow, we can just say the same thing. And the day after too. And the day after until we realize the year is almost over.

So we break the year into smaller chunks before beginning to work on our resolutions. You can decide how you want to break down your year. It can be into quarters – or 12 weeks with 4 buffer weeks (as in Brian Moran’s 12 Week Year) or into months as I used to do. I find that the “12 week year,” gives me enough time to plan long term and short term, but at one point I needed to stay focused on the short term.

So maybe you want to experiment with this a little or maybe you already know which works better for you. This week we are going to break down our year and write our goals.

You are going to want to grab your list of priorities from last week, and then decide where you want to be after the first quarter, or month, of the year. These don’t necessarily have to be quantifiable goals yet. They can be. If you know you want to be making $xx, then by all means, write it now. But maybe you just know you want to be more patient with your children. And you’re not sure how to quantify that right now, it’s okay. That will fall into place next week.

So your challenge for this week is to:
– decide if you want to do quarterly or monthly goals
– using your priorities list, write out your goals for your time frame

Try not to make too many. 1 or 2 for each priority is probably plenty. Have fun!

Resolutions Pt 2
Pin Me!

Click here to read:
Resolutions that Stick Part 1
Resolutions that Stick Part 3

Example

Priority 1: My Children
1. Show more patience.
2. Maintain our new after-school routine.

Priority 2: My finances
3. $XX – Yup that was me in the example. 

Priority 3: My health and wellness
4. Maintain my morning and night routines.
5. Improve my meal planning system.

Priority 4: My Blog
6. Increase my reach.
7. Create a course and 2 pdf booklets.
8. I want to continue to grow my knowledge in my field and in the business field. Continue to update and get better.

 

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Purple Carrot Meal Delivery Review with Pictures

Operating in what I call crisis mode for so long, we were relying on quick food from pseudo-fast food places for way too long.

Crisis mode is when your life gets so busy that you are barely able to check your e-mail or planner an hour before you think you have to be there. It’s when life feels like it’s moving at breakneck speed (while at the same time moving not at all) and it’s all you can do to keep up. I was remembering four hour play rehearsals half an hour before we had to be there. With no time to prepare snacks, we’d run out of the house hoping to pick something up on the way. In the mad rush, we’d realize that we also forgot water bottles and have to pick water up too.

Every single event in our lives was like that. I wouldn’t have time to plan, time to shop, time to prepare eveything. Food was always a last minute thought.

Finally I found Purple Carrot online. They send a box of food in perfect proportions for the recipes they include. It will come each week and you can check the upcoming recipes online. If you don’t like what’s on the menu you can skip the week. It is saving our meals and, surely, our health.

If you are grasping at straws to keep dinner time healthy, affordable, and timely, I would highly suggest trying a meal delivery service like Purple Carrot. There, of course, are pros and cons to everything. Check out the pros and cons below.

This is my referral link. Click here to try it for $25 off of your first order!

proscons-pros

  • It makes eating healthy so easy and relatively inexpensive. Everything arrives at your door in the right proportions and is ready to go. I easily pay the same amount for a meal or two out.
  • Time. The meals so far have taken about half an hour or so. In all honestly, running out and grabbing something “because it’s quick” takes just as much time as it does to make one of these meals. Plus this way the kids are home doing their homework, getting ready for the next event, or spending time in the kitchen helping you. It is pretty exciting for them to get to bring a package in and examine the contents.
  • Introduction to new foods and flavors. I had honestly never cooked fennel before. Not for any specific reason. It has just never happened. I don’t know why. But now I’ve used it in not one but two recipes! The second time I was cutting it and my daughter walked into the kitchen. She suddenly stopped, sniffed, and said “don’t tell me…fennel!?” Then she told me she knew that’s what it was because it smells like licorice. I sniffed it and thought for a second. “Huh you’re right! It sure does,” I agreed. It’s cool that we both have had new experiences with a vegetable that we hadn’t previously had. And by the way – fennel is delicious!
  • Convenience. Not having to plan three of our meals is amazing! It leaves shopping so much easier. I just have to make sure we get breakfast and lunch foods. I try to plan something new from a cookbook or that I saw online for one of the meals. I plan one of our staple family favorites – which is great because at this rate we don’t get tired of them too quickly. For the other two meals, we might order in or throw on some veggie burgers to eat during Family Fun Night and the other I figure out from what I have in my pantry and freezer. It suddenly feels so much easier.
  • These awesome recipe cards and the fail proof recipes on them. These recipes seem so fancy and intricate, but they seem almost impossible to ruin. Because, trust me, if there was a way to mess them up I probably would’ve found it by now.
  • Easy to check the next week’s menu and skip it if you don’t want what’s being served. I love that you can login and check out what’s being served. The pictures are so pretty and the meals, thus far, have been really exciting. I can’t wait for next week’s order!
  • Guaranteed fresh plants in your diet weekly. Including more fresh vegetables in your diet has all sorts of benefits to your health, to the environment, and to the animals. Just something to think about.
  • Deliciousness!!! These meals are so good. They taste professionally made and are so well thought out. I have loved every meal so far. It is so delicious and I still feel good when I’m finished eating it – not all sluggish and gross like when we grab food on the go.

proscons-cons

  • There are only two plan options: 2 servings of 3 meals a week or 4 servings of 2 meals a week. I was slightly frustrated at first because the meal I really wanted was only offered on the 3 meal a week plan – so I went ahead and signed up for the 2 serving plan, but it worked out in my favor anyways because 2 servings works out perfectly for me and my 2 kids. It would be great if you could pick which two of the three you get.
  • Some of the meals we have had in our first two weeks have been pretty spicy, which may or may not be a con to you. My kids are not fond of spicy foods so I just learned to taste the sauces I make if there is an ingredient I am not familiar with.
  • Plastic. And lots of it.

Here are the meals we have had in the first two weeks of our subscription:

Week 1

purple-carrot-wk-1-3
“Chicken” salad wraps.                                                                              This was such a big hit with the kids. It was so good. If I was going to buy fake meat again, I would definitely look for this type. This was also our first fennel experience!

purple-carrot-wk-1-2
Mushroom Miso Hot Pot.                                                                                                                                      This was so good. I was surprised at how professional it tasted. It came out exactly like                                                      something I would order at an Asian restaurant.

purple-carrot-wk1-1
Corn Chowder!                                                                                                                                                This was really good. I was a little apprehensive because I’ve had a corn based soup before – not my favorite. But this was so so good! The texture was perfect and the taste was amazing. I added the chips and hummus myself. Just to give the kids something a little more.
Week 2

purple-carrot-2-1
Cauliflower Steak with Pumpkin Pasta                                                         I was so excited for this meal! And it definitely lived up to expectations. I added the salad on the side to round it out and kind of stretch it because I knew the kids would gobble it up too!

purple-carrot-2-2
Sweet and Sour Noodles                                                                                                                               This was my second experience with fennel! I loved this meal with the fennel, edamame, and pineapple. It was amazing and the kids were excited. It was a good thing I tried the sauce before adding it though. There was an ingredient in the sauce that I wasn’t familiar with fun…but tres spicy! If I had put it on the pasta, the kids would never have eaten it. I made my own sauce for it. Regardless, loved it.

purple-carrot-wk-2-3b
Trick-or-Treat Tacos                                                                                                                                            I think that^^ was the first dish name I actually got right. Anyways, I saw the word tacos and saw red lentils. I thought oh okay, I make red lentil tacos all the time. But these were not your run of the mill lentil taco. The lentil were mixed with tomato paste and smashed, the tacos were filled with brussel sprouts, pickled red onions, and vegan sour cream. They were so good! And this was my first time pickling onions. I have to say, they turned out well and I can see myself doing this for a number of other recipes when I get back to experimenting and playing in the kitchen.
If you would are having trouble finding time to plan, to cook, or to enjoy healthy meals with your family, I would recommend giving a service like Purple Carrot a try. Here is my referral link so you can get $25 off your first order!

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