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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Break the Pattern! | Stress Management

break the pattern | stress management

“I dropped my cereal. I stepped in a puddle. My socks are wet. I don’t like these I didn’t have time to do my hair properly. And I can’t find a headband!” My daughter began to sob in my car as she began her Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day type of tirade. I felt like I was looking at the me from certain parts of my life in the past. I knew where this could be headed. So I had to do something about it.

Not many people know this but I’m a pretty big Tony Robbins fan. And in the recent documentary I Am Not Your Guru, he reiterates one of his techniques which is to “break the pattern.”

My daughter was creating a pattern in her head. She was looking for all of the bad things that happened to her that morning. And I was afraid that she would continue to look for the bad things that happened to her during the day and just be miserable.

So I thought I have to break the pattern but how?

Tony Robbins uses humor a lot and sometimes adult language among other methods (but for some reason that’s what popped into my head in the moment) neither of which would work in this situation. Mostly because, while I think I’m hilarious, my kids don’t always feel the same way.

So I said “Man that seems like a lot of bad stuff that happened already this morning. Now tell me something that happened good this morning.”

She got quiet. She had to change her thinking. I did it. I broke her pattern.

“Anything, even the littlest thing. The weather. Do you like the change in weather?”

“Meh.”

“Okay tell me something else then.”

“Well I wasn’t mad when I woke up.”

“You woke up on the right side of the bed. I’m happy for that!”

“No I didn’t. . . I woke up on the left side.” Humor! She had now broken her own pattern and was creating a new one. “I have three tests today.” I asked her if she knew what was going to be on the test and she said yes. “So you’re prepared!” I exclaimed. She agreed and continued to tell me about the tests and the classes. By the time we got to school, she hopped out of the car with a smile on her face and walked into school standing pretty darn tall.

Have you ever seen yourself or someone you love start that negativity spiral? Break it! Try to pull them out of that funk before it becomes a pattern that hangs over them like a dark cloud.

  • Use humor.

    Making someone laugh can begin to break through that negativity and open a door for further conversation.

  • Surprise!

    The element of surprise can change a person’s thinking by figuratively knocking them off balance. It has the power to stop people in their tracks. Then there’s the opportunity to change their focus.

  • Physical Activity.

    Movement, changing your body’s position in space can change your perspective both literally and figuratively. Go for a run. Do mountain climbers. Drop and give me 50. Or whatever. Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine – feel good chemicals. Plus when I finish exercising, I always feel slightly more accomplished. Like I can check something off of my to-do list or like I’m worth taking some time to take care of myself. This is also a great long term strategy. (See more below.)

There are also long term strategies to help you naturally improve your abilities to deal with stress.

  • Physical Activity.

    Regular physical activity can improve sleep, mood, concentration, and memory. It can help to handle stress and increase daytime energy. Over time, some studies even show that regular exercise could help symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Just make sure to check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

  • Practice Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness involves staying in the present, allowing things to happen without judgment. There is mindfulness meditation (see below), but you can also use mindfulness in your everyday tasks. Stay in the moment. If something bad happens. It’s okay to experience, to feel upset, but then let it go. Because right now is the only time you can experience right now. So why waste it worrying about the past or the future. (Of course that’s not to say you can’t mourn or grieve, that is important. Or do tasks that will improve your future – everything you do right now should be for a better future, but enjoy doing it, not fretting about it.)

  • Meditation.

    You can meditate. Trust me you can. So many people say that they can’t, but I don’t know anybody whose mind can be in so many different places at once as me. Seriously for months, I would sit down to meditate and write stories in my brain, my head would go as far as to make up my own songs or greeting cards. I would think about work, school, the kids, something funny. And of course the never ending to-do list was running like a loop in the background the whole time. It’s okay if it feels like you are just always thinking. (Kind of how I’ve always said I do my best writing in the shower. It’s a time when things slow down and my mind just feels free to roam.)When your mind has a mind of it’s own, it’s okay to observe that thought. But then let it go. Don’t judge it. Just release it. Bring your focus back to your breath or intention. It takes time. Start with something small like 5 or 10 minutes a day. It didn’t take long before I began to see a change in my ability to handle stress and to have internal happiness, not dependent on external forces. I learned to slow down and process where I was in the moment. I’m not perfect, but progress is progress.

  • Practice Self Care.

    It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact it’s just the opposite. If you don’t take care of yourself and are already hanging on by a thread, one more stressor could make it snap. Take care of yourself. Build yourself up so no single event can knock you all the way down.

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“What’s on your Shelf?” Reading Challenge – Books I Need to Read in 2017

Reading Challenge - What's on your Shelf

My shelves are beginning to suffocate me! They are teeming with books that I simply couldn’t resist! Those straight spines, those cover images, those intriguing titles, and most of all the calling of the potential information contained within.  I have always had trouble controlling myself when it comes to buying books.

Pair that with the overwhelming obligations of being in the sandwich generation, the emotional stressors of dealing with the death of a loved one, being a single mother, and you know…life, you can imagine just how many of those books have actually gotten read.

As mothers and caregivers, it is so easy to let parts of our own well-being slide. Mommy brain anyone? So as part of trying to keep my brain from turning to mush, I am desperately trying to rekindle one of my old hobbies. Reading! It feeds my mind and my soul.

I remember one time hearing about a “What’s on your Shelf?” Challenge. I feel like that is so fitting for me right now. I’m all about living intentionally and using what you already have. It’s time to apply that to my books. I’ve decided for this challenge I am going to read 12 books from my bookshelf, that’s one for each month. (Just for the record, I also read kindle books while putting the kids to bed because I can turn the light all the way down but still see it and I listen to audiobooks in the car.) These 12 books are books I’ve purely picked from the physical books on my bookshelf that have been sitting there, on the shelf, watching me sleep for over a year now.

These are the 12 books I’ve picked from the myriad of unread books. They are going to be read and/or donated THIS year!
(Please note that while these are affiliate links, I have not actually read them and cannot personally recommend them. Although, I am super excited to 

1. Awaken the Giant Within

This book was gifted to me by a sweet soul who knows about my secret love for all things Tony Robbins. It was only recently that I discovered him. I read a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. In it, he mentions Tony Robbins a few times. I figured this guy was worth checking out. And I fell in love with his words. For a long time, I started everyday listening to a Tony Robbins talk. It gave me motivation to give it my all once more.
Awaken the Giant Within is his classic tome. I cannot WAIT to read it!

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

So this book actually isn’t mine. It’s been on my parents bookshelf for…ever? And I’ve been gazing longing at it for the longest time, but never dared pick it up because I knew it would just end up sitting on another bookcase. After cleaning my parents’ house, anything that my brother didn’t want either got donated or is now mine – including this book.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is such a classic for those interested in self help (which, for some reason, I’ve only recently admitted). Even those who are not interested, reference this book. It was even cited in motivational talks at my last job. It’s just time for me to read this.

3. 1984

Talk about classics, right? In highschool, I was so into this sort of genre of book – future dystopias, etc. Loved Orwell, Vonnegut,Gibran, Huxley, and so on. A lot of those books are still on my shelf because I still love them but read them all entirely. I think I started 1984 on a plane ride one time and when the plane landed it got stuffed into the bottom of my carry-on where it remained (thought lost) until I was deep into another book. So somehow it never got finished. We’re talking like 15/20 years ago here! But it has managed not to get lost on all of my moves and is still on my shelf to this day. So it will finally get finished THIS YEAR.

4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Not entirely sure what happened here. I’m assuming it’s pretty much the same story as above. I was just SUCH a voracious reader back in school. So I had way more books than I could read. But my favorites and my unread still come with me everywhere I go. But this year, if it wants to remain on my shelf, it has to prove itself to be a favorite. Meaning, I actually have to read it.

5. Jane Eyre

For some reason I keep saying I want to read this and never do. My Bronte days were even before my Vonnegut days. So I found this shoved in a corner in my old room at my parents house. I can’t even imagine how long it’s been there. No more wanting to read. I will read it!

6. 30 Lessons for Loving

This book hasn’t been on my shelf for years – more like months. My mom gave this to me last spring. She also bought one for herself. We were going to read it and talk about it, but she got sick and passed away. I’m still going to read it because I know she wanted me to get something out of it. She wanted to make sure I don’t make the mistakes I made with my last relationship – or that she made with hers.

7. The True Memoirs of Little K

Another book bought for me by my mother. I began reading it at a time in my life when paper books were just not working for me. I was using the Kindle app on my phone then. So it didn’t get finished. There are so many benefits to reading fiction and I need to do more of it. So this book made the list. My sister-in-law is also supposed to be coming up with a list of her favorite fiction books for me so we’ll see what made the cut!

8. A Year of No Sugar

Again, I have not had this book for years. Actually, it was fairly recently. And I really want to read it. I love food/exercise/wellness/anything books. And sugar is one of my many foes. Also I love books by bloggers as I hope to soon write one myself. I’m afraid this will get buried in piles of unread books. So on this list it goes!

9. Le Petit Prince

An easy read. Except my copy’s in French. I need to brush up on my French and I know this is a great book, recommended for kids, adults, those learning French, and those fluent. There are really no people who speak French where we live right now and it’s a shame just how much I’ve lost. (I’m from Montreal!) So this book is one way to kill two birds with one stone.

10. The Secret

My parents have always pooh-poohed meditation, affirmations, self-helps books, and the like. So imagine my surprise when I found this by my mom’s bed! I have the film saved to my Netflix cue as well. I cannot wait to read this little, yet mighty book.

11. Animals Make Us Human

I cannot tell you the number of times we spoke about Temple Grandin when I was an undergrad (studying therapeutic recreation). She has autism and is an advocate for both people and animals who may have a harder time advocating for themselves. As a people animal lover, dying to find ways to give back, she was and is a huge inspiration to me. I look forward to reading her book. (Or the one of her books that is currently on my shelf.)

12. Silent Spring

As a young child, Rachel Carson was one of my heroes. (Along with my mother, Jane Goodall, Albert Schweitzer, and so many others.) I was a huge environmentalist. My mom bought me this book and I read it in elementary school I believe. Then my daughter got to be Rachel Carson in a school performance a couple of years ago and I bought the book again for her to use as a prop. I want to read it again since it’s been so long and now that I’m older and my love for the cause has grown so much deeper, I think I can get more out of it.

13. Stumbling on Happiness

Because I can never stop when I’m supposed to…I found a couple of these “happiness” books in my mom’s house – okay so maybe she’s not as anti-self-help as I thought she was. I couldn’t really pick which one and we’re already over 12, but I think I’ve heard of this one a few times so I thought it would be a good place to start. I’m really interested in this elusive happiness. We are all searching for it. Why does it seem so hard to find?

 

So there you have it folks, my 12 errrr…13 books I am going to read from my shelf this year. No more just hanging there guys! Either I love them or I donate them. It’s time.

What book is on your shelf waiting to be read?

(Also check out A House with Character. She is reading through NPR’s book pics this year and they seem like great books – I’m attempting to exercise great restraint in not buying them…yet!)

Reading Challenge - What's on your Shelf

 

*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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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?

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Self-Compassion in Just 5 Minutes

5 Minutes

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. ” – Lucille Ball

Some days life can be so crazy. There might not be time to shower. There might not be time to do your hair – or go grocery shopping – or even go outside. Taking care of my father, I couldn’t risk taking a walk around the block because he would inevitably need me the second the door shut behind me. But even though you have a million responsibilities and not enough time in the day, you can’t forget to show yourself some compassion too.

Even if all you can do is find 5 minutes while the baby is napping or your parents are engrossed in TV, use the time to care for yourself and love yourself. In order to have the time, energy, and emotional strength to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself too.

Here are 10 ways you can practice self love with only 5 minutes:

  • Meditate
    5 minutes can be the perfect amount of time. If you don’t have a specific meditation place, just go anywhere you can relax without too much interruption for the next 5 minutes (or as long as you can). Get comfortable and focus on your breathing. If other thoughts or interruptions occur, it’s okay to notice them, acknowledge them, and then let them go, and turn your attention back to your breathing.
    self-compassion
  • Write down 3 things you are grateful for.
    Gratefulness increases health, happiness, and overall well-being. The practice of picking things out to be grateful for and those moments of positivity help in the toughest of times. It not only gives your mind a backdrop of positivity, but it helps train your brain to look for those moments to cling to when it feels like hope is lost. take-care-journal
  • Do a few sun salutations, stretches, and hold mountain pose.
    Yoga can help ground you. It can be used as a moving meditation. Sometimes I just love to balance in tree pose and feel the calm centeredness.
    Yoga can also help with flexibility, bone strength, circulation, blood pressure, heart rate, range of motion, mindfulness and so much more. yoga-1159977-1919x2714
  • Read.
    Reading can take you away to a whole new time and place. It can whisk you into the future or into the past. Reading can be inspiring or educational. You can learn about the life of someone you admire, or about ways to succeed in business. You can 5 minutes by 5 minutes get through a book about a new hobby – maybe just enough time to learn a new stitch, tool, or technique. Use your 5 minutes to pursue a hobby or passion. What type of book do you like to read? I’m always interested! Let me know!books-2
  • Do a plank sequence.
    I really like to just drop and perform the following plank sequence if I think I have a couple minutes:
      30 seconds of plank (high plank the first time, low plank the second time)
      15 seconds plank with right leg up
      15 seconds plank with left leg u
      30 seconds side plank to the left
      30 seconds side plank to the right
      30 seconds of walking plank
      Repeat
      Then relax in child’s pose.
    If I don’t have time to do the whole routine twice, I’ll just go through it once and then relax in child’s pose.
  • Write a note to someone you love
    just to let them know you care. Love has the power to replace negative emotions. Fill your heart and someone else’s with positivity in just a couple of minutes.love-you-1526160-1919x1395
  • Make some hot tea.
    If you make it in the microwave it only takes 65 seconds (cook time might vary). Then you still have almost 4 minutes to kick your feet up, close your eyes, and enjoy the sensations of the hot tea.hot-tea-1329222-2
  • Tidy just one shelf or corner that’s been bugging you.
    You’ll thank yourself every time you walk past it.workplace-933425_1920
  • Say affirmations.
    I know some people think it sounds crazy, but sometimes after only hearing people telling you to do things or asking for things, someone needs to tell you and it might as well be you.
  • Get a new perspective.
    Take one object and try to photograph it from as many different perspectives as possible. It can be something completely mundane – for example a mug. From how many different angles or perspectives can you get a picture? Or draw a couple quick sketches from different angles if you prefer that form of art.

What are you going to do in the 5 minutes you find?

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October Favorites

Things have finally started to settle down and the kids and I are slowly beginning to settle back into our home. I have to realize that it is not going to immediately be how I want it to be because it took many months for it to unravel to the extent that it did. But I love love love systems. And the more I get in place to make family life and healthy living easy, the more I can concentrate on the important things in life (like making the kids laugh, building a strong familial foundation, doing homework, and pursuing our passions).

All in all it has been a fairly good month. And things are getting better all the time. I have come across a few really great things in October that have helped make our lives easier and just more fun and enjoyable.

  1. Purple Carrot

There were so many times when we were half living in our house, half in my parents’ house that I hadn’t planned anything for dinner, hadn’t purchased certain foods because there was too much wrapping, or just didn’t have the time to prepare what I did plan. Then we would end up grabbing food from somewhere and it inevitably ended up being less healthy, less eco-friendly, and more expensive.  When we settled back at our place, I thought all the sudden I would have all the time in the world to cook, clean, write, send out resumes, fold laundry, etc etc. But I soon found that it just didn’t work like that. I takes time to re-create routines and systems. I realized that it was time to automate healthy meals – at least a little bit. So I decided to look into some meal delivery services.

Enter Purple Carrot.

I was so excited when I found Purple Carrot, a vegan meal delivery service. You can sign up for 2 servings of 3 meals a week or 4 servings of 2 meals a week. I signed up for the former because the kids don’t always eat that much or aren’t always into completely new flavors. The food is delivered to your door along with easy to read recipes. The kids and I have been cooking together and are really enjoying the whole experience.  So far every meal has been amazing! We are finding it a great way to try new recipes, new foods, and new menu ideas.

I’m trying not to make this post too long so I will do a whole review post coming up soon. So look forward to that!

If you are considering something like this to make meal planning easy, I definitely reccomend Purple Carrot. Click here to sign up through my referal link and get $25 off your first order.

2. Lunchbots – The Perfect Lunch Box Containers

 

I got the containers with the three compartments. I would like to also get the ones with two sections as another option.

When I received them, I was a little surprised at the size. They were smaller than I pictured in my head. But that worked out in my favor. Because I was able to fit other things in their lunch bags (like these awesome little containers from U Konserve) or a bag of veggie straws.

The separate compartments make planning lunches easy. I can think about what to put in each section and come up with a plan, as opposed to my old way of seeing what tupperware is clean that I could fit things into and then cram them into a lunch bag any which way! I plan something for each compartment and then throw in two more snacks (maybe a chia bar from my September Favorites list and some fruit in those U Konserve containers.)

I also love that they are stainless steel. They are easy to clean and plastic free!

3. Book: How Not to Die by Michael Greger M.D.

I may be a bit bias, but I love this book! It is chock full of scientifically researched information on plant based living. It is presented in a way that acknowledges the intelligence of the readers while still providing adequate explanations. The studies it references cover contamination issues with meat, long term health consequences of nutritional choices, and so much more.  It’s kind of preaching to the choir as I already am about 90% plant based, but it truly solidified many of my positions and stances.

I highly recommend it as a resource on healthy living and nutrition and a really fun book to read or listen to if you enjoy that kind of thing or are ready to learn more about why you should start adding more and more veggies to your diet, replacing some of the meat and animal products. I am listening to it on Audible right now, but am considering purchasing a paper copy of it because it feels like the type of book I want to be able to mark and underline.
Click here to check it out and read the Amazon reviews.

4. Kids (Anyone) Book: Penguin Problems by Jory John

I wasn’t really planning on sharing kids’ books on this blog, but when I read this, I realized it was just so right up my alley. It was recently donated to my son’s school library. One of the librarians told me I should look at it. She thought it was something I would like. I read it and wondered how, even though we’ve known each other for a couple years now, she knew me just so well.

Penguin has lots of problems. He has lots of complaints. But he comes across a walrus who has a very different view on the world and helps the penguin change his perspective to a positive one – just a little.
It’s such a sweet story. I think anyone can get a little smile from reading it.
Click here to see it on Amazon and read other reviews.

 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The products are of no extra cost to you, but should you make a purchase I would receive a small percentage that will support Balancing Bananas and continue to make this site better*

 

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Take Care of Yourself, Caregiver

Trust me, I know how it is. My life revolves around taking care of everyone but myself. I am a single mom with two kids – an 11 year old actress and a 6 year old athlete. My keep-the-family-together mother just passed away a few weeks ago and my father has spinal muscular atrophy, dementia, and recently had a stroke that left him unable to weight bear. I’ve also adopted my parents’ blind dog.

I am desperately trying to keep track of all of the rehearsals, practices, and games, while still being present for whenever my father needs me. On one occasion, I went upstairs to put my pajamas on at 9/9:30 and realized I had never changed out of my pajamas from the night before! Or all too often, it gets to dinner time and I realize I forgot to feed myself all day!  

But we’ve all heard it time and time again, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. Yeah, yeah, blah blah. But it’s true, as Lisa Nichols put it in her book Abundance Now I just read “you have to pour into yourself before you can pour into others.” I picture someone with a pitcher and people around with glasses. If the guy didn’t pour the juice into his pitcher first, there would nothing to pour into the glasses.

But it’s hard to make sure we take care of ourselves sometimes, so here are a few little tips I’ve picked up along the way:

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Where Have I Been?

***WARNING. THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL AND PERSONAL POST. I AM NOT BAD-MOUTHING OR BLAMING ANYONE. JUST SHARING WHAT I’VE BEEN GOING THROUGH.***

I’m baaaa-aaaack!  I know I’ve been entirely MIA for the longest time. I attempted a couple times to come back or repurpose other things (okay thing) I have written to keep myself relevant but I simply couldn’t keep up. Why? Well because Chaos complete and utter Chaos (yes, with a capital C).

My dad came home from the hospital in April. He had had a stroke in February. My mom and I were trying to make sure we visited him everyday, kept up with the social worker and the therapists, made sure the bills coming in were paid, did his laundry and brought it back on time for him to have clean clothes, and make plans for when he came home. We thought we were overwhelmed. Then he came home.

That man has always been mean and needy, but add a stroke, a few brain injuries, the inability to bear weight, and incontinence, and I guess anyone would be meaner and needier. But I’ve worked in health care, memory care, etc before in the past and never dealt with someone quite like this. But my mom and I were making it work. At least we had each other. If I had to take the kids somewhere, she watched him. If she had to go to a meeting, I watched him. And when we got frustrated, we could commiserate.

Mother's Day 2015
Mother’s Day 2015

Then she got sick.

After a week or two of feeling absolutely horrible, she finally agreed to get blood work done. That night the phone rang. It was the lab technician saying GO TO THE ER RIGHT NOW! I took her and she was immediately rushed to another hospital with an oncology ICU.  I told my brother and drove into town that night.

So I spent a lot of time trying to visit her in the hospital and still rush home to take care of my father. (There was one weekend that they were both in separate hospitals – he was diagnosed with a 100% blocked LAD, as well as 5 other blocked branches, and a 70% long block in his right coronary artery.) I wish I had had more time to spend with her in the hospital before she got too sick.

We received a call that she was in remission and we were all so excited. Even though she had been unresponsive for a couple weeks, she was in remission!!!  But then we found out about several other viruses she had contracted due to the chemo weakening her immune system. These were viruses that could not be treated. And the doctors said it was time for us to make the call to pull life support. That was the hardest night of my life. It was horrible. But I am trying not to remember her like that.

After that, there was still the funeral to plan. And my dad’s 24 care to attend to. He didn’t like me to be on the computer and had a hard time letting me sit down with the kids at the table 20 feet away as opposed to hovering over him the whole time. I do love my dad, but he called the police on me one time for picking my daughter up after school. And told me I have to wait until my brother comes back for Christmas to have a shower.  So stressed and overwhelmed ALMOST begin to describe how I felt.

It felt like not only did I abandon my home, my blog, and my dreams, but it felt like I abandoned and failed my kids and fucked up their summers (and part of their school year) if not more.

I just moved my father into a BEAUTIFUL skilled nursing facility. So now I can at least spend time with the kids, sleep during the night, and get life back on track. I’m still being called to go to the nursing home on a daily basis, but I think soon that will settle a bit too…let’s hope.

Regardless, I’m here now. And YOU are stuck with me! 🙂
(Please, please be stuck with me!) 

 

(p.s. my love and interest in health and sharing that health has grown due to my experiences and I am going to be working on a new professional blog. It’s not ready yet, but if you want a sneak peak you can check out the About Me and my first post about my September Favorites here and here. Keep checking back to both sites as some big changes will be coming soon!)

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