Practicing Mindfulness: Take the Challenge

Mindfulness. What does being mindful mean to you? To me, it means focusing on one thing at a time. I used to call myself a “Master Multi-tasker.” Over the years, I have shed that title, and have learned to immerse myself into one task at a time. I have less stress and truly enjoy experiencing all of the different sensations and aspects of my task at hand.

Riley from the Spirit and Soul Blog, and I have collaborated on blog posts and a 5-Day Mindfulness Challenge! First, read my five tips for becoming more mindful, then head over to Riley’s post. Sign up here with your e-mail address to take our 5-Day Mindfulness Challenge where we will instruct you on integrating tips and tricks for becoming more mindful in your everyday life.  

So, we begin…

Mindful Eating

Clear your table. Turn off the TV and phone. Prepare your food on your plate. Sit down comfortably. How does it feel to sit? Take ONE bite. How does your food taste? Is it hot or cold? What’s the texture like? Chew slowly and thoroughly. Swallow. Put your fork down. Take a deep breath. Savor your food.

My husband and I used to read bills, text whoever was pinging us, and watch the news. Now, we have a no distraction zone at our dining room table. We sit together, without external resources and devices, enjoy each other’s company, and taste our food.

Mindful Eating

Mindful Exercise

Have you ever gone to a yoga class and the person next to you is on their cell phone? Whenever I enter the gym, I find it comical to see a bunch of zombies walking around with headphones blasting and mobile devices in each hand.

I used to be both of those people. Now, I leave my cell phone in my car during my yoga class. At the gym, I go without my headphones and cell phone. It is so easy to zone out on an elliptical; I want to be present in my workout. I want to feel my body’s movements and be more aware of what’s around me. I learned that I like the gym’s music, too!

Mindful Exercise

Mindful Mornings

My alarm would sound and I would fly out of bed like a bat out of hell. I would begin checking my e-mails, text messages, and calendar. Now, after I turn off my alarm, I sit at the edge of my bed, and take a few moments to acknowledge, and give gratitude for, receiving another beautiful day.

This allows me to be present in the moment.

As I sit on the edge of my bed, I do a full body scan. How do my neck and back feel today? Do I feel well rested, or am I still tired? I take deep, cleansing breaths. I meditate. Now, I am ready to begin my day.

Mindful Grooming

I don’t have an intense grooming routine. I brush my teeth with doTERRA’s On Guard Whitening Toothpaste, floss, and use mouthwash. I run a brush through my hair and affix a messy bun. Simple, right? Try using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth and hair. What happened? How did you do?

Slow down your grooming routine. Taste the toothpaste and mouthwash. Feel the sensation of the bristles on your teeth and scalp. Look at yourself in the mirror. Take time for you.

I love my showers. Showers can become a sensory experience, inducing feelings of peace and happiness. As you enter, feel the warm water rush over your body. Take a moment to enjoy the scent of your shampoo and body scrub. I love feeling the texture of the body scrub and smelling the aroma of the essential oils. My skin feels so soft and lovely afterward. I love seeing the dirt from the day wash away. I meditate in the shower and take the time to focus on myself, completely surrendering to moments of self-love.

Mindful Driving

During yoga class, an instructor asked, “For those of your who drove, what was your experience like getting here?” Answers ranged from, “Same as always.” “Listened to the radio.” “Rushed.” “Got stuck in traffic.” She proceeded to ask us how we sat in our seat (were we in good anatomical alignment?), whether we had both hands on the wheel (with arms engaged?), and if we practiced Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal lock and breathing technique). We proceeded to review how to integrate mindfulness into driving. These techniques I still use today.

I learned to sit with good alignment, practice breathing, and abdominal holds, have both hands on the wheel, arms engaged, and to turn off the radio. Turn off Bluetooth. Let your call go to voicemail. Pay attention to the road. Let thoughts enter and exit. If the weather is acceptable, roll down your windows. Open your sunroof. Feel the breeze. Do you notice a difference from your normal routine?

Driving Mindfully

Final Thoughts

How are you more mindful? In what ways do you integrate mindfulness into your daily routine?

Don’t forget to sign up for our 5-Day Mindfulness Challenge! It will start July 3!

Namaste.

5 Ways to be Mindful

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Why you NEED a Vacation

I just got back from a long weekend in Lake Placid, New York. I haven’t been on a vacation since August 2016. My husband and I both started new jobs, which comes with new stressors, change, and uncomfortable acclimation. The little things were starting to irritate us; our patience growing thin not only with each other, but with daily life tasks. We needed a break. Whether it be a staycation, a drivable long weekend getaway, or a trip to somewhere exotic, read below why you need a vacation…

Break your Routine

Alarm clock. Coffee. Get ready, commute to work. Work all day. Hit the gym for a super quick workout. Go grocery shopping. Shower. Prepare dinner. Clean something. Throw in a load of laundry. Prepare for the next day. Try to unwind. Sleep. Repeat. Does this sound familiar?

Do you know what my routine was on vacation? Oh wait, there was no routine. None. No alarm clock buzzing in my ear at five thirty AM. No preparing for the next day. No cleaning. I got out of bed when my body wanted to rise. I went to the gym every day at whatever time I wanted to go. I didn’t have to worry about picking up my husband’s dry cleaning or running to the supermarket after my workout. I ate at a new restaurant every meal, not worrying about having to scrub a pile of dishes. I didn’t do one load of laundry. I fixed my hair nicely; I applied makeup. I took a long shower, not worrying about my to-do list. I read a book AND a magazine. I spent quality time with my husband.

Being on vacation allows you a change of routine, habits, and roles, that you need for adequate relaxation and rejuvenation. Sleep in, don’t cook, and sit down and read something other than the monthly bills…

Try Something New

I went for a massage and received a cupping treatment. Cupping is where they use cups to create a suction over your muscles to reduce pain, inflammation, and to promote relaxation and healthy blood flow. I loved it. My back and neck had less tension! I want to continue receiving treatments now that I am home.

My husband and I also hiked two of the 46 high peaks. We tackled and accomplished Cascade and Porter mountains. It was an incredible experience that involved a lot of teamwork and really brought us closer together as a married couple. Hiking the high peaks is no joke, and we were so happy when we realized that we hiked 4,096 feet above sea level together. It was exhilarating and we are so excited to share our adventure with others.

Even if you have a staycation, do something new. Visit a rock climbing gym, experience a cooking class, or get a Reiki treatment.  If you go away, plan an excursion. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, and most importantly, have fun.

Hiking in Lake Placid

My husband, at the summit of Cascade Mountain

Take Care of Yourself

I spent time swimming in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, and sweating in the sauna. Swimming is fantastic exercise, the hot tub is super relaxing, and the sauna helps my body rid toxins. I got an hour workout in the gym every day. My husband and I had conversations at dinner other than what needed to be done (around the house, errands, etc). I felt fantastic. We reconnected. Win-win. I also went to the beach and read a book, which was so calming and soothing. Breathing in the fresh lake air, reading a New York Times Bestseller, and sitting with my toes in the sand, while drinking a local craft brew…what could be better?

Try to rejuvenate all your needs when you take a vacation:

  • Mental: read a book, magazine, or newspaper, play a board/card game
  • Physical: go swimming, to the gym, hiking, walk around town, explore your surroundings
  • Emotional: meditate, reconnect with whomever your with
Relaxing in Lake Placid

Relaxing on the beach with a book & a beer in Lake Placid

Disconnect

I’m guilty of being on my phone; but for a few hours each day, I tried to stay off my phone and be one with myself and nature. We are constantly on our electronic devices when we are at home. Give your brain (and fingers) a rest and disconnect from everything! It feels good, trust me!

Nature in Lake Placid

Being one with Cascade Mountain

You’ll Return Happy

When you get home, you’ll be thrilled. You’ll get to sleep in your own bed, bathe in your own shower, and come home to share your stories with family, friends, and pets. You will feel relaxed, rested, and happy. You won’t be ready to return to work, but when you head back into the office, you will remind yourself that working will pay for your next adventure.

Final Thoughts

Take a vacation. You probably need it.

I saw a quotation that stated, “Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.” – I’m not there yet. My life is unfortunately not a vacation. I look forward to getting away from my daily habits, roles, and routines to visit new places, try new things, and reconnect with myself and my husband.

When is your next adventure? Where will you go? What will you do? 

Namaste.

PS. Stay tuned to the next post which will feature a Cruelty Free at Home Spa Night – if you can’t take a vacation, you can still feel like you are on vacation!

Why you NEED a Vacation

What to Think when You’re Having a Bad Day

Ever have one of those days where you think to yourself, “I should have just stayed in bed!” I know that I have had days where everything, from the time my feet hit my bedroom’s floor, goes terribly wrong, and I count the minutes until I clock out of work and race to my car in the parking lot. I crank up the radio and just can’t wait to get home, pour myself a big glass of wine, take a nice hot shower, and read a book in bed, my safe place.

When these days happen, what gets you through the day? Whenever I have a bad day, I press the pads of my index fingers and thumb together, take a deep breath, and think “This too shall pass,” which the mantra of my mother, who has repeated that quotation since I was a little girl. You’re right, Mom, the issue at hand, will pass, and I, will be fine…

Everyone handles stress and bad days differently. I collected mantras from other bloggers across the Internet; please enjoy them below…

Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.

“Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.”

I love this mantra because it really is as easy as breathing out the bad. No matter if it one incident or a period in your life, it is always best to keep your head up and be positive.

Yolanda from Inspire and Wander

How can I turn this day around-

“How can I turn this day around?”

If I am having a bad day, I like to ask myself, “How can I turn this day around?”  Dwelling on the negative is a roadblock to contentment and if something did go wrong, I remind myself, things can only get better. I try to teach this to my children as well. I will often ask them, “How can we turn this frown upside down?” or “Let’s find what you need to make things better.” A snuggle or connection with me will do the trick most times. We all have bad days, but it is best to keep a positive attitude. Although that is not possible 100% of the time, we can use our “bad days” as inspirations to make life improvements and remembering those low times only helps us appreciate the amazing days that much more.

Sarah Molenda from I Heart Frugal

Copy of This too shall pass.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” or “This is a blessing in disguise.”

It shifts my perspective from paranoia (universe is against you) to pronoia (everything is for you/ to help you)… so many times we don’t see the blessing in the current “curse” until later on in hindsight.
For example: “Thank God I missed that flight because I wouldn’t have bumped into the love of my life at the airport later that day”… or maybe more subtle, how do we know that if we hadn’t tripped over that stick, we wouldn’t have arrived to the crosswalk 5 seconds sooner and that racing car that came around the corner might have hit us? Or if I hadn’t been severely sick in bed for 1 week I would have amazing realization/ breakthrough/ opportunity, etc. The butterfly effect! 🙂 So I always thank every bad day and any situation, no matter how seemingly “negative.”

Silvia from Siya Yoga

It's all good.

“It’s all good.”

This is something that my husband is known for saying. It’s a reminder that no matter how chaotic or stressful the situation, everything will be okay. It’s easy to get caught up and stress over small things. Sometimes saying, “It’s all good” helps me remember what matters most.

Lacee from Lacee Does Life

How can I turn this day around- (1)

“Get some sleep, and it will look better in the morning.”

It is so cliched, but in almost every situation it seems to ring true. I’m a sensitive person, so I can get worked up about things big and small… but even the most intense things I’ve been through in life are usually worst at night, and at least a little bit better after I’ve woken up in the morning. And of course, then I remind myself to “be nice to myself” the next day, which is something my mom always tells me if I’ve had a bad day.

Laura from A Kaleidoscope Heart

Nevertheless, she persisted.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.” -said by Mitch McConnell about Elizabeth Warren

It’s so simple, but it’s so powerful. When I’m having a bad day, I would want someone to say this about me. It’s short, sweet, but conveys both girl power and the need to constantly push on, because bad days will come to an end when the sun goes down, and I am stronger than one bad day.

Kylee from According 2 Her

What can I be grateful for right now-

A quotation I use to pull me through a bad day or rough experience is this, “What can I be grateful for right now?” This pulls my mind away from whatever is uncomfortable or undesirable and brings me back to a space of abundance, light, and calm. It reminds me that there is always good around me, that I always have everything I need, and that I am exactly where I am meant to be at all times.

Riley Reign, blogger & intuitive mentor from Spirit and Soul Blog & Riley Reign

Final Thoughts

I hope some of these mantras help get you through your next tough day.

Which quotation above impacts you most?

What do you tell yourself when you have a bad day?

Namaste.

What to Think when You_re Having a Bad Day

I’m 30: A Reflection on my 20s

30. I’m 30. I am 30. Thirty. The big three zero. Three. Zero. Ugh. I can’t believe I am thirty. This birthday feels different than previous years. I am now checking the mirror every day to see if my first gray hair decides to sprout from my scalp. Am I really getting old? I work with old people. They are old. I am young. Or am I?

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I feel mixed when I look back at my twenties. I feel like it was a very trying decade…

In 2007, I was still pursing my undergraduate studies at East Stroudsburg University. I was in a sorority and I worked hard to party harder. In some ways, I miss college. I often tell my cousin, who is in her first year, to enjoy every second. She will never get those days back… the days of rolling out of bed, going to class, and working a silly on-campus job to pay for beer money for the weekends. College was a time where I developed my independence and friendships.

In 2008, I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science. I took a semester of pre-requisites and had Plans A, B and C ready if I didn’t get into graduate school.

Plan A – Get into graduate school for Occupational Therapy

Plan B – Become a flight attendant to fuel my love of travel

Plan C – Go to school for something else

Plan A happened.

Enter graduate school at Seton Hall University.

I was working full-time as a nanny and promotional model for liquor companies. I was in the clubs until 2 AM helping the bartenders serve shots of the brand I was promoting and handing out t-shirts to consumers. I helped the children in my care learn to tie their shoes and ABCs. I studied every minute I wasn’t working. Even when I was doing my internships, I was operating on four hours of sleep. My routine consisted of waking up, exercising, going to school, going to work, repeat. I was like a robot. Operating in auto-pilot was my norm.

In 2010, I met the love of my life. I quickly became a police officer’s girlfriend. Associating yourself with a police officer holds you to a whole slew of standards; standards that I never knew existed.

I moved out of my parents’ home and into Jason’s apartment in January 2012. Jason taught me everything from paying bills, to grocery shopping, cooking, and doing laundry. I started #adulting. We purchased our home in September 2012. We were now homeowners. We were building our nest through YouTube videos, paint colors, and furniture shopping.

I graduated with my Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy (I am the first person to do so in my family) and stated my career on October 8, 2012. I went from student to clinician. Another new role. I held my first real full-time job.

On Christmas, 2012, we got engaged. I became a fiancé. We got married April 11, 2014 the day after my birthday. I became a cop wife. Two new roles.

Traveling was one of the most magical experiences of the past decade. In 2008, my dad, mom, sister and I visited Punta Cana. Girls’ trips took place to New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, and California. In 2010, Jason and I went to Bradenton Beach, FL. We also visited Boston, Cape Cod, Ocean City, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Montreal, and Antigua. In 2015, we had our first Euro trip to London and Paris. Vacations keep me motivated in life. A quotation has been floating around stating, “Create a life you don’t have to take a vacation from,” but nothing beats being on an island in the Caribbean drinking a fruity high calorie beverage in my bikini. #sorryIamnotsorry

So, did I figure it out in my twenties? Maybe. My 20s were filled of new roles and change.

IMG_6484

Maybe I figured out what I really want out of life. Maybe I stopped caring about what you, and anyone besides my husband, mom, dad, or sister really thinks.

I realized that I don’t want to be at the bar until the early morning hours. I want to be home in my husband’s arms and my dog snuggling at the bottom of my feet. I want to drink a big glass of wine, watch Netflix, and make it to hot yoga class the next morning. I have learned to take better care of my physical, mental, and emotional health.

I am lucky to be relatively established in my career; although I switched jobs many times, I love working as an occupational therapist in home care. I love my chosen career and enjoy making peoples lives easier from my therapeutic interventions.

I plan so many things, and God laughs, so I learned to let what is, be.

To my thirties: to another decade of health, happiness, and success.

Namaste.

 

If I Died Tomorrow…

Death surrounds me. When I was doing my internship, my clinical instructor used to read the obituaries. She told me, “You just wait…when you are a therapist, if you work in a setting with older adults, you will read the obituaries too.” Five years later, I actually read the obituaries. I have both hated and enjoyed reading about one of my former patient’s passing. I have cut their obituary out of the paper, tucked it into my scrub pocket, and carried their 400-word blurb into work to share with my colleagues.

Nursing homes can be a pretty eerie place to work. The smells and sounds have most people running for the hills. I have had long walks down the corridors, only to find out that one of my patient’s expired. I hate that word, expire. It reminds me of milk…

Death is apart of my husband’s job, too, as he is a police officer. When he gets home, a conversation can go something like:

“How was your day?”

“Great. I had a young couple overdose on heroin. How was your day?”

“Great. One of my patients died…they didn’t make it to the hospital.”

Silence.

12:34. That is my Grandma’s signal for everything being in order…When she died, she would wake us up at 12:34 AM. Whenever I catch 12:34, I say, “Hi, Grandma!”

The foster puppies… I usually foster the older dogs, but I will hear that one or two of the puppies didn’t make it because of Parvo or some other illness. Dog rescue is not for the faint of heart. Very, very depressing.

Make sure you have your wishes in order. If you don’t already have one, make sure you have a will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy. I have noticed that while working in a nursing home, it is really important that you have your stuff together and legalized to prevent any problems.

The past two weeks were very challenging. I went to two wakes, which made me think about my life.

If I died tomorrow…

  • Put me in a bio-degradable coffin and bury me in the ground. I am an environmentalist. Coffins are expensive and don’t decompose. Grow a tree, or plant flowers near me. Come visit me; talk to me, keep me posted on what is going on in your life. Cover me with a flannel blanket during the winter and place flip-flops on my grave in the summertime. Leave pictures of your travels and talk to me. I will be there for you.
  • Play good music during my wake. Play Trevor Hall, Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone. I don’t want to listen to elevator music, and neither do you. Don’t make it a super sappy event. I don’t want that. Cry, but talk about the good stuff. Laugh. Smile. It will be okay.
  • Dress me in anything royal blue and a fresh pair of sneakers. Comfortable is my favorite word when it comes to fashion.
  • Have pictures of Jason, my family, friends, and Bailey with me. I felt the most beautiful on my wedding day so include some mementos from that day. Replay my wedding video on a television. Put some pictures of the foster dogs I helped save. I know I will continue to rescue dogs in Heaven.
  • Make sure I have the Italian horns and hands with me; they will protect me and ward away any evil on my travels from earth to Heaven.
  • Flowers die. While beautiful, I rather you donate money to the rescue organization. The dogs need it more than I will.
  • At my repast, drink, eat, and be merry. This too shall pass. You will be fine and so will I.

I snap. I blink. I take a breath. Death could happen in that one, single second. I could get into an accident, fall down the stairs, or lightening could strike me dead. Boom. Lights out. Game over. Thanks for playing. It’s a crazy concept, isn’t it?

I try to live every day to the fullest. Sometimes, if my husband and I are discussing a big purchase, we will turn to one another and say, “YOLO!” as our reminder that we have ONE shot in life. Buy the item on your wish list. Get the manicure. Eat the brownie. When we wake up to see another day, we are truly blessed. The harsh reality is that death could be a moment away…

Death is a hard topic for some people to discuss. I leave you with some thoughts; If you were to die tomorrow, do people know what you want? Your desires and wishes? Would they know how you feel about them? Would you have lived to be your best self?

Namaste.

Adobe Spark (44)

Remember, Realm of Vibes has a Lili Aromatherapy giveaway going on until March 24, 2017 where you could win a sample pack of body scrubs. Enter here.