Learning Mindfulness

 

I have been eating a plant based diet for two and a half years now, so I feel like I take good care of my physical health as far as my diet goes. My mental health is another story. I have struggled with anxiety for twelve years now and I have never had success with using medication to help manage it. I started practicing yoga hoping it would help, and while I love the benefits of practicing yoga, it has not particularly helped with my anxiety. The next step I wanted to take was trying to establish a daily meditation practice. But I really struggled with this, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and I just could not do it “right.” 

To help myself establish a better meditation practice, I started using The Little Book of Mindfulness, and I love it! This book offers different activities and exercises to help increase mindfulness and meditation practice. The different activities only take 5-10 minutes each and are so easy to follow. My favorite aspect about this book is that it helps you step out of auto-pilot and helps you find joy in your daily activities. Their are entire chapters on mindful eating and gratitude, plus many other chapters that offer different breathing exercises, mindful movement activities, and meditation techniques. I have found that I can take different practices from the book during times of high anxiety and help calm myself down. 

Thug Kitchen

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Today I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite cookbooks, the Thug Kitchen cookbook. I will start by saying this is not your typical cookbook. In explaining how important it is to put real, quality, plant based food in your body, “Eat like you give a fuck” is often used to help get the point across. Some folks may be offended by this, I find it real and relatable. This cookbook starts with a lot of basics, such as an explanation of the book, recommended tools for a Thug Kitchen, and how  to cook basics. The cookbook also includes breakfast, salad, soup, mini meals, soups and stews, snacks, main dishes and desserts. Flipping through the book, every single meal looks fucking delicious!

I have personally created many of these recipes and I enjoyed every single one. Most recently I used the recipe for “Almond Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons”. First of all, the croutons are wonderful. But the dressing is even better. Creamy and tangy, it really reminds me of the caesar dressing I used to enjoy. I have also made “Warm the Fuck Up Minestrone” soup and “Potato Leek” soup using Thug Kitchen. Both are phenomenal. By fiancé has also used this cookbook to make a tortilla soup that was so spicy and satisfying. I am also obsessed with pad thai so creating a vegan version was very important to me. The recipe for pad thai in Thug Kitchen is by far the best vegan pad thai I have tried. I have also recreated the “Sweet Potato, Squash, and Black Bean Enchiladas” and “Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos” for my non-vegan family. Both recipes blew them away, especially the tacos.

Besides all the amazing recipes I have tried, every other recipe in the book looks delicious. This was the second vegan cookbook I added to my collection and it was so fucking worth it! I highly suggest you go to a library or bookstore and flip through it. I don’t think you will be able to leave without it. This book does not only offer up recipes, it educates you about food and cooking technique in a very understandable and relatable way. I love everything about the Thug Kitchen cookbook, and I hope you will too. If you have used this cookbook before, I would love to know what you thought about it in the comments!

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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This cookbook by Angela Liddon is the first vegan cookbook I added to my now quickly growing collection. I saw it at a bookstore and the cover was so beautiful, I was instantly drawn to it. I flipped through it and I was so inspired. Now, about a year later, I have made a few of the recipes and I still love this book. It is filled with over 100 recipes and beautiful photos to match. Recipes range from breakfast, smoothies, juices, teas, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, sides, power snacks, desserts, and wonderful recipes to make homemade versions of cooking staples, such as almond milk or grapeseed mayonnaise. The book also includes her suggestions of what she keeps in her pantry, her favorite kitchen tools and equipment, and a very handy cooking chart in the back.

My absolute favorite recipe in this book is a simple one, but it is perfection to me. The salt and vinegar roasted chickpea recipe is by far the recipe I have used and enjoyed the most! I love to make this for a snack when I have to drive four hours to visit my family. I have also made her recipe for chickpea salad sandwich, when I was in school I would make this every other week so I would have something quick and easy to pack for lunch. I also made this when I went to visit some friends in Indiana. I knew the small town they lived in and their daily diet was not vegan friendly, so I made a batch of this and never went hungry. I have also made the effortless vegan overnight oats many, many times. I make it with chocolate almond milk and it turns out wonderfully. Both of the soups I have made from this cookbook were spectacular. The red lentil-kale soup recipe turned out to be one of the best soups I have ever tasted. And the soul-soothing African peanut stew was exactly that, soul soothing.

Of course, their are many other recipes I have recreated. Kale chips, black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, roasted rainbow carrots, and I could just keep going. This cookbook really is wonderful in my opinion. If you aren’t in the market for a new cookbook though (see if your library has it and just flip through perhaps) Angela also has a blog. You can sign up for email updates from her blog and have her wonderful vegan recipe goodness sent right to you. I also follow her on instagram and snapchat because I love to see the photos of the yummy food and drinks she is always creating!

Oh She Glows blog: http://ohsheglows.com

Instagram @ohsheglows

Twitter @ohsheglows

Snapchat: angelaliddon

Organize the New Year

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I first read The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo during the summer of 2015. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning sorting through everything I owned and downsizing drastically. I understand this does not appeal to everyone, I have often heard my family members say they could never part with their things. I also used to be that way. I was a saver and had a very bad habit of buying things just because they were cheap or on sale, especially clothing. My closet had gotten so out of control I was storing my clothing in two separate closets, in two separate rooms!

I heard about this book through a YouTuber I watch, Savannah K Wallace. She posted a video about how she cleaned out her closet and house by using the method in this book. I went to Amazon and bought the book immediately, I knew this was something I needed (I have now seen this book at Target by the way). When I got the book and started reading it, it was so hard to finish the book and not dive immediately into clearing out my clutter. Marie Kondo suggest that you clear the clutter in one sitting though, so you do not lose momentum or leave the project unfinished.

She has a very specific order in which the clear the clutter. First, you start with clothing. In the book she details how to sort, organize, and store clothing. Then you move onto books. This was a hard category for me, I had to sort through my books a few times. When I started to recognize what books I had just because I had purchased them for a low price but had never actually read or enjoyed, the process became much easier. Next you sort through all your papers. I had an unbelievable amount of paper. I had saved every paper I ever had from middle school through college. Why? I have no idea. I recycled them all except stories I had written or projects I had made. Next, you tackle the komono, or miscellaneous items. In the book she breaks down an order to do this working from less sentimental items to more sentimental items. The purpose of this is, by the time you get the sentimental items you are used to the process and better able to let go of things.

I could go on and on about this book. I think it is something everyone should read. I highly suggest checking it out at your local library or picking up a copy for yourself. The investment was worth it for me. I went from using two closets to only half of one closet, and getting dressed is so much easier for me. And that is just one example of how this book changed my living space. A new year is a great time to clear out your space. If you have already read this book, I would love to know your thoughts and how your living space was most changed!

Resolution: Miracles Now

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Yesterday I shared some of my thoughts on resolutions in the New Year. I plan on using the book The Happiness Project as a guide for goals I would like to set for myself each month, a sort of resolution to myself to bring more happiness to my life in 2016. Along with that book, I also plan to use another book daily to improve my meditation practice and de-stress in 2016.. something I need very much (as do most of us I’m sure).

The second book I will be using is Miracles Now by Gabrielle Bernstein. I heard about this book while watching a video on YouTube posted by someone I think everyone should know about, Tashina Combs. She has this wonderful website, logicalharmony.net, that is my guide to everything vegan beauty! I am also a huge fan of her YouTube channel and during a video about Christmas gift ideas, I heard her talk about this book. The book is full of tools to de-stress your life, find purpose, and includes principles from Kundalini yoga and meditation.

You can use this book in many ways, by working through each of the 108 practices as you see fit. In the video Tashina posted, she explained that the book was meant to be used in such a way that, you just randomly open to a page and it will be a task that you need to work through. For example, the day I got Miracles Now, I opened to #48 resolve inner conflict. I then read through a quick explanation followed by a meditation practice designed to resolve inner conflict. Each passage is ended with a miracle message that is designed to be efficient but short enough to be shared on social media and ended with #MiraclesNow.

I love the concept that is book is designed to help you work through exactly what you need on any given day. I just need to open the book and a message I need to hear will be given to me along with a message I can share with the world. I do not know much yet about the author of this book, but I did purchase her book Spirit Junkie and I cannot wait to learn more. I will be sure to share with you my thoughts on how both books are working out for me. If you have read a Gabrielle Bernstein book, I would love to know what you thought about it!

Resolution: Happiness

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The New Year is fast approaching! I am usually not one for resolutions, even as a child I hated it when my mom would have us go around the table during supper on NYE and announce our resolutions. Now, I prefer to set goals for myself, habits I want to start or improve on in my day to day life. This year, I want to take it one step farther.

Last year around this same time, I read The Happiness Project for the first time. Reading the book was such an inspiration and I knew one day I would like to tackle a project of my own. And after the life changes I have had in the past month or two, I decided 2016 was my year! In the happiness project, each month you tackle different areas of your life, make goals or resolutions for them, and then keep track of how well you maintained your goals each day. For example, the author Gretchen Rubin made goals to improve her energy in the month of January. When February came around, the January goals were carried over and new goals for her marriage were added.

I love this concept of rolling over your goals from each month to the next. That is truly the only way to change your life and make it stick. And along the way, you discover goals or resolutions that really do not add as much to your life as you thought they would, and you drop them! The whole point of the goals you make for yourself in this particular book are meant to add happiness to your life. Even when reading the book I feel happier and I have yet to really implement any of my goals yet.

I am really excited to start this project for myself! I will post my goals at the beginning of the month and then report on the outcome at the end of the month. I encourage you to go to the library and read the book for yourself (I have also seen the book at Target if you want to purchase it). Even if you do not want to start your own project, the information in the book alone is enough to inspire some changes to start your New Year and increase your happiness!