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. 

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Yoga Obsession: oneoeight

Rachel Brathen has done it again! It’s no secret that I am a big fan of hers. I love the way she is using her presence in social media to help improve the world, in big ways and small ways. One of the many ways she is making an impact is with her wonderful web community at oneoeight.com. Joining the community gives you access to yoga classes, meditation and life coaching, and even wellness and cooking classes. The website also allows you to learn about and from amazing, influential people in the world of yoga and wellness that you may never otherwise have come into contact with. 


This web community is a monthly subscription, for 14 dollars a month, you have access to so many resources. You can even try the community out for free for 10 days! I was hooked immediately when I gave it a go. And the website is often updated with new classes and resources. One of my favorite things about the website is how simple it is to use. The yoga class videos are divided into so many categories, you can always find something you are looking for. You can filter the videos by time, style, instructor, and so much more. And you can save your favorite videos to your “mat”, making it so convenient to always find your favorite lessons. 


I have been using this website for a month now and it has become my favorite resource for yoga practice. And I’m really looking forward to exploring the meditation and life coaching lessons more deeply in the near future. I highly suggest you give it a try! I’m so excited to be apart of the community and see what happens next..

Be sure to visit http://www.oneoeight.com

M.I.A.

Shortly after finally starting this blog that I’ve been thinking about for years, many changes happened in my life. The most disruptive to this blog being a move followed by starting a new job. I planned to start up again with new posts after things in life got settled again, but of course that never happens! Life never settles! And so I just kept pushing off starting up again, becoming more and more discouraged about the whole process. 

A few days ago I was sitting in the parking garage at work, waiting to go in and start my shift, scrolling through Instagram. I was quite anxious, as I’ve started working a nursing job at a hospital again. I remember texting my fiancé about the anxiety I was feeling and then looking at the beautiful pictures and inspiring post from all the accounts I follow related to Rachel Brathen, AKA @yoga_girl on Instagram. I sat there at thought, I want to live like this. I know her life isn’t perfect, but she has purpose and she is making changes and help improving this planet, all while living in a beautiful environment and working closely with friends. I don’t want to live her life, I just want to live my own version of what she has.

I want to wake up  every day excited about what I’m contributing to the world. I want to live in my own definition of paradise. I want to help improve the world I’m here sharing with every other living creature. But it won’t happen just sitting around dreaming about it. I have to put in the effort. If I want my life to change, I have to do something to make that happen. And right now, the best way I feel like I can do that is to use this blog I started. 

Going back through my original post, it’s funny to me that Rachel Brathen was my inspiration and motivation the first time around. In my opinion, Rachel is using social media in such a meaningful and powerful way. It inspires me so much, so I’m not surprised that many of my “ah-ha” moments have been due to her social media post. I’m more dedicated and excited then ever to start using this blog again to share the amazing things I know about a plant based lifestyle and hopefully inspire some of you!

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!

Is Your Alcohol Vegan?

I recently spent a long weekend visiting family friends in Indiana. We watched sports, played cards, and even went to Indianapolis for a Pacer basketball game and barhopped after. Before I left for this trip I was really concerned about not knowing for sure which alcoholic drinks were vegan. I know this may sound crazy, what could possibly be in my beer to make it not vegan? The ingredients to make beer are quite simple, and vegan friendly. Unfortunately, some beer and alcohol producers use animal products to filter their final products of impurities.

Luckily, I found an amazing website, barnivore.com, to help me figure out what drinks were safe! The website has a list of beer, wine, and liquor and tells you whether the drinks are vegan friendly, or if they are not. You can also input the name of a drink and search the database to make better use of your time. If you don’t find the product you are looking for the website has an amazing feature. They have a section titled Ask a Company, with instructions for emailing companies to inquire about their product. This information is provided in many different languages and they instruct you to forward the response you receive. This way you can make sure the product you verify is added to their list.

Websites like this make being a responsible vegan so easy, I love it! Check it out and help add your favorite drink if you cannot find it!

Barnivore link: http://www.barnivore.com

Happy Mail

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January Happy Mail Part 1

Just shy of a year ago, I signed up for Happy Mail from the wonderful team behind A Beautiful Mess, a blog I adore. The blog is full of fun and creative ideas, crafts, tips, and tricks, among many things. They also offer a few subscription services, including Happy Mail. This subscription service sends you cards with envelopes, a postcard,  a sticker sheet, a print, and some other fun stationary item every month. You get twelve items every month, nine of them usually being cards. I love to send cards and surprise my friends with cards every once in a while, but I am not a fan of the typical cards you find at the store. I wanted pretty, creative, and unique cards. This subscription service was exactly what I was looking for.

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January Happy Mail Part 2

This month I received an adorable postcard meant to look like stamps, a thank you card with a beautiful pineapple print, a congratulations card with a decorative envelope, a card with gold foil decoration, a birthday card with a sweet pun, a congratulations card for someone having a baby, plus many more cards, a beautiful print inspired by Amy Poehler, stickers to decorate or seal cards with shaped like cassette tapes, and a daily notepad. The quality is so good and the cards are better then anything I have ever seen in stores. They are a little funky, very creative, and down right beautiful.

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Birthday card..
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..with a sweet pun

Here are some photos of a few of my favorite cards and prints from previous months.

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I will link the blog and the shop below. If you sign up for Happy Mail for an entire year, it cost 15 dollars every month. It will cost 18 dollars every month if you sign up for 6 months, and if you just buy it monthly it will cost 20 dollars. I signed up for the year long commitment and it is totally worth it to me. Whenever someone in my family needs a card they just come sort through my stack and save themselves some money. And I love that people are receiving these beautiful cards! If you are interested in this service make sure to check out the links below.

Happy Mail: http://shop.abeautifulmess.com/happy-mail

A Beautiful Mess blog: http://abeautifulmess.com

Clue: For the Ladies

One of the reasons I went vegan was to avoid excess hormones being put into my body, then throwing of the balance of my own hormone production. Hormone free meat does not exist. Even if the animals are not pumped full of artificial hormones by humans, all animals produce natural hormones for their own body, just as we do. Because of this, I realized how bad even birth control was for my body. I was taking birth control because I had extremely painful and heavy periods. But I decided, for me, birth control wasn’t worth it. I stopped taking birth control and decided to let my body maintain itself. I started to realize that I had little knowledge of my own body, my own cycle, or even what to expect. I was lucky enough to learn a lot about what is happening in my body during each phase of the cycle while in nursing school, but not every woman goes to nursing school and receives this knowledge. Thankfully, their is an app called Clue that will explain everything!

I LOVE this app, truly! Since I do not take birth control, I used to dread starting my period. I never knew when it was going to happen, and I usually wasn’t prepared when it did happen. Ever since I have used this app, I have had an understanding of my body and I know when my period is coming. Clue provides wonderful scientific explanations of everything that is going on in your body. For example, the app provides an explanation of what your period is, what is happening in your body, what is considered normal and healthy, relief for symptoms, explanation of medical terminology, and when you should seek a medical professional. This breakdown is provided for every phase of your cycle though, not just the most well known part of your cycle, your period. The app allows you to track so many different aspects of your life and your body. And their is an explanation or definition provided for everything, so you understand what ovulation pain is before you record that you are experiencing it.

This app is so customizable, you can turn on and off the different aspects you want to track. You can track everything from bleeding, cravings, your hair, your skin, temperature, weight, emotions, energy, exercise, and your birth control method. Their are many more options then those I listed, and you don’t have to use them all by any means. I just feel so strongly that every woman should use this app, no matter what your method of birth control is, just to have a better understanding of what is happening in your body and why. The app is very easy to use and is free in the apple App Store (I couldn’t find info on the other app stores, sorry) and it is available in numerous different languages. If you use this app or a similar one, let me know, I am curious to check some others out as well!

Natural Deodorant

So, I need help! I have tried three (maybe technically four) different natural deodorants and I just cannot find one I love. It is getting so frustrating. The first one I tried was from The Honest Company, and I was so excited to try it. I tried it when it was a brand new product and they only had one fragrance. It did not work for me at all, I mean AT ALL. I smelled horrid. So I quickly got rid of it and tried the LaVanila coconut vanilla scent. This worked okay for me, but by the end of the day I was not smelling too great. Because of that, I did not repurchase when I finished that one. I am currently trying the Tom’s long lasting wild lavender deodorant. I am having the same issue with this one that I had with the LaVanila. The product works for about half the day. Because of this, when I was working in the hospital I purchased the Pacifica underarm deodorant wipes. I would use that product when I started to stink and it worked wonderfully. In fact, it is probably my favorite deodorant product I have tried but it is not practical for daily use.

I have heard about different types and brands of vegan, natural deodorant. One I am very curious about is crystal deodorant. I am also curious about trying the other fragrancies from The Honest Company. I wish that one had worked better for me because it is in spray form, and that is a feature I really like. I have also heard people say that LaVanila is really good, you just have to find the scent combination that works best for your body. But before I try another product, I would love some input from you all. If you have found a natural, vegan deodorant that works well please let me know. And if you have tried a crystal deodorant I would love to know how well that worked for you. Please give me your input, I would REALLY appreciate it!

Eco Friendly Water Bottle

 

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17 oz purple, satin S’well bottle from Starbucks

For some time now, I have been looking for the perfect water bottle. I wanted one that was safe for me and good for the environment. I thought with a glass water bottle I had found exactly what I needed, but the condensation and constant fear of dropping it were getting on my nerves. I have a few Tervis and Tervis like cups that I really enjoy, but I can’t just toss them in a bag and go. Finally I have found exactly what I am looking for, a S’well bottle.

This bottle is not bulky, it is durable, seals very efficiently, and their is no condensation. The best feature of this bottle though, it will keep drinks cold for 24 hours! Yes, 24 hours, I have tested it. I am someone who loves to wake up and have some ice cold water. It is so refreshing and really shocks my system to wake me up. Now, I can fill up my bottle with ice cold water right before I go to bed, take it up to my room, and then when I wake up I have refreshing water ready for me. Another very cool feature of this bottle is that the company claims it will keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours. As someone who drinks coffee very slowly, and tops off to warm it up frequently, this feature is very appealing to me. I tested my bottle yesterday, and after two hours, the small amount of coffee I put in my bottle was still warm!

My S’well bottle was purchased at Starbucks (it was a Christmas gift from my fiancé) but they have many more options of color, decoration and finish on the S’well website. They also have 3 different sized bottles, 9 oz, 17 oz, and 25 oz. The largest size is meant to be able to hold an entire bottle of wine, so if you are going on a picnic, to the beach, or on a boat ride for example, you could much more efficiently pack up a bottle of wine. These bottles are a little pricey, but for me it is worth it. I would rather invest in a durable bottle that will last me years, than constantly be purchasing new water bottles whether plastic or otherwise. I really think this company is wonderful, from the product they make to their contribution to different charities. If you are in the market for a great water bottle, I highly suggest S’well. But remember, it can hold more then water!

If you have tried S’well, I would love to know how you feel about the product and if you have tested the hot liquids for 12 hours!

If you would like to check out the website use this link: http://www.swellbottle.com

Yoga Studio App

Today I wanted to share with you my favorite way to get yoga practice in on a daily basis. I use the Yoga Studio app on my iPhone and iPad. The app is also available on the new Apple TV, which I think is amazing, and it is also available on Windows devices. The app does cost 3.99 USD. I usually do not pay for apps, but to me, this one is worth it. 

This app comes with classes ready to use, you just download the classes that appeal to you into your virtual yoga studio. The classes are arranged into different collections so you can easily find the type of class you are looking for. The classes are also divided by yoga skill level, so if you are a beginner you could start with the beginner classes and if you are more experienced you could use the intermediate or advanced classes. Their are also deep meditation classes that vary in length from 5-20 minutes. One of my favorite collection of classes is called quick yoga fix. These are classes that are all 10 minutes long and each class has a different focus, from strength, flexibility, relaxation and more. 

I also think this app is organized very well, making it easy to find what you are looking for. Within the collections themselves you can sort options by ability, focus, or duration. Or, you can search for a class by inputting how long of a class you want, your yoga ability, and even how intense you want the class to be. This app also has a section titled poses. This feature is wonderful. You can look at a picture of what each pose should look like, a description of how to perform the pose, benefits of the pose, modification for beginners, how to advance the pose for those more experienced, and even advice for when to avoid a drain pose due to injury or condition. 

This app also has a schedule feature that will connect to your calendar. This is a great way to keep yourself on track and accountable, by putting the virtual class in your daily schedule. I think my favorite feature of this app though, is the custom class builder. If you have a good understanding of yoga and want to play around with creating your own class, this is really fun. You can go through and chose all the poses you want included in your class. Then you can use a feature called link poses and the app will suggest other poses to help create flow between each of your chosen poses. You do not have to use all the link poses and if you have a experience putting a yoga class, you probably wouldn’t need that feature at all. 

This app is perfect for my yoga needs, it allows me to practice in my home and is adaptable to my time limitations as well. But I am still able to experience professional, guided yoga classes that can help me wind down after a long day or really challenge me, whatever I am needing. I would love to know if you practice yoga, your favorite way to practice, and about any yoga apps you like as well!