Meditation Series Update – Cultivating Calm

As you may recall, I registered to participate in Oprah & Deepak Chopra’s free Meditation Series, “Expanding Your Happiness”. The series was 21 days. I completed 15 days and then lost track. Overall, though, I enjoyed the experience, and I would happily do it again. Meditation, calm, relaxation, and the journey inward are all part of a practice, and for me it really does take practice. It wasn’t a perfect journey, but I enjoyed the days that I did put the effort in.

I thought I would share the 15 days’ worth of centering thoughts that were so helpful to me:

1. “happiness is my true nature”
2. “I am filled with spirit”
3. “I am peace”
4. “I am love”
5. “I am playful”
6. “hope lights my path”
7. “I am wholeness”
8. “we are here to enjoy”
9. “my actions have purpose”
10. “I am content just as I am”
11. “kindness expresses the gentleness of the soul”
12. “life makes me smile and laugh”
13. “I am thankful for all I have”
14. “my happiness energizes and inspires me”
15. “my happiness shines everywhere”

I’m slowly trying to cultivate more calm in my life, and that can mean a lot of things from sitting quietly without electronics to spending time in the garden to focusing on simple words to help me sleep. I also love Calm.com for a quick chill-out in the middle of a work day, and this great one-minute meditation video:

What do you do to ‘keep calm’ ?

Happy September!

From today until the end of 2015, I’m going to be working on 16 months’ worth of goals and self improvement. For the most part, this will include working on becoming very healthy, restructuring our finances to meet our 2016 goals of buying a house and being financially ready for TTC, making the most of my career, improving my emotional well-being (managing anxiety) and spending more time and effort reading and learning. My efforts in these areas will be the focus of the blog going forward.

I thought I would start today off by doing a little healthy food meal prep. Our garden has been offering some beautiful harvest recently and it’s a great time of year for cheap local produce.

I started the day off with some green juice- garden kale, garden cucumber, local zucchini, and local bell peppers.

Next I made a variation on eggplant parm – local eggplant, garden tomatoes and herbs, Ezekiel breading, and a basic cheese sauce (mozzarella, cheddar, cream cheese and egg – just trying to use what we have on hand).

Finally I made a roasted eggplant and pepper dip for chicken etc. with local eggplant, local and garden bell peppers (green and purple) and local jalapeno with lemon and butter.

sept1

My first priority on this journey is truly my health. It’s so true- where I slack, I lack. I look forward to putting better effort into taking care of myself, which will in turn allow me to succeed in my career, which will in turn propel our finances forward, which puts us closer to so many of our goals. If I don’t take the time and effort to take care of myself, I don’t get to see myself progressing. This is priority one.

Don’t Quit

I had a moment last week. Many of us have had this moment. I saw a recent picture of myself and thought “Who IS that?” It just didn’t look like the me I want to be presenting to the world. I’ll admit, I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was even a little scared. Instead of getting lost in those feelings though, I decided to make a conscious decision to just channel the frustration. To get some momentum and keep using it. To let it motivate me. When you’re discouraged, it’s really easy to quit. Ultimately, though, it’s easier to continue than to start all over once the discouraged feelings wear off. I love this quote:

“if you hate having to start over again, don’t quit”

So, I’m taking little steps.

I have a few things working for me on this journey:

1. I know what to do. I know how to exercise, how to eat well, how to be positive and carry on.

2. I enjoy being active. Of course, it often feels like it’s easier not to, but when I do it, I enjoy it. I feel good about myself afterward. There’s a lot of good payoff there

3. I love healthy food. I enjoy many unhealthy foods too, but I’m an avid vegetable and culinary herb gardener, I’m pretty aware of and grateful for where my food comes from, and I truly love most healthy foods. It’s just about adding in more good stuff to crowd out the bad stuff (a sentiment I borrowed from the Hungry For Change documentary- highly recommended)

4. I know WHY I need to be healthy. I work in the medical field, I’m pretty connected to my inner self and to my future goals– all good motivators for a healthy life!

5. That photo serves as an EXCELLENT motivator to be thinking clearly and working hard on becoming a version of me that I’m happy and proud to present to the world.

And best of all, I have lots of support. I have a great network of family & friends who inspire and encourage me.

I’m just going to KEEP GOING!

five simple steps to healthier living

My husband and I are leaning into a healthier lifestyle. We’ve been on and off about healthy living, and right now we have some work to do. We’ve been moderately healthy, but we don’t always have good habits. We enjoy being active but are most often inactive. We enjoy healthy food but often eat too much unhealthy food. You get the idea. So right now we’re working on five simple things to lean us in to a healthier September (and beyond):

1. Get enough sleep

2.  Drink enough water

3. Eat enough fruits & vegetables

4. Take a multivitamin

5. Start walking regularly

* I know there is some debate out there about vitamins, and I’m not really interested in participating in that debate. The simple fact is that right now our diet is suboptimal. While we’re working on it, we have decided to supplement. That is a decision we feel good about.

Cultivating GOOD Mornings

Anytime I’m out at the start of the day, I try to wish most people I encounter a Good Morning. I think it’s time I start wishing for Good Mornings for myself and working to have them.

This is an absolute work in progress, but here are some ideas that I like for going beyond the non-negotiable morning stuff ( It might be realistic to choose a few that work for that particular day and just purpose to be positive. I will probably never do all of these every morning. let’s get real! but I love having a lot of ideas to work with).

[disclaimer- I work from home, set my own schedule, and have no pets or children. These factors all greatly affect my morning routine. Take what makes sense to you and forget the rest. This is only meant to chronicle my own attempts to grow and improve. I’m only speaking for myself here- the only life I know how to live is my own.]

Ideas for cultivating good mornings:

: Carve out the time– I give myself extra time because my schedule allows it, BUT it’s not about how much time there is in the morning. purposing to do one or two kind things to start my day on the right foot benefits everyone in my life. it’s good to live a positive, happy life, and we all DESERVE that. In finance terms, we often hear of paying yourself first with automatic savings etc. This is that same concept but in terms of time management. Rather than leaving it to the end of the day and then having it not be given at all, it’s great if I can just give myself a couple of precious minutes to do something (anything!) on purpose, to start the day off right. Whatever makes me feel good!!

: wake up earlier to have time to start the day on the right foot, cultivate calm and lean into my day.

: smile (an act of gratitude for a new day) {it’s such a beautiful thing to smile just for yourself}

: make the bed. I read somewhere that “the state of your bed is the state of your life” I just LOVED that. Making the bed has become a MUST DO for me every single day {especially given that I work at home}, and it’s true… if the bed is unmade, my husband knows I’m having one heck of a day. It’s a small act of kindness to give to my future, “bedtime self” {kind of like cleaning the house before you go away on vacation, just because it’s nice to come home to}”

: open the blinds, curtains, windows. let some light & fresh air in.

LOVE this quote about that: “Every morning when I open my curtains for that first look at the day, no matter what the day looks like—raining, foggy, overcast, sunny—my heart swells with gratitude. I get another chance. When you think about it, it’s truly awesome: seven billion people finding their way in the world” -Oprah

: stretch,

: take a few deep breaths

: read and review my life vision (not just once a in while) {if it’s long then create a highlight reel (on a post it or an electronic version) to quickly review every day}

: read something positive (a favourite quote, etc.)

: write something positive (a post it note to myself, a quick note in a journal, etc.)

: check the weather to be prepared and plan the day

: a short meditation/ a spiritual moment

: drink water

: eat a healthy breakfast

: plan for success in my day : make a to do list for the day, prepare/pack healthy food, extra water bottles, etc.

: good music while getting ready

Here’s to GOOD MORNINGS and doing the work to cultivate a POSITIVE life!

Recipe Binder

It’s a holiday here, making it a nice long weekend! This gives me more time to tackle projects around the home to help get organized. I go back to work tonight and so I may not have as much time this week to be working on larger projects, but I’m going to keep making baby steps in the direction of my goals and spending this month getting ready for a great September and beyond. I’m just going to work on one thing at a time and keep trying to progress. I love this quote (I’m not sure of the source) that says “Progress is progress, no matter how small” and I also love that Tony Robbins says “Progress equals happiness”. In other words, baby steps in the right direction are a powerful force.

My project for today is to start a recipe binder. I have a few “binder projects” that I’m presently working on, so watch for a couple more binder posts in the future.

Like most people out there, I have a stack of cookbooks, a recipe box, and a hefty Pinterest board full of recipes. It’s time to get them all in one place. One of my best friends has had great success with having a healthy recipe binder and using that to meal plan and do her food shopping, and it’s time I take a lesson.

Basically, the reason for the recipe binder is two-fold:
1. To organize all my recipes, and have them in one convenient location, to encourage meal planning, money saving, and time saving.
2. To make it simpler to eat healthy and to encourage good choices.

I went to Pinterest (where else?) sure that I would find a great free printable kit and this wonderful website did not disappoint.

This is the printable I used:

http://www.fabnfree.com/2014/06/10/free-recipe-binder-in-3-color-options/#more-2099

And I like Martha Stewart Home Office (Staples) divider tabs.

Here are some quick photos of my binder in progress:

recipeblog

Now I’ve just started and got the basic layout organized. I’ll work, little by little, on transferring recipes and getting my binder well stocked.

How do you organize your recipes?

Food Prep

My project for today was food prep. To start, I bought some great local vegetables and did a garden harvest. The reason for today’s task is pretty simple- when I spend time on the weekend doing food prep, I eat better than when I don’t. And of course, when I eat well, I feel better, I work harder, and I come closer to my health & fitness goals. So this is a good step, and it’s time well spent. I spent a good part of my Sunday in the kitchen with an apron on, and that really is a happy place for me.

Here are some photos from my day:

foodprepblog

first row: our local vegetable shopping trip, squash puree, washed and chopped broccoli, prepared turkey scallopine (a favourite of mine!)

second row: tomatoes washed & chopped, grated zucchini

third row: zucchini & tomato puree, taco seasoning (similar to Rachael Ray’s recipe), bean taco zucchini boats (beans, taco seasoning, salsa, tomatoes, cheese), garden greens chopped & ready for salad

fourth row: refresher juice (cucumber & celery juice with coconut water), beet juice, pretty beets (and my nails happened to coordinate!) and ingredients for overnight oats (berries, almond butter, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, oats- I change this up nearly every time, depending on what I have on hand).

I had a productive day, and my fridge and freezer look a little happier! Lots of great food prepared so I can be a little more organized and hopefully healthier this week.

Cheers to time-saving and healthy eating this week!