Diving Headfirst Into Meditation

Or an alternate title would be: What I have learned after meditating for 10 days straight  🙂

I am not going to say I am some sort of Zen maven now, or that absolutely nothing bothers me, or that I can calm my mind down without even giving it a second thought. Those would be untrue statements and it is nonsense to think that someone can be some sort of mindfulness expert after a mere 10 days.

Meditation is not easy. In fact, there are days when your mind does not want to do what you would like it to do.

But that’s okay because that is what meditating helps you do: notice your thoughts.

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I’d been thinking about meditation as a practice and I kept meaning to get around to actually planting my bottom on a pillow and just doing the darn thing already. It finally got to a point where I just needed to push myself to do it. That push for me to jump in the meditation swimming pool came in the form of Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. While the book and subject matter are not for everyone, I enjoyed what Harris had to say. Harris is an ABC newscaster who had a panic attack on national television which as you can imagine, was quite devastating for him. He then went on a journey, often hilariously, of finding a way to help him “combat the voice in his head” and found his way to meditation which to this day, he still espouses the virtues of.

Now I am not a newscaster, nor do I have a hankering to be on television, but I do suffer from bouts of anxiety and Harris’ book was the nudge that I needed to start my meditation journey.

“We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it” – Dan Harris

Eye-opening, right?

So, I downloaded the app Calm onto my phone which offers free meditations for you to utilize. They also have ones that are more in depth that you can access, but those come with a fee. I utilize the free ones. And as a side note, I have absolutely no affiliation with Calm. It just happens to be the app that I downloaded  🙂

So ten days ago, I did my first 10 minute meditation. My mind wandered as it is want to do, but the point is, I recognized it, and tried to bring it back to the present. I focused on my breathing. I listened to the lady with the soothing voice tell me to let go and notice the inhale and the exhale.

And I continued for the next several days after that, trying to do my meditation around the same time every day because I am a creature of habit. #babyiwasbornthisway

So what have I learned so far?

♦ The weekends are hard for me to do meditation. This past Saturday, my cat jumped on my lap while I was sitting meditating and completely threw me off my game. Then at another point, my daughter interrupted my session to ask me a question about Scooby-Doo. No joke  🙂 I realized it really is easier to meditate when she is at school and the cat is napping, preferably not where he can see my lap and jump on it.

♦ As I stated earlier, I am not in a zone where nothing bothers me (I wish I was though!) But I can say that when I feel a particular emotion bubble up, if I am able to, I notice the thought and ask myself “Is this helpful?” If the thought is not helpful, I try to change my thinking. I am still a novice at this whole mindfulness thing, for reals, but that one phrase “Is this helpful?” has helped me sooooo much. Try it for yourself when a thought that is trying to burrow itself into your brain that you know has no reason being there.

♦ I have realized that I look forward to my meditation sessions. If I can only do 5 minutes, that’s okay. 10 minutes a day is what I aim for and I have hit that goal consistently.

♦ I have noticed that I am much calmer after meditating. Like I said, I am no Zen maven. But I really do feel better after a 10 minute session.

So, bottom line is that I am going to keep going with this whole meditating thing. Now if I could just get my cat to understand that when mommy is sitting on her pillow, now is not the time for kitty snuggles. But when I am done? It’s totally kitty snuggle time!  🙂

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: A Book Review

You’re never stuck-unless you choose to be. – Crystal Paine

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If you have read any personal finance blogs in the past 7 years or so, you might have heard of Crystal Paine, a.k.a. The Money Saving Mom. When I was a new mommy and completely overwhelmed with feedings, diaper changes, and oh yeah, finding time to wash the dishes and do seven hundred loads of laundry, I stumbled across her blog and it saved me. Literally. Crystal’s blog helped me with time management, meal planning, and taking some time for me, and still giving my all to my precious newborn. Seriously, I am forever indebted to Crystal ♥

That being said, I couldn’t wait to crack open her book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, when my library finally notified me that my requested reserve was in  🙂 Let’s dive in, shall we?

Crystal’s advice, although geared primarily towards families, can also be utilized for the single crowd. Being financially solvent applies to EVERYONE, amiright? And what she writes makes total sense and leaves you thinking, wow I can totally do this!

For example, she talks about the “$60 Principle”, which is in a nutshell, try to challenge yourself to save $60 a year. For some people, they might be like, whatever, I can totally do that, piece of cake. But for others who are barely scraping by, $60 is quite a bit of money. Crystal breaks down the challenge into easy steps and helps you see that it can be doable. She advocates to try and save $5 a month which breaks down to just $1.25 a week. Crystal states: “$60 isn’t going to make a significant dent in your debt payoff but the mentality behind saving the money will help you get there. Moving forward is better than standing still or moving backward”.

Because this book is all about saving money, she has many tips for doing just that:

  • Learn to meal plan
  • Use coupons when you can
  • Go plastic-free and try using just cash
  • Eat more meatless meals
  • Utilize your crock pot
  • Instead of going out to the movies, rent a movie from your library for free
  • Learn to batch-cook
  • Sell your junk

The parts of the book that I enjoyed and that appealed to my minimalist heart were the pages concerning organization, stream lining, and getting rid of clutter.

“If your life and home are not in order, you are just going to make things harder for yourself and likely end up frustrated and overwhelmed” – Crystal Paine

Can I get an amen?  🙂

Some tips, you can totally do today! Eliminate paper clutter. Unsubscribe from those catalogs, yo! Organize that pantry. What is actually in there? Know what ingredients you have on hand to start that meal planning, stat! Create a filing system for bills and receipts. If you are more of a digital person, scan those things and put ’em on your computer and get everything in order!

I think it is important that Crystal does emphasize practicing the art of contentment. If you are not happy with what you have, credit cards will be there to soothe you and skyrocket your debt at the same time. She advises for us to count our blessings and to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.

“A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst” – Crystal Paine

All in all, this is a great book for anyone needing to overhaul their financial picture but just don’t know how to get started. But make sure you go to the library and check it out because #frugal  🙂

2017: The Year of Wellness

Sometime in the last few years or so, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I always ended up breaking them sometime around mid-February and then spent the next 10 months saying to myself, screw it, I already messed up so what’s the point of trying to continue in that direction. Then January rolls around again and the same story would play out.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Having a specific word however, to represent changes you want to make in your life seems easier and more attainable in the quest to be a better person. That single word or phrase can encompass so much and we can steer our lives in a positive direction that allows for mistakes along the way without feeling like failure will derail the whole thing.

My word for 2017 is Well.

Be well. Feel well. Live well.

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According to the dictionary, wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Can also be an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

Wellness. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

See the thing is, I feel like the past three years have been for me, a twisting and difficult journey, emotionally and physically. I have gone through some pretty rough times and I believe that there is finally a light at the end of this very long tunnel that I have been proverbially crawling through. That is amazing in and of itself.

Last year, I made significant changes to my health. I started exercising and eating better and I lost 30 pounds. Awesome, right? But then the seasons changed, Fall ushered her leaf-swirling head in, and I fell off the health train hard. And then old habits crept back in, and faster than you can say uh-oh, I was in over my head and beating myself up for derailing.

That has to stop.

When I say I want to be well, I mean in all aspects of my life. As mentioned above, I want to be well physically. That means getting back to eating properly and moving my body more. Exercise truly has so many great benefits and I want those endorphins back!  🙂

I want to be well emotionally. I want to start doing yoga and getting into meditation. I feel that this will help me get out of my own head sometimes and give me the calmness I need in my life. I also have been seriously looking at my home space and decluttering on an even grander scale than I had previously done, because too many things gives me anxiety. And although I live in a very small space, I am looking at my things differently and looking at them with fresh eyes and asking myself, “Do I value this? Is this something that I value? Am I really going to watch/read/ look at this thing again?” If the answer is no, than I get rid of it.

I want to be well financially. The things that I am getting rid of, my husband is selling online for me to bring in some extra-needed cash. Paying off some bills this year and getting a proper financial foothold will be of paramount importance.

2017 will be the year of well.

This is going to be a good year my friends. I can feel it  🙂

December in the Rearview

Wow, December was really one for the books, amiright?

What I enjoyed this month: Christmas. Spending time with family and friends. Watching “A Christmas Story” on repeat. Taking my daughter to see Santa  🙂

Seriously, best holiday movie ever!!!

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What I am absolutely over: All the dying. RIP George Michael and Carrie Fisher. All the Star Wars movies and Wham and George Michael’s music: staples of an 80’s kid’s life. So sad and so tragic.

My favorite Christmas present: This shirt inspired my spirit animal Lorelai Gilmore from the show Gilmore Girls

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Present that my daughter received that is totally awesome: The complete 1st season of the 1970’s television show Wonder Woman. My daughter loves Wonder Woman (in fact, that was what she was for Halloween!) so we always rented this from the library but they only allow you to rent dvd’s for seven days and then you have to return it and we could never get through them all before always having to return it, so my husband and I decided to just get her the collection for Christmas   🙂 She loves it, and I get to relive my childhood watching it with her because I wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I even had Wonder Woman underoos, remember those? #80skids #thatshowwerolled

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I am absolutely looking forward to 2017. 2016 has been a crazy year, definitely one for the history books, and I think we all need a clean slate.

Happy New Year friends!

 

Three Things

I was so inspired by Tanya’s post of “Three Things” and was encouraged to do my own  🙂

3 Things About Me

A few of the prompts are from her post and a few have changed. You know, to protect the innocent  😉

Three things I would never give up:

My family, my fur baby Bailey, and books.

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Three favorite fruits:

Apples, apples, and oh yeah, apples. In my previous life I probably was an apple. But since I need to name an additional two fruits,  I would say cranberries and blueberries.

Three places I want to visit in the U.S.:

Upstate New York in the fall when the leaves are all pretty and stuff, Washington D.C., and Seattle, Washington.

Three places I want to visit outside the U.S.:

England (obsessed!), Scotland, and Ireland.

Three things that make me laugh:

Funny puns, any episode of Friends, and my husband when he’s not trying to be funny. He just inadvertently makes me laugh and I love it!

Three things that make me cry:

Honestly, anything can make me cry. I am super sensitive. I cry over commercials, so there ya go. But 3 specific things would be injustice, those animal shelter commercials where they play Sarah McLaughlin’s “In the Arms of an Angel” in the background (WHY???), and particularly horrible migraines. Yup, that’ll do it.

Three favorite foods:

Good Mexican food, pizza, and chips & salsa.

Three foods I hate:

Mushrooms, olives, and cornbread.

Three famous people I’d like to meet:

Adele, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kate Middleton. (and yes, I did notice after I typed this, that they are all Brits. Lol…)

Three famous people I’d like to avoid:

Anyone that is currently in the running for a Cabinet position.

Three books that I love:

I based this on the premise that these are books that I probably have read several times and I can read them over and over forever. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, anything by Agatha Christie and the Ramona Quimby books from when I was a kid  🙂

Three TV shows that I love:

Elementary, Sherlock, and Flip or Flop. I just finished watching the Gilmore Girls revival and Gilmore Girls is like, my favorite show ever.

Three biggest pet peeves:

I have to agree with Tanya about people not using turn signals which is super prevalent here in Southern California. Ugh, so annoying! My other two pet peeves are people that stand a little too close to you when you stand in line for something, whether it is for the ATM or just in line at the grocery store. Seriously, back the &^#% up!! And last but not least, commercials that advertise medications but have like 50 side effects and the announcer has to list all of them. Why in the hell would anybody take this stuff when one of the side effects is “in some cases death may occur”? No. Just no.

That’s it! Now tell me three things about you!

Currently…

Currently…

I am trying to get back into my healthy eating habits after a spectacularly bad October and a November that saw me shift back into normal eating patterns. I haven’t been gorging on anything too awful, but I have had one too many plates of nachos and putting cheese on things that probably have no business having cheese on them in the first place  😉

Currently Reading:

Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward

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I love Deliciously Ella and her blog/recipes something fierce, so this book, which she released earlier this year, made it to my home early this Christmas. Thanks Santa!

Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker

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First book of hers that I have read but I am looking forward to diving into it. So, super thankful for the library; I would be lost without it! #librarybooksforthewin

Currently Watching:

Lots of Christmas DVD’s rented from the library. I may have watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” more times than I care to admit  🙂

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Currently Listening To:

Podcasts from The Minimalists. I was about 5 episodes behind, now I am 3 episodes behind so, progress, right? If you haven’t checked out their podcasts, you ought to.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC! All Day Baby!

Currently Working On:

What I want to accomplish next year. I know the holiday season is crazy and who has time to figure out 2017, when we are still dealing with 2016, and I totally get it. That’s why I am in thinking mode and not doing mode. I have thoughts and ideas but it is all just floating around in my head and that’s okay. I am just going to ruminate on these ideas and once I start to see a pattern and some coherency, I can start to put pen to paper and figure out what I would like to see happen.

Currently Waiting For:

Some of my favorite simple living blogs aren’t posting as much as before which I understand; December is a hectic month! So I am patiently waiting for a new post to feast upon  🙂

 

What is currently going on with you guys?

November in the Rearview

November flew by in a bit of blur, amiright?? Turkey day has come and gone and we are about to head into the mother lode of the busy holiday season  🙂

What I enjoyed this month: Decorating early for Christmas. I used to be a strict after-Thanksgiving decorator, but since becoming a mom, the decorations have come out earlier and earlier, and now I am pretty much a first-week-of-November-Christmas-decorator. #sorrynotsorry I love Christmas and since it is my favorite holiday, I feel like it should be celebrated for as long as possible.

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GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL!!!!!

Yes, I was one of gazillions who watched the brand new 4 90-minutes episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I laughed. I cried. I railed at the television when #thelastfourwords were spoken. I said a silent prayer that they would bring back Loralei and Rory for a second season, because we all need to know…WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN??!!! Also, can they just give Paris Gellar her own show? Because she literally makes me cry-laugh and I realize how much I miss her witty take-downs  🙂

What I am absolutely over: Politics. Enough said.

November was a fun month as I got to chaperone my daughter’s school field trip. Yay!!! And I also started exercising again, as it had been awhile (over a month) and I needed to get back in the saddle so to speak. I just hadn’t been making the time to exercise but I need to make it a priority again, because I honestly feel better after getting in some movement in my limbs, you know what I mean?

November was also the month that I apparently was in “documentary mode”. I watched more documentaries this month than I have in probably my entire life. I like watching them, it is just that I usually watch movies when I do get a block of time to watch something. That being said, I watched some interesting stuff. I don’t remember the actual names of the documentaries but this is what they were about:

♦ 2 separate but equally interesting documentaries on silent screen star Mary Pickford

♦ a documentary about the Dust Bowl that struck the U.S. during The Great Depression in the 1930’s

♦ a documentary on the Wisconsin primary race between Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy in 1960.

♦ a documentary about the British Mail delivery system between England and Scotland in the mid-1930’s

♦ a documentary about the Kennedy assassination before, after and during which took place over a period of four days in Dallas, Texas.

I know, my choices were all over the place but I didn’t even realize I had watched this many until I started tabulating them all. I look forward to watching more!

Well that’s it for me folks. I am looking forward to December and Christmas and 24 hours of A Christmas Story  🙂

How was your November? Did you watch Gilmore Girls?

 

 

As The Page Turns: October Edition

Books, books, books! Yay for book posts! Get ready fellow booknerds, I read some awesome books this month  🙂

What I read in October:

Young Elizabeth: The Making of a Queen by Kate Williams

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Oh my goodness, this book was fantastic! I loved learning about Elizabeth and the abdication of the throne by her uncle, which ultimately led to her father becoming King of England and subsequently when he died, Elizabeth inheriting the throne. Fascinating account of Elizabeth and her sister Margaret’s young lives and going all the way through to Elizabeth becoming Queen. I can’t recommend this book enough!  🙂

Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get From Broke to Badass in Record Time by Anna Newell-Jones

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Guys, this book was so good and chockfull of so many interesting tidbits! Anna created and runs the popular blog andthenwesaved.com for the non-personal finance crowd and her book was such an easy read. No confusing info, no berating because you too have bought one too many things under the influence of emotional shopping. Anna has been there and describes her journey of getting out of debt which gave her the freedom to follow her dream of becoming a freelance photographer. Definitely give this one a read!

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, um wow, all the feelings! I loved it. ♥  I don’t want to get too deep with this, but this book was awesome. Definitely a good read!

The Moor by Laurie R. King

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This book revolves around the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles with a 1920’s twist and Sherlock Holmes himself is brought back to Dartmoor to solve this latest incarnation of mystery.

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie

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Y’all know I had to throw in an Agatha Christie novel and what better one to read for October than Halloween Party? Bobbing for apples takes on a whole new meaning when one of the party guests is found dead in the tub of apples. Who did it and why? That is the question…bet you’ll never guess who did it!  😉

What did you guys read in October? I need some new books to dive into!

October in the Rearview

Ah November, so glad to see you 🙂 October was a busy month and I am glad we are onto a new set of 30 days.

October was busy with school stuff for my daughter, my husband’s birthday, my mother-in-law coming in from out-of-town to visit, and just general busyness!! I know it is only going to get more hectic as the holiday season approaches, but that’s okay. Christmas music makes any errand or chore, that much more bearable   🙂

What I enjoyed this month: Football and hockey games on my tv! Woo hoo! Also, I have eaten an inordinate amount of homemade nachos this month. While they were good, I think I have eaten more tortilla chips in the month of October than I have the entire previous nine months of the year. I need to stem the tide people. I need to stem the tide.

What I am absolutely over: PUMPKIN ANYTHING! I am on a serious pumpkin overload. Really. I can’t take another picture of pumpkins, pumpkin drinks, especially pumpkin foods. When did everything suddenly have pumpkin in it??? I saw a recipe for pumpkin hummus the other day and I almost gagged. Garbanzo beans and pumpkin mixed together does not sound appetizing. In fact it sounds like this:

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I am over pumpkins and I hope by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I will be able to eat pumpkin pie, let alone make it. Right now, apple pie is sounding like a better option.

(By the way, isn’t the above picture awesome? I snapped that photo while out trick-or-treating with my daughter)

Blog Posts I Loved:

In Case You Missed It, Posts I Wrote in October:

How was everyone’s October? Did you watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown“, like we did?  🙂

You Have a Choice

Decisions, choices, problems, tasks, minutiae, items, lists, issues, etc…

We are bombarded daily with things that need to be done, should be done, or things that we feel that ought to be done. And sometimes that quagmire of decision-making can leave us inert and impotent, not making a decision at all. Feeling like what’s the point, and leaving what we really want, to be unfulfilled and unresolved.

And procrastination just seems sooooo much easier, right?

But procrastination causes us to stay in that quagmire, not growing, not reaching our potential, not being the best person that we can be. We have the tools right in front of us to be our most amazing selves.

“The things we cling to out of fear, prevent us from growing” -Shannon Kaiser

When you procrastinate and stay stuck and do not make any decisions in any direction, are your feelings fear-based? Are you afraid you will make the wrong decision? Do you feel that things will always be this way, so what’s the point?

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Friends, I understand. I have been there. If they gave out PhD’s in procrastination, I’d have one. And to be honest, there are days where I give into fear-based thinking and I let it get the better of me. But I keep pressing on and I do my best to change my mindset. Fear and all of its baggage have a way of dictating our lives when we should be the one to do that. Fear will prevent us from being the beautiful shining humans we were meant to be if we let it seep too deep into our conscious.

We were meant to renew. We were meant to regenerate. We were meant to grow.

We were not meant to stay stagnant.

“Change is difficult, and procrastination is easy- at least for the moment. But there is no reward in procrastination”. -The Minimalists

If you want to make changes, be mindful of the fact that feeling like you don’t have a choice, is a choice.

We all have choices. We all have the proverbial fork in the road. The question is, are you going on the left path or the right path, because staying stuck and keeping your feet right where they are can’t be your option. You were made for beautiful things, and if you need a push in that direction, here it is:

You are a warrior.

You are light, not darkness.

You are made for so much more.

You can do it.

You. Can. Do. It.

I believe in you