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31 Days to Better Sleep: Week Three

31-Day Sleep Challenge

Week Three: Movement and Suspension Week3 SC

1.  Move your Body:

This week we will incorporate movement into our daily routine. The goal is to get 20 minutes of exercise and increase that to 30 minutes a day. If you feel ready or are currently do 30 minutes or more, by all means go for it! But for those that haven’t been working out regularly or have a hard time to find a 20 block of time, here is what I want you to do; two 10-minute sessions. Can’t find 10 minutes? Then do four 5-minute sessions. I won’t let you excuse your way out of this!!!

Some of the amazing benefits of exercise are that it helps to control weight, improves mood and brain function, reduces stress, PROMOTE SLEEP, prevents health conditions and diseases, taps into your creativity, and so much more!!!

Some quick workouts you can do and you don’t even need to go to the gym!!

  • Brisk walks outside
  • Running up and down the stairs for 5-10 minutes
  • Squats, jumping jack, push-up sit-up, or whatever combo of exercises you like (or tolerate), and do as many reps as you can in 5-10 workout sessions
  • Rebounding on a trampoline
  • Dancing!! This one is my favorite and makes me feel so good. There is nothing like shaking it to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to put me in a good mood! Create a play list and dance yourself into happiness!

Here are some links to other workout ideas:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20201/a-10-minute-workout-you-can-do-every-day-no-equipment-necessary.html

http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/fast-paced-five-move-total-body-workout

http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/10-minute-bodyweight-workouts-burn-fat/

2.  Suspend your Mind:

For your mind we are going to do the opposite of movement. We are going to slow it down and give it a chance to rest. We will incorporate a mediation practice. Now when most people think of mediation, they think of sitting cross-legged, on a big pillow, with candles and incense burning, chanting some strange language. This is not at all what I mean, but if that works for you, chant away my friend!! That is one of my favorite ways to meditate!!!

Some of the benefit of meditation are reduces stress, IMPORVES SLEEP, brain function, immunity, concentration, increase attention span, helps you feel more connected, increases self-awareness and happiness, slows aging, and so much more.

There are many ways to meditate. One of the easiest ways to start is to practice a breathing exercise. Start by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath in for the count of 5, filling your belly. Hold the breath for a count of 5, and then let it all out for a count of 5. Do this for a round of 5 breaths and practice this couple of times a day. Especially upon waking and just before going to bed.

Another way to begin to mediate is using a guided mediation. This was the key for me to establish my meditation practice. It gave me a way to keep my mind focused. Now I don’t need it, but I still love doing guided meditations. I have attached some links to some of my favorite Youtube channels that offer guided meditation. Take a moment to go through the videos and find what resonates with you. Then plug in your headphones, find a quiet comfortable spot, close your eyes and relax!

https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelSealey

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheHonestGuys

https://www.youtube.com/user/EdensCloset

Meditation can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. There are many different ways and types of meditation. I suggest by starting with these simple steps and practicing them daily. Once you get some momentum in your practice, then explore other mediation methods and techniques.

jen med.

 

31 Days to Better Sleep: Week Two

31-Day Sleep Challenge

 Week Two: Self-Careweek 2 sleep challenge

1.     Create a self-care ritual: This week we will add self-care to our daily routine.  Continue your morning and bedtime routine, and turning off the electronics and television 1-2 hours before bed.  Now we are going to create a self-care ritual. This can be any time during the day, but the idea is to do something that makes you feel good. Self-care are intentional actions taken to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  There are so many benefits of practicing self-care, such as reducing stress, supports a healthy immune system, reducing anxiety and depression, builds our confidence, makes us better caregivers and so much more. 

      Each day decide on one or more actions that you will take to practice self-care.  One thing I would like to point out is to do something that is completely different from what you do for work.  Or if you’re a stay at home mom, this doesn’t mean taking your kids to the movies.  That IS fun and I love doing that, but this is a chunk of time is devoted just to you.  Another example of this, I use to work in the animal welfare field and EVERYTHING I did in my life revolved around animals.  When I wasn’t rescuing them, I was walking my dog, going to an agility class, cleaning my pig’s pen, playing with my cats.  Everything involved an animal on some level.  I loved doing all that, but had I taken better care of myself during that time and given myself a break from animals, I would have been a much healthier, happier person.  And I would not have suffered as horribly as I did. 

      I have a nightly self-care ritual that I’ve done for the past 3 years.  I take a shower before bed, usually with the lights off and burn a candle, while in the shower I meditate for 5-10 minutes.  During my meditation, I think of all the wonderful things that I am grateful for and just breathe deeply (meditation can be that easy).  After showering, I apply essential oils (usually Vetiver) with massage oil and give myself a massage and think of all the things good things I did that day for myself and others and how that made me feel.  Since this challenge began, I have been turning on my Himalayan sea salt lamp and reading a book.  I’ve noticed in just a week, my sleep is better and I wake up well rested. 

Some self-care ideas:

·       Getting a massage or facial

·       Yoga

·       Mediation

·       Soak you feet in warm water and massage with essential oils

·       Paint, draw, craft, playing an instrument, etc.

·       Read a book

·       Buy yourself a healthy delicious lunch, or make yourself one.  Fill your thoughts with love and kindness as you create your meal.  Then enjoy each bite slowly.

·       Journaling

·       Go for a walk or hike

·       Dance or listen to your favorite music.  Especially something from you junior or high school days

·       Go horse back riding

·       Saying “no” to something you don’t want to do, and DON’T feel guilty.

·       Take a nap

·       Learn something new

·       Go to your favorite place and have a picnic or just sit quietly

·       Have a dinner date with your best friend

·       Turn of your phone and computer for the whole day

 

The list is endless.  Just do something that feels good to you and nourishes your soul.  Taking care of yourself first, allows you to continue to care for those that rely on you to care for them.  So give your soul a big hug and start practice daily self-care. 

To join the 31 Days to Better Sleep Challenge, join us on Facebook and see 31 Days to Better Sleep: Week One

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Out of this World Orange-Pineapple Juice

orange, pinapple and blueberry

Out of this World Orange-Pineapple Blueberry Juice

This morning I got up and made breakfast as I do every Sunday morning.  After Jason finished eating, he said that he wished we had orange juice.  And me, being the granter of wishes and magic, obliged.  I had 5 oranges that needed to be used up, and a pineapple that had finally ripened.

juicing w elliot

“I juice oranges Mama”

With Elliot’s help, we juiced the pineapple and oranges in our juicer.  During the juicing process, I had a wild idea to take our orange juice to a whole new level!!!! Let’s add some frozen BLUEBERRIES!!!! I transferred the orange-pineapple juice into the Vitamix and threw in about a couple of frozen blueberries.  OMG!!!! It was so good!!! Another step toward our zero waste movement!!!

taste test

Taste Test… “Mmmmm, it’s good Mama!”

Recipe:

  • 5-6 Oranges
  • 1 Pineapple
  • 1 Cup of frozen blueberries

Instructions:

Peel and cut up the oranges and pineapple and juice them in your favorite juicer.  I love my ACME Surpreme Juicerator (which was also thrifted, or I should say, rescued) 🙂 Then place the juice in the blender and add frozen blueberries. Blend until smooth and enjoy!!!!

 

family juice

Say “Juice!” A family that juice together, stays together.

How I am Learning to Trust Myself

self trustFor Mother’s Day I signed up for an aerial yoga workshop. I’ve had a consistent yoga practice for a few years now, and thought that it would be a fun experience to try. I went into that yoga class feeling free and not worried if my jiggly bits were hanging out or if I was going to be the biggest person in class. In fact, those thoughts hardly ever cross my mind any more. I thought I would struggle with not having enough upper body strength to do it, but I found out my lack of physical strength wasn’t the struggle.

My struggle was trusting my brain and body. I discovered I have the huge disconnect between the two.  Neither one trusted the other.  I mean how could they? After all the years of torment that I’ve put my body through.  My brain was always sending negative messages about how my body wasn’t good enough, small enough, toned enough or whatever enough.  It would refuse to feed my body, then when I couldn’t stand it any longer, would convince me to purge the last meal I had engulfed. But my brain couldn’t trust my body either.  Just at the sight of food would pack on 2-3 pounds. No matter what diet trend or exercise program I tried.  I just got bigger and bigger.  This volatile relationship went on for many years. After so many  years of abusing myself by binging and purging, taking diet pills, not sleeping for days, starving myself, pouring every ounce of my self into work, or beating myself up with negative self talk, how could I trust myself?

During the class, I found that couldn’t trust myself to allow the freedom to move my body the way I wanted it to and trust that the ropes would support me.  What I came to realized, is how trusting I am (or I should say use to be) with other people in regards to my heart and making decisions about my life. Yet I don’t trust myself with any of that.  I then realized this was the key to my procrastination, stalling, indecisions, and the lack of follow through on so many things I want to accomplish. It is not failure that I am afraid of. It’s success! Can I trust myself with success, after all the mistakes I’ve made with finances, jobs, relationships, or whatever else I beat myself up for?

For the past few weeks I have been working on building trust in myself and I have to say this relationship is blossoming.  Here are some of the things I have been working on to build a trusting relationship with myself.

  1. Speaking kindly to myself and being my biggest cheerleader.  I acknowledge when I’ve done something great.  Even if it’s getting through a hard day.  Sometimes just getting dressed, making lunches, and getting out the door is a huge victory.  A pat on the back is well deserved!
  2. Grounding myself through mediation and spending time in nature. Being in nature and standing in it’s beauty is so healing.  I feel that beauty radiating up through my feet and permeates through every pore in my body.  Being in natures makes me feel beautiful. Meditation allows me to stop and be still, and listen to what I need.  Even if it’s taking 5 deep breaths several times throughout the day, makes a difference in my thinking.
  3. Self care. Taking time to address my needs or asking for what I need. Doing things like receiving chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, floating, or even doing an art project. Whatever it is that makes me feel inspired, creative and loved.
  4. Showing up.  Following through with the commitments I make, allows me to be trustworthy and supportive to myself.  But also being flexible and holding myself accountable to complete the goals that I have set.
  5. Expanding social circles and connecting with others. Creating relationships and connecting with boundaries and respect, creates trust.  It also allows me to see the love that I give and that is reflected back to me.
  6. Saying “No!” As a people pleaser and always wanting to help someone in need, I tend to stretch myself thin. This leaves me exhausted, frustrated and angry at myself for taking on too much.  I say “no” more often now, and don’t feel guilty.
  7. Dancing.  I dance when I’m cooking. I dance when I playing with my toddler. I dance when I’m brushing my teeth. I dance when I’m happy. I dance when I’m sad. I just dance! I allow my body to move freely without restriction and it doesn’t matter who’s is watching.
  8. Regular check-ins.  I check to see how I am feeling, or what is it that I need in those moments I am feeling anxious, sad or out of control.  I practice active listening, identify distorted thinking and do positive reflection when negativity creeps in. Meditation is a great time to do this.
  9. Intuitive Eating.  I listen to my body for what it needs.  I pay attention to my cravings and eat a clean diet of healthy whole foods. This doesn’t mean that I miss out on treats or desserts.  I will make my own with the cleanest ingredient available.  And I eat cacao (chocolate) everyday!
  10. Seeing myself from a different perspective. I think about how I would I treat a friend, or what advice would a give them.  I would never treat or say things that I sometimes say to myself, to a friend or a stranger for that matter. So treating myself as a friend, I am kinder and gentle with myself. Another technique I use when I’m struggling with some type of self-doubt or negative self talk, is envisioning my 6 year old self and comfort the inner child that is hurting.  This encourages me to be more compassionate with myself.

Over the past few months I have been really working on healing the relationship with myself. Now my body and mind have a much better relationship and work together to maintain health.  Over the past several years, the negative chatter has dissolved and I am in a good space mentally. I have discovered myself worth and cherish the spirit that is within this body.   Five years ago I would not have stepped foot in a yoga center. This class was my awakening to success, allowing it to happen and TRUSTING that everything will come together.  I trust that I can let go of the ropes and fly. And if I fall, I know the universe will support me with an even better plan than I had envisioned.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Indulging in Raw Chocolate….

valentines-day-letteringHappy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope you are celebrating love even if you don’t have a someone special.  Actually you do.  You have you! And you are the most important person in your life! How about you doing a little self care and lavish yourself in raw chocolate? And guess what?  IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!!!! Continue reading

Nine Tips for Skin Care During the Winter

winter-skin-careIt’s that time of year again, when we turn up the heat.  When the heat comes on, it feels like our bodies become drained of moisture.  Our skin becomes dry, flakey and cracked.  Here are some tips to nourish your skin and keep it looking healthy and beautiful!!

 

Tip #1.  Beauty starts from the inside out! Drink plenty of water.  Water helps carry nutrients to the skin, which aids in skin repair and rejuvenation.  It also helps with muscle tone which equals to less sagging skin! It is also important to eat clean and lots of greens, and be sure to take Omega 3 to help to keep the skin moist. Omega 3 aids the skin in retaining moisture, which plumps out wrinkles and gives the skin a smooth appearance.

water

Tip #2. Avoid hot showers and baths.  For those of us in really cold climates this is a challenge, and I for one LOVE a hot shower.  However, hot water breaks down the skin’s natural moisturizing lipids and leaves the skin dry. Do you remember our mother’s telling us not to go outside with wet hair?  She was right! Hair can freeze in the cold, which can cause damage to the scalp and the hair can break off.

Tip #3.  Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!! Switch using organic butters or oils, and use them at least twice a day, more if needed.  Be sure to use products free of harsh chemicals. If you can, apply moisturizer before going outside and be sure to always apply moisturizer after cleansing the skin.

Suggested Butters: Cocoa, Hemp Seed, Macadamia, Mango or Shea

Suggested Oils: Jojoba, Sea Buckthorn, Rosehip, Hemp Seed or Castor

Tip #4.  Go beyond moisturizing.  Give you skin a little love twice a week with a cream mask.  Avoid using harsh scrubs or drying masks.  I suggest using a creamy tea mask, which is hydrating and helps to draw toxins out of the skin. Or create mask using avocados, bananas, honey and essential oils. Try out the avocado mask recipe from It’s ok to Play with Your Food.

Tip #5.  Hydrate your environment. Invest in a humidifier.  This is helpful for not only your sinuses but your skin as well. Placing plants with large leaves in your bedroom or areas you spend the most time in also helps increase the moisture in the air.

Tip #6.  Give your hands a hand.  The winter brings cold and flu season.  So we tend to be more vigilant about washing our hands, which is very drying to the skin.  Applying a moisturizer after washing hands and throughout the day will help keep the skin supple and smooth.  Make sure to wear gloves when out in the cold and avoid rough materials such a wool, and cotton that will absorb moisture.

Tip #7.  Keep exfoliation to a minimum. Avoid using harsh scrubs and exfoliants during winter months, even when your skin appears flaky.  Using a cream cleanser with a soft cloth with small circular strokes is enough to slough off dry patchy skin without being abrasive.

hurraw

Tip #8.  Love your lips.   Lips get dry and chapped because they have no sweat gland to lubricate the delicate skin and are sensitive to temperature changes.  It’s import not to lick your lips, which will cause chapping.  Instead keep soothing lip balms in your purse, car, drawers at work, next to your bed, or anywhere that you can access it.  Apply often.

Hurraw Balm

Tip # 9. Astaxanthin Supplement. Astaxanthin (pronounced “asta-ZAN-thin”) is a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment that is found in marine plants and animals, such as shrimp, lobster, and crabs. It is considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. Astaxanthin has MANY health benefits, but for specifically for the skin, it protects the cells from damage, aids with skin moisture levels, smoothness, elasticity, and wrinkles.   Astaxanthin acts as an internal sunscreen by reducing the UVA damage.

Dr. Ron’s Ultra Pure Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin GOLD

 

What the death of my father-in-law taught me…

 

popsIt was a year ago today, I was working the evening shift at a job I absolutely hated. At about 6:00 p.m. I became violently ill and had to leave.  Before leaving work I returned to my desk, and saw I had 2 missed messages from Jason, but I didn’t response to them until I got  to my vehicle.   That’s when I got the frantic message from Jason to “GET HOME NOW!”

I tried calling his cell phone a couple of times, but he didn’t pick up.  So I called the house, where my oldest son answered the phone.  He said Jason was on his was to his parent’s house and had left the baby at home with him.  At that point I knew something bad had happened.  Jason’s step father, Joe had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 2 months prior and he had been traveling to Boston for treatments and doing well. I was 15 minutes into my 40 minute drive home, when Jason finally called me and told me that Joe had passed away.  I was in shock.  How could this amazing man so full of life, be gone?  We had just been at their house 2 days before putting up the Christmas tree.  We had family plans, he had grandchildren to play with and spoil, golf games to play, and so much more life to live.

This year has been a struggle and a blessing.  So many things have changed, I have experienced so much growth and Joe’s passing taught me some important lessons. Most importantly :

1.) Life is truly a gift.  In our every day life, there are so many struggles, from juggling work, home, kids, bills, and so many other responsibilities.  We forget how precious it is and the abundance of magic that surrounds us.  I now treasure the chaos and craziness of it all.  I love that my house is messy and there are dishes in the sink, laundry piling up, when before I would stress about it all.  Now a feel blessed that we have toys all over the floor which means I have a healthy active 2 year old using his imagination.  The dishes in the sink means I have the money to fill the belly’s of my family, and the 10 loads of laundry means the ability to be able to provide clothes for all of us.  And also that I have 13 year old daughter who needs a new outfit for every hour.

2.)The present moment is where life occurs.  I use to spend so much time, thinking of the past, the mistakes I had made, how or what I would do to fix them, and being full of regrets. The reality is, I could never go back or do anything to fix them.  This would only leave me feeling inadequate and depressed.  When I began living in the moment, I enjoyed being a mom even more, I felt connected to Jason, life was sweeter and less stressful.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days, loose my temper, or get sad.  That is what living in the moment is all about.  Just allowing the experience to happen and be with your feelings, good or bad. This is what makes you grow as a person.

3.) Allowing yourself to feel.  We live in a society where we are so quick to take a pill to numb the pain, or throw ourselves into work or other vices to distract  from what we really feel.  No one can ever heal this way.  We need to accept that it’s ok to feel sad, angry and alone when someone we love passes.  And that 3 day of bereavement time is NOT enough time to “get over” a loss.  I admit that it is scary to sit with your emotions and just allow yourself to feel the loss of someone you love.  Sometimes the pain can be so overwhelming.  But if you just sit with it and breathe through it, that’s when the real healing begins and you can release the pain.  I don’t think that feeling of loss ever goes away, but it becomes bearable.  Instead of being overcome with the pain, a shift  takes place and your are able to honor their memory by remembering the wonderful times you shared and what they offered the world.

4.) Being Fearless. No one is promised tomorrow! You can make excuses of why you can’t or don’t want to do things you KNOW will make you happy, or continue to not to participate in life, but where does that lead you?  To an unhappy, unfulfilled, lonely space and full of regret.  I wouldn’t do a lot of things by myself, because I was afraid to put myself out there.  I became very isolated and shut off from the world.  This year I began making myself attend workshops and events that I found interesting.  It was uncomfortable for me at first, but it changed my life.  I have created some magical friendships, I am now excited  to go places and do things I have never done before, and my confidence has grown. Life is too short to be unhappy, and to beautiful not to experience it.  Don’t let fear take it away from you.

So tonight I honor Joseph “Popo” Graham and thank him for touching my life and accepting me as part of your family.  Thank you for sharing your light and kindness with the world and with me.  I love and miss you…

honoring joe