Have you noticed it? The days getting longer? It seems like just last week it was dark when I went into work and dark when I left (which I find very depressing). Then all of a sudden I noticed that it wasn’t the case. There aren’t rays of sunshine, but it’s light out! Hallelujah, I’ll take it! In the middle of winter, it’s important to find the bright spots, the little gifts, the happy miracles.
This week, I am celebrating the fact that we have reached the mid-point. We are just as close to Spring as we are away from Autumn and it just so happens that there are 333 days left in 2017. This is a special number for me, so I’m taking notice!
To celebrate, I’m lighting a candle, thinking spring thoughts and reading about the history of Imbolc, Ground Hogs day and St. Brigid’s day. These are all holidays about light, rebirth and new beginnings; perfect for a day of planning, goal setting and some early spring cleaning.
I invite you to take a moment today to light a candle and think about what you want to create this year. Write it down, meditate on it, set goals around it and make great things happen! Every day is a new beginning!
I search for inspiration. I read books that inspire me, I attend retreats and workshops that inspire me and I connect with people that inspire me. I search it out all the time, because it’s important to me to grow and connect with others. But other times, inspiration finds me when I’m busy with daily life. In these moments, it’s often just a whisper to pay attention. It’s very easy to ignore it and move on. However, if you do pay attention, you may just find a gift of insight, a gift of support, a gift of gratitude or simply a gift of inspiration to be a better version of yourself.
If you follow me on FaceBook, you may have seen a post about this….
While cooking dinner, a wet bowl left this on my cutting board and I instantly saw the Tree of Life. I almost just wiped it up, but on second thought I grabbed my phone, took a picture and sent it to a couple friends that I thought would appreciate it. One replied, “Make that go viral!”. I laughed at the response, because going “viral” has never been an aspiration of mine, but I did decide to share it on FaceBook, thinking others might get a kick out of it. The response to the post has been great. And, I’m happy to report, I’m not delusional, others see the tree as well!
Every time the post received a new like, I was reminded that we all need to be inspired by the little miracles in life. We are surrounded by them, if we just pay attention. Personally, I know that when I take a moment to be grateful for all of the small gifts the world gives me, when I stop griping about inconsequential irritations, when I acknowledge that life is a miracle; then, I am inspired to grow and develop into the best possible version of myself.
I hope the Tree of Life inspires you, with it’s strong roots, potential for unlimited growth and it’s sacred wisdom. A reminder that we are all unlimited, we are all connected and we are all miracles.
This is the time for New Year’s Resolutions. And next week we will have forgotten all about them (or is it just me?) I’m not against resolutions, per se. There is nothing quite like a new beginning to inspire change in your life. However, I have found that I’m not so good at keeping resolutions. Often times we make them too specific or too grandiose, and in the end, we give up on them. We focus on outcomes instead of action,
There are many alternatives to the resolution. As a matter of fact, you can always try a couple to see which works best for you. Just keep them simple and focused so you don’t overwhelm yourself into failure.
1. In January, I am starting another bookclub/workshop session on my book 90 Days to Holistic Wellness. The book walks you through making 1 small change each week for 12 weeks. The changes are small and manageable and cover many different aspects of Body, Mind, Heart and Soul. After 3 months, you’ve made many improvements to your lifestyle on which to build upon.
If you aren’t close enough to join the group, simply work through it on your own. That was the actual intention of the book anyway. You can get a copy HERE.
2. Word of the Year. Choose one over-arching word to inspire you and keep you marching in the right direction. The word can be anything that has meaning to you or that you want more of in your life, such as: Compassion, Love, Self-Love, Abundance, Passion, Creativity, Acceptance, Strength, Hope, Health, Family, Friendship, Mindfulness.
Choose a word that resonates with you. Then, journal about it, meditate on it, write it on a postit and put it on your frige…and let it inspire and lead you all year long.
3. Set weekly mini goals, based on balancing your Body, Mind, Heart and Soul. Decide each week what you want to accomplish that week, to feed these aspects of self. I use my bullet journal to keep track of these.
4. Pick up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”. It's filled with great ideas and inspiration for creating a better version of yourself throughout the entire year. You can get a copy HERE.
5. Make a list of your top 5 life priorities. Post them on your refrigerator, write them in your calendar and make a point every day of prioritizing these things. When you give them your attention over time wasters like TV, FaceBook or whatever else tends to steal your time, you will see positive change in your life.
The concept of a New Year’s resolution is simply to identify a priority and set a goal toward it. What ways do you have of identifying your priorities and making sure you meet them? Feel free to share in the comments.
Happy New Year – may 2017 be wonderful!
It’s that time…when I like to take a few moments to ponder the previous year.
What went right in 2016? So much!
Simplification has been a key theme for me in 2016. I continue to fight the battle against stuff, finding inspiration in minimalist blogs and podcasts. I have no intention of living in a sparse, tiny house. However, I find that when I am more intentional about the stuff I allow in my home, I end up living in a home that is truly me, rather than in a space full of stuff.
My daughter started her Senior year of high school, got her license and started her college search. If this isn’t a growth opportunity for mom, I don’t know what is. The idea of my baby becoming an adult and leaving the nest is crazy to me and brings about so many emotions! Happiness, sadness, pride, fear, etc etc. Thank god for time in meditation to sort it all out!
My business is growing and changing as an idea took on a life of its own! After a few conversations with a new acquaintance, the universe shoved us along until we partnered up and opened Holistic Hub. HH offers yoga, meditation, nutrition/wellness coaching, wellness and creative classes and more. It’s been (and still is) a whirlwind ride and I am so excited to be a part of it! And, I am so grateful that I have a loving husband that has been supportive and understanding about it all.
I have reconnected with my favorite hobby. I always loved to read, but as life gets busy, reading was one of the easiest things to let go. I did still read, but not as much as I would have liked. Then I stumbled upon a podcast that inspired me to head to the library and grab a book! Since finding “What Should I Read Next” in June, I have read so many books I can hardly believe it. And not because I cleared my schedule and suddenly had nothing else to do. I simply made it one of my priorities…and that is all it took! You find time for what you prioritize. (“Instead of saying ”I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.” – Laura Vanderkam)
I started a bullet journal, which I have found to be a great tool for scheduling, planning and keeping track of things (like books to read). This tool has a lot more potential, which I hope to harness in 2017.
What went wrong? Luckily nothing too big!
Relationships, sigh. I'm not the best at making time to nurture relationships. I had told myself I was going to be more intentional about reaching out and connecting with friends and family in 2016. I did not do as well as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, I almost failed. Not to say I didn't connect with friends at all...I did. And I did have lots of fun in 2016. But in the end, I didn't make the soulful, personal connections I had hoped for because I didn't truly make it a priority.
I may have made time for reading, but another passion that I have been ignoring is writing. I had intended to spend more time writing in 2016, even if it was simply writing thoughts in a journal. I didn't write even a fraction of what I had hoped to.
A new year brings new opportunities to grow and expand, I can't wait to learn what 2017 has in store for us. But before it gets here, I highly recommend that you spend just a few moments contemplating 2016. Then, thank it for all the lessons it offered, and set your sights on 2017.
Here's to 2017! May it be the best year we've experienced so far!!
~ Namaste ~
A few months ago I stumbled upon a wonderful podcast…about books. While it might not sound like the most interesting topic, the first episode I listened to had me hooked. The discussion was great and I finished the episode with a post-it note list of 3 books that I wanted to read. The next episode left me with a couple more and after listening to the entire archive I have added almost 100 books to the list. Listening to these episodes helped me rediscovered my love for reading. I used to read all the time, but I had reached a point in my busy life in which I was not prioritizing reading.
Have you experienced this? Finding yourself so busy you don’t make time for something you love? If you know someone that is passionate about something, you know that they will prioritize it and find time in their busy calendar to fit it in. So, I started to do the same with reading. I would carry a book with me to read any time I had a moment. I started listening to audio books and using my kindle. Often I find myself reading 3 books at once (one paper, one kindle, one audio). While I’m still busy (I work full time, run my own business and have a family & home), I have managed to read over 40 books in the last 6 months!
This time of year we are especially busy. Holidays can really over extend our to-do lists, but I urge you to make time for yourself and things you enjoy. Prioritize what you love, what you enjoy, what makes you happy. If you make something your priority, you will find the time for it!
Oh, and that podcast? Modern Mrs Darcy's What Should I Read Next….give it a listen and make time for something you enjoy this holiday season!
As adults, we can sometimes take for granted how stressful this time of year can be for our kids. After a long, laid back summer, returning to a more structured schedule, homework, meeting expectations, P.E., fickle friends, etc.; it can all be quite stressful!
There are a handful of easy things you can do to help your children learn to handle their stress levels, which will make their school days more productive, successful and enjoyable.
-Start adjusting their bedtime now, so that when school rolls around they are already back on schedule.
-Plan healthy snacks and meals to properly feed their bodies.
-Teach them belly breathing to relax their minds. Simply soften the belly muscles and allow the belly to extend outward with the inhalation and contract in slightly with the exhalation. A few deep belly breaths are the perfect way to reel in stress right before a test or presentation.
-Let them unwind in the evening with a cup of chamomile tea. Regularly drinking chamomile has a tonic effect on your nervous system, helping the body deal with stress. If warm tea isn’t up their alley, you can ice it add a splash of orange juice to zest it up a bit.
-And of course, send them to school with a light breakfast for energy and a water bottle to stay hydrated.
While these tips are great for the kids, they are also great for us adults too! Give them a try and enjoy the upcoming school days!
Meal planning and grocery shopping…two tasks that can stand between people and healthy eating. Some people find meal planning and grocery shopping to be a wonderful experience, others loathe the task. If you loathe it, simply aren’t real good at it or just don’t have the time, there are businesses out there designed to help you.
In my last post, I gave Blue Apron a try. This week, I tried Hello Fresh. The options are little different with Hello Fresh. There are 3 baskets to choose from: Vegetarian, Original and Kid Friendly. There is also the option of feeding 2 or 4. There was no pescatarian option like with Blue Apron, but I did like that the vegetarian box was a slight bit cheaper. In addition to no fish option, there are also no meal substitutions for the vegetarian box. I’m not a picky eater, so this wasn’t a big deal for me, but I can imagine it would be for some.
Other than that, things were very similar with a couple exceptions. While Blue Apron packaged all ingredients together and I had to sort them depending on what meal they belonged with, Hello Fresh packages each meal separately in boxes that fit easily into the refrigerator. Blue Apron meals seemed rather large to me, while Hello Fresh seemed to offer more reasonable sized entrees. While both had way too much packaging, I did like that Hello Fresh assumed I would have butter and flour rather than supplying me with wasteful plastic containers of just a small amount of these pantry staples. However, I must mention that I was a bit let down with the ingredient quality of Hello Fresh. The ear of corn that was included was usable, but clearly not overly fresh and the package of fresh thyme was off colored and moldy. Luckily I have thyme growing in my herb garden so it wasn’t a big deal for me to replace it.
My Hello Fresh meals were…. Stuffed Zucchini Boats (best zucchini boats I’ve ever had), Peach and Mozzarella Flatbread (sounded good, but the flavor fell flat), and Zesty Corn & Red Bean Salad (I will surely make this one again!). As I put this post together I received a 2nd Hello Fresh delivery with these dishes: Caramelized Veggie Skewers with Corn Relish and Couscous, Peach & Nectarine Orzo Salad with Feta, Cucumber and Mint, and Sicilian Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew with Couscous. These sound pretty yummy, don’t they?
Overall, I was pleased with both companies, I would recommend both. But which would work best for you? It depends on what you are looking for. However, both offer great deals on the first shipments, so you can give them a try and see which you prefer!
Try them out, let me know what you think.
I notice a similar theme among my clients, my friends and folks I meet at various events…we all want to eat healthier but struggle to find the time and the energy (and sometime the planning ability) to put together healthy meals. I’ve decided to experiment with a couple different services that help with this, to determine if I would recommend them.
First on the list is Blue Apron.
Blue Apron is a mail order ingredient service. You choose your plan (3 meals a week for either 2 or 4 people) and then customize by any diet restrictions. I chose vegetarian/fish as my only meal options. I would have preferred more customizable (is that a word?) options, but the basics are covered. They put together a list of 6 recipes a week and you pick the 3 you want (there is a default 3, so if you don’t choose, you will still get a delivery). They send you the recipes and all the ingredients you need (with the exception of only salt, pepper and oil). You can choose to receive meals every week, or you can skip weeks (you just have to make these decisions well in advance).
I decided to give it a try and see what I thought about the food and recipe quality.
This was my experience (pictures are below):
Delivery Box – Everything was still cold and fresh, but there was a lot of packaging.
The Recipes – Huevos Rancheros Quesadillas, Steakhouse Salmon, Spicy Korean Rice Cakes. They were all meals I looked forward to trying. The recipe cards were very detailed with lots of pictures. Someone fairly new to cooking would be able to follow along. The website is also available, which has some reviews and suggestions from other members (although honestly it seemed a lot of people were kind of bitchy and expected Blue Apron to know exactly what ingredients they personally disliked – weird, I thought).
The Food – Nice quality food, but I was not a big fan of all the packaging waste. Some of the packaging was easily recyclable, and there is information on the website on how to recycle the rest. It is also good to note that you need very little in the way of pantry items. They send you every little thing you need…down to a TBSP of mustard or a ¼ c of flour.
How I Organized It – I put the ingredients for each meal in its own bag, so I could just pull it out of the fridge and cook.
Huevos Rancheros Quesadillas – reading over the recipe, this felt more like a brunch meal, so that’s when we ate it. And I’m glad we did because it took just short of an hour to pull together and I was busy the whole time. This was not what I would consider a good weeknight meal. It started with homemade tomatillo salsa; then a can of pinto beans was reborn as zucchini infused refried beans. Both delish, but a lot of work chopping and dicing and cooking (and I love to chop and dice!). The cheese had to be grated, which is fine except they provided a fairly thin slice, so it was awkward to grate. I ended up with a lot of small chunks I couldn’t grate without losing skin. Overall a very tasty meal, but I felt a little cheated, as the ingredient list here couldn’t have cost more than $5. The recipe was a bit busy for a weeknight meal, but the salsa and the refried beans could have been made ahead to speed up meal time.
Steakhouse Salmon w/ potato medley – this was a simple but delicious meal. The potato/mushroom/bean mixture with the shallot vinaigrette was easy to make and very tasty. The salmon was very nice quality. This meal came together with much less fuss than the previous meal, and I felt the salmon was well worth the money spent.
Spicy Korean Rice Cakes – never having rice cakes, I decided to read the reviews on this recipe first. It was noted that this meal was a little sparse on protein. Now, while I think Americans tend to get a bit obsessed with protein, I had to agree. The recipe did seem a little lacking. In the end, I decided to toss in a couple shrimp from the freezer and served them over lettuce to create a more well -rounded meal.
Bottom line? If I just consider the price I paid for the meals themselves, it was a little pricey. For meat eaters, the meal options might seem more in line with the $ spent. (There is no adjustment to price for vegetarian only meals). However, considering it took all the meal planning and grocery shopping out the equation it saves a lot of time and would be a great help to someone who currently eats out most of the time, struggles to plan meals, hates shopping and/or doesn’t have much of a pantry.
Because I personally tend to cook a lot already, I have a pretty well stocked fridge and pantry. Therefore it seemed a bit wasteful for me to receive fresh thyme (I have it growing outside my door), 2 eggs (I have eggs in the fridge), 1 TBSP mustard? (I have mustard and I have a lemon and I have spices….etc). But for people who don’t, this really simplifies things.
While I did add to the rice cake meal, there was then enough of the rice cake mixture for a leftover meal or to be used for lunch the next day; same with the quesadilla recipe.
All in all, I feel this option would be great for people that currently eat out the majority of the time or that rely heavily on processed/packaged foods to create meals. If you tend to buy ingredients and throw half away because you can't use that much, this is also a great option. I would indeed recommend this program for anyone who really wants some help and inspiration to learn to cook real food at home. It doesn’t help with lunches or snacks, but it is a good place to start, especially if you don’t currently cook much.
If you do already cook a lot, this program might not be for you, but you can still check out the recipes on their website and walk away with some inspiration for next weeks meal plans.don’t think you need their complete services,(maybe you just need the inspiration), take a peek at their website. You can see the recipes and print them for free.
I have my 2nd and last Blue Apron delivery tomorrow and then I'm trying Hello Fresh. I will let you know how those go.
If you have tried Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, I would love to hear what your thought about them.
We all know them, those people that run around harried, late for everything, their homes and cars are a mess, they lament on how busy they are and how they just can’t manage to get it all done. And we all know someone else that is the exact opposite; someone that manages to work full time, raise a family, keep their lives tidy and still have time for friends, hobbies, vacations and down time.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and how we choose to spend them is often the difference between being harried and stressed or orderly and at ease.
It all comes down to budgeting.
Many of the same tips and tricks for budgeting your money also work for budgeting your time.
#1 Track your expenditures. Keep a small notebook to track how you spend your time. For a money budget, experts recommend a whole month; but for time, just a week is usually enough to capture the bulk of your activities over week days and a weekend. This reality check of how you spend your time can be very eye opening.
#2 Make a list of monthly/weekly/daily musts. For the financial budget, these are your non-negotiables (rent, utilities, etc). For the time budget these are things you have to do (work, grocery shopping, commuting, children’s activities). That’s not to say these can’t be altered, but they are things you must spend some amount of time doing.
#3 Trim the excess. Look at the difference between #2 and #1. What things in #1 could you really live without or reduce? Easy ones are often TV watching, Internet surfing, shopping for non-essentials. This could also be spending time with family and friends out of guilt rather than for actual enjoyment. Don't give away your most precious resource out of guilt!
#4 Have Long Term and Short Term Goals. I often have my clients do an exercise I call “my perfect day”, and there are several variations that are helpful to identifying your priorities. Essentially, I ask that they take a sheet of paper and write out the daily schedule for their perfect day. Be realistic...most of your non-negotiables from #2 will need to be in the schedule, but maybe they can be altered a bit.
This is your long term plan. Compare this to #1 above, where are the gaps?
Maybe your long term plan is to retire or simply work from home to avoid commuting time. Your short term plan is what small changes you can make this week to slowly move from the schedule you identified in step#1 to move closer to the long term plan. Week after week continue to set short term goals that will slowly lead you in the right direction.
#5 Experiment. If you try something and it doesn’t work well for you, try something different. What works well for your neighbor, might not be what works best for you. Be open to experimenting, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, you can alter the plan.
#6 Pay yourself first. When budgeting money we are urged to put money into savings before we consider what we have to pay/spend. In the schedule world, it means making sure time for you is on your schedule before you start filling it in with everything else. For many people, this can be best accomplished by getting up a little earlier and having “me” time before you get lost in the day. This could also be setting aside a day of the week or a special weekend to do what you want or need to do.
Obviously making time for your hobbies is important, but "me time" could be making time to schedule out weekly meals or setting aside 3 hours on Sunday to cook meals ahead, allowing you to have less stress during the week.
The biggest difference between the 2 people I mentioned in the beginning is the time wasted on non-essential and often non-fulfilling activities. Trimming the excess in these areas and instead, using that time in a more productive (and enjoyable) manner, can make a huge difference...with time and money.
We all have the same 24 hours a day. Set an intention to make the most of yours.
When you walk into your house, do you instantly feel “at home”? Does your house feel comfortable to you? When you sit in your living room, do you look around and see things you love? Would you ever describe your home as your sanctuary?
My house is not new and it’s not perfect, but I have spent a lot of energy over the last few years, arranging furniture in a way that is functional and interesting, getting rid of things I didn’t love and replacing them (sometimes) with things that make me happy. I lit candles, I brought in plants, I got rid of clutter. I made sure it’s not just a house, it’s my home.
I think it’s important to carve out our own place in the world. A place where we are surrounded with things that make us feel comfortable…a place where we enjoy spending time…a refuge from the craziness of the world.
For me this means a certain amount of duality: clean spaces, free of clutter but not too sparse; sometimes background music, sometimes silence; sometimes the scent of a candle, sometimes the scent of bread baking in the oven; sometimes I want to hibernate on my couch with a cozy blanket, sometimes I want to lounge on my patio to enjoy a summer breeze; sometimes I want to socialize with friends and family, sometimes I don’t. My home is set up perfectly for all of those things.
For others, it can mean anything from spaces devoid of stuff to those filled with collectables and interesting knickknacks. Some people require art, some require music, some require a steady stream of visitors, some require solitude. What makes our homes our refuge differs greatly, we are all individuals after all.
What feelings elicit the sense of home and belonging for you? How can you bring that into your home? What makes your house your sanctuary? What would make it a space you crave to spend time in?
If your home is not yet your sanctuary, don't feel overwhelmed, start small. Pick the room where you spend the majority of your waking hours, or the room that others in your family use the least. Clean it, declutter it, bring in or simply showcase a couple items that you love. Make it a place where you enjoy being. Make it a peaceful space to enjoy an evening cup of tea or a fun area where you are surrounded with funky art and games to play with family members. It doesn’t have to be pricey or difficult, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. Just a step in the right direction...a step toward creating your own personal refuge.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.