14 Day Meditation Challenge Journal

This photograph was taken from a page in the book "Yoga: The Essential  Positions" by Jacqueline May Lysycia

This photograph was taken from a page in a book I own titled “Yoga: The Essential Positions” by Jacqueline May Lysycia, Copyright 2012.  This is a lovely book of yoga positions.

 

This was a challenge posted by the blog No More Dirty Looks, and I decided to really commit myself to it to see if I could reap any benefits from 14 continuous days of meditation.  Read on to see what happened!

Day 1 Monday, November 10  – Set 5mins on phone timer and closed my eyes. I told myself that it was a good time to try to meditate to calm myself. It helped to focus on my breaths in and out, as well as repeating a soothing word in my head. Five minutes was up very quickly. Ten minutes before I started my meditation, I had anxiety so badly that my hands were shaking. I don’t feel totally at ease now, but better.

Day 2 – Just 5 minutes again.  This is after my second night in a row of terrible sleep and anxiety.  I noticed my breathing was deep and relaxed when I meditated today.

Day 6 – I’ve meditated for 7 minutes for the past two days, and I find the time still goes by quickly.  I find myself relaxed.  More and more, I find peace in just focusing on my breath and repeating a mantra in my head.  So far, it has been “I peacefully embrace what is.”  This is a reminder to myself to not resist what is happening in my life, to not judge situations and people, to remind myself that there is peace in me.

Day 8 – This daily practice is starting to feel like a habit already, and I find that I do enjoy the time that I just shut out the world for even a few minutes.  Today I added the mantra, “I am full of love” and I felt a positivity fill me during meditation.

Day 10 – Just to change it up, I tried a guided meditation today.  This is the one I used and I found it to be very relaxing.  Today, my mind was fairly quiet, considering I wasn’t repeating a mantra this time.  I was just listening to the bell and felt so relaxed.

Day 11 – Today I did a 6 minute positive thoughts guided meditation, and it was great.  I know that after I meditate in the mornings, I feel happier and upbeat.  I’m infusing my mind with positivity and calm.  I feel good right now – better than good, I feel a sense of calm and peace within me.  I know that this high will not last permanently, but I feel it’s a place I will be able to return to more easily with a daily meditation habit.

Day 12 – I did an 8 minute guided meditation…I didn’t want it to end.  I feel so good right now.

Day 14 – Today I downloaded several guided meditations and listened to three or four in a row!  They were so relaxing and wonderful, I’m hooked on meditation.  I know as long as I continue this habit, I will continue to see improvements in myself.  The best results so far have been the ability to use meditation to soothe my overactive mind and to aid with anxiety.  In these respects, meditation has been so helpful.  I’d also like to use meditation as a positive way to start my day, full of positive thoughts.  I’m grateful for this challenge because it has given me a kick-start to a very beneficial meditation practice.

Beyond Day 14 – I’ve still been meditating everyday…not because of the challenge, clearly, but because I love the way I feel.

 

Did you take part in this challenge?  Do you meditate?  Please share your thoughts with me!

How I Stay Motivated to Exercise

Top: Danskin Yoga; Bottoms: Active by Old Navy

Top: Danskin Yoga; Compression Pants: Active by Old Navy

 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know that creating habits help me stick to things that are important to me.  Like exercise.  These are 3 simple habits I’ve created that really help me stay motivated to workout.  I’ve found what works for me, but everyone is different.  Try one of these approaches if you feel a lack of motivation to exercise.

Exercise in the A.M. – I am not the type of girl to bounce out of bed at 6:00 a.m. like a warmed-up cheerleader, smile plastered on my face.  But I do vastly prefer to workout in the early morning.  Personally, I’ve found that in the past when I told myself I’d workout in the evening, I’d find any excuse not to – I had to cook dinner, I had to unwind, I had to help my daughter with her homework.  At 6 o’clock in the morning, there is nothing holding me back. Working out in the morning also enables me to check exercise off my “to-do” list, and I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.

Invest in Workout Clothes – I’m not one to blatantly endorse mindless shopping. But when it comes to exercising, good workout clothes are not only incredibly practical, they can serve to help motivate you. If you try to stretch or get into a yoga position wearing baggy pants, it may not be as comfortable or as easy. I find that wearing form fitting exercise clothing is my favorite way to do Pilates and Yoga, that way I don’t have to worry about clothing pulling or hanging in awkward ways. Also, if I’m going to workout in the morning, I like to keep my clothes right by the bed so there is no excuse.  These are my favorite type of workout pants right now.

Mindfully Reflecting on How Far I’ve Come – This isn’t just a space filler.  This is really important.  Sometimes I just don’t want to pull out my yoga mat, but you know what?  Then I think about times in my life when I was less fit and more uncomfortable in my body and less flexible.  I don’t want to go down that road again.  I enjoy the health my body has.  I feel comfortable in my clothes and I enjoy seeing what my body can accomplish.

How do you stay motivated to exercise?

Favorite Products: Hurraw! Lip Balm

hurrawI know, I know.  Everyone has written about their favorite all-natural lip balm.  And now I am, because I love this lip balm and I have to say it.  I’ve been using Hurraw! Lip Balm for several months, so I know for sure I love the brand.  I’ve also been using all-natural lip balms for years, so I’ve tried quite a few and I know this one is special.

First, these lip balms are made with vegan, organic, raw ingredients.  Second, the company has great customer service.  Third, they are fairly easy to find and very affordable.

I am definitely a scent person – I love nice scents with one caveat – it has to be a natural scent, not chemical.  Chemical perfumes and scents make me sick and generally bring on an automatic headache.  These balms are all naturally scented and smell fantastic. The Black Cherry lip balm is even tinted – yes, truly tinted! It smells fantastic and leaves a gorgeous sheer red tint.  My favorite for fall is Chai Spice.

One of the main reasons I have been pretty faithful to these lip balms is the texture.  Beeswax based lip balms tend to have a drier or harder consistency that can make it difficult to really “coat” my lips.  Hurraw! is made instead with candelilla wax as its second ingredient, which makes for a texture that is perfection.  I’ve used other beeswax-free lip balms that were so soft they felt almost watery in consistency.  This formula just hits the nail on the head.

What is your favorite natural lip balm?  If you like Hurraw!, what is your favorite scent?

10 Natural Solutions To Ease Anxiety & Stress

toolstocalm

This is a time of year when a lot of people deal with stress and anxiety.  The holidays are upon us and many people are trying to make preparations and coordinate schedules.  Others of us might deal with anxiety at different times throughout the year.  These are some all natural tools I personally use to help manage my anxiety.

Essential Oils & Flower Essences– There are so many essential oils and many of them help to ease  anxiety and stress.  Sometimes when I am very anxious, I also get nauseous.  I like to smell peppermint oil when I feel this way, or dab a bit under my nose. Lavender is also a fantastic essential oil for inducing calm.  I also love Lotus Wei’s Infinite Love Mist and their Inner Peace Mist to help me feel more mellow and happy. Balanced Guru’s Full of Love Mist is nice, too.

Bach’s Rescue PastillesThese chewy pastilles are a candy-esque form of their famous liquid Rescue Remedy.  I like to let these slightly sweet gummies slowly dissolve in my mouth when I am feeling tense or stressed.

Lotus Wei Inner Peace Elixir – This elixir is one of my favorite ways to help relieve anxiety.  I put five drops under my tongue and close my eyes, letting the elixir help soothe and calm me.

Self-Help/Spiritual Magazines & Books – I always feel better when I read a positive article or self-help book that puts things in perspective for my over-active mind.  One magazine I recommend is Spirituality & Health.

Herbal Tea – Herbal teas are another fantastic way to help calm down when you are feeling stressed.  My favorites lately have been chamomile, peppermint, and Traditional Medicinals Easy Now tea.

Journal – Sometimes we have thoughts that need to be put down on paper.  Usually, though, I like to re-read uplifting quotes when I feel a bit anxious and worried.  I keep my little red journal full of positive quotes, affirmations, and reminders to myself to not stress.

Sound Healing & Music – Calm music really resonates with me when I am anxious.  I love to hear soothing sounds.  I love listening to the Ambient Music and Zen stations on Pandora. Another excellent and free resource that I often use is YouTube, which has some great quality sound healing videos.  This is a very nice sound healing video.

Staying Busy – Often when we are stressed or upset, we focus on our perceived problem, which doesn’t help.  While focusing on the problem for a few minutes can sometimes help alleviate the nagging worry, I don’t like to obsess for an hour over something.  If I feel that happening, I work on a project, or do a mundane task like laundry or vacuuming.  It really takes helps take my mind from my worries and re-directs my thoughts.

Laughter – It’s true that often laughter is the best medicine.  I always feel better when I watch something that makes me laugh.  Whether it’s a favorite vlogger on YouTube, a comedian, or a sitcom, I love silly, lighthearted laughter when I’m feeling down or anxious.

It’s also important to tune in to your particular personality.  Whereas introverts need time to themselves to re-charge and calm, extroverts generally desire to interact with others.  Depending upon your personality, one of these solutions can help as well.

What natural solutions do you use to help ease your anxiety and stress? Let me know!

 

Current Autumn Makeup Look

currentautumnmakeuplook

I’ve amped up the moisture for fall and have tried to incorporate a bit of pretty color.  Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean when can only use drab neutrals!  This is a typical makeup routine for me lately.

Coola Face SPF 30 Matte Tint – After my moisturizers and serums have had a few minutes to sink in, I apply this mousse-like tinted sunscreen to my face.  I have never in my life enjoyed a facial sunscreen like this one.  The texture is beautiful, the hydration is just right, there is no cloying scent, it doesn’t break my skin out, it gives a light coverage, and the color is the best I’ve come across for my fair yellow olive-toned complexion.

Christopher Drummond Duo-Phase Hydrating Concealer – I truly love this concealer.  I apply it under my eyes to cover dark circles and around my nose to cover redness.  I use a damp Beauty Blender and it just melts into my skin.  Hydrating is right – there is no settling into lines at all.  I  set this with my pure silica powder, and then it stays all day.

Alima Pure Maracaibo Bronzer – After using Tarte’s Park Avenue Princess bronzer for a while (which I do like), I wanted to try Alima’s highly rated powders, but was unsure which to try.  I ordered samples of the Sombra Contour Powder, Maracaibo Bronzer, and Mauna Loa Bronzer.  The Sombra is just a little too flat and ashy on my skin, and Mauna Loa is much too dark.  Maracaibo, on the other hand, is a beautiful matte bronzer with just enough warmth to add depth to my face without looking fake.  I really enjoy this.

Aster + Bay Beet Root & Hibiscus Stain – This is my favorite makeup product right now, and I’ve talked about my love for it here.  This stain is seriously gorgeous on the cheeks.  It is a sheer berry and gives the skin a sexy sheen.  The fact that it is hydrating, has good longevity, and is all-natural just makes me even happier.  You can use it as a lip stain as well, but I just use it on my cheeks.

W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick – This was formerly called Universalist Multi-Use Colorstick #2.  This creamy highlighter is gorgeous on the cheekbones.  It really does add a little indescribable something to the face – just a pretty, glowing, youthful dusting of magic on the skin.

100% Pure Eye Brow Gel in Taupe – I love the cream texture of this eyebrow liner.  It is a pretty decent match for me.

Pacifica Stellar Gaze Mascara in Supernova – I’ve been going back and forth between this one and Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes, but my current tube of the Tarte has been flaking like crazy all over my face.  I’m so frustrated that I want to toss it, which is saying a lot for me because I don’t waste products.  It’s possible I just have a bad tube, so I won’t write this mascara off yet. This Pacifica mascara is very nice, buildable, doesn’t make my lashes dry, and doesn’t flake at all.   However, I like my lashes more dramatic than this can really produce.  I’ve decided to try W3LL People mascara next.

Everyday Minerals Mineral Eyeshadow in Laptop – This is my favorite eyeshadow of ALL TIME.  And they discontinued it!!  I’m always searching for a dupe but I don’t know if I’ll ever find one.  This one is a shimmer eyeshadow with a light brown base, plum tones, and silver shimmer.  It’s seriously gorgeous and gives something along the lines of a Victoria’s Secret subtle-but-sexy eye look.  If you know of a similar eyeshadow color, please tell me!

Tarte SmolderEYES Eyeliner in Fig – This deep plum eyeliner is just gorgeous.  The tip is fat, which makes it very easy for me to apply.  My eyesight is not so good in my right eye, so eyeliner application can be tricky with a thin pencil.  This one glides on so easily.

Ilia Lipstick in Neon Angel – I know.  Bright pink lipstick in autumn?  Paired with plum eyeliner?  But hold on – I don’t apply this at full-strength.  Applied lightly, it gives a feminine pop of pink that actually looks beautiful this time of year.

Lotus Wei Infinite Love Mist – I always finish with a few mists of a hydrosol or rose water on my face.  Lately I’ve been using this after my makeup is done. The scent is incredible – one of my favorite scents ever.  So much so, that I plan on purchasing the Infinite Love perfume.  These are not just accidental flower combinations – they are formulated to work on your mood as well. This one just makes me so happy and feel so loved.

Do you use any of these products? Any recommendations?  Favorite natural eyeshadow?  Share with me!

 

 

Loving A Makeup-Free Reflection

You. Without makeup, at home or in public.  What kind of feelings come up?  Insecurity, indifference, acceptance, or confidence?

My skin behaves about 90% of the time,  which I’m sure is due to many factors, such as my age, a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, lots of water, and a good skincare routine.  Occasionally my skin is a troublemaker, typically from hormones or from products that don’t work for my skin type.

On the rare occasion my skin is in freak-out mode, I feel a bit nervous without makeup – as if people see the red spots on my face and think I’m ugly.  During these times I try to practice self-acceptance and go easy on myself.  I remind myself that with some TLC, my skin will get better.

Pimples aren’t permanent, am I right?

When my skin is in good shape, I can honestly say I feel pretty good going without makeup – around my boyfriend, in public, sometimes even at the office.  If someone says I look pale, I don’t take it as an insult…because I am very fair skinned.  No one has ever told me I look ugly without makeup.  No one has ever treated me any differently without makeup.

So for times I talk about makeup products and how pretty and fun they are, it is also important to be able to walk away from my vanity table and know that I’m OK without  products on my face.  This is me.  This is what I look like.  And I am closer now than ever before to complete acceptance of what I look like.  I hope you can do the same.

And just in case you’re wondering why I didn’t post the requisite no-makeup selfie…well, this isn’t a post about showing readers what my face looks like without makeup (very fair with under eye circles, if you’re interested) – it’s not about me,  it’s about each woman’s acceptance of her own self.  As women, we feel so many pressures to be everything, do everything, and look beautiful at the same time.  And instead of stressing, we should kick back and relax and love ourselves – imperfections and all.  That’s living the truth, and that is a happy, peaceful place to be.

Creating A Peaceful Living Space

My home is my sanctuary.  It is the place where I feel comfortable and relaxed.  We have consciously chosen items that create a relaxed, peaceful living space. These are a few of the decorating ideas we’ve used to help our home feel like a haven.

relaxing

Color – We gravitate toward calming colors found in nature – pale blues, earthy greens, soft browns, and creams.  The fantastic thing about a palette like this is that our entire home just flows so beautifully from one room to the other – from soft gold in the entry, sage green in the living room, sky blue in the dining room, cream in the den – it all just radiates peace through color.

 

 

greenery

Greenery – Lots of plants are essential for a home that feels calming and zen.  I could surround myself in plants and flowers and never have too many. Not only are they beautiful and soothing, but they help to clean and purify indoor air.   If I were a rich woman, I’d have a conservatory in my home.

 

 

neutrals

Minimal Clutter – We aren’t minimalists…but we do strive towards it in certain ways.  I think clutter in a home is one of the worst blocks to feeling relaxed and peaceful.  We have invested in lots of neutral storage.  This way, the items are stored nicely, but using nice neutral storage makes it more pleasant to look at.

 

 

softness

Soft Textures – texture is soothing and natural fabrics and materials are best – a rattan rug, soft throws, gauzy curtains.  Soft is the opposite of hard or harsh.  Soft texture is what you want in your home to help create a peaceful atmosphere.

 

 

texture

Natural Light – The more windows, the better.  Let the light it!  Open your curtains and allow natural light into the rooms of your home.  It’s good for your mood.

 

I’m not a decorator, but I know what feels good.  If you want your home to feel more relaxing, zen, and peaceful, try to pick items that are timeless, neutral, simple.  And you can never have too many plants.

What items help your home feel peaceful?

 

 

My Current All-Natural Evening Skincare Routine

eveningskincareMy nighttime skincare routine is a little more decadent because night is when your skin recovers, so I like to really pamper my skin at night.  It seems like I might have a personal stake in One Love Organics, but it’s somewhat circumstantial that so many of these products are OLO.  Having said that, their products are great.  These are the items that just happen to be in my rotation currently.   Some of these products I will most likely repurchase, others maybe not.

Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil – I absolutely love this product.  It smells like heavenly tropical dessert, literally melts makeup away, and leaves my skin soft!  I have tried a cleansing balm (a highly recommended one to boot) and it just didn’t compare to this for me.  I may give balms another go in the future, but for now I love this.  I apply it to my dry face, massage with water, and wipe away with a muslin face cloth.  I already have a second bottle in my cabinet, waiting to be opened. It’s that good.

One Love Organics Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser –  I have been using this cleanser after I remove my makeup with the Cleansing Oil. It has a very nice, light scent, though I find it very difficult to get it to lather at all.  Although I’ve enjoyed using this cleanser, I won’t repurchase it, just so I can try something else.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator – I’d heard great things about this product so I ordered the smaller size, which is still enough for several uses.  You apply it like a mask and let it set for 10-50 minutes.  I’m only using this once a week at most because of its cost.  It is a very nice mask chock-full of beneficial ingredients.  This is more of an indulgence product.  I haven’t used this enough to form a solid opinion, but so far, so good.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator – I mist this over my skin just after I cleanse.  The smell is complex and beautiful….sort of like a spicy vanilla marshmallow.  As it gets colder I may use this product more during the day, but for now I’ve been reserving it for nighttime or when I feel my skin really needs a little something extra during the day.

One Love Organics Love Springs Eternal Serum – I stumbled upon a great deal on this serum and snapped it up.  And I am so glad I did – this serum is fantastic.  There is something really amazing about watermelon seed oil, because my skin has been in better shape since I’ve started using this serum.  I like this for night because it is a bit of a heavier serum.  I think after this, I will always include watermelon seed oil in my skincare – the results have been that great.

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil – I bought this oil because again, I heard great things about its effectiveness.  This is my first bottle, and I’ve had it nearly four months.  I love this oil for healing irritated skin or blemishes.  And here’s a true story about this stellar oil: two separate times this past summer, my daughter was exposed to too much sun when she wasn’t with me.  She came back home with red cheeks and forehead.  I rubbed some of this oil into her skin at bedtime, and the next morning the redness was completely gone.  That makes me a believer in this potent oil.

Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin E Active Moisture Eye Balm – This has made me a believer in eye balms.  I cannot believe the difference in an eye cream and a balm.  Balms are amazing for the eyes, especially if you’re over the age of 25.  This completely hydrates my eye area for the entire night.  This was a sample, and I won’t be purchasing at this time because I already have a new eye balm I bought to try.

Silk Pillowcase – I have one similar to this.  I bought one several months ago when I read about how pure silk is good for the skin and helps to prevent creases on the face while you sleep.  I’ll try anything that says it can benefit my skin naturally!  Plus, it is better for your hair, as it doesn’t snag and pull hair the way a cotton pillowcase does. An alternative to this for a vegan would be a nice satin pillowcase.

I would love to know – what nighttime products do you love? Do you enjoy any of these products?  What is your favorite night serum or oil?