Happy, Healthy, Creative Wish List

Happy Tuesday, and happy (belated) Thanksgiving!  I hope your holiday was wonderful.  My mom was in town, and we enjoyed five days of laughter, togetherness, yoga, and eating (too much) amazing food.

Today, I'm sipping green tea, munching on leftover apple, date, and ginger crisp, and working on my holiday wish list.  I thought I'd share my list with you all.  Maybe you'll find some inspiration for your own wish list, or a gift for that creative someone in your life!

1. Yoga bolster by Hugger Mugger.  A bolster is the ideal gift for the yogi who wants to create a restorative ("yin") yoga practice at home.  It's blissful placed along the spine in supine poses, or under the knees in savasana.  As a bonus, it's filled with organic cotton batting.  Ommm.

2. Essential Oils Kit by PlantLife.  This is a fantastic starter kit for anyone interested in the many beneficial uses of essential oils.  These highly concentrated oils can be used as aromatherapy when added to a diffuser (or your bath, lotion, face masque, etc.), or simply dabbed on the body as perfume.   

3. Create Stillness retreat with @katecourageous of Your Courageous Life.  Imagine a weekend spent on the Monterey  peninsula in Pacific Grove, CA, dedicated to slowing down and getting courageously present.  Did I mention the in-room jacuzzi and fireplace?  Yes, please.

4. Eat, Pray, Love soundtrack.  You loved the book.  You loved the movie.  Listen to the beautiful soundtrack and be inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's incredible journey of self-discovery all over again.

5. Grub: Ideas for an Organic Urban Kitchen by Anna Lappe and Terry Bryant.  Part cookbook, part lifestyle how-to, this book would make the perfect gift for the health-conscious foodie on your list.

6. Tea of the Month Club from Teavana.  Spoil the tea-lover in your life with a new variety of tea each month, available in 6 or 12-month subscriptions.  

7. Type Bird Moleskine by tabidesigns.  A gorgeous take on the classic moleskine notebook.  Perfect for jotting down bits of inspiration throughout the day.

8. Root Over Rock water bottle by Sigg.  Hydrate in style with this pretty and functional water bottle.  An ideal gift for any yogi or active girl on the go.

9. The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam.  A visual, step-by-step instructional guide for turning your creative dreams into a viable business.  A must-have for the aspiring entrepreneur!

What's on your wish list this year?


"The way you move is the way you live."

This morning:

Waking slowly to a misty, overcast sky.  

A warming bowl of organic rolled oats with a drizzle of agave and maple almond butter stirred in.
A mug of green tea (my current favorite, genmaicha, sweet with the flavor of roasted brown rice).
Planning the week's menu, highlighted by a wholesome, soul-comforting autumn-themed meal of herbed quinoa, red cabbage slaw, and apple-ginger crisp.
Nearly two hours of heart-opening vinyasa flow.
The way you move is the way you live, the instructor says.  Do you fling your limbs wildly through your practice, hurdling ahead to whatever's next?  Or do you move your limbs with intention, taking time to enjoy the sensation of movement itself?
Post-savasana, stepping outside to find the fog has dissipated, replaced by a bright and clear sky.
Taking the dog for a long walk, and noticing how she pauses to savor the breeze against her face and how she takes in the sights and smells that we humans bypass without a thought.
Settling into a hot bath, the steaming water scented with clary sage and lavender.  Skipping the usual reading during the bath routine, and instead, taking time to just breathe the fragrant air.

The way you move is the way you live.  My intention for today is to move mindfully, to live on purpose.


Discomfort...and what Yin Yoga can teach us about embracing it

As I mentioned last week, I recently discovered a great Yin Yoga class.  I've attended this class twice in the past two weeks.  Both times, I've left class feeling not only incredibly relaxed but also profoundly aware of my relationship to discomfort.  Specifically: all the ways I resist it, and the strange and wonderful things that happen when I stop doing so.

ut let me back up a couple of steps.

in Yoga, as you may know, is a style of yoga in which you hold each asana for prolonged periods of time, usually 3-5 minutes.  As you first enter a given pose, there can be pretty significant discomfort, especially in the hips and lower back area, parts of the body where we - women, especially - carry emotional tension.  During the first minute of the pose, the discomfort intensifies, as the muscle resists pushing past what the mind perceives to be its limit.

owever, if you can breathe through that discomfort, something unexpected happens around the 1-minute mark.  The muscle actually relaxes, releasing its tension, which allows you to access the deep connective tissues and to stretch beyond what first seemed possible.  Practiced regularly, Yin can increase your range of motion, protect against injury, and help keep the body healthy and young.

hat I find so moving about Yin is that it echoes so perfectly the way we deal with discomfort off the mat.  When faced with challenging emotions, our impulse is to resist.  We tense up at the first sign of potential pain, attempting to protect ourselves against feelings we don't believe we are strong enough to survive.  Our mind has us utterly convinced that we simply cannot bear to actually experience the pain, to the extent that this belief seems like reality.

t is at this point that many of us "numb out" in a desperate bid to distract ourselves from having to feel at all.  (We turn to food, shopping, TV, partying, etc.  And to clarify, I don't believe these things are inherently bad; it's when we use them as an  that we get into trouble.)  But as with Yin, the great paradox is that it's only when we are able to embrace the discomfort - to be with it - that the tension releases, and we are able to relax into ourselves, and - engage more fully with our lives.

s I mentioned, I've been meditating on this point during these past couple of weeks.  It is, of course, an ongoing practice (as with yoga, and as with all things).  We will always feel discomfort, and we will always resist it.  It's not realistic to expect ourselves to suddenly embrace our discomforts, left and right.  But maybe if we can at least be aware - at least nod in recognition, call it by its name - 
we wouldn't resist it quite so much

e might even get a little bit, well...comfortable.


Ten good things

1. Receiving amazing emails from blog readers filled with kind words about my new career direction.  Your words mean more to me than you know.  Thank you!
2. Having time to practice yoga almost every day...and discovering an amazing yin yoga class.
3. Half (or "one-legged") Pigeon pose.  It's amazing for the hips and lower back.  My body has been craving this pose so much lately!
4. Anticipating my mom's upcoming visit.
5. Planning a yummy and healthful Thanksgiving menu...details forthcoming.
6. Having time to take Basil on lots of long walks and watching her pounce gleefully on the crunchy leaves.
7. My new favorite green tea.  The roasted organic brown rice lends a sweetness that makes it not at all bitter like some green teas.
8. Making delicious vegan enchiladas (sautéed kale + sweet potato + onion, wrapped in Ezekial sprouted grain tortilla with red chile enchilada sauce, topped with diced avocado and a spritz of lime juice).
9. Reading two amazing books (yes, simultaneously...I can never seem to stick to just one at a time): Deepak Chopra's Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul and Debbie Ford's The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse.
10. Last, but not least, learning so much about health and wellness through my IIN courses!  I am just filled with so much gratitude every day that I'm able to pursue this passion.

hat's new and good with you?  I would love to hear.

Image via Happiness is Like a Sunny Day.


Scenes from an autumn weekend in Louden County, VA

As a joint birthday gift, Jason's parents gave us a gift certificate to The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, in beautiful Louden County, Virginia.  We decided to make a weekend of it by exploring the surrounding area in all its autumn glory.  

Louden County is home to some of Virginia's best wineries, so our first stop was the highly recommended Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville.

(I didn't get a great shot of the vineyard, so the photo above is from the Sunset Hills website.)

We enjoyed a little wine tasting, and picked up a few bottles to give away as holiday gifts.

The winery was housed in a 130-year-old restored barn.  

(You can see some of the barn's interior in this shot of Jason.)

After some vino and a delicious lunch at Magnolia's at the Mill, we hit up The Old Lucketts Store, a sprawling antiques emporium in Leesburg.  I'd heard great things about this place, and I was not disappointed.

Their selection of antique and vintage wares was incredible.  Each room was so artfully arranged...it felt like a museum!

(Image above via the store's website.)

I loved these Parisian-themed tea towels.  Aren't they perfect?

We also stumbled upon a really beautiful rustic-style sunburst mirror.

I snapped a few photos of the grounds surrounding the store, including this one of a wilting rose (I think it's a rose...someone correct me if I'm wrong.)  

There was something about the way the flower was beginning to decay but hanging onto its original beauty that took my breath away.

After checking into our bed and breakfast (more on that in a minute), we enjoyed an incredible meal at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, a restaurant that uses fresh (and obviously local) ingredients from the organic farm on which its located.

The restaurant was happy to accommodate my request for a vegetarian tasting menu.  The meal began with a sampling of autumn radishes, and progressed to an ethereal butternut squash "cappucino", a vegetable medley composed of Matsutake mushrooms, parsnip mash, handmade butternut squash tortellini, and swiss chard gelée, and finally, for dessert, a "jelly donut" - a handmade cinnamon donut filled with fresh blackberry preserves and accompanied by dulce de leche ice cream and chestnut sauce. 

(I didn't take photos of the food because I tend to feel a little awkward whipping out my big camera in restaurants, especially nice ones.)

Everything was incredible, made even more so by the freshness of the ingredients and the knowledge that it came from the very land on which we were dining!  It was truly farm-to-table cuisine at its best.

Back to the bed and breakfast....

After reading reviews online, we decided to stay at the Stone Manor Bed and Breakfast, a beautifully restored Civil War-era manor home in Lovetsville.  Upon our arrival, the owners Beth and Spencer greeted us with warm smiles and glasses of wine.  It was just the most wonderful, hospitable experience.  (I prefer staying in bed and breakfasts because they just feels so much more personal than hotels.)

Here's a little video of the charming Blue Delft Suite, where we stayed.

(Video via Stone Manor's website.)

The best part of the bed and breakfast?  The breakfast, of course!  On Sunday morning, we dined on German apple pancakes, white chocolate cherry scones, turnovers featuring veggies from the garden, and the most amazing pineapple-cheddar grits.

Obviously it was a rather decadent weekend, food-wise, but I didn't mind indulging a bit, knowing the dishes were made of high-quality organic and local ingredients.  

Should you ever have the opportunity, beautiful Louden County is definitely worth a visit! 


Ways to Nourish Yourself

Today, I'm loving this list of ways to nourish yourself (by Emma of Graceful Balance).

  • Get adequate sleep and make it a priority to be well rested
  • Move your body: stretch it, tone it, and allow it to play
  • Eat foods that support wellness (Most of these grow in the ground)
  • Spend time daily being quiet
  • Connect with uplifting friends
  • Have fresh flowers in your home
  • Supplement your diet with the appropriate vitamins and herbs
  • Remember to be grateful
  • Stay hydrated
  • Play with a pet
  • Find reasons to laugh
  • Practice financial responsibility
  • Stay in the present moment
  • Read spiritual books
  • Get creative. Paint, sculpt, sew, build or draw.
  • Spend time in nature
  • Create rituals that support, soothe or heal
  • Learn to breathe deeply
  • Continue to learn
  • Know what you want
I would add to this list: make a pot of soup, practice yin yoga, bake a loaf of whole grain bread, write in a journal, and sip green tea.  How do you nourish yourself?


Routine, structure, and prioritizing what's important.

Good morning!  You may have noticed that it's been a little quiet around here this past week.  I finished up at work last week, and amidst the all of the changes, I took a little break from blogging.  Today (the first day of my "new life" as Jason and I have jokingly dubbed it), I'm feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in.

omething I've been thinking about a lot lately is routine.  I am, by nature, someone who thrives on routine.  I like knowing what's going to happen next.  I find it comforting to have a schedule, and stick to it.  A schedule enables me to be more productive, because I know I only have X amount of time to complete Y, and I'm less likely to procrastinate.  So, while I'm excited about all of my newfound free time, I'm also seeking a balance between latitude and structure.

or example, I've decided that I want to continue waking up early.  People have been asking me if I'll be "sleeping till noon" with my newly flexible schedule, but my creative energy actually peaks in the morning, and I know it will be important for me to "show up" (as Julia Cameron says) and be present to my most important tasks during those hours.

Speaking of which:

hat, exactly, will you be
doing all day?"

Since quitting my job, I've been fielding variations of this question (though usually not phrased quite so bluntly).  Here are the priorities, or intentions, I've identified for the next few months. 

1. Schoolwork

Listening to lectures, completing assignments, participating in sessions with my IIN health coach (a nice benefit of the program is that we're assigned our own health coach for the duration of the program), studying for tests, and meeting regularly with my new study buddy to talk about what we're learning and support each other's progress.

. Building my health coaching practice

My goal is to launch my own health coaching practice, including sessions with individual clients and group workshops in-person and via e-course/webinar.  So, for the next six months, I plan to focus intensely on all of the things, big and small, that starting a business entails.  More on this soon.

. Lots of yoga, running, and other kinds of physical activity

One of the reasons I decided to leave my job is that I could no longer bear the sedentary 10+ hours a day of commuting and sitting behind a desk.  Even though I was able to fit in workouts before or after work, 4-5x per week, my body was crying out for frequent, intense, and varied movement.  And, as a health coach-in-training, I realized it was critical for me to "walk the walk" of designing a lifestyle that honors and supports my body's needs.

. Writing

I've found the blogging community to be an amazing source of support and motivation.  In fact, I credit my ability to make this change in my life partially to the inspiration I've found through all of you.  I hope to up the quality of my posts (as opposed to just the quantity), and to spend more time nurturing the relationships I've built with fellow bloggers.  You'll continue to find my Foodie Friday posts on Tranquility du Jour.  I also plan to begin submitting articles to other health and wellness publications.

. Taking care of myself

In addition to exercising more, I want to continue eating healthily and I'm excited to have more time to shop for and cook healthy meals.  The self-care category also includes things like engaging in a meditation practice, spending more time in nature, reading, spending quality time with Jason (and Basil!), hot baths, and artist's dates.

here are other things, of course, like the highly glamorous task of cleaning our second bedroom (currently functioning as a storage room with our laptops buried somewhere underneath layers of extraneous stuff) and turning it into a workable office space, and other projects I've been putting off due to lack of time.  But the five areas above encompass the areas I'll be consciously devoting the most time and energy.

ow do you structure your time, and what role does routine play?  How do you prioritize the important stuff?
  I'm curious to hear...whether you work from home, work outside the home, own your own business, etc.


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