“Lit” Leftovers

I don’t know about you guys, but I grew up being extremely aware of not wasting food. My sister and I were members of “the clean plate club” which earned us a star on the sticker board after each meal was completely polished off. And, if you didn’t eat every morsel on your plate, you were reminded of all the starving children in the world who were not as fortunate as you.

I’m convinced that growing up with this guilt/remorse mindset, I’ve managed to keep a few extra pounds on in my adulthood. To this day, I simply refuse to waste food. It’s an unconscious act. I’ve taught my kids how to make something out of the nothing in the fridge, hoping that they too, will mindful of waste and over consumption.

That being said, I’ve gotten pretty creative with leftovers. Below, is a creative way to use leftover soft tacos. With a box of 14 and a family of four, we always have at least 4 soft taco shells left over. Typically, we’ll use them the next day for breakfast burritos. However, I came up with an idea to use them for a snack–“burrito chips”.

Preheat your oven between 400-425 degrees

Use a pizza cuter to slice the burrito in to eight pie slices

Use a baking tray and spray with olive oil, avocado oil or any tasty oil (stay away from aerosol cooking sprays as they don’t add nutritional benefit or flavor, and they’re not good for the environment!)

Place the burrito pieces on the tray and spray with olive oil or other flavorful oil. Sprinkle your favorite spices on the chips (I like Himalayan salt, cracked pepper and turmeric but you can use just about anything)

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown

Let the chips cool and store in an airtight baggie or container

Enjoy!

How do I Meditate?

There’s so much information about “how to” meditate. I’ve read countless books and techniques. All of them have been great, truthfully. However, I believe there’s no one-size-fits all way to meditate. You have to practice what feels right to you.

I’m a pretty hyper person (in a good way). I have a busy and creative mind with lots of ideas spinning around. You can’t tell me to sit still for an hour let alone, 20 minutes. I’m just not wired that way.

For me, the best form of meditation comes in movement, especially if I’m feeling agitation or indecision. A nice brisk walk with a focus on deep breathing always does a world of good.

On the other hand, I have learned to establish a stillness routine. When I’m experiencing the feelings of tiredness or fatigue, often I still want to run around like a chicken. However, I’m aware that remaining in a constant state of motion with no down time wouldn’t serve me emotionally, mentally or physically.

In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, he describes that, “Rather than trying to do something amazing from the beginning, start small and gradually improve. Along the way, your willpower and motivation will increase, which will make it easier to stick to your habit for good.”

He recommends starting at 1% of your goal and increasing it each day by 1%. This is totally doable. For example, I’m trying to create the great habit of drinking an 8 oz. glass of water each morning. I’m terrible with being consistent about drinking those 8 ounces. So, I started with a sip each morning. I did this for a week. It’s about a month later and now I’m up to 4 ounces each morning.

If I had tried to go with the entire 8 oz. from the start, I’d fail. I’m just not a big drinker but I know that it’s very important to cleanse one’s organs upon rising. It’s also a good practice, in general. I tried this same technique with my meditation practice. I started with closing my eyes while sitting in a quiet space for one minute.

Even in that one minute, my brain wanted to interject, “Time for coffee!” or “You need to write that article by 7 a.m.” Ugh. It can be difficult! However, this should not stop you from trying something new to quiet your mind even if only for a few moments.

Here are some ways that I enjoy practicing meditation or what I prefer to call, quieting the mind. Think of the following as, “Minute to Win it Meditation Practices”

  1. Listen to birds
  2. Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts or fragrant oil
  3. Lay in the grass with eyes open or closed
  4. Stare at the sky and moon
  5. Take a very slow walk with a focus on deep breathing
  6. Take a brisk walk with a focus on deep breathing
  7. Lock yourself in a bathroom and take 3 deep conscious breaths (I did this at work but now that we’re all home, I think this would work)
  8. Stare at your hands and see your mother’s, father’s, grandmother’s, grandfather’s hands
  9. Pick pine needles off a pine sprig and sniff
  10. Close your eyes at your desk for one minute and breathe
  11. Stare at a tree–every part of it without conceptualizing it
  12. Observe the stillness of your dog or cat.
  13. Observe your pet fish (you can learn a lot from fish)
  14. Flip a sand timer and watch the sand go down
  15. Sit in lotus position for a couple of minutes and breathe
  16. Put your phone on “do not disturb”
  17. Play with putty or sensory toy
  18. Sit in the woods -or-
  19. Make tent in your house with blankets and sit underneath it
  20. Focus on the flame of a candle
  21. Stretch your body
  22. Bless your food before eating it
  23. Close your eyes and express gratitude for one thing
  24. Close your eyes and bless someone you love
  25. Close your eyes and bless yourself
  26. Garden or plant something
  27. Knit
  28. Doodle
  29. Dance
  30. Sing a song or chant a mantra
  31. Drink a cup of herbal tea
  32. Send a message of love and appreciation to nature
  33. Send a message of love and appreciation to Source Energy
  34. Read something that is uplifting
  35. Pray
  36. Count to 100
  37. Sniff an essential oil such as lavender, vanilla or clove
  38. Observe your pet sleeping, mimic their breathing pattern
  39. Go for a bike ride around the block
  40. Go for a drive
  41. Walk barefooted outside
  42. Let the sun warm your face
  43. Jump through a sprinkler
  44. Draw or write a positive message with chalk on your driveway or side walk
  45. Pick up sticks in the yard

Your Dog Can Teach You How To Meditate

Nothing raises our frequency like a pet. They love us unconditionally and don’t argue with us. If you’re working from home like me, taking advantage of having a short break with your furry friend is a must do. Animals have a calmness about them. They don’t worry about today, tomorrow, or yesterday.

Each morning, I enjoy observing my lab while having coffee. The ritual is the same every day. After she’s gone outside, she chills with me before everyone wakes up. I open up the vertical blinds to reveal the beauty of nature through the sliding glass doors. I sit in my comfy chair, sipping my coffee. The lab assumes her spot at the sliding glass doors and is very still and watchful.

I call this, “doggy meditation.” Unless she sees a deer or chipmunk, she is completely motionless…a quiet observer. I try to mimic her consciousness which resides in “present moment awareness;” fully attentive and acutely focused. Sometimes she’ll drop to lay down and close her eyes. Then, I copy her and close my eyes. I can hear her breathing deeply and steadily. I become mindful of my own breathing.

We can learn powerful lessons from our pets. They’re beautiful little beings through and through. Stroking their heads and bodies brings us comfort and a sense of peace. If you’re lucky enough to have a “snuggler,” you can enjoy all the warmth and good vibes your critter transmits to you. Don’t forget to return the love! 💚🐾

Self-Care & Compassion

I felt the urge to write about two hard habits to form and stick with with; self-care & compassion. It has become habitual for many of us to neglect ourselves on a daily basis. I don’t know about you but I often catch myself being inattentive or downright mean to myself!

In order to redirect a bad habit, you must first recognize that you have it! Being the observer of your Self will cause you to catch yourself “in the act” of neglectful, bad habits.

I can write many examples of all the ways we fail take good care of ourselves but that would not raise our frequency! Therefore, I’m writing a list of things “to do,” to show your self that you do care about YOU! All of the following examples will create Great Habits towards Self-Care & Compassion. Give them a go!

  1. Have a nice cool glass of water
  2. Go to the bathroom (teachers will understand this one)
  3. Breathe 3 deep, refreshing breaths
  4. Stretch
  5. Reassure yourself as though you were a little child
  6. Express gratitude for what you do have
  7. Close your eyes for 5 minutes
  8. Take a 15 minute break
  9. Go for a walk
  10. Meditate for 2 minutes
  11. Tell yourself that you are good
  12. Go outside or sit near a window and observe without labeling anything
  13. Take a warm shower
  14. Change your clothes
  15. Put on makeup
  16. Shave
  17. Eat a snack
  18. Run up or down a flight of stairs
  19. Turn on your diffuser
  20. Take a power nap
  21. Be lazy (it’s okay to do this)
  22. Doodle
  23. Give yourself a compliment
  24. Massage a part of you that hurts
  25. Let your bare feet touch the grass for one minute
  26. Snuggle with your furry friend (this is a two-fer)
  27. Buy yourself a gift (online,of course)
  28. Cook and enjoy a healthy meal
  29. Connect with someone you love
  30. Paint your nails
  31. Dance or sing
  32. Have a nice warm tea or coffee
  33. Soak in a bath
  34. Try one yoga pose
  35. Journal your wishes and desires
  36. Say to yourself, “I am not alone in this”
  37. Say to yourself, “Things will work out”
  38. Slow down
  39. Put a cold or warm compress on your eyes
  40. Wrap yourself up in a blanket
  41. Listen to birds
  42. Run through a sprinkler
  43. Cut your nails
  44. Tweeze your eyebrows
  45. Trim your hair
  46. Create something
  47. Tell yourself, “I am cool”
  48. Tell yourself, “I am limitless”
  49. Tell yourself, “I am so loved”
  50. Reassure yourself, “We are all One”

“Look for circumstances that you want, and if you can’t find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw

Organize Your Work Space

So, we’re all home and things are getting messy. Those of you who know me can attest that disorganization is not my game. I looked around our designated spaces and found crap scattered everywhere.

I had to bring up a folding table to add as an extension to my desk because my computer took up all the space. In other words, I felt our rooms getting smaller and cluttered. This can be a choking experience if you’re working from a small space to begin with.

For those who have a limited amount of room, it can be very daunting to add more stuff to your space without feeling overwhelmed. Personally, all of my bookshelves are filled (so I can’t put stuff there) and besides, my desk is nowhere near my bookshelf.

I had an idea to use those rigid food shopping totes to organize my area. I placed a couple under my folding table. I organized my notebooks and journals in one, and my work binders in another. This way, I can grab and exchange materials as needed without having a lot of stuff all over the place.

My daughter is pretty neat and tidy. She has a big desk that accommodates most of her materials. My son, on the other hand is a paperwork nightmare. I walked into his room to find an explosion of worksheets and notebooks. He also had about ten thousand power cords and adapters plugged into nothing.

I ran up to the attic and got a recycled and very cool Easter basket. I had him throw all the cords, power adapters, mouses, computer gadgets, etc. into it (I needed to vacuum). Then, I ran to the garage remembering we had an old milk crate there with a couple of basketballs in it. I had him stick all his worksheets, notes, notebooks and binder in it.

Disclaimer: I didn’t badger or force him to organize any of the papers in alpha order or the notebooks according to size. However, that would be my personal choice!

In any event, things are looking much better. My husband is using an old drop leaf kitchen table as an extension to his desk. So far, no clutter, but he does have a bad habit of leaving napkins and tissues everywhere. So, he earned a spare waste basket upcycled from the basement. Cheers!

How to Notice That You’re Alive

The following piece is an excerpt from my book, “Word, From Your Mother,” a daily guidance journal written for my children, Liv and Pierce-Gabriel.

Excerpt #1

Life is beautiful. There’s a lot to take into consideration while we occupy our material bodies—our outer form. First, we are alive! When you close your eyes, try to feel the aliveness within you.

If you concentrate, you can feel movement within. That movement is a miracle. Sometimes I can feel tingling in my fingertips if I really concentrate and focus. Sometimes, I can feel my heart beating. If you lie still, you can feel all sorts of things.

It’s important to connect with your body in this way and realize the inner workings that are keeping you alive. It brings you to the present moment as well—this is where all happiness resides.

Try this exercise to become more aware of your senses. Go outside. While you’re sitting there, lying there or resting there– listen. Try to count all the different sounds you hear. Once, I counted 22 different sounds. Try to do the same thing with the sense of smell. This is harder to do. I do better with this one when I’m taking a walk. It’s even better if you’re on a motorcycle or bike.

The most perceptive of our senses is our sight. When you’re done with your eyes being closed, continue to sit there, lie there or rest there, and look around. I mean, really look around from the most mundane little thing (a tiny stone on the sidewalk) to a magnificent tree.

Here’s the test…don’t conceptualize it. In other words, don’t label it as I’ve just done. Just appreciate it—but, don’t literally say in your head, “I appreciate this or that.” Just look and feel whatever feeling you have towards it, in your heart. These are healing exercises and a great habit to create in your daily life.

Whenever I’m overwhelmed, distracted, disoriented, feeling defeated, upset, worried, anxious, or angry, I return to these simple experiences. Returning to nature and being “inside our self,” is very healing. If we look to the outside to heal, we’ll never find it. The external world is scattered and over-identified, much too conceptualized and robotic.

Everything we need is inside of us and no one and absolutely nobody can help us, “get there.” It’s during the quiet moments in life, when you can truly feel the pure love and joy that is our birthright.

Some people find this joy in church or organizations such as help groups, etc. This is all good. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter which group you belonged to, how much you’ve helped others, how your profession or vocation led you through your journey. What really matters is the alignment of your self to your soul energy.

For some people, this connection comes easily. I’m assuming for most, it doesn’t. I can say, though, if you allow yourself the experiences of quieting the mind and observing your ego without judgment, this alignment will unfold for you, naturally.

You must give yourself this time. I cannot stress it enough. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the ways of this world. It’s very easy to listen to the little voice in your head tell you that you have limits or that you’re not enough.

You are limitless. There’s nothing that you can’t do. Anything is possible. We know this word, from Source Energy or God. Always listen to your heart for that is the key to connecting your Self to your Soul.

Raise Your Frequency

What does it mean to raise your frequency? It’s the same thing as raising your vibration. Still confused? In a nutshell when we keep our emotions in check, ensuring that we will do anything we can to experience the emotions of happiness, joy, and satisfaction right now– then we are being mindful about how we feel regardless of our situation. Therefore, we are being mindful of raising our frequency or vibration in a positive way.

Many spiritual teachers of our time are expressing the importance of being in observance of ourselves. This means to recognize when you’re feeling emotions (especially negative ones that don’t serve you), and to transmute them instantly, before you can attach a “story” to them.

Negative emotions tend to spiral out of control–that whole “hamster on a wheel” analogy. If we can learn to transmute our negative feelings to positive ones as soon as we start to feel them arise, we will raise our vibration (our energy). What we “put out there,” is what we’ll receive back. You put out negative energy, you’ll feel negative energy. You put out positive energy, you’ll feel the result of positive energy.

This is no easy task but with practice, you can change your thoughts, and thereby change your current situation or outlook on life. For example, the task of rearranging our lives to work from home has sparked a lot of emotions and stress. In these moments, self-compassion and care are essential. If you don’t take care of you, it will be very difficult to take care of others.

Embrace your negative energy as though is was a child in need. If you’re feeling sad, acknowledge and observe, “I am feeling the emotion of sadness.” Then, as you would towards a child say to yourself or out loud, “It’s okay, everything will work out in time.” If you have a work related emotion, “Right now, I’m feeling the emotion of being overwhelmed.” You can transmute that feeling by stating, “I’m not alone in all of this, everyone is feeling the same. Eventually, things will fall into place.”

Try to be the active observer of your emotions and don’t run or shove the emotions away! This will only cause more angst. Remember, that we are a co-creators. A collective unit or family on Earth. We all have an affect on one another, especially right now. The more positive we keep our mind set and emotions, the better we will all be.

Organize your Life

Yeah, right! How do I organize my life when I’m smack dab in the middle of chaos?

I can help you out, here! First, you have to be gentle with yourself and know that you may not be able to bite off too much right now. My motto is to start out slowly and develop a reasonable routine that doesn’t stray far from your normal routine when you were at your workplace.

I can write an exhaustive “how to” or give examples on what to do first, but I want you to think about what would help you keep a good frame of mind. In other words, if you were to hit the restart button each day, what daily routines might work best for you and your family?

Keep in mind, that we all tend to be creatures of habit. What daily habits serve you best that you can continue with some consistency? For me, my day needs to start with a bit of quiet time and at least two cups of coffee. Though I’d like to sleep in a bit later, I do know that this would throw my previous daily routine off.

So, I keep my daily coffee habit in check–before anyone wakes up! This gives me time to find the quiet space within and feel a few moments of peace. If this wasn’t part of your daily routine, perhaps you can incorporate it, now. Instead of grabbing that coffee on the way to work, you can enjoy it quietly and uninterrupted.

Secondly, though I prefer to sit in my p.j.’s all day, a nice warm shower always revitalizes me and helps me to wake up. Others may find this part of their routine at night. Whatever works! I’ve made it part of my mindful meditation to incorporate gratitude while showering. This incorporates an additional piece of self-care. For example, if one is feeling anxiety, you might say, “As this warm and refreshing water soothes me, let my feelings of anxiety, wash away.” Gratitude statements put us in a better frame of mind. It’s a small habit and when followed consistently transmutes your negative feelings to positive ones.

“Do your job.” It’s difficult getting used to working from home. There’s lots of distractions from your own thoughts spinning, to the dogs barking, the cat laying on your keyboard, and of course, the kids if you’re a parent. I find that taking frequent movement breaks and check-ins with the family helps make a more productive work-time. I’d say it’s reasonable to get up or stop what you’re doing at your computer, every 15-20 minutes. At least, that’s what has kept me sane.

I’ve found that trying to sit for more than an hour is counterproductive. My body starts to ache, kids are tugging, the dog needs to be let out, etc. I’m beginning to find my groove as the days have passed, in terms of “things to do” while taking breaks throughout the workday. Check out my “Habits” blog for ideas.

Most importantly, don’t neglect your spiritual connection. This is the time to either initiate or rejuvenate that part of you that is alive! It’s what fosters creativity, healing, compassion, patience, etc. Again, check out my “Vibration” blog for ways to nurture your spirit and those of others around you.

Create Great Habits

Where do I start?

During this unusual time in our lives, many folks are not quite sure what to do with themselves for an entire day (let alone probable weeks), in the confines of their homes. I’d like to offer some proactive choices to help keep things flowing.

First, try to create a daily schedule and stick with it. I’m sure you’ve heard this already, but don’t know where to start. Here is a sample routine that might resonate with you.

In the morning

  1. Start with some stretching and breathing exercises, take a warm shower and dress as though you’re going to work.
  2. Make your coffee/breakfast and sit quietly for a few moments to center and enjoy your meal.
  3. Create a healthy “minute to win it” habit to incorporate meditation in your a.m. routine (see my “Habits” blog for pointers).
  4. Begin your remote learning or work (be sure to take movement breaks from sitting. (I make it a point to move either in my space or outside, every 15-20 minutes)

Break for lunch-be sure to eat a variety of food choices during snacks and lunch–incorporate colorful foods like fruits and vegetables along with starch choices and be sure to hydrate!

In the afternoon

5. Stretch and breathe–give your mind and body the opportunity to re-calibrate. I have my yoga mat stretched out behind my desk. Set a timer for a couple of minutes and move your body.

6. Return to your remote learning or work. Again, take movement breaks, have a hot tea cold beverage and/or snack to rejuvenate. Look out a window for a few moments to appreciate the outdoors. Connect with your children and pets.

In the evening

7. Prepare a meal for yourself or your family. Get others involved in the process. I have my teens prep veggies or make a baked good to pair with dinner or for dessert.

8. Limit the amount of additional time near your computer or TV. There’s lot of information out there. Restrict your intake of information by accessing reputable sources and sites to keep you informed.

9. Find time to journal or verbally express to self or family what you’re grateful for.

10. Relax. Breathe. Read or listen to an audio book. Watch a favorite show. Take a warm bath or shower if you didn’t do so in the a.m. Be aware and conscious to conserve your resources. Turn lights off and light candles.

11. Prepare yourself for rest. Take a minute (literally) to sit in your bed and take three deep breaths. Express gratitude silently or out loud. Keep all electronic devices away from your bedroom so that you’re not interrupted while resting.

12. Send a prayer or blessing to your family, the people in your town, country, and world.