Summer Wellness Tips!

After a long, cold, snowy winter…Summer has finally arrived! The time has come for short shorts, tanning, and cookouts.  Taking care of ourselves seems to be becoming an awesome fad in the year 2015, so Summer Wellness Tips seemed like an appropriate topic to touch on.  Remember, being healthy can and should be fun! Plus it’s a reason to get more creative!! There are so many natural resources surrounding us that are available to benefit our lives.

Herbs and flowers are an inexpensive natural resource that is beneficial, cooling and tasty!  They can also be used to heal your skin from sun damage or burns.  Aloe, comfrey, and horsetail (also a great beauty herb) can all heal skin damage according to www.bulkherbstore.com/articles/4-must-have-herbs-for-summer-skin .  Herbs can also be used in a variety of tasty drinks: non-alcoholic, alcoholic, and smoothies!  My mom was kind enough to share her delicious smoothie recipe with us 🙂 (1) avocado, juice from half a lime, (1)cup of berries, 3 or 4 basil leaves and (1)cup of coconut milk.  Hawthorne leaf/flower, yellow chrysanthemum, lemon grass, spearmint, peppermint, raspberry leaf, hibiscus and ginseng help cool the body and taste good in cold beverages.  Check out http://brigittemars.com/articles/herbal-natural-remedies/cooling-foods-herbs/ for some more specifics on the ways to use each herb listed.

Of course, you’ll want to eat some food during the summer…an excellent time to add some seasonal fruits,veggies and leafy greens into your day (and avoid the processed foods, grains, sugars and grains).  Berries, watermelon, pineapples, oranges are all sweet and delicious snacks to keep in mind.  Protein should be included in one or two meals a day.  Light sources of protein that need no cooking include nuts, sprouted beans, soy products and non-fat cheeses.  Meal planning is a great way to guarantee nutritional meals for you and your family.  Wellness mama gives some good guidelines to follow for meal planning in this article http://wellnessmama.com/5345/meal-planning-basics/  There are a bunch of fun ideas on Pinterest  under “Healthy Summer Snacks.”  Also, one of my newest most favorite resources is Thrive Market which is an online marketplace that sells the best natural brands at the best prices!  Not only are they awesome because of this, but they also help out families in need. I highly recommend everyone check out this amazing resource.

Summer time is an excellent excuse for spending some more time outdoors experiencing nature.  Whether, going for a quiet walk or run with just yourself, the trees, birds and sun or going on a camping trip with the family…being outdoors is fun and beneficial.  Outdoor activities are endless and non-activity works just as well too!  Whatever you decide to do, skin protection is always important as well as Vitamin D consumption. Most sunscreens sold have toxins and do not allow the absorption of Vitamin D.  According to Wellness Mama, some foods to eat that provide sunscreen from the inside out are healthy saturated fats, omega 3 rich foods, leafy greens and two or more tablespoons of tomato paste daily! Coconut oil can provide a small amount of protection and you can even make your own sunscreen with it in a recipe I found at http://wellnessmama.com/2558/homemade-sunscreen/.  Once your skin is safe, divulge in the endless outdoor activities available. Walking barefoot, also known as “earthing”, can increase antioxidants, help with insomnia and even reduce inflammation.  Swimming is one of the most beneficial exercises and will keep you cool.  Yoga is my personal favorite and is even more fun during a sunrise or sunset!

Summer is a time for fun in the sun!  Grab your shades and your loved ones, put down your phones and splash around a bit more.  A cooler full of healthy goodies, maybe a sangria or mojito (Berries and mints!) and a blanket for a nap is how I’ll be spending my summer days. Remember to enjoy each little moment and laugh! Life loves you.

Alexa’s Stress Relieving Tools

I originally planned on writing about eating healthy on a budget, which I’ll save for another day.  But with my wedding being 9 days away, thinking about food shopping was a little difficult.  So instead… I thought, “what better topic to write about than tips for dealing with stress!”  Everyone experiences stress at their own levels; some people stress almost every second of every day, while others seem to not have a care in the world.  I am usually a pretty stress-free (or close to it) kind of person, until recently.  Planning a wedding in four months is no joke!  Make that a low budget-DIY wedding, the weekend of Mother’s Day and graduations (including my fiance’s), my day job as a server and my photography clients, life is just a little bit busy. I’m sure everyone can relate, whether it’s with children, work, school, diets, etc. Besides a couple short breaking points, I think I’ve been doing pretty well…  According to this stress meter, I believe at my very worst (about 2 or 3 meltdowns that lasted about 10 minutes long) I was at an “EEEEKKKK”.  Even at my most stressful moments, I have been able to quickly snap out of it and recompose myself before complete control is lost, thanks to a few regular techniques I like to use.

1.  Meditation- Most people think it is impossible to have 10 minutes a day to sit in silence, and allow your mind to clear.  Most spiritual teachers would say, “You don’t have time not to meditate.”  For those of you with little ones, I highly recommend this video of one of my role models, Marianne Williamson, explaining how to teach and practice meditation and mindfulness to children 5 and under.(42 minutes in).    I also practice meditation as I go about my day by remembering to focus on my breath and being present wherever I am (simple and life changing). Besides alleviating stress, by meditating you are learning to control your thoughts rather than the other way around.

2.  Step Outside and Be in Nature- After sitting at the computer or making decorations for hours, stepping outside for a few minutes is extremely restorative and rejuvenating.  Just a little fresh air helps give my mind, eyes and body a break; allowing space for new thoughts and ideas to flow in.  It’s also nice (and beneficial) to stand up after sitting for ever! This usually helps give a new perspective and refreshed patience for the task at hand.

3.  Yoga/Exercise-  Walking, jogging, lifting weights, Zumba, yoga…whatever works for you, is a great way to relieve stress!  A combination of endorphin (a natural pain killer) being released and the ability to sleep better definitely decreases the stress meter.  My personal favorite is yoga because while my body is stretching, I am regulating my breath and relaxing all at the same time! YouTube has tons of Yoga videos and is how I began my practice (I learned a lot from “Yoga with Adrienne”)  There’s also an app called Meetup, where local people host anything from “Sunset Yoga” to “Mommy and Me Yoga”.

4.  Focus on Good Things-  I’ve recently learned that I have the choice to feel good, which to me is exhilarating.  I love being aware that in each moment I have the ability to choose how I feel.  However, in those moments where my mind is racing, worrying, stressing, repeating itself over and over…I eventually catch myself, take a deep breath, and focus on something that makes me feel good (whether in my surroundings or in my thoughts) and I can feel the energy shift within me.

5.  Appreciation-  It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of excitement in life events and often lose control.  Stress comes from worry and feelings of lack. Appreciation comes from focusing on the Abundance in our lives and can be as simple as thanking the sun, the air and the water to your job, friends and family.  You can say thank you for your blessings out loud, in your mind or keep a gratitude journal and list 10 things your thankful for every day.  Instead of feeling worry or anxiety about something that is not actually happening right now, say thank you for the outcome you would really like to experience!

In addition to these five tools I use to keep my stress level low and my joy level high, I remember that things are always working out.  I do not have to, nor am I able to, control every single thing that occurs in my life.  AND these are all things that I’ve asked for that I now have to be thankful for! Great, wonderful, joyful and exciting things, experiences and loved ones to remind you that the “issue” your stressing over is really not that bad and will be over before you know it!

New, Good Habits

After many years of over indulging in sweets,junk food, alcohol, television, medication etc. our society is finally awakening to the necessity of living a life of wellness. So many people are aware that change is needed in day-to-day routines, but old habits are difficult to break. In certain situations, such as an illness, it is necessary to make strict and structured changes in order to survive. However, there is no need to wait for those moments before we start implementing some new routines into our lives right now. Rather than trying to completely change over night and then beating yourself up a few hours later for [messing up], just begin by making subtle changes.These are some tips to offer some guidance on beginning or continuing a conscious lifestyle that will expand your well being, helping you feel your absolute best!

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  -Lao Tzu

A few changes that I have applied to my life that are simple, yet extremely beneficial and life changing are:

1. Using Natural Resources– Coconut oil is my go to for cooking, baking, and moisturizing. For 101 uses for coconut oil, check out http://wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil/ Apple Cider Vinegar has numerous benefits and uses from balancing your digestive system to cleaning your house. Check out http://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/jenessa/apple-cider-vinegar-uses for a ton of uses for ACV and some recipes! Himalayan Salt is my new table and cooking salt! Packed with over 80 minerals and many benefits including healing, visit http://empoweredsustenance.com/himalayan-salt-benefits/ for more info.

2. Practice Mindfulness Being mindful means to consciously bring your attention to the present moment without any judgement and with acceptance of now. It is a practice that has changed my life and my perspective of our world.  Try to be fully present as you wash your hands, take a shower, eat a meal or drive your car.  When your mind wanders, rather than judge or criticize yourself, thank yourself for noticing your racing thoughts and return your attention to your breath and the present moment. Meditation has helped me tremendously in this practice. Visit http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/09/7-easy-ways-to-be-mindful-every-day/ for more info on mindfulness and tips on applying it into your life.

3. Yoga– or any form of physical activity that works for you! Yoga has personally helped me reach a level of peace and connection that I’d never experienced.  It’s also a reminder of how the small changes and movements eventually lead to huge transformation. Starting off with 20 minutes of physical movement a day is a great way to begin a new good habit!

4. Join a Club/Spiritual Group– I joined my first club last year and it is one of the best decisions I have made. I found it by searching Google for local photography clubs. Today my network is growing, I’ve made new friends, I have amazing teachers and I can see the growth in my art and in my confidence!  If you don’t already know what your passionate about pick something that you’ve always wanted to try or have been curious about. Explore. Connect. Grow!

5. Be Open Minded– Being curious and open minded, makes life more fun and exciting!  Life has so much to offer and the diversity is what has helped create the magnificent, creative, expanding world we live in today.  Take a weekend to travel (Living Social has great Escape Deals) or explore your artistic side! http://www.craftsy.com has a bunch of awesome tutuorials for all levels.  My absolute favorite website full of tons of free education is http://www.creativelive.com

Change can and should be fun. We are capable of experiencing and creating anything we can think of!  What an amazing time it is to be alive, to have resources and answers available at our finger tips at any moment.  We are on this earth to co-create and are constantly expanding.  By choosing to live a life of wellness, all actions that follow come from our truest self and benefit the world around us.

Our Thoughts Shape our Lives

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of society today. Always on the go, too busy to relax, checking e-mails, answering calls, picking up so and so, work, school, kids, cook, clean, gym…anxious about what’s to come..are things going to work out? Thinking about something you said a few minutes ago or a few years ago..I should have…could have…what if…does he like me?..do I look cute?..Do I look fat?…the list goes on and on and on. The human mind creates between 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day. That’s between 35-48 thoughts per minute! The majority of those are thoughts from the day before, just plain repetitive, or mostly negative. The good news is you’re mind is like any other muscle on your body. You can become aware of your thoughts..practice quieting the mind..eventually silencing it..and in turn gain back control over your mind rather than allowing your thoughts to run around chaotically and run your show. Why are your thoughts important? Besides the obvious reasons, your thoughts create a feeling or an emotion. These emotions are our inner guide! By paying attention to our feelings, we can know if were on the right path, so to speak.

In the midst of our busy every day lives, the way we feel is the single most important factor that most people are missing. Today’s society has led us to believe that the most important things are the material…money, cars, homes, clothes…however, it is becoming clear today that even the people who have more of these material possessions then they could do anything with, are still something missing in their lives. Of course the idea of having more money, bigger houses, etc, seems like it would satisfy all of the desires we feel, those emotions would be temporary…Rather than feeling a sense of lack now, it is possible to achieve all of the feelings of satisfaction, aliveness, and fulfillment even before those manifestations are physical. And the manifestation of the emotion is key! All around wellness will guarantee the best feeling You and allow a smooth flow of life to flow through you and to you throughout your lifetime.

Wellness is an evolutionary process, that begins with becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy life that will allow your true You to shine brighter then ever. Wellness is significant to us as humans because all of our activities, thoughts and feelings affect our well-being. By feeling our best, we act out of those good feelings, rather than acting out through feelings of exhaustion, stress or worry.  Pay attention to how you feel and CHOOSE to feel good now!

My Intention for Meditation

My intention for meditation

Is to feel oneness with the universe.

My intention for meditation

Is to feel free from this little me.

My intention for meditation

Is to feel love for all things.

My intention for meditation

Is to hear my soul sing.

.

My intention for meditation

Is to allow my soul to play free.

My intention for meditation

Is to allow my third eye to see.

My intention for meditation

Is to allow my light to shine.

My intention for meditation

Is to feel the one, the divine.

Overwhelmed With Joy & Gratitude

I am truly feeling so thankful for finding something I am passionate about.  Even though things still are not completely as I’d like them to be at the moment, I can see myself headed in that direction and it is so exciting!  The power of gratitude is amazing and I am having a blast watching life work it’s wonders. I can not stress how important it is for everyone to follow their joy because I promise it leads you to your bliss, true purpose, your dharma in life.  Do you truly believe you were put on this earth to work a crappy job, that barely pays the bills, leaves you unhappy and broke?! When I take a few minutes each day to really appreciate the magnificence of the earth we live on, the fact that we are living on a planet that is perfect enough for us to even be living on it…I understand better how I am a part of that perfection and that I have a grander role then I could have ever imagined. I know my life is more meaningful than a 9-5 job that doesn’t satisfy my soul.  I hope to encourage and inspire people to follow their bliss, take a few moments each day to be present, practice gratitude every day and just watch how magical life can really be.  Your thoughts create your reality so by choosing to focus on all the things you have to be grateful for, you are opening the gateway for even MORE things to be grateful for! I thought I was living life before, but now I see I am just starting to live 🙂 Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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Chakra Journey Contest

Chakra Journey chakra journey contest

A chakra represents a focus of energy in the body.  All together, there are seven chakras located from the bottom of your tailbone to the crown of your head.  I am participating in a photography contest where I get to display how I balance each chakra.

The first is the root chakra which is located at the base of the spine. Last week I entered a photo of myself, meditating on the ground.  The photo represented my root chakra connecting to the earth. I pictured my root connecting with the roots of the tree behind me. I chose to do a black and white photo with only the red that I was wearing displayed in color because red is a representation of the root chakra.

This week we are moving on to the sacral chakra which helps awaken sensual desire. I chose to do my photograph as a silhouette this week with only the sunset in the background.  Sunsets have a variety of colors but what stood out to me the most was the orange color. Orange is the color which represents the sacral chakra. I am also in pigeon pose which is a yoga pose that helps balance your sacral chakra.

Each week I have a chance to win a prize thanks to http://www.auracacia.com. The prize consists of an Aura Cacia Organic Chakra Roll-On for the chakra of the week, a selection of Aura Cacia essential oils and a recipe card to make the featured chakra balancing recipe of the week at home, a Chakra Journey t-shirt, a chakra candle for the chakra of the week, a yoga mat, and a surprise gift based on the blog theme of the week.  However, my MAIN goal is to win the Grand prize!! The grand prize includes a weekend retreat for two to the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York, including travel and accommodations for two, a full set of seven Aura Cacia Organic Chakra Roll-Ons, and two Chakra Journey t-shirts. I appreciate everyone that has voted for me so far! I am so excited to have a challenge that combines my love of photography and yoga 🙂 Please continue to vote for me!! And enjoy my photos along this journey! I will be adding a picture each week for 5 more weeks! Namaste.

 

8/7/14

Update!! Here are all seven photos representing how I balanced each chakra. I did win the second week of the contest! Thank you to everyone who showed love, support and voted!! I truly am grateful and have had so much fun along this 7 week project. I am hoping to win that grand prize and it is VERY possible 🙂 Thank you, thank you!! Namaste.

My thoughts on the Beach

The wonders of the universe
Are starting to become clear to me.
I’ve been living life blindly
Now I can finally see.
I am amazed of the magnificence
Created by an unseen force.
A path layed out for all of us,
An invisible course,
That we can choose to follow
Or fight against because we think we know.
Try to do things “our” way,
But we’re going against our flow.

You see, everything that’s good
Is perfection at it’s best.
Compassion, Nature, Love
Give the answers to our test.
Today we look for answers
In the outside world.
We want more money, success,
The perfect boy, perfect girl.
We seek for happiness
In the material things.
The right clothes, house, cars,
The biggest, brightest ring.
We can continue to want
And keep thinking we need.
And we’ll continue to struggle,
Continue trying to succeed.

See what I have learned
Is that the answers are within.
We have everything
Underneath our own skin.
If we took some time
To take a break from the chatter,
A few minutes for silence,
We’ll watch the glass ceiling shatter.
Become aware of that voice in your head.
The one constantly talking
From when you awake, to when you’re in bed.
That voice is your ego
Who is blinding your sight.
Open your mind
Allow your light to shine bright.

Gnocchi with Zuccini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter

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gnocchi1

Today is my 6th day of eating no meat, other than fish. I wasn’t planning on going vegetarian, but I’ve known recently it is the direction I am headed. After watching a video about factories and chickens and pigs, you’ve probably seen one of these at some point, I had no desire to eat meat. My diet has recently been different after I’ve began to understand the importance of what we eat. Sure I’ve heard it before, but after seeing the results that just changing your diet can do, I am amazed.

My sister recently was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I have seen her transformation from walking with a cane, to a week later walking like normal. She took no medication and only changed her diet dramatically. She started the paleo diet, which includes only vegetables, fruits, and lots of greens. Being that I ate dinner a lot at my sister’s home, my palette was introduced to many different things and I surprisingly liked it!

The point of all this is, I am really having fun trying new foods and actually cooking dinner. Not to mention, my boyfriend is in heaven because he’s a vegetarian. I’m looking forward to all the new foods I’ll be trying and knowing that I’m nurturing my body is great too! 🙂

Thankful!

So for my first blog ever, It feels right to write about some of the things I am thankful for.  My life has changed dramatically in the past year. After hitting my lowest low, I was forced into a situation that allowed me to really see how many things I have to be grateful for. Shortly after, learning how to put my focus into those things, rather than complain about what I do not have. Since I began writing down and thinking throughout the day about what I was thankful for, life has been pretty magical. I’ve learned that when we focus on the good things in our life, we allow more good things to come to us, Same works the other way around…so by consciously focusing on the good in my life, it just continues to get better and better.

With that being said, this does not mean that everything just goes perfect for me all of the time. I still have my challenges, stressful situations, etc. like everyone else. But the way that I choose to react to these situations is completely different than I would have in the past.  Through meditation, mindfulness, learning to live in “the now”, yoga..all of these things have made it way easier to react differently than the old me would have. I am learning to trust in the flow of life and not try to fight it. I trust that all things happen for a reason and that a lot of those things happen because we create them with our own mind. I am learning that I have subconscious thoughts that have become “normal” for me to think, mostly about money. And that is where I continue to face struggles. Since I now am aware of my challenge, I am able to work on my thoughts about money.

So back to being thankful 🙂 I recently got into a car accident (first one ever)…My car is totaled 😦 however this experience has humbled me greatly. From the moment my car was hit, my first thoughts were “I know there is a reason for this.” I’m still not completely sure what that reason is yet, but I still trust and believe there is one, if not more. Obviously I wasn’t jumping up for joy that I was in an accident, but the things that I have to be thankful for came flooding to me. I am thankful for being alone in my car that day. I am thankful that no one was injured. I am thankful for the timing because had it been two seconds earlier I would have been t-boned by a Dodge Durango going pretty damn fast. I am thankful for having insurance and a legit license. I am thankful for my wonderful boyfriend being there for me. I am thankful for the fact that now I get to shop for a new car, considering that mine had over 200,000 miles on it already. But most importantly I am so very thankful to be alive! I walked out of that car with no scratches, bumps or bruises. I know the situation could have been so much worse and I thank God that it wasn’t.

So if anybody reads this, just remember even when things seem to be the very worst, when it’s raining and storming, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Whether it’s the air your breathing, the home you live in, the car your driving, the family that loves you, the pet that needs you, whatever makes you feel good! Focus on those things. There is a plan for all of us. Pay attention to that voice in your head that is always rambling on, Take control of your mind. Your mind is just like any muscle on your body, you need to exercise it in order for you to use it to it’s complete magnitude. A good practice is gratitude and it’s something that you can do all day long. Namaste.