Water Meditation

Interested in mindfulness and meditation? Check this out.

Sup pups? I wanted to kick off the week with a Monday morning meditation. A few weeks ago we focused on the trees and this week I’m thinking water.  Remember, our goal is simple mindfulness or awareness. We’re noticing the sensations in our mind, heart and body in the present moment. Watching without judgment. If you can watch yourself and your actions you can control them or at least begin to understand them more fully.

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Similar to the tree meditation, we simply want to notice water. Recognize the significance of water in your life. If you think you’re already there, try giving thanks or offering gratitude each time you receive the positive benefits of water. It’s practically impossible, yeah? It would consume your whole day. Afterall we are more water than blood.

After you finish reading this post, be mindful of your interactions with water today. Think about how you’ve already made use of water. Did you brush your teeth? Make coffee? Wash your face? How will you use water during the next few hours? Maybe you’ll flush a toilet, wash your hands, or do a load of laundry. Beyond using water today, what are you wearing, eating and using that has already consumed water? It takes 1,800 gallons of water just to grow enough cotton for a pair of blue jeans and that doesn’t take into account the rest of the process. A single pound of meat takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce. Water is our lifeblood and yet we take it for granted.

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We tend to only pay attention to water if there’s a problem or scarcity. Water is seen as expendable and probably will be until shortages impact each of us directly. We water lawns, wash cars and maintain golf courses in the desert. We are running the earth dry and it’s starting to become apparent, just read about the disappearance of the Aral Sea pictured above.

Embrace the precious nature of water and treat it accordingly. Katie and I have a sister between us, Kristin, and her and her husband Ryan had a very touching elopement ceremony in which they incorporated a glass jar of water. A few of us were gathered in the snowy Pennsylvania woods one February while Kristin and Ryan held up the glass jug and explained the importance of water in their relationship. Water to them is symbolic of life. When they share their water with each other or their friends, they are quite literally offering them life. Kristin and Ryan never take their offering of water for granted and in turn are touched each time they share sips. Then they each took a sip of water before passing the jar around to each of us in attendance. After hearing Kris and Ryan explain it this way, I’ve never looked at water any differently. Each time someone offers me a sip of water, I find it to be a deeply meaningful gesture. An offering of life.

We all know that water is significant, but do we recognize it fully? Are we grateful? Do we do anything to ensure clean water for our future besides paying the water bill? Try your hardest today to begin to simply appreciate the role of water in your life. No matter the beverage, with each sip, stay present with how the water in it nourishes your body. When you wash your hands, really feel the water on your skin instead of rushing to dry it off. When you move throughout the world today notice the water around you whether it’s a miniscule amount in a plastic bottle or the coastline of the Pacific, but most of all notice that it’s there. Consider yourself lucky. Over 700 million people world-wide do not have access to clean water. Notice the abundance of water in your life and recognize that you are privileged.

 

Photos : 1+2 / 3

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

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Sarah Here :

Hey babies! I can’t believe July is a quarter over… for someone who strives to live in the present moment I feel myself grasping at each July day every single year, without fail. Here I am, sweating in ninety degree heat, taking four showers a day and trying to add a little summer vacation feel to each moment. So far, so good.

This week, I’ve filled my days by climbing a bunch, practicing yoga on the mosquito-infested deck, taking long woodsy walks with the dogs and clocking into the darkroom well after dinner time and staying until it’s about time for the sun to rise. I’ve also done a fair amount of procrastinating my digital editing work by way of reading. My two new books are The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative  and How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. They’re both so damn good that I have to keep switching back and forth between them.

On Monday, I head to Seattle to reconnect with a friend I met while trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. I’m excited to soak up some nature on the west coast and just take in the vast expanse of earth that I sometimes forget about while living here in the east. That’s not to say the east doesn’t have some sweet spots, but maybe they aren’t as apparent as epic views of the Olympics, ya know? I am planning to tackle this beast of a day hike in the Adirondacks later this month though, have any of you tried it? Apparently you summit ten peaks over the course of 25 miles. Wanna join? I’ll give you the weekend to think about it.

 

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Yoga Postures for Sleeping

yoga sleep

Good morning! Did you get a good sleep? I’m the best sleeper I know, always the last to drag myself out of bed. I think of sleep as a great luxury in life and I treat it as such, treasuring each moment. I love you sleep. There, I said it.

Moving on.  Often times when I lay down in bed at night, I assume a yoga position to fall asleep in. Nothing crazy like a headstand, more like the postures that are meant for rest, I bet you can think of a popular one… ding, ding, ding, shavanasa better known as corpse pose. Let’s start there:

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Independence Day Eats & Treats

Happy Fourth Y’all! This post was originally published in 2015, but we think it’s still relevant 😉 Now I gotta go blast a Bruce Springsteen album while I consume and entire watermelon and light a bunch of sparklers.

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As shown from top to bottom, left to right:

Watermelon Mint Salad     Mint Agua Fresca     Homemade Pizza Four Ways

Mint Simple Syrup Mojito     Cashew Fruit Dip

Watermelon Gazpacho     Mint Ice Cream     Rosemary Infused Bloody Marys

 

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Seasoned View : Vol. 27

Each month we share our Seasoned View.  Snapshots of nature and daily life taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find our archive of past months’ views here.

Happy Monday y’all! It’s July, unquestionably my favorite month of the year. Growing up, Katie and I would have joint birthday parties at the local pool. I still remember splashing around in the sun, getting out only when the smell of the grill wafted over, shivering with blue lips and being wrapped up in a big fuzzy towel then sitting down and opening a pile of presents. I truly feel all kinds of grateful when I think about the happy childhood I had, but seriously, how lucky are July babies? Pool parties every year! Here’s a few summer shots to tide you over at your work station this month.

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You can upload one or all of these photos to use as your desktop background or even as phone and tablet wallpapers.  Simply click on the download link below each photo and save the image.  Enjoy!

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Sarah Here :

Friyayyy! What the f*ck happened to my week?! I’ll share my Monday alone.. Sunday evening I had an awesome friend date in Philadelphia, I stayed up all night and then drove to the airport around 3:30 a.m. I boarded my flight an hour later, slightly peeved about my middle seat and life in general since it’s 5 a.m. and I haven’t slept yet. I passed out, waking up only when the woman next to me spilled her diet coke all over my leg, and then again when the plane landed. I switched my phone off airplane mode and immediately saw two dozen messages from my photography partner basically telling me *not* to fly to Houston and if I did to turn around and come home. WTF… FML… all the curses.

I got off the plane, headed down to grab my bag, called a couple of airlines and secured a flight home in a few hours. Now what? I had a few options, be grumpy as fuck or get over it. Aren’t these pretty much always the options when life doesn’t go as planned? We can get emotional and upset or we can choose to get over it. We can replay all the ways it was supposed to go or we can be at peace with what is.

I recognized how shitty my day could become if I played into the pity party that was forming at my mind’s door. In that moment I decided to experiment with a mindfulness exercise in awareness. I like to call it Flip The Script, because I’m not that creative and it really is as simple as that. Each time I noticed an inner complaint, grumpy reaction or just pissiness in general, I completely flipped the script. It helped me to be aware of the negative inner talk and then poke fun at it. It went something like this:

  • Identify the negative thought or complaint
  • Turn it into a positive
  • Take a breath and move on
  • Repeat x Repeat x Repeat

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Here are a couple of examples, the initial negative thoughts are in red – while the flipped script is green.

Thoughts as I walked into the food court : Great. Shitty airport food and it’s all lunch or dinner options except Starbucks. Yes! A free pass to eat pizza before 9 a.m.

Thoughts as a huge drop of sauce falls onto my only sweatshirt : Fuck. How will I stay warm and not look like a slob? I knew laying so far back in this chair and eating was a bad idea and yet I did it anyway. Hahaha I’m basically laying down and eating, what did I expect putting forth so little effort to eat a saucy pizza?

Thoughts as I walk through the Philadelphia airport : Wow. It’s 5 p.m. it’s been twelve hours since I’ve been here. I hate this place. I wish I was in RDU (my home airport of Raleigh Durham) I’m so much closer to my car and therefore freedom than I have been all day. You hate Philadelphia? Good thing you don’t live here anymore.

Thoughts as I turn on my car and see my gas light is on : Of course you’d do this to yourself. This is not the first or last time the gas light will come on. This is how you operate. You can get a kombucha when you stop for gas.

Thoughts as I pay $24 for parking at the airport : Cool. I just paid $24 to park here while I spent twelve hours in airports. Today was cool. I would have paid nearly $300 if I left Houston on schedule. At least the parking attendant was super nice. (He gave me Tootsie rolls!)

Thoughts as I sit in traffic on the way out of Philly : 5:30 p.m. could not have picked a better time to drive to D.C. than rush hour on a Monday. I didn’t choose this time to leave. I’ll make it to D.C. in time for sunset. I’ll eat dinner with a friend and meet her two new kittens.

After the traffic cleared and I made my way to D.C. I can’t recall anymore negative thoughts. Sure, they came back after I left D.C. and drove through the night home to North Carolina, but I went ahead and flipped the script every time. Why?

Each year, I read Buddha’s Brain, a book I’ve recommended dozens of times on this blog. I had just read a passage the night before that said, “even fleeting thoughts and feelings can leave lasting marks on your brain, much like a spring shower can leave little trails on a hillside.” When I landed in Houston and got the call to immediately come back east, my rational brain thought, ‘okay this is fine, I’m not going to die, I’m not going to make a bunch of money that I need either, but all in all I am okay and this is just one day in my life.’ Those initial thoughts were helpful in then recognizing that an hour later I had started to flip the script in a negative way and started feeding into the grumpiness after I had already told myself that everything was fine. Why was that? Probably because that’s the thought pattern my brain is used to. Something happened that wasn’t planned that I don’t like, I should be super grumpy about it. Not so.

Buddha’s Brain helped me to understand that how we focus our attention and how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information through our neural circuits can directly alter the brain’s activity and its structure. Knowing how to harness awareness to promote well-being and positive change is the key to working with that scientific knowledge. If you’re aware of negative thought patterns, you have the power to try to change them every single day. 

Actively watching my negative thoughts and flipping the script might seem like a minute action, but these small exercises actually build up to larger changes as new neural structures are built. Neurons that fire together, wire together that’s why it’s imperative to be on your own side instead of adding to the misery. Whenever I’m being a grumpy see you next Tuesday, I seriously ask myself, ‘do I want the bitch muscles to flex or weaken?’ Each of us has a good and a bad side, try actively feeding the one you want to prosper and see what happens. Even if you can’t catch yourself with each negative thought, after you’ve had a rough day or something didn’t go as planned, try to seek out the positive or the benefits and say them to yourself. The best part about my Monday? I realized I LOVE my blue saucy sweatshirt turned inside out better than right side out, so yeah, I basically was granted a new favorite sweatshirt for that whole debacle. Worth it? Sure.

Happy Friday y’all!

 

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Sarah’s Favorite Wilderness Reads

It seems like Kate and her crew have been camping all year long. While I’m sure there’s not much time in her van to open up a good book, that’s all I do when I camp with Ca$h. Here are a few of my favorite woodsy wilderness reads for all your camping outtings this summer. I linked to the paperback versions, so pull out your headlamp and start flippin’ pages.

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Mycophilia: Revalations from the Weird World of Mushrooms – This is the type of book where you read a few pages and then run into the next room to tell someone else all the cool things you just learned. Mycophilia is a beautifull written first person narrative of the fungi world. Author Eugenia Bone meets masters of the mushroom sphere as she discovers and researches all type of uses from scientific to culinary. If you have any interest in mushrooms, I highly recommend this informative read.

John Muir – any of his essays or journals – I actually recommend Muir’s writings as a way to fall asleep and here I’m recommending it as inspiration for your own nature journals and writings. Reading about Muir’s adventures will have you sitting in your cozy camp chair in admiration as he details his romps in the wilderness with nothing more than a heel of bread and an army blanket.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Made famous because of the movie, Wild, is a first person account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail completely unprepared. These types of accounts encourage me to just do it. Stop the research and prep, go for it and see what happens. I enjoyed both the movie and the book – in that order too.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail – Bill Bryson’s account of the Appaliachian trail blends his witty walk in the woods with the history of the wilderness and suggestions for how we can conserve our wild lands. As someone who is itching to walk the AT, I love reading about others’ experiences with the trail.

Into the Wild – You probably know the story, but have you read the book? Into the Wild is one of those stories that has always stayed with me because I see so many similarities between myself and the main character, Chris McCandless. I also noticed the public’s split opinion, some feeling bad for Chris, while other’s did not and were almost angry with him because he was in the wilderness messing around. I find it interesting that any of us, even the most prepared, think that we’re capable of mastering mother nature. He did the best he could. RIP Chris.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values – This book. I need to come clean here.. by the time I finished this book, I absolutely hated it. I was treking at high altitude and ripping out pages and burning them when I was finished. I was so over it. Cut to today and I’ve realized many, many times that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has had an enormous impact on how I view quality (a term that pops up at least 3,000 times in this book) and work. Believe it or not, I just ordered it again so I can read it with appreciation this time.

That’s that! My very favorite books to read outdoors. A perfect mix of inspiration and admiration lie within these pages. Don’t have any camping plans coming up? No problem, I’m in the habbit of turning off all my lights, opening the windows (to let the sounds of insects in) and reading by headlamp. At my little hut here in Chapel Hill, I feel like I’m in a tent in the middle of the woods 🙂

 

 

 

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

live seasoned koh lipe blue hour-1

Sarah Here :

Happy Friyay! I’ve been having a week. It started off inspiring and productive as I worked through the whole weekend. I researched and formulated some plans for my Tulum retreat, I meditated more than usual and I bought myself a new camera, which means I have to update this post. Then Monday came around and I heard news that Otto Warmbier had died. This event led me on a dark spiral that continued through the week and culminated in me watching dozens of videos of black men being shot and killed by police. I don’t necessarily think my behavior is healthy, but I do think exposure to evil is a helpful way for me personally to cultivate even more empathy, compassion and love.

I’m hoping that I’ll find a way to make a meaningful difference, but for now I’ll just talk about my experience and feelings about Otto’s death. I wrote this immediately after I heard the news, before I had my morning coffee, while completely wrapped up in emotion, and now I’m hearing my college professor telling me to ‘take a seat,’ after having just explained so much about my writing before presenting it. Sorry Professor Trayes!

Walking up the stairs to my tiny bungalow yesterday, I thought back to a week previous when I had caught my roommate’s cat stealing a baby bird from a nest. I was mortified, I happened to look out the window at the moment when her mouth closed around the small bird. So upset with the cat, I stomped outside with rubber gloves on, picked up the tiny, mostly unharmed, chirping bird and returned it to its nest. I felt immense sadness for this single baby bird. ‘How could the cat do that,’ I thought, even though I’ve seen dead bird carcasses lying around for the past year and I’m well aware of instinctual nature.

Cut to ten minutes later, I wander into my room for something and again, looking out the same window, I see the cat steal the same baby bird. This time death was imminent. My heart felt tiny and hard. WTF. What the fuck. My friend helped rationalize it, commenting on the natural cycle of life, the food chain, the minute importance of a single bird when there are surely humans dying at the same moment… Yeah, I understand all that and yet something about this moment, about seeing the cat steal the bird, saving the bird and then seeing it being stolen again, I just couldn’t handle it. Wasn’t it enough that I wanted the bird to live?

It took me a couple of days to realize that really what I wanted wasn’t so much for the bird to live, but for me to not see the bird die. This cat has been murdering songbirds and small mammals its whole life and I knew that, never once did I feel such crushing sadness, it was only because I saw the suffering. I saw the momma and poppa bird circling overhead, chirping, terrified and angry that they worked so hard only for their baby bird’s progress to be stopped in an instant. I saw them return to the nest excited and squawking when the baby was replaced, I heard the shrieks when the cat came back.. I was a witness.

So often I try to act as a witness. Observing the present moment, aware yet detached and allowing each tiny event to flow by.. but the baby bird stuck. I was no longer in the present, it made an impact. I know this because I could not stop thinking about it and yet I knew it was uncommon for me to be that upset by the death of a single bird.

So back to yesterday, I’m walking up the steps, past the exact spot where I tried to save the baby bird a week previous and in an instant I thought, ‘okay, I’m finally over the bird incident, I set my emotions aside, I understand why I was upset and I’ve come to terms with witnessing suffering and the fragility of life,’ and it was as that thought was finishing that I see a fresh songbird carcass laying on the top step.  I let out a loud laugh from the bottom of my belly; the timing was amazing. At the instant I declared I was, over it I was challenged to face it again. Reality is truly absurd. Believe it or not, I felt better and I laughed a few more times that day about the second dead bird. It’s as if my self declaration of passing the test was enough for the universe to hand me another challenge, to ask, ‘are you sure you’re okay with it?’ And the answer was yes.

Then something else happened.. Otto Warmbier, the young American who allegedly tried to steal the propaganda poster from North Korea died. He’s dead. An American kid who might have tried to steal a poster is dead. Is it idiotic to steal something from North Korea?  Especially something with the dictator’s face on it? Yeah, duh, of course. Did an immature 21-year-old brain think for a second that it wouldn’t be such a big deal? Yeah, I’m sure. Was it? The biggest.

Even though we don’t exactly know what happened, I suppose the fact that an American abroad could be arrested, detained and returned home on the verge of death, is what’s absolutely terrifying to me. I understand what a privileged position I hold. There are citizens in our home country who worry about being potentially killed during routine stops and arrests on American soil. I get that and I don’t mean to minimize it.

Maybe Otto’s death scared me so much because I travel a lot. I think about being locked up abroad and I think about my poor parents. I think about the work they put in and how I could serve them a lifetime of grief with one stupid move, but I always imagined bribery, bankruptcy and jail time, not labor camps, comas and death. If nothing else, I expected accountability from one government to another. I expected my super power of a country to come to my rescue to at least ensure I wasn’t withering away in whatever imaginary jail I found myself in if the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

As an American abroad, I actually pretend to be Canadian. Seriously. I never offer up where I’m from and I’m the first person to criticize our country in a world that is U.S.A.-crazed. I always try to emphasize that America is not what everyone sees in the movies. I don’t live in Hollywood and not everyone is rich and beautiful, has a good education or even a full belly of food where I live. It’s a hard concept for some people to grasp.

As an American girl abroad, I’ve had at least a dozen serious marriage proposals and hundreds if not thousands of conversations about our politics and presidents. Traveling during Bush, Obama and now Trump, has opened me up to a range of discussions and reactions from folks on five other continents. After rolling my eyes and shaking my head and basically crushing the idea of the American dream to whomever I’m talking to, my cynical side starts to melt away, I back pedal and I admit that America is alright. I remark on our freedom speech, fair elections and general permission to do whatever the fuck we want, including buy assault rifles.. hopefully my foreign counterparts detect my sarcasm on the last bit, but even if they don’t, America doesn’t sound too bad. Apparently most people think it sounds pretty great (No need to make it great again, we’re already there!) and at the end of each of my trips, when I finally land back on American soil, I too agree. It’s good to be home. It’s nice to know I have this amazing country to be apart of, a place where I’m mostly free to be me without persecution.

I suppose I always assumed that being an American abroad insulated me as well. That I would always be saved by my country. I think Otto’s death rocked me because it flipped the script of what I knew to be true. If you’re an American, America has your back. Everything will be fine. The world is watching, but just like the baby bird, it doesn’t matter who is watching.

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Tree Meditation

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Happy Mindful Monday 🙂 Any excuse to use alliteration? I’m there! I thought it would be cool to start things off on a positive note, something to bring awareness to your day and potentially the rest of the week. Mindfulness is simply awareness. I like to think of it as noticing the sensations in your mind, heart and body in the present moment. It’s basically watching without judgment. It’s tough. How well you watch yourself and your actions gives you control over them or at least a starting point in understanding them more fully.

Mindfulness can be practiced and honed in a many ways, but today I’ll share a single exercise for you to work with all week. Notice the trees. It sounds simple and it is, but how often do you do it? Do you have a favorite tree in your town? No?! Why not? I’m sure there is one that is more attractive to you than the rest, this week you should find it. I have favorite trees all over the place and I can’t tell you how many people have laughed at me when I pointed them out, but it’s true. Notice the trees and you’ll realize you too have favorites. If you live above the treeline or in an area without trees, you may notice any greenery: grasses, bushes, cacti, etc.

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Sarah Here :

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Happy Friday friends! I hope your week went well. Mine was off to a bit of a bummer because I hosted a dear friend all last week and then woke up alone on Monday morning. Who likes that? No one, that’s who. After a Monday morning pep talk, I cleared off my white board and made a plan for the week. As a self-employed person, this is pretty much my only strategy for keeping myself accountable and on track with the week’s or month’s tasks. It worked pretty well this time around.

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