Hey babes! *Years* ago I thought about creating a weekly email newsletter to cultivate a more regular meditation practice and that was before I knew anything about meditation. The only thing I was certain of was that it made me feel good. Since then, I’ve read countless mindfulness texts, completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training and stuck to a consistent meditation practice each week so today I’ve finally gon’ and dun it. I sent out the first Meditative Mondays newsletter.
If you want to be super helpful you can tell me how to get rid of that underlying fuzzzzzz sound in my audio. I think it’s picking up noise from my DSLR. Do I need a deadcat wind muff? Should I not use this Rode mic? Should I use a lav mic instead? Is that crazy? I don’t want you to be able to hear me swallow like on Ted Talks. I find that creepy. And you thought you read this blog because I had the answers, nope! I know practically nothing and that’s after graduating with a degree in Journalism where I actively gathered news via audio and video for four years. Help.
Typically, on the first Wednesday of each month, we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, sometimes we focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields and other times we expand the conversation to highlight relevant nature and environmental topics in the news, a discussion of our intentions for the month, and other bits of inspiration.
In the News
Guys, there is something called a bomb cyclone and it’s coming for the east coast. Think hurricane, but wintery conditions. Ick. I moved to North Carolina to avoid winter and here we are talking about temperatures 20-40 degrees colder than usual. Typing that just sent a shiver down my spine. Hopefully, Santa brought that electric blanket I asked for, we’ll see at Russian Christmas this weekend in Saxis.
Boats are threatening the survival of Panama’s Bocas Del Toro dolphins. These dolphins are pretty special because there is a pod of about eighty who do not interbreed with the more common Carribean dolphins. Dolphin watching in the area is increasing, which may work in the dolphins’ favor as it will bring awareness and attention to this small, unique dolphin population.
Lastly, humans are kinda helpful here: Ecologists used maps produced before World War I to recent kelp forest surveys in the Pacific Northwest and found that they’ve been pretty stable over the past century. Read the article to find out why we surveyed kelp beds way back then in the first place, pretty interesting stuff.
If you’ve been a friend of the Schu family long enough, you know the whole crew gets together during the first weekend of January to celebrate Russian Christmas, which takes place on the 7th each year. The date marks the birth of Jesus on the Russian Orthodox Church’s calendar and really that’s where it starts and ends for the Schu fam. We use the date as an excuse to gather once more, which is especially convenient now that some siblings head to their inlaws for Dec. 25.
For me, tea season is all year long, but I find myself doubling up this time of year. If there’s not a steaming mug of tea in my hands, likely I’m walking to the kitchen to procure one. Drinking tea has become one of my favorite daily rituals. Heating the water, picking my favorite mug, selecting a tea, allowing it to steep, reading the tag (kind of like a fortune in a cookie) sipping it in both hands until the mug is empty.. and repeat.
A few details of my tea routine :
My Mug – I used to photograph for Haand, a lovely local company, and I honestly love their mugs and dishes more than any I’ve ever used. First off, matte glazes. I could end there, but they’re also really easy to clean, they’re restaurant quality, so not easily chipped, and each piece is designed to interact with you and your food in a really delightful way. I use these three pieces every single day: the short large mug, the margay, and the caracal. My friends also bought me this eat, sleep, yoga, repeat mug, which is a great reminder and there’s a little golden smiley face waiting at the bottom of the mug for when you finish, which always brightens my day. So choose your mug wisely, it should bring you joy each time you pick it up and even while you wash it.
My Tea – Celestial Seasonings is my absolute favorite. I’ve been drinking their brews for years, but after visiting the factory in Boulder, CO and hearing the company’s story (basically a few flower-picking hippies) my love was solidified. They also minimize waste by skipping the teabag string, tag, and wrapper. I also like Yogi Tea because of the little tea fortune and I think Trader Joe’s makes a few great blends, but I really hate that they wrap each individual teabag in plastic. I don’t think I would have even thought of this if it weren’t for Celestial Seasonings. Brands that drive you to be more conscious of how you consume are the best brands, don’t you think? My favorite teas at the moment (some of these are always on the list): CS fast lane, CS sleepytime, CS tension tamer, Yogi Green Tea Kombucha, Yogi Breathe Deep, Yogi Relaxed Mind, Yogi Calming, and TJ’s Moroccan Mint.
My Brewing – I was a big fan of the teapot for a long time, but last year, I moved in with a roommate who used an electric tea kettle and I must admit I’m totally hooked and it’s the number one appliance I use, second up is my coffee grinder. You can buy a ceramic, stainless, or see-through version. Here’s a super secret teapot trick I didn’t learn until I was 22, you *never* need to take the lid off, just fill up the pot from the spout. Maybe you knew this? Maybe I revolutionized your life? No need to tell me which.
New Year’s Resolution Success Story
It’s nothing major, but last year, a few of us sat around and wrote down resolutions. We then put the resolutions in a bowl, mixed them up, and picked one. The one I received was, “Read a book a month” and funny enough this was a resolution I made years prior, but never fully followed up on. After pulling that resolution from the bowl in 2017 however, I made it a point to always be reading a book or three. I just decided that I needed to reincorporate reading into my daily or at least weekly routine, and I did. Simple as that. I picked up a book and made time for reading again. This is me reminding you that READING IS FUN and awesome and totally worth it and way better than facebook or instagram or whatever else you’re wasting time on (besides this website obviously). Sometimes I find myself reading by way of procrastination, but honestly, that feels way better than scrolling through FB to procrastinate. I actually deleted my FB app over six months ago and haven’t looked back. I log on way less and my life feels full of interesting stories instead of mostly superficial ones. Here’s what I read in 2017.
On that note, are you a resolute person? But really, do you take the time to look at your year and plan for the next or do you treat the shifting from December to January just like you would February to March? I’m a bit of both. I value the pendulum that swings from December 31 to January 1st, but I also feel like each moment is an opportunity to decide to take action or cease bad habits. Did you hear about our Meditative Mondays email newsletter? Just a little opportunity to bring some calm into your atmosphere this year. Join us if you’d like 🙂 or pass it along to that friend who is always running circles in his or her mind.
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
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 Monday! I feel bad for Mondays. While everyone is busy hating them, I’m going to make an effort to be mindful of Mondays. Poor Mondays. I’ll keep you. Last year we talked a tiny bit about mindfulness and meditation. I will be the first to admit that I’m not an expert on meditation. I just know I feel darn good after a few minutes of peace and mindfulness.
I’m giving myself a meditation challenge and I thought I’d mention it here in case you want to play along. I’m going to meditate every day for the next twenty-eight days. I’ve tried to get into the habit of meditating, but I always end up practicing before and after yoga only. If I skip class for a week, I’ve gone a full week without focused meditation. I try to practice walking meditation whenever I think of it, but it’s less than once a day.
So here goes, guys. Twenty-eight days of meditation. I’m starting small. My plan is to meditate for two minutes a day for the first week! I really want to succeed and I think if I get in the habit of sitting down and keeping my mind quiet for just two minutes a day, it will be a real victory. The next week I’ll work on five minutes a day. I don’t want to get ahead of myself so that’s all I have planned for now. I’ll keep you updated. Are you going to try it too? I’ve been using this website to help get in the zen zone.
I also created a few images to remind myself to relax, breathe, repeat my mantra and meditate. For the past few weeks, my mantra has been patience and compassion. I hate when I cut someone off, get impatient or irritated so I’ve really been trying to work on that. Wish me luck!
Katie here : Good luck, Sarah! I think this is such a great challenge! I finally did some yoga this weekend with a few minutes of focused meditation afterwards (after a couple of weeks without any), and it felt so good. I used a 20 minute class from YogaDownload that I had on my phone, so I didn’t have to leave the house and could easily squeeze it in during Alex’s nap. The point is, that short dose of yoga and meditation had me feeling good for the rest of the day and left me determined to fit more of both into my days, so I’m excited to take on this challenge with you… I’m going to make one of your images my desktop background as a little reminder to step away from the screen and meditate :-).
Happy New Year! I finally got around to thinking about goals for this trip around the sun. Each year I make a whole host of goals and if I feel like I’m slacking, I make mini new moon resolutions too! Fingers crossed that I abide by this list in 2015.
Establishing a daily routine is of PRIME importance this year. I work as a freelance photographer so most days I’m at home editing photos or simply taking a day off. I find I get a bit anxious and unhappy if I’m just ‘sitting around’ all day even if I’m doing something I enjoy like reading or cooking. I’ve read that ‘happy’ people often have morning and/or daily routines. What about you? What do you do when you roll out of bed?
Ugh. The subject of sleep. I love sleep SO much. I could sleep at least 16 hours a day and often times I do sleep eleven or twelve hours a night. Why am I complaining, right? Well, most times I wake up feeling lousy instead of well rested. I feel like I’m wasting the day and the last few hours of slumber are usually punctuated by alarms and crazy dreams anyway. On that same note, I think creating a regular sleep pattern will help with my overall health. Hopefully I’ll feel more energetic and ‘ready’ to go in the morning even though I only need to cross the hallway to get to work.
I finally made a budget. I’m sure some of you have had budgets for years and others want to go run and hide at the mention of it, but I’m pretty excited about it. I’m extremely thrifty and therefore I always have enough money for the essentials, but I realized it is important to know how much you’re spending and saving each month. When I travel I write down EVERYTHING, like every single thing, that I purchase and it is so helpful. I can see how much I spend in each sphere of life, which is really helpful for future planning and squashing buyer’s remorse. Budgets are also super, duper helpful if you are a freelancer like me. It is easy to sit back and relax and kind of slack off for a couple weeks, but if you have an earnings goal you’ll actually know if taking a few days off is a good idea.
Make soup once a week! Possibly my most favorite goal of all time. I’ve been wayyyyy into soups lately. They’re so easy to make, usually only take one pot and they reheat so well. Some of the tastier soups will be featured on the blog so sit tight 🙂
I need to camp more often. This year I went for a bajillion day hikes. I probably averaged four or five a week, but I only camped out a couple times. In 2013 I slept in a tent for over three months! The disparity is insane, so I plan on fixing that. Oh and I got an AMAZING new tent for Christmas.
I think I’ve had more yoga and meditation on my goal list every year since 2011. Last year, I started strong in January by practicing 27 days in a row, but on the 28th day I came down with mono. That was a big bummer and definitely signaled that I need to practice more, but also pay attention to what my body needs. This year I plan on doing all that and traveling to Nepal to become a yoga teacher! I’m over the moon about my yoga-centric trip.
I spend a lot of time on Instagram. I used to feel guilty about it, but then I remembered my professors were always saying something like, ‘look at photos, decide why you love them and go out and shoot.’ Now I think of my IG habit as an investment in my work! I see so many beautifully styled photos on my feed and I realized I want to create some of my own. I’m a trained photojournalist so I was taught not to manipulate the scene at hand, but now that I have a blog those rules are out the window.
I have at least four books started at all times. My goal for the year is to read at least two a month, which shouldn’t be too hard, but we shall see. What are your favorite books?! What do I absolutely need to read?
I feel like I’m pretty good at taking time to get inspired. I have at least a dozen ideas floating around in my brain at all times, but I completely fail to write them down. If I don’t write them down, I usually forget them and a majority of the time I never act on them.. I have a ton of cute notebooks and this year I’m puttin’ em to work!
Guys! Podcasts! I’ve been listening to them for years, but these past few months I’ve really started to nail down some favorites, which makes driving an absolute breeze! No idea what the hell a podcast is or how to listen to them? It is SO simple, which is why I want to tell everyone! Podcasts are basically episodes of radio shows. You simply subscribe to each one by going to their websites or subscribing in iTune or the Google Play Store. Once you subscribe they will show up on your device without you doing a damn thing! (Go on and google it, you know you wanna) Over the past few weeks I have driven approximately 2,705 miles. Actually, more than that, but whatever, that’s a lot of miles. During those drives I listened to just about every Freakonomics podcast and lots of Stuff You Should Know, That’s Deep Bro, This American Life, Your Mom’s House, and a bunch of others. Find your favorites and enjoy your time in the car. Stop scanning the awful pop radio, please!
These next two goals seem relatively simple. Gather my friends at my house and listen to what they are saying. Doesn’t it feel good to get something off your chest? Don’t be that friend that only calls for that reason, be the one that calls for no reason at all 🙂 If you’re any friend of mine, you know that I hate the phone. I hate dialing, hate answering, just hate it, so this goal will be a test for me, but I’m hoping I’m successful. I realize, gathering friends at my house is kind of a test for others, but if you fail you’ll still get a phone call and a sticker 😉
Say #NOPE to self-inflicted guilt, external expectations and silly societal norms. I don’t think this needs too much explaining, it is basically an excuse goal of mine to be easier on myself. Please, please, please adopt this goal too. I need to constantly remind myself that others’ paths are not my own and that is fine. I’m vowing to focus on mine this year, but LOTS and lots of luck on your journey too!
Be mindful. Think big. Act with intention. This will be my daily mantra and again, it’s just another step to self love so if you’re ready, get on the love train with me 😉
Am I living a balanced life? Am I taking care of myself? Am I following my inner voice? Personally, these are all important questions concerning my individual happiness. You may have another set of questions. I’m urging you to figure out what YOU need to ask yourself in order to start living a happier and healthier life. Although we post lots of recipes, crafting and adventures on Live Seasoned, you may have guessed that our daily lives are not always pumpkin pies and snowshoeing. We sift through the muck of daily living too and for me sometimes it’s a struggle. These few questions bring me right back to square one and basically force myself to identify why I’m feeling just so so. Find your own set of questions. Be honest with you and remember, “Our first and last love is self love.” so be a better lover!
We are interested to hear if you made any resolutions this year or if you’re anti-resolutions, tell us more! Xo