Fall Harvest Salad

I am getting so sick of my usual meal prepping recipes so I was searching around Pinterest this weekend looking for Fall recipes. This wonderful Fall Harvest Salad

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caught my attention and it did not disappoint. I left out the avocado and pepitas, and also massaged my kale with Olive Oil before adding it to the bowl, but pretty much followed the recipe, including the amazing dressing. You’ve gotta have that! I hope you will give it a try! Let me know what you think! img_6182-2.jpg

I hope you are having a great week!

XO,

April

Yoga for Emotional Health

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Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

When I first started practicing yoga 9 years ago after my first child was born and I was struggling with post-partum anxiety, I noticed right away the positive changes in my emotional health. When asked to write about yoga and health, I chose to dive deeper into why we feel more emotionally stable, grounded, and generally happy when we practice yoga.

Getting back in touch with your body. After my first son was born, I was filled with so much fear due to the overwhelming responsibility of keeping this infant alive, that I was too afraid to drive. The whole first month I depended on my husband and family members to drive us back and forth to doctor appointments and was basically a recluse otherwise. When I first went to the doctor for my post-partum anxiety the doctor prescribed muscle relaxers and other ways to numb my pain. I chose not to go that route and went to a counselor to try to talk through my issue instead. Luckily, my counselor recommended yoga when she saw that I literally did not know how to relax my shoulders. I carried all of my stress in my shoulders and she noticed that they were so tight they almost touched my ears. When I started practicing yoga I got back in touch with my body. I had been so disconnected from my body that I was no longer in control of it. Yoga taught me to tighten and then release each muscle in order to release it. “The Idea is to go towards any feelings of tightness, tension or emotion and breathe into that space” as Nicole Araki explains in her article on Gaia.com. When one learns how to just feel their feelings and breathe into them, they stop holding onto them and can finally let them go. Learning this was life-changing for my mental state.

Moving from fight or flight to relaxation. Ashley Turner, licensed psychotherapist and yoga teacher, explains that we move from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) when we practice yoga regularly. This explains why I was able to move from constantly living in fear and anxiety to a state of calm and trust in the Universe once I started a regular yoga practice. Breathing deeply also has many positive effects on your mental state. Performing any kind of breathwork can be extremely helpful when things start to get overwhelming. As a new mother, I often felt overwhelmed, but yoga taught me the correct way to breathe which helped me change my perspective from agitation, anger, and overwhelm to peace and relaxation.

Meditation. Meditation has also had a positive impact on my mental state. When you meditate regularly, over time, you unlock a deeper part of yourself that can lead you to the best experiences for you and everyone involved. Some people call this your intuition, in yoga, it is called your higher self. By meditating and opening up this all-knowing, part of yourself you will find the answers you seek come to you with ease. I still have shoulder issues every now and then, and meditation has taught me to deepen my awareness into that space and fill it with light and love, which allows me to mentally change my perspective of the pain. Meditation over time leads to a more positive mindset. “Meditation can help ease postpartum feelings of anxiety and overwhelm,” according to Postpartum Support International.

Exercise releases endorphins and makes you happy. Yoga was a gentle way to get back into exercising after kids. After childbirth your body is going through so much that you might find yourself, as I did, unable to exercise the way you could before childbirth. I was a runner and counted on being able to go outside and run my worries away. This was not possible for many weeks after childbirth and even then, when I did run, I would be so sore for many days that I’d struggle to care for myself and my new baby. It is best to start with gentle exercise and work your way back into your old routine after childbirth. “Some sources believe that relaxin can stay in the body for up to 12 months after weaning,” says Shirey, a certified pregnancy fitness instructor quoted in Shape Magazine 2018. “This means your joints remain looser than usual. That lack of stability means your body is more prone to aches, pains, and injury”.

Improves your romantic relationships. “When you’re more centered and more peaceful with yourself, you’ll be the same way with your partner—you’ll view them through the same lens of compassionate, unconditional love” says Ashley Turner in Yoga Journal. Since I started meditating and doing yoga daily, all of my relationships have become closer, especially with my husband. He has known me over ten years and says he definitely has noticed a change since I started my daily practice, we have a closer relationship and we’ve become better communicators.

Self-care. When I had my first child I did not take time for myself because I felt guilty leaving my son. I finally learned once my second child was born how important and necessary self-care is, if you want to show up fully and as your best self for your children. Self-care was especially hard to fit in when I worked full time because I already had so much mom guilt being away from them during the day. How could I possibly leave them a couple evenings a week to go to a yoga class? My counselor helped me get past my guilt by explaining that you have to put your own air mask on first, like they tell you on airplanes in the event of an emergency landing. You cannot put your child’s airmask on if you cannot breathe.  If I’m working all day, stressed out, and feeling guilty, then come straight home and try to be patient when my toddler is potty training, and loving and present while my second child is going between crying and breastfeeding all night, I’m not going to be showing up as my best self for them; unless I’ve taken a hour of my day to center myself. This is not hurting your children, this is helping them. Once I learned this my entire outlook on motherhood changed. I felt empowered, instead of feeling like a victim to the circumstances and stress that had taken over my life.

Present moment awareness. There is so much to be done with a new baby, or multiple children, it is often hard to take a moment to just be present and enjoy the stage you are in right here and now. Yoga has taught me to relish this moment, be present and grateful for each moment as it is. The most important lesson I’ve learned after having three children and watching them grow up before my eyes, is that although parenthood as a whole is fleeting and goes by faster than we realize, being present and peaceful in as many moments as possible is what makes up motherhood as a whole. When I look back on those first years as a new mom, I don’t remember much of the tough times: the lack of sleep, the pain of childbirth, those are all overshadowed by those quiet, peaceful moments of breastfeeding my newborn for the first time, the moment my toddler met my newborn son, the moment I said goodbye to my son on his first day of kindergarten. The beauty of motherhood that creates real change in mothers and helps us to become our best versions of ourselves is that we MUST go through the tough times. So much of my life was spent avoiding the tough times, tough conversations, anxiety-inducing situations; motherhood forces you to face all of it head-on, and the only way through it is experience it all. You can’t just avoid it and say, I’ll deal with that poopy diaper later, I just can’t handle it right now. Each challenge forces you to deal with it right then and there, and this is where you experience growth. Motherhood is being present for the challenges and learning from them. My favorite quote from Nicole Aracki’s article about postpartum depression and yoga is “The most important thing to remember with the transition of motherhood is that you cannot get around it – you simply must go directly through it.”

As a mom of three, I still struggle daily, but one thing I know I can always do to find my center is to get on my mat. Yoga is a lifesaver for mothers and fathers, and if you are stuck in fear and anxiety as I was after each of my children being born, I urge you to seek out a yoga class. When you take responsibility for your emotional health, your entire family will thank you for it. Emotional health is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your children. 

With love and light,

April

worm s eye view of woman doing yoga

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

 

Citations:

  1. Cope, Stephen Yoga for Emotional Flow, Sounds True, November 23, 2015

 

  1. Diangelo Freidman, Jennifer. “5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health” Yoga Journal.. Cruz Bay Publishing, April 29, 2016. <Inc.https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/5-ways-yoga-is-good-for-your-mental-health>

 

  1. Aracki, Nicole.”5 Ways Yoga Can Help Postpartum Depression and Anxiety” Gaia. May 29, 2013.
    https://www.gaia.com/article/5-ways-yoga-can-help-postpartum-depression-and-anxiety

 

  1. Cirignano, Andrea. “9 Things You Should Know About Postpartum Exercise (and Probably Don’t)” Shape May 7, 2018. https://www.shape.com/fitness/tips/things-you-should-know-about-postpartum-exercise

 

    5, Muskal, Robin. “Postpartum Anxiety Meditation”. May 15, 2017. PSI       Blog.  http://www.postpartum.net/psi-blog/meditation-for-anxiety/

 

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

During our impromptu road trip down south we stopped at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and spent an entire day exploring the 4 different floors packed with hands on exhibits for kids. You know you are getting close when you round a corner to see this big guy! They really get the kids excited with these dinosaurs trying to get in the building. IMG_9695.jpg

There is a free parking garage that has a covered bridge into the museum, making it very convenient to park. And you’ll even get to see more dinosaurs as you walk inside. So fun!

IMG_9700The very first thing you see as you walk inside the main lobby is Bumblebee. My kids were thrilled to stare at him while we waited in line. It’s no Disney World line but it’s still pretty long so its nice that they provide entertainment in that area. The price was a bit high but you can get coupons on their website if you plan ahead, which we obviously had not done. So be sure to check the site ahead of time. IMG_9705-2

If you homeschool this is a great learning resource. We “homeschool” our two little ones so we really appreciated all the culture weaved into the fun here. The China exhibit was a great experience. My oldest loved learning how to write words in Chinese and my youngest enjoyed playing in the Dim Sum Restaurant complete with woks, fake food, and tables for them to serve their customers (parents).

We also really enjoyed the dinosaur section and the kids spent the most time in the dinosaur dig. It is a little bit hidden in a back corner but totally worth squeezing into a cramped space with way too many other parents to see your kid’s eyes light up as they put on their goggles, grab their paintbrushes and get to work. img_97331.jpg

We went on the last weekend of Spring Break and it was pretty packed. I would definitely recommend getting there during the week if at all possible. I won’t spoil the entire adventure for you, but wanted to point out some things that could easily be missed since there is SO much to see in one day. They also have an outdoor sports area which we did not go to since it was a little crowded, but that looked fun as well.

So, if you have kids and make it to the Indianapolis area, the children’s museum is a MUST SEE. Have you been to this museum? If so, what was your favorite part?

XO,

April

 

Flow State Trifecta

It is spring break and even though spring has decided not to show up this year here in Michigan, we thought we’d make the best of it by taking an overnight trip down to Indianapolis, IN. We had never been there and it was only a four hour drive so we loaded up the van and headed south. We did something we’ve never done and didn’t book a hotel reservation until we got there, which took a lot of letting go for me! 😉

IMG_9665As we arrived in the late afternoon, we drove into the heart of Indianapolis to check out the downtown area, walked around the city market (we weren’t impressed-I’d skip this one), saw the Soldiers and Sailors monument, and then checked out a couple hotels.

We found a nice hotel, went for a swim with the kids,  then went out to dinner at one of our favorites that we can’t get in Michigan: Bucca Di Beppo. We found the best little ice cream shop afterwards called Graeter’s, definitely recommend! So, we were just flowing from one fun and exciting new thing to the next. On Saturday we spent the entire day at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum. You can read more about our day in my next article, there was so much to see it needs its own post!IMG_9693

So, throughout the trip, we let the kids help us decide where to go and let it flow naturally which created a flow state trifecta. The flow state is a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of activity. Couple that with the sense of adventure in experiencing a new town, AND quality time spent with the ones you love. This is what I call the flow state trifecta. It is a thrilling and exciting way of living that we experience whenever we go hiking , biking, or camping in a new place. The more you seek out to create these flow state trifectas, the better your life becomes. It is a sense of joy and excitement that helps families connect and reset.

When we were driving home Matt said, “That was a really great trip, I’m glad we went”. That caused me to pause as I was looking through the pictures of the trip, and I actually teared up as I looked at a picture of our oldest son who is in third grade. We talked about how it seems like just yesterday he made us parents and helped us become the people we were meant to be. My heart was so full of love for those three kids in the back of our van, I almost felt like it was going to burst. This is the flow state trifecta.

It’s easy to get caught up in work stress, school schedules, and endless soccer games, but when we take the time to get out of our comfort zones and experience something new, you’ll feel the affects of the flow state trifecta which will enable you to think more clearly, connect more deeply, and head back into your daily routine refreshed and rejuvenated.

When is the last time you experienced the flow state trifecta? I’d love to hear about your experience!

XO,

April

The Road to Hana

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I remember being so engulfed in fear as I looked out the backseat window and saw the edge of the cliff as we continued speeding through the winding road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii. I saw cross after cross on the side of the road representing the many lives lost on this treacherous and eerily beautiful road. My father honking before going around curves because the road turns into one lane at very inopportune times. I was too afraid to speak, as I kept checking that my seatbelt was still locked tight. I was 12 years old. Old enough to know the danger of what we were doing, but not old enough to know how to deal with my fear. So, I did the only thing I could do, accepted that I may die today, so I might as well enjoy this beautiful scenery. That is A LOT for a 12 year old to take on! On the other side of this fear though, there was beauty. I appreciated the beauty of Hawaii so much that day, that I decided I would someday name my daughter after this terrifyingly beautiful road, and 20 years later I did.

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“The Road to Hana is a scenic highway (Highway 360) that twists through the lush rainforest and past the cascading waterfalls that line Maui’s eastern shore. Most people start their trip in Kahului (home to Maui’s main airport) with the intention of motoring 55 miles to Hana. The trip isn’t always easy: The route often surprises unfamiliar drivers with hairpin turns.” says The U.S. News Travel.

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.” Ever since I was a kid these words have struck a cord in my soul. My soul yearns to be free. To fly. But I’m a 34 year old sensible mother of 3. I do not fly. I get motion sickness when I ride the hot air balloon rides with my kids at the Air Zoo.

I have had this nagging feeling since childhood that one day my adventure would begin. I’d be walking through the streets my head in a book as always, and BAM! My world would transform into forests, beasts, and talking cutlery. Does anyone else think this might happen to them? No, just me?

Any ways, I’ve always wanted to get back to that feeling on the other side of fear. What would I do if I faced my fear and went straight through it, instead of running the other way? If I stood up for my beliefs instead of thinking someone else will do it for me. If I poured my heart out on a blog, and hoped no one would ever read it, because then they would see the real, true, me. And THAT is a terrifying thing. Isn’t that the greatest oxymoron of our time? We all deep down, just truly want to be seen, and yet we are so terrified to be seen, we won’t show others our true selves. What if we all just put it out there, our weird Disney obsessions and the fact that we often break into song, our memories from childhood that scare us to explore, our beliefs, questions, hopes and desires. What if we step outside the box for a moment each day, a little at a time, and say “Hey, this is me. I’m beautiful in here and you never knew it, because I didn’t let you see me”. I see you friend, let’s hold hands and jump outside our comfort zones together.

XO,

April

 

My First Attempt at a Buddha Bowl (Recipe below)

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I’ve been seeing Buddha Bowls all over Pinterest the last few months but have been too intimidated to try them. This weekend it felt like the next right step in our nutritional journey to try something different. I love veggies but my husband and kids are not so fond of them.

This nourishing bowl was bursting with colors and flavor, which got the kids interested. They all tried it but still wanted me to make them something else, which was fine with me because that meant more for me! Hubby and I LOVED it!

This dressing from Trader Joe’s was a huge time-saver so I didn’t have to make my own dressing. I definitely recommend grabbing some if you’re a newbie to buddha bowls like me.

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I heard something today on a podcast, The Practical Minimalists, that was a huge realization for me and my relationship to food. “When it comes to health and wellness, follow your next right step and perfect that step, and then move on to the next right step. Check in with yourself and make sure it feels aligned for you, not what you think you should be doing.” Beth Clayton, a Health Coach shared this awesome tip. In my health journey I have definitely tried a few things like going completely vegan that were not a good fit, and had to take a few steps back, to a lifestyle I could sustain. I’ve always felt a little guilty about this, but when I heard Beth’s advice, it hit me that we’re all at different points in our journey, whether its health, fitness, mindfulness, etc. there is no one right path for everyone and we all have to just follow what feels like the next right step for us. Today, this was my next right step, and I’m happy to share it with you all in case it feels right for you!

Recipe:

  • Riced Cauliflower from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Sweet potatoes, halved
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 bundle broccolini, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 big handfuls arugula
  • 1/4 tsp salt/pepper
  • Approx. 1 tbsp Olive Oil for drizzling
  • Roasted Chickpeas (recipe found here)
  • Dressing: 1 tbsp Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and arrange sweet potatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Place skin down on baking sheet.
  2. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip potatoes, and add the rest of the vegetables. Drizzle with oil and salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for another 8-10 minutes.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, cook fried cauliflower according to package in a wok or pan and scramble an egg into the mixture.
  5. When vegetables are finished, slice sweet potatoes into bite size pieces. Divide between 4 bowls and top with arugula, riced cauliflower, chickpeas, and vegetables.
  6. Lastly drizzle 1 tbsp almond butter turmeric salad dressing on top and ENJOY!

If you give this a try, let me know how it went. What’s your favorite buddha bowl recipe?  Please share because hubby and I are trying ALL the buddha bowls right now! 🙂

XO,

April

 

Good Vibe Exercise

Today I wanted to share my new favorite way to workout. This is one of the things I do to help keep myself in alignment and joy every day, and it feels completely natural and fun. As Deepak Chopra says, “As we spend time meditating and awakening to who we really are, we will naturally make choices that benefit our body, mind, and spirit.”

I have never loved running, we have a love/hate relationship I guess I’d say.  Well, I decided to try it again a few months ago. I was instantly hooked because I could run much farther and longer than in the past, and feel great during and after the run! The difference this time is sort of “out there” or woo-woo. You may think I’ve gone off the deep end with this one, but hey, it’s getting me to run, and that is something. 😉 The difference this time is my emotions before, during, and after the run. In the past I used to  dread running and see it as a means to an end: Me+Run=lose weight. Not anymore, now I think of this hour a day as my decadence, me time, treat myself time. I look forward to going to the gym now!

I’ve turned running into a moving meditation of sorts. I always used to get down when I would glance at the tv’s in the gym and see depressing stories about the latest tragedy. So, one day I decided to imagine I was sending love from my heart directly to the people affected in the stories on the news. I noticed I got a boost of energy from doing this and was able to run a little faster. So, I started sending love and light to everyone around me in the gym. Wishing them health, love and joy.

I believe the news affects us because we feel helpless. There is no way we can help everyone who needs help. And with the news being everywhere these days we can’t avoid it either. But what if there is something we could do. We could send them something we are abundant in, our love, light and health; and in turn bask in the energetic vibes we receive from loving others.

Now, I have no idea if the people around me notice anything or if they receive any of the good vibes I’m sending them, because this is all going on in my head. But what if they did? What if their day was a little brighter, they had a little more energy to share with the world and it created a trickle down effect. We all have the ability to create ripples in other people’s lives. Whether others are open to it or not, is their choice. But I believe we have the power to smile at someone and change their day. And in the process, we can’t help but make our own a little bit brighter. I’ll close this long post with another Deepak Chopra quote, “When we love others we are loving ourselves.” And whether anyone else notices or not, I’m losing weight, building strength, and showing up as my best self for my family afterwards.

So next time you’re on the treadmill, practice with the people on tv first, and imagine shining light and love from your heart center to those who are in need. Beathe in deeply and on the exhale silently say, “May you have love, light and health.” It usually takes a second but then you’ll get aburst of energy. I believe this is because you’re connected with the Universe. And when we connect with the Universe in an effort to do good, the whole Universe conspires with us. So, not only do you have good vibes coming from you to others, but you have the entire Universe backing you! That’s one hell of a way to start your day!

This can be done during any exercise class, lifting weights, or walking on a path. It may seem weird at first, and if it doesn’t work for you, you may have something blocking your love. I am working on a free 7 day meditation to help release blockages like these, so keep an eye out for that! But let me know if you try it, I’d love to hear about how it went!

Purposefully Yours,

April

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My Morning Routine

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Good Morning Lovely Friends,

I’m sharing my morning routine with you all because since starting this routine a year and a half ago, I’ve been able to find a clarity of purpose like I’ve never had before, lost weight, and have just been an all around happier and calmer momma and wife. My 3 kids get up at about 7am. I used to try to sleep as long as I could and then as soon as they woke up I’d feel like I was already behind. So, I started getting up an hour earlier every day. And when everyone is healthy and I’m getting enough sleep I get up an hour and a half earlier than them. This gives me time to center myself and get some work done before starting the morning caring for them. Fill your own cup first 😉

As soon as I get out of bed I turn on my meditation app (for which ones I use, read on here) and listen to the lesson of the day while I make our coffee. I continue listening to Deepak Chopra or another spiritual teacher as I get on my yoga mat and do some easy stretching like child’s pose and cat/cow’s to get my blood flowing. By now it is about 6:15 and it is time to meditate so I take a seat in my meditation chair and meditate for 15 minutes. Once I’m centered, connected to my true self, I come to my desk and prepare my to do list and start working. I get at least 30 minutes of work in before I start the day and that helps me accomplish my top 1 or 2 priorities for the day.

Back in March of this year I started using my World Changer Planner that I created because I couldn’t find a planner that contained everything I wanted. It has a space for gratitude, a to do list, free writing ideas, and 3 daily action items that need to be accomplished. This has helped me to prioritize what I get done in a day and not take on too much. Being present for my kids, homeschooling my little ones, and supporting my husband are my core values; but I also have dreams and goals I want to accomplish as well. This morning time helps me get a jump on them.

I wanted to share this quote from Tim Ferris, one of my favorite authors, that he found after having 140 people at the top of their fields answer the same 11 questions while doing research for an upcoming book:

“Despite the fact that these are people from tennis to surfing to cryptocurrency to fill-in-the-blank, like any field you can possibly imagine — some type of morning mindfulness or meditation practice would span I’d say 90% of the respondents.”

He goes on to say that meditation has a branding problem and we think of people swinging dreamcatchers around but explains that meditation is really about “decreasing emotional reactivity so you can proactively create your day and create your life; versus just being a walking reflex that sometimes screws up”

I love that. That is exactly what mindfulness has done for me. What is your morning routine? I’d love to hear about yours!

Purposefully Yours,

April

Spilled Milk and Brain Scientists

Sometimes flow with family looks like running out of the house as soon as hubby is awake on a Saturday morning to go to the gym just to be alone, because all the kids are whining for treats and my daughter dumped her cereal on the table and is rubbing her hands in it. This is a pretty typical morning but what was different was my response. See, I’m an introvert in a house full of extroverts so it can often feel like I’m the ringmaster in a circus and all the animals have escaped from their cages.

I used to try to control the chaos from this place of agitation. Now I’ve learned to get happy, fill my cup as much as possible, and then I can give everyone the attention they need when I get home. I used to think self care was a girl’s night out once a month. But I’ve realized as an introvert, even time with friends, as much as I love it, can drain my energy. I have found quiet activities that I can do to center myself like meditating, taking baths, reading books, and going to the gym.

So, I got on the treadmill and ran my agitation out and listened to my favorite podcast, Super Soul Conversations. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, was on the show and she was telling her story of how she witnessed her stroke from her right-brain (the flowy, intuitive side) while her left-brain was bleeding so much that she lost her thinking brain for quite a while. It was a fascinating story of resilience, that reminded me just how magnificent it is that I am alive right here in this moment and all of my cells are functioning in unison so I can be me. And it made me realize that in this fast-paced, not enough society we live in, we don’t slow down enough to appreciate just how miraculous it is that we are here in this moment. That hubby and I created three precious human beings out of nothing, I mean how amazing is that? Our lives are so precious, and sometimes it takes a little spilled milk to remember that.

Then I took action from this place of love and appreciation and we had a flowy day together; went to a children’s museum and zoo lights at the Lansing Potter Park Zoo. That never would’ve happened if I tried to force a fun day from the place of agitation I was in. Raise your vibration and flow will follow.

XO,

April

1 Minute Miracle Meditation to Radiate Love and Light

Good Morning Beautiful Friends!

You know those people that just radiate light and love? This meditation will help you quickly cultivate that feeling so that you can show up wherever you are headed as your most loving and radiant self. If you’re looking for a better way to deal with holiday stress, here is a 1 minute miracle meditation that you can do right before you step out of the car at your relative’s house, or as you’re waiting for the water to boil while cooking dinner.  Try this meditation before your next social gathering and see if it helps you find your flow, if so, let me know below!

XO,

April