Book of the Year!

Every year I find one really good inspiring book that sets the tone for the next twelve months. This year a book fell in to my lap and within three chapters, completely opened my mind.

What does everyone want more than anything? To be happy!! Radically Happy by Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon is such a down-to-earth book that takes knowledge and wisdom and teaches it through relatable experiences from a business CEO and a Master Meditation Teacher. What makes this book so good is how easily digestible the lessons are and how funny their personal stories can be.

Each chapter is pretty short, around 15 pages, so it easy to digest and read for people with limited time.

Each chapter contains a little practice you can do outside the book and make these lessons part of your daily life and eventually effortless.

What’s hidden throughout the book are the Yoga Sutras written in modern language and without any pressure or stiffness. Having a history in studying Sutras is NOT necessary for this book and I would actually recommend reading Radically Happy before the Sutras. It is a foolproof way to understand the basics of life! Which is what the Sutras are, a guidebook on living.

To the point: Radically Happy gives you the tools to filter out all the thoughts that are counterproductive to our happiness by creating anxiety and feelings of loss.

Pros: This isn’t a book solely written by a teacher with a long lineage of ancient studies, it is combined with a modern CEO, science and ancient lessons that give a fully rounded education in being “happy”.

It also has mini lessons each chapter to incorporate behavioral practices that encourage satisfaction, groundedness and confidence.

This is such a creative and inspiring book to read this January! Check it out on Shambhala here and tell me in the comments what you think of it!

Breaking up with Resolutions

By now you’ve already questioned your resolutions and if you’re like me even slipped up on a few.

Resolutions are a guaranteed way to set yourself up for failure. Traditionally, resolutions are a set of goals that are unrealistic. Here are some of my tips to help you navigate realistic and long lasting goals for the year (and possibly healthy changes for your lifestyle).

1. First think about the different aspects of life. I applied a goal to Financial, Educational, Wellbeing/Health, Creativity, and Relationships. These are areas of my life that need work and are important to me. Your areas may be different, may include Career, Parenting, Free Time or so on. Individual goals should be just that, individual! Write these down in a journal or planner with space to write your goals for each.

2. Make your goals clear, concise and achievable. Be realistic and set yourself up for success. Instead of writing “save money” in my financial column I gave myself a specific goal “do not buy plants this year and care for the ones you have”. This is specific to me and a result of spending my money on something instead of saving. With this one I plan to use the money saved on not buying nonsense each month to pay off everything I bought for the holidays. Which leads to our next tip:

3. Each goal has a positive result. This is your motivation to stick with it! In Wellbeing I wrote to practice yoga a little everyday (5 minutes to 1 hour) and then I write why I’m doing it, less pain, more flexibility and strength and a calmer mind. Writing the positive effects you’ll get from it will keep you motivated in times when you start to talk yourself out of it.

4. Healthy habits start slowly. Make a plan to spend only a minimal time on each, I set mine for painting each day at 5 minutes. I gave myself a month to a read a book. Though I’ve spent more than 5 minutes each day on these, some days are harder than others and instead of skipping, having a low time expectancy is achievable. It doesn’t feel like failing when I only read for 5 minutes yesterday and then fell asleep, I still completed a goal for the day and can do more when I have more in me.

5. Have goals that will work together. One of my goals is to spend less time mindlessly on my phone, either scrolling or playing games. So I set time limits for each of those at one hour. It turns out that I have been spending my free time on my other goals and rarely hit my time limit anyway. Everything feels in balance and cohesive and my day feels a little more important by the time I rest my head down.

6. You can make some personal goals about your behavior that you want to change. I was to take one breath before responding to people. Especially at home. If I remind myself “BREATHE” I often don’t respond as negatively as I would have if I responded habitually. These changes take time so remind yourself you have an entire year to create this new habit (although it usually only takes 6 weeks)!

7. Some goals may not lend easy to seeing tangible results so I try to have at least one that I can look at everyday and see my accomplishments. My yoga practice may not give me physical results (and if it does it will take some time) but my creating practice will have some result everyday, whether a handmade bracelet, a pencil drawing or a painting that I can reflect on at the end of the day. This one is for our ego, it keeps us motivated in our longterm goals when we have daily short term ones.

The most important part of making goals is getting closer to a life you love. By having daily and longterm goals we consistently work on our habits and evolve our personalities. We continuously practice mindfulness and teach our brains to live in the present moment and focus which helps reduce anxiety and depression. So make sure that when you’re practicing your goals you’re remembering why you’re doing it. Try to have fun with it and the process will be effortless!

It’s never too early to think of the holidays

If you’re like me you’ve been mentally planning the holiday season since August. Stockpiling gift ideas and craft ideas for handmade sentiment. It wasn’t until this year that I noticed the trend in hobbies so similar to mine. The more I talk to people in various communities I enjoy I realize most of us enjoy the same hobbies!

For this year I’ll give my favorite ideas for various personalities.. the health freak, yogi, nature lover, reader, artist, and rare plant collector! I’ll give DIY gift ideas as well as different price ranges.

Make sure you subscribe for emails as I’ll be sharing each hobby in a separate post and will finish them out with MASSIVE giveaways on Instagram on both my yoga account and plant account!

What are you wishes for the holidays? Let me know in the comments!

The Plant Habit

As my indoor garden grows and my insatiable desire to learn everything I can about tropical plants explodes, I’ve learned so much about the community.

Here are my best tips for navigating the indoor gardening hobby (and obsession) and what I learned from my biggest mistakes.

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1. Buy mindfully. This is my absolute biggest mistake when I started and I’ve seen all my friends go through the same pitfalls. We crave having the pinterest home and the Instagram worthy shots and so we grab every plant we see and quickly get bored with them. I picked up so many plants because “it’s just $5” only to find myself giving it away in a few months. See what plants you’re really drawn to and it’s okay to come home empty handed. Sometimes just checking out the plants is a good enough journey. Hobbies can become burdens, especially with living things.

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2. Only buy from reputable sellers. I’ve had some huge scores with plant deals on Facebook but considering the amount that didn’t survive because of packaging inexperience, I didn’t really get much of a deal. I’ve bought from new plant shops because they’re prices were so low and unfortunately I paid for the seller to gain experience. Only take a chance on sellers if you’re okay with throwing that money away, otherwise do your research first if you can’t afford to risk it. I also use PayPal whenever  buy so that I at least have someone to dispute with if my order doesn’t show or comes dead and the seller won’t fix the issues.

3. Have a plan. Plants can easily turn into clutter and mess if you don’t have a clear image of the way you want them to look in your home. I don’t personally consider plants a decoration but I do need them to add to the aesthetics of my home rather than create a space people don’t feel welcome.

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4. Trends get cheaper. I’ve definitely made the mistake of jumping on the new plant trend bandwagon more than once only to find that within a season these same plants were now being sold at big box stores across the country.

5. Shop around before buying. I buy most of my plants from small businesses or private sellers online. Even the big box stores rarely have something I’m looking for and in my state nurseries and garden centers specialize in outdoor gardening and the houseplant sections usually consists of spider plants and pothos. I always check online to see if the price I’m getting is appropriate as well as shipping prices.

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6. Preorder before spring. I ordered over 20 “rare” or specialty plants in winter as preorders. I waited up to 6 months for some orders but the prices were pennies and the plants came beautifully. As long as the seller is communicating with you and you know them well enough, the longer you have to wait, the more established the plant usually is. And if you can’t preorder…

7. Buy in season. One winter my best friend and I wasted a lot of money on plants that obviously weren’t going to do well if they even survived the winter journey and dry indoors during their dormancy.

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8. Prepare before you buy. Make sure you have soil, pottery, pest control, a water meter and common gardening tools to care for your plants. Also, read up on the needs of different plants so you can care for them properly.

9. Be a part of the community. Having online resources not only taught me so much about indoor gardening but deepened my love for the hobby. I enjoy the people in the community as we swap plants and stories! You plant what you sow, so try to give as much to the community as you get from it.

10. Don’t give up! I’ve had many plants that looked all but dead only sprout back up in the spring or propagation sit for 8 months and suddenly sprout tons of roots. Just keep checking to make sure nothing is rotted and the environment is right for growth.

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There’s obviously so much to learn but you just have to dip your toes in and get used to the water first. What are your best tips for the new indoor gardener? Share them in the comments below! Feel free to chat with me on Instagram about plants, yoga, healthy living or just life in general 😊 @theplantishlife

You can grow Citrus in your home

After all the tropicals in my home I began thinking, is it possible to grow a citrus tree indoors in the Northeast climate?

I reached out to ViaCitrus to test my theory. There are a few reasons why I picked them versus other online citrus stores and even nurseries and big box stores near me.

The first reason is, their citrus trees are a fruiting age. Many places sell small trees that need at least a couple years to mature before fruiting. Knowing this, I felt my chances were best with a tree already mature enough to fruit and strong enough to handle the new enviroment.

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The second reason is ViaCitrus customer service. They truly love their customers and their trees and this makes the entire process such a joy. After having my Calamondin tree for a bit and eating two fruits right off the tree, I went ahead and purchased a Meyer Lemon tree for my mother for Mother’s Day!

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Interested in growing your own citrus tree? Here are some tips I’ve collected to be successful.

1. Only buy trees at least 2 years old. Anything less mature will struggle to produce fruit. Mature trees adapt more easily to indoor environments. Check out my unboxing video to see what you can expect from ViaCitrus.

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If you're looking for the perfect gift for a special mother in your life… I'M TELLING YOU THIS IS IT! My own mom saw this and told me how much she's always wanted a Meyer Lemon tree in her home to remind her of her childhood! Not to mention, this has been my children's absolute favorite plant in the house! It's already becoming part of their childhood. ViaCitrus not only has amazing reviews and customer service but their trees are already mature enough to be fruiting! This tree is a Calamondin Tree and we have eaten the ripe fruits off of it and they are magical! I cannot wait until I grab a Meyer Lemon tree and a Key Lime tree from them too! My tree sits in a southern facing window for direct sun and maximum sun exposure all day.

A post shared by Amanda (@theplantishlife) on

2. Give your tree a big enough pot to grow in. The size of the pot will limit the trees growth so opt for something 15in or larger.

3. Use slightly acidic soil that is well draining. Some stores have citrus tree soil mixtures but they closely resemble cacti and succulent soil, a mixture of bark, peat moss, perlite, and organic soil. Adding some coffee grinds can also help the acidity of the soil.

When potting make sure to gently loosen the roots and soil so the roots more readily grow in it’s new pot.

4. Give your tree proper light! If you have a large southern window, this would be great. Fruiting trees need at least 8 hours of direct sun. Grow lights can help any lack of sun. You can also move your tree around to follow the sun during the day (if you’re home to do this).

5. Watering your tree is easy. Make sure it gets moist soil and allow about 2 inches of top soil to dry out before rewatering. I like to use terracotta pots to avoid any chances of rootrot.

6. Fertilize with high nitrogen fertilizer (according to packaging instructions). Also mist your plant with rainwater or distilled water if humidity is low in your home.

7. When the plant flowers, you can pollinate the flowers with a paintbrush and touching each flower like bees would! This will help grow larger fruits!

8. Fruits will feel soft rather than hard when ready to harvest. Gently twist them off or use pruning shears to cut them off. You can store them in the fridge or on the counter. If a stem is producing too many fruits, take some off to encourage the others to grow to their full potential.

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There’s plenty more if you want to go deeper into citrus growing but these basics will definitely get you through the season. Check out ViaCitrus for their easy to grow selections of key lime, calamondin and meyer lemon! If you order today, you might get it in time for Mother’s day !

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NSE Tropicals is the closest to a jungle you can get.

When I was struggling with Lupus this past fall and winter (and currently into spring)  I really focused on different therapies that could make being trapped indoors feel less.. well, trapped.

Of course my plant lust grew and I fell in love with Pinterest home jungles. Dozens of plants hanging from cathedral ceilings and entire floor to ceiling glass walls adorned with hundreds of pots, stands and shelves of exotic plants.

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When I need jungle plants to fill my home I spend hours searching online and the only place that has exotic philodendron and anthurium at an affordable price is NSE Tropicals.

Enid, the owner, puts an enormous amount of love into her greenhouse and jungle. She carefully wraps each plant (some which make her sad to send away!) And is always available for help to care for your new plants.

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Her Instagram is filled with videos and photos of what she’s growing and doing with her greenhouse and her stories keep us all updated on what’s available!

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My beauties from her all arrived happy and healthy! My son and I did a bunch of unboxing videos you can find on my IGTV and I’m always posting updates of my plants on my page.

I appreciate her love for her clients, she is very kind even when I send her obsessive emails about plants I’m searching for! I’m always holding my breath hoping to grab the next wishlist plants as they become available. Lucky for us, she has enough plants to keep all the plant addicts supplied!

 

10 Reasons Cork is Good for Your Yoga Practice

I have tried many products and always come back to cork for yoga. I prefer a cork mat, blocks and anything else I can get my hands on. I love the feel of cork but there are so many more amazing benefits besides it’s durability. Some facts you may have not know…

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1. Cork forms antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic compounds that may reduce the risk of heart and degenerative diseases (Furthermore, waste from the cork industry gives rise to composites which are used in vaccine adjuvants to enhance immune system response).

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2. It’s durable, unique and environmentally friendly. Plus, cork is a natural material, so it doesn’t off-gas like many other types of materials.IMG_20190403_090855_776

3. Light weight: Due to the fact that more than 50 % of the cell volume of a cork piece consists of air, cork is one of the lightest solid substances, with a specific gravity of .25.

4. A cubic inch of cork can withstand as great a pressure as 14,000 lbs. per square inch without breaking, and retains 90% of its original form after the pressure is released. Less or more normal pressure increase return to original form from 97% to 100%.

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5. Because heavy pressure does not break down or destroy the tiny air cells, but compresses the air within the cells, the cork begins to spring back when the pressure is removed. A roll or sheet of composition cork can be compressed in one direction without losing its dimensions in the other direction. This is of great importance for many applications of composition cork.

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6. While cork is not completely impervious to moisture penetration, its cellular structure gives it a high resistance to penetration by water which with the addition of the proper binder can be proofed.

7. Cork is a highly frictional material, both in its natural form as well as in cork composition. Even when wet or coated with oil or grease, cork retains this quality which surpasses that of leather, rubber, and many other products used for frictional or non-skid purposes.

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8.  Next to a vacuum, a “dead” air space minutely divides one of the most efficient non-conductors of heat. The cell construction of cork provides this property for which cork is so famous.9. Cork, with its 200 million air cells per cubic inch; of which 50% is air, essentially acts as an “air cushion”, absorbing vibrations and direct impacts.

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9. Cork is a tough, durable substance with remarkable capacity for retaining its initial properties wherever recommended. The high degree of stability under varying conditions is paramount to the continuing success and use of cork in the world today.

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10. 42 Birds makes eco-friendly yoga mats and accessories using cork from Spain and Portugal. The brand is driven by functionality, sustainability and natural beauty. They are looking to create the best performing yoga products that also look good in your home and in your practice. These products should be owned and enjoyed with the knowledge that they both come from and support nature’s eco system.

Can a blanket help sleep, fibromyalgia and anxiety?

I was recently asked by some friends if I thought a weighted blanket would help their children sleep better at night. I jumped into researching it and the concept looks great. With two children who have sleeping issues and struggle with anxiety I couldn’t wait to try this theory out.

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The more I looked into it the more I saw all sorts of therapy for different issues. These included fibromyalgia therapy as well as panic attack therapy. Could this blanket really help a variety of issues from pain to anxiety and sleep problems?

I’ve spent the last 4 weeks using the Magic Weighted Blanket for all of these problems and the results surprised me. I picked Magic Weighted Blanket because they’re the original weighted blanket and they have mastered how to make one perfectly for every type of person!

First I immediately started putting the blanket over my sons legs at night and then covering him with a sheet. He went from screaming throughout the night from nightmares to waking and finding a way to feel better without waking everyone else up. He varies depending on how frightened he is but often takes a sleeping bag into someone else’s room and sleeping on the floor.

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Once we had that routine down pat, I introduced my daughter in using it before bed. While we are relaxing or reading together I’ll throw it over her lap to help her get sleepy enough for bedtime so that she doesn’t take so long to fall asleep. Many night we also add a children’s meditation and she’ll fall asleep within 10 minutes.

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My son also brought me the Magic Weighted Blanket the week I was suffering from extreme pain due to fibromyalgia or lupus. Although it was too difficult for me to sleep with the weighted blanket on, it knocked the pain down from a 9 to a 3 within minutes. I kept the blanket on the painful joints for 20 to 45 minutes and used warm compresses as well and it has been the best treatment for this attack of pain that I have been getting for most of my life.

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While the blanket does seem to help each issue, it can only go so far. If their nighttime routine is interrupted or delayed, their bedtime issues are exasperated. If I don’t treat my pain quickly, the weight and heat can only go so far. Despite that, I do think it is an extremely useful tool to have in the house! It can only help as much as it is used and once you’re in the habit of using it you will look back and realize how much it has helped since you started. I believe the longer you use it the larger the benefits will be!

How to get your kids into yoga AND meditation in 3 simple tips.

People are often amazed that my children will practice yoga with me. They’re downright in disbelief when I tell them my kids also meditate with me. They follow up with how their own children just “never would do anything like that”.

I’m here to tell you that any child can practice yoga and meditate. It just has to be fun!

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Your child will practice what they see you practicing. If I don’t get on my mat my children rarely ask me to do yoga with them. Not only does this motivate my child to do a healthy mindful practice like yoga, but it gives me that extra oomph to get down on my mat and practice too so that they learn by my actions.

I invite my children to practice meditation with me (separately from my own meditation) and let them choose a fun crystal from my altar or explore sounds with our singing bowls. By showing them this area is filled with joy rather than something they should stay away from encourages them to meditate to bring themselves joy.

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Kids like to play games. My kids have a collection of yoga inspired books and games. We do these together as a family and the real object of the game is to focus on what you’re doing right in the moment. This is the basis of a meditation practice and an amazing skill for any person to learn. It leads to deeper satisfaction and overall happiness, as well as less anxiety and better coping skills during stress.

Consistency will build their own practice. Just like anything else, teaching your kids the practice of meditation and yoga will become a habit they can eventually do on their own. Make a point to practice for 5 minutes a day with them. Everyone has 5 minutes to spare and there are even apps for guided kids meditation that can become part of the bedtime routine.

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With kids, it’s that simple. They won’t jump in right away or even all the time but they will experience the benefits of the practice themselves and you’ll  be surprised how they go towards it when they need it most. I often stressed the benefits I noticed in my kids after they practiced to remind them why they continue to do it. My daughter struggled with negativity and falling asleep at night, she often complains of nervousness and fears. With her nightly meditation routine she rarely wakes up throughout the night and often falls asleep on 10 minutes or less. It has even inspired her to say one positive thing each morning when she wakes up and every night when she says goodnight. She just turned 7 years old and has been practicing meditation for about a year.

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My kids practiced yoga daily when they were infants and toddlers. Their practices have evolved into gymnastics and karate which they are devoted to and extremely ambitious in. They often point out to me how similar poses are in the three and they see yoga in everything that they do. They still practice random poses throughout the day but they no longer sit on their mats with me and practice like they used to. With it instilled in them, I know it is a practice they will always return to in times of need.

The more your children see you meditating and practicing yoga the more they will want to try. They might even practice in private after being exposed to it on a daily basis.

Check out BalaKids, a Shambhala imprint for a beautiful collection of yoga, meditation and mindfulness books to get your kids started on their journey or strengthen the practice they already have!

ProSource Gym Rings

20190403_135024I love playing around with gym gear. I feel like my yoga practice is very strict and dedicated and when I can goof around with gymnastics it feels like I’m using my skills but also just doing it for fun.

I started yoga to heal and I guess somewhere along the line it became work for me. If I grab some gym gear and let loose it reminds me to smile when I practice yoga too. I grew up intrigued my gymnastics and strength training but also lacked the ability to advance due to my health restraints.

I’m stronger and more flexible than I ever have been before and while I love watching my kids play all sports, I particularly love watching them flourish in Gymnastics and Karate!

My son adores ProSourceFit and their gymnastics gear, but mostly their wooden rings and chalk.

I love the rings because they’re smooth and safe, lightweight so I can move them back forth between my hookups indoor and my sons jungle gym outdoors. The straps make it so easy to adjust the length between my kids and I and wherever we decide to throw them up.

They’re an awesome price if you’re looking for some good gear to practice at home! Check them out on ProSourceFit here:

https://www.prosourcefit.com

Here is a complete workout on gym rings to get built and have fun doing it!

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/built-like-a-gymnast-pack-on-the-muscle-with-gymnastic-rings.html