life curation

New Goals for 2020

Even before COVID-19 upended our collective plans and intentions for 2020, I knew that I was taking a completely different direction than I had for the past few years.

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Every year, I focus on very tangible goals. My goals could be easily quantified, because I believe in goals being SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound – and I tied my personal value to the achievement of a SMART goal.

But now, my goals are shifting . . . And I like it. Yes, to a degree, my goals are still SMART, but they all aren’t as dynamic as before. I will always have a couple of dynamic goals (that’s my nature) but some of my other goals are more fluid, and allow me room to be gentle with myself. I’m starting to fall in love with my “new normal”, which include practices that support my emotional and mental health, and goals that focus more on who I’m being as opposed to what I’m doing.

With that in mind, here are some of my new goals for 2020:

  • Practice yoga weekly
  • Finish writing and editing two of my books
  • Complete my herbalist certification (did that earlier this week!)

Have you had a chance to revisit and rethink your goals? What direction do you think you’ll be going this year? I’d love to hear all about it!

health · life curation

Fibro Fridays: A Thought on Spoon Theory

Happy Friday friends! We survived another week and here’s hoping that we are all feeling great as the weekend begins.

I was just thinking about how much things have changed since my fibro diagnosis last year, as well as the concepts and terminology that has become second nature to me due to fibro. One of the most fascinating concepts that I’ve heard about is spoon theory. This principle speaks to the finite energy stores possessed by the chronically ill, as well as how easy it is to fall into an energy deficit, resulting in the inevitable “crash” phase.

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The Spoon Theory essay was written by Christine Miserandino, and I love that this simple teaching has offered such an accurate visual representation of the daily reality of chronically ill individuals. Once we have used up our energy, the results of exceeding our limitations can be devastating in the days and weeks to come. Also, it illustrates how having casual/less active days can allow us to “save up” energy for anticipated intense days.

I’ve shared this theory with friends and relatives so that they can better understand what I experience. It’s hard to describe the specific feelings that I may have each day, but I can easily tell you if I’ve used too many spoons in the previous days, or if, on a particular day, I have a lot of spoons at my disposal. It’s very useful for quantifying my energy levels on any given day.

If you really want a better understanding of chronic illness, I highly encourage you to read the Spoon Theory essay for yourself. If you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts in the comment below!

Those are my views on Spoon Theory. I hope you all are doing well, and enjoy your weekend!

 

beauty · life curation

The Novice Gardener’s Digital Toolkit

untitled designAs this is my first year cultivating a true flower garden, I’ve been eager to learn as much about the plants surrounding my home as I can. Sadly, I don’t know much about plants and I don’t have any nearby friends or relatives that can easily identify the bushes and trees in my yard. Desperate, I reached out to my Facebook family, and they didn’t disappoint! They made some excellent recommendations to help me get the information that I need. So, since I have some great tools at my disposal, it’s only right that I pass them along to you!

PlantSnap and PictureThis have been my constant companions over the past few weeks. I love that I can take a picture of a plant and process the picture through both apps to get a good idea of what kind of plant it is. I find that PictureThis has more reliable results than PlantSnap, but I love them both and find them very easy to use. I really enjoy the fact that the apps allow you to identify plants for free, and PlantSnap even lets you know that you can identify 25 pictures per day before a paid account is required (I’m not sure how many pictures are allowed using the free membership of PictureThis, but I imagine that the number is similar). The biggest advantage to PictureThis (other than the higher identification reliability) is that it automatically keeps a log of the pictures that you’ve submitted, so you can easy review previously identified plants within the app. For PlantSnap, you have to manually save the photos to a collection in order to retain that information.

YouTube has so many great videos for learning more about the wild plants growing near you: I simply cannot list them all! However, you can search for wild edibles by clicking here and you will find the most popular videos on the topic. Of course, you may not be interested in plants that you can eat; however, edible plants are fascinating to me, and the fact that many “weeds” are also edible and nutritious makes it a topic that I think may interest some of you, as well. As I continue exploring various YT channels, I’ll make a post in the future listing the best gardening channels that I’ve found.

Finally, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has been one of my favorite references during this growing season. Viewing the zone map and using other USDA resources has taught me a lot about what kind of zone I live in, as well as the different zones within my state.

Do you have any digital tools that you use for your garden? I’d love to hear all about them!

food · life curation · luxury

Learn About Tea – For Free!

On Facebook, I recently saw an ad from The Republic of Tea, offering a free email course about tea. Tea 101: An Educational Email Series promised to deliver, over a 6 day period, information about the “nuances and complexities of premium tea”.

I’m a sucker for nuance and complexity, so I happily dove into the emails as they arrived.

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The lessons cover the different aspects of distinguishing between and enjoying tea. The lessons are brief and to the point, so they are perfect for busy people.

I especially enjoyed the emphasis on the fact that herbal teas aren’t true “teas” (the only true “tea” is the leaf of the camellia sinensis plant). However, the company still took time to explain the benefits of herbal “teas” and blends. I also liked the description that Republic of Tea provided, regarding the caffeine levels in varying tea varieties. It was good to see which teas provide light, medium and heavy caffeine.

 

beauty · life curation · luxury

Embracing Natural Beauty When You Can’t Leave Your Home

Last week, I shared a post about how I’m enjoying the natural beauty around my home. I’m fortunate to live in a suburb where I have a yard, beautiful plants, and a climate that is conducive to growing the kind of plants I enjoy.

For those that aren’t able to walk outdoors and take in natural beauty (either because of strict quarantine measures or due to living in a “concrete jungle”), I wanted to share some links to websites and YouTube channels that highlight natural beauty around the world.

My current favorite is the Keukenhof Garden in Holland. With millions of stunning tulips bulbs planted, the garden is a feast for the eyes. I’m thrilled that I can take in all of this natural beauty from the comfort of my home.

 

There is also the US Botanic Garden (located in Washington, DC). This incredible garden used to have many fascinating public events and was a wonderful resource for anyone interested in learning more about botany. At this time, however, you can do a virtual tour as well as many online programs. You can even do “yoga in the garden” online every Saturday during the pandemic.

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(A double flowering lenten rose, from the US Botanic Garden website)

Another lovely garden that I used to visit regularly during my workday was the Enid A. Haupt Garden. This stunning pocket of serenity was my perfect place to “get away” when I needed some time to relax away from the office. I always walked around the “parterre”, though this was only a small portion of the garden.

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(A photo of one of the urns in the Haupt Garden Parterre)

In my hometown, there is an incredible botanical garden. At Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, it is also possible to do a virtual tour. These gardens are particularly special, because of their stunning annual butterfly exhibit.

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(Elegant butterfly featured on the Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden website)

If your city has a public garden or other outdoor space, you can probably do a virtual tour (a quick Google search should let you know if virtual tours are available). Do you have a favorite garden to tour? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

 

life curation

Meet My New Love!

Recently, I’ve entered a relationship so wonderful and rewarding that I can hardly believe it! This love is so true and I’m so happy to share my new love with you. . .

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Meet Chewy, my shih tzu! He’s 4 years old, and he was re-homed with me after my best friend discovered that he wasn’t a good fit for her family (they needed a more active dog for their lifestyle). I had a shih tzu many years ago, so I was familiar with the breed and their temperament, so I was comfortable inviting this little boy to our home.

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My sweet boy before he visited my groomer

I love this sweet boy so much! He’s very quiet, easygoing and affectionate. He is such a sweetheart! He’s been with me for a week and it’s been a lot of fun having this new personality in my home.

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My cuddle bug after his first grooming session

Chewy has made my heart feel so full: I’m thrilled that we have him in our family. I’m looking forward to sharing more about him in upcoming posts!

food · life curation

Free Online Courses for Improved Wellness

One of the pleasant side effects of our current crisis is the increased interest in improving our health through natural methods. If we can employ safe, effective natural remedies to complement conventional (Western) medical treatment, then maybe we can promote better health, improved vitality and increased longevity.

In my desire to learn more about natural remedies (as you know, I’ve been studying The Women’s Herbal Apothecary by JJ Pursell), I took to the Web to see what complimentary courses I could find to deepen my knowledge. I was delighted by what I found!

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Coursera is currently offering a five-part specialization program in Integrative Health and Medicine. Each of the five courses in this program covers a different aspect of using alternative medicine to support overall wellness. I’ve signed up for a couple of the courses because I’m very interested in what will be taught! The course will be taught by University of Minnesota professors, so you can be assured that what you will learn is akin to what may be taught in a course on campus. You can either sign up for a paid subscription to Coursera or you can audit the courses, which allows you to view the instructional material for free but does not offer a certification if you complete the assignments in a timely fashion.

Another fantastic course that I found while searching for free online alternative medicine courses is this free Introduction to Aromatherapy course offered by Aromahead. I really like the fact that this is a self-paced course, so you can complete it as you have the time available to do so. I have a small collection of essential oils so I’m excited to learn more about tapping into their power and harnessing the maximum benefit.

Finally, the American Herbalist Guild has generously provided a library of archived webinar materials for free. This may be great for you if you don’t want to commit to a full-fledged course but still want to learn more about herbs and natural remedies. I like that these concentrated teaching sessions can help you get targeted information about a specific topics. 

There are many more free online herbal and alternative medicine courses that you can find by simply doing a Google search, but these were my favorites that I wanted to share with you.

I hope you all are having a great day! Take care, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

 

 

(This post contains affiliate links)

 

life curation · Uncategorized

How to Support Small Businesses During the Pandemic

One of the things that continues to come to my mind is the well-being of small business owners, especially those that are not able to do business in person (“nonessential” businesses). As individuals, we may not be able to save every small business, but we can definitely do something to help support these businesses.

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Buying local and buying from small businesses can make a big impact

Seek out Etsy sellers – Etsy is full of creatives that make and sell all sorts of amazing stuff.If you’re looking for something specific, try Etsy first. You may be able to quickly locate the perfect item, and (as a plus!) you’ll be able to support a small business owner.

Use local food delivery – If you’re tired of cooking, or maybe you just want to get your grocery items delivered to your front door, then local food delivery services are just what you need. Seek out small (non-chain) restaurants for your meals, and if you use a grocery delivery service, then make sure to tip your delivery person. That money can make a huge difference to the “gig economy” workers that may be working in these services to help cover expenses during this crisis.

Use Amazon to help you – Amazon has set up a portal specifically for handmade items from every state in the US. If you want to ensure that the money you spend goes directly to sellers living near you, you can click on your region and then select your state to find vendors. I recently purchased these darling Cinderella earrings for a special little one in my life. They’re so cute, I may end up buying the Belle earrings for myself!


Charming Cinderella earrings

Ask family and friends to give you referrals – Of course, if you’re at a loss for businesses to support, ask your family and friends to make suggestions. Some of them may themselves be business owners that you can support directly, or they may know some business owners that would appreciate having a new customer.

Do you have any ideas for supporting small and local businesses that I didn’t mention? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

(this post contains affiliate links)

beauty · life curation

Getting Gorgeous, Inside and Out

One of my not-so-guilty pleasures has been looking at YouTube videos for beauty, style and life advice. As you all recall, I love watching mature YouTubers give their tips and tricks for living well. Along with the mature ladies, I also check out the younger women that are making great content on YouTube.

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A few of my recent favorite videos have been around the topic of “glowing up” during the quarantine. This concept – improving our looks while we stay home – is very popular because many of us FINALLY have time to do all of the beauty treatments, fitness routines, and dietary changes that we’ve always wanted to try. So, since we have the time, why not?

Here are a couple of my favorite videos featuring how to “glow up”, both on the inside and the outside (because having a beautiful exterior and broken interior is not the goal: wholistic/holistic health and beauty is what we’re creating!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beauty · life curation

Embracing Natural Beauty

With all of this “free” time at home, I have been concentrating on slowing down and enjoying the simple pleasures around me. The main pleasure I’ve indulged in regularly is taking in the stunning beauty of the flowers and trees surrounding my home. Here are a few of my favorite photos. Enjoy!

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My hot pink azaleas

A yellow rose bush that is beginning to bloom

Baby pink rhododendrons

My Japanese maple (the leaves are stunning!)

I find that spending a little time walking the perimeter of my home does wonders for my mood and my energy. Embracing natural beauty has such a calming effect on me. I also planted some irises, tigridias, and gladiolus bulbs that I’m patiently waiting to bloom. When those flowers bloom, I’ll take more pictures and share them with you all.