A Crazy Week

This week has truly been a challenge. I lost a good friend of mine on Monday morning, and the week was a little off after that. My friend was a poet and friend who always made you feel anything was possible, and that usually it was just you standing in your own way. I know she wouldn’t want me to be sad, but it just feels a bit odd not being able to get my coffee with her and her quick wit. Starbucks trips won’t be the same without her, life won’t be the same without her. I’m so glad I had the chance to not only work with her professionally, but got to know her as a friend. One of the few I’ve gained as an adult.

I started working with a new bride this week also. It kept my mind busy for sure. Went to the first dress fitting and did a site visit in the bitter cold temperatures. Couldn’t see much of the site due to the foot of snow still on the grounds (the wedding is outside).

Wedding Reception Space
Wedding Reception Space

 

We have a short amount of time to get everything in place, but this is going to be fun for me and something to document for you all to see. Stay tuned for updates on this process. It should be really fun and eventful. The theme of the wedding is fiesta with a little Dia de los Muertos twist.

Papel Picado
Papel Picado

Taking the good with the bad this week, my friend’s “Legacy” is big in the community and in my heart. Live loud and bold, full of color and spunk. That’s advice we can all live by. To my friend Chantay “Legacy” Leonard, I’ll miss you.

chantay piece
Chantay “Legacy” Leonard

 

Staying Fabulous in 2015

January is almost over and I’m sure your resolutions are well under way. I don’t really make resolutions, but I do try to strive to be better than I was the previous year. Now, my goals are probably like many other’s: lose a few pounds, get more organized, and eat better.

meditation rocks

There are many things we can do to lose weight. I don’t like diets very much, so I try to just use better judgement and practice better portion control. Exercising has never been something I was good at sticking to. Mainly because as a kid I was in an African dance company, so I was always exercising three times a week with rehearsals and classes. These days I’m constantly moving around, but as we get older we have to work a little harder at weight loss. Walking is a great start to exercising. I walk pretty fast in general, but adding cardio somewhere in the week is something that I would do to break up the monotony of the walking routine.

Family Plan

Getting more organized is something I’m good at in general, but with keeping up with kid’s extracurricular schedules and appointments can cause me easily to get off track. One way I try to combat chaos is to regroup myself and my weekly tasks and schedule on Sundays to make sure I’m ready for the upcoming week. One thing I would like to implement is a weekly menu for dinners. It’s so hard to finally get home and try to figure out what to fix for dinner. Our schedule can cause us to get home late, but trying to find meals I can make ahead so all I have to do is heat them up will help that.

Whatever you do, stay on track and don’t stress if things don’t always go as planned. That will save your nerves and sanity.

Share with us your resolutions, tips, and experience. We’ll share ours as the year goes on.

Happy 2015!

Knowledge from Grandma

During the holidays I went to eat dinner at my grandmother’s house. She had a huge dinner spread, as usual, with something for everyone. A little history on my grandmother…

My grandmother is the reason I gained an interest in cooking. I was a picky eater and because of that, my mom told me to make my own food. Once I got the hang of it, my grandmother fueled the fire. Grandma’s kitchen always had some of the most interesting ingredients and tools. I always wanted to help in the kitchen, but then I became more involved with the prep of the meal.

Ok, so back to Christmas dinner. My grandma’s menu was:

  • Roasted Quail
  • Standing Rib Roast with Gravy
  • Stuffing with Sweet Potatoes
  • Ribs
  • Collard Greens
  • Lima Beans
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Biscuits and Cornbread

We pulled out the best china and talked about family past, random experiences, and laughed. The food was good and the company was great!

So, when going back home I of course got some leftovers to take with me. Now, I tasted all the food except the lima beans and quail. There was a lot on my plate. At home, I reheated the greens and roast with gravy and stuffing. The collard greens were the best I’d ever had!

I had to call my grandmother and ask her where she got the greens from. She told me a story about a farm she got vegetables and fruits from through the summer season who was too busy towards the end of the season. So she talked to the owner and asked if she could just come at the end of the season when the garden is pretty much empty. The owner agreed and after the first frost my grandma said she went with her machete and my grandfather and got about a bushel of collard greens.

The funny thing about this is, my grandmother is a sick woman with a lot of bone issues and wears braces for her legs and back. So the fact that she wanted these greens bad enough to prepare for the holidays is simply dedication.

The knowledge my grandmother gave me about this endeavor is that when she got the greens from the ground after the frost, they were still somewhat frozen. So when she got home, she cleaned them and froze them properly until she was ready to use them. The frost froze the greens when the season ended and that preserved them, so pretty much made the greens more tender. These greens melted in your mouth. So tender and flavorful. Not bitter or tough.

IMG_3925I learned something new from my grandma (as usual). Go get your greens after the first frost. Much like life, you have to wait for the right time to get something. Just because you want it when it’s ‘in’ it may not be the right time for you. Random lessons from gardening/food has about life.

Renewal Sunday | H2O

5.4.14

It’s Sunday and time for you to get ready for the week ahead. One thing I struggle with is drinking enough water. I hate water, but I know it’s necessary. Our bodies need water to survive and function. I always had to be told to drink more water by my doctors and mother. Ugh, I hate water.

water glass

We’re supposed to drink so much water per day, but most of us don’t really drink what we’re supposed to. Whether it’s because we’re too busy or we just don’t do what we’re supposed to, it’s a necessity to our well being.

underwater

Water is a powerful source of the earth. It’s one of the elements and is very important to our destiny and our past. It’s calming, has cleansing properties, and is truly powerful.

bad water

Today, think of water and its truly renewing properties. The cleansing ones, the ones that can help you move forward healthy and renewed.

water fun

To have a moment of peace, try and relax with a glass of refreshing water and do something good for your body. Take care of yourself this week, enjoy your time alone, and stay healthy.

peaceful water creek

Have a wonderful week.

Renewal Sunday | Preparing for the Week Ahead

4.27.14

We all lead busy lives these days,  and it is necessary to take time out to renew our mind, body, and spirit. Whether that means we do yoga or some sort of exercise, or if we simply sit in peace, it is necessary to take a moment to ourselves once in a while.

 

Peaceful Michigan

Doing yoga is just one way to relieve some stress and prepare your mind for the day ahead. There are many yoga practices that you can do, but this one is good for starting your day off right.

yoga morning routine

If you don’t have a lot of time to exercise in the morning, at least make the most of the day. Stay organized with something we think is purely unique and effective all at the same time. May Designs planners are customizable to your personal style, and keep you on track with your hectic schedule.

may books

These planners will help keep you focused and on track with whatever your schedule throws at you. If you need a mental break during a busy day, try a few minutes of meditation.

meditation rocks

Meditation is a good way to clear your mind before, during, or after a stressful day. Here are some tips to getting into the habit of being still.

1) Make it a formal practice. You will only get to the next level in meditation by setting aside specific time (preferably two times a day) to be still.

2) Start with the breath. Breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin practice.

3) Stretch first. Stretching loosens the muscles and tendons allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably. Additionally, stretching starts the process of “going inward” and brings added attention to the body.

4) Meditate with Purpose. Beginners must understand that meditation is an ACTIVE process. The art of focusing your attention to a single point is hard work, and you have to be purposefully engaged!

5) Notice frustration creep up on you. This is very common for beginners as we think “hey, what am I doing here” or “why can’t I just quiet my damn mind already”. When this happens, really focus in on your breath and let the frustrated feelings go.

6) Experiment. Although many of us think of effective meditation as a Yogi sitting cross-legged beneath a Bonzi tree, beginners should be more experimental and try different types of meditation. Try sitting, lying, eyes open, eyes closed, etc.

7) Feel your body parts. A great practice for beginning meditators is to take notice of the body when a meditative state starts to take hold. Once the mind quiets, put all your attention to the feet and then slowly move your way up the body (include your internal organs). This is very healthy and an indicator that you are on the right path.

8) Pick a specific room in your home to meditate. Make sure it is not the same room where you do work, exercise, or sleep. Place candles and other spiritual paraphernalia in the room to help you feel at ease.

9) Read a book (or two) on meditation. Preferably an instructional guide AND one that describes the benefits of deep meditative states. This will get you motivated. John Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are is terrific for beginners.

10) Commit for the long haul. Meditation is a life-long practice, and you will benefit most by NOT examining the results of your daily practice. Just do the best you can every day, and then let it go!

11) Listen to instructional tapes and CDs.

12) Generate moments of awareness during the day. Finding your breath and “being present” while not in formal practice is a wonderful way to evolve your meditation habits.

13) Make sure you will not be disturbed. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not insuring peaceful practice conditions. If you have it in the back of your mind that the phone might ring, your kids might wake, or your coffee pot might whistle than you will not be able to attain a state of deep relaxation.

14) Notice small adjustments. For beginning meditators, the slightest physical movements can transform a meditative practice from one of frustration to one of renewal. These adjustments may be barely noticeable to an observer, but they can mean everything for your practice.

15) Use a candle. Meditating with eyes closed can be challenging for a beginner. Lighting a candle and using it as your point of focus allows you to strengthen your attention with a visual cue. This can be very powerful.

16) Do NOT Stress. This may be the most important tip for beginners, and the hardest to implement. No matter what happens during your meditation practice, do not stress about it. This includes being nervous before meditating and angry afterwards. Meditation is what it is, and just do the best you can at the time.

17) Do it together. Meditating with a partner or loved one can have many wonderful benefits, and can improve your practice. However, it is necessary to make sure that you set agreed-upon ground rules before you begin!

18) Meditate early in the morning. Without a doubt, early morning is an ideal
time to practice: it is quieter, your mind is not filled with the usual clutter, and there is less chance you will be disturbed. Make it a habit to get up half an hour earlier to meditate.

19) Be Grateful at the end. Once your practice is through, spend 2-3 minutes feeling appreciative of the opportunity to practice and your mind’s ability to focus.

20) Notice when your interest in meditation begins to wane. Meditation is
hard work, and you will inevitably come to a point where it seemingly does not fit into the picture anymore. THIS is when you need your practice the most and I recommend you go back to the book(s) or the CD’s you listened to and become re-invigorated with the practice. Chances are that losing the ability to focus on meditation is parallel with your inability to focus in other areas of your life!

These steps will help you get over the initial hurdles of beginning a meditation practice.

yoga_meditation_india_index
Whatever you need to do to help gather yourself and start your week peacefully, find your personal space and take the necessary steps to get the week started off right.

Have a wonderful week!