Guest Post: My Yoga Journey – Who I Was and Where I Want to Be

Welcome to Lia Johnson-Baker from The Yogi Turtle.  She is doing a guest post on my blog.

introduction

Hi my inspiring people, my name is Lia and it’s honestly such an honor to write a guest piece for Kim. I’m excited to getting to know everyone and hopefully help the best way I can. I am an inspiring person and yogi with big, big dreams. I’ve been doing yoga for almost 2 years, and I can honestly say that it’s been one of the most life changing lifestyle I have ever done. Now I say one of, because I do a lot of things. Scuba dive, save sea turtles, play music. But yoga is one of the things that stick and balance out the other activities I do in my spare time. Yoga has made me more patient, open minded, more forgiving, and most of all inspiring person and yogi with big, big dreams.

I’ve been doing yoga for almost 2 years, and I can honestly say that it’s been one of the most life changing lifestyle I have ever done. Now I say one of because I do a lot of things. Scuba dive, save sea turtles, play music. But yoga is one of the things that stick and balance out the other activities I do in my spare time. Yoga has made me more patient, open minded, more forgiving, and most of all e who reads this, Where I was, and where I’m going.

first start

I first started getting into yoga around November 2015, It was a pretty cool studio called Apex. It was nerve racking at first, because of course, like everyone else that has tried yoga, or working out in general, you had to have muscles or be flexible before going in. Not the case at all, I could definitely feel the transition in energy when I came in those doors, tt was indescribable experience. Though the class was difficult for a beginner, it was one of the most memorable classes and I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t tried take a class at least once.

My awesome yoga instructor Ceiara Cartony is truly amazing, she’s very kind and patient and she has had a complex journey that she shares that is truly relatable. After that first class, I wanted to learn more so I started to take private lessons from her. It was then after a year I because advanced in my poses and I decided after I learned crow pose, I wanted to start a blog.

I wanted to get my story and journey out there because I feel like I can inspire people in where they want to go in life, or find out who they are as a person and how they can better themselves. It was difficult at first because I was still trying to figure out who I was (and still am) I’m more open to trying new things and experiment and be more open minded. The first leap of faith I did was starting my own blog. It may not be perfect but I feel like it’s me and my story and journey is out there.

the yogi turtle

After I created my blog, I wanted to find out more about other yogis, events, etc. That’s where Wanderlust came in. I took my first spontaneous trip to my neighbor state, GA and did my first 5k, tried vegan food and kombucha for the first time. This was something I never thought that I would be able to do 6 months ago and I would definitely do it again. I’d love to become a yoga instructor someday and help and give back to others the more I learn about myself.  

Getting into yoga and staying on that journey can be very difficult. Yoga is not just about the physical practice, that’s just the icing on the cake. There’s also being open and learning about the philosophy, finding your own path to where you want to go. I encourage to try at least once, and be open to it. It’s a wonderful experience and you definitely want to share it with others.   

New Etsy Shop: Bead Happiness by Kim

I am absolutely beyond excited to open my new Etsy shop:  Bead Happiness by Kim.  A little backstory on this new endeavor.  I am a full-time kindergarten teacher and I do not work during the summer.  Well, I actually do work…it’s a job title called MOM.  I love that I am available for my 14 year old so that he can be shuttled to the golf course and to friends’ houses.  Many parents dread summer because they are home with their children and I love summer for that specific reason.

i need a new job

I have been wanting to explore the job market because I am unhappy at my current school.  The details aren’t overly important, but it is a very toxic environment where the principal plays favorites and it’s like being back in high school…ugh!!!  I have many years dedicated to employment in this district so to go to another district is almost impossible.  I am at the highest step of the pay scale and most districts want to hire at the low end so I’m in a pickle.  Also, I have professional status in my district and if I went somewhere else it would take 3 years + 1 day to attain professional status.  In the meantime, they could fire you at any time in those first 3 years.  I need job stability…before I know it, my son will be off (sob! sob!) to college.

Okay…so what does this all have to do with an Etsy shop called Bead Happiness by Kim???  Well….I put it out to the Universe that I wanted a sign for exploring a new job venture or to stay put and carry on.  My sign for exploring a new job (don’t laugh..it’s really what I chose) was any Michael Jackson song.  My sign for staying put was a robin.  Can I tell you that I heard about 8 MJ songs in a two week span!!!!  How many robins??  1!!  I took this as a good time to explore other positions.

I applied for a teaching job online and got a “you have outstanding credentials, but we gave the position to someone who didn’t cost as much” reply.  During this wait time, I made myself a meditation mala, which is a type of necklace that has 108 beads and a teacher/guru bead.  It is used to focus the mind during meditation and is also a lovely necklace.  I had the best time making that mala.  I even posted pictures of it to a Facebook group that I am in.

divine intervention

The responses from people within the FB group were so positive and supportive.  The reason I made a mala is because I couldn’t find one online that I was truly in love with.  Then I got the idea, hey….I bet others feel the same way as I do.  I can make customized malas and sell them on Etsy!!  Although the signs were numerous for finding a new job, I didn’t realize they may be pointing me in the direction of a different type of job.  A job that is actually a passion and not a grind.   Voila…Bead Happiness by Kim was born!!

bead happiness by kim:  healing crystals

I have done a lot of research on different healing crystal gemstones and chose beads according to the healing I desire in my life.  Choosing beads that complement each other in color in an absolute joy.  I love finding beautiful pendants to use as the central teacher/guru bead.  Sometimes I start with the guru bead and match the necklace beads accordingly.  Sometimes I have the necklace beads and then choose a guru bead that complements accordingly.  Although I do not have a huge amount of listings, I have ordered a bunch of beads to make malas and I am taking custom orders too.

So excited about my new Etsy shop...handmade malas...Bead Happiness by Kim Click To Tweet

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my ramblings about my newest endeavor.  PLEASE visit my shop and let me know what you think.  If you have friends who you think would enjoy my offerings, please direct them to Bead Happiness by Kim.

The Importance of Gratitude and How to Cultivate It

The importance of daily gratitude cannot be encouraged enough.  It is actually quite an easy routine to get into and has so many positive benefits associated with it.  Our brains seems to be wired to focus on negative thoughts so we need to rewire it to establish a positive mindset.  Cultivating a daily gratitude practice is easier than you think.

3 Good Things: A Happiness Journal app

This app is one of my most favorite apps on my phone.  It has 3 spaces for each day where you write 3 things your grateful for or 3 things that make you happy or 3 things that are going well.  You get the idea….3 positive things in your life.  It reminds you to write each day and then it keeps track of the days you’ve written on it.  You can then go back and see all the wonderful positives you have in your life.  It mentions that it takes 21 days to change your mindset to focus on positives.  Remember it’s not the big things in life, it is the little things that add up to a happier, more fulfilled life.

Gratitude Journal

I have a obsession with pretty journals.  When I see them, I must buy them even when I don’t really need them.  I do love to write so they are eventually put to use.  One great use is to use one as a gratitude journal.  Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for, that make you happy, that you smile about, etc. before you go to bed at night.  Again, you have a record of the positives in your life that you can refer to again and again.  You can get journals online, in the Target Dollar Spot or, my favorite place, TJ Maxx.  I find a great selection at TJ Maxx; they are beautiful and quite inexpensive.

Gratitude meditation

My favorite meditation guru is Rebekah Borucki from Bexlife.  She has simple, inspiring, short meditations that are so enlightening and make my soul so calm and happy.  Below is a meditation that she labeled Meditation for Gratitude and Happiness…enjoy.

What is your favorite way to express and celebrate gratitude?

Keep Calm and Yoga On with Restorative Yoga

I recently attended a restorative yoga workshop and it was the BEST THING EVER!!  This class is highly recommend for anyone who likes to be relaxed, uplifted and calm.  I wish one was held every Friday night instead of one Friday a month.  There were some yoga must-haves at this class that I want to share with you.  (This post contains affiliate links.)

therapy balls

Let me just say two things about this must-have:  ouch and ahhhhh.  Okay…those have complete opposite meanings, but it totally works here.  We used them between a yoga block and our neck while laying on a mat.  I moved my head in a yes gesture and a no gesture and it massaged the knots out of my neck.  There is the ouch.  At the conclusion of the mini-massage is when the there was the ahhhhh .

yoga bolster

yoga bolster is a large, cylindrical pillow used in different poses.  In one pose we did a shoulder back bend over the bolster.  We also hung our knees over it during a relaxation pose.  I will be use it when I do the neck massage with the therapy balls so that I can relax my legs.  I have hip dysplasia and sometimes it is painful to lay my left leg flat on the floor.  Being able to hang my legs over the bolster is a much more comfortable, relaxing pose for me.

lavender eye pillow

Need I say more about this wonderful relaxation necessity.  Put this over your eyes during any meditation, relaxation pose, or when you just want to feel calm and totally relaxed.  We used them for all the restorative poses when we were on our backs.  Sooooooooo good!!!

What are your yoga must-haves?  Please let me know in the comments.  As always, I have learned so much from my readers and always love to here about your successes and resources that you love.

Healing Crystals: A Beginner’s Guide

I just started researching the use of and properties of healing crystals. When I started my meditation journey, crystals seemed to be a perfect complement and their uses have always intrigued me.  I researched some many crystals online and bought several pendants. My belief was I would just put them on and…boom…they would work their magic.  What did I know??

So I found a local crystal shop and went in search of more crystals.  When I got there, I didn’t realize I’d get an education too.  What a great place!! As I walked up, I knew I was in the right place because I could smell the earthy aroma of patchouli.  When I walked inside, I was enveloped in such a positive energy.

The woman at the counter was telling another customer about using a pendulum so I listened in.  I was fascinated.  I then picked up some crystals and she explained how to use them.  Here are the steps that she imparted upon me as a routine for whenever I get a new crystal.

1 – Run it under water

to clear away any of the old energy that lingers.  She explained that so many different people touch the crystal from when it is dug up to when it is put out in their shop so you need to clear its energy for your use.

2 – Ask the universe

to remove all negativity while it runs under the water.

3 – Set the intention

of the crystal by saying a mantra, such as I set the intention for this stone to be used for the greatest good.  I dedicate this crystal for the use of (your intended use).  In this way, you will connect to the crystal.

4 – Use selenite 

because it is the cleanser of all crystals.  She showed me a larger disc of selenite, which you can put your crystals on overnight so that they are cleansed for each day.  You need to then cleanse the selenite weekly too.

5 – Clear all crystals

every few months to keep them in working order.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of crystal use, it is just information that I found useful and wanted to share with others who may have similar questions.  I bought a rose quartz pendant and have been wearing it for several weeks, but didn’t feel it was effective.  Now that I know that I needed to clear it, I am feeling excited about using it.

Here are some of the crystals that I chose to start me collection:

Selenite

This crystal brings white light vibrations to any situation.  It assists with insight and non-judgment and supports clarity of mind and thoughts.  Selenite aligns spin and promotes flexibility.  Also clears energy blocks and promotes healing on a cellular level.

Pink Mangano Calcite

Heart Crystal…This crystal connects to angels and is the stone of forgiveness.  It releases fear and grief that keeps your heart in the past.  Aids in self-worth and helps relieve stress, tension and anxiety.

Apatite

Stone of manifestation…It helps one develop their spiritual gifts and deepens meditation.  Supports communication and self-expression on all levels.  Increases motivation and eases feelings of apathy, sorrow and anger.  Soothes emotional exhaustion.  Opens the throat chakra and helps heal the heart.

I’m hoping this introduction to crystals is as helpful to you as it is to me. I can’t wait to use these crystals and add more to my collection.  It is a fascinating, joyous, exciting part of my self-care journey and I can’t wait to continue this adventure.

 

Guest Post: Body Positivity 101

This is a guest post from Kara of Chin Up, Sweetie.

Body positivity is such a huge combination of different ingredients – sugar, spice and everything nice ! –  ( a powerpuff girls reference for You right there ) . But in all seriousness , body positivity means different things for different people – and that is the exciting part !

For me it’s simply loving Your body and accepting Your flaws . It’s a lifestyle . It’s knowing and acknowledging that Your body doesn’t need to fit any standards set by others . You set Your own standards ! Everybody is a different type of beautiful  .

Body positivity is beautiful .

And beautiful is healthy . Not necessarily healthy as in weighing below a certain number or eating super healthy meals . Healthy as in – as long as You feel good in Your own body .

Body positivity is not promoting obesity . It’s not promoting losing weight either . It’s promoting to be Yourself . Promoting to love Yourself for being able to be Yourself and feel good about it . It’s not just a ” thing ” for ” curvy ” people .

If You haven’t noticed yet – body positivity is also available in the men edition! Women may be more vocal about it , but it doesn’t mean that guys don’t struggle with this issue .

It is not just about the human appearance . It’s a mind set .  A mind set that I believe could change the world to be a better place . If we just accepted each other for who we are … if we could avoid the hate , the nasty comments , the ” go lose some weight ” ,  the ” go eat a burger ” , the abuse … I would love to experience a world free of body shamers .  But while some people are too busy  spreading the negativity – let’s spend our time more wisely and spread the word of body positivity instead 🙂 !

Do what You want with Your body !

Nobody should judge the things You decide to do with it . Getting a tattoo , a piercing , even plastic surgery – if that is what it takes to make You feel great – go ahead ! People are free to have their own opinions , everybody feels different about what is considered beautiful and what is not . Do not let that discourage You ! It is always going to be about preferences , and if that is what You prefer – do not let anybody hold You back .

I could talk about this topic for days , but these were the few things that I feel strongly about regarding the body positivity topic . There is just one thing I would like to say – be happy 🙂 ! And Love Your body in every state 🙂 !

Book Love #2 and a Giveaway

Part of my wellness routine and overall health routine is reading and I want to spread my reading joy so I am hosting a book giveaway in addition to my reviews.  I LOVE to read…I read every night before I go to sleep.  It helps relax my mind and fall asleep.  My favorite genres are historical fiction, suspense and pretty much anything that catches my attention.  Am I the only one who often picks books by the way the cover looks?  Here are some of my current favorites:

non-fiction

Trouble Maker by Leah Remini

After seeing Leah Remini’s docu-series about her time in Scientology and her exposure of its’ problems and shortcomings, I was intrigued my the subject.  I LOVED her book…I read it in 3 days.  She is lays everything out there and I learned so much about her that I didn’t know.  If you like her and/or if you are intrigued by this secretive “religion”, it is a must read.

fiction

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews writes a lot of novels that take place in North Carolina.  I have been to the Outer Banks of NC so I am familiar with the area.  The book was about a woman who has an unhappy marriage, a teenager and an old money family that summers on one of the islands off the NC coast.  There are many highs and lows in her life plus a little romance.  It is a great summer read.

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

This novel by Mary Kay Andrews takes place in the Outer Banks.  It is about some friends who rent a house for the summer and the rental isn’t what they expected in many ways.  Of course, there is a summer romance and some twists and turns.  Another fun summer read.

self-help

The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

Gabi Bernstein has written many bestselling books about spirituality.  I like this one because it gives you step-by-step directions to help you become a more spiritual person.  I recently started doing yoga and meditation so this book fits right into what I’ve been doing in my life.  It is a great resource, which supports an introspective, self-care lifestyle.

Please enter my kindle edition book giveaway

I haven’t read Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews, but I love the books I’ve read that are written by her so I’m sure to love this one too.  Please enter to win a Kindle copy of the book.  Happy Reading!!!!

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21-Day Soul Cleanse: Yes Please!

I am a huge fan of Rebekah Borucki of Bexlife.  Currently, I am doing her 21-Day Soul Cleanse and it is perfect timing.   I have added this to my meditation and self-care journey and I’m so thrilled about it.

The 21-Day Soul Cleanse covers many different self-care activities and each day the activity is short and easy to accomplish.  I love that the daily activities are varied and include meditations, tasks and journaling.  Since I am reading Bex’ book, listened to a podcast interview and have done many of her Youtube meditations, many of the activities were familiar to me. Even if you have not had any experience with Bexlife, the cleanse is so easy to follow.  She gives step-by-step instructions and includes links to all resources needed for the tasks and meditations.

Another part of the 21-Day Soul Cleanse is a 7-Day Soul Cleanse diet.  I personally don’t like to call an eating plan a diet because diets are temporary while changing eating habits is a permanent, lifelong way of living.  I’m not as dedicated to the eating plan as the Soul Cleanse, but there are definitely great recipes and healthy habits that you can adapt and adopt from it.

Rebekah is such an awesome practitioner and she is offering a special discount to my readers.  The full cost of the program is a great buy at $29 and she is offering it to you for $19.  You cannot beat that price for a great self-care resource.  I am not receiving any compensation for this post…I just really love and believe in this program and wanted to share it with others.

Guest Post: Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

I have a guest poster this week:  Sheli from Nutritionista Abroad.  Sheli is a wife, a dog mom, a dietitian, a cook, an occasional baker, a health and fitness enthusiast, a wannabe yogi, and a new expat. She blogs about nutrition travel and is passionate about helping everyone discover how amazing it feels to nourish our bodies.

Why choose a plant-based diet?

There are many different reasons people chose to adopt a plant based lifestyle but whatever the reason, the health benefits of making this change are undeniable.  One reason many yogis choose this lifestyle is because they honor the Ahimsa Principle, one of the eight limbs of yoga. This principle is the practice of nonviolence and encourages you to do no harm. This applies to all beings of the earth, including animals.

Middle Eastern Bean Salad

There are many great documentaries available that dive into each of the reasons why someone might chose to live a plant-based lifestyle – health, environmental, and ethical. I’ll stick strictly to the health benefits. But first, I’d like to address one big issue many people cite as a reason not to follow a plant-based diet, and that is protein.

Where do you get your protein?

Many people believe that you must eat meat and animal products to meet your protein needs. This is a complete myth. In fact, an excess of protein in your diet can lead to healthy problems, such as kidney disease. Digesting meat is also very difficult on your gastrointestinal system. There are many high protein vegetarian, and even vegan foods. Many vegetarians choose to include yogurt, eggs, milk, and cheese in their diets, all of which are also good sources of protein.

Vegans have lots of great options too. Lentils, all types of beans, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, chia seeds, hemp or soy milk, edamame, spinach, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, and seitan are all excellent sources.

To calculate your protein needs, simply multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8. For example, a 60 kg person would need 48 grams of protein per day. This requirement can easily be exceeded by including:

  • 1 cup oatmeal + 2 Tbsp peanut butter = 14 grams
  • 1 cup lentils = 18 grams
  • 1 cup quinoa + ½ cup black beans = 28 grams
    • Total protein intake = 60 grams

There are many food combinations that will allow you to reach your protein needs, the above is just one example. There are also an endless number of ways to flavor lentils and quinoa. Pinterest is a great resource for recipes but a simple Google search will provide many options as well.

Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes

Studies have shown that people who adopt a plant-based diet can lose more weight than those who eat a diet including meat. One study showed that weight loss occurred with the adoption of the plant-based diet alone. This means that the participants made no changes to their exercise routine and they did not count any calories or have any diet restrictions other than animal products.  A plant-based diet can also decrease your risk of developing diabetes and even reverse the disease. Plant based diets are very high in fiber, which helps to stabilize blood sugar. Fiber helps to keep you full, which means the more fiber you eat, the less calories you will consume. This lower calorie diet will lead to weight loss, which will also decrease your risk of developing diabetes, and help your body regulate blood sugar.

Heart Health and Lower Blood Pressure

Cholesterol is made in the liver, therefore only foods from an animal have cholesterol. We do not need any dietary cholesterol – our own bodies can easily make all that we need. Vegetarian diets are very low in cholesterol and vegan diets are free of cholesterol. Plant-based diets are also very low in saturated fat and salt. Studies have shown that replacing animal protein with plant protein lowers blood cholesterol, even if the amount and type of fat ingested is the same. Studies have also shown that by eliminating meat from the diet alone participants could lower their blood pressure. When meat was reintroduced to their diet, blood pressure quickly rose back to pre-study levels. By increasing the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit in the diet, this generally leads to a reduction of processed foods. This lowers the daily sodium intake, which also has a positive effect on blood pressure.

Lower Cancer Risk

Plant-based diets are full of antioxidants from the recommended amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. Colon cancer is also linked to high dietary intake of meat. Breast and prostate cancers also occur less often in those who follow a plant based diet. Research is ongoing to examine further effects of adhering to a plant-based diet on other types of cancer.

Where to Begin

If you’re not sure where to start, it can be helpful to begin by adopting a ‘flexitarian’ diet initially and work your way up to excluding more animal products as you feel comfortable. This will help prevent any feelings of being deprived of foods and help you make this a long-term lifestyle change.

You could begin by choosing a meal each day that will not contain any meat. Perhaps for the first week you’ll choose a plant-based breakfast each day. The next week, you can build on that and make both breakfast and lunch plant-based meals, and continue until you have eliminated the desired level of meat and animal products that you wish to reach.

Changing your diet can seem like a daunting task, especially in social situations. But, in most cases, it’s much easier than you might think. Most menus have vegetarian options. If you don’t see any on the menu, just ask your server. The number of vegetarians is rising rapidly so chances are you won’t be the only one wanting more plant-based options.

There’s no better time to start than now. Choose something you can start with today and build on that. You’ll begin experiencing all the benefits of a plant-based diet and you’ll never go back!

Here are some recipes from Sheli’s website…give them a look…they sound so delicious!!!

High Protein Pumpkin Granola

Lemon Almond Bread