Simple Entertainment: A Simple Life Project

Simple Entertainment: A Simple Life Project

simple lifeAs a part of my pursuit of a simple life I have to look at the ways these days I have fun that fit with my new lifestyle In my early 20’s I felt compelled to go out on the town at night even though we had very little extra money. In my late 20’s and early 30’s, my days and nights were busy taking care of my babies. I didn’t see a movie or watch a TV show other than Disney and PBS kids from 1994 – 2000. Once the kids were a little older I thought it was a luxury to get to watch Sex & The City on HBO after they’d gone to bed. In my 40’s as the kids have grown up my husband and I have mastered the art of simple entertainment and we make this a regular part of our weekly life so that we have balance after a lot of long work hours.

We do love local theater and the arts. Whenever possible we support the creative arts community by attending plays, art shows and local music in small venues. We love our travel adventures and go on trips on average 5-6 times/year. But we also have some simple ways to kick back and enjoy our down time.

  1. Porch time. I never thought I’d be that adult who sat on the porch sipping on iced herbal tea but I must say that I really enjoy it. We marvel at all the wild life in and around our home. We catch up on the goings ons of the week. Just this morning we watched the morning sky turn from pink to blue. A simple life lends to valuing the view.
  2. Gardening. I’m not much of a green thumb but I love to plant and care for flowers and fruit plants. It’s very rewarding to prune, pinch off the dead-heads, see how the plants are flourishing.
  3. Cooking. Now that our daughter is a junior in high school with lots of evening activities, Dennis and I are almost empty nesters so we often are the only two home for dinner. We turn on Edie Brickell, Ray LaMontagne or an evening chill play list off of Spotify and cook together.  It’s truly fun and bonding for us to make our own meals and sit down together at the dining room table or out back on the back porch if weather permits. Back porch dining is definitely part of a simple life.
  4. Walking. I used to walk only for exercise or to take the dog to potty but now walking in the evenings is one of my favorite activities. I enjoy crossing paths with other walkers and admiring the landscaping and gardens of our neighboring homes.
  5. Netflix. I must admit in this day and age it is simple and fun entertainment to follow a series or catch a movie on Netflix. We invested a reasonable amount of money into smart TVs and now the cinema is at our finger tips and there is some really great viewing available.
  6. Chess. It’s not just for cerebral kids. It’s a game that strengthens the brain and is really entertaining.  We keep a chess set out on our coffee table and I’ve been known to bond with my kids, their friends, husband over a good game of chess.simple life chess
  7. Fiction. As a psychotherapist and a leader in my profession I have to stay up on the latest research in the field of wellness and psychology but I love a good fiction book. Whether an actual book or on my reader I love to get lost in a compelling read. Part of living a simple life has been to return to taking time to snuggle with a good book.
  8. High School Football. Maybe it’s a carry over from when my middle child played football but I find high school games to be very entertaining. And it’s not just the game. It’s watching the kids and the parents in the stands.
  9. Meditation and Yoga. It’s a non negotiable. And I truly love it. Doing a daily yoga practice and sitting in meditation in the sacred space of my new little studio space is one of my favorite things to do and is definitely part of my simple life entertainment.

If you have ideas for simple entertainment you enjoy please post in the comments below!

Simply Soup: A Simple Life Project

Simply Soup: A Simple Life Project

As Autumn is around the corner I am beginning to crave home-made soup again. I take a break from soup during the Summer months. There is nothing more nourishing and comforting than a bowl of soup on a chilly evening. Soup is also a simple dinner idea, feeds a crowd and if crafted with care can be a high nutrition, lower calorie option if you’re being mindful of your health and weight.

There are a gazillion soup recipes on the internet but below are two recipes I absolutely love that I make in my slow cooker for myself and my family. These recipes are my own – variations of other recipes I’ve tried over the years. One is a plant based recipe and the other uses chicken stock and chicken breast meat.

 

Simple Soup Recipe 1: Kickin’ Veggie Soup

serves 6-8

Get out your slow cooker or you can make this on the stove top if you’ll be nearby. Needs to simmer all day for best flavor.

Ingredients:

32 ounces of organic vegetable stock (home made or store bought)

32 ounces of organic tomato sauce

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 cup of organic English peas

1 cup of butternut squash cubes (you can find these in freezer section or produce section)

1 cup of chopped organic green beans

1 cup of chopped organic kale

1 cup of chopped organic purple cabbage

1 tsp of Himalayn pink salt

1/2 tsp of black pepper

a few shakes of Tabasco sauce

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. of lemon juice

Throw all the ingredients and simmer all day. Serve and garnish with a sprig of water cress or parsley.

 

Simple Soup Recipe 2: Wonders Chicken Soup

Best cooked all day in slow cooker. Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 free range, organic chicken breasts

64 ounces of organic chicken broth

1 medium onion chopped

3 stalks of organic celery chopped

3 large organic carrots chopped

1 small organic zucchini chopped

1 tsp of Himalayan pink salt

1/2 tsp of black pepper

1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

1 tsp of garlic powder

Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker and add broth and other ingredients. Cook on low 8 hours. When it’s time to serve gently tear up the chicken with a fork and knife into the broth, stir and serve.

Simply enjoy!

 

Simple Breathing: A Simple Life Project

Simple Breathing: A Simple Life Project

I have been a yoga and meditation teacher since 1995. I’m certified in a particular style of circular breath-work and I teach breathing exercises (pranayama) to my clients of all ages to increase focus, experience relief from anxiety symptoms and align body, mind and spirit. I never stop being amazed at how human beings don’t seem to know how to breathe in a way that helps them to feel better. We were born into the world naturally knowing how to breathe so when did we start holding our breath or breathing so shallowly?

A simple breathing technique has been proven to bring immediate calm to the nervous system. This one breath exercise can snap you back into present moment, ground your otherwise frazzled energy and simplify your life. Ready to learn?

I call this slow bubble blowing.

  1. Allow your belly to grow soft and sit up straight. Drop your shoulders down away from your ears.
  2. Through your nose take in a deep full breath allowing your belly to expand naturally and fill the lungs all the way up to your collar bone. (count to 4 if you like).
  3. As if blowing bubbles in a controlled manner, blow out the breath very slowly and completely. Make this exhale twice as long as the inhale. (count to 8 if you like).
  4. Repeat 3 times.
  5. Notice the profound shift.

Simply breathe and your life will seem sweeter, slower and more relaxed.

Simple Skin Care: A Simple Life Project

Simple Skin Care: A Simple Life Project

Anybody who knows me and follows my work at Wonders Wellness knows that I LOVE a line of all natural skin and hair care products created by my friend Gilly called Gilly’s Organics. I love her line so much I have an entire page on this website dedicated to them. You can go read her story and all about these products HERE if you want . . .)

If you’re striving to simplify and really cut your budget I have some ideas for you that really work to keep skin beautiful and supple and youthful – so important for women in mid-life!

Since I sold all of my Gilly’s products and used up my personal supply, I decided that before I go order some more I would  try a simple and super-cheap assortment of household items. I have been using the following items on my skin and seeing really nice results:

  1. Castile Soap with a drop of tea tree oil for cleansing.
  2. Baking soda for a gentle exfoliant and skin brightener
  3. Witch Hazel as my astringent with a drop of orange essential oil.
  4. “Thieves” blend (I make my own – see here for easy, affordable recipe) for spot-blemish treatment overnight.
  5. Organic Coconut oil for moisturizing
  6. Bentonite Clay for a monthly detox facial mask
  7. Plain greek yogurt, lime juice, crushed mint leaves and extra virgin olive oil for a cooling, cleansing weekly facial mask

Simply smooth and supple skin in mid-life need not be rocket science. . .

Simple Sleep: A Simple Life Project

Simple Sleep: A Simple Life Project

When was the last time you had an absolutely delicious night of sleep? Oh how much easier sleep comes when we are leading a more simplified life. Fewer worries keeping us up at night. Less clutter in the house interfering with our ability to relax. Shorter to-do-list.

So which comes first? Chicken or the egg? Simple life or good sleep? It’s a riddle for sure.

I’m going to begin with what I can control since it’s not so easy to control the quality of my sleep on command. I CAN control other factors that help contribute to the quality of my sleep, however. So here are the things I’m vowing to do today and the next several days. I will test it and let you know how it goes or if you’re brave and want to try this with me please – by all means – join me!

  1. I will move my body with loving vigor daily preferably in the morning until my heart rate is up and breath is heavy in intervals with moderate pace of rest in between for 20 minutes.
  2. I will ensure I drink a liter of water throughout the day but stop drinking fluids after 8 pm so I don’t awaken in the middle of my slumber for potty time.
  3. I will refrain from alcoholic beverages as these interfere with sleep patterns for a variety of reasons.
  4. I will meditate first thing in the morning and just before I go to sleep at night. Ommmm.
  5. I will practice my beloved gentle yoga with a downloadable class in the morning and again at before I do my bedtime meditation.
  6. I will breathe deeply and consciously throughout the day.
  7. I will use my black out curtains, remove all electronics from bedroom and turn on our air filter for soothing white noise.
  8. I will difuse my blend of relaxing essential oils (lavender and cedar…)
  9. I will take a warm bath at night with candle-light and my favorite relaxing music play list over the blue-tooth speaker.
  10. I will eat a bit of lean protein just before retiring to avoid that 3 am blood sugar drop that often wakes us up out of our slumber.
  11. I will release the habit of worrying (this one is ongoing for all of us I think but I’ll do my best).

Here’s to simply slumbering and for striving to slow down and savor what really matters in life!

Driving Simple: A Simple Life Project

Driving Simple: A Simple Life Project

woman drivingIt’s been four days since I started the 125 day challenge called A Simple Life Project. Today I will be driving from Atlanta up to Chattanooga for a training conference and I asked myself how I might simplify my life today. So, I plan to leave early and not turn on the radio during the drive. I’m going to drive with no sound other than my own breath and the faint squeal of my electric car along with the rush of other vehicles blowing past me on the highway. (Oh wait, I can’t take the electric car on this trip – not enough battery. Honey? Can I borrow the SUV please? No, I don’t need the Y cord for streaming music but thanks!)

I noticed recently while on a drive to and from our family vacation that my kids and husband seem to need to be listening to music constantly while in the car. I tolerated it but I craved silence. Maybe that’s why that serene lake with no cell service and no wifi was partly such a relief!

It’s all too easy when driving to become lost in thought or distracted by audio books or music. Today I am choosing to just drive. See the sights (even if it is tail lights and highway directional signs). I’m going to just be with myself, my breath, the steering wheel and the road.

Driving Simple. Simply driving. Like a meditation on wheels with eyes wide open.