(Almost) At Home with Christiana: An exercise in Gratitude

As many of you may or may not know, I have been absent from the blog for the past couple of weeks while my family relocated up the coast. It was a typical military move with more paperwork than there is time, and plenty of bumps in the road.

And I’ll be honest, when driving up the eastern seaboard on little to no sleep with all of your children and your dog and half of your household belongings shoved into very close quarters in one vehicle, gratitude is NOT the first word that comes to mind.  Especially when your kids get food poisoning halfway through. (Yes, really.)

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Not that I have (BY FAR) the hardest life, or that I am (BY FAR) as zen as the Dalai Lama, but I have been asked more than once how exactly I cope with the frequent and potentially stressful disruptions of our gypsy-esque military family lifestyle. And in that case, the first word that comes to mind actually is gratitude.

Charles Dickens may have said it best:

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” 

In almost any situation, I have learned (and am definitely STILL learning) to temper my feelings of stress or frustration by exercising conscious gratitude. Every day, there are SO many things that all of us have to be grateful for, but unless we stop and really think about them, it’s easy to lose sight of them among a busy day’s hectic or potentially stressful events. But making the effort is worth it. The rewards are big. Like UNIVERSALLY big.  I have found it easier not only to deal with my somewhat un-hinged, out-of-school, mid-move, energetic children in a way that I can be proud of, but to be a whole PERSON I am more proud of. In fact, an active practice in gratitude, I think, is an incredibly simple but profoundly effective way for all of us to be people that we are more proud of. 

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There are several ways to incorporate more gratitude into your life. And there are literally no rules. Whatever makes you feel it. You don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to be a yogi, you just have to be you. For me personally, I have found meditating to be a wonderful way to reflect on the many gifts in our lives, and if you’re able to, you can find a fantastic led meditation on gratitude from UC Berkeley here.

If meditation is not for you, or, if you’re in a time or place where meditation is not an option (like driving on I-95 with two vomiting children, in my case) you can actively walk your mind through some major gratitude points like those listed below.

And don’t overlook the basics in your life. Know that if you are expressing these conscious thoughts, you already have several marvelous gifts:

  • The gift of life itself, the most precious gift. Your life. The lives of your dearest, the lives of those who love and support you.light sunset people water
  • The countless conveniences that are available to us today that many of our ancestors did not have, and that people in many parts of our world still do not have. Air conditioning, clean drinking water, vehicles and safe passage, ample food. Machines, schools, libraries, electricity.person washing his hand
  • The work put in by thousands of people you’ve never met to create life as you know it. From ancestors that fought for freedoms we enjoy today, to those who grow and deliver our food, those who maintain our roads, vehicles, pipes, roofs and infrastructure, to innovators and inventors, to deployed and fallen military members and first responders.soldier-military-uniform-american.jpg
  • The particular things you enjoy in your daily life. The gift of a warm cup of coffee  in the morning, or the gift of your comfortable bed at night. A conversation with a friend. A treasured heirloom. A warm snuggle with a beloved pet, or a bedtime story with your child. bonding cold cozy dog

When we actively appreciate the things we already have, we are able to see the richness surrounding us, and inconveniences or problems seem smaller in the balance of our rich, grateful lives.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. -Melody Beattie

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

Kristy, Au Naturale: Survival in the woods, aka tent camping with kids.

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Camping is one of those activities that our family has always enjoyed doing together. Being in nature, grounding ourselves, and slowing down for a weekend has been really effective in helping us reconnect and bond when daily  life seems so busy. We camp with extended family as well, which, for us, has always been an amazing time.

Our camping journey started in a tent for seven people. There were only two of us and a puppy, so that made it roomy and doable. Our spacious luxury camping getaway quickly became a cramped space when we had our first kiddo.

When little #2 came around, that seven person tent turned into a giant canvas bag of emotions!

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So, we bought a Pop-up.

 

Now at least we had a roof overhead, a stove, and heat and air conditioning!

“What a step up!” we thought until even that became cramped with “baby stuff” and then the space above began to feel like more like this…

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Our camping nights started to become very very difficult. It was almost like going back to newborn stages for the first two nights every time we took a trip.

8 pm: Honey, the cloth diaper blew out, we need to go to bathhouse to hose the baby off.

10 pm: Mommy, I have to potty

Midnight: Dangit, now I have to pee

1am: diaper leaks onto mattress

3 am: Mommy I have to potty (again)

Suffice it to say, we…never…slept.

Now that we are GLAMPING it up in a tag along trailer with a bathroom, queen bed, and kitchen, I can look back and give a list of all the things necessary for tent camping with tiny kids. (If you’re not wanting to totally give up on it like I admittedly did)

Kristy’s no bull survival guide to tent camping with kids:

A large tent: 

Don’t want to pay $250 for a large WATERPROOF tent? Well, sorry Charlie, you’re gonna be cold and wet in a cheaper one. They can leak, not hold up in the wind, and have a tendency to be crackly and loud when the wind does blow.  Better investments equal better experiences in my opinion. This tent is big enough for your overnight bags, the essential change of clothes needed for any accidents, and extra towels/wetbags for any messes or laundry. Dew will make everyone damp and miserable even if you’re not rained on while camping.

A Sleeping Pad

Content_Team_081417_71478_Choosing_Sleeping_Pads_lg.jpgIn addition to a specific sleeping bag meant for outdoor slumber, you’ll need a buffer between you and the ground. TRUST ME, even if the beautiful weather during the day is warm, the ground at night gets cold! Putting a pocket of air between you, your littles, and the ground can help insure a better night sleep for you all. You can also use a camping pad, or an air mattress (but good luck trying to get the kiddos to sleep when you’ve basically just blown up a bouncy house in a tent!)

Pillows

One of the things people don’t usually think of, is how bulky pillow can be in the car ride and especially in a tent. They make specific camping pillows that have their own cases for storage when you’re out and about during the day and need more room in your tent to move around.

Proper Footware

What shoes you will need for your kiddos depends on time of year, and typography of your campground. We usually do a water based (crick, creek, or lake) campground so our kids can explore, fish, and collect shells and rocks. So we select our favorite Keens that can be amphibious. They are also great on hiking trails that aren’t too rocky. You’ll want an option that’s easy to slip on and off for those bathroom breaks.

Fire Utensils

Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, let’s be real…who knows who has let their dog pee on a stick nearby! I usually resort to bringing my washable Roasting sticks for all things S’mores related.

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For fire stoking, do yourself a favor and have a proper set of fire gloves incase you need to adjust any logs or one goes astray.

For cooking, we use this adjustable tripod that cooks veggies, meats, and will even toast bread right over the fire! It breaks down and goes right back in the box as well for easy traveling.

Lighting

You’ll obviously need flashlights for when you’re walking around at night. We always have these solar lamps hanging around as well, for use inside the tent as well as around the site itself. Kids and adults alike do well with headlamps as well. Just make sure you teach your kids not to shine it at your eyeballs.

Snacks

Overestimate the snacks you bring – basically double what they would go through at home. Pick things unlikely to melt/squash like nuts, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, etc…. One of the worst possible camping situation is running out of food. While you’re at it, pack yourself some extra adult beverages.

Cooler packing hack: Prep ahead of time by freezing water bottles, juice boxes or pouches, and squeezable yogurts. Use these along with ice packs and bags of ice. These will keep things cold in there for longer and also be nicely chilled when your kiddos or yourself want to eat them.

And the Piece De La Resistance

The Toilet Tent

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I cannot stress to you enough how important this little bugger is. You think, “Oh, we are camping, there’s a bathhouse right there that I’ll walk to” or “I’ll just pee in the woods cause I am woman hear me roar!”

Awesome thought. Really, it is.

HOWEVER, 9 times out of ten when your kid wakes up, you wont want to trek the 100 yards to the actual toilet when they are freaking out about the dark walk or first thing in the morning when the entire campground is sleeping and your kid is screaming that they have to go.

This tent is taller as well, so you can change in it without the hassle of ducking, if you’re tall like my family.

Putting The Fun in Family Time

We like to stay at campgrounds with lots of activities. Crabbing on piers, shark tooth treasure hunts, easy hiking, wagon rides with water balloon fights, splash parks, gem mining, local watering holes and breweries with picnic style seating can be all great things to look for. When hanging fireside, though, we always love to add magic to the experience of being outside and away from home as a family.

These amazing fire color packets change your campfire into a magical rainbow of colors that can spark the imagination of even the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons.

I hope this helps some of y’all get your family out and exploring your area or surrounding areas in order for more tiny humans to learn to appreciate and love this earth that sustains our lives. I know I am awed by the majesty of its landscapes, and weather patterns every time we go.

Oh, and no light pollution of rural campgrounds equals amazing star gazing! (Throw in a little romance for you and your partner as well!) Or some educational constellation spotting with your science kid! (There is an App for that)

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Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”

 

“The Days Of Our Lives” The Power of Emotional Freedom

I spent time today talking with a dear friend, a sister in spirit if you will, who recently broke her ankle. After bringing her breakfast, which was subsequently eaten by both of our kiddos, we got to talking about praying and how we need to do more of it to attract the things we want. We spoke about being frustrated with jobs, social relationships, the diseases and illnesses that are just unfair, etc., and something she said hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m paraphrasing here, but she said to me,

“Shouldn’t we assume that people have positive intent?”

It occurred to me in that instant.  In ALL of the changes that I have been making mentally and physically, in all of the relationships that have ebbed and flowed over the past couple of years that have caused I thought have caused me pain, have been because I forgot to remember that most people are inherently good.jim-carrey-duh-meme.jpg

I was assuming, based on words or behaviors of those around me, that I was not worthy of being nurtured as a friend. I basically lost my faith in my ability to even be a good friend, and therefore, lost my faith in the excitement of new people.

This led me to a philosophy my mother and I have talked about for years, that I manage over and over again to forget.

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The Four Agreements is a book written by Miguel Ruiz that takes folks on their journey towards true personal freedom. It explores

“..self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering”

One of the keys to personal love is to follow these four simple rules in all moments of your life. It will help avoid at least some of the “triggers” that inspire the downward spiral of thoughts and emotional suffering.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

For lack of a better explanation, we must speak with integrity. This means avoiding gossip, or negative self talk. It also involves building others up, which will in turn provide you with the language and tools to build yourself in the same manner.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

DING DING DING. If I had a freaking magic button that could help me grip onto this notion, there is no limit to the price I would pay for it. This is where in the above conversation, I realized that I had totally failed. Not only had I chosen to take almost EVERYTHING personally from some people, I have also been taking things my children have said/done personally as well. And digging further, taking my SELF talk as truth. (What a mess) My personal key to emotional freedom is making THIS agreement priority in the practice.

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Don’t Make Assumptions

If you do not understand something or someone, be it their behavior, words, actions, heart, mind, anything, ASK THEM.  To avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings that don’t serve us, it is imperative that we feel brave enough to communicate in the first place. In order to not be the victim of suffering in your own mind, open your words and your heart to rid it of sadness and drama. After all, imagination is usually worse than the reality.

Always Do Your Best

My take on this agreement is that if we go forth in our day to do the best we can with all things, than any judgements coming from others or yourself are utterly unnecessary. This will vary from day to day of course, but we must remind ourselves that we are only playing with the hand we are dealt, and all we can do is face it one day at a time the best we can. Be proud of yourself, and know that we are all walking our paths.

It was in the realization that I had spent so much time not speaking with integrity, taking everything personally, not communicating effectively that allows me to understand my perceptions, that I honestly was not living my best life.

Dovetailing on Annie’s summer reading list from yesterday, The Four Agreements is my first choice read to finding a path that supports emotional freedom.  Having something everyday to remind me of these four agreements can help me, you, anyone, live a life constructed around that liberation.

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Challenge yourself everyday with honoring these four. Set reminders, put up post its or wall art, wear empowering jewelry. Hell, get a tattoo if you want! Let’s choose to live a life lifted by empowerment of self and others.

Will you join me?

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Kristy and Christiana’s Friday Guide to the Royal Wedding Couch-gate

I mean, who over the age of 30 hasn’t thought, at least once, that  “All Prince Harry or William has to do is meet me. We’ll fall in love, and I’ll be a real PRINCESS”?  We know as sure as there are biscuits at tea that we have. We all watched them grow up and witnessed the loss of their incredible Mother, Princess Di. We all fell in love with them and wanted to be there for them in those moments. It never mattered which one, we were in it for the long haul. We just KNEW that one of them would fall in love with an American girl. Knew it, knew it, knew it. (We were always on team Harry, for the record.)

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And boy, DID HE! Meghan Markle…(“Marks”, can we call her Marks? I think so.) I mean look, even we are in love with her! Not only is she eloquent and beautifully spirited, she’s also a badass brave advocate for women! She’s INCREDIBLE! Annie said it best, “our only problem with her being princess, is that SHE CAN’T RUN FOR PRESIDENT!” Come onnnnn Marks. Killing us.

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Windsor Castle, the Royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire and the 2018 Royal Wedding venue

So ladies and gents, it is upon us. The world-wide shattering of hearts that shall happen this Saturday at midday in Windsor. The last single royal gets hitched, and simulatensouly crushes all our hopes and dreams of Kristy Wright, Princess of Wales. (cause we know all of you were rooting me on)

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The official invites, image via HuffPost (since ours was misplaced)

Something clearly went awry and our invites were seemingly lost in the mail. So what shall we do to celebrate? Well, Christiana and I will be waking promptly at 4am to make a pitcher of mimosas, strap on obnoxiously large hats, partake in scones and crumpets, and roll that live wedding coverage. Who are we kidding, we have kids, we’ll probably be up anyway because…what is sleep? And how can we even be mad? He’s marrying the freaking MARKS!

Sound like your bag? Well hold on to your crumpets, people. Here’s what you need to know to get your princess on TOMORROW MORNING. Call your friends. Buy bubbles and OJ. Premake (or buy) your scones, crumpets, and whatever other British breakfast tickles your fancy.  We want to support having tea, but at 4 am, let’s be real. We’ll be fumbling for our coffee. Sorry, Harry.

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Coverage begins at 4am Eastern time. (Sorry, you guys on the west coast are screwed.) Guests arrive from 9:30-11 London time and Prince Hot Ginger (“PHG” if you feel me) arrives at 11:30 (6:30 am eastern), so you best be watching by then. The ceremony starts at noon, followed by the carriage ride around Windsor from 1-2. Husbands, get on board. This is like the longest and classiest tailgate ever, just deal.

We’re rolling out these blueberry scones per Sally’s Baking Addiction and attempting these crumpets from the Beeb. (Thats the BBC for the layperson). Also, it’s been reported that the queen mother has a glass of Champagne every day, so I feel obliged to include some bubbly mimosas in this royal feast. You know, for Liz.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images, Town and Country Magazine

Royal protocol also dictates hats for you ladies. (I don’t care if you are still in your pajamas. Look, I don’t make the rules!) Don’t you remember all the crazy hats that turned up at Will and Kate’s wedding?! (Like “nooooo Beatrice and Eugenie!”) The hats were really almost more famous than the swath of international celebs. Learn more about appropriate headwear in this video from the Washington Post.

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Speaking of celebs, be prepared to keep your eyes peeled for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (AKA Will and Kate – new parents to baby #3, woop!), the Beckhams, Elton John and maybe even the Clooneys.  So put on your hat, pour yourself a good pot of coffee, serve your warm crumpets and have yourself a merry Royal Wedding Couch-gate. We’re all rooting for you Marks! Cheerio!

P.S. Follow us on twitter @lockerstolittles for a photo recap of said couch-gate.

 

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_nKristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia, and closet anglophile. She co-wrote this with Christiana, the unofficial authority on all things Royal.

 

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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At Home with Christiana: Best Fitness Apps

Fitness is something that has always been a part of my life. From junior athletics to marathon running to postpartum recovery, fitness is a major source of stress relief, confidence, and balance in my life. So while a day in the life of home renovating and chasing little people is almost always a workout in some form, my personal fitness is something I work very hard to prioritize. For me.giphy4

We all know by now the countless benefits of exercise (if not, read up!) but sometimes LIFE HAPPENS and getting to the gym just doesn’t. Parent or not, sometimes just adulting feels like sabotage to your fitness routine. Then add the schedules of 1, 2, or 3 little people that have little no regard for your agenda, and well, you get the picture. Client meeting runs late and you miss your spin class. Baby changes her nap schedule and you miss yoga by 5 f&*ing minutes. Ugh. “Namaste!”  Luckily, for days like these, technology is here to literally save our asses. Praise to the Fitness Apps.

Fitness apps have been a game changer for me because they allow me to get a serious workout in whenever and wherever I choose. No gym, no trainer, nobody else’s schedule but mine. Even multiple little people can’t sabotage these – there is a pause button for diaper changes, (because sh*t happens) and frankly, babies make great kettle bell substitutes for those walking lunges.  Also, no one is around to judge me for drinking coffee during my morning yoga session. #mommasrules

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In sum, fitness apps are totally awesome! With one caveat. Apps are definitely a realm where not all are created equal, but don’t despair if you’ve struck out in the past.  I have included my three favorite, time-tested apps below.  They won’t let you down.

Best Strength/Cross Training App: Nike Training Club

Nike Training Club (NTC) is my go-to app for at-home cross-training. NTC features a wide variety of workouts designed by pro athletes and celebrity trainers (oh heeeey Ronaldo, I see you). Ranging in intensity and activity level, these workouts can get straight up hardcore.  I love that this app allows you to select a workout based on a number of criteria. Only got 15 minutes? There are workouts for that. No equipment on hand? There are workouts for that, too. Want to target a certain stubborn body part or muscle group? There are PLENTY of workouts for that.

Another great feature is you can play your own music without interfering with the app’s audio cues. Because NO ONE likes doing burpees in silence. No one. New workouts are uploaded pretty regularly so I have yet to get bored. You can also set up 4-8 week personalized plans via the app that provide you with workouts in the order and frequency you should do them based on your personal inputs. This app really gives you everything you need to get a serious sweat on. So get after it!

Cost: Free

Great for: Strength training, beginners to serious athletes

Best Yoga App: Yoga Studio by Gaiam

Anyone who spends the majority of their week surrounded by little people who have yet to develop the concept of ‘personal space’ can use a little zen. But sometimes a lot of the time your yoga studio’s schedule won’t jive with yours, your kids stay home sick, or you just plain sleep in. Fear not. Gaiam’s Yoga Studio is a great app that can bring the Om at home, on vacation, in the backyard… anywhere. Time to get those yoga pants doing some actual yoga, y’all.

I will be the first to say that I am picky about yoga, and I think this app does a great job of channeling the calming vibe of a studio class via your wireless device.  You can download a wide variety of pre-made classes and meditations (more of our thoughts on meditation here if you missed it) ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour that target specific muscle groups or problem areas (such as lower back pain, yoga for runners),  or a particular mood (strength, Relaxation, AM/PM). Or you can create your own custom classes too. The one-hour Relaxation class is a personal favorite in our household. After the kids go to bed, light a candle, roll out your mat, (maybe pour that glass of wine, because why not? You’re at home!) Annnnd enjoy some well-earned savasana.  You won’t regret it.

Cost: $1.99/month or $19.99 annually

Great for: All levels of  yoga 

Best Running App: Map my Run by Under Armor

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Running for me currently goes one of two ways…  either the stars align and I get a glorious solo run while someone else watches the kiddos OR I’ve loaded up the jogging stroller with kids, snacks, blankets, water bottles and goodness knows what else. Either way, I just want to GO before something goes wrong. I don’t want to worry about creating a route, monitoring my pace or distance, or fidget with a bunch of settings on my devices.

Enter: Map my Run. I can load saved routes with a touch of one button or simply “start workout” and go. All while my distance and pace and calories are reliably monitored and saved to track progress. You can add notes to your run once it’s completed (like perhaps “double stroller into the wind” or “goldfish spilled”) so you can track your training performance without trying to remember why you had a couple really off pace days.

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You can also connect with your running buddies/family members that use the app to encourage each other along the way, which is especially fun if you’re training for an event together, even long distance, or just for added support.  That “NICE RUN, BUDDY!!!” text from your partner never, ever gets old.

Cost: Free

Great for: Running/walking/biking, tracking outdoor routes, race training

I hope these apps are as helpful for some of you to maintain or even begin your fitness regimen as they have been for me.  Shout out with your favorites if you have some to add!  Now go get you some Om. Cheers!

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Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.

Essential Oils 101

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So what is Aromatherapy? Do you ever think back to a time before modern medicine? Before the time that the answer to everything seems to be to pop a pill? Well, before we had pills, the people  looked to the earth for help (sure, a s*$t-ton more folks died back then, but also nobody was willing to scrape the mold off cantaloupe and stick it on a festering wound either….but I’m splitting hairs. ).

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, derived from plants, roots, flowers, and saps and adapted into a concentrated oil to be used as aids in wellness of mind, body, and spirit. It can be inhaled indirectly, like in a diffuser( This one is super zen. ), via direct inhalation like using an Essential oil in your bathtub or an inhaler, or can be applied directly onto skin (be careful to be under direction of someone who is certified and knows about oils before you do this) via carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil.

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In my massage practice, I am certified to custom blend about 21 different oils. I use these blends for each client in a room diffuser. My favorite way to wear them daily for my own personal sense of zen is via my Essential Oil Necklace.

“Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Even the oils from varieties of plants within the same species may have chemical compositions different from each other. The same applies to plants that are grown or harvested in different ways or locations.” Says this article published by PubMed. This is important to remember when using oils for their medicinal properties.

Blending Smells

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Since the olfactory nerve can be sensitive to the chemical properties of the oils, it is best to smell each oil when pairing oils together. Each blend should have three different components. A top, mid, and bottom note.

Top notes are oils such as citrus oils: lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, being good examples. These top notes have the properties to “lift” up a mood. These oils are well known for the antidepressent qualities.

The Mid note is an oil that functions to balance out the blend. Lavender calms and sooths, eucalytpus balances and flows, and geranium is said to help regulate hormonal imbalance. There are many more, these are examples of the ones that I use frequently.

The Bottom notes are important. These are your saps, resins, barks, and some plants. Thick and earthy smelling, these function to ground you. They have very great propensity to help with sleep, anxiety, stress reduction, and overall centering.

Creating a delicate balance of chemical properties is important when blending oils. Smelling each oil one at a time can help you determine if the chemical properties of the oil are something your body can handle at that moment. For instance, you could think you LOVE lavender, but today you smell it and it smells awful! There are many other oils with soothing properties that may be less offensive to your nose, so move on to the next!

It is good practice to smell your blend and add ONE drop at a time per oil so you can be wary of the strength of your blend, and customize it directly to you!

Tips to remember

  1. Never put an oil directly on skin without a carrier oil as a base. Some oils (especially citrus) are phototoxic (breakdown in the presence of UV light) and will make your skin super susceptible to burning in the sun.
  2. Since oils are heavily concentrated (about 200lbs lavender flowers go into making just ONE lb of lavender oil) try to never blend more than 4-5 oils together.
  3. Make sure your oil is pure, in a blue or brown glass bottle that has been shipped and stored in a cool dry place (these are organic matter essences and have a shelf life) To tell if it is pure, you should see its latin name as well as its country of origin written clearly on the bottle. StillPoint Aromatics is a company that I like to recommend .
  4. Please DO NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER ingest essential oils. Unless you are under the direct care of a clinically trained Aromatherapist (not corporate trained), you should avoid ingestion. Like I stated above, these heavily concentrated oils can eat through surfaces like wood. Imagine what it could do with a stomach lining or liver!
  5. Be careful and do not use oils if you’re pregnant! Again, it is earth medicine and needs trained minds to approve before use.
  6. Have fun with it! It can become a very awesome ritual if you let it!

Here is an excellent guide!

 

Essential Oils Guide