Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Daydreams

Image from Jenna Kutcher

I have recently been catching up on YouTube videos and blog posts from the various people that I follow. On top of being a fun way to relax I am constantly amazed at how much many of these people have achieved. From starting side businesses selling beauty products to writing multiple books, it seems like they are never finished with the things they are expanding into. 

Looking at the people I follow, it reminds me that anything we dream is possible, as long as we put in the work. Sometimes I get scared when I think about starting a new project. My daydreams will include things like writing a book, becoming an international yoga teacher, or selling the items that I knit. In the past, I have shied away from these things telling myself that I wasn't good enough or I didn't have the time to practice something to the extent needed. Watching YouTube and reading blogs the past few weeks has really changed that perspective. 

We are capable of doing anything we put our minds to. It might be hard, it might take longer than we thought, and we might not get it perfectly the first time. That's okay! We can't let ourselves get discouraged and need to keep working hard on the things that we love. In the end that is all that matters. Putting time and effort into the things we love, no matter what the outcome, is the best way to stay inspired and happy. 

People who have been inspiring me recently:

P.S. the tea of the day is chai ^_^

Thursday, June 22, 2017

5 Yoga Sequences for the Morning

Morning is my favorite time of the day to do yoga. Practicing in the morning is the best way to wake up both my body and mind for the day ahead. When I do yoga in the morning I find that as the day becomes more hectic, I am better able to handle the stress. Here are my 5 favorite morning yoga sequences. They are all online so you can practice right in your bedroom!



20 Minute Mindful Morning Yoga Practice by Sarah Beth Yoga: This is my go-to morning sequence. Sarah Beth also has a 10 and 30 minute video in this series, but I find this one perfect for my schedule. I love how this sequence stretches out every part of the body and also focuses on waking up the mind. If you need a sequence to get you going before a big day or after a late night this is perfect! 
Find Sarah Beth here!



Energizing Morning Sequence by Yoga with Adriene: This sequence is one I practice very frequently as well. Like the first sequence this is great at stretching out the entire body. However, this sequence also includes more strengthening postures to give a more active wake up. If you want a sequence to really inject a boost of energy into your morning, this is the sequence for you! 
Find Adriene here!



Energizing Morning Yoga Routine by Sarah Beth Yoga: This sequence is great if you need something quick but thorough. A little bit shorter than the previous routines, this practice includes lots of twists to get your body moving and to get that heavy sleep feeling out. After practicing the body feels much more light and mobile for the day ahead.


Graceful Morning Flow by Ruby Lee: I found this routine on the Yoga International website when I was looking for a video that was going to make me sweat (you will have to sign up for a free Yoga International account to view this video). This practice incorporates the same flow multiple times with only minor changes. It's great for getting a full body stretch but also challenging yourself. If you want a more active workout in the morning and plan to get a little sweaty, this is perfect for you! 
Find Ruby Lee here!



15 Minute Morning Yoga to Wake Up by Yoga by Candace: This is a short but sweet video that targets the big muscle groups for a very gentle morning stretch. All the poses are done sitting or kneeling on the ground until the very end when you work into a forward fold. This is the perfect routine for anyone looking for a quick stretch before a busy day.
Find Candace here!


When do you prefer to do yoga?

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Keep Going


I absolutely love this quote! I am constantly feeling like I should be improving or learning things faster than I am. I want to go from a beginner to a master in something without any of the process or work to get there. For example, instead of practicing yoga and studying every day, I just want to be able to do advanced poses and know all about the philosophy. This often makes me feel like I am not making any progress and that I am stuck in the same place.

However, the thing I am constantly reminding myself is that the process is the exciting part! It's fun to learn a new pose or to discover new ideas through reading. Without enjoying the process of getting to the destination, how will I ever appreciate the things that I have learned? Those small aha moments or the feeling of nailing a pose I have been working on are the moments that make all the hard work worth it. 

This means that I have been trying to slow down and every moment. Instead of becoming impatient while reading a book, I am working on letting myself become fully engrossed in each part of the book. If I am going through a yoga sequence, I try to listen to my body in every single movement and pose instead of looking toward what's coming next. In this way I focus more on learning and exploring, instead of always trying to be one step ahead of myself. 

What do you do when you are getting impatient with your progress?

P.S. the tea of the day is chai tea ^_^

XOXO Taylor

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: The Bookseller



I saved The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson onto my Goodreads to-read list a while ago, and the last time I stopped into the library I decided to pick it up. I didn't know anything about it other than what was on the inside cover, so I wasn't 100% sure what to expect. However, once I got into it I really enjoyed the novel and quickly read through the whole thing. This is definitely a book I would recommend if you are looking for a book to read! 

The Bookseller starts off slowly, the characters are nice and wholesome, and the reader is  introduced to an idyllic setting in Denver. Kitty, the main character, is a single woman who runs a bookshop with her best friend Frieda. In 1960's Denver they are both considered spinsters, but they thoroughly enjoy their lives. However, as the story continues it quickly builds suspense and drama. Kitty soon begins having dreams that she is not single, but married to a man named Lars and they live with their children in a big house in the suburbs. As the dreams continue, and Kitty learns more about her dream world, the suspense grows for the reader. Why is she having these dreams, where is she when she goes to the dream world, and what happened to her family and friends in that world are all questions that become extremely important for Kitty to answer and for the reader to understand. 

As the drama of the novel unfolds, I appreciated that it kept it's idyllic setting and tone. The drama of her life, including money problems, finding out what happened to her in this dream world, and helping her dream life self navigate the complex world she has entered, fit well with the setting. The ending took an unexpected and exciting turn, but it kept true to the peaceful setting we were introduced to at the beginning of the story. 

The one issue I had with the book was the twist her relationship with her best friend Frieda took. The drama that unfolded between them due to the dreams seemed a bit cliche and boring. I felt like their relationship didn't have as solid a foundation as Swanson set up at first and ended up being very shallow. For two women who were happy with their single lives, jealousy peaked and damaged the relationship extremely quickly. 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by a book that I picked up on a whim. I enjoyed The Bookseller a lot and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light read. I gave this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads. 

What have you been reading recently?

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Let Your Heart Breathe


I saw this quote and I knew I had to share it this week!

I've always had this feeling like if I wasn't writing something perfectly the first time, I just shouldn't write. When I was younger I always enjoyed writing for fun. I have always been a bookworm, so it was only natural that at some point during my childhood I decided that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. However, along the way I got the idea into my head that good writers had amazing stories pop out of their heads and onto the paper, fully intact. I thought that if I couldn't do that there was no way I could be a writer.

Now, years later, I realize how incredibly silly that is. Every idea, every story, starts out as a draft; something that's in your heart in that moment. With editing, research, and lots of work, that idea might become a finished piece that will be published. However, if we don't let our hearts breathe, our ideas will never come to fruition. So let's all let our creativity flow. Write down that idea in your head, sketch the picture you keep imagining, or play around with that new knitting pattern. Who knows what we will be able to create!

What would you say if you let your heart breathe?

P.S. the tea of the day is Teavana Pineapple Kona Pop ^_^

Thursday, June 8, 2017

How to Manage a Paper Calendar


I have used both digital and paper calendars to keep myself organized throughout the years. I have found that a paper calendar is one of the best ways for me to keep track of my tasks each day and keep myself organized as I juggle the different parts of my life. Here are my tips for how to manage a paper calendar! 



Color Code

Color coding is a simple way of seeing what your day is filled with at a glance. Use different colors for things like school, work, internships, and personal. By doing this, your tasks are all organized into set groups that you can prioritize in order of importance on each given day. 

Set a Time

I have found that setting a time, even if it's just a guess, for when I will do something is extremely helpful. This helps to plan out the flow of the day, so that everything isn't crammed into the last 2 hours before bedtime. I try to hold myself to the set time as much as I can. However, flexibility is also important. If something else comes up or the day gets a little crazy, allow yourself to move out of the set schedule. 



Don't Overload a Single Day


This is arguably my most important tip! We have all fallen into the trap of trying to fit our entire to-do list into one day when we don't have work or class. However, all this leads to is more stress and not being as productive as we planned to be. Space out your tasks during the week. Do you have a paper due for class? Make that a priority on the days leading up to it. After you have figured out what absolutely needs to be done on certain days, that is when you can start filling in the other tasks you want to get done but aren't priority. 

Stop and Relax

Allow yourself time to relax! Stop working at least 1 hour before bed and give yourself a little time to unwind. I try to stop and read a book or watch a TV show I am enjoying. It's important to have some time to unwind after a long day, otherwise when you try to sleep your mind will still be running with everything you did during the day.

What do you do to manage your time during the day?

P.S. the tea of the day is green tea ^_^


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Creativity


The other day I was reading an article in the July/August 2016 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine about getting unstuck during a creative block. The author speaks of writers block, but the ideas in the article can be applied to any creative process. She discusses how she set up for herself the perfect weekend getaway to work on the book she was writing. However, when she got there for the first weekend she didn't want to write at all; she avoided her computer all weekend. After a few weeks of this she was scared she had fallen into a serious bout writers block. Until, however, she redefined for herself what exactly writing was. She realized that doing all the other things, taking her dog for a walk, taking a nap, enjoying some much needed relaxation, were all inspiring her. While she was relaxing her brain was still working through the ideas for her book. Once she realized this it was easy to start writing in between these other activities. 

I love the idea that everything we do is inspiration for our creative process. I am constantly falling victim to feeling like I am not working hard enough. Maybe I didn't write that draft for my blog that I was planning to write, or I didn't do my physical yoga practice that I wanted to do. Instead of getting down on myself I need to remember everything else I am doing that is inspiring my blogging or yoga. No, I didn't write that draft for my blog, but I did work through a good portion of a book I want to write a review on later. No, I didn't do a physical yoga practice, but I went outside for a longer walking meditation. 

We need to stop beating ourselves up if we don't do the one thing that society has narrowly defined as "blogging" or "yoga". We are constantly taking in inspiration from the world around us that we can use for our projects. So, the next time we don't sit down and write or get on our mats, let's not get upset with ourselves. Let's think about what other activities we have done that day to inspire our creative process. 

What do you do to keep yourself inspired in your work?

The article mentioned above is "Get Unstuck" by Rosamund Stone Zander in the July/August 2016 issue of Spirituality & Health.

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Journaling


About a week ago I picked up the book Aim True by Kathryn Budig at my local library. In the book she discusses yoga, a healthy diet, and finding balance in life. I've loved reading the book so far and learning the many insights she has into yoga and life. However, my favorite part of the book has been the short sections she sets out for journaling. Budig asks the reader to stop, think, and write about her topic. In this way the reader can come to a better understanding of the topic as it pertains to them personally.

This style of directed journaling has been very inspiring as I have worked through the book. For a long time I have been wanting to spend more time writing; I have always loved to write but found it difficult to pick up a pen if I didn't know exactly what my inspiration was. By having the focus of a topic, I have found myself more excited and more likely to journal. This has also kept me thinking of new things, writing about different things, not simply journaling when I am extra emotional about an event during the day. 

Writing in this way has driven me to set a new intention. I am going to choose a topic once a week and write about it. It could be anything from a room in a house, to a type of animal, or a question I have been pondering. There are so many opportunities! I can't wait to see how my writing expands and develops as I do this. 

What tools do you use to keep yourself motivated to write?

P.S. the tea of the day is peppermint tea ^_^

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April Favorites



Happy Thursday! This week I wanted to share with you a few things that I have been loving during the month of April. Enjoy!



Teavana Defense Wellness Tea
I completely forgot I had this tea in my cupboard until I got sick with a cold this month. I am so happy I dug it out from behind all my other tea, though! Made with a white tea base, citrus flavors as well as notes of cinnamon and ginger, this tea is heavenly. I've been trying to drink it sparingly, but I am sadly almost out. The next time I am near a Teavana I am definitely going to pick up more! 



Double Moss Stitch
Lately I've been trying to improve my knitting skills by trying out simple patterns. My current project is a scarf for my boyfriend and I decided to try out the double moss stitch. Holy cow, is this pattern beautiful! I think I might just knit everything in a double moss stitch now. It is the perfect amount of pattern, yet still subtle, for an everyday wear winter scarf. I can only imagine how nice it would be as a comfy blanket. Next project, maybe?

Gomukhasana (cow face pose)
This month I have been incorporating Gomukhasana into a lot of my yoga practices. I just can't get enough of it! I love the intense stretch in my hips and my shoulders. Depending on the day I will skip the arms and focus on stretching out my neck with some gentle neck circles. It is the perfect all around stretch after a long day! 


Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
I have been so engrossed in reading this book lately that I have stopped reading everything else. Having seen all the movies multiple times I know the overarching story line, so nothing is really a surprise. However, the attention to detail that Tolkien paid to everything makes the experience of reading the book much more captivating. It is a dense book so it is taking me longer than I expected to read it, but I am loving every second of it. 

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Small Steps


As soon as I saw this quote I knew it was going to be my Sunday post. Until recently I felt like the only steps I was taking in my life were small steps. I wanted so badly for all the moving parts in my life to become more tangible. However, all the things I was doing seemed so insignificant. I was sending all the right emails and doing all the right research, but nothing was tangible yet. 

Finally, after weeks of stress and work, my small steps are becoming big steps. I have chosen my grad school program and have gotten this blog up and running again exactly the way I wanted, just to name a few. If it wasn't for all those small steps I took, I wouldn't be here. So let's all take the small steps. Let's make the moves that seem insignificant, because I promise, they are making a difference! 

What small steps are you taking?

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love



I have been wanting to read Eat, Pray, Love for a long time, but it was one of those books that always slipped my mind when I was looking for something new. The memoir, by Elizabeth Gilbert, is about discovering herself and finding peace within after an incredibly difficult divorce. She sets the book up in three sections; Italy discusses pleasure, India digs into devotion, and Indonesia explores the balance between the two. I  loved this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has ever felt a little lost in their lives. 

The separation of location and concept in Eat, Pray, Love made it easier to understand and follow what Gilbert was discussing.The first section, about Italy and pleasure, was a bit slow starting. Chapters 2-9 are fully devoted to the background of the story; minor details about Gilbert's divorce, how she got to her breaking point, and why she decided to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia. While all necessary for understanding the memoir, at points I found myself just waiting for her to go to Italy and start experiencing pleasure.
When she did get to Italy I was fully satisfied. Large meals of pizza and pasta, slow walks to gelato stands, and long evenings discussing life with good friends marked her time in Italy. Gilbert's time in Italy started to lighten her mood; the reader witnesses her letting go of some anxiety and pain on the surface and allowing herself to freely enjoy what she wants to enjoy. However, the more she relaxes and enjoys herself the more her deep rooted pain starts to come to the surface. She leaves Italy feeling more calm but not truly happy yet. 

Gilbert's next stop is India, to spend four months at an Ashram, a monastery for Indian religions. This is the point in the memoir where we see Gilbert making her biggest steps forward and dealing with her biggest fears and wounds. Her schedule is rigorous; long hours of yoga, meditation, and study now mark her days. Her body and mind become stronger. Surrounded by a strict routine and new friends finding their own peace at the Ashram, Gilbert was able to come to terms with the events of her past, accept them, and start to move forward again. This section was my favorite section; Gilbert discusses the most difficult issues of her trip in a way that is relatable and enlightening. 

The final stop on the journey is Indonesia. Here Gilbert planned to find the balance between the pleasure she had enjoyed in Italy and the devotion she had discovered in India. She met up with a medicine man she had met years before, rented a house, and spent her days between work and play. Helping the medicine man provided a spiritual outlet and a large learning opportunity, while spending time with her new friends provided fun and relaxation. In Indonesia the reader sees Gilbert find peace. She is whole and independent, more than she has been in years. When she meets a new man and starts dating again it only shows how far she has come; she still spends time on the things which are important to her, while learning to let go and follow where life leads her. The final section of the book does a great job of tying everything together without seeking to teach the reader. Gilbert lets the reader witness her transformation without trying to outline a step-by-step plan for balance. 

Overall, Eat, Pray, Love is a wonderful book. I enjoyed reading it and found valuable insights into pleasure, devotion, and balance. Gilbert is funny, heartfelt, and honest throughout the book, not holding back details that might be embarrassing or difficult to discuss. Watching Gilbert rediscover peace while coming to a better understanding of herself was fascinating and inspiring. I was motivated to make more time to explore these concepts in my own life, though on a much smaller scale. I gave this book 4/5 starts on goodreads and would definitely recommend it!

What do you want to see me review in the future?

P.S. The tea of the day is peppermint tea ^_^

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Me Time


Happy Sunday! This past week I've been thinking a lot about self care and taking time for ourselves. With our busy schedules each day it is easy to get swamped and forget to take some time to relax. This week I started to feel the stress of this; I was so caught up in everything I had to accomplish that I began to feel overwhelmed. This weekend I took some much needed me time. I have spent my weekend reading, drinking lots of tea, and doing restorative yoga.

What do you do when you start to feel overwhelmed by your daily schedule? 

P.S. the tea of the day is Teavana Peach Tranquility ^_^

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Starved Rock State Park

Happy Thursday! This past weekend my parents came to visit me from Minnesota, and Saturday we spent the day hiking around Starved Rock State Park. About an hour and a half southwest of Chicago on the Illinois River, the park is a wonderful place for a day trip. Here are some pictures I took while we were hiking around! 






Above: Starved Rock, the namesake of the park.



Wildcat Canyon, by far our favorite canyon of the park!


I highly recommend checking out Starved Rock if you are every in the area! Check out their website here to see more info.

P.S. the tea of the day is Teavana Defense Wellness Tea ^_^

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Gardens


Happy Sunday! I came across this quote earlier this week and immediately knew that it was what I wanted to write about in my first new post. It is so simple but so very true. 

All of us are going to face struggles in our lives of varying shapes and sizes. It is easy to get caught up in how hard things are in that moment, how hurt it makes us feel, or how difficult the situation is to move past. Sometimes we get so caught up in this cycle of sadness it is hard to see a way out. 

I like the idea that as we let go and heal from the hurt, little flowers are growing inside all of us. I imagine it as a beautiful garden inside of everyone, like a map of the things we have overcome. If we view it this way, maybe it will give us a little comfort the next time we are healing from a struggle. 

So let's all tend our inner gardens. If they start to grow, let's admire the new beauty inside and appreciate the struggle it took for the new flowers to bloom. 

The tea of the day is Chamomile Lemon ^_^