10 Positive Affirmations to Start Your Day

womaninbed

Don’t get out of bed yet! The first few moments of waking are a critical time, an opportunity to set the tone and tenor of your entire day. Close your eyes, watch your breath, and tell yourself something positive. Think of it as a secular, science-based morning prayer: rather than appealing to a higher power to guide you through the day, appeal to your higher self.

Self-talk determines self-perception, so it is important to consciously and wisely choose the way we speak to ourselves. According to the latest research, affirmations are most effective in the second person, so here is a list of positive phrases to repeat to yourself upon waking.

1. You are feeling healthy and strong. You are going to feel great all day.

2. You have everything you need to make this a great day in your life.

3. You have everything you need to approach whatever challenges the day brings.

4. You are a smart and capable person. You will trust your inner wisdom to guide you through the day.

5. You have so many wonderful things in your life. You are happy and content with what you have.

6. You are patient and calm, and you greet the day with ease.

7. You are filled with gratitude for another day on this earth.

8. Today is a new day, and each new day presents a fresh start for you to live the life you want.

9. Each new day offers a new beginning overflowing with possibility and opportunity.

10. You approach the day with deep gratitude for life, and you spread your positive energy wherever you go. 

A positive affirmation is a personal thing, and these are merely suggestions. Customize your own affirmation, a statement that is aspirational and inspirational. Whether you believe the affirmation to be true is irrelevant, for it is through the power of intention and repetition that it becomes true.

As the Buddha said: “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

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Mmmmm…. Carrot Greens Smoothie

carrotgreens

The idea that carrot greens are poisonous is actually an old wive’s tale that stems from their resemblance to Queen Anne’s Lace. The leafy sprouts off the end of a carrot are edible and quite tasty, and today they starred in my afternoon smoothie. They’re packed with potassium, chlorophyll, and other nutrients with health-supporting benefits.

Ingredients:

handful of carrot greens

cup grapefruit juice

Directions:

Blend until smooth.

greensmoothie

Next time you are lucky enough to run into carrots with the greens intact, do some recipe Googling and find a way to get them in your belly!

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Easy Way to Clean Your Microwave

I am not the cleanest person in the world, and the worst part of my general aversion to housework is that messes pile up over time and are horrifying by the time I finally address them. Case in point: my microwave.

dirty microwave

The idea of using cleaning chemicals kind of freaked me out, so I searched for an eco-friendly way to get the job done. What I found was effective and incredibly easy.

I mixed 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of water in a large bowl. I then microwaved the bowl for 8 minutes to steam up the microwave. Then, I simply wiped it clean with a wet rag. The whole operation took less than fifteen minutes, and the majority of that was spent reading Jezebel.com while I waited for the water to boil.

cleanmicrowave

Safe, quick, environmentally-friendly, and easy. If only all cleaning were like this…

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Healthy Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

pumpkin pie oatmeal

I don’t think you really need the recipe or measurements to make this on your own, so feel free to play around with the portions to fit your tastes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole old-fashioned oats

cup water

1/4 – 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

tablespoon agave nectar

tablespoon melted butter

Directions:

Prepare oatmeal with water using your preferred method (I used my microwave). Stir in canned pumpkin, spice, nectar, and butter. Eat!

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Make Your Plate Pretty, No Matter What’s On It

chicken

Even though I love to cook from scratch with quality ingredients, some nights my time or money runs low, and I have to cob together a meal in a hurry and on the cheap.

The dinner pictured above costs less than $3. It is ½ cup of jarred marinara sauce, ¾ cup frozen peas, and a frozen chicken breast I bought in bulk.  I microwaved the first two ingredients and pan-fried the third. Even though the food is humble, I took the time to plate it in a pretty way.

I like this plate because it represents the difference that a little extra care can have on something. The food is simple and cheap, but I took the time to arrange it nicely. I don’t have to carelessly plop everything on a dish just because the food is mediocre and I am alone. It is in these small acts of self-care that I reinforce the idea that I am someone special and worthy. I think that the more love and respect we show ourselves, the more love and respect we begin to feel for ourselves.

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Fall Schmall, Autumn Schmautumn

mums

This year, when the air began to cool and leaves change color, I was seized by anxiety about imminent winter. I am someone for whom winter has always brought low-grade depression, and in the autumn it is hard for me to think about anything but the long, cold season ahead.

I was talking about this at the beginning of one of my classes at the Auburn YMCA, and a student balked at me. “But don’t you just love the fall? It’s so beautiful, and the food is so good.”

Actually, I hadn’t thought to love the fall: to love the fall had not even occurred to me. I have Instagram, so I am aware that other people love the fall, but not me.

Isn’t that a terrible thing to do? To dislike an entire season because it is a harbinger of the next? The fleeting weeks between summer and winter are they themselves worth embracing and enjoying. This year, I am going to practice loving the fall and, in doing so, practice loving the present.

I will buy some mums. I will eat pumpkin bread and butternut squash. I will go on a hike and fill my lungs with cold morning air. I will wear a sweater and go apple picking and make a pie. I will not spend the season mourning a summer’s end and a winter’s inevitable start. I will let the fall be about gratitude, not dread.

I am learning how to live in the day and enjoy it for what it is. Progress, not perfection, is my goal.

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Thai Red Pepper Stir Fry

thaifinishedinwok

The weather is getting colder every day here, and basil is the last man standing in my herb garden. This week I needed a way to use up a lot of basil, and I thought a stir fry would be the perfect thing. Try it over rice or rice noodles, and enjoy the Thai flavor profile knowing that in addition to a treat for your tongue, this dish is full of nutrients from fresh herbs and peppers.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 red bell peppers cut into silver dollar size pieces

2 yellow onions cut into similar size pieces

thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

large handful basil leaves

salt to taste

Directions:

Heat wok or heavy bottom pan on medium. (It is important to keep the burner on medium so you do not burn the sensitive olive oil.) Add the oil and spread around the pan. Add the peppers, onions, and ginger and stir to coat with oil.

thairawpeppers

Let cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions have slightly browned.

thaiwithredpepperbrowned

Add basil and garlic. Stir in.

thaiinwokwithfreshbail

The dish is done when the basil is wilted and garlic is soft. Nomnomnomnom,

thaionplate

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Asparagus Tips with Sunflower Oil, Yellow Onion, and Red Pepper Flake

asparaguscloseup

Quick, healthy, and delicious. I made mine in my trusty wok, but any heavy-bottom saute pan would do fine.

Ingredients:

tablespoon sunflower oil

bunch asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces

yellow onion, cut into thumbnail-sized pieces

pinch of red pepper flake, depending on taste

salt and pepper, depending on taste

Directions:

Heat pan. Add oil and heat oil. Add onion and asparagus. Saute for about five minutes, stirring a few times. Add red pepper flake. Continue to cook until vegetables have reached desired tenderness. Serve over rice or alongside your favorite protein.

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Say Yes to Bacon Grease Popcorn

popcorn

I never throw away the bacon grease drippings at the bottom of a frying pan. Instead, I store it in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge. Last night was the first football game of the NFL season, which was a great excuse to use my precious grease in a savory, simple popcorn recipe.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons bacon grease (rendered bacon fat)

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt of your choice (I have switched to Himalayan pink salt for everything)

Directions:

Use a heavy-bottom pot with a cover that fits. Heat up pot on medium-high heat until bacon grease liquefies and starts to bubble. Pour in kernels and cover. Pick up and shake covered pot every thirty seconds until you stop hearing popping sounds. Pour into serving bowl.

You’d think that the bacon grease would be salty enough, but not for my taste. Depending on your preference, you may or may not want to salt yours. When I first made this recipe, I expected the flavor to be really intense, like in fried packaged pork rinds, but I found that this snack is surprisingly subtle. I like it so much that it’s hard for me to share and I want to HOG it all. (Sorry.)

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3 Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice

 

growyouryoga

I believe that yoga is about growth and that it is important not to let your practice stagnate or stall out. Below are some tips to continue growing in your yoga.

1. Develop a Home Practice

Beginning to practice alone can be intimidating, especially if you are a newcomer, but your commitment can start small. Schedule a once-weekly home session and treat it with the same importance as going to class. If you don’t feel like you can be guided by yourself yet, buy a yoga video or stream a full class on Youtube. When I practice alone I can have a more deeply personal experience freed from preoccupation with others or the need to keep up with a pace set by my teacher. I enjoy the opportunity to linger longer in poses that speak to me, to repeat sequences that felt especially yummy or that I want another chance to perform. 

2. Start a Yoga Journal

Sometimes in class you will hear the teacher make a comment that clicks with you. You may have an insight about your body that occurs suddenly on the mat. You may discover that something has been bothering you in the quiet of your savasana. Don’t lose your “aha” moment- write it down! Treat yourself to a pretty bound book, and commit to writing about your yoga. You don’t have to be a master wordsmith or come up with brilliant, cosmic observations. I began mine by simply recording the time and place of my classes or, with my home practice, where in my home I practiced and for how long. You can use your diary to make observations about classes or keep track of your progress in your favorite asanas. Observe what comes up for you in meditation. Anything goes, so long as you are putting pen to paper.

3. Make a Yoga Friend

For a long time I thought my yoga practice was such a personal thing that I couldn’t possibly put my experience into words or share a conversation about it. When I went to India for my teacher training I discovered that discussing my practice greatly helped me clarify my own experiences. Additionally, listening to the experience of others helped me see new and different perspectives. Today, I am friends with a few teachers and students, and it is a treat to discuss yoga with them.   

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