An Uncomplicated Life Blog

Monday, June 26, 2017

Meditation Tips and Easy Mantras

Meditation is essential for busy lives. Here's how to do it.

In early June, I had the privilege of flying out to Snowshoe, West Virginia, to go to Wanderlust with a few of my friends. I had never been to West Virginia before so that got crossed off the "visit all the states before I die" bucket list (only two left! Oregon and Arizona) and I got to practice yoga and take interesting classes on top of a mountain. Literally, we were on top of a mountain - the road to get there was a 11% grade and it was questionable if the car was even going to make it up the road for a bit! But we made it and it was beautiful and I ended up learning a bunch of things about yoga generally and myself personally. One of those things is the absolute necessity that meditation plays in busy (or even non busy) lives. So I've crafted some tips using some super easy mantras. Read on and get enlightened! Just kidding.

Great read on how to meditate and how it changes your life

First, I think people get turned off by the word mantra. It's simply the Hindu word for "word." It's not some spell you're trying to cast, it's not something you're trying to conjure or manifest. It's simply something you repeat to help quiet the clutter in your mind. Without a mantra, its really easy to sit in silence and think about what you're making for supper or that deadline you're on. Maybe there's a bird chirping outside or you start to focus on how you're uncomfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor. 

But with a mantra, for have a word (or very short phrase) that you repeat in your mind to keep that clutter out. You repeat it over and over in a rhythmic fashion. Think about a heart beating or drums drumming and how rhythmic that is - that's what you're going for with a mantra. Long story long, there's nothing to be scared of with mantras!

Before I dish out some of my favorites, lets start with meditation 101. First, you want a quiet space. Remember that bird I mentioned? Yeah, that's a distraction that causes mental clutter. So try to find a nice quiet space where you can be alone for a few minutes. Start with 5 and build up from there. Trust me, your first time meditating for 5 minutes will feel like forever! But then you'll get in the habit of it and it will feel like just a few seconds. I like to set a timer on my phone so I don't have to keep checking the time - I can enter a meditation and be fully in it for whatever length of time I have set.

Once in a quiet space, sit upright. It doesn't have to be on the floor, although I like the floor. You can sit in a chair. Just make sure your shoulders are over your hips and your spine is straight. Why? Because you'll get so relaxed, it's very easy to fall asleep! This ensures that you'll stay with the meditation practice and not check out or drift off into slumber.

Use these mediation mantras to stay focused

Your hands can be in your lap. They can face up or down. Whatever is most comfortable for you is what's best! Get situated, take a few deep breaths, and then start repeating one of these mantras that either resonates with you, or perhaps pick one that you feel like you even need most that day. Here are my favorites:

I am love
Radiate love

See how simple those are?! Mantas and meditating isn't scary and it isn't complicated. The word Om is what the Hindu's believed to be the sound the world made as it was created - it's a vibrating sound of creation, beginning and being. So nothing to be scared about there, either. Some days you might want a new beginning, other days you might need a reminder that you are love. Some people pick one and stick with it, but I like to change mine to reflect what I need in that moment that day.

That's it! Having a regular meditation practice, even if it's just twice a week, helps you focus, relax and quiet over-scheduled and too-busy minds. It creates time and space for you to just be present, to be in the moment. Not thinking about what you should be doing, or have yet to do on the day's to-do list. Just a few moments for you to be with yourself in peace and breathe calmly. It's truly amazing what a meditation practice and positive mantra will do in  and for your life.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mason Jar Garden Luminary

Make these easy DIY  Mason Jar luminaries to light up your yard, courtyard or garden

I'll be honest with you: I think the whole Mason jar thing is way over done. There's Mason jar salads and overnight oats; Mason jar chandeliers, painted Mason jar lights, glitter dipped Mason jars... And on and on. Wait, I know what you're thinking! "So Paige, why are you adding to all this Mason jar noise that's already out there?" Ahh-ha! Because the actual function of the Mason jar LID works wonderfully for these garden luminaries. Read on to find out why and for the world's easiest way to make your yard, courtyard, deck, balcony or any outdoor (or indoor!) space you have a little brighter.

Yuck, that was cheesy but it literally came to me as I was writing that sentence. So I included it. And it even made it past the editing process. High standards here at An Uncomplicated Life Blog, eh?

Mmmmmk, back to the over done Mason jar DIY and why the lid is great for this particular idea. Real Mason jars have two parts to their lids; the screw on part and the flat part. If any of you crafting queens know any legit terminology for those parts, please enlighten me! For now, it's the circular screw on part and the flat part that's actually the lid. Anyway, this functionality works well for outdoor lighting because you can store them with the full lid on, and pop off the flat part when you want to light the candle and use the luminary. I like the look of the silver screw ring thingy attached, so I put that back on but you do you.

While the whole Mason jar thing is en vogue right now (thanks Joanna Gaines) most the crafts (outside of the food ones) discard the lid. But this one actually uses it, and it's two part design comes in kinda handy. Yay designs that last decades upon decades, right?!

Here's how I made these:
- 32 oz Mason jars. I like the big ones for outdoors, because we have a large courtyard to line them up along. As you can see, we also have a small(ish) 4 person table, and three of them fit nicely  on it, so this size even works for smaller spaces.
- Broken glass. Pick a color that works for your space. I liked how this color stood out against the green of our plants but didn't stick out so much that it was distracting (similar color here).
- Encased tea lights. If you don't get these, the wax will melt all over your glass and that's a bummer.

Fill Mason jars about 1/3 to halfway full with broken glass. Shake slightly to even it out. Place tea lights in and boom. You're done! You can store outside with the lid on (take the candle out - I had these in the Texas heat for an hour and the candles were all melted even though they weren't lit!) or you can store in a garage, shed or closet. If they get dirty or covered in pollen, dump the broken glass into a large bin of soapy water and wash the Mason jars in the dishwasher, then just reassemble after the glass has dried fully.

Like it? Pin it!

Easy to make, easy storage, easy maintenance and easy to use. What's not to love about this Mason jar garden luminary?!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Thoughts On Adulting

It's en vogue to say "adulting is so hard!" But is it? And what does that mean about our culture?

I haven't written a soapbox post in a good long while, and I'm excited about this one! Let's have a little chat about adulting. It's not even a real word; it's a verb that's become in fashion to describe living an adult life, filled with work, chores, trials and tribulations, children, cleaning, and on and on. You've seen it in funny Facebook memes and you've seen it screen printed on witty tee shirt sayings. Everyone seems to think "adulting" is so hard. But I'm here to tell you it's not. And I'm also here to tell you what I think this "adulting is hard" crap says about our larger culture.

Ahhhh, millennials. I qualify as one officially by two years (1982 is the first birth year of this generation, and I'm an '84 baby). I learned to type on an actual type writer and remember the days before computers were in every classroom; I certainly remember the days before the internet and not-so-fondly remember the days of the AOL dial up connection and the absolute racket it would make. So while I am a millennial by birth year standards, there's a lot I don't identify with this generation.

Needless to say, the "adulting is hard" thought process is one of them.

Cool, we got the disclosures out of the way. Allow me to now jump into the heart of this post: Millennials, ADULTING IS NOT HARD. YOU MAKE IT HARD BECAUSE YOU'VE ONLY LED AN EASY LIFE.

Read that again for a minute, and let it sink in. I know you want to punch me in the face right now, are saying, "Nuh-uhhh!" and are rolling your eyes. Hear me out for a second. Yes, you're the one who's making your life difficult. How? With your horrible attitude. Now to be fair, this attitude was instilled in you from an early age...

Why does your attitude suck? Allow me to count the ways:

1) You were given participation trophies for all events you ever took part in. 
Even I remember track and field days, and how they didn't just hand out ribbons for 1st-3rd place; no, they went all the way to 5th place and then gave every event participant a green participation ribbon. While this is now funny, and this reference over-cited with fault, here's the thing about it: You never learned to fail at something. You think if you go on a job interview, you'll get it - or something - like that's part of the process. But it's not. There are winners and losers in life. Most the time, second place doesn't matter. Second runner up as the job candidate means you're still unemployed. It means you need to try harder next time. It doesn't mean that being an adult is hard.

2) You experienced grade inflation that never taught you the value of hard work.
I remember in my senior year of high school, my honors English teacher gave me a C+. It was the only C I ever got, ever. I asked my teacher why she gave it to me, and she told me she knew I just showed up without really working; that I was much smarter than that but sometimes, you just have to put in some effort. I remember in college, I dated a TA who talked a lot about grade inflation, and about how he wanted good reviews from his students so that he'd be more likely to land a professorship when he was done with his PhD. He didn't care if a student earned the A or not; he was pulling a cover-your-a$$ move for better reviews. Millennials, I hate to tell you this, but y'all never really learned how to work hard - because you didn't have to in school. You got by. But now, as an adult, you're shocked at the "amount of work it is." It's hard to land a job and it's hard to get promoted and it's hard to get into grad school and it's hard to have a relationship and it's even harder to be married. And yeah, that IS harder than coasting your way through school without ever really needing to work for that A. But it doesn't mean that being an adult is hard.

3) You believed that if you just went to college, you'd land a great job.
AAAAHHHHAHAHAHAHA. As it turns out, no employer cares about your educational theories. They care about demonstrated results. So if you went to school and never worked or held down an internship, you're not employable upon graduation. And yeah, that means you're going to be 22 or 23 and making $9 an hour as an intern somewhere. It does not mean that being an adult is hard - it means you should have worked harder before you were depending on yourself to earn an income. But it doesn't mean that being an adult is hard.

Look, we all have hard days. There are days that I wish I could just sleep in and then spend the day watching Netflix. But having one hard day doesn't make being an adult hard. Getting up, taking care of my children, running this blog, being married, owning a home with a yard and a dog - all of that is being an adult. And while there are good days and bad days, it is not hard. So please millennials, stop making everything so "hard" and start putting as much effort into your life as you do complaining about it. When you shift that focus, you'll be surprised at how much "easier" everything becomes!