Raise the Energy of your Space

Little fact about myself: I graduated with a degree in Interior and Environmental Design. I am not trying to be biased when I say that the places and spaces we come in contact with have significant impacts on our health. During my education, I learned the psychology behind design. Ever wonder why many fast food joints use the color red? Red is a stimulating color, increasing appetite and energy, which is perfect for those grab-and-go restaurants. This is also why their signs/logos are typically red. This way, they catch your attention while driving. Another psychological fact about restaurant design; why do most people prefer booth seating? The reason relates to our primal survival instincts of safety and security. When we sit in booths, we feel more protected as opposed to sitting with our backs exposed at table seating. Fascinating no?

Outside my schooling, through my own learning, I discovered how not only can spaces impact our mental and physical wellbeing, but our energy and souls. Everything is connected. You may have heard of Feng Shui, and how the arrangement of furniture and use of shapes, elements, and color can affect the energy of a space. This ancient practice is one way that helps balance and heighten the Chi, or energy, which in return affects our physical bodies and mind.

While the art of traditional Feng Shui is very extensive, anyone can increase the vibrations of their space. Here are some simple tips and tricks that I have come across for increasing the vibrations and giving balance to one’s space:

1. Declutter: A messy space disrupts the flow of energy, causing mental stress in the process. A tidy space allows the energy to flow smoothly and brings peace of mind.

2. Utilize the five senses: Often times, we focus our attention on visual aspects. While ascetics can raise the vibrations of a space, we shouldn’t forget our other senses. Find and add different textures to stimulate your sense of touch. Have incense, fragrant candles, and/or potpourri to incorporate your sense of smell, and play music to impact your sense of sound. For taste, there isn’t much that can be done, but sometimes our sense of smell affects our tastebuds. They key is to incorporate more of our senses than just sight.

3. Notice the corners: Energy tends to sit and stagnate in the corners of a room when these spaces are empty. Adding an arrangement or furniture to the corners of a space allows the energy to flow freely again.

4. Add some crystals: Crystals give off their own vibrations, which can increase the energy of your space. Different stones give off different energies, such as Amethyst can increase peaceful energies (which would be perfect for a bedroom), while Citrine brings wealth and prosperity in a space (good for a office/work environment). When placing stones in your space, I recommend larger specimens, ideally clusters since they radiate their energy in all directions as opposed to small tumbled stones that are meant more for personal, hand-held use.

Celestite is a high vibrational stone and is great for a meditation room.

Celestite is a high vibrational stone and is great for a meditation room.

5. Add some plants: Like crystals, plants give off energy as well. Studies have shown that plants actually help with mental health, reducing stress and depression. They also help with physical health in a number of ways, from reducing colds to helping with allergies. Acting as air purifiers, they are a wonderful addition to any space.

6. Add a Himalayan Salt Lamp: Our bodies naturally release positive ions in the air, and if unchecked, overtime this can lead to allergens to form in the space, causing respiratory problems. Salt lamps release negative ions, which counteract and balance out the positive ions we emit. Plus, the soft warm glow these lamps produce has very soothing effects as well.himalayan_salt_lamp_mini

7. Decorate: I feel that this tip is a given, but non-the-less, it is important to emphasize how you want to add your personal touch to a space, thus adding your energy. Picture frames, personal knick-knacks, and other accessories that resonate with you can increase the energy of a space. Don’t forget neglected areas, such as adding wall art and rugs.

Be creative and have fun! If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer. Namaste.


The Power of Yoga

When I was in high school, I was very inactive. The only exercise I got was in my mandatory gym classes and water polo, my sport of choice. Then I graduated high school and my first two years of college were even more so inactive. I did not have a gym class or sports team to keep my healthy and in shape. Naturally, I put on weight and started to lose muscle form in my body. To put it delicately, I “let myself go”. Byyyyye body. My junior and senior year, I tinkered with was to exercise, from running like a rat on an elliptical, to swimming laps in the pool. Nothing really clicked with me, and I was doing these exercises more to lose weight rather than for the enjoyment of the activity. After college, I discovered yoga. A while back, I thought it would be an interesting activity to try. I started myself off with Erin Motz’s DoYouYoga 30 Day Challenge. This gave me the task to finish it through to the end (thanks OCD for this one). At the end of 30 Days, I was a new yogi junkie. I never realized how many amazing benefits there are to yoga, and this activity has been a wonderful, positive change in my life that has helped me in many ways.

Here are some amazing benefits that I discovered about yoga:

1. It is a Great Form of Exercise: I used to be under the assumption that yoga was just some white girl workout that woman did for social bonding rather than actual exercise. Boy was I wrong. Yoga has helped me tone and tighten my entire body, building my muscles through the various poses. That is one great thing about yoga…it works your whole body. Not only is it good for toning, but it can be a cardio workout as well, especially when doing one-breath sequences or vinyasas. Granted, this type of cardio isn’t equal to running, but I have found myself with a racing heart at the end of some of these videos.

2. It Helps you Relax:  Some yoga poses can be quite relaxing and sleep inducing, but the relaxing qualities of yoga do not stop there. Yoga has also helped ease my overactive mind. When doing yoga, I shift my attention to my body, keeping my posture correct, taking deep breaths, and being aware of any tightness in my muscles. I am listening to my body. This is a form of mindfulness for me, and I can fully enjoy the moment when I am practicing yoga.

3. Amazing Health Benefits: Due to it’s stupendous versatility, yoga can help with many different types of chronic disease and improve your overall health. Yoga has been shown to help with reducing heart disease and high blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression, as well as pain relief and aiding insomnia. One of Erin’s videos is about twist poses. Doing twist poses helps with digestion and increasing your metabolism. There are also poses for balance and flexibility.

4. Connected me to my Chi: Whether it’s Chi or Chakras, yoga has allowed me to connect with my energy field. Through focused yoga/meditation, I have been strengthening my energies and energizing them too. There are great poses, such as warrior poses, that give me this powerful energy. There is also specific yoga, such as kundalini yoga, which awakens the energies within us from the root to the crown chakra. I have even placed healing crystals and stones on my yoga mat to connect to a specific chakra, or on a nice sunny day, I take my mat outside and get the added benefits of nature to energize and strengthen my chakras.

5. Increases your self-esteem: For me, yoga was this amazing tool that not only transformed my body, but my mind as well. My mood improved dramatically and I can’t quite explain why. Perhaps it was the fact that is shifted my attention outside of my mind and let it focus on the present, that it made me pay attention to the tiny details, that it toned my body, helped me sleep, relieved my achy body…I could go on. Like I said, yoga has been this life altering practice that has impacted every part of my being: body, mind, and soul.

I encourage you to try Do You Yoga’s 30 Day challenge, or any form of yoga to get you started. Take a class, look for a video on youtube, whatever your method maybe, and watch this activity work its wonders on you!


Eco-savvy: How To Become More Environmentally Conscious

I have always been a little more environmentally active that most people I have come in contact with in my life. I grew up with former quasi-hippy parents who believed in recycling and saving energy. I have a compost area behind the shed in my backyard. I brought my lunch to school in lunch bins instead of paper bags. Having this seed of being environmentally responsible early on in my life, I wanted to continue and strengthen my ideals in preserving our blue pollution artand green planet. This has been one area I have been improving recently. My concern for the environment strongly ties into my spirituality. I am very passionate about nature, from the plants to the animals. Being outside in nature has helped heal my spirit in ways no modern medicine ever could. I owe my life to nature. Not just my mental well-being, but my physical self as well, through the air I breath and the food I eat. Naturally, I want to protect and preserve the thing that has helped me so much in my health. I am optimistic, and truly believe if everyone plays their part and pitches in, we can save our planet. It seems overwhelming to think of all the possible change one should make in order to be more environmentally conscious, but even the smallest of changes can make a difference. Like I believe, transformation is just a series of small changes that overtime add up. Not only does being eco-savvy sound like a hot designer trend, but it can help reduce the harm done to our planet. So how does one become eco-savvy? Here are four simple ways to start you off:

  1. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: This motto has been around since I was a child. Even though it would be preferred to purchase and have products that are biodegradable and do not end up in a landfill or our oceans, when disposing of a product, remember the Three Rs. Can this item be reduced? Maybe instead of buying individual packs of yogurt, you opt to reduce the plastic waste and get the quart sized container. Can this item be reused? That old tee-shirt that has a ketchup stain or hole in it can be reused as a cleaning cloth, or that empty jam jar can be repurposed into a candle votive. Reusing/repurposing is a great way to get those creative juices flowing! Lastly, can it be recycled? Look for that triangle on the bottom of plastic containers and recycle whatever you can! Recycle not only plastic but other items as well. Donate your clothes and furniture to thrift stores such as GoodWill and the Salvation Army. One man’s trash is another one’s treasure.
  2. MAKING SIMPLE SWITCHES:  By making tiny changes into your everyday life, you can seriously reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our eco-systems. Each year America throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups. And that material doesn’t degrade, so in 500 years from now, that coffee cup you used will still be sitting in a landfill somewhere. Make simple switches. Use paper disposable products if need be. Instead of using paper towels, which aid in deforestation (come on, we need those trees for oxygen), use cloth dish towels and rags. Instead of plastic water bottles, bring a reusable one (BPA free plastic, glass, or stainless steel). Buy products that are made from recycled materials. There are tons of simple switches that anyone can incorporate into their daily life.
  3. DON’T UPGRADE: Each year, new models of technological products, from cell-phones to blenders come out in stores. We are a society that wants NEW NEW NEW, even when the old works perfectly fine. You know that saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well think about that every time a new product/gadget comes out. It will not only help save the environment by reducing the amount of stuff that gets discarded, but it will also help save you money as well. Win win.
  4. EDUCATE YOURSELF: Knowledge is power. The more you are informed, the easier it is to stick to these environmentally conscious switches. Learning and being aware of the detriments done to the environment by the waste we produce is extremely eye-opening and can make someone stop and think about what harm we are doing to our planet. Research and search the internet for some facts and insights on this matter. The EPA has some good facts about waste. If you are looking to make a difference, Conservation International or other non-profit organizations are ways to not only learn, but make changes through donations and becoming involved.

There are SO many ways to become more eco-savvy. Like I said, tiny changes that you implement into your daily life can slowly transform you as well as the world. For me, being more environmentally aware, fills me with an enormous sense of joy and pride, because I know that I am doing something good for the world. It shifts my attention away from me as an individual and focuses it more so on the collective whole. It shifts my perspective and broadens my understanding of how we are all connected. I will leave you with a Native American quote that speaks the truth of why we must take care of our planet:

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”

Farmer’s Markets and Gardens

So I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning. There is something about the small tables scattered with vegetables so freshly picked that they still have dirt on them that invoke my warm and fuzzies. I am a big veggie-aholic. They are packed with so much nutrients, and I can really feel the effects of these great properties when I eat them. In the late spring, my family plants our vegetable garden, so in the summer, we are blessed with an abundance of tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, and a variety of leafy greens. Not only are these veggies fresh and at the peak of their nutritional splendor when we eat them, but it certainly cuts down our grocery bill! It’s also so nice not having to drive to the store for these ingredients. I simply just walk outside and *pluck*. Having a garden or even a community garden is a great way to save money, get delicious and nutritious foods, and connect to mother nature. Gardens take a good amount of work to maintain…from watering, tilling, pulling out weeds, etc., but they are so worth it! If gardens are too much upkeep for you, I suggest buying locally and stopping by your farmer’s market. Here are five benefits of going to the farmer’s market:

1. Fresh and Nutrition-packed Produce

Buying from a farmer, you are getting fruits and veggies that are picked at the peak of their ripeness, ensuring the best flavor and nutritional benefits that these products have to offer. Generally, when you buy from a supermarket or grocery store, these products are picked before they have fully matured so that they are able to arrive at the stores and sit for a couple of days, meaning you lose out on a lot of nutritional benefits this way.

2. Organic Produce

When you go to a farmer’s market, you are getting a selection of organic foods that are GMO and pesticide free. Eating produce sprayed with chemicals and unnatural products has serious side effects on our organ health, such as cancer. There have been over 260 studies that have linked cancer to agrochemicals. Eating organically, you are choosing to eat safe and reduce your risk of these diseases.

3. Help the Environment

When buying locally, you are helping to reduce the impact of CO2 omissions that are produced when transporting produce. Since these are local farms, there is less travel, hence a reduced impact on our environment. There is also a reduce of package waste that goes into farmer’s markets as well. Most farmers display their produce in crates and paper bins, leaving non-biodegradable plastic out of the mix.

4. Support your Community

When you buy from a farmer, you are helping support their way of life. Giving back to small farms allows this produce to keep coming in, and you are helping strengthen your community by helping them out. Meet new people, chit-chat with the farmers, and build your relationships with them and your community!

5. Adorable Date Idea

Okay, so this isn’t a “major” benefit, but going to the farmer’s market is such a cute date idea. It’s fun, unique, and there are a lot of things to see. Buy some vegetables with your bae, and go home to cook up a delicious and nutritious meal together!

You Are What You Eat

One of the many things that has helped in my self-growth and positive mindset is learning the importance of healthy eating. Through my teenage years, I was quite an unhealthy eater. I followed the ban wagon of Doritos and Coke. Even though my family made balanced meals containing all the food groups, I would pass on the vegetables and load up on the simple carbs such as dinner rolls and pasta. Not only did eating like this make me gain unnecessary weight, but I was moody, lethargic, and overall unhealthy. I found myself running out of breath faster than my peers and I just had this negative mood.

After college, I started to adapt healthy eating habits. I would eat balanced meals containing complex carbs, lean proteins, and lots of vegetables. I ditched the sugary processed foods and switched to clean eating. My weight shifted back to a healthy one and I was left with tons of energy and a much more positive attitude. I never thought that my diet was one of the reasons I was unhappy, but like that saying goes, “you are what you eat”. Before, I was eating crappy foods that had no nutritional benefits. It was all artificial and chemically treated. Since switching to food actually found in nature, such as nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables, I have noticed my physical and mental health increasing dramatically. I took the time and invested in my body. I learned about proper nutrition and the benefits I can get from specific foods. I am only 22, but due to healthier eating, I feel like I am six years old again. I have so much energy! I am like a little energizer bunny rabbit (rightly so because of all the vegetables I eat). I also am in the best mindset I have ever been in. I have so much joy and positivity. I don’t feel tired and lazy after I eat (I also watch portions). And one of the secrets to my success is natural foods. These foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that help our health, both mentally and physically. You can’t find these from a packaged meal. The best way to harness these benefits is straight from eating these foods in the cleanest state possible. Now when I say clean, I mean don’t expect to eat a banana that’s deep-fried in sugar and consider it healthy. Eating these foods without the added factors of sugar and oils are the best way to get those wonderful health benefits! Same goes for vegetables. When you cook vegetables, you are actually stripping away their benefits, so like this little rabbit says, “raw is better”.

I’d like to share a personal story about how poor diet can affect someone. It is no surprise that Americans struggle with diabetes, heart disease and obesity considering our food choices. People would rather take convenience of getting fast food than taking the time to make a proper meal. And over time, our bodies become addicted to this type of eating. Sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine. Fun fact. I really can’t look at candy the same way again knowing that….

Anyways, my grandfather had horrible eating habits. His diet consisted of pizza, donuts, potato chips, and soda. I think vegetables and fruits were a foreign language to him. Not only was he obese, but he suffered from heart issues and diabetes. That was only the physical symptoms. Mentally, he was cranky, moody and had a very negative attitude about life. I feel bad saying all of these things, because I know he wasn’t always like this. Not saying his poor eating habits were the only reason he was like the way he was, but they did have an influence. He past away last Thanksgiving day due to a heart attack. He was 75 years old. Years of unhealthy eating had shortened his life, giving him a list of health problems both physical and mental. I remember that moment too well and am left to think of how different things could have been if he had chosen the life style of eating properly…

Not to scare anyone straight with that story, but it just shows the affects of the saying “you are what you eat”. I have made the switch to healthy eating and feel the best I have ever felt. It wasn’t easy changing my ways, but drastic change is never really easy. If anyone wants to improve their health and wants yummy nutritious recipes, I invite you to check out my Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tortuga_de_lune/. I have multiple boards that have delicious recipes I have come across. I haven’t tried them all, so if you decide to try a recipe, let me know what you think! As always, have a wonderful day!

The Importance of Nature

The serenity of the creek near my house

Most of us live in cities or suburbs, detached from nature with the exception of forest preserves and parks that are dotted within our radius. With spring in the air, and summer approaching, more and more people are venturing out of their homes to enjoy the lovely weather. I am one of those people. Even though I would face the harsh Illinois winter weather to explore the forest preserve near my house, I must say it is easier to do now that it isn’t a balmy 20 degrees with six inches of snow on the ground.

I love exploring the forests and being out in nature. Growing up, my family vacations consisted of camping trips to Wisconsin or Missouri. My backyard was my playground. Climbing trees and catching frogs in the marsh behind my house were my pastimes (okay, I still will do that). While I have strong connections to growing up surrounded by nature, for a while, I lost touch with the earth. I would spend my days inside binge watching Netflix episodes and staring at a computer screen. Needless to say, it was an unhappy time for me. I felt lost and detached from the world around me. I was alive, but I wasn’t living.

Nature has been a great asset for my mental health. When I am out in nature, my senses are heightened and I feel alive and living in the moment. My thoughts about the past and future cease, and I just enjoy the here and now. I am aware of the terrain beneath my feet, the sounds of the birds within the trees, and the smells of the spring flowers budding. Every breath is a new discovery to behold. There is always something new to see and I am hardly bored when I am surrounded by the plants and wildlife.

Nature also reminds me that we as a planet are all connected. In today’s society we are so wrapped up in our own minds, rarely do we stop and think about this concept of “oneness”. What we say and do has deeper affects than most of us realize. Being in nature, I see coexistence. The oak tree that shades the forest floor, gives us oxygen, and provides a home to the birds and critters. Or that creek that houses fresh water and harbors life under it’s surface. Everything has a purpose. This idea I take back into the man-made world. I become aware that it is not just me on this beautiful planet. Earth houses so much life, and we all call this place our home. Nature reminds me to not only think of others and how our lives are interconnected, but to think of the living creatures that don’t have a voice, and how our actions affect their lives as well.

I will leave you with a poem that I wrote, capturing my love of nature. I encourage you to get outside today and feel this wonderful experience for yourself!!!

Lose yourself, To a bluebird's song. Or perhaps a morning dove's, Beneath the towering trees. Where the scents of foliage, An aroma of oak and lily, Blossom in the breeze. Succumb to the softness, Of soil damp and rich, The moments all seize, Find yourself.

Lose yourself,
To a bluebird’s song.
Or perhaps a morning dove’s,
Beneath the towering trees.
Where the scents of foliage,
An aroma of oak and lily,
Blossom in the breeze.
Succumb to the softness,
Of soil damp and rich,
The moments all seize,
Find yourself.

Hug a Tree

Arteries of a Tree

Today is Earth Day! Hazzah! I am very excited about this because even though I practice respecting the planet and honoring Mother Earth day to day, today is a day that raises the awareness to other people who may not be practicing these beliefs. It is very important, I feel, to recognize the Earth as a living being (because it is). Many people seem to not think about their actions and how they affect the planet:  using plastic, littering, wasting energy, etc. Today is a great day to spread the message of preserving and protecting our planet to these people.

I encourage everyone to do your part today to make this world a little healthier! Recycle, plant a tree, bike instead of driving your car to work, turn off your lights after leaving the room….any little bit helps! Our actions today have an equal or opposite reaction in the future (Newton’s Third Law people). Okay, sure he was talking about physics, but think about it…if we do a good deed for the planet today, we maybe prone to doing another good deed in the future…and another…and another! We may start to notice a change in ourselves and the environment. Take this Earth day to start making a change! Be that change! I leave you with this piece of Native American Wisdom:

When the blood in your veins returns to the sea,
and the earth in your bones returns to the ground,
perhaps then you will remember,
that this land does not belong to you,
it is you who belongs to the land

Happy Earth Day!