Tuesday, 18 February 2014

My Love Affair with Meditation

For many years, I've practiced yoga and enjoyed the many health benefits that come with it - both physically and mentally. In my yoga practice, I've always incorporated a short meditation session to end my practice. Meditation has not been an easy practice for me. I always found it to be very difficult to quiet my mind and just focus on my body and my breathing. 

Recently, I've found myself bogged down with a great deal of stress which yoga simply could not alleviate. My stress continued to grow into anxiety and well, things only got worse from there. My Naturopath suggested that I try meditation. I figured, why not give it a try again and see if I can master my extremely busy mind.

With a little practice, and a self-guided meditation video, I've been enjoying the amazing benefits of meditation. I realize that this practice is not for everyone and many of you may roll your eyes at the thought of practicing what some see as silly fluff. I'm here to tell you that with only a few short minutes every day, you can really begin to control your stress, better your health and have an overall more positive life! (yes, meditation can really do that!)

If you can find even just 5 minutes to sneak away in a day, then you have time to meditate!

Meditation has been shown to not only decrease stress, but has also been linked to several other health benefits. Daily meditation has become such a big part of my life and I can honestly say that it changes my mood, my ability to handle stressful situations and my overall sense of well being.

"But I don't have time to meditate!"
I know you might be thinking, "Kim, are you crazy? I've got kids, work, a house to keep up, I don't have time to step away and meditate." Meditation doesn't have to take long. Even if you can manage to step away and find a quiet space (or use headphones) for 5 minutes, you can begin to feel some great benefits from meditation. Quiet your mind, breath deeply and enjoy a relaxing moment.

Tip: Don't have time to meditate when you get home from work? Many workplaces have meditation or quiet rooms that you can use to take time for yourself. Step away for 10 minutes, breath deeply and you'll come out of the room ready to take on whatever your boss has to throw at you. 

 "I've never meditated before"
No problem! Aside from very short meditation during my yoga practice, I had never meditated either - especially not in my home without the guide of my yoga teacher. To the internet I went! I went on to YouTube and searched 'self guided meditation' and found many different types of meditation videos - some for anxiety, relationships, stress or simple relaxation.  Find a video you like, shut yourself away in a quiet room, seat yourself on a comfortable chair supported by cushions (or you could lay down on a couch or bed), plug your earphones in, close your eyes and do your best to shut off your mind and follow the guided meditation. You'll awaken 30 minutes later refreshed, with a quiet mind and calm spirit. You might even feel a little sleepy! Here is a link to my current favorite video by Kelly Howell

Everyone has a different reason for meditating: reducing stress, quieting the inner chatter, helping with sleep, reducing anxiety, or just because you enjoy it! No matter why you do it, remember some of the amazing health benefits that these quiet moments can bring you:

1. It lowers stress (really!)
I have found that with continued meditation, I can feel existing stress melt away and my ability to prevent new stresses from taking a toll on me getting stronger. I feel calmer, more clear headed and more able to take on life's daily stresses.

2. Your body will thank you
There are so many physiological benefits that come with meditation. The moment I've completed a session, I can feel that my heart rate is lowered, I have little to no tension or pain in my body, I feel more positive and uplifted and suddenly feel full of energy (who needs Red Bull!).  

- lowers high blood pressure
- lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
- decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
- increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
- improves the immune system 

- increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy

3. Break the mental fog
Before I started meditating, my overwhelmingly stressed out brain felt like it was constantly in a fog. I was very forgetful, found it so difficult to focus, lacked creativity and the ability to critically think through situations. Because of this fog, I found myself reacting to simple situations and just simply unable to handle minimal stress. Meditation has really helped me clear my mind and I feel so much more focused and clear headed - I can remember what I have to do in a day, I get tasks completed and can actually think through a situation before becoming overwhelmed and potentially overacting. 

- anxiety decreases
- emotional stability improves
- creativity increases
- happiness increases

- intuition develops
- gain clarity and peace of mind
- problems become smaller

These are just some of the amazing benefits that you can expect through meditation. I know that after only a few short weeks of dedicated practice, that I'm already enjoying so many of these benefits. Meditation isn't a cure all - but it really is such a great step to take to bring yourself into a quieter and happier place. Try it - at first, you might find it challenging to turn off your mind, but stick with it and in a short time you'll find yourself more able to relax and enjoy the benefits of meditation.  

I hope that you'll give it a try or in the words of Sheldon Cooper, you might still believe that "meditation is nothing by hokum".

Monday, 3 February 2014

Finding Vintage Items for your Wedding

We are reaching the 5 months mark to our big day! (eek!) Where has the time gone..? Since the moment I started planning my wedding, I knew that I wanted to incorporate as many vintage pieces as I could, while still keeping my 'modern man' happy. For months now, I've been searching far and wide for great vintage details that I could add in to my special day. 

This process has proved to be a little more difficult than I originally thought it would be - especially considering that I own a vintage business myself. After many months, I do have most of my items in place, but I continue to search for more. 

If you're also looking to add in some vintage touches, here are my top 4 places to search!

Stop #1: Estate Sales / Garage Sales
Hauls from a great estate sale!

This is where I started my search. Each weekend, I can usually be found driving around stopping at every yard sale I see or standing in line at 7am for a great estate sale. Now, you may hit a few of these and find nothing, but all it takes is that one great find to make it all worth while. Garage sales and estate sales are a great place to find unique pieces at a fabulous price! Every week, I search through our local newspapers, online ads and specific estate sale companies that I like to see what sales are happening that weekend. Most will provide descriptions and even pictures so you can choose to go to the ones that offer items you're interested in. Don't forget to bring cash and your patience! 

Stop #2: Vintage Shops or Thrift Stores

I have several amazing vintage shops that I frequent - both online and in store. Look online for shops that might be in your neighborhood. Staff are so knowledgeable and can help you find what you are looking for - even if they don't have it in stock. The great thing about buying from most vintage shops is that you can still barter no matter what the sticker price is. Buying multiple items? See if they'll give you a package price! Some vintage stores will even let you rent the pieces rather than buy them. I also like to hit up my local thrift stores for some great deals! Don't forgot to look online! Etsy has some amazing vintage shops that offer unique finds that might just be perfect for your special day. 

Stop #3: Vintage Rental Companies
These companies have been growing in abundance of the past few years as more and more brides are going 'vintage'. Some offer decor services on top of the vintage rentals and others offer simply an opportunity to rent their pieces. These companies can make your life a lot easier! Simply go through their catalog or visit their in person studio, pick out what you want, pay for it and that's it! You don't have to rummage through garage sales or online ads - they do it all for you! 

Stop #4: Friends & Family

My mothers beautiful milk glass!
One of my first stops was my mother's kitchen cupboards because I knew she had some amazing vintage milk glass bottles. I immediately stole them! Yoink! Ask around with friends and family - especially grandmothers and aunts. They might have some great pieces that could just add a really special touch to your day like an old vintage frame or dish. You can't beat free and it would be nice to feature some family heirlooms.