New Year, New You? How about "New Year, Whole You" instead? Rather than trading in my "old" self for a newer, fresher, resolution-enhanced version, I'm stepping toward wholeness (in mind, body, and spirit). If this sounds like something you might be interested in, then keep on reading. Below you'll find a list of my favorite resources + tips to foster a sense of wholeness, contentment, and well-being in the new year.
Note: I have personally listened to, appreciated, used, read, purchased, or implemented each and every thing listed below completely on my own accord (i.e., nothing is sponsored or promoted and those aren't affiliate links). Figured a disclaimer might be warranted given the abundant (okay, excessive) number of links I included in order to pay homage to these lovely people // businesses.
Podcasts have transformed both my commute and my life over the past year. What started out as jumping on the Serial bandwagon quickly unfolded into a daily and life-changing routine, and I've eagerly consumed hundreds of podcast episodes. I typically tune in as I'm commuting to//from work, but on days I'm not commuting, I'll occasionally listen on my phone or computer as I recipe test and edit photos. Below you'll find a small collection of my favorite podcast series along with a few inspiring episodes from each.
The Lively Show by Jess Lively // Episodes to inspire: #88 with Lynn Robinson on intuition | #73 with Jonathan Fields on possibility + the flip side of uncertainty | #85 with Alisa Vitti on optimizing hormones through foods + habits | #87 with Brooke Castillo on changing negative thought patterns + understanding the ego
One Part Podcast by Jessica Murnane // Episodes to inspire: #38 with Isabel Foxen Duke on intuitive eating + learning to love your body | #26 with Bryant Terry on investing in yourself + the power of good food #23 with Mariah Naella on redefining the traditional family + raising a pigeon (seriously, it will warm your heart) | #27 with Laura Wright of The First Mess on doing what you're born to do (plus, she's just so darn cool)
The GoodLife Project with Jonathan Fields // Episodes to inspire: #96 with Brene Brown on gratitude, vulnerability, and courage | #32 with Elizabeth Gilbert on the creative life | #28 with Todd Henry on cultivating your authentic voice
The One You Feed by Eric Zimmer + Chris Forbes // #89 with Todd Henry on developing your authentic voice | #06 with Todd Henry on "dying empty" (sounds morbid but it's not at all) | #17 with Rich Roll on his transformative path to health + becoming a vegan ultra-endurance athlete
The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry -- if you haven't figured it out yet, I truly admire this brilliant man // honestly, all of Todd's episodes are inspiring. He has plenty of quick listens (5-10 minutes) with small bites of inspiration as well as longer interviews to drive messages home.
Other podcasts I love // to inspire the mind//calm the soul: The Tim Ferris Show + The Rich Roll Podcast + Happier with Gretchen Rubin | to ponder: On Being especially the episodes on Dark Matter with Lisa Randall (if you're fascinated by cosmology, you'll love listening to Lisa's brilliant mind at work)
Too often when the going gets busy, we forget to care for our mind; however, it's so, so important. I once heard someone (I think on a podcast, actually) compare meditation to brushing your teeth -- it might not be the thing you want to do most, but it's an absolutely necessary part of mental hygiene.
With the fast pace of 2015, I fell out of my regular meditation practice for a large chunk of the year. By the time September rolled around, I was in serious need of some daily Om time, but I kept skipping it altogether because I couldn't find 30 minutes each day to dedicate. However, 10 minutes a day seemed completely feasible, so I started using Headspace, a guided meditation app with 10-minute meditations, and was able to reincorporate meditation back into my evening routine. Now that I have a bit more time again, I've been alternating between 20-minute meditations through Oprah + Deepak's Meditation Experience + 10-minute meditations through Headspace. And it feels good to be back.
Regular exercise has truly been a life-changing habit in terms of supporting my mood, mental clarity, motivation, energy, and overall outlook on life. Sure, the physical changes of regular exercise are an added perk, but it's the cognitive and emotional benefits that have kept me movin' and sweatin' on a regular basis for the past 8 years.
If you only have the time/energy to make one change this year, make this one. Don't throw yourself into a wildly demanding exercise regimen, start small (real small) and build the habit over time. If you don't workout at all, literally start by committing to just getting yourself to the gym/home workout space 3 times a week. When you get there, don't workout, just stay for 5 minutes. Do this for as long as it takes you to feel that you've developed the habit and then move to working out for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and so on.
With the exception of yoga classes, I've found that I prefer to workout at home, so that's what I do. When I've had gym memberships in the past, I felt an immense sense of guilt when I didn't go, yet it was always a challenge to get myself out the door. Guilt + resistance = no good. Plus, I'm more likely to push myself, grunt, and make ridiculous faces from the comforts of our living room where my only witness is Jack, our sweet orange tabby cat.
My favorite (and only) workout tools | 1 set of 5 pound weights (liftin' big) + 1 set of 8 pound weights + a yoga mat for at-home practice (and classes) + fitnessblender.com's free hiit and strength training workouts.
If you need more convincing about the effects of exercise on cognition and emotional wellness, I strongly recommend reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey. It's eye-opening and change-invoking.
1| Intuitive Session with Lynn Robinson // I know this might seem a little woo woo, but hear me out for a minute. I first heard about Lynn Robinson when Jess Lively interviewed her for The Lively Show (episode linked above) this past fall. It was at a point when I was seeking clarity and affirmation regarding a variety of life-related decisions. Although it probably sounds silly, I had literally been asking "the universe" to send me a sign regarding one decision in particular, and when I listened to Lynn's interview, I knew this was the sign (or the means to it). I'm typically prone to wishy-washy decision making, but I was immediately and absolutely certain that I needed to speak to Lynn. I made an appointment and spoke with her just two weeks later, and it turned out to be one of the most affirming, life-changing conversations I've ever had. If you're seeking clarity about something and you have the means to invest in a conversation with Lynn, I honestly and wholeheartedly recommend going for it.
2 | Training in something you love // This is a bit broad, but I feel it's worth a mention. I really enjoy learning new things, be it through documentaries, reading, research, or simply chasing curiosity down an unexplored path. Early in 2015, I found myself itching to learn more about plant-based eating, and I decided to jump into a certificate course in plant-based nutrition. I started the first of three two-week classes just as I was diving face-first into book photography. Despite the less than stellar timing on my part, it was so inspiring to be a "student" again, and I managed to complete the program by early fall. It wasn't always easy to make time to sit down with the material, but it was absolutely worth it. If you're feeling a bit stagnant or simply want to deepen your passion//interest//knowledge in a particular subject area, consider taking a class or enrolling in a program. It's incredibly gratifying to nourish curiosity and passion through learning + exploration. On my list this year? Training to become a certified yoga instructor. After dawdling for a few years, I've recently felt a strong urge to cast my doubts aside and just go for it (and even received a small sign of affirmation when a fellow vegan blogger reached out and mentioned that she was a certified yoga instructor).
3| Grown-Up Coloring Books // I recently purchased this grown-up coloring book along with a slew of colored pencils, pens + markers, and I've been coloring for about 30 minutes each night to decompress and relax. After moving at such a speedy pace over the past year, I've actually found it difficult to unwind. It's almost like I forgot how to relax. A strange feeling considering that not that many years ago, I squeezed a daily, 1-hour nap into my schedule. Since coloring is calming yet active, this coloring book has been a wonderful tool to transition back into daily relaxation. If you're having trouble slowing down or are looking for a fun way to veg-out, this is a great way to do it.
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." -- Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet." -- James Oppenheim
"The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thoughts, 'I'll get around to that tomorrow.' One day, however, their tomorrows ran." -- Todd Henry, Die Empty
"Say yes to the small inklings of interest and curiosity that present themselves each day." -- Lynn A. Robinson, Divine Intuition
"You are going somewhere. Every day. Every experience you get. You're moving forward." -- Jimmy Chin
"There's no need to wait for the bad things and bullsh*t to be over. Change now. Love now. Live now. Don't wait for people to give you permission to live, because they won't." -- Kris Carr
“Picture yourself when you were five. In fact, dig out a photo of little you at that time and tape it to your mirror. How would you treat her, love her, feed her? How would you nurture her if you were the mother of little you? I bet you would protect her fiercely while giving her space to spread her itty-bitty wings. She’d get naps, healthy food, imagination time, and adventure into the wild. If playground bullies hurt her feelings, you’d hug her tears away and give her perspective. When tantrums or meltdowns turned her into a poltergeist, you’d demand a loving time-out in the naughty chair. From this day forward I want you to extend that same compassion to your adult self.” -- Kris Carr