Posts tagged Super Simple
Creativity on Crappy Days

I'm working on keeping this blog as real time as possible. As I mentioned in my last post, the intensity of René's film project can be felt in our home. In some cases, this has translated into restless nights, sleepless nights or nights spent waking up to 2am emergency phone calls. I'm the kind of creature who functions very poorly when I don't get a good night's sleep. One of my least favorite sensations is feeling tired and moving through my day after a night of less-than-adequate sleep is a real struggle for me. 

When I'm feeling this way it can be very tempting to curl up into a little ball (either literally or metaphorically, depending on where I am at a given moment), abandon all attempts at being creative, and comfort myself with mindless distractions like social media or Netflix. But this approach brings short term fulfillment at best, and I'm still left stuck facing my crappy day. 

Ultimately I know that my real happy place is my creative space. This internal state where my inspiration and ideas flow to me and I mold them into being through my words, my body, or some other medium; depending on what I'm working on at that time. Often times, tapping into this space allows me to move beyond whatever funk I'm feeling. 

So I've come up with some tools & practices that help me find this place, even when my body and my mind want to be elsewhere. Here they are: 

1) Moving Slowly

When I'm not feeling so great, I allow myself to move through all of my daily activities with extra slowness, whether I'm taking a shower or brewing a cup of coffee. Sometimes I'll pair my slow movement with my breath or even get my Ujjayi* or ocean breath on. This sounds a little funny (picture me breathing Darth Vader like while I'm brewing a cup of coffee), and I've definitely gotten a few quizzical looks from the hubby. But it helps me re-center and become more integrated in my body again. When I do this, I kind of feel like I'm meditating or doing yoga, without actually being on my mat or my cushion. 

2) Sipping on Ginger or Peppermint Tea

These are my go-to teas when I'm looking for a reset. Here's a little bit about them: 

Ginger

According to Chinese medicine, ginger restores Yang, or "hot energy" and revs up your circulation (2), making it particularly effective when you're feeling sluggish or stagnant but still want to tap into your creative energy. 

How To Prepare:

Because ginger is a root, ginger tea is prepared by making a decoction. This means that you boil the tea rather than simply steeping it, as you would with teas made using leaves or flowers. Wash a large piece of organic ginger root. Add approx. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped ginger root to 3 cups spring water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for another 15 minutes. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy. This will yield a good-sized batch. If your tea is too strong, you can always dilute it with some water. I like to pour any leftover tea into a jar and store it in the fridge; it's also really yummy chilled! 

Peppermint

Peppermint tea really helps to kick my brain into creative top gear. What I love about peppermint is that it is simultaneously relaxing and focus-boosting. The menthol in peppermint relaxes your muscles, which also leads to overall mental and emotional relaxation. And studies carried out by the University of Cincinnati have found that the scent of menthol stimulates the hippocampus, which is the memory center of the brain (3). 

How to Prepare:

Unlike ginger tea, peppermint tea is prepared by making a infusion: Bring two cups of spring water to boil. Remove from heat. Add either 1/2 cup fresh peppermint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain tea & enjoy the sense of calming focus that'll envelop you! 

3) Soaking up Sunshine

photo by:  Zwaddi

photo by: Zwaddi

The sun is one of my go-to tools when I feel like I need a boost.  Even just five minutes (ideally wearing as little clothing as possible so you can really soak up those rays) can have an immensely energizing and revitalizing effect and can literally transform how you feel for the rest of your day. Check out my Daily Essentials post for some more info on sunshine soaking. 

4) A Little Bit of Movement

Part of getting myself out of whatever funk that I'm in is stirring up, moving around and releasing whatever energy I'm carrying. Even when I'm not in the mood for a full-blown workout, a short walk or some gentle yoga can work wonders. Check out the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube if you're looking for some inspiration, it's one of my faves. 

5) Changing Environments

photo by:  Kris Atomic

photo by: Kris Atomic

I've noticed that my funky feelings tend to spread into my environment. At which point I'll begin to feel like I'm wallowing in a stew of toxic thoughts and low energy. No bueno. When this starts to happen, I know it's time to open those windows, air it out, burn some incense. And, ideally, take it a step further and switch environments altogether. A new environment carries new and fresh energy, which supports the process of getting into a different energetic space internally.  Sometimes I'll treat myself to my favorite coffee shop. Or it can even be something  simpler like running a fun errand like grocery shopping (that is, if grocery shopping is your idea of fun =)). Oftentimes, stepping into a new environment of my choosing, or even just the act of driving or walking there, will make me feel energized and refreshed and eager to delve back into my creative work. 

Now for some words of comfort before I wrap up this post: I've observed that on almost all of my crappy days, the period of crappiness usually intensifies at some point, and then begins to dissipate. At which point i'll begin to feel considerably better. So if you're not feeling so great, remind yourself that this sensation will pass, and that you may emerge from your crappy day feeling even better and more energized than you did before. 

Wishing you all a beautiful day my friends, regardless of whether it's a crappy or a wonderful one.

with love & creativity,

Leah 

--
words: Leah Salinas

sources

(1) If you're curious about learning Ujjayi breath, check out this excellent article
(2) http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-health-benefits-of-ginger-tea
(3) http://www.organicauthority.com/health/5-fantastic-health-benefits-of-peppermint-tea.html

Peppermint Essential Oil

Hey Everyone! Today's recipe for inspiring creativity isn't food related, but yummy nevertheless =) This year, one of my main goals for C&C is to offer you creativity nurturing tools that are simple, accessible and sustainable. Ever since I started making conscious lifestyle changes, I've noticed that the tiny adjustments and incorporations can be just as potent as the bigger ones. That it's about implementing new, small steps every day or every week or every month, and that over time, the tangible, BIG change will begin to make itself felt and noticed.

Right now, one of my fave simple little tools for putting my body & being in a creative & productive state is peppermint essential oil*. This good stuff can be used in a number of different ways, but here's one of my favorite applications:

Peppermint Oil Mini Massage

While washing your hair/head in the shower, mix in 1-3 drops with your shampoo and gently massage into your scalp & neck. Alternately, you can mix in a few drops with your body lotion/oil and massage it into your neck/shoulders/ low back post shower. You'll notice a delicious tingling sensation that can linger for up to half an hour and will make you feel more alert & awake. It's like another cup of coffee in addition to your morning coffee =) 

Peppermint oil is quite potent, so I highly recommend mixing it with either your shampoo, body wash, body lotion or another oil when you apply it to your body. This will also help with spreading it out more easily. Also, be mindful of keeping it out of your eyeballs =) 

Peppermint essential oil is a natural muscle relaxant, so this won't only perk you up, but it'll also reduce any tension you may be holding in certain parts of your body. I've always had a finicky low back and I've noticed that the oil feels really nice on this area. I've also observed that my hair has gotten noticeably thicker and longer since I started this little practice- I'm always on the lookout for ways to enhance my mane, so I was so happy to observe this change taking place!  

If you're curious to learn about more peppermint essential oil benefits & uses, this article by Dr.Axe is a great, very thorough resource: http://draxe.com/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits/

 

Enjoy this little practice and remember that the simple, little things can make a big difference,

with love & creativity,

Leah


*I always prefer buying organic essential oils since these are grown without the use of any chemicals or pesticides. 
 

author: Leah Steiner ~ photos by: Juliana Mariia Rose @jules.m.rose

Grounding Rituals


I write this post from my beautiful new abode! The birds are singing in the background, I'm soaking up clean air and I'm overlooking a garden that makes me feel like I'm living in a jungle. Life is peachy! 

This period of transition has taught me a lot. Specifically about how I've grown in terms of responding to major change; that packing up your entire home and tending to all of the paperwork and organization and tying up loose ends that comes with it doesn't have to be stressful. That all of these tasks can be approached with ease, and joy and playfulness. And that there's definitely pockets of fun to be found in all of it. 

I also learned how important it is to stay committed to my daily practices that keep me grounded and connected to my strongest self; that it is this that helps me find the fun amidst the chaos. Especially when a lot is going on, it's so tempting to let these practices fall by the wayside. In the past few weeks I made a commitment to honor my rituals. On most days I didn't have much time, but more so than ever I learned how powerful a few minutes can be, if you fill them with mindful actions. 

This post will be short & sweet. Just like these grounding rituals. Which are intended to be super simple & accessible. 

I talk about some of these rituals in more detail in my Daily Essentials post. To check that out, click here.
 

Yoga

15 minutes in the AM to infuse your day with calm, balance and focus. Check out Yoga With Adriene on YouTube for inspiration. 

Papua Coffee

2 cups/ day to alkalize, ground and re-balance. To read more about my fave coffee roasted by my dear friends, the Avanesses, click here. 

Ginger Tea

1 tbsp of chopped raw ginger root/cup of spring water. Cover pot. Boil for 15 minutes +  let sit for 15 minutes = Enjoy!. Ginger is super integrating and alertness-inducing. It also gives you a mild boost if you're not craving coffee but still want something to help you focus. 

Sunshine

15 minutes/day, wearing as little clothing as possible so you can really soak up those Vitamin D rich rays. If you don't have much time, sitting outside during your lunch break is an awesome option.  

Sleep
Try to get 7-8 hours in. Even if you're schedule is crazy. It'll help you function with more focus & efficiency throughout your entire day. 


As with anything you find on this site, play around with these ideas/inspirations & discover which ones work for YOU. And feel free to share any grounding rituals that you've created in the comments section below! 


with love & creativity,

Leah
 


author: Leah Steiner // photos by: Juliana Mariia Rose

 

Daily Essentials

Life is wonderful right now. So many good things happening. Projects are manifesting, kindred spirits are appearing and creative collaborations are a'brewing. It's an exciting time. I'm the kind of person who tends to get overly excited about life. To the point where I start having trouble sleeping at night because I'm just brimming over with inspiration, joy and a hunger to keep creating. So I've been spending some time turning my attention to the things that keep me grounded. The little habits and daily rituals that keep me feeling healthy, energized and balanced. Being excited about life is awesome. But more and more I'm discovering the importance of taking the time to step back and nurture. And it really begins with the simple things. Sleep. Water. Sunshine. 

 

Here's the complete list of my daily essentials: 

Water

Photo credit: Juliana Mariia Rose  @jules.m.rose

Photo credit: Juliana Mariia Rose @jules.m.rose

I drink two glasses right when I wake up. This allows my body to begin the day by flushing and rehydrating. Throughout the day I adjust my water intake depending on my activities; if I'm exercising or sweating I make sure to drink more. The IOM recommends approx. 2.7 liters/day for the average adult female and 3.7 liters/day for the average adult male. Click here to check out their complete chart on daily water intakes. 

Unless you live in a place where your tap water is exceptionally clean and from a trusted source (lucky you!), invest in some high quality spring water. I live in LA, and even though I absolutely adore this city, our tap water is loaded with contaminants. I won’t go into that here, but if you’re looking for more info, check out the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) site.

 

Morning Yoga

The effect of a few moments of aligning breath with movement is incredible. I notice that even when I give myself just five to ten minutes on my mat, breathing, moving and stretching, my entire day unfolds differently. I approach everything with a greater sense of ease and grace. Especially when I know that I'll be interacting with a lots of people, I feel that I owe it to myself and others to take these few moments of grounding and tapping into my centered self. When my morning is super busy and I don't even have time to roll out my mat, I'll breathe and do some neck rolls. If I have more time, I love doing the Yoga With Adriene videos on YouTube. Click on the image below for one of my fave quick sequences:

 

15 Minutes of Sunshine

I feel incredibly fortunate that I live in a place where the average number of sunny days is around 284. So whenever I have an extra 10-15 minutes to spare I put them towards soaking up those rays. Preferably some time before 10am, before the sun starts getting strong. And with as little clothing as possible (;-)). Not trying to be kinky here. Seriously, the more skin you expose, the more Vitamin D your body absorbs. I also avoid wearing any type of sunscreen, since most of them block Vitamin D absorption. If my skin feels like it needs some protection and moisture, I like using extra-virgin olive oil. After trying out this daily ritual for a while, I've noticed a huge difference in my overall sense of wellbeing on days when I get my sun, compared to days when I don't. I find myself feeling more energized, thinking more clearly and just in an overall more positive frame of mind. 

Check out these great articles for more info on safe sunning practices and the importance of getting your daily dose of vitamin D: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/go-ahead-soak-up-some-sun

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/01/vitamin-d-benefits.aspx

 

Morning Papaya

Photo credit: Juliana Mariia Rose  @jules.m.rose

Photo credit: Juliana Mariia Rose @jules.m.rose

I enjoy this gorgeous fruit almost every morning. It's super high in enzymes, so it's a great way to kick off your digestive system. My favorite variety is the organic Hawaiian kind. My local market also has amazing Mexican papayas. When I shop for them, I usually look for ones that are reddish/orange in color. They almost always taste the best. I like letting them suntan for a few hours; this seems to make them even juicier and yummier. Some people are sensitive to the taste of papayas. If this is you, try squeezing some lemon or lime onto them, this balances out the flavor and adds an extra alkalinity boost. 

 

Avocado & Olive Oil

Photo credit: Juliana Mariia Rose  @jules.m.rose

Photo credit: Juliana Mariia Rose @jules.m.rose

Ever since I started enjoying high-enzyme foods, I’ve had half an avocado with two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil almost every single day. No joke. And I’m still not tired of this winning combo. When you pair up these two foods, you get a nutrition powerhouse that feeds your brain, cleans out rancid fats and keeps you feeling full. It’s also amazing for your heart health. Try incorporating this duo into salads or guac or use them to garnish some of your favorite dishes. I highly recommend finding avocados at your local farmer’s market; they're richer and creamier and have less strings/bruises than the grocery store kind. 

Source: Avaness, Christina. "Living Beyond Organic: nutritional knowledge redefined!" Las Vegas: Tiara Publishing, 2009. Print. P.32

 

Sleep

I think you all know how important this one is, but I'm gonna go ahead and list it anyway. There are varying points of view out there regarding how much shut-eye you need each night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours per night. While it can be useful to use these numbers as a guideline, it's best to tune into your body and explore how much sleep you personally need. This changes as your life circumstances change. I've observed that the amount of sleep I need fluctuates depending on my overall health and whether or not my body is going through a repair phase (in which case I'll probably want more). Over all, I've also found that the quality of my sleep is just as important as the quantity. Here are a few guidelines I like to follow to experience exceptional sleep: 

1) Sleeping in a Dark Space I like making my sleep space as dark as possible, so that my body can properly produce and release melatonin, a hormone that is essential for sleep. If blocking out light in your bedroom is tricky, try wearing a sleep mask. 

2) Disconnecting from Technology I turn off all computers, cell-phones etc. at least half an hour before snuggling up in bed. Check out this article on how technology impacts our ability to have a restful night's sleep: https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/

3) Early Dinners I've observed that I sleep best if I have dinner at least three hours before. This way my body can focus on repairing, instead of digesting, throughout the night. 

 

Have fun playing around with these daily essentials and exploring which ones you respond well to. Discover your own. Our bodies and beings all have unique needs and we all require different things to keep functioning optimally. 

From my heart to yours,

Leah