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Saving Money and Saving the Planet

My family of 16 uses the smallest trash bin that the City of Austin offers.

Well, to be fair, 12 of our family members are pets. But as people with pets know, there’s soiled cage bedding, paper towels from house accidents, catbox litter, etc to be thrown out, so I think pets count every bit as much as humans.

How do we do it?

I owe it all to my past experience living in an eco-friendly couhousing community. It’s where I learned many of my “secrets”.

1) Use re-usable containers for lunches, including reusable sandwich baggies when possible.
ETSY has so many adorable cloth sandwich bags that close with velcro or zippers. You can toss them in the washer or you can hand wash them in the kitchen sink with the dishes.

2) Use cloth rags for cleaning…have a designated stack for pets that you don’t want mixing with your kitchen stuff. We use old prefold diapers, old towels, washcloths, etc.

3) Use cloth paper towels. This is our newest change. We bought some cloth “paper” towels from ETSY that snap together and fit on a paper towel holder. We use these ONLY for kitchen cleanup.

4) Use cloth baby wipes. Also from ETSY, but easy enough to sew yourself if you’re more patient at sewing than I am. We use these for pee diaper changes and for face and hand cleanup after meals. You can make up a spray bottle with water and a tiny amount of castile soap and spray the wipes when you’re ready to use them. This has cut down significantly on all the waste that comes with disposable wipes.

5) Use cloth diapers if/when you can. I used to own a cloth diaper store before cloth diapers were as popular as they are now. I used them from when my daughter was 6 months (when I first fell in love with cloth diapers) until she was out of diapers, and I never looked back at disposables. Never, that is, until I had a baby who was born sickly with several GI issues. Then I sold my cloth diapers and never went back. It was unfortunate but we can’t be perfect all the time, and this I was willing to give on. Thankfully she is now in undies and so diapers are a non-issue at this point, but I do plan on going back to cloth next time.

6) Use fleece bedding for caged pets. We have eight, yes EIGHT guinea pigs. I’m kind of a sucker for sad Craigslist stories. Anyway, not only is fleece kinder on their little feet, it’s better for their respiratory systems, it’s less messy, it’s much cheaper in the long run, it’s cuter, and it means less waste. I love it. I’d rather throw things in the washer than in the trash, and it just adds two loads a week of wash for my 8 pigs.

7) Buy your food in bulk. Instead of buying prepackaged foods, go to the Bulk section at your local healthfood store and put foods in their recyclable paper bags, or better yet, bring your own glass jars to fill up. Remember to weigh the jars first and write down the weight for the cashier so they can subtract it…no one wants to pay for the weight of a glass jar. Labels are important here, especially for spices. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone home, put a spice away, and then later wondered what on earth I purchased. Some spices smell very similar! Best to label the jar at the store so you won’t forget. Buying in bulk saves you tons of money, too.

8) Use cloth menstrual products. Disposable products have tons of chemicals in them, are smelly (they actually are what make your blood smell “gross,” not the blood itself!), and are so bad for the environment. Again, ETSY is your friend. I always prefer to support someone’s small business on ETSY than buy from a larger company that sells in the grocery stores. They have cuter design options, too. Just do an ETSY search for “cloth menstrual pads” and you’ll find amazing prints, anything from flowers to skulls to superheroes and guitars. Not only are these good for the environment, they will save you money in the long run, and many women notice less cramping when they make the switch.

9) Make food from scratch instead of buying individually wrapped processed foods. Things like Twinkies, granola bars, fruit strips, cereals, etc all have wrappers that can’t be recycled. Instead of buying them, make up a batch yourself. Do it with your kids as a fun family project. The bonus here is that food from scratch is free of preservatives, dyes, etc, which means it’s going to be healthier for your kids.

10) Use your recycling bin! Make sure you don’t throw anything in the trash that can be recycled.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have tips to share!

My Clit is a Compass…And Yours Can Be Too

“My Clit is My Compass! My Clit is My Compass!” I sing as I gallop around my house. I’m 32 but I will always be completely smitten by my amazing body, so much so that my excitement overflows in ways that may appear to someone else as perhaps childish. I’ve spent years working through “shame gremlins” as Brené Brown puts it, and years finding my childlike innocence around sexuality that I’d smothered for so long. This lighter, happier me is innocent in her sexual and sensual self, knowing that anything my body feels is a true gift to be enjoyed.

So now you are wondering how a clit can be a compass. You may not have realized until this moment that our clitorises can do more than “just” bring incredible pleasure to our bodies. Actually, our clits have another superpower! They are designed to work with our intuition. When you become very in tune with energy you too can learn how to use your clit to help guide you in all areas of your life. Over the last decade I’ve delved into Reiki, Kundalini, Tantra, and Taoism; you’ll have to explore and find what feels right for you so that you can work on connecting to energy and sensation in your own body. Being guided by our clits is actually something all women are born knowing how to do but we “forget” due to being shamed about our bodies, sexuality, and feelings when we are children.

So what does it mean to have a clit function as a compass? Your clit will tell you which direction to go in your life. When you ask yourself a question (any question!), your clit will start buzzing/tingling/vibrating/pulsing if the answer is a YES. This is your intuition coming through your body. Pleasure is a yes. It’s that simple! What happens when the answer is no? Well, for me nothing happens. My clit remains still. I usually feel a “no” elsewhere in my body, perhaps my solar plexus.

I can’t help but wonder if this “secret” is tied into female genital mutilation. Patriarchal cultures wanting to take away not only a woman’s pleasure but intuition as well? Seems very plausible to me.

To become more intuitive and connected to your body, try out the exercises below. I’d love to hear feedback about how this goes for you! If you’re interested in more connection with your body, please check out my workshops in the Austin area. I also offer private sessions in person and via Skype for Jade Egg techniques and Solo Tantra.

Exercises to Awaken Your Clitoral Compass:

1. Cup your yoni (that’s Sanskrit for “vulva”). Breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine being your hand feeling your yoni. Just feel (without moving your hand or fingers). Breathe there for a minute or so. Now switch to being your yoni feeling your hand. Yes, imagine BEING your yoni and feeling what your hand feels like. Breathe here for another minute. You can switch back and forth.

2. Lie on your back and cup your yoni with both hands. Breathe deeply and slowly. Imagine that you are breathing all the way into your hands…your breath is traveling from your nose into your chest, then into your belly, then into your pelvis, and then out your genitals into your hands. Do this until you can feel the energy here with your breath.

3. Visualize white or orange light at your clit. Allow the light to grow bigger with every breath you take. Imagine feeling the warmth of this light heating your clit from the inside outwards.

Happy navigating! <3

XOXO,

Leah Love

“Embrace” and Embracing My Own Body

I just saw “Embrace” in the theater and knew I had to come straight home and write about it. As one of the beautiful women in the documentary said, “We need to accept each other, and one way to do that is to share our stories.”

So here’s mine.

I’m on the other side of the scale. I have always been moderately to severely underweight.

I know that magazines and fashion shows and photos just about EVERYWHERE lead women to believe that skinny is everything, but when you’re skinny you can be bullied too, either because people are jealous or because maybe being skinny is not what most people are actually attracted to.

I was one of those super awkward preteens. I didn’t grow into my body for a long time and I was a bit like Baby Bambi when he was trying to figure out how to get his body to move the way he wanted it to. I was always very tall and thin, and so I thought modeling made sense. The modeling agency turned me down…apparently there’s such a thing as “too tall,” or so they told me. I could have gotten a second opinion; I could have tried out other agencies. But honestly that didn’t occur to me because the label stuck: I was too tall.

I can rewind my life to 8th grade English class where Brad and Matt made fun of me and insulted my highwaters (the term used for jeans that were much too short for my long legs). I overheard another boy once tell someone that my face was alright but my body was nasty.

I couldn’t figure it out. I had the bodies of the girls in the magazines, but I was ridiculed every day. I would act brave and unaffected at school and then get home and break into tears. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I look like everyone else? I had nicknames like Toothpick and Giraffe at school. I ate and ate and ATE, but my body just didn’t get any bigger.

I never had a lot of body confidence when I was young. Even as a teenager (think pre-mom body) I kept my clothes on during sex. After I had my second daughter I again started keeping clothes on during intimacy. When I was young I hated having small breasts. When I was older I was happy with small breasts (I’m a stomach sleeper!) but less than excited about the sagginess that came from nursing two children.

Guess what? After two kids, I’m still skinny. Besides having small and droopy breasts, I have stretch marks. I also have cellulite. I still, in my thirties, have acne. And I have a lot of scars.

I have done a TON of body empowerment work. I read self-help books. I write self-love courses. Am I perfect at all of this? No; I’m not perfect at anything; pretty sure humans weren’t made to be perfect.

Which brings me to my body: not perfect. I prefer perfectly imperfect. My body is my story. My story involves sexual abuse. My story involves a high metabolism. My story involves sickness and struggle. My story involves being a mother. My story involves tears of gratitude, tears of joy, tears of wonder, tears of bliss, tears of pain. My story involves courage and my story involves strength. My story is real. I’m real.

Please know that not all of us skinny girls have eating disorders. Not all of us (or any of us!) have flawless bodies under our clothes, either.

Before you click the “like” button on an image that says something like “Real women have curves” consider that maybe, just maybe, we’re ALL real women. Before you tell someone thin to “eat a hamburger” check in and see how that may affect that woman. We’re all in this together. We’re all here in our various shapes and sizes and colors and that’s what makes us amazing. We raise ourselves up not by putting others down but by reaching out and doing just what the documentary suggests—embracing. We need more hugs, love, and acceptance. THAT’S how we will all rise.

Please go see “Embrace”! It’s playing in select cities. If you happen to also be in Austin, the next showing is November 1st at the Arbor Hills theater.

XOXO,

Leah

How I Found An Incredible Spiritual Relationship

I know some people have the kind of relationship where from Day 1, everything just came together…they have everything in common with the other person, they have a fabulous connection, and they have the most delicious sex life. When asked how they handle arguments with their spouse, they say things like “I don’t know, we never argue!” or they assume that if someone else doesn’t have this kind of perfect-from-the-start relationship that they must be with the wrong person.

That’s great for those people, and I mean that sincerely. But for most of us, relationships are not always easy. In fact, often they are downright challenging and sometimes it’s everything we can do not to throw in the towel and move on to someone else, hoping for an easier relationship the next time around.

But challenge is an opportunity for growth. We aren’t here to give up every time something isn’t perfect. And we’re definitely not here to ignore problems and bottle up how we really feel about things. We’re here to find solutions to our problems. We are here to work together. We are here as people who chose to live with, love, and create beautiful things with each other. And couples who do this are going to be healthier and happier than their counterparts.

My relationship with my current partner did not start out perfectly, and we have made quite a few mistakes along the way. Our backgrounds are about as different as can be, from how we grew up to the structure of our families in childhood to our previous relationships (my partner was in a 15 year relationship; my longest relationship was 5 years and I had several intense but short-lived relationships, too). Even our beliefs about relationships were different, from our expectations of an intimate relationship to the type of relationship we were looking for.

In the first two years there were many threats of leaving the relationship (99% of them from me, a commitment-phobe for most of my life). There was some yelling. There was some anger. But worst of all, there was a disconnect. We were acting as if we were separate* and so we started creating distance between us every time we had disagreements.

*Disclaimer: This is much different from the thought of “completing each other” and I firmly believe everyone needs to be their own person, have their own interests, take time with their own friends, and focus on themselves as a whole person. I am referring to “separate” on a spiritual level. Here’s a Tom Walsh quote that perhaps better explains what I mean: “When we separate ourselves from the rest of the world, the world becomes a lonely and difficult place to live in. When we see ourselves as completely separate, we cannot call upon the power and strength that comes from unity, from being part of a greater whole.”

I started learning that we must work on our relationships in the good times so that when we have a problem we have tools to help us through it. We can also take time to focus on the positive. We can remind ourselves that we are one. That our partners are magical. That we love them and chose them for a reason. That we’re not enemies fighting a battle, but a team built on love. This team in the good times works together, and should learn to do so in the difficult times, too.

In a lot of ways I felt like I was doing well in my life. I ate healthy food. My family sat together for meals at a real table instead of in front of the television. We had open communication about anything that came up. But there was a huge piece of the puzzle missing in my relationship…only it took me a while to find out what it was. I felt like something was missing, and as someone who works in the field of women’s empowerment, I know when something is missing we should look within ourselves. But I was on top of the self-love stuff already. I had sticky notes on my mirror with affirming words. I gave myself alone time to refresh and renew. I even wrote a 7 week self-love course! So surely it wasn’t about a lack of love I was feeling for myself. So I waited impatiently (I’m not the best at patience yet) to see if I could figure out what was missing.

Mature woman holding journal and thinking.And one thing that changed and greatly improved our relationship was this: my partner started a journal just for me about our relationship. Each day she wrote down meaningful things we did together that day or things she noticed about me, or things she appreciates about me in general. The journal collects all the best parts of our relationship and of the things she values about me. See, in our society we’re so quick to focus on and point out the negative stuff. We get knit picky with partners and we start seeing more flaws than positive traits. We get sloppy and careless sometimes and we take each other for granted. Sometimes we have dark lenses on through which we see only the worst. This simple daily journaling, which takes less than five minutes, helps you find the wonderful things about your relationship and your partner. She shared it with me after she’d written in it for several weeks, and it made me cry. I felt so incredibly loved, and I also got to see a vulnerable side to my partner that she doesn’t always share aloud. So not only did I fall further in love with myself, I appreciated our relationship more greatly and I loved my partner even more for showing me this softer side. I started journaling for her, too, and then I started journaling for my children in the same way. We can all use some gratitude and positivity in our lives, and what a simple practice this one is.

So that small practice really did change the way I viewed my relationship. I stopped focusing on what wasn’t working and started focusing on the many, many more things that were. That was the first of two amazing discoveries for me.

Right after we started the journaling practice, I discovered Kundalini Yoga through a White Tantric event. A Facebook ad drew me in…all day meditation with several hundred other people? Sure, why not. I’ve always been the adventurous type (though I’ll point out that I’d NEVER been the meditation type). I probably was mostly excited about getting a whole Saturday to “myself” away from the kids during a week of parenting on my own while my partner was out of town.

As the event time grew near, I became very nervous. On the day before the event I told my masseuse I must be crazy, and that I’d probably just end up leaving after 5 minutes and go upstairs to the hotel’s rooftop pool and enjoy my alone time. Because of course someone like me who doesn’t sit still wouldn’t last a minute at this 8 hour long meditation workshop. Even at home I failed miserably at meditation and would give up after a minute or two to MOVE. Sitting still like that? Not for me. Still…I got up that morning, put on my white clothes (Kundalini Yogis wear white because it’s thought to enhance the auric field), and I headed out.

That day changed my life. I met some wonderful people, had some great conversations at lunch, and most of all, I learned that I can overcome challenges (okay, I’ve overcome a lot in my lifetime, but it’s always a good reminder!). I thought meditation wasn’t going to work out for me, but instead of using that as an excuse in my life, I took the opportunity to open myself up to something new. And I went home feeling so successful.

From that day forward I’ve been doing Kundalini. The person who was grumpy getting up at 6:30AM to get the kids on the bus now was waking up at 5:30 to do an hour of yoga and meditation. The person who for eleven years refused to go to yoga classes for fear of being judged jumped into 2-3 classes per week. I even went to a three hour 4:30AM Kundalini class once (but then I was tired the rest of the day, haha! I learned my limits and maybe I’ll break through them some time soon! I believe it will happen!).

And I’ll be honest. It not only changed my life, but it changed my relationship. See, like I said, my partner was out of town when I went to the event. She came home to find me enthusiastic about meditation (she would probably appreciate my mentioning that she had been begging me to meditate with her for a year). I showed her the different Kriyas (a yogic set of spiritual exercises) that I’d learned in the Kundalini workshop. She’s an open-minded person and she is a great listener, but I didn’t expect anything further from her. She ended up jumping right in with me! She was loving the exercises, the chants, and the connection we felt when we shared this special time together. At first I’d only wake her up twice a week to do the exercises (she’s even less of a morning person than I am) but then we eventually moved into waking together each and every day.

Couple doing exercise yoga together stretching while sunsetSo our day starts out in darkness with yoga, meditation, and chanting. We sit together and pray together and grow together as humans and as partners as we watch the sun rise. It’s a special time for us and it sets a peaceful, loving tone for the day. To end our morning practice, we gaze into each other’s eyes and sing the Long Time Sun song together; this song is a tradition in Kundalini. The first verse is supposed to be sung to yourself and the second is to the world. We’ve modified this a bit by singing the first verse together to ourselves and then my partner sings the second verse to me as I receive her warmth and love, and then I sing a third verse to her as she receives love from me.

And it sounds pretty simple (other than the waking up early part) but it made our bond so much stronger in just a short time. It also connected our energies even further (we already practice Red Tantra and Reiki together, which are other energy practices). I can only imagine a year from now how connected we will be. 5 years. 10.

And through this connection, our relationship has stabilized. I no longer threaten to leave (why would I want to? We have something incredible). It really feels like the missing puzzle piece has been found, and that piece was shared spirituality.

And because I am the independent woman that I am, I’m going to make sure you understand that none of this means we’re now co-dependent and needy and clingy and reliant on the other person. We are two people who have chosen to walk together on this path of love. The spiritual piece overflows into the rest of our relationship, making us better partners, better parents, better friends, and better human beings.

Is our relationship perfect now? Nope. But it’s perfectly imperfect, because that’s exactly where we are in this moment and when I look at her I now see how absolutely blessed I am to be in this sacred relationship. The best advice I can give you is to love yourself, love your partner, and create something special and sacred in your relationship. We live in a time of technology which unfortunately means less interaction with those of us we really care about. Learning to come back to the present moment and to focus on the gifts right there in front of you is life changing and will bring out the absolute best in you. Love will overflow.

Couple in hug watching together sunrise in Greece

Staying Positive After Tragedy

About a week ago, my mother asked me how I can bear to think about my future grandchildren and the lives they face when the world seems to be going downhill so fast.

My immediate response was that there have always been difficult or wrongful things going on in the world, but that I choose to focus on the positive and I believe that more and more people are waking up and coming into consciousness, a place where we can rise up and connect and create a positive and joyful world together.

However, after the Orlando shooting, I’ve been feeling very down, too. It’s not easy to stay positive when things hit so close to home. It can be hard to find a silver lining.

But last night, after two days of mourning, I remembered that I’m adding to the problem if I continue to stay in a low vibration, which is what we do when we obsess over the news, play and replay videos of the victims, the family members, the dreams that can never be accomplished, the shooter’s wife’s role in this tragedy…all of it. This brings us down into more sadness. Our anger, our sadness, our hopelessness, changes the vibration of this planet and weakens us all.

mister rogers
Mr Rogers’ mother knew how to look for the good in difficult situations.

I’m not saying to ignore the problems or the feelings you’re experiencing. I’m simply suggesting that you look for things that bring you joy. Look for gratitude. Look for good people and good experiences in the world. Adding to the positivity and being in the flow can help MORE than if you’re stuck in your fears and frustrations and anger.

My clients know all about Dr. Emoto’s scientific research about our ability to change water molecules with our thoughts because it’s one of my favorite subjects to talk about. Please check out his books if you’ve not heard of him. It’s also been recently discovered that our tears are structured differently depending on the feelings behind them. If you’d like to do your own little science experiment, cook some rice and divide it into two containers. On one container, write “LOVE” and on the other write “HATE.” Keep them both in the fridge (though I suggest putting them on different shelves) and every day when you think of it, take out the LOVE container and hold it in your hands while you think positive, happy, joyous, loving thoughts. Then put it back and take out the other container and curse at it, say awful things, just really get your negativity out and into that container. Within a week or two you’ll see that the negative container has grown a thick layer of mold, while the other container still looks good. Strong proof right there that our thoughts are incredibly powerful!

So as hard as it may be, consider removing yourself from Facebook if it’s getting you down. Turn off the news. Sit still, take some deep breaths, and ground yourself. Visualize sending love out into the universe. Heal your own wounds so you can feel good in your own body. That’s really the first step in helping others. Help yourself. If you’re running on empty, you cannot help others. If you’re down and depressed and hopeless, you’re not going to be able to raise other people up. And isn’t that what we’re put on this planet to do? To give love, receive love, and BE love?

Take care of YOU. Find your joy in the darkness so that you can shine and light the path for others.

XOXO,

Leah Love

Seven Healthy Things I Do Before Most People Are Out of Bed That Supercharge My Day

After 2 decades of poor eating and being a fairly inactive person (I always preferred books to exercise; indoors to outdoors), my health went downhill, just as everyone warned me it would. I struggled with fatigue, stomach problems, depression, and anxiety. About 2 years ago when I was finally in a healthier relationship with myself and with a supportive partner, I decided to change my health habits. I wanted to feel alive. I wanted to feel energetic without relying on coffee. I wanted to feel good in my own body. And I wanted to feel happy to be here on this Earth having these human experiences.

My life has really changed and I’ve changed with it.  My close friends and even my not-so-close friends have noticed. People who haven’t seen me in a few years don’t recognize me at first. I went from being a Debbie Downer to a Sally Sunshine.  And I feel GOOD, too.

I can’t promise what I do will work for you. But I didn’t invent these things…they are all techniques that have worked for hundreds of thousands of others. Many of these techniques have been used for centuries in other cultures (several are Ayurvedic practices).

So here’s my morning routine. Try it and see what you think.

As soon as I get out of bed, I scrape my tongue with a tongue scraper. This gets all the yucky build-up out of my mouth, removing bad breath and giving my taste buds a greater ability to taste the food I eat. It takes less than one minute to do, so there’s no excuse not to try it.

Tips: Don’t brush your tongue with your toothbrush—this just spreads bacteria around in your mouth and doesn’t remove the filmy layer from your tongue. You can buy a scraper on Amazon for under $7, or you can use a metal spoon just as effectively.

Next, I drink at least 12 ounces of water that’s rwateroom temperature or slightly warmer. Cold water messes with digestion so it’s best to avoid it, according to Ayurvedic and Macrobiotic perspectives. Starting the day with a big glass of water, and staying hydrated throughout the day gives me healthier looking skin, keeps my organs in better shape, improves my mood, and flushes toxins out of my body.

Tips: Add lemon to your water if desired as a way to alkalize the body and improve the assimilation of nutrients. But if you do, have a few sips of plain water afterwards to swish around in your mouth so the citric acid from the lemon doesn’t damage your teeth.

Fun Fact: Lemon is an acidic fruit, but it becomes alkaline in the body.

Now I start my Kundalini Yoga practice. Kundalini Yoga is very different from other types of yoga as it includes Kriyas, which are yoga poses put together in a certain order and a specific amount of time in order to accomplish something. These can be for anything from great compassion to healthier liver function. Kundalini also includes chanting, meditation, and sometimes singing. It’s a spiritual practice that has really changed my life. Sometimes I still get lazy (I’m human, after all) and I get off of my schedule of doing my daily practice. Those weeks I become snappier with my family, quicker to anger, and I feel very unbalanced. It’s amazing how different I am when I do this practice on a daily basis. Kundalini brings me to a heart centered place of more love, greater compassion, and better stability. It changes the relationships I have with everyone in my life.

I strive for an hour to an hour and a half of practice each morning before my kids wake up. If you only have 20 minutes, then by all means do 20 minutes. Even 10 minutes can give you noticeable results.

Young Woman Meditating on the Floor --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisTip: Start out with easy exercises if you aren’t in shape. I’m still a work in progress myself. Nothing is worse than overdoing it one day and then being too sore to do yoga for several more days in order to recover and heal!

 

After I finish my yoga practice, I drink another full glass of water. Then I oil pull. If you’ve never heard of oil pulling, I recommend researching it because there’s a lot of awesome info out there. Like tongue scraping, it’s an Ayurvedic technique. Oil pulling is great for detoxing, weight loss, improving health, improving the gums, whitening the teeth, and gosh, it has so many other benefits. I put a teaspoon of refined sesame oil in my mouth and swish it around and through my teeth for 20 minutes. When I’m done, I spit it into the trash or toilet (though trash is better because all that oil over the years going into the septic can’t be a great thing). I rinse my mouth out with water and spit that out, too. All done!

You will notice your teeth getting whiter in a week or so, and the other benefits should follow. Your lips also get a lot softer from all the oil!

Tip: Use organic unrefined coconut oil or organic refined sesame oil to start out. I prefer sesame, but my family likes coconut better. There are also some oil pulling websites about what kind of oil is good to use for various health issues. Also, it’s recommended that you do oil pulling on an empty stomach. That’s why it works so well for me to do it in the morning before I’ve had breakfast (water in my belly doesn’t seem to make a difference).

Then, guess what I do? I drink another glass of water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Now I sit down and write in my gratitude journal. I set the timer on my phone for 1 minute and I just write down whatever comes to mind that I’m grateful for. Sometimes I write something that I already wrote about the day before. Sometimes it’s new stuff. It’s all good because it is a reminder of how lucky I am to be alive and how much I have to be thankful for. Even if I sit down feeling grumpy, I always find amazing things that make me feel happier. What are you grateful for?

When the minute is up, I eat my breakfast and reflect on the beauty of life. I feel gratitude in my heart and my heart feels like it expands.

Tips: Make this gratitude journal be separate from your regular journal if you keep one. It makes it easier to look back through the various days’ entries.

It’s time to shower. Before getting in, I use a skin brush and brush off my dead skin cells starting at the feet and working my way up. This helps by increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage, and makes skin soft and smooth. It also can help with ingrown hairs and even cellulite. When I’m done brushing, I head into the shower. skin brush

Tips: Use a brush specifically made for body brushing. Only use it on dry skin. Do NOT use it on the face because the bristles are too coarse and this can cause skin irritation—there are special smaller, softer face brushes you can buy if you like.

The last thing I do in my morning routine is hydrotherapy. There are two ways to do this. The method I prefer is getting into a hot shower, rinsing off each part of my body, and then switching the water to as cold as I can stand it. I rinse every part under the cold, then switch back to the hot. I do seven of these alternating cycles. (Why seven? It’s what “they” recommend and seven seems like a nice number to me.) I end with cold water and then I’m done!

I’ll add that I’m a mega wimp about being cold. I’m a native Texan and I can’t stand cold weather, cold water, cold food…But I braved the first week of hydrotherapy because the benefits were worth it to me. And now it feels so good. In fact, I prefer the cold water to the hot. I’ve noticed that my body acclimates better to extreme temperatures now, and I feel less cold when I’m out in the world. Other benefits of hydrotherapy: these showers relax the muscles, ease stress, increase circulation, relieve inflammation, and help your body detox toxins through the skin and lymph.

The other way to do hydrotherapy showers is to just take a very cold shower and not ever turn the temp up. This is what a lot of yogis do. That’s not for me, but if you want to experiment, go for it! You can also see the awesome and inspiring documentaries of the Russians jumping into the frozen waters for a cold hydrotherapy swim. It’s pretty neat!

Tips: Make sure that you have a filter on your shower head to filter out impurities like chlorine that can be damaging to both your skin and your lungs as you breathe in the steam from the hot water. If hydrotherapy feels masochistic, I challenge you to stick with it for a week. I promise it gets better!

So that’s my morning. I feel like it sets me up for a day of success. I look forward to sharing more of my day with you soon.

XOXO,

Leah Love