Monday, October 24, 2016

Spilt Milk Yoga ~ Book Review

Spilt Milk Yoga: a Guided Self-Inquiry to Finding Your Own Wisdom, Joy, and Purpose Through Motherhood is written by New Zealand artist and writer Cathryn Monro. 

Cathryn invites us to connect with ourselves. In short chapters, she shares an inspiring quote, a personal story from her experiences as a mother, a practice to try and a journaling page to help with personal refection and to record our own journeys. 

This is a very unique style book that blends the wisdom of yoga practice with the journey that is motherhood. I love that she sees motherhood as a journey that can offer us a path to wisdom, joy, and purpose. 

The connection with spilt milk is perfect. Cathryn explains that "there's spilt milk, and then there's our response to it. The spilt milk is out of our control, but the response bit is up to us." 

Cathryn uses the five niyamas of yoga to organize her book. Nyamas are the core actions of yoga, the internal practices. Each are connected to each other in different ways. The five parts of Spilt Milk Yoga are as follows:

- Swadhyaya : Self-Inquiry
- Santhosha : Contentment
- Tapas : Self-Discipline 
- Shaucha: Purity of Being 
- Ishvarapranidhana: Acknowledging the Spiritual Nature of Being

This book would be amazing to use as a year long or even life long guide. There are 52 chapters so it would be perfect to read one chapter and work on that focus for one week. I enjoyed reading and reflecting on one chapter every few days while reviewing this book. The truth in the personal stories is refreshing, I often found myself laughing and nodding along. 

As an example, in chapter 10 "Rushing, Getting Nowhere Fast", Cathryn shares the common struggle mothers have of so many things happening in one moment. Meditation is the last thing on our mind for many of us and ends up being just another "thing to do"! I could completely relate to her sharing that she does not feel calm when she tries to "sit down amidst it all" and "I could be DOING something on my TO-DO lists"! The practice of that chapter is to slow down. She explains the importance of slowing down and the benefits we might gain from that practice. She then explains very clearly how to start slowing down, with simply mindful breathing for three deep breaths. Three breaths is do-able! Focusing on how we are feeling and naming those feelings during those three breaths. The journaling page helps record those feelings and their impact.

Here is an excerpt from Spilt Milk Yoga from the Practice section of Slowing Down: 

Longing for inner calm? If your day feels chaotic you will need a still point to come back to. It is hard to respond steadily when you are off-centre. Like an unbalanced washing machine clunking out in the spin-cycle, you need to stop, rearrange your load, and get balanced so you can continue, more able to do your job as mother from the calm still point of your centre. To find your centre in the rush you have to slow down.

The practice here is slowing down. If you are tussling with where to put your focus, or overwhelmed in the jumble of your day, then slowing down your inner speed will create more space for appreciation, awareness, and acceptance. From a place of inner steadiness you are more likely to get things done effectively.

Start with mindful breathing. Take 3 slow deep breaths all the way in, all the way out. Notice how you are feeling and simply name the feelings as they arise and subside. This feeling is resistance. This feeling is irritation. This feeling is overwhelm.

This feeling is happiness. This feeling is exhaustion. This feeling is self-pity. This feeling is guilt. This feeling is despair. This feeling is relief.

You may cook resentfully or contentedly, you may sit to meditate angrily or joyfully, but rather than thinking “I’ll rush through this then I’ll slow down,” turn your mind to the quality of your being while you carry out the task. In connecting to the self through which your feelings ebb and flow, you will have to slow down. Rather than focusing on the chore or fighting yourself, simply recognize your state, connect to the self that observes and watch what happens inside you.

Slowing down – Inquiry

Practice slowing yourself down now using the breath. Take 3 deep breathes all the way in, and all the way out. Relax your jaw, your shoulders, let go of all that and breathe naturally. What is that like for you?

Take a few moments to recognize and name your feeling state.

What is the effect on you of doing this?

How might this awareness affect the next step in your day?

What other things might assist you slowing down?

Take the next step in your day with this practice of slowing down. Note your observations and discoveries here.

Each of the chapters are filled with helpful guidance like this excerpt. Even as a mother of teenagers, I have gained wisdom from Spilt Milk Yoga and know I will continue to grow as a mother. I also absolutely love that Cathryn included habit-building charts at the back of her book! This is all around a great supportive, inspiring, and helpful book for mothers. 

Spilt Milk Yoga by Cathryn Monro can be found at: 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from Raincoast Books. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

My Everyday Life ~ Week Three

This was a difficult week, emotionally. I didn't realize what was bothering me until today, Sunday. 

In the past, as a homeschool mom, I ploughed through whatever needed to get done, focusing on my children and their education, or anyone that needed my attention or help. I don't regret that I was like that at all, but I ignored my own needs a lot back then. With recent struggles in my personal life, I have learned that I can't do that anymore and that it is ok to acknowledge these feelings and pay attention to my physical health as well as my mental health. 

I did have a great week, but I could tell something was off. I am realizing that I need time to adjust to new routines, new things, even if they are good things like my part-time job. I am learning to listen to myself better.  I need to make sure I pay attention to what I need, which are pretty simple - time in nature, lots of walking, time alone, creative time, regular meals. I eat healthy but I tend to skip meals a lot. Creative time is vital to me too, whether it is writing or sewing/quilting, or even just colouring. 

Visiting friends on Monday was a highlight, especially with their sweet dog Sprout.

Yummy things this week...smoothies and Asian pasta dish I threw together.

Long walks back home from work and also on Wednesday evening while Celeste was at cadets. Charlottetown is truly beautiful and I am so grateful to be living here. I took some time that evening to sit on the rocks by the waterfront and watch the sun set. So relaxing. 

I met with another friend on Friday at one of my favourite cafes to chat about possible collaboration projects. It was great talking and getting to know her better. 

Saturday evening was pouring rain after I finished work, walking in the dark, listening to Frankenstein, in the rain was pretty amusing to me. At least it wasn't too cold! 

Sunday mornings are quickly becoming my favourites. The quiet and cosyness is awesome. I had time to make one of my favourite breakfast recipes from the first Oh She Glows cookbook: Apple Pie Oatmeal. Stormy Night black tea from David's Tea was perfect on this blustery windy morning too. 

I have been missing some creative time lately and took care of that by doing a little sewing today too. 

I am making myself a promise to listen better to my needs from now on, so hopefully my post next Sunday will be more positive! 

Have a great week. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I Love Lists #11

Another busy week flew by! I think I might be saying pretty much the same thing until after the holidays now...but it's all great! 

1. 10 ways to bring hygge into your life and home or 10 ways to beat the winter blues

2. 29 funny Quotes from the ladies of The Office

3. More Fantastic Beasts movies will be coming!

4. Fun Once Upon a Time bloopers from season five! 

5. To go with my Love Warrior review, the full episode from Super Soul TV. The whole annual/perennial plant metaphor blew my mind

6. Canadians tell America it is great

7. How to talk like an Islander: PEI Slang, with video! 

8. Watching a fun show No Tomorrow on Netflix...might be mostly because of Joshua Sasse 

9. My current favourite morning tea: chocolate macaroon

10. Swoon Creations featured my fan photo. I love my aquamarine necklace

Have a great weekend! 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Connect with Nature ~ Book Review

Connect with Nature: Projects to Grow, Gather, Make and Do by Australian author Anna Carlile is filled with seasonal project ideas with instructions. Each project is related to nature and helps us slow down and reconnect with its beauty. 

All the projects are related to nature in some way, from things to grow and gather to crafts to experiences to try in nature. There are several recipes 

The Fall section was full of inspiration for me, like planting a native garden which led me to search which plants are native to Atlantic Canada that I could add to my garden. Photographing nature is something I love doing all year long and I loved the inspiring photo with quote. 

I learned more about scrumping and foraging. Preserving is also a great fall activity and Connect with Nature gives a great overall description of the basic method for jams, preserves and chutneys. 

I was inspired to try a few activities suggestions from the Fall section, like watching the sunset. I have admired the sunrise and sunset always, but this past week, I slowed down and chose to sit on some of the rocks by our city's waterfront. I simply watched as the sun went down over the harbour and it was amazing. 

Fall is an amazing time to photograph nature, especially the changes in colours of deciduous trees. I love taking photos of these vibrant colours.

I tried the Print Leaves project too. It was fun to go outside and choose a few leaves for this. I have a whole new appreciation of printmaking too! My leaves didn't turn out very pretty on paper because of my lack of knowledge but I could tell that with practice and maybe a proper ink brayer, my prints could improve...

Connect with Nature is a perfect inspiration source to connect with nature through each season. I will be keeping this book near our nature guides and will be choosing a project or two to do together or on my own each season! 

Connect with Nature: Projects to Grow, Gather, Make and Do can be found at: 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from Raincoast Books. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.