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Connect to Your Core

Connect to your core and you’ll find strength, Act from your core and you’ll move mountains. - Gabriella Goddard

Getting to the core of things. That’s been my focus lately. Actually for quite some time now.
Turning inward. Finding & strengthening my center, my core.

Core in every sense of the word - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.

It’s a complex and beautiful journey. At times it can feel like five steps forward, five steps back. Other times it feels great. My spirits soar. I feel so strong and secure I literally, physically can float my feet above my head, or mentally handle anything that comes my way during the day with a peace and equanimity I thought was only possible for monks and those living off the grid, somewhere in the sweet serenity of nature.

While I ADORE the mountains and will head back to them soon (I’m coming for you Yosemite and Banff) the yoga & meditation practice I have dedicated myself to over the past 2 years has helped me find my core even while living in the ever expanding cement and concrete landscape of my sweet home, Chicago.

When I am through with my practice, whether it’s yoga, meditation (also prayer time for me), or both, I can find my core more easily. That unshakable place inside that speaks the truth to me in all circumstances. This is the internal compass I tap into. The guidance that helps carry me when I begin to feel flustered, frustrated or fearful. Taking this time regularly for myself everyday (in whatever form my body needs that day) is the place I find true strength. MY core. The one that knows when its right to keep pushing through or to pause & take a step back. Thhe one that believes more than doubts. Has faith more than fear, and reminds me that often the strongest action we can take is surrender.

My mother, a devout Catholic spiritual director, who would have celebrated her birthday today, used this word surrender so often. I didn’t understand years ago, but I’m beginning to now. Surrender is not weakness. Surrender is finding your center. Knowing who you really are, your true strength and bravely taking actions that match that. Essentially living from your core.

That type of living led my husband and I up to the mountains last year, and will again this year. It’s led me to explore yoga and mediation and work and play in new ways. It’s helped me dream bigger, feel more energized and alive than I ever have been while maintaining a sense of calm happiness all along. It has also led me to change the name of my Sunday yoga class to Core Vinyasa, a blend of yoga goodness intentionally focused on building the qualities of strength and surrender. It has even led me to know that the best thing for this blog at this time is to make it a monthly, rather than a weekly thing. At least for now (new projects are a brewin'). This act of surrender, straight from my core is needed to keep allowing more goodness and growth in.

So now I want to know - What connects you to your core? What actions are your internal compass guiding you toward? Be brave and share your thoughts here! I and all of the ALL GOOD THINGS community are here to help cheer you on!

Until next time. . .

Here's to enjoying your life & ALL GOOD THINGS my friends!

XOXO,

Mary

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Greens on the Go

Changing routines and habits can be hard, especially when it comes to food. We all have tastes and textures we prefer, but sometimes our bodies need something different to feel and perform their best. That's why about 7 years ago I began experimenting with different "green drink" recipes.

At first it wasn't easy. I didn't like how it tasted and thought I had to stick to just the recipe to keep feeling the health benefits. Basically I dreaded it and my husband thought I was nuts, torturing us to consume these concoctions daily. Then, a friend told me about the Conscious Cleanse. Now, I'm not a fan of cleanses, but I gave this site a gander and was pleasantly surprised. It's choc full of really delicious, healthy recipes and tons of options for "green drink" smoothies!

Over the years I've mixed and matched ingredients from the guide below. I'm happy to report Brian & I eagerly gulp these down everyday now! We even crave them if we're away from home too long. Quite the accomplishment considering Brian would not eat fruits or veggies when I first met him.

Keeping things simple and easy we keep this taped inside our kitchen cabinet right next to the blender.

Keeping things simple and easy we keep this taped inside our kitchen cabinet right next to the blender.

I like to make my green drinks so I can take them on the go. I usually make a batch for 4 servings and put them in the fridge. My husband & I each have one everyday, so this lasts us 2 days. They're perfect to have as a mini meal, mid-day snack, along with lunch, or something to hold you over right before dinner so you don't eat everything in site as soon as you get home.

Lately this has been our go-to combination:

Pictured: Green chard, flax seed meal, coconut water, chopped mango & pineapple, I don't measure anymore. Basically I just fill the blender with fruit & coconut water first, then flax seed, followed by as much greens as I can fit in. Next I cover it all with more regular water. Our finished drink is more like a juice than a smoothie. Chia seeds go into each individual serving last.

Pictured: Green chard, flax seed meal, coconut water, chopped mango & pineapple, I don't measure anymore. Basically I just fill the blender with fruit & coconut water first, then flax seed, followed by as much greens as I can fit in. Next I cover it all with more regular water. Our finished drink is more like a juice than a smoothie. Chia seeds go into each individual serving last.

Pro tip: If you like the idea of making your drinks ahead of time and you're adding chia seed, which is outstanding for you by the way, DO NOT BLEND IT. Blend everything else together first. Then, put your chia seeds in each container. Give each one a good shake and place in the fridge. I learned the hard way blending the chia seed thickens things A LOT in a short amount of time. Try it if you like that sort of thing, but just know letting it sit in the fridge overnight it will thicken up so much the texture will be more like pudding than a drink.

So, whaddya think? Will you give green drinks a try? If so, let me know! I'd love to hear how it goes and if you have any other everyday, go-to healthy recipes too! Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Cheers to eating healthy, feeling healthy & drinking green!

Until next time. . .

Here's to enjoying your life & ALL GOOD THINGS my friends!

XOXO,

Mary

P.S. Click here if you'd like more good-for-you, tasty recipes from the Conscious Cleanse.

P.P.S. We use a VItaMix blender. It is absolutely amazing and has lasted for years. Well worth the $$$.

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A Rich Life

He who knows he has enough is rich.

- Lao Tzu

What makes your life rich? That was the question I asked my students this past Friday, St. Patrick's Day. There was only one caveat. "It can't be money." Then they listed an item on each "gold" coin filling up their pots of gold. This was one happy beginning to my weekend.

These kiddos not only had an easy time filling their pots seeing just how rich their lives are, they had fun. You could literally feel the happiness in the room as they wrote and shared and glued. It was a special moment & lesson I hope to always remember.
I carried this focus with me as the weekend went on. It was a combination of ups and downs and choices. Ultimately an exercise in living out a line I wrote in my new year's dare: I dare you to not be burdened by what you "should" do but instead live in the space of what you're meant to do.


Click here if you'd like to read the full New Year's dare.


Life's journey the past 2 1/2 years has led my husband and me down a path of exploring new interests, living a different kind of day to day than we planned and adjusting to a new financial experience. At times we've been apprehensive and scared. Heck, we've even doubted what we were doing at times, and felt less than successful. But, somehow in following what truly fills us up we've found more happiness and abundance than we dreamed we could. We just have to keep our focus in check. We've always had enough. Enough for ourselves and to share with others. The sacrifices that come with making our new way is better than okay. It's great and fulfilling us in so many ways!

These photos show just a few moments highlighting special times this weekend connecting with those we love & exploring new interests. :) Click here to check out Brian's latest podcast!

In fact, sitting in the dark right before watching my lovely friend, Helen, perform in a magnificent play on Sunday, Brian turned to me and said with some of the deepest sincerity I've ever heard in his voice, or seen in his eyes, "I love our life. It's full of everything I've wanted. It's better than I imagined in such different & unexpected ways. It's incredible." I looked at him with a satisfaction I truly cannot put into word and smiled. Then the show began.

Click the link below to learn more about this awesome show! It runs through April 1st.

Click the link below to learn more about this awesome show! It runs through April 1st.

So after 2 1/2 years of figuring out this newness what do we have to show for it? Lots of new adventures, stories and friendships, deeper connections with old friends and family and most of all happy hearts. Yes, there have been bumps in the road, but nothing that can slow down our drive to continue living life in a way that fills us up with much more satisfaction than anything money can buy. We've intentionally followed our hearts, supported each other, worked hard and continually chosen to spend our time in ways that matter most to us, ultimately leading us to feel we are living a rich life!

Which leads me to ask - What fills you up and makes your life rich? What do you count as your true fortunes in life? List them out and see how happy you begin to feel. Can you do at least one thing this week to make more time for those people and things that matter most to you? Let me know what your ideas are, if you try it out and how it goes. I'd love if you'd share some of your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Until next time. . .

Here's to enjoying your life & ALL GOOD THINGS my friends!

XOXO,

Mary

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Just Do It

Trust yourself, then you will know how to live.

- Johann Wolfgang van Goethe


Recently Brian and I went on a yoga retreat. We didn’t know anyone else going, and we had never taken class with the teachers leading it. Why did we do it? It made sense and it just felt right. We knew we just had to.  So almost on a whim we signed ourselves up, decided this would be a good thing and headed to Tulum, Mexico.

View right outside of our room. We knew as soon as we arrived here we were in a special place.

View right outside of our room. We knew as soon as we arrived here we were in a special place.

How did it end up? Just take another look at that photo above, or below for that matter. This place and this trip was really incredible. Not only was the location beautiful, it seemed everything, big and small, was soaked in specialness. Things just worked out so easily and with more enjoyment and magic than anything we could have planned to have happen. We experienced countless fun and even serendipitous moments. We're still floating in all the happy memories of it today.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean each night and woke up to this beautiful sunrise each day! We usually like to sleep in a little on vacation. Not here! The views were too gorgeous to miss. Thanks to our new friend, Kate for this photo!

We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean each night and woke up to this beautiful sunrise each day! We usually like to sleep in a little on vacation. Not here! The views were too gorgeous to miss. Thanks to our new friend, Kate for this photo!

Brian finally understood and began meditating - for real! This is something he has tried for years, but it just never stuck. Our experience in Tulum changed him. He even continues his meditation practice at home each morning and carries the peace of that around with him throughout his days now!

Ahh, sweet serenity!

Ahh, sweet serenity!

We practiced yoga and learned about it in a way that allowed me to see myself continuing practicing and teaching it well into my future. Thank you Quinn & Claire! Truly phenomenal teachers that put the trip together and 2 outstanding sessions of yoga each day.

Big love and thanks to these wonderful teachers, Quinn Kearney & Claire Mark! You can practice with them too at Yogaview! Check out this studio and their schedules at the link below.

Big love and thanks to these wonderful teachers, Quinn Kearney & Claire Mark! You can practice with them too at Yogaview! Check out this studio and their schedules at the link below.

We met so many lovely new friends who have a passion of creativity, exploration, enjoying life and living life with intention - all good things! With them we enjoyed so many cool, casual, and meaningful conversations over meals about life & work & fun & making the most of it all. We even came up with one of our new favorite phases: “Action is Clarity!” (More on that in future post. :) )

We danced. What can I say? Dance is one of the biggest pieces of our relationship and brings so much joy to our lives. It was beyond special to have it fit in so seamlessly here and share that joy with others in this space.

We explored, walking around ancient Mayan ruins, among tropical beauty and so many iguanas. It was so much fun!

We met interesting & inspiring people, even outside of our yoga retreat group like this former professional poker player, Sebastian, and his dog Nola. They are traveling the world in school bus he converted to an RV style home. His mission in life he said, “To show people anything is possible.” Gotta love that attitude! Funny fact: Brian has talked about living in and traveling all over in an RV since I've met him, so he was beyond excited to see how Sebastian built his mobile home and is traveling all around so far from Canada, to the US and into Mexico and South America. You can see how he converted his bus into a home and a bit about his travels in the video below. Yeah, it's all in French, but it's still interesting.

All in all, everything we experienced filled us up with so much joy and appreciation for life. We are so glad we decided to just do it. We dove right into this experience, not sure what to expect and soaked up all the goodness it had to offer. We are still smiling and talking about it weeks after it has been over!

Now I’d like to know - Have you ever trusted yourself and done something just because it felt right? Or, is there anything you're curious about right now that you feel you have to do, or just need to explore? Does anything about it feel right? If so, let me know in the comments below! I'd love to know about adventures you've had and ones still yet to come. I truly believe that our lives can surprise us and open up in beautifully when we are brave enough to trust our instincts and just do it!

Until next time cheers to the new adventures trusting yourself leads to!

Here's to enjoying your life & ALL GOOD THINGS my friends!

XOXO,

Mary

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