Adding More Self-care to Your Life

The more I've incorporated self-care into my life, the more I've realized how beneficial it is for my work, my relationships, and my happiness. Here are some tips to add more self-care into your life. 

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  • Schedule it.If you have a hard time of practicing self-care, ADD IT TO YOU TO DO LIST. Make yourself a priority. Everything else if your life will run more smoothly when you run more smoothly. 

  • Do something for yourself every day. Even a few minutes adds up. 

  • Speak kindly to yourself. Watch the thoughts that come in and out of your head. Are they nice? Do they lift you up or tear you down? We all have negative thoughts, but we don't have to believe them! Look yourself in the mirror every day and say something nice to yourself. Yes, aloud. Just do it. 

  • Be honest with yourself. What do you need today? Are you not feeling well? Would you benefit from taking that nap? Can you meditate a for like 5 minutes? You have five minutes. Can the laundry wait an hour or until tomorrow? Get real honest.

  • Set boundaries. After you've been honest, take what you need! Are you usually giving, giving giving, but today you need help or alone time? Take it or ask for it (nicely). 

  • Spoil yourself. You deserve it. Take yourself out to dinner. Get a massage or facial. Pour yourself a bath with candles and essential oils and relaxing music. Eat some chocolate. Treat yo self. 

  • Take care of your health. Whatever that means to you. Eat foods that feel good to you. Don't restrict yourself when you don't want to. Exercise in a way that makes your body feel strong and healthy. Rest when you need it. Listen to your body. 

  • Write it down. There's something about writing that makes things concrete. Write down what you love about yourself, your dreams, what you're grateful for. I promise you'll carry what you've written into your life. 

  • Get accountable. Get a friend on board with you and your dedication to self-care. Blog or post about it on instagram. Talk about it. The more you put it out there into the world, the more you’re likely to actually show up for yourself. If you need help with this accountability, you can join my two month mindfulness course, WORTHY. Click here to learn more about it and sign up for a call with me about the course.

Vegan Avocado Pesto 

Vegan Avocado Pesto 

This is one of my all time favorite meals to make. It’s yummy, easy, healthy, vegan, and fun to make!


Ingredients:

  • 4 oz basil

  • 3-4 garlic cloves

  • 4 tbs olive oil

  • 2-3 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 4 tbs sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or walnuts

  • 1 large lemon (may want to adjust, I like my pesto lemony)

  • 2 avocados

  • a pinch of salt and pepper


1. Add garlic cloves and 1 tbs (just estimate!) of olive oil to a piece of foil that you have folded up to look like a little bowl. Roast cloves in little foil bowl at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until they are just starting to brown. 
2. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor.
3. Add the garlic (and oil) after it's finished roasted. 
4. Process until finely chopped and mixed. You may have to pause and mix the pesto to get it to blend better. If the pesto is really having trouble blending, add more oil or a tablespoon of water at a time. 
5. I've been adding this pesto to pasta with kale and tofu that I have sautéed. It's so dang good and easy to make! 

Note: This will serve 4-6 servings. If you want to have pesto left over, I suggest waiting to add the mashed avocado directly before serving it on the leftovers. 

Vegan Avocado Pesto 

Some Books I Love

Radical Self Love - Gala Darling

A book I read early on when I started becoming interested in growth. One of the biggest things that I learned from this book is about tapping or EFT, which helped me through so much of my anxiety in college.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion - J. R. R. Tolkien

You know. Incredible story telling, vivid details, a classic.

Fuck it: Be at Peace with Life, Just as It is - John Parkin

One of the first self-help books I read, and it made a HUGE impact on me. A hilarious guide to not caring with care.

Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - Deepak Chopra

This book had a huge impact on me. I would love to read it again (baby Forrest ate my original copy so I’ll have to repurchase it). I thought I would include in a bit of detail what is covered in the book (this is from Wikipedia):

1. The Law of Pure Potentiality: Take time to be silent, to just BE. Meditate for 30 minutes twice a day. Silently witness the intelligence within every living thing. Practice non-judgment.

2. The Law of Giving: Today, bring whoever you encounter a gift: a compliment or flower. Gratefully receive gifts. Keep wealth circulating by giving and receiving care, affection, appreciation and love.

3. The Law of Karma: Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. Choosing actions that bring happiness and success to others ensures the flow of happiness and success to you.

4. The Law of Least Effort: Accept people, situations, and events as they occur. Take responsibility for your situation and for all events seen as problems. Relinquish the need to defend your point of view.

5. The Law of Intention and Desire: Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment. Make a list of desires. Trust that when things don’t seem to go your way, there is a reason.

6. The Law of Detachment: Allow yourself and others the freedom to be who they are. Do not force solutions—allow solutions to spontaneously emerge. Uncertainty is essential, and your path to freedom.

7. The Law of Dharma: to give is to get

Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga - Deepak Chopra

This book was super similar to the book listed above, but for me it was worth the repeat of information getting into my brain.

Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge - Damien Broderick

Essays about what the future might be like.

The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice - T. K. V. Desikachar 

My favorite book I’ve read about yoga. It really dives deep and also has the Sutras in the back of the book.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert

This book really inspired me to tap back into my creative side during a time when I was mostly using my logical brain as an engineer.

Inward - Yung Pueblo

Short reflections by a young author I love. I actually went to his book signing in NYC and met him!

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcom Gladwell

About following your instincts. Has some really cool stories too.

You are the One - Kute Blackson

Just a good self empowerment book. Awesome stories mixed with advice about following your heart and all that good junk.

Night - Elie Wiesel

Probably one of my favorite required reading books in high school. A powerful holocaust memoir.

The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment - Eckhart Tolle

The benefits of being in the present moment.

The Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren

My mom had this on audiobook and we would listen to it in the car when I was young. I don’t remember that much from it honestly, but I remember I loved listening to it.

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Another high school read that really shifted my perspective of the world.

East - Edith Pattou

One of my favorite adventure books growing up as a child. I’ve read this so many times.

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L’Engle

SUCH a good children’s book. Also have read this so many times.

Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling

You know. You know.

Watchmen - Alan Moore

I went though a graphic novel phase when I was young. This is the one that everyone reads, and that’s because it’s really good.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

I could read this over and over again.

Angel on the Square - Gloria Wheelan

I also went through a Russian historic fiction phase. This is a children’s book that follows a little girl though the revolution.

When Things Fall Apart - Pema Chodron

Given to me by a friend. I’m absolutely loving this book. It includes a lot about the benefits of meditation.

You are a Badass at Making Money - Jen Sincero

SO good and hilarious. All about our money mindset. Little journaling exercises scattered throughout and you know how I love journaling.

I could honestly include more, but that’s probably enough for now. I also have a habit of giving books away to friends after i’ve read them (especially the good ones) so that’s all I can remember.

On my list:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - Greg McKeown

Rising Strong - Brene Brown

The 4 Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferris

Launch - Jeff Walker

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype - Clarissa Pinkola Estes , Ph. D.

Raising Shakti - Kavitha M Chinnaivan MD

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley

Lovingkindness - Sharon Salzberg

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet - Michael R. Bloomberg, Carl Pope

Freedom from the Known - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Let me know some of your favorites so I can add them to my list!

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese with Broccoli & Chickpeas

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Ready for a cozy fall recipe? I recently made up this Vegan Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese, and it is now my official favorite cozy meal.

It’s super easy. Just need a baking pan and one pot.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash

  • 1.5 cups coconut milk (from a carton)

  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter or olive oil

  • 1.5 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme)

  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander (you can sub other seasonings like a little chili powder, parsley, or whatever you have around)

  • 1 16 ounce package of pasta (I used shells)

  • 1 head broccoli (chopped into small florets)

  • 1 can chickpeas

  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash off the butternut squash and place in a glass baking dish large enough to hold it. Fill the bottom of the pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees until the squash is easily pierced with a fork, about 70-90 minutes. This step can be done in advanced to save cooking time if you want!

  2. Let the squash cool. Remove the peeling. Scoop out the squash and put into a blender. Make sure to scoop around the seeds and fleshy inside located at the bottom of the squash. Compost or dispose of that junk.

  3. Add squash, coconut milk, nutritional yeast, vegan butter or olive oil, and all seasonings to blender. Blend until smooth.

  4. Cook the pasta in a large pot according to the directions until al dente. You want the pasta to not be completely cooked all the way so you can cook it in the sauce. Add the broccoli to the boiling pasta water during the last minute or two of cooking.

  5. Drain the pasta and broccoli and put back in pot. Add in the chickpeas.

  6. Mix in the sauce and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until the pasta is completely cooked.

  7. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

  8. EAT IT UP.

Note: if you don’t have a blender, you can also mash everything in a medium pot over low heat. You can also sub fresh garlic and onion in place of powder. Just dice up 1/2 an onion and three cloves of garlic and sauté over medium heat until onion is translucent and then add to blender.

My Growth Story

I’m super excited to announce the release of The Growth Guide on Wednesday, November 21!!! This 12 day course is designed to help you let go of what is no longer serving you and embrace your most powerful, content, joyful, authentic, and loving self. Each day has reading material that covers a specific growth topic, an assigned meditation from the Air & Earth Guided Meditations album, journaling prompts, and growth exercises. 

The material and the exercises in this guide are ideas and practices that I have learned along my growth journey. 

To get a preview of The Growth Guide, subscribe to my email list (either to the right or at the bottom of this page) and check your welcome letter!!!!

In honor of the release of The Growth Guide, I want to share my growth journey with you.

It all started when I was about 14. By this age I had reach a very dark place in my life from childhood trauma like being around addiction, domestic violence, and toxic relationships. I chose friends who were negative and behaviors that were damaging. I eventually cut myself off from friends and was constantly judging myself and others. By age 16, I reached a point where I did not enjoy life, not even close. I realized I needed help when I started having thoughts about harming myself and ending life. I told my parents, and they decided to get my help. I went to a psychiatrist and was put on anti anxiety meditation. I also started going to therapy. Slowly, I started to crawl out of the lowest point in my life. 

I started opening back up to old friends and letting go of ones who were keeping me in that dark place. By the time I graduated, I had friends and fun at school, but I still struggled with depression and anxiety. I had migraines and panic attacks multiple times a week. I still was very critical of myself and pushed myself very hard to be a high achiever in school. I enjoyed all subjects: language, reading and writing, history, art, physics, and math (balanced libra here). I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I did what many young people do: I did what I was told. 

I went to school to study civil engineering with the idea that I would eventually get a PhD and teach environmental engineering. After a few years in the program I realized that I had lost my balance. I felt such pressure to live up to what I imagined my professors wanted from me, but really I was just trying to live up to a perfection that would never exist. While I loved learning about technology and science, I also love creativity, and I no longer had time or energy for that. I slowed down my studies so that I could make more space for other things I loved. I was already dancing and teaching dance at a studio, but I also joined a choir, started taking photos and writing to share on social media, spending more time outside, and just generally slowing down. By this time, I had also become very interested in learning about self improvement. I started  meditating. I took myself off of my anxiety medication (note: I truly believe that medication really did help me with getting out of that dark place, but I felt I no longer needed it and haven’t been on it since I went off. PLEASE talk to a doctor before taking yourself off of medication). I started feeling better and better. 

During these few years I was also cycling though relationships. My first few relationships were not healthy. I was cheated on and even emotionally abused, but I victimized myself in these situations. I placed all of the blame on the other, instead of taking responsibility for my relationships. Now I see that I was attracting what I was putting out. I was not a very good partner. I was jealous and untrusting. I wouldn’t set boundaries so I would become resentful. However, as I started to learn more about creating a healthy relationship with myself, my relationships also got better. Each time I left a partner, the next partner felt a little better, but I still never felt happy with them, so I kept leaving. I have now realized that an incredible relationship is not about the other person. Relationships with other people work when the relationship with ourself works first and foremost. 

I started practicing yoga during the busiest time in my life. I was finishing up my undergraduate degree and capstone project, taking graduate courses, and training for a large role or teaching dance seven days a week. I started taking a 20 minute youtube class each day with the intention of improving my core strength. After a few days, I realized how good the practice was making me feel not just physically, but mentally as well. I started learning more about it and realized that it was not just physical exercise as I had previously believed. I was hooked. By the time I started grad school I was the most well balanced and happy I had ever been. I was still seriously stressed by an intense program and research, but I was better about setting boundaries and taking time for myself. I kept feeling better and better. 

During my time in grad school, I decided that I did not want to pursue a PhD, and was offered a job in Louisville about a year before my graduation. I accepted it, with the condition that I would take some time off before moving and starting the job. I went to Hawaii during this time and did a yoga teacher training, which was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. It changed me. I formed deep connections with the students and teachers. I felt at home in teaching, and I knew that it would become a huge part of my life. 

I moved to Louisville and started my job at the beginning of this year. I really did love and appreciate my job. The people were nice, the stability and benefits were good, and I was doing something beneficial for the community. I was grateful for it. However, during this time my heart was being pulled in a different direction. I wanted to teach yoga and mediation more. I wanted to write. My online community was growing and I wanted to continue sharing and connecting the people who were coming up for me. I waited it out. I trusted that if I felt a right time to make a shift, pushed me to change me sooner that I thought. 

Last April my dad had a health scare. We thought he might have to have heart surgery. I started making the 12 hour round trip drive to visit him many weekends. Thankfully, my dad was better off than the doctors originally thought, and he did not need surgery. Still, I wanted to be closer to home. I knew it was time. I talked to my employers, and they were incredibly supportive. I spent a few months wrapping up my work and preparing myself, and then I moved at the beginning of August. 

I only lived in Louisville for 8 months, but my time there changed me. I met some amazing people who were supportive and believed in me more that I believed in myself at the time. It was bittersweet to leave, but I felt in my heart that it was right. 

I moved home and felt amazing for the first week. I was working on finishing up my guided meditations and meditation guide and loving spending time with my dad. However, after the first week, one of those life things happened that stopped me in my feel good tracks. I was broken up with. 

Pain can make you question things, not see life clearly, and want to hide away instead of grow. That’s how I felt for the first few weeks after my break up. I questioned everything: my move, my choice to change careers, all of the relationships I had been through, even my own self worth. It was hard. Really hard. But I had been through hard stuff before, and I knew that it would pass. I knew not to make any decisions based on the grief I was feeling, but instead just let it come and go. It took a while, but it passed. I grew. I saw why it happened. I became thankful that it happened. 

You see, I have almost always been in a serious relationship since the time I was 17. I needed this time to be single. I needed to realize and harness my own power, without needing validation, without needing someone to run to when times got hard. I needed to learn to be my own hero. I needed to learn that my happiness is in my hands alone. These were things I always logically knew. I had read about these concepts for years, but words don’t teach, experiences do. 

I feel stronger than I ever have before. I feel more myself and complete every day. I don’t fear the hard times. I find gratitude in everything. I know happiness can be found regardless of what is going on. I know love can be felt without conditions.

When I look back, I am thankful for every single hard experience. The abuse I went through, the pain I witnessed in my family, the “failed” relationships, the confusion with what I wanted to do with my life - it has all made me who I am today. I went from feeling depressed and worthless for years, to worthy and joyful because I started and kept choosing growth through everything. I chose gratitude and forgiveness. I chose trust. I chose flow and ease. I chose family. I chose supporting and loving others. I chose vulnerability and deep connections. I chose to listen and aim to understand. 

And most of all, I chose to follow my own heart. I chose myself. 

If I can do this. So can you.

So can you.

5 Ways to stop being so hard on yourself

Are you one of those people who is constantly worrying or getting caught up in your own thoughts and negative self talk? Do you get overwhelmed and feel a lot of pressure to perform? Yep, I’ve been there, too. Trust me, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few things I’ve learned that have really helped me to let go, let loose, and just enjoy my life a little more.

Journaling in nature

Meditate. Meditation was my biggest game changer when it came to being nicer to myself. Meditation increases your awareness of your thoughts, your feelings, your desires. It has been scientifically proven to improve your relationships, your physical health, your sleep, and so much more. There is no wrong way to meditate, and even small moments of meditation help. Start by paying attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your lungs for a few moments. Don’t judge yourself as thoughts come up. Or start with a guided meditation. I’ve created a guided meditation album and meditation guide that would benefit you if you are interested in starting meditation or adding to your practice.

Journal. This is another great way to get in touch with yourself, and will therefore have a better understanding of your wants and needs. Journaling can help us process experiences and feelings, it can improve gratitude, and it can help us find positivity in difficult situations. Not sure what to write about? Sign up below to get four of my favorite journaling prompts sent directly to your inbox.

Take it slowly. Take a deep breath. Let go and trust a little. What happens if you don’t finish everything on your list? What happens if the laundry doesn’t get done today or you can’t make it to that meeting? It’ll all be okay! Learn to take things a little more slowly. Maybe commit to less. Treat yourself a little more. Take a bath. Watch the sunrise or sunset. Create a little more space in your life to just be.

Have more fun. After you’ve created the space, allow more fun into your life! Dance, sing, play, go hiking, travel, do something silly. Remember how good it feels to have as much fun as possible. Life doesn’t have to be so serious. Go with the flow a little more and say YES to the fun things that come up without guilt!

Forgive yourself. Remember that you are human. You screw up. You get hard on yourself. You have feelings. Forgive yourself. Forgive your mistakes.

What are some ways that you are kinder to yourself? Comment below or send me a message! I’d love to know and share.


Want more reflection and growth?

I'm finishing up a special project that will have you meditating, reflecting, and journaling to add some more growth in your life. Be on the lookout in the next few weeks for more info on the Air & Earth Growth Guide, a 12 day growth program to accompany Air & Earth Guided Meditations & Mediation Guide.

Oat Coconut Turmeric Matcha Latte

If you know anything about me, it’s probably that I love these things: dogs, traveling, movement, meditation, and MATCHA. I have been a matcha fiend for about 5 years now. My mom brought me a bag from an asian grocery store, and that ignited my love. I’ve been making my own lattes at home ever since. I’ve been toying with my recipe for years. I change it up often, sometimes adding cacao or maca or some other fun ingredient. Here’s the version I’m currently loving.

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For one big ass cup of matcha:

  • 1 cup oat milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or creme from a can (you can also use regular coconut milk, just add more milk and less water). I also love using macadamia nut milk.

  • 1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon matcha powder (if you’re new to the flavor of matcha, start with less and work your way up. I use about a tablespoon, but I love the flavor.)

  • Sweetener to taste (I use about 1 tbs of maple syrup or coconut sugar)

  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric

  • optional: a splash of vanilla, some mushroom powder, and/or a pinch of ginger powder

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high for a few seconds. This will mix it really well and also froth it up.

  2. Add matcha to a pot and heat until it’s hot. I like mine super hot so I heat to almost boiling.

  3. ENJOY. Yes, it’s that easy.

Note: After you’re familiar with how much of each ingredient to add, you don’t have to measure everything out. This usually takes me between 3-5 minutes to make each morning.

Another note: This recipe can also be made cold. Just don’t heat up the milk and then pour over ice.

Send me a picture or tag me in a story if you make this matcha latte so I can drool over it with you heheh.

Much love, Melissa

Travel Tipppssss

My love of traveling started when I was in college. My first out of the country trip (besides going to Germany and Luxembourg with my mom when I was eight) was a study abroad trip to China. I saw a poster in my math building’s hallway about the trip and knew I had to jump on it. Since then I’ve traveled to Peru, Costa Rica, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, and Germany (again) along with many places in the USA. I have upcoming trips planned for Colombia (my retreat yay) and more European countries for next year. I also have goals to do some backpacking through Asia, visit the Middle East, visit more countries in South America, and eventually find myself somewhere on the African and Australian continents.

Here are some traveling tips I’ve collected from my journeys.

Pack light. I alway use carry on luggage when I travel, even if I’m going to be gone for an entire month. This makes time in the airport a little shorter by not having to wait to check or pick up your bag and also makes it so you have less crap to carry around. Pack clothes that you can mix and match. Plan for layers if you’re going somewhere cold. Rewear clothes and wash them at some point if you need to. Wear heavy and bulky stuff on the plane like hiking boots, sweaters, or coats. Only bring necessary items. I basically only pack clothes, toiletries, a book, a notebook, my camera, and my computer. That’s about it. You really don’t need much else when you’re adventuring.

Stay with friends. This is my favorite way to travel. When I go to NYC I stay with a childhood friend. We get to hang out when she’s free, but I also have tons of time to explore the city and do some work on my own. I’ve also met so many amazing women through Instagram that I love having travel exchanges with. I go see them and then they come see me. It saves money, you get to see a friend, you have a local show you around, and you get to host someone in return! Other good cost friendly options include airbnbs and hostels. I’ve stayed in both and had really good experiences.

Cook and bring snacks. You don’t have to eat out for every meal. When I’m flying, I pack snacks, wraps, and other airplane friendly foods to munch on during my flights. I usually try to stay somewhere where I have access to a kitchen so I can cook some of my meals instead of eating out 3x a day. Also, it’s super fun to check out the grocery stores. When I was in Florence with my mom, we would go to a grocery store and get these huge delicious pieces of focaccia for like 1 or 2 euros. I miss that bread.

Don’t freak out. Just be aware that stuff won’t always go as planned. When I traveled alone to Costa Rica, I unknowingly got off the plane in the wrong town and spent the next few hours lost in translation in the middle of nowhere. I eventually found my way to my destination after a taxi ride, a ferry trip across a bay alone with two men (I tried to speak to them a little in terrible Spanish before getting on the boat with them and they seemed nice enough plus I had no other choices LOL), walking through town in the rain, being directed to the police station, using google translate to talk to the cops, and another taxi ride. But HEY it all worked out! I stayed calm the entire time because what good would freaking out have done? So if you miss your plane, something is closed, or you lose your luggage just take some deep breaths. It’ll all be okay.

Safety. Ugh this is such a hard one. Ladies who asked me safety questions, I get you. I personally am not the night owl type, so I can give any advice on going to clubs or whatever. If you are traveling solo, stay aware of your surroundings. Do some research on parts of town that are safe and where to avoid. If you go out on a date, make sure someone know where you are going and frequently check in with them. Sharing your location with a friend is a good option. It freaking sucks and shouldn’t be this way, but the reality is that bad things can happen to us ladies. So just listen to your gut and put your safety first. BUT please pleaseeee don’t let fear stop you from adventuring. Bad things can happen everywhere. Good things also happen everywhere. That’s life. Honestly I’ve had a lot of weird close calls while traveling, but I’ve also had some close calls with people almost wrecking into me. We all gonna die one day anyway so might as well make life fun, YOU KNO?

Planning vs. going with the flow.  I think it’s nice to have a good balance of both of these. I think if you have a packed itinerary, you may miss out on the opportunities that arise along the way! Some of the best places I’ve been to while traveling were suggested to me by locals. So don’t worry about over planning. Have some general plans and ideas about what you would like to do and then see what else comes up!

Group trips. Group trips are a fun way to travel. I went on quite a few in college. College age friends please jump on these trips! You can sometimes get scholarships!!!! If you’re not in college, don’t fear! There’s still tons of group options out there. Just google “Group Trips” and you’ll find tons of choices. Sometimes it’s nice to just show up and have someone else steer you around if you’re newer to traveling.

Take a longer trip. This isn’t feasible for everyone due to work, family, etc, but taking a longer trip is the best way to make the most out of your plane ticket.

Don’t buy junk you don’t need. One of the reasons I get to travel a lot is because I’ve always prioritized it in my budget. I save to travel. I question when I want to buy something if I would rather take a trip (it’s usually yes). And then once you’re on the trip, don’t buy tons of souvenirs and all that. I mean, you can if you want, but think about it. I’ll give you an example. When I went on my first trip, China, I was so excited that I got a jade necklace (I never wear it), some miniatures of the terracotta warriors (they’re cool but I broke two of them), some chopsticks (okay I actually really like those), and some expensive tea (I think it was expensive because it was a touristy place). Instead of getting all that stuff, I could have put that money toward another trip. I’ve become a lot more conscious of my consuming in the past few years. Not buying souvenirs or other stuff I don’t need is one of the ways I’m able to travel more.

Work exchange. I’ve never done this, but I know people who have. There’s tons of options out there to be a nanny, work at a hostel, or even do online work while you’re traveling. Google.

Traveling as a vegan. This one if for all you veggies out there. Happy Cow app is my best friend in the whole world. It’s amazing. Get it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people about their options. Just be super nice and people will be nice back. I usually ask clearly like “Do you have something without meat, dairy, or eggs?” If something gets messed up or you mess up, don’t be hard on yourself or on the other person. Don’t get offended if someone is surprised by your request. Just keep the gratitude mindset that we are so lucky to be able to travel, to have this want to help the animals and planet, and to have the privilege of being vegan in the first place.

Okay that’s all for now! Hope this helps you in your next adventure. If you’re looking for a new adventure, check out my retreat with  Mundo Adventures, Colombia Retreat 2019: An Adventure in Loving Connection from January 29th - Feburary 4th, 2019! This retreat is designed to help you get fully present and to let go and learn to tap back into your connected feeling self through outdoor adventures, self-love, and reflection practices. 

Much love, Melissa

Baby Steps to Loving Life

Loving life is a practice. Yes you heard me right, it's something that we can learn and develop. It’s a skill. If you feel like you’re stuck or unhappy and don’t know how to fix it, let me tell you, you can fix it. I’ve fixed it in my own life. I’ve watched myself go from being sad and stuck to absolutely loving my life, even during hard (or as I call them, “growth”) periods. It took me years and lots of effort, learning, and practice. It definitely didn’t happen overnight or due to a specific event. It takes a series of baby steps, as well as the knowledge that progress is not linear. It’s a life long practice to overcome obstacles and keep going and loving. Here’s some tips to start loving your life.

Set boundaries.

You don’t have to listen to the toxic and negative gossip at work. You don’t have to go to that dinner if you’re feeling exhausted and just want to chill at home. You don’t have to do anything out of fear or obligation or just to please others. Take care of yourself first. In front of everyone. EVERYONE. If you put yourself first, you will love others more fully. You will care and give from a place of love, not from a place that will leave you feeling resentful and drained. It’s not selfish. It’s not conceited. It’s actually one of the best things you can do for yourself and others. Setting boundaries means living with integrity.

Find practices that work for you.

For me, it’s meditation, writing, reading, nature, and yoga. For you, it may be lifting heavy weights, making music, and prayer. Find the stuff that fills your soul and make time for it. Even 10 minutes a day.

Don’t be afraid to test the waters.

Just because you made a choice a few years ago doesn’t mean you have to stick with it for the rest of your life. Don’t be afraid to try new things, new experiences, hobbies, even careers. If it’s a big change, take it one day at a time. Consider the worst that could happen and the best that could happen. Then dive in (or baby step in).

Get out of your head.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own problems and insecurities until we're in a puddle of life loathing and don’t know how to get out. Practice recognizing when negativity and sadness start to creep in, and then change it up. Go for a walk. Take 10 deep breaths. Make plans with a friend. Move your body. Listen to a podcast. This will help you stop the spiral of frustration and get a fresh perspective.

Get in a habit of self study.

What are your priorities? What are you grateful for? What are your goals for this week, this month, this year? What is bringing you down? What little changes can you make today? Write it down. Knowing yourself will help you make decisions that will lead you to where you want to be.

Make it important to you.

Carve out time every single day to take care of yourself. When you start to heal the inside (your heart, soul, and mind), your external reality will follow along. Most of all, don’t give up. Life will throw hard stuff at you. You will experience heartache, grief, loss, and a multitude of other hard experiences, but that doesn’t have to mean that your life sucks. Know that you are not alone. Know that you can take these experiences and grow through them. Know that you can find happiness and contentment right inside your heart with a little bit of practice.


Sending you love and lots of joy today,

Melissa



Nine Paths to Healing

Sometimes life gives you lemons and you get to make yummy lemonade.

And sometimes life gives you lemons and you think you’re making yummy lemonade but then you realize one of the lemons was rotten and it messed up your entire pitcher of lemonade and you really wanted to share that lemonade at the party that you’re going to later but now it’s just ruined and that really sucks and you wish you would’ve realized before squeezing that lemon in there but how could you have known and you’re wondering if you can still drink it and be fine but you’re just sad and confused now.

Aka.. Sometimes we think we’re doing the right thing, but things get messy and we get hurt anyway.

This is about how to move on and feel better once you (or someone else, or life) have squeeze a rotten lemon in your lemonade.

Healing from hurt is scary and hard. So many past emotions (ones we thought we had healed from or ones that were buried deep down within us) come to surface. We can experience confusion, self blame, grief, anger, denial, depression all from one single event or series of events.

But there’s hope. There’s growth. We just have to see it and not give up.

Here’s how:

  1. Drink the lemonade. Just kidding. It's a metaphor. But we have to FEEL THE PAIN to get to the other side of pain. Pushing it away will only save it for later. It’ll come up again. We’ve all experienced this. So, if you’ve gone through something traumatic recently, allow yourself to grieve, cry, yell. Let the feelings roll. Even a good 20 minute crying session can make way for you to feel a little like yourself again for the rest of the day.

  2. Get help. You’re not alone. You’re never alone. Talk to someone. Family, friends, significant other, a therapist, your dog. Find a support group or online forum. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings. We all have them (no matter how well we can hide them sometimes).

  3. Become familiar with what you’re experiencing. There are so many articles out there on every type of painful experience. Reading about what you’re going through is a way to help you understand that your reactions are completely valid.

  4. Do stuff you love to do and do lots of it. Watch a movie. Read a book. It’s okay to spend some time being distracted from the pain. You can’t spend all of your time in #1 (just make sure you spend some time there).

  5. Think big picture. Sometimes it takes looking outside of your life to get a little perspective. I love going into the grandness of nature for this, or listening to the news. Personally, some of the stuff I’ve been through is still nothing compared to what others have been through. This doesn’t invalidate my pain, but it does make me realize how much I have in my life for which to be grateful.

  6. Keep going. If you’ve experienced some deep pain recently, even 20 minutes of productivity can feel amazing. Do small things first and work your way back to being productive. Put on your favorite shirt. Clean up your house a little. Little things can make you feel back in control of your life at least a wee bit.

  7. Find healing methods that work for you. We all go through different things, and we all heal from them differently. Personally, talking to others, therapy, spending time in nature, and meditation are my biggest healers in my life.  

  8. Find compassion. If someone hurt you, try try try not to take it personally. Even if they were super close to you. Hurt people hurt people. We hear this all the time, and it's true. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it can make it easier to find forgiveness. Find forgiveness as soon as possible, for your own sake, not necessarily theirs. Also be compassionate with yourself. You don’t have to be fully okay all the time. Allow yourself the time you need to grieve, hurt, or work through anger.

  9. Find gratitude. OMG honey it’s growth time. Not just that “ohhh lets try something new and grow” growth, but that “shit just hit the fan and I have no choice but to grow or else my life will fall apart” growth. It sucks, yep, but you have the potential to learn SO MUCH right now. Take note of what you’re learning, and how those things can be used to help you in the future with how you treat yourself and others. Then, be grateful for that.

Healing can be hard and messy, but with a little consciousness with how you move forward after a trauma or loss, you can come out stronger on the other side. 

Much love, Melissa

My Vegan Story

I have always considered myself an animal lover, environmentalist, and healthy eater.

I’ve always ooohhhed and ahhhhhed at cute farm animals and caged zoo animals. My family has had all kinds of animals throughout the years: dogs, cats, goats, snakes, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and even an actual pig! My best friends have always been animals. When I was little, I would talk to the cows in the field across from my backyard. I grew up taking care of a dog, Violet, from the time I was 10 years old. She even came with me to college and was my best friend until she passed away at the age of 14. 

I’ve always loved nature. I love hiking, camping, and anything else that gets me outside. I wanted to do something with my life that helped save the planet, so I chose environmental engineering. I got through my undergrad and started graduate school in the same field. I tried to do the stuff you’re supposed to do to help the planet. Don’t litter. Recycle. Save energy where you can. Use reusable grocery bags.

I grew up eating the standard American diet. When I went to college, I became more interested in health. So I started eating more salads, buying organic meat, and ate less sugar. I was still tired and needed a slow supply of coffee to get me through the day. I just thought that was what happened when you became an adult. You have less energy, so you have to find other ways to keep up with the constant busyness and handle the pressure to do so much in so little time without stopping to take care of yourself.

I tried so hard to be the person I thought I should be. I tried to please everyone around me and do what I thought was right. I was in a constant state of stress over how I was performing in school, as well as my other many commitments. I was drained, overworked, and burned out. And I was barely into my twenties. My life was great. I was privileged, paid to go to college, had everything I would ever need and more, but I was unhappy and unfulfilled.

It only took a few hours for me to realize that there could be more to life, that I could do more with less energy, and that I needed to change.

In fall of 2015, I came down with a case of bronchitis that lasted over a month. I rarely missed my classes, but I felt really terrible on one particular day, so I decided to stay in bed. I flipped through Netflix until I found a documentary that looked interesting: Cowspiracy. Cowspiracy uncovers the fact that animal agriculture is the greatest source of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Factory farming is also the leading cause of rain forest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, and ocean dead zones. Some of the facts presented in the documentary are as follows:

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.

442 – 8,000 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.

Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.

We are currently in the largest mass extinction in 65 million years.

A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.

3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.

Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.

As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year.

Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.

1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.

Ten thousand years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the zoomass.

70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.

We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.

82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.

Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:

Vegan: 1/6th acre

Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan

Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan

A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food.

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.

Note: These are not made up numbers. These are numbers that are backed up by peer-reviewed sources and experts in their field. As mind boggling as these numbers are, how do we not hear about this every day in the public news? How are we destroying our planet, unknown to many of us, at such an alarming rate? More facts and sources can be found at http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/.

I was left in COMPLETE SHOCK by the numbers. I needed to know more about veganism. What did that even mean? So I watched another documentary on the same day: Veducated. This documentary followed three average Americans as they adopted a vegan lifestyle, and explains the many ways that eating more plants is good for your body. The film also showed a five minute long clip of what really goes on in an average slaughterhouse. It was beyond disturbing. It’s a real life horror story. I remember pausing the clip halfway through and clinging to Violet as I cried. I wanted this for no animal, no matter how small or different from us. I had to change. I was finished with eating animal products.

The transition was a little scary. I contacted the only vegan I knew for moral support, and she graciously helped me through the process. (She is now one of my very best friends. Thank you, Lindsay.) I cut out meat first, then cheese, then sweets. Some people become vegans overnight. Some transition. I had to transition, which is okay. I did my best. I slowly felt better and better.

Since that day, I have educated myself on veganism extensively. I find inspiration from Instagram, bloggers, YouTubers, etc on what to eat. I read books and watch documentaries to learn about nutrition and the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. The more I learn, the more I am sure that this is the lifestyle for me. It makes sense for the planet, for the animals, and for my body. 

I have felt such a drastic shift in my life since becoming plant-based. I have felt the effects of the peace that I have been consuming seep into the rest of my life. I know that I am making a difference to bring peace to our planet. I refuse violence that is manifesting in my backyard. I know that I am doing something huge to take care of the planet. I take care of my body and my mental health. I don’t let school and work control my life. I’m not tired. I’m a pacifist, an environmentalist, and I’m happy and fulfilled. I have been vegan for two and a half years now, and haven't looked back. My family has been inspired to consume less animal products. My mom rarely eats meat, my brother changed his health by consuming less animal products, and my dad has recently started eating more veggies after having a heart health scare. 

I feel compelled to share my experience from a place of compassion and understanding. I'm not asking you to drop everything and pursue veganism. Most of the time, I don't talk about veganism with the people around me unless I am asked to do so. This is my experience. I know this is a huge life shift, and may not be available for some people for various reasons. However, I think we can all become more aware of what we consume in the form of food, clothing, and all other products and how those things affect our bodies, the environment, and the being who created the product. Consider eating less meat, or meat that comes from sustainable and humane sources. Find a balance of what works for you, your lifestyle, and your family, but is also considerate of the world and the creatures who share this place we call home. 

 

❤ Melissa