Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Svadhyaya

Good morning! The word of the day is Svadhyaya. It means self-study.

Svadhyaya is the fourth niyama, or personal guideline, laid out in Patanjali’s eightfold path. The previous niyamas are

1. saucha- purity

2. santosha- contentment

3. tapas- heat

The “self” in self-study is referring to our inner selves. Basically our “self” in yoga is what’s left once we strip away the titles, relationships, characteristics and qualities that we identify with. It’s our inner truth and light. The Yoga Sutras teach us that our “self” is separate from our ego. It’s our ego that wants to identify as smart, pretty, interesting or whatever else we desire. If we can learn to detach from what we are on the surface then we can begin to let go of pain and suffering.

“One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.”     ~Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now

First Fiesta

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Vegan zucchini cake with whipped coconut frosting

On Monday our little taco turned uno. We celebrated over the weekend with a backyard Mexican fiesta. My friend Nicole made the cakes, a healthy-ish zucchini for Max and a decadent tres leches for the rest of us (find her on Facebook at Belle Torte Cakes). The local Mexican restaurant delivered the food and we kept the whole thing simple yet festive.

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A year of Max

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Week 2: 40 in 40

I’ve slowed down a little on the decluttering, but I’m still at it little by little. We’re at our home in Florida this week.

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Newly organized toys and books

Day 8: Wednesday

Goodbye dry cleaning bags and assorted trash (stashed in the closet from our November wedding).

Day 9: Thursday

Farewell bachelorette gift bags and leftover game cards. Definitely a time to hold on to the memory, not the items!

Day 10: Friday

We have tons of hand-me-down toys. I sorted through and pulled out the broken ones, plus the ones that are choking hazards. I bought really cute baskets at the Dollar Tree. Max loves to dump out the toys and throw them back in.

Day 11: Saturday

The yard: bags of leaves, extra siding and other various bits of clutter.

Day 12: Sunday

It’s not decluttering per se, but I took care of a small pile of stained clothes I’ve been avoiding for months. I soaked them in OxiClean for a few hours, washed and hung them to dry (is there a more natural alternative to fight stains?).

Day 13: Monday

I sorted through a stack of random papers and receipts. It doesn’t seem like much, but that stuff really adds up around our house.

Day 14: Tuesday

Today I plan to clean up the kitchen pantry. It’s full of wedding decorations, toys and art supplies.

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Baskets for Max

What’s the hardest part of decluttering? What’s the best part?

Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Tapas

Good morning! The word of the day is tapas. It means heat or austerity.

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A Costa Rican sky illuminated by the fiery sun

The root of the word, tap, means to burn. Tapas is traditionally interpreted as “fiery discipline” (here’s a Yoga Journal article on the subject). Tapas is the burning desire and motivation to keep going. It’s also consistency.

How many times have I started something with full vigor only to forget about it a few days later? This blog is a running record of all the great ideas I’ve jumped on. But sticking with something? That’s another story. Patanjali tells us that we should use our inner fire to change negative habits, whatever they are. We can recognize that we have a choice to follow or change our patterns. Simply put, tapas is self-discipline.

For background info, click here.

Progress Report: 40 in 40

Today marks the seventh day of blogger Ann Marie’s 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. I have diligently kept up with decluttering at least one drawer or area per day. Here’s a synopsis of my progress so far along with a few Instagram pics.

Day 1: Wednesday

M got in the decluttering spirit with me and we tackled the garage. I think we put out 10 bags of paper and cardboard for recycling. We also found a few totes of stuff we forgot existed. I convinced him to get rid of the Christmas ornaments that haven’t made it on the tree in the last few years but the collection of Budweiser mugs is here to stay (in a box in the garage). I was elated to find a stack of skinny jeans that were tucked away prepregnancy and now fit.

Giving ebay’s new service a try

Day 2: Thursday

We use our formal dining room as a craft room since we always eat at the kitchen table. On Thursday I tackled the desk drawers that were home to hardened clay, outgrown coloring books and dried up markers. The total: one bag of garbage and one bag of donation stuff.

Day 3: Friday

The laundry room and the coat closet were both stuffed full of items that belong in other places. I got my workout going up and down the stairs putting things away. But oh, the satisfaction at the end!

Day 4: Saturday

The jewelry box. I don’t spend a lot of money on jewelry and I usually buy a pair of earrings or a bracelet while traveling. This means I own a lot of shell, rock and bright-colored accessories that don’t really match my lifestyle anymore. I had fun buying them. I contributed to the local economies and met cool people. But when I do wear jewelry I always reach for the same few things that seem to go with everything. So good-bye to the really cool earrings that match nothing I own. I hope your new owner loves you and wears you often.

The earring drawer BEFORE

The earring drawer AFTER

Organized bangles

Day 5 & 6: Sunday-Monday

My gay bestie and NYC stylist came for a visit. He ruthlessly told me which clothes to keep and which to sell or donate. The total from the closet: one bag of sold clothes to Buffalo Exchange and three bags of clothes and accessories to donate to monsoon victims in the Philippines (via my baby-sitter).

Day 7: Tuesday

Still working on the closet and today it was the undergarment drawers. Goodbye old ratty items that should have been tossed long ago.

Ask yourself one simple question when choosing whether to keep something: “If I lost it by mistake, would I really care – or even be glad?” (Cassie T, found in the comment section of this blog post)

Are you decluttering? What’s the best part? What’s hard to let go?

Books for a Cause

Last month I posted about getting rid of books. A few days later I got a notice in the mail from Big Brothers Big Sisters asking for…drum roll please…book donations (along with other items like clothing and kitchen appliances). And to make things as easy as possible they will actually pick up donations right from your doorstep. The link above allows you to reserve a pick-up day. Simply click on the place where the items will be and they won’t even knock on your door. How easy is that?

I read somewhere (in the comments of a blog that I can’t remember) the suggestion of scheduling a pick-up every so often as a deadline for clearing out clutter. That’s an idea!

Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Santosha

Good morning! The word of the day is Santosha~contentment.

It’s been a while since the last Saturday Morning Sanskrit post…but I love learning the meaning behind these ancient words so I’m picking it back up where I left off. Before Baby Max came along I was studying Patanjali’s eightfold path.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, click here. The Yamas in the first limb address social behaviors. The Niyamas in the second limb focus on our thoughts and attitudes. There are five niyamas, or personal guidelines, to help us with our thoughts. The second is Santosha, which means contentment.

The dictionary defines contentment as a state of happiness and satisfaction.

Basically Patanjali tells us to be satisfied with what we have. It’s such a simple thought, yet at times it seems impossible. Our consumer-driven culture doesn’t help matters. But according to the ancient texts we really can be content with what we have, it just takes practice.

Contentment arrives when we make the choice to be happy with what we have. It’s not easy going against old habits. Especially old Nordstrom Rack habits when planning a Mexican-themed afternoon fiesta. But I’ve committed to the idea of Santosha~contentment with what I have, so I’m pulling out the summer tote to dig through the pile of dresses I already own to find just the perfect outfit. I’m also reading an amazing book about voluntary simplicity, which I will share more about later this week.

How do you practice contentment with what you have?

Snow Day

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Is there anything better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold snowy day? There was a fluffy white covering outside on Monday. Baby Max and I stayed in our jammies all day and I managed to make this delicious curried carrot soup with ginger and coconut milk. The side dish in the background is crunchy slaw salad from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking. We kept busy playing catch, building with legos and tossing around in the snow.

What’s your perfect snow day?

40 Bags in 40 Days

Happy first day of Lent! It was three years ago that I decided to dip my foot in the pool of vegetarianism for 40 days. While I did go back to eating seafood, my life was still changed in a significant way. This morning I came across Ann Marie’s 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge. What a perfect way to shed excess baggage and lighten up. Click the link for details, planning and printables. I plan to post pics on Instagram and update here once a week. I would love to have you join me!

Every Mother Counts

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon hooked on A Cup of Jo’s Motherhood Around the World series. Joanna featured guest posts from American moms living abroad in various places such as India, Norway and Japan. I loved all of the insight, but the one post that has really stuck with me was written by Jill and Sarah in Congo. These two mamas have their own blog Mama Congo. Their post about a visit to a maternity clinic gives a little glimpse about what life is like in Africa. Needless to say, it’s not easy. My day-to-day dilemmas are small potatoes, but sometimes I find myself swept up in the trivial stuff that just doesn’t matter. Reading something like this reminds me that there are so many people suffering from serious problems like lack of food, water and medical supplies. M and I have decided to dedicate Baby Max’s first birthday to charity. We’re making a small donation to Every Mother Counts and we’ve slipped a short note in with our party invites (that’s not to say we aren’t still planning a festive shindig).

Dear Friends and Family,

We would like to express that your presence is present enough. If you feel inclined to give something, please consider a small donation to a worthwhile cause. We support Every Mother Counts, an organization dedicated to improving maternal and infant health in Africa. Thank you!

Much love,

Angela, M & Max