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The First Step to a Happier, More Balanced Life is Becoming Your Own Best Friend. Here’s How….

breakingvegan

The author at the beach.

The Balanced Blonde knows a little something about putting the work in to be your happiest self. In her book, Breaking Vegan, Jordan explains her battle with orthorexia and how she learned to accept life in a more balanced and positive way.


 

Seriously, be comfortable with yourself! Have you ever heard the expression, “What you eat in private, you wear in public?”

Well also, what you do in private, you embody in public. If you sit around getting down on yourself and second-guessing your every move, you will emanate negativity and low self-confidence.

On the other hand, if you wake up, tell yourself you’re beautiful and down a gingery green juice like you mean it, you will radiate the same confidence in public. Living in New York taught me wonders about learning not only to be comfortable with myself, but also to enjoy my own company in quiet moments.

If you can trust your own opinions and reactions, you have a lifelong confidant who can’t help but have your best intentions in mind. The hardest thing for all of us to develop is that trust with ourselves, and we can strengthen it by practicing being kind to ourselves.

Choose a mantra. It can be anything from “I am beautiful” to “I radiate confidence and happiness because I choose to be confident, happy, and content with every aspect of myself,” or anything in between. The only requirement is that the mantra must be kind and gentle, and it must hold enough truth that you don’t have to call your own BS every time you say it.

My mantra of choice is; “Today I am perfect.” I like to include the immediacy of today, because so often we get caught up worrying about the future or rehashing the past. We forgot to live in the moment. It’s easy to say we’re going to enjoy the beauty of each day, but how often do we really stop to notice the splendor in the little things? The natural things. When we’re at peace with ourselves, and when we befriend ourselves, we can begin to live in the now.

I chose the word perfect not because of the stigma of perfection in itself, but because to me, the word embodies complete and utter contentedness. Things are never downright perfect, but shrugging off the imperfections and accepting them as part of the package allows us to focus only on the good. Whatever “perfection” means in my life changes every day, and waking up each morning and believing in my own true perfection is a breath of fresh air.

Choose a mantra that feels right (it could be anything!) and repeat it to yourself at a time of day that makes the most sense to you. I like to do it in the mornings when I’m getting ready, because I’m already in front of the mirror and can really look into my eyes and hold myself accountable. Some people might prefer to recite their mantra during their morning commute or incorporate it into a bedtime ritual. Find what works for you and run with it.

The second trust-strengthening exercise is to practice forgiveness with yourself as much as possible. Say you lose your [cool] sitting in traffic or you spend an entire day completely obsessing over something that hasn’t even happened yet. You are not a failure for doing either of those things. You are human!

You are allowed to make mistakes. In fact, at the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, the mistakes you make will actually strengthen your character as a whole and remind you why you make the choices you do.

So be your own best friend. Trust that chick or dude you see in the mirror. Love that person. She/he rocks. A LOT. Believe it. Repeat that mantra until you are blue in the face if you need to, and forgive, forgive, forgive.

And then start all over again, because every friendship has its ups and downs, and the beauty of compassion and understanding is the foundation of any lasting relationship. Forgive yourself, and befriend that awesome son of a gun.

BreakingVeganBREAKING VEGAN

Balance in a healthy lifestyle is important. Sometimes you need to change your state of mind, activity, or diet. Sometimes balance means a recalibration of what you thought was a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes you have to change your plan to suit your needs. Sometimes you have to do what’s right for you.

That’s just what author Jordan Younger did when she decided that her extreme, plant-based, vegan lifestyle just wasn’t working in favor of her health. Breaking Vegan is Jordan’s genuine, heartfelt story of how veganism and obsessive “healthy” dieting lead her to disordered eating, what it was like to experience a vicious backlash from the vegan community that had at one time embraced her, and how she ultimately found her way to recovery. Jordan shares her story, as well as a balanced, whole-foods-based eating plan (including recipes), to help inspire others to find similar balance in their own lives.

If you’re looking to make a healthy, sensible transition away from a strictly plant-based diet, let Breaking Vegan be your guide


How To Read Tarot Cards for Yourself–Or Someone Else

So you’ve finally bought yourself a tarot card deck and you’re wondering what’s the best way to do a reading? Well Liz Dean, author of The Ultimate Guide to Tarot, suggests the proper method for divining for yourself or for friends.


1. Shuffling the Deck

After you’ve cleansed the deck, shuffle the cards for a few moments. Relax and allow your feelings and questions to surface. To choose the cards for a reading, you can use either the fan method or cut the deck.

The fan method is best when you want just a few cards for a reading, while cutting the deck suits more elaborate layouts that need lots of cards, such as the Celtic Cross or Tree of Life.

Fan Method

When reading for yourself: Spread all the cards facedown in a fan shape. Choose the cards one by one with just your left hand (known as the hand of fate), from anywhere in the fan, and place them in front of you, still facedown, following the spread layout you have chosen.

When reading for another person: Have the person shuffle the deck. Take the deck from the recipient and fan out the cards for him or her. Ask the recipient to choose the cards from the fan with his or her left hand and pass them to you so you can lay them out, keeping the cards facedown.

Wands10

If the Ten of Wands comes up during your reading, it means there is too much going on to get an accurate reading.

Cutting the Deck

When reading for yourself: Cut the deck twice with your left hand so you have three piles facedown on the table. Choose one pile to become the top of the deck and gather up the other two piles underneath it. Lay out the cards according to the spread you have chosen (see the book for more details) by dealing the cards from the top of the deck and placing them facedown in front of you.

When reading for another person: Ask the recipient to shuffle the cards. Have the recipient split the deck into three piles using his or her left hand and then choose one pile. Gather up the remaining two piles for the person and place their chosen pile on top. Then you lay out the cards.

2. Turning Over the Cards

When turning over the cards, always flip them sideways—from left to right—not from top to bottom or vice versa, or you may be turning the card upside down. Doing so can give it a different meaning (see What About Reversals in the book).

Using the Card Interpretations

As you will see throughout this book, the cards—particularly the major arcana cards—have lots of symbols and possible meanings. Consider the cards before you look up their meaning; think about what aspect of a card you are drawn to first. This is your internal guidance directing you to the most relevant meaning of the card for your reading. This also means that the cards can offer a varying significance each time you look at them.

Similarly, when you read for other people, you will find that you don’t give a card the same interpretation for every person who gets that card in a reading—you are personalizing the reading according to your intuition.

Sometimes you’ll begin a reading and can’t make sense of what the cards are telling you. If this happens, here’s what to do:

  • Shuffle and lay out the cards again. If the same or similar cards come up this time, go with the reading. Relax and tune in to the card images; don’t worry about reading the traditional interpretations. Say what comes into your head straight away, and the words will flow.
  • Did the Ten of Wands (above) come up? If so, this often means there’s too much going on just now and it’s not the right time to read your cards. Wait a day or two and try again.
  • If you’re reading for someone else, feeling blocked can indicate the recipient’s state of mind. Here’s an example: During a recent beginners’ workshop, one of my students said, “My mind is blank. I’ve laid out the cards for Rosa, but I just don’t know what’s going on here—can you help me?” Before I could respond, Rosa said, “But that’s just how I feel—totally confused. I can’t think.” If this happens to you, acknowledge the recipient’s feelings and begin the reading again, asking him or her to let go of expectations.

UltimateGuidetoTarot

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TAROT

Tarot expert Liz Dean offers an overview to all of the important elements of each card from symbols, to links with astrology, kabbala and numerology. The Ultimate Guide to Tarot also includes all the classic tarot spreads—Celtic Cross, Horseshoe, Star and Astrological Year Ahead—plus, a mini-layout to try for each of the 22 major cards.

Learn how to combine the three essential ingredients of a great tarot reading: knowing the meaning of the cards, how to lay them out, and trusting the intuitive messages the images often spark within us during a reading. This synthesis is the true magic of tarot.

With the authority and confidence this book offers, The Ultimate Guide to Tarot will be the must-have companion for beginner readers and tarot aficionados alike.

Feeling Anxious? Calm Jangled Nerves with A De-Stress Journal

If work is putting you on edge, or maybe there’s a big event coming up, there is an extremely cathartic exercise that you can do to relax, and it’s something you may have done back in high school. Writing your thoughts in a journal can soothe the soul. So grab a pen and get all those stressful thoughts out and down on paper.


 

DE-STRESS JOURNAL

garden journals

Click here to get the journals!

[Tools Needed]

    • You
    • A journal
    • A pen

PREPARATION AND USE:

Write about one incident in your recent past that made you feel stressed. Record your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations: Did you feel angry and blame others? Helpless? Resigned to the situation? Did you feel tightness, pain, or tension in your body? If so, where? Record the steps you took to address the stress: Did you light a cigarette? Have a drink? Go outside? Call a friend? Slam doors?

Next, record daily stressful incidents and your reactions for a week. At the end of the week, review the journal and identify your patterns of reaction. Zero in on one or two reactions that you feel are especially harmful to your mental or physical health and that you want to change.

YIELD: Daily session

HOW IT WORKS:

The purpose of this exercise is to recognize how you respond to stress. The way we react to daily hassles becomes ingrained and automatic. The goal isn’t to avoid stress altogether (which would be impossible and not even truly desirable), but to respond in ways that serve you.

Awareness is the first step toward changing unhealthy habits and maximizing the skills that are working for you.


MindandBodyIn this giftable mini booklet of The Little Book of Home Remedies, Mind and Body, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell Grogan join Dr. Linda White to draw on years of training in the area of natural healing to help you ease your stress and the effects that it has on the body. This handy guide provides remedies and advice for stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and more.

Linda B. White, M.D., holds B.S and M.S degrees from Stanford University and an M.D. from the University of California, San Diego. She is the co-author of The Herbal Drugstore and Kids, Herbs, and Health. She served as a medical advisor and contributor to The National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Since 2004, Dr. White has been on faculty at Metropolitan State, Denver, in the Integrative Therapeutic Practices Program in the Health Professions Department.

National Geographic editor and award-winning feature writer Barbara H. Seeber is a 30-year veteran of the publishing world. As an editor for National Geographic Books, she helped launch a number of titles in National Geographic’s line of health books.

Barbara Brownell Grogan, former editor in chief at National Geographic Books, is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, in New York City. At National Geographic she grew the health line of publications, including Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine, Body: The Complete Human, Brainworks, andGuide to Medicinal Herbs, and has worked with health and well-being experts including Joe and Terry Graedon, of The People’s Pharmacy, among others.

What Totem Poles Mean… And Where They Came From

One of the most widely known symbols of belief is a totem. Some totems can be small and kept with you in your pocket. Others are large, ornate structures that can be seen for miles. If you’ve ever seen a totem pole, you may have marveled at the gorgeous designs and symbols that cover it from top to bottom, but what do they mean? Sarah Bartlett, author of The Secrets of the Universe in 100 Symbols, explains the origins of totem poles  and why their creators use animals in their carvings.


 

The word “totem” most probably derives from an Algonquian word odoodem meaning “kinship group.”

Totem poles are physical manifestations of a spiritual idea or belief that belongs to the people who made it. American Indian beliefs are essentially animistic; in other words, people believe that everything in the natural world is infused with spirit, either of its own or of some immanent force, or both.

As varied as the cultures that have carved them, totem poles usually recount familiar legends and myths, clan lineages, notable ancestors or events, and spirit symbols. Some poles celebrate cultural beliefs, while others are mostly artistic.

Certain types of totem poles are often part of funerary structures and incorporate coffins with carved supporting poles or recessed areas for funerary relics. Poles also illustrate stories that are symbolic of shamanic powers or demonstrate the success of various clans and families.

TotemPole

It is believed by some historians that totem poles originated from the Haida people, whose territories span the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia. Among the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, monumental sculptures carved from the trunks of large trees dot the landscape.

Most of the poles are carved from the western or giant red cedar. However, the wood quickly decays in the damp climate of the region, which is why, although early poles originated around 1500, few carved before 1900 exist today.

Many American Indian cultures have specific hero or warrior figures in their mythology who influenced some aspect of that society and its culture. This may be an ancestral figure hero, warrior, or even animal with supernatural powers.

The myths and symbols associated with these people and animals meant that the people would learn about their own civilization, culture, and creation through their identification with the totem, and it is the animal ancestors who are often the most common form of depiction on a totem pole.

Elaborate animal symbols are carved into the totem pole not only to signify the community’s very essence of that animal, but also to give that community meaning and belief.

For example, a thunderbird symbolizes power, a frog represents a sign of prosperity, and a bear is symbolic of strength and protection. Totem animals are sacred to the clan, and killing one is taboo.

The carving of human faces, particularly common on Alaskan totem poles and often known as wild men and women of the woods, was linked to ancestor spirits, either those who had been lost in the forests or perished from drowning in rivers or the sea.

Worldwide, notable indigenous peoples with similar totem polelike objects include the Jilin of northeast China, the Ainu indigenous people of north Japan, the Maori of New Zealand, and the Madia Gond of India.

In Maori culture, “pouwhenuas” are decorative wooden posts that mark territorial boundaries or places of sacred significance. They are generally artistically and elaborately carved and can be found throughout New Zealand. Like totem poles, pouwhenuas tell a story that is significant to the Maori civilization.

Specifically, they reflect the relationship between the ancestors, the environment, and the reputation or standing of the indigenous Maori people.

In India, decorative pillars are also indicators of reputation. Madia Gond bridegrooms, once they become engaged to be married, carve a one-piece pillar known as a Mundha and keep it in front of the community dormitory until the marriage ceremony, as a sign of their loyalty and fertility.


100SymbolsTHE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE IN 100 SYMBOLS

Explore The Secrets of the Universe in 100 Symbols with this beautifully illustrated compendium of 100 diverse arcane tools and writings said to hold the key to the mysteries of the universe. From the Aztec Calendar Stone and the Spear of Destiny to magic circles and Navaho sand paintings, each relic, symbol, and depiction is presented and analysed in detail to reveal the beliefs and practices of past civilizations from all around the globe.

Philosophers, astrologers, prophets, poets, and artists from every age and culture have whispered secrets to pharaohs, statesmen, kings, and queens. In Renaissance Europe, two powerful women—Catherine of Medici and, later, Elizabeth I of England—patronized the most important magi of the time.

John Dee’s obsidian mirror revealed the future of the nation to Elizabeth, while Nostradamus divulged spiritually inspired prophecies to Catherine at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Engaging and informative text brings to light the secrets and intrigues that surround each mysterious object and the obscure arts of the people who used them, and highlights how to decode their signs and symbols.

Just Getting Started With Tarot Readings? Begin by Focusing on the Images

Just like The Fool beginning his journey through the deck, learning to read tarot cards requires a little of trial and error.  A great way to begin is to learn to trust your senses and intuition. That’s just what tarot expert Liz Dean, author of The Ultimate Guide to Tarot, suggests here.


Tarot-TheMagician

Get Intuitive: Work with Images First

You will be guided to notice certain symbols on the cards. Each card is full of symbols—but you will find that you notice one or two features that really stand out in each picture. These are what I call your intuition hooks.

Once you hone in on these, go deeper and connect with how they make you feel.

Don’t worry about the written card meanings in this book just yet. Say whatever comes to your mind straight away—before you begin to think what the symbols mean—and imagine yourself telling a story.

To develop the reading, trying looking at the quick-reference meanings only (see the book for more details) and then go back to the card images.

Staying with the image as long as you can stimulates your intuition, which is essential to a reading, whereas reading the words engages your logical left brain, which often becomes the judge, questioning if you’ve got it “right.”
There’s no right or wrong—just your interpretation.

You can read the detailed card meanings when you’re not giving a reading to develop knowledge.

But to begin with, look at the pictures first; this technique can help you read any deck of cards, not just Rider-Waite tarot.

 


UltimateGuidetoTarotTHE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TAROT

Discover the facts, myth, history, and mystery of the spiritual art of Tarot-reading. Whether you want to learn to read the cards or deepen your Tarot interpretation skills, The Ultimate Guide to Tarot honors the deep heritage of Tarot, while guiding you through practical techniques.

Tarot expert Liz Dean offers an overview to all of the important elements of each card from symbols, to links with astrology, kabbala and numerology. The Ultimate Guide to Tarot also includes all the classic tarot spreads —Celtic Cross, Horseshoe, Star and Astrological Year Ahead—plus, a mini-layout to try for each of the 22 major cards.

Learn how to combine the three essential ingredients of a great tarot reading: knowing the meaning of the cards, how to lay them out, and trusting the intuitive messages the images often spark within us during a reading. This synthesis is the true magic of tarot.

With the authority and confidence this book offers, The Ultimate Guide to Tarot will be the must-have companion for beginner readers and tarot aficionados alike.