Everything

Starting the Day Inspired and Focused, How I Do It

Mom morning routine for me timeThis morning I woke up an hour before my alarm clock. Normally this means I put in ear plugs to get my last hour of sleep. Because an hour of sleep is like gold.

I tried, but after 20 minutes of wrestling with sleep, I gave up and started my morning routine instead.

This was THE BEST thing ever and exactly what I needed.

The lesson? Going with the flow and listening to the signs of life will oftentimes give us exactly what we need… and truly want, even if we don’t know it at the time.

Here is the “me time” morning routine I used this morning. It’s also the routine I use on weekends. 

Morning meditation. I have favorites, and this morning meditation by Louise Hay is at the top of my list. It’s 25 minutes and totally worth every minute.

Next, I read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra for about 10 minutes. I am rereading this book, and each time I get something new from it. Other books I love to read during this time is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Next up was prayer, followed by reading my bible for 5 minutes. 

Overall, it was about an hour with no interruptions or other tasks vying for my time. When the girls woke up I was more than ready for my day to begin. I was refreshed, inspired and blissful.

Now that I’ve shared how I spent my extra time this morning, here is my typical weekday morning.

My “me time” morning routine, the short version.

Morning meditation. 10 minutes of either Louise Hay’s morning meditation or breathing meditation. I also LOVE the guided meditations offered through the Chopra Center. These are the meditations that Oprah and Deepak offer from time to time free, :-).

Prayer and bible time.

5 minutes of another inspiring read (see books listed above).

This is about 20-25 minutes and it truly makes a difference in my day. Whenever I try to skip this time my day suffers, so I try not to skip it, :-).

 

I’d love to know if you have a morning routine to help you get centered for the day. Whether it’s a quick prayer in the shower or your morning run, please share!

Here’s to you enjoying your day,

Towanda

First Week With a Fitbit, 5 Things I Learned

Fitbit tracker and app things to know and tips for use

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but here are five things I learned my first week with a Fitbit Charge HR.

Wearing a bracelet helps. The correct placement for the Fitbit is about a finger width from your wrist bone, unless you’re working out. Some people can wear theirs snug enough to stay in that spot and not have it too tight. I struggled with this, so I wear a bracelet, too.

The extra accessory accomplishes two things. First, it allows me to still rock my fun jewelry. Secondly, it helps my Fitbit stay in place without it irritating my wrist. In the photo above I’m wearing my 100 Good Deeds bracelet, but any type of adjustable bracelet that doesn’t need more than an inch can work. In future posts I’ll be sharing some of my other bracelets, :-).

The Fitbit app is your friend, and it’s necessary to get the most from your tracker. With the app you can track your aerobic activity, sleep, food, weight goals and more. There are some stats available on the tracker, but only the basics.

All steps don’t count. I have a habit of walking slowly around my office while I read magazines, ebooks, etc. It’s one way I try to get in a little office fitness during the day. While these steps feel much better than sitting all day, my Fitbit does not register these steps. I guess it can tell when I’m really walking, :-). This is also the case when I’m presenting and walking slowly from one side of the room to the other.

I need to charge it about every 2 1/2 days. Some people may be able to go longer, but that’s my average. This is good to know because getting the “low battery” message when you’re on your way to work out may cause a slight panic. Trust me, once you start counting steps and aerobic activity you will want to capture EVERYTHING. Which is why…

If you happen to forget your Fitbit on the charger and realize it once you’re at the gym, you may be tempted to go home for it. I didn’t… but I thought about it throughout my Zumba class.

When you reach your goal for steps, Fitbit buzzes and it’s addictive! This buzz may encourage you to do things you would never think to do otherwise. I will neither confirm or deny that I ran up and down my stairs one night several times to get my steps and aerobic activity in before midnight. And I MAY have mapped out a walking plan in my house.

 

BONUS TIP:

Gold stars work for adults, too. Well, for Fitbit they’re white stars handed out by the sleep tracker (in the Fitbit app!), but the concept is the same. Do what you’re supposed to do, in this case get enough sleep, and you’re awarded a star on your sleep chart.

I don’t always get enough sleep, but seeing it in a chart encourages me to try harder. I was definitely conditioned in elementary school because I need to see a few of those stars every week, :-). Plus, I’ve set a goal to have a full week of stars before the end of Summer. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Good Luck with your Fitbit and if you have tips or advice, please share!

This Summer is Different

Man’s plans and God’s plans.

The last few weeks have been a reminder that no matter how we think something will turn out, there are no guarantees.

On May 31st, my auntie gained her wings. She had been battling cancer and we were cautiously optimistic for her recovery… then she had a heart attack.

On one side there’s peace in knowing she didn’t suffer long, that I was able to spend time with her and have fabulous memories. But, another side is part of what makes this difficult.

Along with hoping for healing, I purposely didn’t plan any summer vacations because I had intentions of spending long weekends with her. To help care for her through treatments. To just be with her. To hope and pray that she beat this HORRIBLE disease.

But, God’s plans were different. The summer I planned was not to be.

As I (and my family) grieve, I am comforted by many things. But, the thing I want to share here is this.

Love people while they are here. I know this sounds like a cliché, but I am telling you, a main reason I am okay is because I know she knew how much I loved her.

Make time for family and friends.

Make memories! The picture above of us in Central Park will forever be one of my favorites. I had no idea it would be our last time hanging out in the park. But I knew then as I know now, a loving family is priceless and not to be taken for granted.

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Disney World’s Animal Kingdom at Night

Me and the family in front of The Tree of Life at night. Look at those colors!
Me and the family in front of The Tree of Life at night. Look at those colors!

Walt Disney World’s things to do at night used to exclude Animal Kingdom, but starting Memorial Day Weekend (yes, this weekend!) that’s changing.

This makes me so happy, because Animal Kingdom is truly one of my favorite Disney parks, and to experience it at night is  truly magical.

I got a preview as an attendee of Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration, and when I tell you it is MAGICAL, it is Disney at it’s best!

For starters there will be a FABULOUS light show ON THE TREE OF LIFE!

Yes, on it… not just in the theatre. It’s a beautiful kaleidoscope of color, dancing animals and more. It was mesmerizing.

They’re also opening Expedition Everest for nighttime rides. Now, I am not one for rollercoasters on a good day, so I sure wasn’t getting on one at night. But, Hubby did… 4 times. I think that’s a sign that he enjoyed it, :-).

He even got my oldest to join him once. To them the highlight was the parts where the ride was in the pitch blackness of night. To me that point sealed my choice not to ride, lol!

Visitors will also be able to do Kilimanjaro Safaris at night and experience Discovery Island Carnivale at sunset. These are both on my list of things to do during my next Disney World vacation.

Here is the official site if you want more info on Animal Kingdom’s Disney Magic at Night. Enjoy and I’d love to know your favorite part of Disney at Night!

Alice Through The Looking Glass – Our Family Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass image courtesy of Disney
Alice Through the Looking Glass image courtesy of Disney

Will Kids Like Alice Through The Looking Glass? My Girls Did.

Alice Through The Looking Glass is true Disney, especially when you consider the eye-candy colors, dazzling effects and fabulous costumes.

The plot is simple. Alice returns from a sea voyage where she was Captain of the ship, and is offered a job as a clerk.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that an adventure-loving girl is not going to just sit down and accept a desk job. Lucky for her, she gets called to a new adventure in Underland.

 

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass_AliceandMadHatter
image courtesy of Disney

 

Her mission? Save the Mad Hatter. Along the way there are appearances by our favorites, including Cheshire cat (love him), Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and the White Queen. There’s time travel, too, which opens a view into Hatter’s life as a boy. It also shows us the backstory for the Red Queen.

 

Alice Through the Looking Glass_The Red Queen
Alice Through the Looking Glass image courtesy of Disney

 

I won’t spoil it, but you may leave the theatre liking her a lot…

One of the prettiest scenes in the movie was a tea party scene. It was STUNNING and made me want to have a tea party in my garden… except I don’t have a garden, :-).

Here’s an official trailer for the movie,

 

What My Kids Thought of Alice

When asked what they thought of the movie, my girls had nothing but good things to say! The six year old loved the Mad Hatter’s family story. I was happy that she picked up on the family message of the movie.

The eight year old was intrigued by the plot twist near the end. In her words, “I did not expect it to go that far! I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was surprised.”

The 10 year old liked the sister storyline between the White Queen and the Red Queen. She appreciated the message about always being honest, and the repercussions of dishonesty.

Along with the beautiful video effects, I loved the “Girl Power” messages.

If you’re looking for a fun family movie with some good messages mixed in, Alice fits the bill. We saw it in 3D and that absolutely added to the experience.

In theatres May 27th, Alice Through the Looking Glass is Rated PG and runs 113 minutes.

 

This post is part of my series, #DisneyWednesday. I experienced lots of fabulousness at Disney World as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and can’t wait to share it with you, :-). These posts will help you plan great family fun whether it’s a trip to Disney or something closer to home.

Disclaimer: My pre-screening of Alice Through the Looking Glass was part of the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  As an attendee I received complimentary items, special discounts and other exciting benefits. As a blogger grateful for your readership, I will only share opinions and feedback that are honest and true to my experience.

Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

disneytowerofterrorridefamilyvacation

#NationalTwilightZoneDay

In honor of National Twilight Zone Day, here’s my family on the Twilight Zone-inspired ride, Tower of Terror, at Walt Disney’s World’s Hollywood Studios.

This was the first ride my girls wanted to get on in the park, and LORD. HAVE. MERCY! See me in the back with closed eyes and tightly-gripping hands. That’s my “Jesus let this be over” position.

Funny back story. Over 16 years ago we got married in Orlando and went to Disney World. This was one of the first rides we did as newlyweds, no kids yet. And I remember having to walk it off when it was done.

Three kids later and yep, I had to walk it off…

If you like scary, “feels like the elevator is falling” rides, this is for you. You can tell from the rest of my family that it did what it was supposed to do. Scare some and excite others, :-).

 

This post is the first of my series, #DisneyWednesday. I experienced lots of fabulousness at Disney this past week and can’t wait to share it with you, :-). These posts will help you plan a great family vacation whether it’s your first trip or 100th!

Disclaimer: This visit was part of the 2016 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  As an attendee I received complimentary items, special discounts and other exciting benefits. As a blogger grateful for your readership, I will only share opinions and feedback that are honest and true to my experience.

My Glass Tea Maker – LOVE IT!

glass tea maker with infuser customizedI woke up in a sangria tea mood today.

As I was preparing it I realized I haven’t shared one of my favorite things with y’all.

This is my glass tea maker with an infuser!  I love that it is glass, double insulated and that it is customized with my name, :-).

It is so simple to use. While my water is warming, I take out the infuser and add a little honey to the bottom of the bottle. You can use the sweetener of your choice, or none at all.

Then I put the infuser back in (it sits perfectly in the inner wall), and add my tea leaves. When the water is warm, I pour it slowly over the leaves and let it steep. After steeping, I simply remove the infuser with its handle, discard the leaves and stir softly to ensure my honey is distributed evenly.

I use this bottle when I want to travel with my fresh-brewed tea from leaves. It is perfect for on-the-go tea.

So far it has kept my tea warm for an hour and a half. It could possibly last much longer than that, but that’s as long the tea lover in me has ever taken to finish a bottle, :-).

If you’d like to order one customized with your name (or something else), you can find it at Serendipity Glass.

glass tea maker for travel

My freshly-steeped sangria tea, :-)

Happy Tea Making!

Dairy Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free Cheese that MELTS!

vegandairyfreecheesemeltseasyFinding a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan cheese that melted was not an easy feat. But since we love grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza and casseroles over here, I kept hunting until I found one – Daiya.

It was either that or have my husband and one daughter suffer through meltless options while the rest of us enjoyed the deliciousness of melted dairy. While there were definitely times this happened during the testing stage, I’m happy this didn’t have to become the norm, :-).

Daiya makes many cheese options that melt, but I go for the slices and shredded cheese options. I keep these vegan cheddar slices in the fridge for sandwiches, and the vegan shredded mozzarella to sprinkle on casseroles and pizza.

How Does Daiya Vegan Cheese Taste?

Both my daughter and husband love it, so if you’re looking for a good alternative to dairy this is one. I tasted it and yes, it’s good. I’m not giving up my dairy to go completely vegan and gluten-free, but I will eat this, too.

Where to Buy:

In the Charlotte area it’s available at many grocery stores, including The Fresh Market and some Food Lion locations. You can also purchase it at Whole Foods Markets around the country, or on Amazon. If you’re curious about your local grocery stores not listed here, here’s a locator you can use .

Looking on their website, I see they have a cheesecake. I think I’ll have to buy that next time, you know, for testing purposes.

Enjoy your cheesy dishes!