Mindset Thoughts

When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm. Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the…

Madeleine M. Kunin
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Beginner’s Guide to Going Plastic Free

Beginner’s Guide to Going Plastic Free 577 866 admin

It’s only a matter of time before your town or a town near you stops using plastic bags. Make 2020 the year you ramp up your eco-friendliness…

As an environmental advocate and resident of Newark, NJ, air pollution is a major cause for concern. Besides the massive amounts of industry and traffic in the area, Newark is also home to the region’s largest garbage incinerator, where area residents have to deal with negative health and environmental impacts. While the issue of healing the environment is complex and vast, we can begin the process by individually taking simple small steps that create powerful collective change. Here are 4 of my favorite hacks for living with making less waste:

Carry a compact reusable bag: any reusable bag will do, though a compact one that fits into the pocket of a backpack or purse may be easier to use consistently. My favorite reusable bag is made of a lightweight polyester and folds up neatly for easy storage when not in use.

Save and reuse your glass bottles: whether you’re filling them up with water or your favorite beverage of choice, giving your glass bottles a second life may result in less plastic waste and improved flavor quality in your beverages, unlike plastic that may leach harmful chemicals.

Invest in a travel mug for coffee or tea: are these beverages you consume near daily? I do. Whether you prepare your warm drinks at home, in the office, or at your local cafe, investing in a well-made travel mug will have great returns, both for the environment and your experience keeping your favorite drinks warmer longer.

Skip the plastic fork: how often do you order take-out to eat at home or in the office? Try skipping the plastic fork. Personally, I prefer eating with a metal fork myself. Besides the waste, disposable forks can be small and flimsy. Believe me; it’s not a big deal, just let the restaurant know you don’t need it. In the end, it also saves them money.

For more tips on ramping up your sustainable habits, stay tuned to more journal posts by subscribing to my list.

What I learned during my yoga training in Jamaica

What I learned during my yoga training in Jamaica 500 750 admin

In November 2016, just as I was approaching the completion of my Nutrition degree, I got the news that I’d have an unexpected delay in moving on to the next step in my studies. In order to sit for the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam, you have to first be accepted into a supervised internship program to complete 1200 hours. Long story short, I didn’t get into a program. So, unfortunately I would have to go through the expensive and time-consuming application process again. But first, yoga.

(🗝KEY: seize the moment)

As is said, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” so where better than in Negril, Jamaica. As soon as I knew I wasn’t starting my internship, I signed up for a 16-day intensive yoga teacher training (YTT). I figured what better way to celebrate the completion of my degree program, while slowing down and enjoying a change of scenery. I had no idea exactly what I would do with my training, though I was always a lover of travel and learning. It’s also true that I had been practicing yoga since 2009, worked as a karma yogi at a local studio, and completed a 30-hour yoga intensive before this. In hindsight it was a natural progression. In the midst of working and school, I never knew how I would find the time. Though just like that, life — the Universe opened a brief window, allowing me to take what might initially seem like a crisis, and create an opportunity.

(🗝KEY: celebrate important benchmarks along the way)

The timing was perfect. The 2016 election had just passed and the inauguration was approaching. The opportunity to tune out of the mass hysteria was welcomed. And. Negril. In a word: lovely. And the energy there was all love. I went to learn yoga, though I had also set an intention to immerse myself into as full of a cultural experience as possible. I cooked as often as possible with the Rasta bredren who served as both groundskeepers and chefs. I observed and engaged with them, listened to their stories and absorbed their wisdom.

(🗝KEY: explore and expand)

When I arrived in Negril, I unexpectedly did not have phone or internet service. My YTT instructors were kind enough to lend me a no frills local phone, with just enough minutes to let my family know I arrived and where to reach me in an emergency. This too was a blessing in disguise. Since I returned home from Negril in February 2017, I have been more mindful and intentional about my use of phone and internet technology.

(🗝KEY: be adaptable)

Soon after getting back home, I went to see my tax preparer and was sharing with her my reflections on Negril. She then informed me that if I made any income from my training as a yoga teacher, I could write off the expense of my training. I had an infamous “ah hah” moment, and asked her about starting an LLC. So, although I had to focus on the process of reapplying to a nutrition internship, I also spent lots of time brainstorming business concepts, names, and symbolism on my own and in consultation with trusted friends.

(🗝KEY: listen to that still small voice)

By late summer 2017, I had filed for an LLC, begun subbing yin yoga classes, worked with an artist on a business logo and card design, and was starting the first of four rotations for my nutrition internship. Everything appeared to be falling into place. Though getting to that point was far from a smooth journey.

(🗝KEY: be persistent)

As we approach 2020 and enter a new decade, I take time to reflect on accomplishments, goals, lessons, and triumphs. It has been almost exactly 3 years since my decision to seize the moment, with no other agenda than to enjoy life. From this birthed the seeds of what is now EcoEmpress, Nutrition, Yoga and Wellness. For me, this has become a labor of love, a service of passion, and a business of purpose. Thank you for coming along for the journey.

(🗝KEY: practice gratitude)

Reflections: Fall into Wellness Podcast Interview

Reflections: Fall into Wellness Podcast Interview 500 750 admin

This past summer I had the opportunity to sit down at the invitation of a dear friend and colleague, Sharon Elise, a doula, yoga teacher, author, and wellness advocate. This podcast was recorded as part of a series of interviews of featured instructors from the Fall Into Wellness retreat. Sharon and I took some time to touch on my own journey towards health and healing. We fellowshipped over our shared growth and evolution in enduring the experiences of life and applying the rich lessons. I take some time to delve a little into a few personal experiences that have fueled my professional path and the importance of mindfulness and self-awareness as an integral part of my own self-care practice. We talked creating healthy mindsets and what living in abundance truly means for us. Feel free to check out the full podcast at the link below.  >>> Here’s a short preview of our exchange:

Sharon E: Why do you believe that physical health and wellness is important?

Nicole SH: I believe that physical health and wellness is important because, I believe that the body is a temple. The body is what houses the soul and the body is what gives form — for the spirit to give expression. And so — you want to be in some degree of balance. And what that’s going to be for you at different stages of your life might be different. But, you have to respect — I believe, and that’s my work for myself first, before I counsel other people. You have to respect this — this vehicle that we’ve been given. I forget who I was listening to, “the body is a trusted vehicle that has driven you through life,” (see: Dr. Micheal Beckwith). And so, just like you take care of your car. You gotta get an oil change, you gotta get tires, gotta get new windshield wipers, you gotta make sure the gas doesn’t get too low. You have to do the same thing with your body; even more importantly.

Fall into Wellness

By Night FairyWellness

A limited series podcast sponsored and produced by Night Fairy Wellness. Host Sharon Elise speaks with influential speakers and partners of the Fall into Wellness retreat, offering insight and wisdom into the journey of each guest, leaving you feeling inspired and ready to join us on the journey to whole body wellness.



Mindset Thoughts

We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.

Gary Zukav
Mindset Thoughts 150 150 admin


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