Tasty Tuesday's - Classic Baked Ziti

Classic Baked Ziti

Classic Baked Ziti

Classic Baked Ziti - makes 6-8 servings

1 lb sausage of choice
1 jar pasta sauce of choice
mozzarella cheese - up to 2 cups, but again, your choice
chopped parsley, if desired

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut up sausage into 1" size coins, cook in skillet over medium heat until done, 10-15 minutes.  Ideally you want them bite size, so you might need to cut them up as they cook.  Buy a pair of kitchen scissors so you aren't removing each piece from the skillet and cutting on a cutting board.  Or, just be wicked meticulous when cutting them the first time. ;)

Bring pot of water to boil, add ziti, cook to your liking.  

In a LARGE bowl, combine pasta, sausage, pasta sauce, and up to one cup of cheese.  Mix well. Place in greased 8x8 cooking dish, or 2 1/2 quart cooking dish if you don't want it piled very high.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with up to one more cup of cheese and chopped parsley.  Bake additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts, uncovered. 

I never measure the cheese in this recipe ... I just pile it on.  I usually cook a whole box of ziti, too.  I've made this in the past with hamburg and sausage.  The parsley, at least for me, is more for show than for taste.  I've made this with plain pasta sauce, I've made it with parmesan and garlic pasta sauce.  It's a quick and easy meal that takes virtually no thought process and has little clean up.  Sign.me.up.  

I serve this with a salad on the side.  :)  

Bonus points - my kids actually ate some of this and liked it.  At least, they did when I made it last week.  


Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~


Tasty Tuesday's - Pita Bites



Whole Wheat Pita Pockets
Parmesan Cheese

Wicked Hahd to make.  And there's two ways to prepare them:

Heather's Way: Cut the pita pockets in half, then in half again, then in half, again. By that point they were in triangles, but still had to be pulled apart.  Then they had to be buttered.  Each ... one ... individually.

B's way:  Separate each pocket into two full circles.  Butter the big circles, then cut each circle into eight pieces.  

I don't know about you, but Heather apparently wanted to spend a lot of time in the kitchen that day, and wanted an exercise in patience as each piece needed to be buttered. 

After you butter them, arrange in a single layer on cookie sheet, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  If you want to, I'm sure you could sprinkle on garlic salt or garlic powder, maybe a little bit of chili powder if you wanted a kick, or a myriad of other spices ... this recipe is primarily for our kids so we tend to keep the flavor a little simpler for them.  That being said, we do find ourselves counting how many each person has had and if the number on the table is divisible by 4 so we each get  the same amount...

Throw in 350 oven for maybe 10 minutes.  You want them soft but crispy on the outside to pack that little punch.  

B came up with this recipe, and we all love it.  Enjoy!

Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~


Monday Morning Musings - 4.11.16

I peered down at my reflection again and that girl peering back at me from the water was me, just me.  The real me.  Not the other versions I tried to be to win anyone over.  I took a breath and exhaled.  I forgave myself for my prior judgments of not being good enough to be just who I was.  The truth was I was just doing the best I could with what I knew at the time.  But now I knew better. ~ Janice MacLeod

Tasty Tuesdays - Italian Chop Suey

A note from my mom :)

A note from my mom :)

Italian Chop Suey:

Up to 2 medium onions
Up to 2 green peppers
Up to 5 stalks celery
1 1/2 lbs hamburg
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 lb (at least) of small elbows
Pasta Sauce - optional

Slice up vegetables. Fry hamburg until it loses its pinkness, drain.  Add sliced veggies and stir frequently, between 5-8 minutes.  Add tomato paste plus 2 cans of water and soy sauce.  Take a look at what you've created ... does it look too dry?  Add more water.  Then cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes.  When the timer says 30 minutes, that's when I start boiling the water for the elbows.  When elbows are done cooking, drain and put in a HUGE bowl.  Add the sauce mixture to the elbows, Stir It Up Bob Marley style.  Now taste it.  If YOU think it needs some pasta sauce, feel free to add some of your favorite pasta sauce on top.  If you think it tastes divine without it, leave it out.  

Now, if you're smart, you made this on Sunday night, and if you made a LOT since this yields a ton, you now have lunch for the rest of the week.  

Serve with bread or pita chips ... or don't.  You'll be going back for seconds anyways, and then that bread will go to waste.  You're welcome.  

Enjoy, and invite me over - I love this meal.  

Love, happiness and coffee,

~ Heather ~  

Monday Morning Musing's - 4.4.16

Fenway Park 

So, obviously I've done a lot of thinking over last week, wondering if my decision to stop teaching yoga was the right one.  Last week was my official last week of teaching (for now? forever?), and some students asked me if I was teaching anywhere else and why I was leaving. While I knew I was solid in my decision, when you are questioned, you're only human if you in turn question yourself.  

I'm still solid in my decision, much to the disappointment of some students that I've really looked forward to teaching over the past eight months, but did wonder if I had the opportunity to do this all over again, would I change anything along the way?  Would I have done a little more research into what I was giving up to follow a dream?  Should I have gotten quiet on what I wanted sooner?  Should I have stopped trying to take on so much and just be ok with the vastly different 'work' hours?  No.  I would've done it all the same again.  

Sometimes you question what you're doing.  You wonder if the step you're about to take is the right one, if it makes sense, if maybe you should wait just a little longer before.  You question if the decisions you've made in your past were right, or you worry about decisions you made in your past and if they'll haunt your present and future.  Maybe you play the 'shoulda, coulda, woulda' game of your past, or the 'what if' game of your future.  Don't.  Relax and let go.  It will all work out in the end.  We aren't meant to see where we're headed, because we would inevitably change our course.   

I try to remember this quote I read by Alan Cumming in his book, "Not My Father's Son".

"I am the product of all the experiences I have had, good and bad, and if I am in a happy place in my life (as I truly am), then I can have no regrets about any of the combination of events and circumstances that have led me to the here and now."

Have a great rest of your Monday ... oh and PLAY BALL!!!!!

Love, happiness coffee, and baseball, 

~ Heather ~

Tasty Tuesdays - Banana Bread

Banana Bread
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2-3 mashed bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
ground cloves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In mixing bowl, mix sugar, baking soda, salt, & flour.  Mix in eggs, bananas and butter.  Sprinkle (generously, in my opinion) cinnamon and ground cloves over the top, and give a final few stirs to mix them in with the rest of the batter (do this part by hand or on the lowest mixing speed if using mixer).  

Pour batter into greased loaf pan for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center should test clean.  Cool for fifteen minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Also, there is NOTHING wrong with slicing a piece off, slathering it with butter, and eating it warm, too.  You know, to make sure it came out ok.  ;)

I love this recipe.  I actually love it so much that when I made the bread, I forgot to snap an 'end' picture of it, and before I knew it, we had devoured it all.  


Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~

Monday Morning Musings - 3.28.16

New Orleans, LA

I'm one that seeks outside validation when trying to make a decision about my life.  From the small decisions to the very large ones, my confidence soars when I know I have someone telling me my concerns, decisions, and actions were right; that they understand and are on my side and in my corner.  I'll mull over my options of 'if I do this, than I can do that' with anyone that will listen, sometimes more than once, trying to make a personal decision involving more people than the one that ultimately has to live with the decision I make: me.  

If I don't feel I get the right response from someone, I'll keep hammering away at my reasons, sometimes repeating myself different ways, until I almost force the person/people I'm talking to agree with me and justtellmeI'mrightalready!!!  

Ultimately, once my decision has been made, I might question myself on if I did the right thing, and again will consult anyone that will listen.  To the people I have done this to, thank you for listening and saving the eye rolls for when I'm not around.  :)   

However, I'm surprised to say that recently I made a pretty big decision for the most part by myself. Sure, I networked ... as I noticed this starting to bubble up to the surface in my life, I voiced my concerns and spoke about how I was unsure of certain things in my life.  I listened to what everyone had to say in response, because, you know, I was talking to them for a reason. But then I did something different. 

I took in what people had to say without it influencing what my decision was going to be.  That feeling alone was alien.  I weighed the input they had for me versus what I was feeling.  It felt weird and kinda lonely to stand on my own as I sat with each emotion and thought that came up, instead of calling, emailing, or texting anyone with my latest discoveries into where I was on my journey.  

One day, when I noticed it was anger bubbling up inside of me, I said out loud to myself, "Ok, Heather, what's going on? Why are you mad and where is this coming from?" 

My answer was immediate: I don't want to teach yoga anymore.  

Whoa.  That's a pretty *$#@$! big decision. I love yoga.  Am I failing as a yogi by not wanting to teach what I love?  Could I be ok with this decision?  I think as soon as I acknowledged it, I actually felt my shoulders relax.  Instead of calling someone right away, I tried something else ...

I got quiet.  (i know, right???)  Not only did I get quiet, I stayed quiet.  I let this realization sit with me before mentioning it ... partly because I wanted to make sure it's what *I* wanted, but there was a bigger reason at play, too.  

For the first time, possibly ever, making this realization and ultimately coming to this decision felt so true and so authentic to me, that I didn't need to have a group of people standing in my corner or by my side, telling me that I made the right decision.  I knew the second I said it aloud to myself that it was the right thing to do.  

I also remembered a promise I had made to myself when I signed up for Teacher Training: that I was doing this to go through the journey, and not necessarily to become a yoga teacher.  I had heard it was a life changing experience, and that is exactly what I repeated to my husband when I came home from a soon-to-be-graduating-teacher-trainees yoga class: 'Honey!  I just have to do this!!!'  I told everyone (I can say now that it was a case of outside validation) that I was learning to be a teacher for the experience that came along with it, and the certificate was just a bonus.  Every time I started thinking, 'well, what're you going to do once you have that certificate?  Are ya gonna teach or are ya gonna let it gather dust?', I would push the thoughts out of my mind, remembering my promise to go through the journey for the journey, and not as an end result to trade teaching for the job I didn't want.  

But somewhere in that last weekend of training, I freaked. I got it in my head that I needed to teach right away or that I would never teach, and rather than apply all I had learned along my journey about standing in my own truth and being authentic to me, I just dove in head first to teaching without thinking if this was what I really wanted to do.  

Now don't get me wrong; there isn't one step of my journey that I would change in order to get me where I am right now in this moment.  And if it wasn't for someone reaching out to me asking me to teach starting immediately, that certificate might have gathered dust as I continued to play the victim in parts of my life.  THEN my training would've been all for naught.  My training gave me so many tools to work with in my life and taught me confidence in a way I still had yet to see in myself.  By teaching yoga, I've made some lifelong friends with other yoga teachers, and while they all have their unique gifts about them I love, they've helped me to uncover the confidence that they knew I had all along. They have all taught me so much; about life, about yoga, about listening and appreciating the moment.  

By teaching yoga, I have met wonderful people and have been given the most inspiring words and stories from my students. No matter how many times I taught, my favorite part of the class was just at the end of savasana.  When I can see the post yoga bliss they have, when I know they're all calm and blissed out from a good class.  When I close with the reading I've chosen and I can see how it resonates with them as much as it resonated with me when I picked it out.  

I'm grateful, humbled, and blessed to have made the decision to go on this journey and to continue onto the next part of my journey, no matter where it may lead me.  

Which is why I've picked the quote I did for this week ... since first reading it somewhere on Instagram, it has been a quote that has resonated with me time and time again.  I'll read it and just stare at the words, feeling each and every one of them.  

"Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours."  ~ Zero Dean

Til next time,

Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~

Tasty Tuesday's - Strawberry & Spinach Salad

nom nom nom nom nom nom

Strawberry & Spinach Salad

Spinach, torn into bite size pieces
Sliced straweberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Toss together the spinach & the strawberries.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds & poppy seeds.  Pour over the spinach & strawberries, toss to coat, and try not to drink the salad dressing.

I'm serious.  The dressing is that good.  I'm challenged when it comes to salads.  I just don't think of what would go well with what, or that tomatoes can be yellow, and that fruit sometimes kicks tail when added to a salad.  Then I'll read a recipe for a salad and it's like a light bulb turns on over my head.  

This salad is AWESOME to have in the summer, or to bring to a BBQ.  I think I've got spring (or summer) fever.  :)  

We've thrown chicken on this as well.   

Do you have any salads that are your standby's that you love?  Let me know!

Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~


Monday Morning Musings - 3.21.16

West Yarmouth

I'm coming off a week in Disney with the hubby and the kids.  I type this before we have even left to go on our family vacation.  The bags are packed, the last minute list is made, the alarms are set... the wheels have started to turn.  We are all excited; I swear you can feel it tingling in the air.  

But going into this vacation, I'm taking the quote that I'm giving you for when I've returned.  A simple yet powerful reminder:

"Find joy in other people's happiness."

Enjoy your Monday!  Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~ 


Tasty Tuesday's - Playground Lady Chicken

Playground Lady Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup white wine*
8 oz cream cheese
1 Tbsp minced onion (the spice)
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 sticks butter, divided
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 sleeve of ritz crackers

*you can mix 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1 Tbsp of sugar to substitute for the wine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Cook the chicken in one stick of butter until almost done, then cut into chunks and add the wine.  Make a mixture of soup, minced onion and cream cheese.  Add the chicken and the juices to it.  Mix well, or you'll take a bite of what you think is chicken, but is really a chunk of cream cheese.  Awesome.  

Pour this yumminess into an 8x8 baking dish, or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. (Try bigger first, so you aren't cursing me as you clean a dish you shouldn't have used.)

Crush up the Ritz crackers, add to the still hot/warm pan you cooked the chicken in, add the 1/2 stick of butter, then sprinkle on top of the casserole.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds on top of the casserole.  

Pop that bad boy into the oven for 30 minutes.

This dinner is sooooo good!  Pretty easy, too.  I've cut down on the amount of butter I use in it if you wanted to start off small and add more as you see fit.  

We have had this on top of rice; B had a great point saying it would be delicious over egg noodles, too.  Bubbah wasn't a fan, actually he didn't even try it (remember when you used to eat with your eyes???), while Boo tried it and liked piling it on even more Ritz crackers and eating it that way.  

This recipe comes from my next door neighbor from where we used to live.  When we first got home from the hospital with our twins, she came over with this meal and it was absolutely divine.  It was one of the first home cooked meals that we had, complete with bread and rice and oh my goodness I'll never forget it.  As a new set of parents, we were (and still are) forever grateful.  

What's your favorite chicken dish?  

Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~

Monday Morning Musings - 3.14.16

Since, as this posts, I'm in (hopefully) sunny and (it better be) warm F-L-O-R-I-D-A, I thought a beach and water quote would be appropro for today's musing.  I could've done Animal Kingdom, since that's where I'll technically be, but I'll just have to post those at a later date. (I'm also excited for summer and can't wait to dip my toes in the sand!)   

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea." - Isak Dinesen

Have a great Monday!  

Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~

Tasty Tuesday's - Zucchini Spice Bread


Cooking Spray
1 large zucchini
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a 9x5x3  pan with cooking spray.  Grate the zucchini (I've used the large hole side and the small hole side, they both work with this recipe), and put aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, oil, vanilla & eggs.  In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, and stir to combine well.  Stir in the grated zucchini.  Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes if you can wait that long.

Smear with butter while still steamy, and try your best not to have the whole darn thing.  Yes, it's THAT good.  

My mom makes a KILLER zucchini bread, too, and she has been known to add raisins and nuts to her recipe.  Nomnomnomnom.  My brother and I will fight over who gets more, and I've jokingly sent him pictures of empty containers promised to him that oh-so-accidentally ended in my belly.  

Enjoy, and let me know when you make this so I can just happen to come by when you're taking it out of the oven!

Love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~

Monday Morning Musings - 3.7.16

Have you ever read something, or had someone read something to you, where you were like, "YES!  THAT'S IT!  THAT IS SO RELEVANT TO MY LIFE LIKE, RIGHT NOW!!!"  

My musing for this week was my reading last week in my yoga classes.  The best thing was that I wasn't even planning on reading this; my eyes just fell to it when I opened to the page I was going to read, the page opposite this one.  My eyes fell on this passage, and I just knew it was what I was meant to read.

The *other* best thing about this is that in reading these passages over and over throughout the week really gets lets each passage resonate with me each day.  Usually, by the time I'm reading this in my last class for the week, I'm choking back tears, because the passage is just that relevant to me.  A student will meet my eyes and mouth to me, 'that is me', or 'so true' or just give me that smile to let me know it landed with them the way it landed with me.  

Without further ado, here is my musing, by the wonderful Melody Beattie.

"Worrying doesn't help.  Our worries haven't prevented one disaster along the way.  At times, the only thing they've prevented is our joy.  Our worries are fear.  We say, 'I will worry and be fearful until things have worked out; only then can I relax and enjoy.'  Our worries are self-punishment, a form of not forgiving ourselves, not loving ourselves, not trusting.  

We may think that worrying helps ward off trouble, but that's an illusion.  Sometimes worrying brings troubles upon us, because we're so caught up in our fear that we don't take the responsible steps we need to take.  By neglecting our lives dues to worry and fear, we may bring needless consequences upon ourselves.

The lesson is trust.  When we're trusting, we let go of our fear, confident that what we want and need will come.  We trust that if what comes appears to be trouble or hardship, we will get what we need to get through that, to.   When we trust, we get peaceful first, before we get what we want, before we see what the future brings.  

Worry and fear are the opposite of love.
Love yourself more than  you ever have.
Love yourself enough to stop worrying.
Love yourself enough to give yourself the gift of peace."

Have a wonderful Monday full of love, happiness & coffee,

~ Heather ~

Tasty Tuesday's - Best Ever Meat Loaf

Best Ever Meat Loaf


2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package ground turkey (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
3/4 cup ketchup, divided

Preheat oven 375 degrees.  In a small frying pan, melt the butter.  Add the onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes, cool for 5 minutes.  As it's cooling, mix together turkey, breadcrumbs, egg and ketchup.  (Personally, I like to wash my hands, take off all rings, and just mix this with my hands.  However, if that grosses you out, then feel free to use a spoon or even potato masher. Add the cooled onions and garlic, mince well.  

Once this is well mixed, pack all this yummy goodness into an 8x4 loaf pan.  Spread with 1/2 cup of ketchup.  Bake 50 minutes, an additional 5 more if it needs it, but it should be fine.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

You can also substitute ground hamburg for this instead of turkey, but up the oven to 400 degrees, and possibly the cooking time to 55.  (I usually put in for 55 minutes)

This recipe comes from my mom and, as per uuuush, it's reallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly good, and so easy to make!  Thanks, Mom, for feeding me so well!!!  :)


Love, Happiness & Coffee,

~ Heather ~

Tasty Tuesday's - Sicilian Meat Roll

Sicilian Meat Roll

2 beaten eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 small clove minced garlic
2 lbs hamburg
8 thin ham slices
3 slices mozzarella
6 oz shredded mozzarella

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add hamburg, mixing well.  
On tin foil, pat meat to a 12"x10" rectangle.  Arrange ham slices on top of meat, leaving a small margin around edges.  Sprinkle shredded cheese over ham.  Starting from the short end, roll up meat using foil to lift. (Do NOT roll tin foil into meat roll!)  Place roll, seam side down, in 13.x9x2 baking pan.

Bake at 350* for 1 hour 15 minutes or til done.  (The center of the roll will be pink due to the slices of ham)

Place cheese wedges over top of roll, return to oven til cheese melts.  All told, I had this in the oven cooking for just over an hour, added the cheese, and had it in for another ten minutes.  

This was soooooooooooooooooooo good!  My mom gave me this recipe, and I love it.  B says the leftovers are good, too.  A few words to the wise, though... when I made this recipe (or, shall I say, attempted) for the first time, I read the directions 'roll up meat using foil' and forgot to read the two important words 'to lift'.  I rolled the entire roll in the foil, then baked it.  Oops.  And both times I made this, I didn't have enough mozzarella cheese, and had to run back out; once for shredded mozz, once for the mozz slices... so make sure you have both the shredded AND the sliced.  :)

Enjoy, and let me know what you think of it when you make it! 

Love, Happiness & Coffee,

~ Heather ~

Monday Morning Musings - 2.22.16

Cape Cod Bay, Eastham

"You don't always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens." Mandy Hale

Have a great Monday!

Love, Happiness & Coffee,

~ Heather ~

Tasty Tuesday's - Chunky Beef Vegetable Soup

Slow Cooker Chunky Beef Vegetable Soup - the perfect winter meal.  


Chunky Beef Vegetable Soup - Slow Cooker Style

1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Juice
1 Cup Hot Water
1 lb Beef For Stew, cut in 1" Cubes
4 Cups Frozen Mixed Vegetables
1 Medium Potato, Peeled & Cubed
1/2 Small Onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 Tbsp Beef-Flavor Instant Bouillon
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
Slow Cooker Liner (optional)

Pour vegetable juice and water into cooker.  Add beef, vegetables, ketchup, bouillon and pepper, stirring gently.  Place lid on cooker. Cook 8-9 hours on low, 4-5 hours on high.  We have slow cooker that is on steroids, so almost all of our soups and stews are done within 4 hours, no matter the setting, so I'm not a good judge for what would be an average time.  

As always when working with slow cookers, remove the lid carefully, not having your nose right by the edge waiting to smell the aromas, or all you'll smell is burnt nose hairs.  Trust me, I learned the hard way... ouch.  

This recipe is just soooooooooooo good.  The leftovers are amazing and the soup yields quite a bit.  This is the cut-in-half version, and it still fed my hubby and I for a night, and gave him lunch for the next three days.  How 'bout them apples!  I marked the cooker liner as optional. Personally, I get a little sketched out by anything made from plastic that can be heated for 7+ hours and NOT melt... but, ultimately in the end the ease of cleanup wins out, so I convince myself the plastic bag isn't bad as I place it in the slow cooker and then ignore it.  

Do you have any favorite slow cooker meals?  I'd love to hear them and swap recipes!  

Love, Happiness & Coffee,

~ Heather ~

Monday Morning Musings 2.15.16

Heart Clouds over Cape Cod Bay, Eastham

You can make the world a happier place.  Do your best to help one person every day in some small way.  By becoming the answer to someone's prayer, we often find the answers to our own.  When the people around us are happy, it's a lot easier to smile.  Compassion is the purest form of love; it neither expects nor demands anything in return. ~ Sally Kempton   

Love, Happiness & Coffee, 

~ Heather ~

Yoga Weekly Wonders - What is a Mantra?


Last week, I talked about getting centered before you start to practice yoga.  If you didn't read that, you can here.  I wanted to follow up on the last component I spoke of, finding your focus This can be achieved by concentrating on your breath, or adding onto the breath by also repeating a word or a phrase to yourself throughout your yoga practice.  These phrases, and sometimes sounds, are known as mantras. 

It has been said that when you use a mantra, only positive intentions will fill your mind, not leaving much, if any, room for negativity.  It's pretty simple, really.  Because if you're sitting down to meditate, and less than pleasant thoughts start to come up, while you might get caught up in them for a few breaths, you will eventually try to let the thoughts go instead of choosing to stay with them.  I have yet to meet the person that sits down to meditate on bad thoughts.  That makes me sad.  

What mantra should you choose?  Let me first say that, as with everything else I'm suggesting, you don't have to choose anything.  If the thought of repeating a phrase or word over and over again sounds a little cult-esque, or just plain weird, then don't do it.  

You may laugh at the cult reference, but to this day, I won't repeat words back in a foreign language, or to myself, unless I understand what they mean.  That's not to say I think some people are offering me foreign words of doom, either. I just want to understand what it is that I'm being asked to repeat in my head to quiet my mind.  To further digress, I actually remember asking specifically about the chanting segment of my teacher training.  I wanted to know what I was chanting, and made it pretty clear that the reason I hadn't chanted was because I didn't know what I was saying.  Chanting still is something I keep at arms length, but I think that's more of a comfort issue for me personally than anything else.  Ok, now I'm waaaaaaaaaay off topic and y'all are sitting around the campfire looking at me like, "what in the world is this chick saying?".... alright, give me a moment to come back to center... deep breath in, deep breath out, repeat mantra of "you got this" ... 

So ... mantras... If you are interested, you can pick just about anything to use for a mantra. Single words asking for what you want more of in your life work beautifully; love, peace, harmony, balance, equanimity, release .. or an affirmation of a few words to give yourself emotional support or encouragement works wonders, also.

If you aren't used to saying positive things to yourself, these affirmations are going to make you feel weird and silly.  It's amazing how much our inner critic lets us know everything it doesn't like about, well, everything!  Eventually, if you stick with it, the magic that comes with these affirmations or one word phrases is that you'll begin to believe in them and have a calmer, happier outlook on life.  AND that inner critic  Debbie Downer might turn into a Positive Phoebe before your very eyes!      

Some affirmations you can choose are listed below, and you might actually make one up for yourself that resonates with something you really believe as your own personal core value.

I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.
I am love.
I am peace.

I accept myself.
I am ok.  
I am perfectly imperfect.  
This is it, and it is perfect.

Be happy.
I choose joy.
I am happy.
I am ok.

Let it go.
This too, shall pass.

I release what doesn't serve me.  

These are just a few to get you started.  Have you found one that resonates with you?  Did you make one up yourself?  Write it down and put it in your pocket to remind you to use your breath and your word or phrase to stay calm in trying situations.  Set a reminder on your phone that has the word or phrase set to go off at a time when you think you might need to hear it or read it.  Chances are, after a few days of that alarm going off, you'll find yourself smiling or breathing deeper when that time comes around each day.  

Also, you don't need a new word or phrase every time you take a yoga class or every time you sit down to try and calm your mind.  If the one you have chosen (or maybe it chose you?) resonates with you, keep it for as long as you need.  You'll know when it's time to let it go and find a new mantra to use.  

I hope this cleared up any questions you might have had on mantras ... feel free to comment below if you have any further questions!  

Love, Happiness & Coffee,

~ Heather ~





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