5 Easy Ways To Add Zen To Your Day

Do you find yourself hearing others talk about meditating and Zen and would like some for yourself, but are already wishing you had enough time to get everything done on your to do list? Wish no more! As a lifestyle coach, my goal is to take the overwhelm out of your life by sharing five easy ways to add a little Zen to your day that don’t require hours of sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting “om”.

5 Easy Ways to Add Zen To Your Day

What is Zen?

The traditional meaning of Zen is meditation which most people identify with the sitting on a meditation pillow with incense and candles burning, for long periods of time. While this is a great practice to have, most of us can’t imagine sitting still at all, let alone for an hour. The good news? My definition of Zen is doing something we love not requiring a lot of brain power enabling our mind to slow down and have a little break, even if it’s just for five minutes. You say that’s great Mary, but what doesn’t create a lot of brain power???

Why It’s Important to Have Zen In Your Day

In this world we live in today, our brain/mind is in constant stimulation mode. If we have downtime, we have these little computers in our pockets that keep us connected. While in some situations it’s great to see your friends and family on social media, we are also inundated with negative news as we scroll through our feed. We are overworked, running kids to all over for their commitments; we eat on the fly, all while not really taking a moment to slow down our bodies and our minds. Adding a little Zen is like a little slice of heaven on Earth. It gives us a chance to stop the constant barrage of information clogging our brains. To combat this barrage, here are five easy tips to create Zen in your day, even if you’re not into meditation.

Set Your Alarm for a Half Hour Earlier

Set your alarm for a few minutes early to enjoy some quiet Zen time.

I know, I know…you are already dog tired, but trust me on this one. If you get out of bed and hit the ground running each day, give yourself a little quiet time before the rest of the house gets up. Set your coffee pot timer to have the coffee done before you get up and savor a cup while reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle or anything you like to do. I urge you to NOT turn on your phone and scroll through social media or emails. How you start your day sets the tone for the day and starting off with this little Zen may just make your day a little less stressed. If a half hour seems too daunting, try 15 minutes first. Again, give yourself just a few minutes in the morning to mentally prepare for the day.

Go For a Walk or Run

I know what you’re thinking; you don’t have time for a two mile walk. Guess what? You don’t have to go for two miles! Take 15 minutes on your lunch break, lace up a pair of tennis shoes and go, especially in the summer. Living in interior Alaska the sunshine and warm weather are fleeting and spending 8+ hours inside an office is more than enough reason to get some fresh air and move! No matter where you live, most of us are nature-deprived and sit most of the day.

Take your best friend for a quick walk stopping to enjoy nature along the way.

You don’t have to power walk to get the most out of this time, quite the opposite, make this a stroll to stretch your legs, breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sunshine. Better yet, bring along your best four-legged friend and stop and enjoy the scenery along the way. Remember, we are creating a little Zen, and slowing down and moving our bodies at the same time are the perfect Yin/Yang. When you get back to your desk, you will be refreshed, renewed and ready to take on the day!

Start An Art Practice

You’re not an artist…who says? A year ago, I attended a women’s workshop where mandala drawing was part of the event. The artist, who hand-draws incredibly balanced mandalas, shared how to create the Zen-like drawings. As she guided us through making a few creations of our own, I found something I loved to do! While mine are not even close to being balanced, it’s OK! It is MY art and I found a way to create a little Zen when I need to slow down my brain. Every once in a while I grab a marker and paper and begin with a little dot on the center of the page adding scribbles and scrolls, top and bottom, side to side. Sometimes I have a finished product in a short time, others, I start a design and finish it a few days or weeks later. Mandalas not your thing? That’s OK, doodle! Doodling is a great way to slow down our brain and letting it express itself through the pen and paper. Not into doodling? Go to your local store and pick up a coloring book. I was at Barnes and Noble this week and there are so many adult books to choose from. However, sometimes it’s fun to pick up a kids coloring book. You can be Zen and Aging Youthful at the same time! Way to multi-task!

Start a New Hobby

You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do, go do it! Learn how to play the piano or guitar to get lost in the music…do something with your hands. In the early 2000’s, thanks to HGTV and a five minute segment “Trash To Treasure” in the old Design on a Dime show, I found a love for making something old new again.

My current "trash to treasure" Zen project.

There is something Zen about taking someone’s trash, giving it a fresh coat of paint (or not) and giving it new life again. I’ve taken old doors and made them into coffee or end tables, gave an old dresser a fresh coat of paint and updated hardware, and more. Most of my creations are back at my cabin in Minnesota, but I recently picked up the practice again. The garage at our rental isn’t heated, so I have to do my Zenning in the summer months. I’m currently working on this end table. It’s taking more coats of paint than I planned, but that means the Universe is telling me I need more Zen!

Plant a Garden For More Zen

One of my favorite ways to Zen; garden!

What could be more Zen than working in nature??? Ever since I was a kid, I loved playing in the dirt and as an adult it led me to creating in the dirt. Our current yard situation isn’t the best for creating rock gardens like the ones I had at my cabin, but I can container garden! Much like turning trash into treasure, there is something about turning a plain piece of earth into a beautiful bountiful garden. Whether it’s a flower/perennial garden or a vegetable garden, both are Zen. I have a tomato and basil plant on my deck, along with a couple of Viola/pansy hanging baskets to fill my need to play in the dirt and not require too much attention. As mentioned earlier, we are living in a nature-deprived society and what a better way to get in some nature time than digging IN it!

Tending to a vegetable garden is the ultimate Zen!

 

There you have it, five easy ways to add a little Zen to your day. These are just five of my favorites, there are literally thousands of other options, check out my post 50 Easy Ways To Nourish Your Soul if you are needing inspiration. My advice, find something YOU love that allows your brain to slow down and just “be”. We are human BEings not human DOings, so BEcome a little more human. I love hearing from you! Comment below or on our Facebook or Instagram pages with your favorite way to create a little Zen in your day to share with our readers so they may find something to help them slow down in this crazy busy world we live.

You Are So Much More Than A Number!

Numbers Are Just That, Numbers

Age Is Just a Number...get younger as you get older!

Where in your life are you letting a number define what you do? Is it your age, the number on the scale or _________ (fill in the blank). In the photo above I was almost two years OLDER in the second photo!!! See, these numbers mean NOTHING other than a measurement of SOMETHING. It is not WHO or WHAT you are. Check out this week’s vlog where I share four of the most common “numbers” most of us let define us, then come back and comment below with where you are no longer going to let a number decide or determine the decisions you make.

 

Luis Camacho – His Aging Youthful Secrets

Every day I meet and read about people defying their age and doing some amazing things people decades younger would have a hard time to match. When Mark and I lived in Florida, one of the favorite people we met, albeit briefly, was Luis Camacho. At a time when many people his age are sitting in rocking chairs doing crossword puzzles, Luis was opening a boxing gym.

At the young age of 77 Luis Camacho was opening a boxing gym

As a former Golden Gloves Boxer himself, Mark came with me when I went to the Grand Opening as a Chamber Ambassador. When we met Luis, we immediately fell in love with his infectious smile and charming personality. We were impressed when we saw him in the ring, holding the mitts for a couple of young boxers putting on an exhibition.  When one of his pro fighters stepped in the ring with him we were in awe! Luis was as light on his feet as the boxer he was training and taking the knockout hits with his hands like it was nothing!

Underneath that serious coaches face, is one of the kindest, hardest-working 80 year olds I know!

After the exhibition was done, we hung around afterward and knew we just had to meet him. We both just about fell on the floor when we found out Luis was 77 years old! Um yeah, 77! When I came up with the idea of the “Six Questions” others who are aging youthful, Luis was the first person I wanted to feature! While Luis is pretty succinct in his answers, I believe you can get a feel for his awesome, positive personality through his answers and that winning smile in his photos!

Luis Camacho still training boxers at 80!

Name: Luis Camacho
Age: 79 (His 80th birthday is in July!).
Location: Ocala, Florida

Were you always active?

I ran the mile in high school and Cross Country in the Air Force.

Did/do you still participate in sports?

Still training boxers at Camacho Boxing Gym

Luis in his early days...this coach had more hair back then, but he's just as fit today

Do you watch what you eat and do you supplement?

I take my daily vitamins, drink home made herb tea and eat balanced meals.

What are your favorite activities?

Dancing salsa, sleeping 8 hours and chasing young ladies keeps me in shape (hahaha) and drinking a lot of water from my well.

Luis Camacho, Dancing Salsa and chasing young ladies keeps him young!

What is YOUR secret to staying young?

I run 1-3 miles, depending on the day and the weather, but I prefer running on the beach!  Gardening is one of my favorite ways to stay fit! I do most everyday, cutting trees, digging ditches, transplanting, etc.

Gardening is one of the things that keep Luis Camacho young!

What do you say to people who tell you you’re too old to do something?

Ha ha I laugh and tell them “just try to do what I do and I will buy you lunch…if you can’t, you owe me lunch.”

Luis Camacho...just keep punching

If I followed Luis around for a week, I’d be buying a week’s worth of lunches. Just keep punching Luis!

Only You Should Define You; The Aging Youthful Dude’s View

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog, and I thought I would share my thoughts on how I let others define me for too long. What do I mean by this? Don’t let what others think, say or do determine what YOU do, or who you are!! Be strong, and do what you want. Set your sights on your vision, and don’t let others sway you. Let me share a little about my growing up.

What got me thinking along these lines is a while back, I made contact with a girl on Facebook who was an older sister to a friend of mine in school. She was a year older, and let me just say she was HOT??? She was one of the best looking girls in the school. Great looking, popular, lots of friends!!! I remember one time at my friend’s house, and as we walked in the backyard, there she was, laying out in the sun, in a bikini that was pretty dang small and didn’t hide much!! That vision stayed with me for a very long time. So, back to present, and she and I were messaging back and forth, she says that I was her dream date back in high school. Well, back in high school I didn’t feel I was much to look at, was not all that as you would say, not the best athlete, although I tried hard. I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t in any one clique. I was kind of a mix of jock, burnout and nerd. Anyway, to have one of the hottest girls in my school say that was pretty eye opening. I let people put me down a lot back then, was bullied pretty bad physically for a time, and just never seemed to fit in. I didn’t think much of myself because I listened and believed what others said or acted to me.

Boxing was my answer to being bullied when I was younger, to get my frustration out in a controlled way.
My answer to being bullied when I was younger. Boxing, to get out the frustration in a controlled, healthy way.

On top of that, sports, which I loved, were never performed good enough. I always got “you should have done this”, or you “should have done it that way”.  NEVER did I hear “good game” or  “way to go”. Whatever I did I was told it was just never good enough.

Another oldie but goodie...circa 1980?

Because I let others define who I was, I never was the person I could have been. Jump ahead 25 years: I raced sled dogs for 35 years, and set as one of my goals to win the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. I ran my first BG Marathon in 1985, not really knowing what the heck I was doing. After that, due to some changes in my life, I was out of the sport until 1990, when I ran the 6 dog Beargrease and a couple other smaller races. After that, I started racing the Marathon again in 1992, and ran it every year until 2010, except for 2002, when I was up in Alaska at the Iditarod, 2004, when Mary ran the Marathon, and 2009, when Mary and Michelle Ethun ran our dogs in the BG mid distance race.

I ran the marathon 16 times, never finishing out of the top ten, but having to scratch a few times. Mary ran in 2004 and the following year, I took back the reins and drove the team to victory!! I finally won the race I tried and dreamed of winning for so many years. MY joy and happiness was to be short lived. I listened to one musher, (sorry, but kind of an asshole) tell others “Big deal, he won the race, who was in it anyway”. Then, a couple days after the race, I get a letter from a family member pretty much taking what was left  of my joy and wind out of my sails!  I let these two people take away one of the biggest moments of my life.

Mark Black: Who Says a big guy can't win the Beargrease Marathon
My icy smile after winning the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in 2005. It was short-lived because I let the words of others affect me.

Since then, I still have a hard time not listening to the naysayer, but I’m working on not letting it affect me. It’s hard to do sometimes, but we just have to let them say and do what they want and try not to let it affect us. WE are not their problem. THEY are their problem. It is pretty easy to look back and see so many times I let others define me, or change the outcome of something happening in my life. It still happens today, doing the Strongman competitions and all the heavy lifting. There are those who say I’m too old, or don’t have the right build, or “I just don’t like you lifting all that heavy stuff”. What I’m learning to do is say to myself “Sorry, but it ain’t your decision, and it ain’t your life”. I ain’t gonna let what others think and sway me from what I want to do anymore. When people say things against what I am doing, it makes me want to do more, lift harder and heavier. I am going through a few health issues right now that are affecting my workouts, but I will not let that, or the naysayers define me. I will keep on keeping on, keep after my goals, even if I run into a road block, I will become the road crew, get it fixed and keep going.

No one else...only you should define YOU!

Oh yeah, and I’ll keep remembering that hot big sister in the bikini!

Guilt-Free Waffles From The Aging Youthful Kitchen

I’m not joking…guilt-free waffles are here!! For months I had been seeing all these amazing pictures on my social media feed about protein waffles, but didn’t have a waffle-maker. Eventually the constant drooling on my phone got the better better of me so I headed to Wally World in search of an inexpensive one in case it wasn’t something I liked.

With the first recipe I tried, I was impressed with how the waffle turned out looks-wise, the taste,  another story. It was dry and kinda chewy and I was pretty happy I had only spent less than $20 on the waffle iron. However, my second try at making them, I tweaked my awesome Banana Walnut protein pancakes and it was a massive success! They are seriously SO good I don’t need butter or syrup! (But IF I do, I measure…1 tbsp. of grass-fed butter and 1 tsp. of local syrup.

Guilt free waffles are here!

I love this simple recipe:

2 eggs

1/4 c. Dry Whole Organic Oats

1/2 Scoop Vanilla IsaLean Protein Powder

1 tsp. Organic Cinnamon

1 tsp. Homemade Vanilla extract

1/2 Medium (1/3 large) banana, sliced

2 tbsp. Finely chopped walnuts

Directions: Heat up a Belgian waffle iron to medium-high. Place all ingredients EXCEPT walnuts in a blender or magic bullet and blend for about a minute until oats are finely chopped and banana is blended. When iron is hot, melt  tbsp. Of coconut oil on bottom and slowly pour mixture on iron, starting from the outside working your way in. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts before closing. Let cook approximately 3 minutes until waffle easily slides off the iron. Move to plate, let cool a little and enjoy!

 

The only thing different between this and my pancake recipe is added protein powder, and the banana are in the batter. I like this recipe better as the waffle iron takes out the awkward pancake flipping factor as well as the waffle tastes better reheated a day or two later!

Next time you break out the waffle iron, give these bad boys a try. You may never say “Let Go My EGGO” ever again!