Favorite Meditation Apps

favorite meditation apps

My whole adult life, I’ve struggled with being able to focus during the day and fall asleep at night. I sprint through my days, busy and anxious that I won’t fit enough in to feel good enough. At night, I often stay awake, mind busy with things I know I can’t control at the moment. Stress can be a good thing in small doses, but dealing with it for years on end has certainly taken its toll on my ability to relax and focus when I need to.

Enter meditation.

I admit that meditation was something I resisted trying for years. Something about it sounded… too difficult for me. Sitting quietly with my thoughts is fine, but to sit quietly without them? That seemed like too big of a challenge!

After years of struggling to think straight and sleep well, I decided it couldn’t hurt to try. As a beginner, I knew I couldn’t just reach zen on my own – so I sought out apps to get me started. Now that I’ve been at it almost daily for almost a year, I thought I’d share which apps I’ve been using to get control of my thoughts, and find a little bit of chill in the chaos!

My Favorite Meditation Apps

favorite meditation apps

Stop, Breathe & Think

(Free or Premium $9.99/month or $82.99/year)

This is the first app I downloaded, and I still go back to it from time to time. Stop, Breathe & Think works by first asking you to choose 5 emotions you’re feeling, and it will suggest a meditation for you. I liked that because, in the beginning, I had no idea which meditation would work best for me if I was happy, angry, tired, etc.

The free version has plenty of options to choose from, from guided meditations, yoga, and acupressure. They also have an unguided meditation option, where you can choose the length of time and bells to remind you of time. My only gripe is the meditations don’t include the option of background noise, which makes it hard to use when, say, there are roofers pounding on your ceiling. This one is perfect for an already quiet space.

I highly recommend this app when you’re just getting started. They have great guided meditations for beginners that don’t seem too daunting. You can also choose between short and longer meditations, so if you only have the time/patience for a few minutes at a time, you can totally do that!

favorite meditation apps

Calm

(Free or Premium $12.99/month or $59.99/year or $299 for life)

A blogger friend introduced me to this app a few years ago, when I needed ambient noise to listen to while grading papers. Their desktop version is perfect for people who need calming background noise while working.

I decided to add the app to my phone after I found Stop, Breathe & Think couldn’t drown out the outside construction noise at our prior apartment. Pairing this app with noise-canceling headphones did the trick, and I still use this app daily.

They have decent options for guided and unguided meditations in their free version, though not as many as the other app. In the premium version, they have individual meditations you can choose from, a daily meditation, or you can start a 7 or 21-day program. They also have unguided meditations, and several options dedicated specifically to sleep. I haven’t even cracked the surface of what they offer, and I love it so far!

This is a good option once you already have a set practice, you’re just looking for calming background sounds for your work day, or while you’re reading. I use the untimed meditation option when I’m reading to tune out the television or music, and it works like a charm!

If you’re looking for an easy and free way to start your meditation journey, I highly suggest both of these apps! They are easy to use, the meditations are easy to follow, and both are great free options!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

No Friday Favorites post this week. I totally forgot to keep track of the things I was into – oops!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day. I am off to find something green to wear and see if I can get my hands on a corned beef sandwich for lunch this afternoon!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the arrival of spring!

 

Recent Skincare Favorites

recent skincare favorites

Winter is on its way out, which means swapping out skincare routines. I thought now would be a good time to document my recent skincare favorites before I switch them out for more spring and summer friendly products!

Recent Skincare Favorites

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera

I use this toner year-round because it’s non-irritating (thanks to the absence of alcohol) and doubles as an eye makeup remover. It doesn’t hurt the packaging and smell are sublime!

Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

This is a cleanser I keep going back to every winter. It’s non-drying and gentle, and has kept my breakouts at bay over the past few months.

DIY Face Elixir Spray

I can’t stop spraying this stuff! If you’re looking for a Caudalie Face Elixir dupe, this is a great substitute. You won’t mind spraying it on your face, pillows, or anywhere really! Click on the link above to learn how to make your own!

Murad – Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

I decided to try this to get rid of hyperpigmentation (thanks, birth control). So far, I haven’t seen a lot of change in my skin tone, but the texture of my skin is much better since I started using it. I guess I’ll have to be diligent and patient with the pigmentation.

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre Moisturizer

When I first purchased this, I thought it would be far too thick for my already oily, sensitive skin. Boy, was I wrong! I slather this on every night after my serum, and I wake up every morning with soft, glowing skin. The French know their skincare, that’s for sure!

Freeman Facial Apple Cider Vinegar 4-In-1 Foaming Clay

I found this at my local Ulta last fall, and loved it because of the smell, mostly. However, after using it as both a mask and exfoliating scrub, I am now on my third tube! It’s a great multi-use product that smells great, and leaves my skin feeling smooth without being too irritated. I loved using it this winter because it’s not as harsh as my other exfoliants, and as a mask it’s not too drying.

5 Reasons I Quit Magazines

i quit magazinesIn the spirit of following my 2017 mantra of “good enough is good enough,” I want to remove magazines from my life. I hope that I can return to them more mindfully in the future. While this won’t be a permanent life change, I wanted to take a break from them for a few reasons.

It was a waste of money.

Most of us don’t think twice about dropping $5 on a magazine every so often. However, if you read as many as I do, it can easily become a $50+/month habit. If you get into reading small-batch or international magazines, the cost can easily skyrocket. I reduced my spending a lot by using my local library’s free magazine app. However, they don’t carry everything I read, so I was still spending $10-15/month. I can’t justify spending that much on reading material anymore.

The other nasty side of magazines is that they’re almost entirely ads. Whether it’s a fashion magazine pushing the latest trends, or a health magazine pushing new supplements or exercise equipment, the pressure to spend after reading is too much as well. I don’t like being prey for advertisements. I know I’m being advertised to all the time, but any progress to remove them from my daily life is worth it to me.

It was a waste of space.

Even after reducing the number of magazines I buy on a regular basis, I still find they pile up quickly. Before our last move, I piled them up and found I collected over a dozen over the past few months alone. I don’t tend to re-read things, so after I read them they just sit around collecting dust. In an effort to reduce visual clutter and useless waste, I want to keep the magazines I do read in the future to digital copies only.

I felt too much pressure to keep up.

Anyone who has ever read a Martha Stewart magazine knows my pain. Home magazines in particular are a sore spot for me. I get stuck down the rabbit-hole of wanting to organize, clean, and plan my home into oblivion after reading them. I always feel guilty for not doing more or being good enough. Fashion and travel magazines just remind me that I don’t have to money to keep up with the young jet-setter they’re aimed at. So for now, I need to quit playing the comparison game and repeat to myself “good enough is good enough.” I don’t need to know how to organize my bathroom in 20 different ways – how I did it is already fine.

They still bear unfair and negative messages toward women.

While some publications improved on this, many merely became more covert in their demeaning messages toward women. Fashion magazines may promote diversity or body acceptance, but they still largely show women with unrealistic body types. They still tell us that being thin is glamorous, and being curvy is purely for sexual appeal. I appreciate the progress, but we have a long way to go.

Many women’s magazines also promote we have to be superwomen who run marathons, have insanely successful careers, travel the world, raise perfect children, volunteer every weekend, clean our homes obsessively, and cook restaurant-quality meals for our families each night. I can’t keep beating myself up over what I don’t do, so I need to just stop reading about it for now.

I want to focus my time on books.

Instead of focusing my reading time each night to the instantly gratifying, ad-filled magazine stack sitting on my iPad, I want to read more substantial stuff. Reading magazines always had an addictive quality to them. Getting a new issue was a rush. I pour through the pages with reckless zeal, only to feel a crash when I was done. I don’t know how they do it, but magazines are like a damn drug to me. For a long time, though, they were the only reading I could stomach.

After graduate school, I was burnt out on reading almost anything. Add to that a career grading essays for hours every day, and I was usually too mentally exhausted to pick up a book. So for years, I didn’t read for fun beyond magazines.

Now that I have more time and mental energy to devote to books, I’m getting back in the habit. I was surprised how rusty I became, to be honest. At first I got distracted all the time, and I found reading took longer. However, after a few books I’m mostly back to speed-reading my way through everything. I’m also focusing my attention on reading books by women and about women.

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So for as long as I can, I promised myself I would actively avoid reading magazines. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading them forever. I just need a break to find other things to occupy my time and mental space. I also want to find more publications that speak to what I want to read about. Being more mindful of what I read is important to me, and I know this “cleanse” of sorts will be a good first step!

Friday Favorites

(Timberlake Park in Issaquah, WA)

Happy Friday! It’s been a cloudy and messy week around here. One day, I saw snow, rain, hail, and sleet all in the span of about an hour! Spring can’t get here fast enough!

Here are a few things I enjoyed on the internet this week:

  • We can all do better when it comes to reducing waste in our lives. Darling magazine gave us 7 very simple ways to cut down on excess trash that anyone can do! (Darling Magazine)
  • If you’re looking for an amazing new wine tasting subscription service, check out Tasting Room. They ship you a “wine tasting” and you build your list from that! No need to get a babysitter, call an Uber, or get out of your pajamas! (Pop Dust)
  • GIRL – the ONLY prescription acne medication that worked for me as a teenager was Differin Gel, which from what I remember was expensive as hell. Well now I guess you can get Differin Gel over the counter! Might be giving this one a try again! (Caroline Hirons)
  • I’m thinking about making a few of these Himalayan salt candle diffusers for my bathroom! I have everything around the house except the salt! (Hello Glow)
  • NY Representative Grace Meng is on the warpath to make feminine hygiene products free for women in her state. Let’s hope this is the start of something great! (Well + Good)
  • While attending protests is a great way to show support for a cause, it’s just not safe or possible for everyone. This is a great video by Riley J. Dennis, explaining all the reasons people can’t get out, many of which I didn’t even think about! (Everyday Feminism)

What are your plans for the weekend? I’m determined to finish reading The Second Sex this weekend. It’s a much longer and more challenging read than I was expecting! We’ve also been binge watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Maybe I’ll get the ol’ mixer out and play a little!

Have a great weekend!

Day Without a Woman

a_day_without_a_woman

In honor of #DayWithoutAWoman and International Women’s Day, I’ll be joining millions of women in taking the day off.

If you want to participate today, you can do any or all of the following:

  • Take the day off from paid and unpaid labor if you can
  • Avoid shopping for today (except for small women and minorty owned businesses!)
  • Wear red in solidarity with others who are also participating

I plan to participate today by staying home, drinking lots of tea, reading Bad Feminist, and writing to my local politicians. It should be a relaxing solo day of action and reflection.

I also plan to take (most of) the day off from the internet and television as well. For me, part of today is also to take a day off from the media coverage of our current president. It stresses me out, and I’d rather spend today focusing on what’s going on in my own community for a day.

I hope you all find some way to participate in #DayWithoutAWoman in your own way. Remember to take care of yourselves, and do what works for you!

If you want to learn more, check out the Women’s March website here:

https://www.womensmarch.com/womensday/

What I Read Recently

what i read recently

(This was originally posted on Bloglovin’, using their direct-posting function, which does not link to Afternoon Glow. It has been updated to reflect more books I’ve read since the original post.)

Happy Tuesday!

I thought I’d start the day by sharing what I’ve been reading lately. One of my goals for 2017 is to read 50 books, and I’m already well on my way!

I also want to focus on reading more from our feminist history, as well as honoring amazing women writers. One area I didn’t explore much in college was women’s studies. I’m going to make up for that this year, hopefully. I’d also like to read more fiction, but man I am picky when it comes to fiction. Perhaps more Margaret Atwood? 😉

2017 Reading List (So Far):

1. The Feminist Mystique by Betty Friedan

2. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

3. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

4. Blue Nights by Joan Didion

5. How to Win at Feminism by Reductress

6. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

7. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

8. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gray

There you have it!

Any suggestions for books I should pick up this year?

My 2017 Mantra: Good Enough is Good Enough

My 2017 Mantra

I know, it’s already March and I’m just getting around to writing a post about my 2017 goals. Sue me!

Every year, I choose a mantra or quote to live by, rather than a resolution. Instead of a checklist of lofty goals I’ll never meet, I find it more productive to devote each year to improving one big thing. This year, I’m tackling my problems with perfectionism.

My 2017 mantra:

“Good enough is good enough.”

I chose this because I need a break. I want to focus on self-care and letting myself off the hook more often. It’s hard for me sometimes to stop picking on myself and say “fuck it, that’s good enough.”

Only a couple months in, I find it freeing to give up on perfection and decision paralysis. Reminding myself that “good enough is good enough” relaxes me when I stress over something stupid. I get caught up with little things, and I need an easy way to snap out of it. So far, this seems to work.

I am also giving myself a break in one major area of life: cooking. Sure, I’m relatively good at cooking and baking…but I don’t really love doing it. You wouldn’t know that, though, given how much time and energy I devote to meal planning, prepping, cooking, and pouring over recipe books or magazines for new recipes. So this year, I am scaling things back. I am sticking to recipes I know well, spending less time planning, and avoiding new cookbooks or magazines. Variety may be the spice of life, but I’m going to let restaurants bear the burden of introducing us to new things. I want to spend 2017 doing more of what I love, and less of what I don’t. If that means our meals are repetitive or boring, then so be it.

The only other goal I gave myself is to read 50 books this year. This is less of a challenge and more of a reminder to take time for myself each day. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures, but I’ve gotten out of practice over the years for several reasons I should probably share with a therapist and not the general public. 😉

Check back tomorrow to see what I’ve been reading!

Friday Favorites

Untitled

Happy Friday!

My main goal for this weekend is to go for a hike. I haven’t gone at all this year, and I’m itching to get back out there. I can only hope the weather holds up!

Have a great weekend!

Welcome Back

welcome back

Welcome back to Afternoon Glow!

While I wrote a few times since I took a break, this marks my official return to the blog on a regular basis. I think I’m ready now to come back for real. Let’s see if it sticks this time.

The past few months were busy, to say the least. We made a trip back home to Ohio in December. It was my first time back in over 2 years. It wasn’t relaxing at all, but it was nice to see everyone we managed to see. I can’t say I will do that again for another couple years, though – it was exhausting!

The holidays were good. I ate way too much, and stayed up too late getting drunk and playing euchre with our in-laws. I also helped my nephew put together a few Lego sets (a tradition we started recently). By New Year’s Eve, I think we were all ready to end 2016 and move on!

2017 so far has not let up. We moved unexpectedly in February, which meant we (and by “we” I mean mostly myself) spent January scrambling to find a new place and get everything ready to go on short notice. It was a mad dash, but we got it all done. Life didn’t really get back to “normal” until last week.

Over my hiatus, I thought a lot about the future of Afternoon Glow. After watching several blogs fold last year, I almost followed suit. In a last-ditch effort to keep this going, I am making a few changes to how I do things from here on out.

A Relaxed Schedule

In the past, I felt a lot of pressure to stick to a Monday – Friday schedule. Even when I cut back to a MWF schedule, it sucked. I could never live up to posting 5 days a week. Something about scheduling it all out kills the fun for me. It didn’t help that I was doing everything on my own.

For now, I am going to post when I can. That might mean 5 days a week; it might mean only once. I want this to be spontaneous and fun again – and I can’t do that if everything is regimented.

Less Social Media

Another part of keeping things casual means less social media. Keeping all of that coordinated also kills the fun of blogging. I will do my best to let you know when I post (mostly on Twitter), but I can’t guarantee that I get it right every time. I may also post less frequently, and I’m probably shutting down the Facebook page (I never use it). You can still find me on Instagram and Twitter, though!

If you want to guarantee you’ll get my new posts, follow me on Bloglovin’!

Ditching Comments

You may find that I shut off the comments on some posts. Sometimes, I write posts that aren’t meant to be responded to – and yet people do (not nicely, I might add). I still maintain the power to remove comments I don’t like, but I also learned there are times I shouldn’t allow people to comment at all. It’s for my sanity, really.

No More Food and Home Posts

The focus of the blog is something I want to clarify for myself. The two categories I write about the least are food and home. Frankly, they are boring as shit to write about.

I plan to replace those posts with more beauty, style, life, travel, and personal content. Instead of writing about topics I don’t care about, I need to move on to topics I do. That might mean losing readers, but hopefully it also means gaining new ones!

So welcome back, and I hope you enjoy what’s to come!