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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!

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/

Friday Favorites

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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!

First Day of Fall

first day of fall

(#TBT to some amazing fall hiking from last year!)

It’s finally the first day of fall!

While it has felt like fall around here for a couple weeks now, I’m so glad it’s officially here. Now I won’t feel bad about adding pumpkin spice to my coffee, oatmeal, bread – just about everything!

Summer was great, but around here it was just too hot to enjoy. I love being outdoors, and fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy some amazing weather. Even the rain is something I welcome happily. It’s the perfect excuse to curl up under a blanket and read a book…or take a nap. I can’t wait to spend more time hiking, working, and generally being productive instead of hiding from the heat.

Fall also signifies the start of a new school year for most people. Even though I’m not a student or teacher anymore, I always considered fall the time of new beginnings. So to ring in the fall, I plan to sit down and carefully make plans and goals to round out the rest of the year. There are so many things I wanted to get done this year that I didn’t get around to, and many more I haven’t started yet. Just because the year is coming to a close doesn’t mean we can’t get shit done, right?

So to all of you like me to consider fall to be their favorite season, get out there and enjoy the changing leaves, damp air, and maybe even a latte or two. Hell, if I remember I’ll even show you how I make my own PSL – they’re easy and oh so tasty!

How do you plan to spend your fall this year? Do you have any traditions you take part in, or favorite foods you like to make? Let me know in the comments!

Cheap and Easy Wall Art

It’s that time of year again when I get fickle about my apartment’s decor. While I love switching things up around my home, I am usually working with a (very) tight budget. After years of college and “grown-up” apartments, I collected a few things I love and display in each place. However, when I want to change things because I’m in a new space, or it’s a new season, I try to do it without spending a lot.

So whether you’re a college freshman who wants to decorate your dorm room with something besides shitty beer posters, or a grown-ass adult who just needs a change (but has no change), here are a few ideas for cheap and easy wall art!

cheap easy wall art

#1: Magazines are your friend.

If you’re like me, you have piles of magazines lying around. Go ahead and cut out some fun artwork or photos and frame them in some cheap-ass thrift store frames.  No one will have a clue! The easiest way to make things look “nice” is to mat the photos – for a few dollars, you can have fun and interesting artwork that looks semi-legit. All of the frames I bought came with mats, but you can score some cheap ones from your local craft store if your frames don’t have them. Trust me – mats automatically make everything look better!

cheap easy wall art

#2: Speaking of thrift stores…

Seriously, you can find some amazing shit at thrift stores. I found the red scarf and square frame on the same day. The butterflies are real, by the way – and another thrift store score for only $6! I obsessed about buying something similar for years, but couldn’t cough up the $60+ for even one butterfly online.

Thrift stores also have frames in any size you could need, and with a little spray paint, they will look amazing in your space. I’ve painted a lot of the frames around our apartment, including the ones below, and they all look brand new. You’d never know those black frames were originally smoke-stained and different colors of off-white. With a little paint and some cheap mats, they look great!

cheap easy wall art

#3: Snapfish is your friend.

Do you take a lot of photos? Of course you do. With Snapfish, you can get prints of your photos for pretty much nothing. Each of these 8×10 photos are only $2.99 each, but if you pay attention, you can usually get them on sale even cheaper (I think I only paid $1.50 each for mine). You can even make photo books, which make great (and inexpensive) gifts for the holidays…if you’re thinking that far ahead already.

The best thing about using Snapfish is that you can order several photos, and when your urge to redecorate hits, you can easily switch things up. When you sign up, they even give you 100 4×6 photos for FREE – so go nuts!

So with a few great resources and a little work, you can decorate your walls for almost nothing! That leaves more money for important things, like beer…or bills…or both!

Stuck

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Today, I feel stuck.

With the senseless murders of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and the (as of now) 5 police officers killed in Dallas, it’s been a tough week. We are stuck between feeling angry and disgusted with police brutality while also finding space in our hearts for the officers injured and killed in Dallas who were doing their job to give people a safe space to protest.

Let’s just get it out there – I feel stuck because I’m white.

There is nothing I can say (or not say) that won’t be met with hate and anger on some level. I can’t say that I’m angry and disappointed without being accused of seeking attention, being ignorant, or straight up lying. I also can’t stay quiet and reflect on what happened because those very same people will say that it’s because I’m a racist asshole. No matter what I do, the world thinks I’m stupid, ignorant, privileged, lacking perspective, and rude. I know that I’m not, but man does no one want to hear a white woman say that right now….

I don’t believe the people who spew this kind of hateful shit online truly mean it. We’re all angry and scared right now, and when you mix that with the internet – well, you know how people get.

If it were up to me, I’d tell everyone to take the weekend off of social media, leave the fake-ass hashtags alone, and sit with your own mind for a minute. Figure out how YOU feel about all of this – not what everyone else is telling you to feel. You might find hate and anger is just the beginning.

It’s easy to just say I’m angry. Anger is easy – it’s why we usually go there first. It’s harder to admit that these shootings make me feel embarrassed and disappointed. It makes me sad for all those families whose children have been gunned down by the very police they were raised to believe are trustworthy, respectable people who will always do the right thing. I also makes me sad for those officers who are trustworthy, respectable people who do the right thing. Odds are, you even know who those officers are – and right now, they are just as scared and frustrated as you.

I hope that with time, everyone cools off and gets back to what’s important. I hope that we can find it in our hearts and minds to grieve and protest loudly with grace and respect, rather than violence and rage. I hope that we find an officer in our community who is doing great things and tell them we appreciate what they do. I hope that we take action to write our local government to express our anger and sadness over what happened, and push for change.

I hope that even if our anger fades, we stay vigilant. It’s all we really have.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

(Last year’s fireworks in Lake Sammamish, WA)

Happy 4th of July!

I hope everyone is having a great day so far!

It’s a cold and cloudy day out here, so I’m not sure if we’ll make it out for fireworks tonight. If we do, it’ll be the first time I have to wear a coat to watch fireworks! Even though it’s going to be freezing, I’ll take it over the 90+ degree day we had last year!

Stay safe, have fun, and all of you sweating it out on the East Coast…drink some rosé and soak up the sun a little extra for me!

 

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary!

Today is Afternoon Glow’s 1 year blogiversary! I almost forgot about it completely, to be honest. I’ve been so busy lately with job hunting, blog planning, and doing about a zillion loads of laundry (does it ever end?). To celebrate the occasion, I’m sitting in my new favorite coffee shop and reflecting on the past year.

The blog started out as a space for me to share everything going on with my life. It’s included posts about cooking, home decor, beauty, hiking, and the occasional “reflective rant.” I worked with amazing brands, was featured on a few different sites, and made connections with people that will hopefully stick around for years to come. I had insanely inspiring runs mixed with weeks  of silence. There are things on here that I’m proud of, and some that I’m not. While I sit here and look back on it all, though, I’m more proud than not!

I’m looking forward to sitting down soon and narrowing down the blog’s focus, and figuring out what I want to accomplish (besides free stuff…though I’d hardly turn it down). I am inspired by my usual online haunts, and some of the amazing things they’re doing in the online and offline lives – and I want to join in the fun! This next year on Afternoon Glow is going to be a big one…I can feel it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and a safe and amazing 4th of July! I don’t have any plans yet, but I’m sure it’ll involve a trip to the beach for some fireworks!

 

Jewelry Box Makeover

Jewelry Box Makeover

One thing I wanted to focus on in the new year was creating more. I’ve never been much of a “crafter,” and I’m not creative at all, but this kind of project was perfect for my insane anal-retentiveness and lack of creative skill!

Well, that and a new jewelry box would run me way over $100.

So, I set out to find a vintage jewelry box to paint. My husband found one at an antique mall nearby for around $20 (which we later found out came from the thrift store next door…thanks to a $3 tag on the bottom…dicks). The rest of the supplies came out to around $20, and the whole thing was done in a couple afternoons! Re-lining the inside with grey felt was the hardest part – that took the bulk of my time and frustration, but it turned out better than I expected.

While the paint needs to be fixed on the front (stupid drips and cracks), overall it turned out amazing. Costing under $40 also made this a far cheaper option than a new one, and now I know that I can do this with much, much cheaper jewelry boxes in the future, should I ever need more room for my (super small) collection!