Thursday, January 21, 2016

Shower Shorter

Mindful Echo loves a nice, hot shower. 

Is there anything better than a long, hot shower? Especially this time of year? Seriously, coming in from a cold walk or after a brisk snowshoe, a hot shower can warm your bones and clean away the sweat in the most refreshing way possible.

Personally though, I find it way too easy to waste time daydreaming and singing my way through Adele's latest hits (badly, I might add), rather than sticking to the necessities of actually getting clean and getting out in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, as we all know, water is a finite resource. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have flowing fresh water at our easy disposal should be cautious to reserve as much as possible, rather than let it flow down the drain.

1. Check out a low-flow shower head.
Unless you have super thick hair, chances are you don't need to have extreme pressure all the time. I know some people think the water should pelt you to an almost painful degree, but if you can still rinse with a little less, then give it a try. 

2. Shut the tap when you shampoo and shave.
The water definitely does not need to stay running while you're getting your lather on. 

3. Set a timer. 
You could use an old-fashioned kitchen timer or, if you know all the words to Paradise by the Dashboard Light, you can sing your way to an 8-minute shower.

4. Cool it down. 
Does it have to be burning hot? Not likely. If you can keep your cool and still get clean, you'll save the energy from heating up all the water needed for your shower.

And here's a bonus tip:

When I was an undergrad my house had an upstairs and a downstairs shower with which a couple of my roommates would have "shower races." Someone would start the timer and whomever made it back to the living room first (clothed but usually still totally damp) would win.

What are your best tips to keep your showers short?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Intentions for 2016: Mindfulness

Queen Composter needs to slow down in 2016.

Like many people these days, I'm not a fan of making new years resolutions that will be long forgotten before the end of February. I do, however, like to reflect upon how things are going and check in with how I'm feeling overall in the lull after the craziness of the holiday season. I like to choose one little word for the year to guide me and help me reflect back upon what is important to me. In previous years I have chosen make, move, breathe and grateful.

This year it is important for me to choose mindfulness. 

I have been feeling like I have lost a little bit of control and have not been present is with my commitment to living what I preach environmentally. Since returning to work full time and being sick on and off all autumn I have done what I needed to survive, even if it has meant occasionally ordering take out food, grabbing food on the go and doing what is convenient.

I have not had time to spend outdoors on a regular basis, and this has been very hard for me. I feel more relaxed, happier, and have more energy after even a short walk along our local river. People care more about making environmental choices when they care about the world around them. When people spend time in nature and connecting with the natural world it is an important step toward living environmentally.

When I get regular exercise and meditate, or even pause to breathe, I have increased clarity, greater satisfaction and I feel calmer and able to deal with what life throws at me.

While my daughters were at their activities, I
chose to take a walk along a local river and stop in my Happy
Place to reflect and breathe mindfully instead of cramming
in several errands. It was a good choice.

This year I am trying to be mindful of what I am doing and experiencing in the moment. I want to treat moments like a walking meditation, rather than something to get through. I realize that there are times when I need to be hyper aware of all that is going on and coming up, and times when I will need to multitask, but I want to balance those with mindful moments. 

In my school district we teach mindfulness as a way to help students self regulate. We teach lessons on the parts of the brain and their functions, what happens in the brain during stress and how breathing calms the fight or flight response. Other lessons focus on being present and mindful with their sensory experience, and gratitude. In my class things get crazy busy and we forget to breathe mindfully three times a day. For the month of January my students and I are working on slowing down, and I have written the word "slow" in a prominent location on the board to remind us to stop rushing through things and cramming in more activities. 

Ways I want to focus on being mindful this year:

  • find ways to increase my time outdoors on the weekends
  • reflect regularly on the choices I make (reducing the amount I purchase, recycle)
  • promote and encourage outdoor time with my daughters
  • continue to grow my own food in my backyard garden
  • find time in my daily routine for regular mindful breathing
  • continue to use a mindful breathing routine in my class
  • limit use of my iPhone when I am outdoors 
  • continue to focus on gratitude in my life 
Time to get back to this spot and breathe: what
do I see, hear, smell and feel?


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