Mindful Mondays: New Beginnings

“The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.”

— Arnold Bennett

Happy Monday, everyone.

This week, make an active effort to forget about the past. Even for a moment.

Take a sip of your favorite drink, soak up some sunshine, and revel in the now.

It doesn’t have to be New Year’s Eve to make a resolution, form a goal, or change your life.

Action only happens in the present. Change only happens in the present.

Let the past rest easy today, let the future remain distant.

Reimagine now.

Mindful Mondays: Awareness

“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

One of the most soothing,

the most helpful,

The most grounding efforts one can make in their mindfulness practice, is awareness.

Beth Berila dives into this quite a bit in her textbook, Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy: Social Justice in Higher Education (Amazon link here, author website here). I highly recommend it for those, like me, who are pursuing a degree in education. It’s definitely on our Lit List list (haha).

One of the techniques she teaches is called “Cultivating The Witness” (p. 79-80*), which, at its root, is simply cultivating the skills necessary to be aware of a situation without being overwhelmed by it.

How can we do this?

The first step is to meditate on a scenario that caused a strong reaction in the past. Evaluate yourself without judgment. Ask yourself why you felt that way, explore the root(s) of your reaction.

Then, when confronted with the same or a similar situation in the future, try to stop and evaluate. Compare, in the moment, if the root is the same. If it is, ask yourself:

What can I do to heal?


*Berila, B. (2016). Integrating mindfulness into anti-oppression pedagogy: social justice in higher education. New York: Routledge, is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business.

Vegan Thoughts: How Do We Advocate?

I often think about how exactly I should explain Veganism to others.

It’s not like it’s not an extremely important topic to me. It’s not like it doesn’t define my life in a crucial and mind-bogglingly-all-encompassing way. It does.

But determining my style isn’t exactly easy because I don’t fit into the two main “Advocacy Camps” that take the internet by storm.

The first, which I lovingly call the Vegan Warriors, are those who pour their energy into tirelessly pushing the Vegan message toward anyone who will listen. They are the ones that will promote the cause. They will argue, they will protest, and they will use their very last breath to fight for the cause. Their passion is infectious, righteous, inspirational.

And I absolutely admire that. Vegan Warriors are crucial for the Vegan movement. For every kind whisper and silent action that is heeded by some, there are others who need a proverbial thump over the head by a Vegan Warrior to see clearer.

The other camp, whom I call the “Vegan Priests,” are the Warriors’ gentler counterparts. Calmly explaining Veganism, but only when asked. Compassion is their message and understanding the position of those they’re talking to is their motto. Vegan Priests are more likely to be understanding if someone explains why they aren’t entirely Vegan, insisting that any action is better than none; that all contributions are good and a sign of progress.

And they are correct. Priests bring the humanity back into the cause, and are more approachable on many fronts than the Warriors. It’s easier to open up to them, it’s easier to explain to them where you are without fear of judgment. This is important for those who are put off by the force of Vegan Warriors and simply want someone to understand that they are interested, but have their fears and reservations. A Vegan Priest’s specialty, really.

But where do I fall?

Somewhere in the middle, truthfully. I’m no textbook advocate, but I care. I’m willing to explain, not likely to start a conversation with Veganism unless it makes sense in that context. I understand where people begin, yet I want to see more progress.

And that’s alright.

Perhaps any advocacy, no matter what it looks like, is better than none at all.

[EDITED] Series Update: Eco-Friendly Fridays Going Monthly

After much deliberation, I’ve decided that EFF should be reduced to once a month. I believe that this is for the best, since it would allow for a more in-depth post about eco-friendly topics. Every other week, despite giving me more time, still felt too rushed. Therefore, Eco-Friendly Friday will occur on the third Friday of every month.

[EDIT]: HOWEVER, due to personal events, the series will begin like this on September 15th, 2017.

Thoughts: On Lost Time

You know,

It’s been a  while since the FYF team has posted anything. A shame on our part, really. Time management is probably one of the hardest things to work around. Partly though, it must be because of how we’re organizing our priorities.

It’s amazing how much time simply flies by when we’re anticipating actions that never happen. So many goals, so much to do, such a large number of things that can get in the way of progress. Why? We’re prioritizing comfort, perhaps. We want a moment to breathe, an escape from reality and for responsibilities to drift away like petals in the breeze.

Somewhere, in all that mess, lie our true desires. Running a blog is one of my passions, one of my favorite hobbies. So is cooking, crafting, creating beautiful spaces, and enjoying warm mugs of tea in the morning.

These are the things I should be prioritizing.

It’s easy to forget that, huh?

Simple things that give so much pleasure despite the time they take up.

Everything takes time. Might as well pick the things I enjoy the most.


See ya soon,


Mindful Mondays: Suicide

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”

– Joseph Addison

The tone of this Mindful Monday is a little different than usual.

Unfortunately, some of my close friends have been coping with more loss than they should ever have to deal with this week.

While we can prepare ourselves in some way for the inevitable loss of our loved ones from age and natural causes, suicide always hits hard and without mercy.

If anyone around you is experiencing thoughts of suicide–even if it doesn’t seem like they would act on them–please call 1-800-273-8255. You will be routed to the nearest Lifeline facility that can connect you with local resources that can help your loved one.

For more information, refer to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Remind those around you how much they mean to you.

Thank you.


Mindful Mondays: Two Cents

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
— Buddha

Events come and go; a mighty plethora of them grasping and demanding our attention.

It’s easy to get lost in these events. Easy to let them crash angrily upon our shores like vicious waves.

It’s even easier to turn negative feelings caused by these events against our loved ones. Whether they were involved or not.

Today, let us take a moment to contemplate how we can prevent this.

If we feel compelled to turn upon a friendly face, pause and take a moment to breathe.

Ground yourself in the moment and grab hold of something you love; a feeling, a memory, an event.

Describe it to your loved one,

Let yourself be free.

Vegan Thoughts: Animal Rights vs. Human Rights

This topic is actually hugely controversial.

Whoops. Here I go bringing up things I shouldn’t.

However, many vegans discuss their stances on this, so I might as well join in. The following information is purely my viewpoint and doesn’t reflect upon the community as a whole.


Because there are vegans that believe animals and humans are equally important. There are vegans that believe animal suffering is more important than human greed, and therefore pay more attention to animal rights than human rights. There are vegans that care more for human rights than animal rights, focusing more on long-term health and ecological survivability than whether or not animals are suffering because of our current actions.

There’s no good way to determine which stance is the “correct” one, in my opinion. Of course, it would make sense for humans to be mostly concerned with other humans. If it was a matter of life and death between an animal and a loved one, the overwhelming majority of us wouldn’t hesitate to save their loved ones. But that’s not really the debate here. What is being debated is whether or not we should care the other 99.99% of the time. When we aren’t being forced to choose between the life of an animal or loved one.

Personally, I believe that our species needs to strengthen our empathy. It is our own hubris that will bring about our destruction, if and when it comes.

It’s not a matter of whether or not humans should care about animals. It’s not a matter of whether or not humans should care about the rights of other humans. It’s a matter of how much.

How much should we care about whether or not an animal dies needlessly and helplessly? How strongly do we care about their suffering? How often do we buy fair trade, sweatshop free? How passionately do we fight for fair wages within and outside our own countries? How much do we care?

How much do you care?

Tunes Tuesday: Dear Evan Hansen


Good Evening Lovely Readers!

Apologies for this coming out later than expected, but I truly wanted to treat you guys with this amazing masterpiece, and be refreshed and have the songs in the forefront of my mind for this post.

Today we’re taking it back to another musical. As the picture on the left depicts, it is “Dear Evan Hansen.” The songs in the story all follow a boy named Hansen, who suffers from severe anxiety, and writes letters to himself to ease these struggles. It’s his senior year of high school, and everything kind of goes haywire when another student, Connor, commits suicide, but with one of Evan’s letters in his pocket. When found, people believe that it’s Connor’s suicide note. This creates chaos when many now believe that Evan is actually a close friend of Connor’s. Love interests ensue, lies are thrown flippantly, friendships are thinned, families face turmoil, and so much more. This musical truly brings everything to the table, which is why I won’t spoil it further so you all can enjoy it at your leisure.

But more specifically, the music is just so refreshing. It doesn’t necessarily have too much of a musical feel, in the sense that it flows very easily and doesn’t feel too light or sappy. It hits at some very hard issues that many are facing today within mental illness, or even just in regular life. Specifically, and in one of my favorite songs, “Waving Through A Window,” which I will leave below, Evan struggles with only being who he is at this particular moment in his life. He’s always on the outside looking in, and never knows if he’ll break through this social or existential barrier that he’s found himself in. It’s incredibly moving, and maybe you’ll feel the same way about it.

Overall, there are many more beauties within this musical, and they can all be found on either youtube or spotify or probably many other sources because the interweb is quite the large space. Either way I hope you all enjoy and please tell us what you think or if there are any musical favorites that you have!

Keep Rockin,

Ellen Renee

Mindful Mondays: A Restful Sleep

“May sleep envelop you as a bed sheet floating gently down, tickling your skin and removing every worry. Reminding you to consider only this moment.”

— Jeb Dickerson

Today, let us consider the importance of good sleep.

Mindfulness isn’t solely for getting through the day.

Sometimes life gets in the way, the stresses of the morning overtaking our choices. We don’t feel able to practice mindfulness, so we put it off.

If so, why not do it as the day comes to a close?

Meditate, practice deep breathing, let the events of the past week flow away. As we drift off to sleep, do so knowing that the morning will greet you soon.

There’s so much to be hopeful for.