Tips for Personal Peace from Catherine Ashton of Younique Yoga of NWI

I first met Catherine Ashton when she spoke at a Healthy Living  workshop called Healthy U" in Merrillville Indiana.  I shared this experience (and my Fashionista faux paux) thanks to Project Runway's Nick Verreos who gave a talk on women and fashion here.  

The other workshops I was interested in (Sugar Detox, Simplify & Organize Your Life & Home) all had the same speaker:  Catherine Ashton of Sacred Spaces Interiors.  I only got to attend two of her sessions but I was hooked.  I still have the card she handed out with simple steps listed on it hanging by my desk.  I wanted more of her and so we began a lazy series of phone tag and email efforts and thus, this a post two years in the ENJOY!

Catherine Ashton is a therapist in training but is a practicing artist for the past 28 years.  Her passion for Yoga, health & wellness moved her from a hospital administration job to seeing clients & teaching yoga.  Catherine wanted more a creative path, she wanted less, and she wanted to simplify her life.

When I caught up with Catherine again last year for this interview, she is teaching yoga in Chicago full time and it has blossomed as a business for her. She still does private practice with women offering hypo therapy and yoga psychology.

I wanted more of what I saw in the workshop, so I asked her some questions and these are my favorite thoughts from that conversation.

"We can be blessed and happy at the same time."

1) Gratitude is a powerful way of being in the world.  When we are grateful, the whole world changes.    It is hard to be unforgiving and hateful if we are grateful.

2) The other piece of this is we tend to look for external kinds of things to make us ,job title, the car...but once we get those things we are still not happy and we cannot figure out why.  Money is an exchange in the world.  When we are connected to ourselves and other people we do feel that happiness, that sense of peace and belonging we all want.

Catherine runs a yoga studio and yoga teacher training program called Younique Yoga (  They now offer classes for HOT YOGA in Valparaiso!  She is the  founder & director of teacher  training which serves NW Indiana through the south side of Chicago.

Catherine said "Yoga is not restricted to posture or poses, that is only 1/8 of it.  Yoga philosophy is much bigger than that...identifying most things that are important to us.  Identify what is important and letting go of the rest. Yoga is a way of thinking vs. a way of being."

I asked Catherine what brought her into yoga and she said, "I was pregnant and living in California  and started a prenatal yoga class almost 29 years ago."  She said her yoga teacher training focuses on
trauma sensitive issues for womenand healing through yoga practice.

How can a person bring yoga into their life without taking a class?

Attend once a week.  Most people are too distracted at home to do yoga.   Physically doing yoga  is the gateway through the body.    We are not going to challenge ourselves as much as someone else could in a class.  Yoga helps us be stronger,  flexible and more balanced.  It makes our spirit more flexible and balanced too.

I asked Catherine about the Pilates craze, or the PIYO class I tried recently that uses Pilates and Yoga together.  She said Pilates is based on yoga, it was an offshoot, but is predominately fitness based and doesn't focus on the mind body and spirit.  There are different kinds of yoga that are releasing and gentle and then there are others that work you as hard as a Pilates class.

She also said yoga in a studio is different than yoga in a gym.  Both the environment and the focus are different.

A few parting thoughts on living a better life:

  • UNPLUG DAILY for quiet time, prayer, meditation  This is 5-10 minutes of quiet--whatever you want to call--it; sitting in stillness with no sounds,  no distractions.

  • WRITE DOWN YOUR GRATITUDE.  Every day list ten to twenty things for which you are grateful.  It really does change your perspective.

  • PRACTICE YOGA. We were made to move and we have to move.

I hope you are able to check this out, meet Catherine and let me know how YOU were affected for the better.  

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P.S. My apologies  to Catherine as our meeting, the interview and and at long last this post have allowed much time to elapse.  Forgive any possible errors.

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Mr. Money Moustache

OMG I am in an awesome group I need to post about LATER, Nerd Fitness Rising Heroes, but for now let me say I challenged myself this morning.  I posted on the FB pages for the Rising Heroes group, asking them to help me stay accountable to ride my bike instead of driving ALL. THE. TIME. One innocent post change my whole day but mentioning Mr. Money Mustache and how often he talks about saving money thought bike riding instead of driving.  I've barely even singed up to be a cult member yet you MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS!  He is preaching to our Novak Family Choir.  We live WELL, we rarely fight about money, we cut some corners and we avoid debt.  Sometime I need to be reminded WHY, and this Mr. Money Mustache site just did that for me in spades.  I am so encouraged and fired up and STOKED.   I hope you feel the same.

Mr. Money Mustache ala TWITTER

This article on "Killing Your $1,000 Grocery Bill" got my attention this money, as I prepare to head out on my bike with trailer to grocery shop today.

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3 Tips on Saving Money: Princess on a Budget

Do you struggle to teach your kids the value of money?  Do your kids want All The Things All The Time?  Do they have a hard time paying for that $70 Hatchimal on their $3 weekly allowance?   Do you hit resale shops and garage sales to ease the cost of outfitting children who change sizes ever four minutes?  I'm lucky to have two daughters who can share hand me downs from their cousin and other friends, and they stair step even those clothes.  I still buy some shiny things from Target or similar, but I do work to teach my kids the value of money and to my family clothing costs low.  

Here are three simple tips to help teach your kids the value of money:

1)I cut costs with holiday dresses: I never buy the sparkly chiffon tulle extravaganzas.  I buy lovely dresses they can wear in regular rotation. They get something new for the holiday and I stretch the budget.  I have bought fancier dresses second hand, being mindful that they could be worn again.  We sometimes get fancy dresses handed down or as gifts and they love that.

2) I only keep about two weeks worth of clothes for each girl.  You know, a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe! I figure the clothes we hold on to "just in case" could be someone else's mainstay.  I know for me, holding on to excess needed to stop for many reasons.  One perk of limiting the sheer quantity of clothing my little ones own is LESS LAUNDRY!  It becomes much more motivating to get the laundry cycle finished when the drawers are empty or they have to be painfully creative when putting their outfits together.  (Sports t-shirt with tulle skirt, anyone?)This also helps teach your kids the value of money because they have to take better care of their clothes so they last longer.

3) My BEST stroke of genius in clothing has been sheer Bribery.  We were at Kohl's for winter coats and snow pants when I made Libby an offer she couldn't refuse: If she agreed to take Portia's coat from last year, I would buy her a toy under $20 right then and there.  Sure she didn't get the shiny new coat and snow pants($50!), but we both won and she got something after all. It helped me teach both kids the value of money through choices.

This month the school has a Fairytale Character Ball for the 2nd grade and families are invited to attend in costume! SQUEEEE!  After much tossing through our old outgrown and torn costumes from the past seven years, Portia wanted to be Belle and Libby wanted to be Briar Rose.  Both wanted sparkly new dresses.  As we looked at stores and I searched online, my pursestrings loosened and I actually went to the Disney Store.  I spent $60 on the Belle Dress and at Penney's I spend $36 on the Sleeping Beauty Dress.  It hurt, but I'm just practicing for prom right?  I was anxious about spending so much money on play dresses, but the look on their faces trying them on...well I want girls to feel like that always.

But then.

Then I tried the bribe.  I told them I would pay them each $20 to let me return the dresses and wear a costume we already had.  We assessed the repairs needed, length, sparkle, and both girls took me up on the offer.  I get about $60 back and my daughters have a chunk of money they rarely see all at once.  We all learned the value of making do with what we have.  

This lesson is more tangible because they HAD the dresses.  They put them on.  The dresses hung in their rooms overnight.  They tasted the glory of a new dress and decided they would rather spend the money elsewhere!  I consider this a huge win for all of us, one that we can harken back to in the future.  Living simply is a journey and this was a wonderful moment for all of us.  Even a Princess can budget!

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Always Be Prepared: NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

Prepper Much? Emergency preparedness and post apocalyptic society collide in my otherwise normal life. Listen in as I share my plans to cope with our uncertain World Political Climate with humor and diced tomatoes in this National Public Radio Bit "Aways Be Prepared".  

Listen to or read this latest NPR piece By Clicking HERE!

Find out more about the book I mention:

Lear more about preparing your family for emergency by Clicking HERE.