Monday, November 12, 2018

The Happygirl Guide to November 2018

As I wrote this here in the studio, we are listening to holiday smooth jazz (Sirius Channel 784) and brewing MarketSpice Cinnamon Orange Tea. It's funny how when the leaves fall and the weather turns cool and grey, we have this primitive need to be cozy. While I'm more of a summer girl, I'm learning how to lean into things that have typically given me anxiety or made me feel sad. This month, I'm focusing on the things that make me feel happy rather than the fact that the days are short and I'll be in fleece for there next for months.

This weekend I discovered Lysa Terkeurst's book "It's Not Supposed to be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered." Her book about timing and  unexpected situations has helped me manage some of my anxiety about the what-ifs that I tend to overthink. I'm learning to let go and believe that I'm exactly where I am supposed to be.

I hope wherever you are that you are safe, happy, that your November is cozy and that you have much to be thankful for.

Your Happygirl Fall Playlist on Spotify

Sunday. November 11th is Veteran's Day. Thank a veteran for his or her service by anonymously buying them a meal, listening to their stories of service or by donating your air miles to wounded or ill service members and/or family members undergoing treatment.

Tuesday, November 13th is World Kindness Day. While happy people tend to be kind people, today is a  good day to throw a little more kindness out into the world. Let another drive merge into traffic. Send cookies to the nurses who cared for your grandmother or to your admin who makes your office run smoothly. Drop off new blankets at your local pet shelter or send a letter to someone who made you feel happy.

Sunday. November 18th is National Apple Cider Day. While I love hot spiced apple cider, last year my friend Jeff, introduced me to Angry Orchard Hard Cider. Currently,  I am loving the Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider. It pairs well with a warm vegetable pot pie. (It's also National Princess Day so throw on your crown and enjoy your cider.)

Photograph by Christopher Testani
Thanksgiving is Thursday, November 22nd. While the star of the Thanksgiving show is the turkey, my favorite part of the meal is the stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you live). I like a simple stuffing (no fruit, nuts or meat). This recipe from Bon App├ętit is my absolute favorite. It's especially good the next day.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade starts at 9am on Thanksgiving Day. My favorite spot for viewing, is along Central Park West. If you'd like a lux experience, try the 1 Hotel Central Park Thanksgiving Day Package which includes a brunch buffet at James with guaranteed views of the parade.

November 22nd begins the Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World. Visit Epcot November 22-December 30 for the story of Christmas read by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra.

Friday, November 23rd is Black Friday but this year, instead of heading to the malls and dealing with the frustration of parking and too many people all in the same place (I get overwhelmed and overheated carrying my coat in one hand while trying to wade through the throngs of people at the mall), take your favorite people somewhere outside. Maybe it's a walk on the beach (a whole different experience than in the summer!) or a drive to a farmstead with the best homemade pumpkin bread and apple cider. Wherever you go, you will happily be out of the way of shoppers looking for that deal. (If you do shop, shop at mall businesses. I love ETSY. It's online and I can support small businesses)

In high school, my grandparents bought me my first LL Bean duck boots and I wore them throughout college in the cold New Hampshire winters. Today, while I'm 3000 miles away from New England, I still love my Bean boots. With a shearling insert, your feet stay and absolutely dry on the coldest, wettest winter days. Paired with an oversized cream Irish wool sweater and well-loved jeans, you'll be channeling a happy New England girl. (This is the pair I have. At $210, they're expensive but their boots will last you a lifetime.)

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony is on Wednesday, November 28th from 7-9pm at Rockefeller Plaza between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. If you've never been, it is an awe-inspiring site to behold.

Movies releasing this month

11/2 Boy Erased
11/2 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
11/9  Outlaw King
11/9 The Girl in the Spider's Web
11/9 Dr. Seuss' The Grinch
11/9 Bohemian Rhapsody
11/16 Widows
11/16 Instant Family
11/16 A Private War
11/16 At Eternity's Gate
11/16 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
11/21 Ralph Breaks the Internet
11/21 Creed II
11/21 Green Book
11/21 Robin Hood
11/12 The Front Runner
11/22 The Christmas Chronicles
11/29 Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Live Stream WDW Holiday Castle Lighting Event (11/8)

I don't know another place that is more magical than Walt Disney World at Christmastime, with all of the sparkling lights, themed Christmas trees around the resort, characters in holiday dress and holiday-themed music and food. While, we can't be there at Christmas this year, I'm excited to tune in tomorrow to watch the live stream of the moment they light up Cinderella Castle for a special "A Frozen Holiday Wish" featuring Elsa and Anna ("Frozen").

So, throw on your Mickey ears, sip a hot chocolate and tune into the the link below for the live stream starting on Thursday, November 8th at 6:10pm ET/3pm PT PT.

Happy Video: Chris Pratt Plays "Speak Out" with Ellen

I laughed so hard that I woke the baby up from her nap and she started laughing at me laughing.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Meet Emma Loewe & Lindsay Kellner, authors of "The Spirit Almanac"

Emma Loewe (@emmloewe) & Lindsay Kellner (@wellaware_)

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about self-care and the fact is that we have this tendency to put everyone else ahead of ourselves. I texted a few friends and asked them "What was the last nice thing you did for yourself?" I realized that self-care was fairly non-existent when the replies came back as:

  • "I don't understand the question. You insinuate that there is time in the day to do something for myself?"
  • "I took a shower alone. It was the best ten minutes of my entire day. Does that count?" (she has three kids)
  • "I got a salad to eat in the car on the way to a meeting, instead of a burger and fries. Pro-tip: Don't eat a salad and drive. I wore Ranch dressing to my meeting"
  • "Nice thing? I ignored my mom's call. I knew she was going to remind me that my eggs aren't getting any younger and today I just couldn't"

Life is chaotic and people around us aren't always enveloping us in cocoons of love. The thing is, though, that life isn't meant to be kind of lived. You are meant to feel connected, grounded and safe. This is is why I read "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self-Care,"  a guidebook to caring for your body, mind and spirit in a conscious, intentional way through time-proven rituals.

"The Spirit Almanac" is available at

Reading "The Spirit Almanac," itself felt like self-care. The book is written in a way that feels like two well informed girlfriends are sharing their best finds with you. You know that girl who you knew in college who always dressed well, had positive energy around her and gave the best advice? That's Emma and Lindsay. Throughout this book (laid out in a seasonal year-long format), the authors share their knowledge and experiences in practicing wellness and self-care, from Reiki to Ayurveda, breath work, nutrition, self-reflection, meditation and more. I especially appreciated the guide to Autumn. Every year around this time I find myself becoming melancholy. I want to hibernate and eat mac & cheese as the days turn grey and rainy here in Seattle.

However, Emma and Lindsay's toolbox of rituals for autumn gave me hope that I could change my perspective about this season. It's about accepting and leaning into something as opposed to fighting it. Instead of staying inside and nursing my cold and cough that I get every autumn, I'm going to put their suggestions into action. From changing our fall menus at home to include more root vegetables, grains and hearty greens to discovering my mantra to celebrating World Kindness Day on November 13th, autumn holds the promise for more than just being a prelude to a gloomy winter. I feel lighter knowing that I have a plan in place thanks to a couple of smart, intuitive happy girls.

I liked Lindsay and Emma's advice and style so much that I wanted to know more about them. 

Taylor: First off, how did you two meet and how did the idea for the book come about?

Emma: We met at, where we were both working as editors. A publisher approached us about a series that we were working on for the site about how to synch rituals with various holidays throughout the year, and the book was born!

Taylor: Your book “The Spirit Almanac” gives great guidance on enhancing your self-care throughout the year. We’re all so busy and rarely take time out for ourselves, instead often putting our partners, children, pets, even our jobs before our own spirit. If someone has just fifteen minutes in the morning and evening for their own self care, what would you suggest that would make the biggest difference?

Emma: Love this question! The morning is a wonderful time to devote to a gratitude practice. Thinking about five things you’re grateful for right when you wake up—maybe it’s while you’re still sitting in bed, maybe it’s while you’re drinking your morning coffee—is the quickest way to start your day on the right foot. This only takes a minute. Then, get outside! Even if you live in a city, go out for a walk and just notice the world around you (the sights, the smells, the feel of the air, etc.) with your phone off or on airplane mode. Also, be sure to power your phone off (or put it on airplane mode). Emails first thing in the morning are no-no’s! This is your time.

To wind down, journaling is a fantastic tool. We list a number of prompts in the book, but one that I love is “I feel worry because…” and then you brain dump all the little things that were stressing you out that day. In another column, write “But I know in my heart that…” and then take a step back, look at these things objectively, and allow yourself to be your own guide and source of comfort. This does wonders to calm me down before bed.

These practices are super simple, but we consider them rituals because they prompt you to connect with your spirit—that life force inside of you that is easy to lose contact with amidst busy days.

Taylor: You talk about meditation in the book. I have such a hard time getting my mind to settle and be open when I am trying to meditate. How can you quiet your mind when things like “I need to pay bills! What time am I picking up the dog? Did I send that email that was due?” run through your mind?

Lindsay: So relatable — you’re not alone! Meditation isn’t always a relaxing experience. Sometimes I want to get up and run away, sometimes my anxiety kicks into high gear. 

You might try meditating first thing in the morning (I will literally sit up in bed right after waking up, close my eyes and sit for a few minutes) or you can give yourself a two minute buffer and write everything down that comes to your mind for the first two minutes. Then sit with it. Another tac is to try mentally repeating a mantra like “so-hum.” Part of meditation is learning to re-focus, so inevitably the mind will stray. The important part is returning to the breath. 

Taylor: I find that spring and summer make me feel happy and bouncy. Fall and winter tend to make me feel sadder and like I want to hibernate. What are some of your favorite rituals for people who find themselves melancholy and not their best self at this time of year?

Emma: Embrace the hibernation! After summer, fall is like one big exhale. It’s a time to reflect on all that you have accomplished so far in the year, and begin to think about what you want the next year to look like. Then, winter is the real moment to do some introspection and really start planting the seeds for the spring to come. I think of fall and winter as a time to embrace my inner introvert and really allow myself time to rest, recharge, and think about the things that really make me happy. 

Favorite rituals for the cooler weather include facial steams (fill a bowl with boiling water and herbs or essential oils, put your head over the bowl with a towel draped behind you, put on a favorite song, and just breathe deeply in and out), candle gazing meditations (instead of closing your eyes, focus on a candle and allow the flame to quiet your mind), and a good old-fashioned bath. This time of year also tends to feel a little more spiritual—the veil between the human and spirit world is thought to lift around late fall—so it’s a nice opportunity to think about ancestors who have passed away and try to connect with them (more on how to do that in the book!)

Taylor: One of your ritual suggestions for fall is to enjoy soothing warm foods. What foods makes you feel like you soothed?

Lindsay: Squashes, steaks, soups and broths, dark chocolate, rice, and roasted root veggies. 
Emma: Soup (ramen is life), sweet potatoes, chilis, and sweets like pies (I am not as healthy as Lindsay clearly!) 

Taylor: Emma, in addition to being sustainability editor at, you are an active environmentalist and runner. Is being outside, one with nature, the thing that feeds your soul?

Emma: Yes, 100%. Getting outside, even just for a few minutes, helps me remove myself from whatever problems I may be facing in that moment and remember how magical our world really is.

Taylor: Lindsay, you are a yoga teacher, podcaster and wellness & beauty editor at  Clearly, the mind/body connection is something you a firm believer in. What advice would you give to someone who feels the disconnect between her mind and body?

Lindsay: I feel this all the time. We don’t give the body enough credit as a communicator. If you’re tired, don’t push through—rest. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re feeling disconnected and frazzled, doing a grounding visualization can be helpful. Sitting on the floor or seated in a chair with both feet on the ground, imagine a root growing from your core, out of your feet, through the building you’re in and directly into the earth. If this feels silly to you (I’ve been there) sitting near the ground, putting your hands on your belly and taking a few deep belly breaths, knowing this action is calming to the nervous system. I’ll share one of my favorite quotes from the book from my teacher and mentor Ally Bogard: “Suspend the notion ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,” and instead open up your mind to a place where ‘I’ll see when I believe it,’ is true.” 

Taylor: You discuss how mantras can help you focus. Om seems to be the mantra we all think of but it can be any word really. Can you describe how to find our perfect mantra that helps us focus? 

Lindsay: Tuning into your negative self talk as a foundation for your mantra can be a fruitful place to start. For many people, it doesn’t take much before they dip into limiting beliefs. Examples are “I can’t do this because I’m not a real artist,” or “There isn’t enough time in the day,” or “My writing will never be good enough.” Find your passion project and ask yourself why you haven’t done it yet, or to the degree that you want, and you’ll hear this voice. 

From there, flip it and reverse it. Say “I am a real artist,” or “there is plenty of time,” or “you are enough.” Repeat this mantra to yourself when the going gets tough. 

Taylor: What does your quintessential happy day look like?
Lindsay: These days, it’s simple: reading a good book at home with lots of warm beverages, followed by a homemade dinner with my partner.
Emma: Sleeping in, sitting down with cup of coffee, spending hours in the sun with friends (preferably exploring somewhere we’ve never been before), and winding down with a glass of wine.

Taylor: What are five things that make you happy?
Lindsay: Being at the beach. Jewelry. Long conversations with friends. A clean and organized house.  Finishing projects. 
Emma: Traveling. Buying myself flowers. My hometown. Candles. A good farmer’s market haul.

Taylor: When are you happiest?
Lindsay: When I feel understood.  
Emma: When I’m on a run outside and a good song comes on.

About Emma Loewe
Emma is a NYC-based writer an editor. She is currently the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen, where she also covers home and spirituality content. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in Environmental Science in 2015 and is fascinated by how people interact with nature. She loves being outside, running and taking photos. 

About Lindsay Kellner
Lindsay is currently the senior beauty and lifestyle editor at where she reports on wellness trends, mental health, inner beauty, and everything in between. She also has her own blog and podcast, Well Aware, through which she explores the intersection of spirituality and creativity  with her guests and listeners. Lindsay is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher and practices at Sky Ting in New York City. She has a degree in journalism and psychology from NYU. When she's not writing, she enjoys figure drawing and painting. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her cat. 

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