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I Never Thought of That

Mary Poppins has got nothing on my bag. She might have a lamp in hers and some kind of black magic at work, but I’m pretty sure given fifteen minutes I could MacGyver my own lamp AND a handsome set of nesting tables all from the contents of my bag.

Meet My Bag

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Yes, I normally tote around a bag that looks as if it was used on the Pony Express, and yes, I could probably be subletting it out as a LES studio with a sleeping alcove, but I’ve just grown accustomed to lugging it around. The use of my bag has probably funded my chiropractor’s kid’s private school education, but I like to think of myself as an urban-free-thinking-all-inclusive-boy-scout-LMP that lives by the motto, “Be Prepared.” Over-prepared? Perhaps. But my sensible Marc Jacobs denim shoulder tote has yet to fail me.

Everything is in this bag and everything has to be. I’m all over this city doing anything at any given minute and have to have the things that help make “doing anything” possible. Though it can’t just be thrown all in there. There has to be some kind of method to the madness. I’ve organized (of course) all like things into zipper pouches. There’s one for electronics, one for office supplies, and one for sundries (love that word). Here take a look at what’s in this monster of a bag and how I keep it in line.

Meet My Electronics

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I’m MAC-centric… I blame good marketing!

My iPhone is my life line.

My charger is my savior

My MacBook is my rock.

My iPod is perfection.

I keep a microfiber cloth in there to keep my babies looking good!

And the all important USB, a must!

Meet My Office Supplies

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Post-its for quick note taking when I’ve got to remember what’s what, who goes where, and who’s who.

 Binder clips… you’d be surprised how handy these little guys are. Keeping papers and files in line, organizing electronic wires, or an emergency tailoring fix.

Rubber bands always a must.

Sharpie Marker… is there any other way to write?

 Uni-Ball Pen, because you always need a writing implement AND its the best pen EVER!

An envelope and stationary… because you’ll look like a hero when someone needs it.

Scissors… always handy. Just don’t forget to leave at home when going to the airport.

Mini-stapler… because my mini obsession is a sickness!

Super glue, a great quick fix for almost anything and its easier to carry around than Duct Tape (and less creepy).

Highlighter, it keeps you looking prepared for meetings and adds dimension to your doodles.

Stamps… because everyone asks for a stamp.

Meet My Sundries 

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A Mending Kit because sh-stuff happens.

Mints because no one likes a stinker.

Deodorant for those times you’re UNSURE.

Stain Stick… much like that mending kit.

Bacitracin and Adhesive Bandages, because an ouchy needs tending to.

 A Lighter is useful to have on hand to help set some mood lighting.

Tissues for the sniffles.

Chap Stick to keep those lips kissably soft and works as a good cuticle cream in a pinch.

A wine key… because when you need it, you’ll be happy you’ve got it.

With all due respect, take that Mary Poppins.

 

Post authored by Josh Schulteis. 

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Hey 2013! Been waiting for you, thanks a million for getting here. Gone is the December rat race of buy, wrap, give, repeat, and here is the new day we have been waiting for. Much though I love the festive fun that is the holiday season, my involuntary sigh of relief on December 26 was a sign I was more than ready to move on and face the new year, with renewed energy and certainly with some resolutions in mind. Here on Praxis we have mentioned the importance of goals once or a million times, so we can’t help but get on board with the cultural phenomenon of New Year’s resolutions. So what will you resolve yourself to in 2013? Here at BSLM we will work with the concept of ease in action, we will focus in on refining the how, while clearly articulating the what. Uh….what?! Right, so….

There are things you do everyday, habits, that are helter skelter, just admit it. When you get up in the morning do you run to the coffee machine in your pajamas, only to get there and realize you are freezing (which you are every morning), thereby necessitating a trip back to the bedroom and a rummage through drawers for a sweatshirt and a return trip to the morning altar? Try leaving a sweatshirt out next to the bed and putting it on as you sprint to your one true love, ease in action friends. The what = coffee to face ASAP upon opening eyeballs, the how = warmly and without instant irritation. Now you try. Look for places in your life where you experience consistent frustration. How can you make it go away? How can you make it easier?

Erin and Josh will give us some insight on how to find ease in very common actions or situations so we can all get off to a solid start. We will get a look at what the inside of a busy NYC assistant’s purse or bag looks like, answering the often exclaimed question “How do you always have what I need?!” in photo essay form. Simply having on hand the things you need to get through your day will make all of your actions easier, trust us on this one.

We will interview a few of our favorite doormen, post office friends and other service professionals to give you an inside look on how to get exactly what you need without resorting to eye rolling, muttered expletives and yelp.com complaints. Believe us, it’s so much nicer when you can easily and collaboratively problem solve with these kind folks, they are not trying to make your life harder – promise!

These are only two examples of how to streamline your life, and find ease in everyday action – but there are so many more! How do you do it? Tell us here, or share with us in Facebook and Twitter. As our holiday lady imparts, wishing you a 2013 with easy assembly!

Post authored by Brooke Stone. 

BSLM Holiday Card 5by7 FRONT copy copyBSLM Holiday Card 5by7 BACK copy copy

As Angela told us last week, gift giving can actually be GOOD for you! Putting some thought into a gift, instead of just giving something to give something, can be truly gratifying and make your friend feel like you really care about them. (Which you do!)

So you’ve hit the streets, hunting down that perfect gift… but now what? You can’t just hand over the shopping bag sans receipt. You have to make it look spectacular! Sometimes the appearance of a gift can elevate the gift to make it seem even better than it already is. A thoughtful wrapping job is just as important for making the receiver feel like you put that extra time and effort into it.

My number one recommendation on taking gift presentation to the next level: accessorize! It’s easy enough to slap some wrapping paper around a box, but by adding some gifting accessories, you can add just the right touch of personalization.

Here is my list of the top 5 gifting accessories:

  1. Ribbon: Tie it, curl it, twist it… the world is your oyster!
  2. Stickers: Grab some cute holiday stickers to give plain wrapping paper a boost.
  3. Markers: Same concept as the stickers – maybe let your kids doodle personalized drawings onto Grandma’s gift box – she will never undo the wrapping paper more carefully!
  4. The Bonus Gift: if you have a small item to add to the outside of the box, it makes it look like they are getting 2 presents in one! For example, tuck an organic chocolate bar under the string, or tie a small Christmas ornament to the bow. Maybe the gift is some homemade hot cocoa mix – tie a small stirring spoon onto the top of the box for mixing up the perfect mug
  5. And last, but certainly not least, my personal favorite: Grandma Clara’s Homemade Bow!!!!

My grandmother was the BEST at wrapping presents. Whether it was a HUGE box, filled with progressively smaller boxes that led down, 12 individually wrapped boxes later, to a very tiny gift (think a $50 bill or a pair of earrings) or just thinking outside of the box (no pun intended!), to put a very ordinary shaped item, into a very strangely shaped package.

She always kept you on your toes and you never truly knew what you were going to find inside, no matter how many times you shook it or turned it over. (Well, except for the golf balls. Dad ALWAYS guessed right on the golf balls.)

But even more amazing about Grandma’s gifts, were the handmade bows that she would put atop each and every present. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was very distinctly Grandma Clara. And when you saw that bow, you knew the gift had been wrapped with love.

Here are the 6 simple steps on how to make Grandma Clara’s bows:

 

Supplies: Curling Ribbon (cut to be approximately 2 arms lengths long) & Scissors

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Step 1: Spread your fingers apart, with your palm facing upward. Lay the ribbon across your palm, gripping one end between your pinky and ring finger, leaving approximately 6 inches of extra ribbon hanging; the other end should run between your thumb and pointer finger.

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Step 2: While holding onto the one end with your pinky and ring finger, run the ribbon back and forth in a figure eight pattern, with the “loops” going around your thumb and pinky finger, until there is about 6 inches of ribbon left hanging.

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Step 3: Pinch the center of the figure eight with your free hand and remove the ribbon bundle from your hand.

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Step 4: Tie the two loose ends in a knot around the center of the ribbon bundle so that it is tight.

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Step 5: Spread out the ribbon “loops” to create the bow look and use your scissors to curl the loose ends. You can tie the bow on using the 2 loose ends or attach it with tape.

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Happy wrapping!

Post authored by Beth Renoni.

Photographs by Brian Renoni. 

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. If you are like me, you stuffed yourself, napped, and went back for more – all while counting your blessings of course. But did you really get in all your thank-you-very-much-es? Did you pause, smile, reflect, and then spread that joy around? Sometimes the holidays move so quickly that we do not really take in fully all that we are able.

Every year we are reminded to be grateful, to give thanks. But gratitude isn’t about a once or twice a year nod to the good things or people in our life. Gratitude is a practice. By incorporating being thankful, we allow ourselves to step back from our hectic lives and really appreciate where we are. That can be where we are on the path of life, in the big picture, or more appropriately, it is where we are in this moment right now.

Try this: pause, take a deep breath, and just notice. Take in your body, healthy or otherwise. Take in your state of mind, happy or otherwise. Just notice that where you are in the moment is pretty good – or maybe it is even pretty great. You are right where you are meant to be.  Notice any little things around you or in you that make you smile or that you are thankful for. It can be as tiny as a warm beverage on a chilly day or as large as being totally in love with your significant other. Gratitude helps us to be present and positive; and a positive outlook can help you take on the world.

So, how do we get grateful more than just once or twice a year? Get creative! There are so many ways to show gratitude. Smile more, say thank you more, and share your abundance to those who may need it more. Take a yoga class. Teachers can help you hit the mat with intention and encourage you to look inward and be grateful for YOU, just as you are. Try to also keep everything you are thankful for close even on those no-good-very-bad days.

Here is one more way. I am a list lover. Since you are reading this fabulous blog I will wager you are too. Lists help you to organize your thoughts and get that gratitude to a more detailed place. There are lots of ways to go about your lists and you do not have to do them all at once. Maybe add one new thing each day and then next year on Thanksgiving you will have a whole 365 days of detailed thoughts to reflect on.

Lots of ways to get inspiration…

  • List your little things. These are those tiny things that bring you joy. Get silly!   Get sentimental! Just put it on the page.
  • List your friends and family. Now put one thing you are grateful for about each  one next to their name. Try and be so specific you do not have any repeat reasons.
  • List challenges you have faced this year. Now list why you are grateful for the experience even if it was a difficult one. Where has it brought you? What did you learn?

When we are grateful we look at the world in a new way. Gratitude brings a little more peace and happiness to our day to day, and helps us to approach every struggle with a positive outlook. Positive people are bold people. Start practicing gratitude because you are ready to take on the world. Call BSLM if you need back up.

Post authored by Rebecca Merritt

Rebecca Merritt completed her 200 Hour RYT Certification at the lovely New York Yoga. After taking classes for many years, Rebecca became truly devoted to her practice after moving to NYC in 2007. Finding that while pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the New School, and working three jobs at the time, yoga was a way to slow the city down and find balance.

Her vigorous Vinyasa flow classes build towards a peak pose, with options for all levels along the way. Classes are sequenced to focus on alignment and riding the wave of the breath. Rebecca will get you to breathe a little deeper, encourage you to laugh, and help you find space for play in your practice.

Rebecca believes in finding joy on your mat. She has seen yoga change lives.

Here we are in November, which snuck up just about as fast as every other month – didn’t it?! This month has a very organic theme of giving thanks, and we will embrace it here on Praxis. Day to day life can be so busy, we sometimes forget to give thanks for all we have, so to be presented with a month where thanksgiving is in the air seems like a pretty lucky, built in reminder.

Gratitude is more than a word to me, it is a guiding principle and core value of my life. Unfortunately, I don’t express it as much as I should, or even in the ways that might be best. Life gets in the way of following all of our precepts to a T each and every day. But this month, I will renew my commitment to embracing gratitude as an integral part of my life, and I encourage you to examine where and how you have room for gratitude in yours. I always find when I do live my life with gratitude in the forefront, I go through my days with a very strong sense of contentedness and feel much lighter – bonus.

Before I go on, I want to take a moment and thank the world at large for the incredible outpouring of support New York City has received in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, Brooke Stone Lifestyle Management employees and clients are recovering, and we wish each person affected by the storm great strength in the rebuilding days to come.

Here are a few things you can do every day to work with your definition of gratitude: 

1. Say thank you. To everyone. Including bus drivers, Starbucks employees (even when they mess up your drink, they didn’t do it on purpose to spite you – I promise), to your parents, grandparents and siblings if you are lucky enough to have them around, to your spouse or partner, to your spiritual force, whatever that may be. Just say thank you. Honestly, you don’t even need to mean it the first few times, but merely saying the words to anyone who helps you in even the tiniest way will soon feel meaningful not only to that person, but to you.

2. Do the Facebook thing people are doing. Write one status update each day this month describing something you are thankful for.

3. Give positive feedback. Telling someone they did a good job, and describing the great parts of their work is a way of expressing not only gratitude for a job well done, but appreciation. Try this, “Co-worker, you did a great job on that project. I thought the way you communicated everyone’s particular responsibilities and outcomes was very clear and I appreciate how available you made yourself for questions. Thanks!”

4. Once a day, at the same time (before bed, when you wake up, lunch time, whatever) say thank you out loud to no one and nothing in particular. This thank you will mean different things on different days you will find, but it will always mean something.

5. Bring a thoughtful hostess gift to the wonderful person who is cooking you Thanksgiving dinner, or inviting you into their home on any occasion. And then hand write a thank you note the next day. These gestures are small, but deeply impactful. My new favorite hostess gift is this Harry & David Moose Munch popcorn which costs under $10 and is beyond delicious. My favorite thank you notes I make myself by cutting a sheet of card stock into quadrants and stamping a “b” on the front with a good old stamp and ink kit.

Now, a few public thank you’s to people in my life who may not hear it enough, in no particular order: 

  • My husband, who has the patience of a god, gives great advice, and loads the dishwasher like a pro. Also he loves me very much, even though I know I can be a handful…or an armful at times.
  • My parents and grandmother, for hosting me this weekend, and for hosting me throughout my entire life. For teaching me pretty much everything and reminding me I still know relatively little in the grand scheme of the world and have a long way to go. And for being there every step of the way.
  • Our clients at Brooke Stone Lifestyle Management, who trust us with some of the most important things going on in their lives and are kind and generous to us at every turn.
  • My friends, who speak to me truthfully, even when I don’t want to hear it, and don’t make fun of me for my eggnog latte obsession.

Cheers to this month of giving thanks, and stay tuned for posts on this theme from our LMPs and a special guest blogger!

Post authored by Brooke Stone. 

It’s September. My favorite month, actually. Aside from it being the month of my wedding anniversary and the birthdays of about 7 different family members, it’s when we get that first hint of fall! Labor Day passes and suddenly the air smells a bit crisper and you start itching to wear those boots and sweaters you have had packed away since spring. September also means back to school time which, for me, was JUST like that Staples commercial – the most wonderful time of the year! Skipping through the aisles of your favorite office supply store while tossing brightly colored pens and notebooks into the cart… but I digress…

As Brooke mentioned in her post last week, September inspires a shift in our lives. Back to reality. No more beach vacations or summer Fridays or days spent lounging at the pool. So how can we use this change for good? You guessed it – resolutions! That’s a fancy way of saying goals. Use this time as a way to inspire yourself to do those things that you have been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten around to actually doing. Resolutions don’t just have to be for the new YEAR – they can be for any new time in your life. Here’s a few tips on how to go about setting your September resolutions:

  • Make a list of everything you want to get done, and post it somewhere in your home or office where you can see it throughout the day. I find that if I make a list on my phone or computer, I forget to look at it! But if it’s sitting in the middle of the coffee table or hung up on the fridge, I’m more likely to remember.
  • One of the things that really helps me keep organized with the changing of the seasons, is to swap out my closet. I know, it sounds simple, but so many people don’t actually do this. The sweaters are hanging up right next to the sundresses, and the Uggs are piled on top of the flip flops. Which is fine, if you have a GINORMOUS walk-in closet that BSLM has organized by season. But for most of us – especially here in NYC – our closets are not exactly spacious. Take an hour (or two, if you have a lot of clothes) and just sort through everything. Move the summer stuff to a high shelf or back corner that’s hard to reach, and display those fall gems front and center! This will also make getting dressed in the morning a snap!

Now the final part of making resolutions or setting goals is always the hardest – ACTUALLY DOING THEM!

  • My best advice is to make your goals public. Post them on Facebook or email them to a few close friends and family, then ask them to check up on you to see how you’re doing. If your whole family is participating in these fall resolutions, have a weekly check-in to see how everyone is doing. Hopefully the fear of having to admit you didn’t do any of the things you said you would, is enough inspiration to get them done!
  • If you have a fitness or health related goal, you can sign up for GymPact (www.gym-pact.com).  You pledge an amount of money, per week, that you would like to receive for going to the gym/working out a certain amount of times. If you accomplish this goal, they PAY YOU! However, if you DON’T go to the gym, you have to pay them! Talk about motivation!

Now, if you need that last little push to get going on your fall resolutions, here’s a playlist that will surely have you bopping around the house getting things done before you even realize you’re being productive!


Post authored by Beth Renoni

Most of us spend a lot of our days in front of a computer, or attached to our smart phones, tablets and other technological devices. And if you’re like me, sometimes you can get a little overwhelmed by the constant communication and the need for immediate answers to questions.

But what if there was an email that you looked forward to getting each day? An email that gave you something to think about, inspired you to be a better person or proved that there are people out there trying to make a difference in the world? Or even just gave you something interesting to bring up the next time you are out with friends?

Well, you are in luck! Good  is a website “for people who give a damn”. United in the same simple idea to “do what works and never default to what doesn’t,” Good is comprised of people from all walks of life, sharing inspiration and ideas for the future.

They have an email newsletter called The Daily Good. Just enter your email, click subscribe, and prepare to be inspired.

You get an email a day, sharing new ideas, inspiration, action opportunities and other surprises every Monday through Friday afternoon. You never know what you’re going to get, and more often than not I find myself being incredibly intrigued by the idea or story being shared. I have also been known to forward the emails on to certain friends or family I think might be inspired by it, posting it to Facebook or feeling the need to bring it up in conversation.

One of the other things that I love about Good is their 30-Day Challenge that they send out at the beginning of each month. They challenge you to attempt to live better. Each challenge is something they ask you to do every day for one month, and then write in, tweet, and Facebook about your progress. From being nice to a stranger to doing some form of exercise to this month’s challenge of Making Your Own Meals, each challenge is meant to make you think about improving your life one small thing at a time.

I look forward to seeing what the 30-Day Challenge is each month, and even if I only participate in the challenge a few days out of the month, I still feel like I am doing something, even in the tiniest way, to improve my life.

So do yourself a favor this week. Sign up for The Daily Good and maybe you will find that inspiration you’ve been looking for.

(Thanks Mom, for telling me about Good in the first place. You were right. As usual.)

Post authored by Beth Renoni. 

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