As an homage to my alma mater, St. Olaf College, I thought I would organize my six-item Christmas list into the categories of mind, body, and spirit. After all, what sounds more Happy Holidays than that! These are six items that made my 2016 one of the best years yet.
For the Mind: Headspace
Andy Puddicombe quit his university degree to travel the world for ten years, culminating with a stint in the circus and ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in northern India. His work in meditation and mindfulness converged in Headspace, an app of guided meditations that range from 10-30 minutes. I downloaded the free trial a bit skeptically, but quickly became a fan. I’m a completionist, so the structured meditation topics ranging from Motivation to Creativity to Anxiety to Kindness are anything but trivial. One of my favorite exercises involves imagining yourself happy and in a state of kindness in a place that makes you happy. You imagine that image of yourself filling with a white, molten, joyful light. Then you imagine someone you care about in a place they love with the same joy, the same light. And finally you imagine that light emanating out from yourself as a source until it fills everyone around you in the room, the building, the city, the country, the world. It’s a beautiful exercise, and there wasn’t a day I did it that didn’t feel lighter than the many months before. Despite the price, it comes highly recommended.
Ranges from $5.74 to $14.95 a month
For the Mind: Zinio/Audible
Ok, I’m kind of cheating with two choices here, but I think both are valid based on the way you best process information. Audible has a variety of audiobooks for your perusal, something I’ve used frequently on long commutes. On the flip side, Zinio allows you to download magazines to read on the bus or light rail (and sometimes you can get these through partnership with your local library FOR FREE). I’m a big fan of Zinio, with subscriptions to The Economist, The New Yorker, Forbes, and The New York Review of Books (gives a wide berth of political perspectives). If you want to stay up to date in a fast moving world, these two are must-haves.
Zinio is a free app with paid subscriptions available
www.audible.com or www.zinio.com
For the Body: The Firm
Let’s be honest, Christmas brokers in New Years, which means it’s time to have New Years resolutions. Usually that involves working out more and skimming off that fat for your spring break trip to Puerto Vallarta. Or Florida. Or wherever else you do that. It’s helpful to have a community to do that with. I used to be a Lifetime gym member, but The Firm has slowly been earning more and more of my loyalty. The sense of community is higher, the bro-factor is less intense, the population of gym goers is more diverse. It has a positive energy that I’ve found rarely duplicated anywhere else. Try a free trial week and see whether it’s a good fit for you! You won’t be sorry.
Individual classes or monthly plans with variable pricing
For the Body: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
About a month ago, I was grabbing a coffee with one of my best friends, Chelsea, a brilliant, intense, and stunning healthcare consultant from NYC. She looked great. Rather than the sea of wrinkles and blackheads I expect in any over-caffeinated workaholic, her skin looked smooth, healthy, and young. I had been struggling with medical school’s effect on my own complexion, so I asked what she used. She told me about these skin peels by Dr. Dennis Gross, a dermatologist who has been featured on Oprah. Rather than use them daily due to the price, she uses them twice per week and finds that sufficient. I’ve since adopted that twice a week regimen and lo and behold! I’ve been complimented on my skin twice and I can already see my blackheads receding. And I can still buy that Venti Americano without too much angst.
35 treatments for $88
For the Spirit: Canon Rebel DSLR Digital Camera
I thought this would best fit under the spirit category. Being able to travel the world is one thing, but being able to capture those memories of the places you see and the people you meet is invaluable. For a low-cost, high-quality digital camera, I think the Canon Rebel DSLR has long been a gold standard. Most of the pictures on my blog were taken with this camera. The only hang-up is that I often forget to bring it with me to take more pictures! While phones can do a lot, nothing can replace a good quality digital camera. Check this one out!
Starting at $384
For the Spirit: St. Olaf Christmas Fest
Ok, I have to give a plug to my alma mater. If you’ve never been, St. Olaf’s Christmas Fest may be one of the most beautiful celebrations of religion as an instrument of community in the modern world. Even the most secular of students at the university have found value in creating, participating, and watching the performance. A myriad of choirs, beautiful voices, sermons that unify rather than proselytize…St. Olaf Christmas Fest is one of those experiences you need to have to feel a complete lifetime. It was even listed as one of the top ten things to do in America by a popular travel magazine. Only problem is finding tickets — they come in high demand! Good luck.