Browsing Date

May 2017

Float Therapy Review | Are Sensory Deprivation Tanks For You?

City Adventures, Lifestyle, On The Road By May 31, 2017 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment
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Image From Pure Sweat + Float Studio Website

I first heard about “floating” from some co-workers a couple years ago. During our conversation, there were a couple of people who had done it before and spoke highly of it. On the other hand, there were quite a few people who had never done it and thought it sounded weird. That quickly intrigued me, but I didn’t get around to trying it until this past week. Read on to hear what floating is, why you should do it, and my experience! I’ll let you know if I plan on trying it again.

What is Float Therapy?

Float therapy is when a you occupy a tank or pod that is designed for short term sensory deprivation. The tank of water is heated to body-temperature and filled with thousands of pounds epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) in order to make you completely buoyant. It is often combined with a light-less and sound-free atmosphere for an ultimate sensory-free experience.

These tanks were originally created in the 1950s by neuropsychologists, gaining popularity in the 1970s, and with a more mainstream resurgence recently. Float tanks are also known as Isolation Tanks or Sensory Deprivation Tanks. Although, the not so friendly thoughts around the words “isolation” and “deprivation” have led to a rebranding as “floating” or REST, which stands for “restricted environment stimulation technique.”

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Why Should You Float?

Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Perhaps, but it definitely caught my attention. These tanks can create a powerful environment to force the brain to take a break from endless thoughts and technology. I have heard that it can be comparable to (if not better than) meditation, yoga, and even drugs.

Float therapy has been connected with a number of benefits for the brain and body. It has been said that the sensory deprivation can slow brain waves until they reach the theta state, which is similar to the state attained during meditation.

With my, what some may call, “monkey brain” jumping around from idea to idea, topped off with a layer of anxiety, and occasional bout of insomnia for good measure, I am always ready to try new ways to slow down and enjoy life. Not to mention, many have seen spikes in creativity after sessions, perhaps from giving your brain some much needed time to reboot and refresh. I have even heard of creativity being compared to a deer, if you become very still and quiet, it is more likely to show its face. You officially have my attention, float therapy.

Potential Benefits from Float Therapy

  • Induce deep relaxation and alleviate anxiety
  • Reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels
  • Relieve pain on the back, joints, and sore muscles, manage chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase hair and skin health
  • Alleviate insomnia

My Float Tank Experience

As I mentioned, it took me two years from first learning about floating to actually pull the trigger. A few things that held me back: the idea of getting in a small tank filled with water for a long period of time, discovering that my slightly possible claustrophobia is actually real after paying a good chunk of change, and the lack of options in the Baltimore area. But I often hear that all the fun is outside our comfort zones, so hey, I went for it.

I had some extra time when I was in Nashville and had come across Pure Sweat + Float Studio in an article. They just opened a few months ago and the photos looked quite nice, a lovely mix of boho and spa. Not too fancy, but reputable, so I made an appointment online. For first time floaters, it is $75, so at least it was a little less for my first experience.

As I was approaching the new location in Belle Meade (the super swanky, old money side of town), I passed 2 wine bars, 2 juice bars, a yoga studio, and a few high-end boutiques. I was on my way to try something new and while I like all of those things, I was quickly feeling out of place. Spoiler alert: I’m not very swanky or luxury-seeking. Also, hello to the very anxiety I was there to reduce.

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My worries were quickly put to ease though when I walked into Pure Sweat + Float Studio. It is a very welcoming serene environment and I was greeted by some friendly faces. I was taken back to one of the float rooms and had the full process explained to me. I was to pop in some earplugs and rinse off in the private shower prior to getting into the pod, which was about 5 feet wide, 8 feet long, and a few feet deep.

The state-of-the-art Evolution Float Pods at Pure Sweat + Float Studio offered some customizable settings based on my personal preferences. I had the option of keeping the lid open, dimming the lights, and playing some music, or I could lower the lid for a more sensory-free experience. I went for the latter. I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to fully do it. The lid intentionally does not fully close or latch, plus it has a bit of height even when closed, which eased my potential claustrophobia.

I don’t know what I expected, but with the amount of epsom salt, you truly float right up to the surface. It was really cool gravity-free feeling. They had a little floating plastic ring I could put my head in to ensure my face stayed above the surface, which made my neck ache at first as I adjusted my posture forced by my buoyancy, but that passed. I had a dry towel on hand just in case any water got close to my eyes and I quickly took myself through some meditations to help jump into relaxation.

For my first time, I think I was a little distracted by the experience to get into a deep meditative state that I know I can reach, but I can see the potential there and would love to try again now that I know the drill. At some point, with the heat, it felt a bit stuffy, but I easily cracked the lid without taking away from my relaxation. Despite it being very exploratory, I still found myself forgetting about my worries and to-do’s. I tried my best to not let my brain go down the road of all the reasons why I should open a float studio in Baltimore. Before I knew it, the 60 minutes was up, the lights were automatically easing back on and a relaxing voice recording was telling me to exit and rinse off. I left feeling very refreshed and seriously ready to sleep (even though I had to head to the airport to fly home and was greeted with a 2 hour delay, hello reality).

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First Timer Suggestions

  • Show up early for the paperwork and a walk through, ask for a rundown if they don’t readily explain the process to you.
  • Be prepared to shower on location before (to remove the oils) and after (to rinse off the salt), typically places have shampoo, conditioner and towels, but bring a brush.
  • Don’t shave the day of, especially if you have sensitive skin. It will burn.
  • Wear loose clothing and sandals/flip flops to easily hop in and out comfortably.

Overall, I would suggest going into the session with a low expectations. Don’t seek a life-changing experience your first time because like meditation and yoga, it takes time and practice to reach that. However, do give yourself the opportunity to rest and recover and see what benefits it can bring you personally! While I am not going to add this into my weekly routine, I think I will try it every few months to help press the reset button. Now to convince Pure Sweat + Float studio to open a Baltimore location!

Please note: I am not a doctor of any sort (surprise, surprise). If you want more medically proven information, I would recommend doing what we all do: google it. Also, this is not a sponsored post. As always, thoughts and opinions are all my own.

 

Float On,

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DIY Instagram Wall | Travel Decor with Parabo Press

At Home, Lifestyle, Photography By May 12, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

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Hello everyone! As some of you might know, Chris and I moved into a new house about two years ago. We were considering rehabbing a row home in Baltimore, but all of the row home shells were getting swiped up before they even hit the market. While frustrating, we took that as a good sign for the neighborhood and expanded our search to partial fixer-uppers and turn-key properties. Our realtor was great and was ready to jump on any home we found (shout out to Andrew with the SURE Sales Group!). We ended up finding a newly gutted and rehabbed home in our ideal area, complete with a historic tax credit, parking and a rooftop deck, all of the Baltimore must-haves for us. Andrew & I FaceTimed Chris through it while he was on a work trip in Nashville (I was not missing out on this beauty) and soon thereafter it was all ours. While I couldn’t live out my own Chip & Jojo Fixer Upper dream, with the house being recently rehabbed, all we needed to concentrate on was decor!

Now How to Decorate Our New Home?

If you haven’t noticed yet, I LOVE taking photos, especially while traveling. For me, it is tough to decide what to hang on our walls because I want to display and remember it all! I love gallery walls because you can hang many pieces in one area, but I was quickly finding I was running out of wall space… welcome to living in a row home. Then the idea came to me, an Instagram wall! 

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Our guest room, pre-Instagram wall, Sydney thinks it needs just a little more love.

Our guest room was one of the last spaces we decorated. It’s not that I don’t love hosting guests and making them feel comfortable, I just changed my plans with the space as we were trying to use our extra bedroom as a guest room/gym/storage/eventual office when there might be little Stavelys running around and we cannot have a dedicated office (not yet, y’all). City living at its finest. We ended up purchasing two twin beds and putting them in an L shape to give it a living room/loungey feel, while still accommodating 2 guests AND leaving enough space for Chris to jump around with P90X AND room for my bike on a trainer. Always inspired by always fabulous DesignSponge.

Since we went the direction of two twin beds, we had this extra pallet headboard that Chris had created for our last home. While he was ready to give it up, I really liked it and figured we could repurpose it into wall art. A quick chop chop with a circular saw and we had the perfect size to hang over the dresser in the guest room. I had seen a ton of ways to display your Instagram photos on Pinterest and a friend had recommended Parabo Press, so we were well on our way to have our own IRL Instagram feed.

How to Print Your Photos

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The Parabo Press app is super user friendly.

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The prints get shipped with cardboard in a plastic sleeve to protect your prints from all that happens in transit.

It was my first time using Parabo Press and they could not have made it easier. You can use their app or their website to connect your Instagram feed and quickly choose the 25 prints you want. You can also upload from your camera roll, Dropbox, Google photos, or Facebook if you want different photos. Our guest room colors are slightly muted/vintage reds, whites, and blues, so I chose photos based on those colors.

The photos arrived in a package that protected the prints from bending and rain to ensure they looked their best. There were even some adorable surprise prints that could be used as “coupons” for Mother’s Day. I love a company that goes the extra mile.

How to Create the Instagram Wall

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Then I got to work on my IRL Instagram feed. I wanted them to be a grid format (like IG), so I measured out the space I had and how many 4″ prints I wanted going across and down, opting for 4 across and 5 down. I decided to use mini-clothespins from Michaels to hang the photos because I thought it looked cute and they easily give me the flexibility to swap out the prints whenever I want.

I used a ruler and marker to measure and mark where to glue the clothespins. I ended up doing 2″ between each print, which meant 6″ from clothespin to clothespin (both across and down). I left a little extra space on the bottom because typically I have a lamp and clock on the dresser and I didn’t want the prints to be completely blocked.

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Now two years later, it’s safe to say are ALMOST done decorating… but let’s be real, decorating your home is never done. I like to think it’s a constant work in progress as you find different ways to make a house feel like your home. Plus, I love bringing back art and printing photos like these from our travels so that we can constantly be reminded of our adventures together. Travel is great in the sense that you ultimately get 3 different experiences, from the anticipation and planning to the experiencing and exploring to the memories and taking what you learned into the rest of your life.

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Please note: Parabo Press did not sponsor or compensate me for this review and all opinions are 100% my own as always. But I totally recommend them AND they are offering my followers 25 free 4″ square prints with free shipping for one month, that means it’s totally FREE. Use code OURSQ before 6/12/2017 to start your own IRL Instagram feed!

Looking for more home inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board for our home!

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24 Hours in Denver | How Brittany Makes the Most of Business Travel

Art, City Adventures, Destinations, Food & Drink, Portraits, Travel By May 10, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments
I first met Brittany quite a few years ago when I was organizing a charity bar crawl in Baltimore. My good friend, Kelly, said she was going to to invite her co-worker who “just wanted to explore new places and dance.” That description alone made me want to be friends with Brittany and luckily that came true. Soon there after, Brittany hit it off with my other good friend from college and more recently I had the honor of capturing their wedding photos this past September. When Brittany was in need of some updated headshots, we knew we had to go wander around one of our favorite neighborhoods in Baltimore, Fells Point.
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Besides being super friendly and silly, Brittany is also really good at finding unique and interesting things to do, always making the most of her time anywhere. I can always count on her to be down for a new adventure. Sometimes she might have up to 5 different activities planned for a Saturday, I don’t know how she does it, but she does. And at the end of the day, she always finds time to read on her deck with a glass of wine, taking in some sunshine and tending to her plants. It’s simply rude impressive.
Brittany is also lucky enough to travel for work a few times a year, most often to Denver. She says she is usually short on time between traveling and work, but as mentioned, she always tries to pack a ton in.
“I consider time spent in my hotel room and not out exploring to be wasted.”

8 Things to do in Denver

That being said, I thought she would be the perfect person to ask for recommendations if you were looking to make the most of 24 hours in Denver. Here’s what Brittany would do:

1. First things first, breakfast! I love Mod Market (900 16th St.). It’s healthy, fresh and delicious.

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Museum of Contemporary Art | Photo by Brittany Geronimo

2. Before checking out the Denver beer scene, take in some culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art (1485 Delgany St). It’s a smaller museum and very manageable in an hour or so. After you’ve had your art fill, check out the rooftop cafe for coffee with a view.

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Bridge to the Highland Neighborhood | Photo by Brittany Geronimo

3. After the museum, head out of downtown across the Platte River to the Highland neighborhood, one of my favorite areas. It’s a pretty walk across the bridge, and on the way you can check out the flagship REI store.

4. Fuel up at Postino (2715 17th St.) with the best bruschetta ever. Seriously, I still think about it. I can also recommend the salami with pesto and the prosciutto with figs and mascarpone, but you can’t go wrong.

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Denver Beer Co. | Photo by Brittany Geronimo

5. First beer stop: Denver Beer Co. (1696 Platte St.). This place is great with tons of indoor and outdoor seating.

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Linger | Photo by Brittany Geronimo

6. Continue the afternoon at Linger, a former mortuary turned restaurant/bar (2030 W. 30th Ave). Head up to the rooftop and grab a drink out of their Airstream bar and take in the views.

7. Now, it’s time to head back toward downtown, where I often stay for work. It’s hard to go wrong with a Colorado brewery, but one of my favorites is Great Divide. They have food trucks everyday, so check them out for dinner!

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The Colorado State Capitol Building | Photo by Brittany Geronimo

8. Round out the night in Capitol Hill, a quick ride from downtown. You’ll see the beautiful state capitol building as you make your way along Colfax Avenue, what Playboy once called the “longest, wickedest street in America.” I’d recommend two stops here – Lost Highway Brewing Company and Alpine Dog Brewery. Alpine Dog has delicious beer and great merch – I bought one of my favorite pint glasses there.

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Alpine Dog | Photo by Brittany Geronimo

Most importantly, one last tip from Brittany: drink more water than you think is necessary. The beers may go down easy, but the altitude will dehydrate real quick!

 Do you have any favorite spots in Denver? Share them in the comments below or let me know over on Instagram!
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Don’t Miss These Austin Murals | Street Art Tour Guide

Art, City Adventures, Travel By May 1, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Are you heading to Austin soon? Whether it’s the music, the food, or the every so popular weirdness taking you there, I would highly recommend setting some time aside to explore the murals and street art that fill the city. At the very least, keep an eye out as you adventure around town. I have put together a guide for where to find some murals around town. Note: this is not a definitive guide as I find more every time I visit, but simply a tour of those I have seen over the years.

I first visited Austin in 2008 when my husband, Chris, and I drove cross country after graduation. Since then, Chris has started visiting Austin for work and I try to join as much as possible. Every time I go, I find even more I love and can’t wait to go back already.

This photo was taken back in 2008 during our first Austin trip, when my fascination with street art was blooming. “Jeremiah the Innocent” is located at Guadalupe & 21st and is still there today.

South Congress offers a lot to be explored, from the infamous I Love You So Much wall at Jo’s Coffee (on the left, be sure to grab a coffee!) to the Love From Austin mural on the side of Magnolia Cafe (on the right).

Two more fun murals found off South Congress Ave, near Hey Cupcake!

Home Slice is known not just for their delicious pizza, but also the fun art surrounding both buildings.

When in SoCo, you might as well grab a cone at Amy’s. The line is worth it. And what better way to grab a photo of your cone than with this in the background?

Both of these murals are found on the sides of Bird’s Barbershop off of South Congress Ave.

Don’t miss your chance to grab a snap of this Austin postcard mural located at South 1st and Annie Street, on the side of Roadhouse Relics.

The Hope Outdoor Gallery is worth setting aside some extra time to explore when in Austin. It is ever-changing and you can watch as artists paint while you are there.

It is the only park of its kind in the USA and was developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive & educational messaging.

There are a few of these located around town, but you can find this stencil mural on the wall of the Mexic-Arte museum on 4th and Congress.

And I couldn’t forget this oh-so-popular Austin mural located at 2000 E MLK Jr Blvd.

Am I missing any of your favorites? Add them in the comments below! I love finding new ones each time I visit.

Also, what goes better with a mural and street art tour than brunch? Check out some of my favorite places to brunch in Austin.

xoxo,

Becky-Stavely-Our-Endless-Adventure

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