Headspace meditation app

The Headspace app launched a great redesign in 2014.

I’ve always considered fall to be my true “new year” with that back-to-school feeling, crisp weather, better fashion and the launch of the cultural season in Montreal. This fall is no exception, I’ve been busy signing up for classes and trying new things to stay focused and motivated at work and at home.

As an avid digital enthusiast, I am often trying out apps and programs in an attempt to make my life easier or more enjoyable. Disclaimer: this list will seem old hat to some of you, or brand new to others. This is not intended as a Product Hunt-style hot-off-the-presses announcement, more of my list du jour.

Enjoy!

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Headspace


This app was created by meditation and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe with the intention of bringing the benefits of meditation to a larger audience. After stints with meditation years ago (jumping into a 10-day Vipassana meditation course with no prior experience probably wasn’t a good idea, wups), and a desire to explore alternatives to medication to manage my anxiety, I was curious to try this one out. I recently completed “Take 10” their 10-day free trial of guided ten-minute sessions and adorable animations and purchased a 1-month subscription to move onto Level 2. I don’t love the subscription-based fee system, but it’s such a great app that I’m willing to give it a shot. I still haven’t found an ideal time to meditate, finding myself falling back to sleep first thing in the morning and not consistently at home later in the day, but I have already noticed benefits. The most obvious one is simply an awareness of how I’m feeling on a daily basis. By taking a few minutes to check-in, it’s easy to take stock if I’m generally feeling relatively calm, stressed, super stressed, or anxious. Just being aware of whatever that feeling is, seems to make the rest of the day a little bit more manageable. I would highly recommend this app to anyone who is curious about meditation and has never tried it before. Not to get all new-agey on you, but I’m hoping this is the beginning of a long-term path to mindfulness and a more peaceful life.

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Culiniste

Ingredients for my first Culiniste recipe

Ingredients for my first Culiniste recipe

I have my amazing friend Janet to credit for this one – it’s a recipe and grocery delivery service which has transformed my approach to cooking over the last month. Based in Montreal, the concept is simple, you choose three or four dinner recipes out of a selection of six, and all the ingredients you need to cook the meals are delivered to your doorstep once a week. My husband and I are on the 2-person 3 times a week plan, which I initially thought would barely get us through the week. It turns out that with our active social calendar and frequent weekend trips, this is about as often as we are home to eat dinner together. For someone who has never been too keen on meal planning or weeknight cooking (I usually try and escape to Joe Fresh whenever we shop at Provigo), it’s been a lifesaver. The recipes range in cultural scope, and all feature fresh seasonal ingredients. Some of them need a little flavour tweaking, but I’ll take that any day over more time at the grocery store. If you’re curious, use this link and get 2 free meals when you sign up.

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Ladies Learning Code

Having worked in digital communications for almost ten years, my introduction to code has been a long time coming, to say the least. When fellow web-lady friend Sarah Bagnall told me about Ladies Learning Code a few months ago, I got on the waitlist to attend my first HTML & CSS class. With fellow Dynamo pal Nancy Naluz heading the Montreal chapter, I was in good hands on September 12th at the Notman House.  We were guided through the basics of creating a simple website with help from our workshop leader and many volunteer mentors in a matter of hours. While I am a long way away from building beautiful websites, it feels empowering to have a slightly more nuanced understanding of how the web works; and know what a “cascading style sheet” is.

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Spotify

Some of the music in my current Spotify collection.

Some of the music in my current Spotify collection.

On another musical note, I have finally buckled down and joined the music streaming masses. Actually it was a pretty easy transition with my new Fido “Pulse Smart plan”. I went way over my 1 GB data plan over my summer vacation this year, and when I called to complain and see if I could get a better deal, I found out that I could be paying less for twice as much data, all the other standard features you would ever want with your iPhone, and a free 2-year subscription to Spotify Premium. Combined with new favourite radio station Beats 1, I’m good to go. I don’t love how little these streaming services pay musicians, but I try and do my part to going to a lot of live shows, and sharing the love on social about my new faves. In terms of platform, I enjoy how “My Music” actually feels like your own collection, despite the ephemeral nature of the whole thing. And I hope to make new shareable playlists soon, picking up on my long lost love of mixtapes.

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Overcast

IMG_0085This app is a new one for me. As a big fan of podcasts, I was getting tired of the Apple Podcasts app, which never seemed to sync properly or download the episodes I wanted, which led to me a search for an alternative. So far so good – Overcast has the same vast selection of my favourite podcasts and I haven’t run into any of the bugs I used to have with Apple. Plus it features a volume equalizer, and ability to speed through silent moments in talk shows, for those of you who like to power through your worky podcasts. There seems to be a wave of popularity with this media form lately, from all the Gimlet casts, to the craziness surrounding the Serial series. Some of it is hype, and some of it is genuinely great storytelling and conversation. I’m always on the hunt for good music podcasts (my go-tos over the years have been the Colette podcast, the dorky but varied All Songs Considered and once upon a time the Fader mix), what are your favourites?

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Clue

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This one is for all the ladies in the house. A savvy friend told me about the Clue app a few months ago: it keeps track of your menstrual cycle and has recently added a host of other trackable data options, such as mood, exercise levels etc. Based in Berlin, the startup has created not only a super useful free tool but is also elevating the online conversation about women’s health. Their blog posts and newsletter feature smart writing and content including health tips, staff profiles, and new design features. As sexual education is dwindling in our education system, the more women and girls can do to be informed about what’s going with their bodies, the better.

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Wunderlist

Wunderlist

This app could not be simpler, but I love it. A tip from my hyper-organized sister, Wunderlist is a mobile app that allows you to share and create lists. I use it mostly for family groceries and chores, but if you want to get all fancy it can be used as a project management app for pretty much anything.

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all a fruitful fall and enough chutzpah to keep up with whatever you start.

– With love.