Living Your Bliss

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How do we stand out as an individual when we are truly a member of a collective? The ones who stand out from the crowd have a mad, insatiable passion to define themselves and live their bliss.  These creative beings see potential and magic in the ordinary.  They defy entropy and live as though they will enjoy the bliss they manifest with no limits.

Turn down the volume of the world.  Just reach in and turn it down.  Let go and hear your true inner voice.  You will feel the magic, discover your desires and enjoy the bliss.

Those of us who feel an unconditional, radical connection to our children may catch a glimpse of that innocent, authentic patience with life that they are lucky enough to enjoy at that stage and maybe we can find that permission to be so gentle, even carefree, with ourselves.  When you surrender to a childlike state, time loses meaning and the stressors of this created life disappear.  Who are you in that moment?  Is this the quintessential ‘you’ that feels in alignment with your bliss.  As we grow we may put up walls, learn self-defeating behavior and trade our playtime for responsibility and obligation.  Is this what we want to happen to our children?  There has to be a better way.

Now imagine how you would feel if others in your life could hear your inner thoughts about your bliss.  Bringing your guarded, private blissful desires into alignment with what you show the world makes an authentic connection between your dreams and your reality. But, what holds us back from truly making this our reality?

What if we could feel certain and confident about standing out from the crowd and living our life of bliss? What would be different if you could exist unencumbered by limits and regulations.

What does your bliss really look like?

photo courtesy of Oleander on morgue file.com

The Human Animal

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We are animals, but we are also human. This divergence in our collective identity is something I think about often.  “Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.” – Erich Fromm

We seem to be disengaging as a whole from our essential connection with nature even though we come from nature and it is all around us. Humans have drawn some sort of line between themselves and their roots. Our children are spending less time in nature and more time where they can plug in. This disconnection with our natural ties concerns me. Within the world of psychology exists an entire field of study called Ecopsychology which explores the synergistic relationship between how we as humans relate to nature and how that relationship, or our lack of meaningful emotional ties to nature, has a direct effect on how we exist on our planet. There is scientific evidence proving that your level of happiness can be directly affected by the level of your nature relatedness.

When you reconnect and establish a meaningful bond with what you are meant to feel connected to, it may feel as fluid and undeniable as a key in the right lock. Realizing that your body, mind and spirit are all connected to nature could potentially catapult you toward a more calm, peaceful existence. Nurturing that connection can lead to more happiness. So what are we gaining from this disconnect and how can we work toward getting back to basics? There is so much to gain by getting back in touch with nature.

Since the beginning, people have used figures of nature to teach lessons and explain our surroundings. Humans apply unnecessary characteristics to natural things to help us explain the unfamiliar and assimilate our developed distortion. Within these myths and legends, a fox is sly and an owl is wise even though those creatures are unaffected and uninterested in the process and reasons behind the anthropomorphism. An owl is not interested in being the most wise of it’s parliament. We put upon that owl the trait of being enlightened. Instead of just admiring an owl for the beautiful creature that it is, we have to assign meaning to it and figure out it’s usefulness. Relax, it’s just an owl and owls are beautiful, that’s enough. Now more than ever I feel a need to release all this chatter and superfluous meaning and just find my own connection with nature and remember how simple it all really can be.

There is so much wisdom in nature and all too often we either ignore it because we are desensitized to our surroundings, too caught up in the insignificant details of an over stretched life or just disconnected to what we have a natural affinity to admire. “This we can all bear witness to, living as we do plagued by unremitting anxiety, it becomes more and more imperative that the life of the spirit be avowed as the only firm basis upon which to establish happiness and peace.” -Dalai Lama

We need to get back to nature. We need to remind ourselves of what is right outside our  front, back and side doors. Our access to more peace and nature is so close that I feel sad when people fail to acknowledge it. My favorite type of window is an open one.

A ‘breath of fresh air’, ‘stopping to smell the roses’, and ‘taking the path less traveled’ are right beside us yet we seem to find endless excuses to build a literal and figurative wall between ourselves and these marvelous gifts. Why do we do that? Why is it not a priority as important as drinking water to get out and connect with nature? What human ‘parts’ of us force us to disconnect? Brick walls such as fear, self-doubt, and anxiety keep us from experiencing this life the way it is meant to be enjoyed… with unbridled, all-consuming passion and emotion, but also with simplicity, ease and a sense of natural instinct.

A bird sitting on a tree is not afraid of the branch breaking, it instinctively knows that if that branch happens to break it has wings, yet the bird doesn’t ruminate over this fear as it sits. It is able to just be. Lucky bird.

Get In The Swing

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Sometimes I get to a point where I feel like I need a push. Like sitting on a swing waiting for someone to come from behind and give me a big underdog push so I can start enjoying the park more. The little girl in me sneaks out and pouts.

But then…. But then I remember…. I don’t need anyone to push me, I don’t even want to need someone to push me. So, instead I need to shift my focus to the swing, the beautiful day, the warm air rushing past me backwards and forwards, the feeling of pure freedom as I float back and forth and back and forth. If you haven’t been on a swing in a while, go find one and get on it.

I have the power and awareness to create my reality no matter what is happening around me. Dependence is a dangerous crutch. Don’t wait for someone else to push you when you can propel yourself just fine. Being dependent on something or someone will never serve your highest good. You are capable, you are strong.

The lessons keep coming in their own time, one after another. I welcome each one and keep moving forward by my own momentum, no push necessary. I’m moving right along all on my own.

But, that’s not to say you shouldn’t draw inspiration from the ones who touch you along the way. Let the love and kind words of others wash over you while you sit on that swing and feel your own legs begin to launch you. Pretty soon you’ll be swinging all on your own and feel the pride of being independently strong. Feel the gratitude run through you and the pride of creating your own momentum from your own or another’s inspiration.

I’ve manifested all the things in my life that don’t serve me and I have the power to change all of them.

 

photo courtesy of LCosgrove from morguefile.com

Life Should Be Wonderful

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Life should be wonderful. That’s what I want to say.

Because people have such an amazing capacity for happiness and because it feels so much better in my body than pain, I believe we are meant to experience and dwell in happiness. Happiness feels better than sadness. Happiness is healthier than sadness.

We come in and go out of this world alone, but in between…. In between we get to make choices and design a life. Some get it right on the first try and others have to shape and mold and learn and grow to build a life that they can love.

This is your universe. It created you, now you create it. You are not a visitor here, you are from this earth… body, mind and spirit. If you work with it, and within it’s laws, you can manifest the life and the feelings that you crave. Visualize your universe shifting and molding into what you want.

Manifestation is a strong and capable beast. If you are living a life that doesn’t suit you, the first thing you need to change is your mind. Release the details of how that change will become your new reality and just believe in your real, genuine heart that you can change your situation. Your mind takes the first steps and your body follows. Throw yourself down a path toward happiness, your feet will catch up.

Energy goes where the attention flows.

You can’t change the world, but you can find joy and be at peace with the world you have created for yourself. If you don’t feel at peace in the place you’ve created then it’s your soul’s obligation to visualize and bring in the change needed to become at peace with your life’s path. It’s that simple. Start seeing the happiness that you want as your quest.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you are right” -Henry Ford

Feel in your body where you experience stress, pain and sadness. Now clear that slate and recognize where you feel joy, hope and love. Note your results and move forward toward the one that makes you feel more empowered and happy. Feel your body, relax your mind and guide your thoughts toward the things that make you smile. Doing that will change your life for the better, so keep doing it.

I could say that I have a dream to be happy, because I do, but more than that I have a plan.

Here’s my plan:

  1. Keep remembering that life is wonderful and I deserve to be happy.
  2. Visualize a blissful situation where I am happy that I would like to manifest.
  3. Do those again. And again. And again.

And in between I will keep living, keep loving and keep finding ways to bring in more happiness, because life should be wonderful.

photo above courtesy of Scarletina on morgue file.com

Practicing Motherhood

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When I wake up in the morning, I think about the ones in my life that make my heart smile and that thought catapults me contentedly into my day. I look forward to discovering what I can do to make them happy that day and wonder what they will do to make me smile. The opportunity to feel good motivates me. I like being happy, and I like knowing that I will most likely have some lovely peaceful moments coming my way.

I enjoy making breakfast for my girls and getting us all ready for the day ahead. I pack lunches, organize backpacks and put on little shoes. We say goodbye to our dog and hurry out the door. We listen to music and sing in the car after we discuss the day’s schedule. I do all of these things for my girls, but I also do them for myself.

I consider being a work-at-home mom a gift.  It’s a gift for me and it’s a gift for my family. I enjoy being the one who is available to drive kids here and pick them up there. I arrange doctor appointments, activities, holidays and chaperone school outings. I can bring a forgotten special show-and-tell item to school at a moment’s notice and I can be the first mom standing outside the door when the school bell rings. I can take a little girl out for a special lunch for no special reason on any given day of the week and I can grocery shop at off peak hours to make the trip a little easier. I am the depositor of checks in the bank and the filler of prescriptions. I am the 24-hour sick care nurse, the wiper of tears and the Director of The Complaint Department.

How did I get this lucky?

My personal life and my professional life both revolve a lot around making sure people’s needs are met. Having no set work schedule and no office to go to means that I can also cater to my own needs as well. I enjoy being the one who can help out and I’m grateful that I have the time and freedom to do it.

As you revolve around your loved ones, what is your mindset? I could have named all of these activities I do all day long as chores that bring me aggravation and stress, and there are some days that it all does seem like a bit too much.  But, even though my days are filled with surprises and life can be messy and unpredictable, I feel a general gratefulness to be doing what I’m doing with my life. There are far more moments of joy than moments of anguish and there are so many reasons to be grateful for this life that I lead.

The best part about my role is that I’m getting better at it as I go. Mothering is a practice. You could say it is the original and most important job in the world.  The fascinating part of mothering is that we all do it differently and still do it well. My wish is that more mothers would shift their perspective and take pride in their mothering role and feel less guilt about “staying home” because that is so far from what we do. There is so much joy to be found in practicing Motherhood and I will continue to find ways to bring smiles to the faces that I love so much, it’s just part of my job.

Breaking News

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I never watch the news. The news is sad and scary and someone else’s inflated, alarming opinion of what is happening in the world. Since I was a kid I had wished for a HAPPY news report instead of the horrible, depressing broadcast that my father watched every night at 10pm, but unfortunately there was no such show airing. Why did everyone want to know every detail of the heartache and tragedy happening around us?  Why do we like to work each other into a frenzy of “poor them” and “what-if”? I care about what is happening in my community and I am concerned with the state of the nation, but I don’t like being bombarded with daily doses of overblown breakdowns of the worst misfortune media could hunt down before their deadline. I also can’t stand scary movies or anything that has Zombies. I’ve spent more than a few nights awake and terrified with horrible Hollywood images in my head and it doesn’t serve me.

I know there is pain and sickness all around me, and I know danger lurks everywhere and I need to be careful and warned.  I just enjoy thinking about goodness and beauty more. I enjoy hearing stories about other people’s success and triumph!  Even small victories and menial tenderness holds my attention better than bad fortune and struggle. I want to feel brave and free, not scared and confined.

Before I made my happy promise, I was an avid watcher of murder mysteries and cop shows. I loved a good whodunnit and would study the facts and try to solve the mystery. They fascinated me. At the same time, I was experiencing horrible nightmares and bouts of fear. I realized these shows, although mostly fictional, were having a deeper impact than I knew. This terror and uneasiness consumed my thoughts and the cycle had to end. I created scenarios in my head, every situation had a foreboding tone and a bad possible ending. But, when I took a step back and manifested my goal to be happy and feel more at peace, I started to feel change happening. One of those changes included watching far less television. I needed to get other people’s thoughts and images out of my head and start designing my own. I needed to give others less control over my mind space.

When I started filing my time with rethinking my situation, writing my blog, and collecting research from reliable, intelligent sources, I started to feel less fearful. I started to feel more empowered and my momentum fired up and propelled me forward. I felt brave! I noticed my dreams were getting better and my anxious moments were disappearing. I stopped letting others fill my head with scary images and nonsense. I became far more interested in things based in reality and my new perception of what mattered.

Looking back over the last few years since I’ve experienced major shifts in my mind, body and spirit, I feel proud, peaceful and strong. Change takes time and conquering any blockage is demanding. The people around you that truly want to see you happy will step aside and let you hunt down and conquer that happiness by whatever means necessary. Chase your bliss and be suspicious of anyone who tries to keep you from it. If you feel like shifting some basic habits can have major positive ripple effects in all areas of your life, then trust that instinct no matter what others think or say. Believe me, I used to have to justify not watching the news or scary television or movies, but now I just don’t even engage in conversation about it. I changed a simple behavior, enjoy feeling the benefits and refuse to apologize for that. I still manage to know what is happening in the world. I am aware of issues that exist in our society and I manage to form my own thoughts about how they make me feel. I no longer watch the news or any late night cop shows (or zombie movies) and I’m managing just fine.

Habits can be shifted and the results can be sweet.

photo courtesy of pablogv2004 on morgue file.com

The Unlearning

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Life often feels like a series of repeating patterns that move us along on a conveyor belt. We keep duplicating these echoes until the act is so familiar that it becomes mindless. Our days may feel as though they are made up of a series of many menial, mindless, apathetic actions. The repetition is not the cause for my concern, it’s the mindlessness that worries me. We are proficient learners of things that we believe serve us, and we create intentional roadblocks in front of the things we fear. We settle into habit and become the hamster on the wheel either oblivious of the stagnation or frozen in fear of the unknown.  What if the unknown is better? What if the unknown is amazing…

Is this cycle of repetition ok with you? Are you doing what you love? Are you loving what you do? This includes the way you begin and end your day, the way you interact with people, and even the basic structure of your life. Have you taken a step back from this routine to consider whether it’s learned, reproduced behavior being repeated out of ingrained habit, or is it how you truly want to move through your day?  Could you unlearn this structure and pattern to create more happiness and peace?

Even more important is the perspective you hold on these repetitive actions.  Attitude can turn resentment into gratitude. Point of view can change your perception. Unlearning an automatic response can open possibilities of finding joy in something that has felt like a long time chore.

When I made my happy promise, I began to see the small stuff as integral instead of menial, mindless tasks. When I went from feeling heavy obligation to finding bits of joy throughout my day, I found far more than a happy thought, I found more peaceful moments. I began the process of my unlearning.

There are still plenty of ways that I contribute to my own struggle, my hope is to begin shining a light on those blocks I have put up for myself and begin to unlearn my methods that are not serving me. When I come up against something that causes me frustration or pain, it serves me better to stop and consider the real reason behind that root feeling. If I can extract that cause I may be able to examine, process and unlearn the behavior. I can learn to reprogram.

Unlearning is not just about reconsidering and changing, it’s about completely abandoning a behavior. I need to stop planning what I want to learn and leave space to just be open to what comes my way.  I have to be willing to be empty in order to fill myself up with goodness. I realize now that ‘letting go’ is not enough, I have to completely unlearn what I know. I often focus on my ability to let go and get to a calm place, but finding happiness is about releasing the instigating act before it takes hold of me. I want to be able to unclench before a thought or feeling infiltrates my peaceful space. Mindfully examining what part of me responds negatively helps me detach from those feelings.  I believe unlearning is the true method that leads to a peaceful mind.

A peaceful mind creates a peaceful world to live in.

We are all born with the capacity to feel love, happiness and peace and the ability to learn and change. Our natural skill to learn comes from the same place within ourselves where we pull the unlearning. Unlearn what no longer serves you and be open to what could possibly fill the wonderfully empty space.

above photo from MichelleBulgaria on morgue file.com

Playing the Day Away

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No matter how I’m feeling, there is always a piece of music to fit my mood. I feel very connected to music, it can calm me, excite me, or soothe me depending on what I need in the moment. I love to make my own music, but I haven’t done that consistently for a long time.

I inherited my Grandmother’s piano eight years ago and it’s been sitting quiet most of the time since then. It was the piano I learned on as a little girl and I’m happy to have it in my life. There have been days that I sit down and play all of my familiar tunes or a visiting friend tickles the ivories for a bit, but for the most part it remains a showpiece in my living room.

My daughters enjoy playing our piano too. I’ve started teaching them the basics and I hear them crafting their own tunes quite often. Piano lessons are imminent. I would love for my girls to connect to music the way I do.  Music is revitalizing and inspirational and can be a beautifully supportive tool.

As the seasons start to change, I see an opportunity to recharge, refresh and revitalize! I am reaffirming my commitment to kindness and self-care. I have to be healthy, strong and happy to make sure my kids are as well. And, I see the chance to make a new, exciting pledge to get back to making music, so I picked a new song and sat down in front of the piano and began to play. I’m planning to put more piano into my life as a way to soothe myself and be a good model for my girls. While they watch me learn a new song by reading the music and practicing, I’m hoping they will be attracted to the process. This time I chose a song that I can sing and play at the same time and I feel like that act will be a nice way to unwind and relax myself and the girls. Hopefully I can build a nice, new repertoire.

Finding happiness isn’t always about discovering something new, sometimes it’s about rediscovering what you already knew you had.

photo is of my Grandmother’s piano in my living room

A Quest To Discover

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A strong identity emerges not only from conscious contemplation of your life’s purpose, but also from successfully resolving the developmental challenges that characterize your formative years. Identity may emerge in it’s own time. It may show itself to you while you’re busy following your heart, creating opportunities to enjoy life and manifesting positivity.

So how do you begin the process of understanding who you are and what will ultimately make you happy? Celebrate what you do know about who you are and who you want to become while excavating deeper to discover more that you may not understand yet.

If you are strong enough to be asking these questions, then chances are you have developed a deep rooted belief that you are worth this time and effort. For that, I applaud you. Go easy on yourself as you learn, absorb each discovery and be ready to accept what you find. Use your findings to spring forward and be open to the beautiful things possible when you continue to grow.

The meaning of life is to live. Finding your identity means you can live it in a way that allows your soul to align with every moment. Defining your identity successfully means feeling complete. Feeling complete means strength of character and spirit.

The person who I have been in recent years is having a tough time being completely happy. I’ve learned a lot about what was making me unhappy and I seem to enjoy more peaceful moments these days. I’ve explored my spiritual existence and I’ve learned to meditate. I enjoy journaling and I have a better idea of what kind of mother I want to be. These are all big wins.  But I still feel slammed against a glass ceiling and trapped inside an identity that feels tight and restrictive. Maybe I’ve been focusing and working on the wrong parts.  Maybe it’s my worn out, misfitting identity that needs adjusting. I’ve moved forward, learned lessons and felt significant growth, but I haven’t redefined myself. I haven’t considered how all of this will inevitably change my identity.

Who am I anyway?

I am what I do.

I am who I love.

I am what I think.

I’ve slowly changed a lot about what I do and how I spend my time so maybe I’m growing out of my identity and should be shopping for a shiny new one. If I redefine who I am, some of these changes and all of this hard work may settle better into place. If conquering an identity crisis is difficult for you, remember that you are possibly doing work that involves resolving deep prior issues of trust, confidence and self-sufficiency. Go easy on yourself and be kind during this consuming process.

For some, the idea of having an identity crisis will denote negativity simply because it’s called an identity CRISIS.  However, I think the quest to uncover who you truly are in an effort to align your body, mind and spirit is a noble task and should be commended.

Plateau Busting Purple and Orange Clouds

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I love sunsets.  I love that time of day when the energy and hurried rush of the day begin to calm, the sun drops down in the sky and light begins to fade.  It’s that nightly curtain call that gives me time to take a breath and delight in the majestic splendor of the sky as it changes colors and dims.  This is my favorite time of day to be outside.  I love being able to sit quietly as the sun sets and let my mind wander as I revel in it’s beauty and let go for a while.  I like to slip into my thoughts and recommit to being kind to myself.  I enjoy listening to music, sitting in deep thought and letting the light disappear around me.

It’s been a while since I sat and enjoyed this time of day the way I like to.  Last night, I happen to be outside at twilight and I realized how long it had been since I took a moment to enjoy this opportunity, reflect and slow down.  So I did.

As I looked at the sky of purple and orange clouds, I realized that I have slowed down on my journey, even hit a plateau.  I longed to feel lifted and inspired.  I started to think about what this could mean for me and why I may be feeling this way.  There could be a lesson here for me.  A spiritual plateau is a place to rest.  Or, it may be a test.  It can be a time to stabilize, absorb, collect, receive and integrate all that I have learned.

I’m hoping to catch my breath and push farther for greater growth after this rest. But rest is also important.  I want to keep growing, use the tools and be in the moment. Resting doesn’t have to mean slipping backwards, it presents a chance to practice what we have cultivated.

Feeling a spiritual plateau can present a great opportunity to take a look around.  Maybe you are coming up against something you have dealt with before and have never been able to push through.  Are you feeling stagnant against familiar road blocks?  Maybe now you have more power to break them down. The journey continues, so break them down or move them aside this time.  See the opportunity and push forward, don’t let it pull you under. Your hardest challenges present your biggest opportunities for growth.

And then I started to imagine myself on the other side of this plateau.  Where am I going and what is next for me?  I started to feel a bit of inspiration and anticipation… could just recognizing the plateau be enough to move past it?

Today I played tennis for the first time in a few weeks.  I’ve been taking lessons for a year now and today was the first day of the new session.  It was good to feel my strong legs under me after not playing for a while.  Last year when I started to learn the game I felt nervous and clumsy, but today I felt strong and ready to play.  At the end of last session I was feeling frustrated, like I had hit a plateau.  So, as I started to volley, I recalled my thoughts from the night before about how I was feeling spiritually stagnant.  I started to realize the parallel between my physical game and my mental game.  So I took a moment to visualize myself playing well and set an intention to use thoughtful and mindful swings and volleys.  I took my time and followed through each shot.  The lessons I had learned over the past year all seemed to click and flow and I played the best tennis of my life.  I’m still a beginner, but I felt a confidence today that I haven’t felt since I started playing.

I broke right through my plateau.

So I’m riding the wave after my tennis lesson today, it was a nice little boost for me.  I needed that.  And now I’m feeling more open to receiving what is next for me on my journey.  It’s up to us to see the possibilities available and only you can create opportunities to see things in a plateau busting way.  When you feel stuck or stale, like you need some inspiration, just look around and see it… it’s all around you waiting to be discovered.

Every evening gives you an opportunity to reflect.  Every day is a new chance to renew a promise or redefine your path.  And, every morning is a gift.  Tear off the wrapping and get excited to see what’s in store!  How would your life be different if you started each day as if it was going to be nothing short of amazing?!

GMOs and EMOs

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I am a voice in the crowd.  As I learn more about the world around me and issues that effect my family and loved ones, I see more of the big picture and I am connecting certain issues to try and gain a better, more thorough understanding of our general wellbeing.  Most recently I have been thinking a lot about what I am feeding my family and whether their nutritional needs are being met.  Keeping my family healthy is very high on my “To Do List”.  It was almost 3 years ago that I started to take a longer, harder look at my nutrition, my body and what I was putting in the mouths of my children.  I started with myself.  Just like being on an airplane when the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting the children with their masks, I had to make sure I was healthy and had a healthy understanding of all of this before I started doing the same with my children. I needed to be healthy and strong to make them healthy and strong.

What I found was that everything I didn’t know about food was keeping me unhealthy.  I had been unable to lose the lingering weight after I had my children and despite my best efforts using the information that I had, nothing was working and I was getting more unhealthy instead of closer to my goal of getting myself and my family more healthy.  I was so busy with my life and the details that needed attention that getting truly educated about this never made my “To Do List”. It wasn’t until I began learning about nutritional cleansing, the true nutritional value of our food and the dangers of many of the foods on the market that I took for granted as being healthy that I started down the path of educating myself to a healthier state.

One of the scariest topics I have come across is the debate over GMOs in our food and the political battle over labeling them in our products here in the US.  I’ve come to learn that the powers-that-be are profiting from people growing and consuming food that has been genetically modified to the point that it resembles something closer to poison than food.  People are working hard at their jobs to earn money to be able to visit the grocery store and mindlessly fill their cart with food that is either poisonous or contains little to no nutritional value.  It’s fair to say that a significant amount of people have no idea that the food we have been eating for well over the last decade has been significantly altered by science.

Who are we to decide the direction of evolution in this way?  For a race of people that like to make their own choices and act on their own volition, this issue seems like a giant step backwards.  So, as a member of the collective, the biggest piece of this puzzle for me is that I am not being given the choice of whether or not to consume this altered food.  My power, in this regard, has been stripped from me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m also pretty upset about the whole process of how this all came to fruition from bullying farmers to get on board to thinking about the long term effects on our precious soil, environment and the integrity of our water supply….. It all has me riled up and has called me to action in many, many ways.

But, as I look at the giant companies involved in this happening and evaluate their obsession with money and securing that money for the future, I see a dangerous trend toward greed, born naturally from our emotional range as people.  This greed has become genetically altered to fit the world we live in.  This form of emotional evolution is just as frightening and unsettling to me as the issue of GMOs.  People are becoming emotionally modified as a result of the world we live in and the experiences we have to navigate through.  Our emotions and visceral responses to our environment have been altered through technology and evolution just the same as that first pea’s genetic makeup was altered by the hands of an Austrian Monk.  The masses of children desensitized to things like violence because of technology, television, movies and video games is to me as much of a threat as the GMOs that are infiltrating their bodies.  Is this modern world nurturing our children’s gentle and kind natures or are they being emotionally modified by the world around them?

Although I am scared for the future health situation because of the missing regulation, sensitivity and outrage in the world of GMOs, I am equally terrified by the omission of sensitivity to violence and the overwhelming inability for people to feel happily engaged in their life.  There is an epidemic of EMOs (Emotionally Modified Organisms) and we are the Organisms.  This seemingly pandemic disengagement terrifies and saddens me.  Put the two initiatives together and you get a world wide epidemic threatening health, wellbeing and wellness in general.

What will you do to balance all of the fears presented by this life we lead, start creating more time for fun, and at the same time act responsibly for the benefit of the next generation? It’s a lot to do, we all have a lot on our plate these days.

Well, I know what I’m going to do.  I’m going to learn all that I can while keeping a healthy perspective about the amount of power I have over how I live.  I will continue to take a look at my own emotions and understand what the world and my immediate environment has done to modify me.  Armed with that information and understanding I can become a better version of myself.

You are strong!  You have power!  You can make change!  You have as much power over your actions and emotions as you do over the food you put in your body and the bodies of those you love.  “Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside” -Unknown

I believe these concerns are all connected and deserve the same amount of respect and attention.  Do your part to make the world a better place for our children, but don’t forget that all of those changes start with you….. every part of you.

 

picture courtesy of morgue file.com

And So It Goes

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Over the last week, I have watched five of my dear friends lose either a parent or grandparent.  It’s hard to hear such news, and it’s even harder to see it in such mass.  The idea of transition as we begin a new school year and approach the end of summer always brings about all kinds of change and feelings of uncertainty for what is to come.  But this year, the idea of transition has meant major life changes and adjustments for several people whom I hold dear.  I thought it strange at first when the news kept rolling in one after the other of these deaths, but I began to understand that life works in mysterious cycles and it is not for me to question these things.

With endings come new beginnings and with new beginnings come possibilities for renewal and new found confidence and certainty that when we can stand strong during times of great change and struggle, we can find ourselves even more powerful and capable than before.  As I move through funerals and shivas and showing my support and love to those who need it, I feel grateful.  I feel grateful to have so many blessings in my life and I feel grateful to be able to have the strength to show my love to these people who need it right now.

When I was 18, three of my friends mothers and three of my dear friends passed away within months of each other.  Six people.  It seemed like a thousand.  It wasn’t my first experience with loss, but when the waves of sad news kept coming it seemed to be too much to bare these sorrow feelings for all of these people and families.  I remember attending funerals and shedding tears with the ones left to pick up the pieces.  At that age, it’s hard to process the world changing so much and so rapidly.  But now, even though the sadness still lingers after a loss, I know from experience that life will go on and change and flow for those left behind.  We accept the love offered to us and feel the emotions as it happens around us.  We learn about love and we reminisce.

After a loss, families and friends gather, eat, talk, love, cry, hug…. This goes on for days and the support is necessary and beautiful.  And as the wave of sadness subsides, the masses scatter and the loss changes, transitions and settles.  Life shifts and people go on.  I don’t think we ever accept the mortality of our loved ones, but we naturally gather the feelings, make them a part of who we are and the loss becomes part of our identity.

I hope for you that grief is an emotion that leaves you stiff and sore the next day because that would mean it is not exercised very often.  Feeling true sadness reminds us just how human we have become.  Moving forward when that soreness fades doesn’t mean we let go of the grief, it means we have become stronger and can more easily carry it with us along our way.

 

photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Goodbye Robin

Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.

 

beautiful words from the movie Jack starring Robin Williams

Becoming Me

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Who were you before the world stepped in and told you who to become?  When a baby cries out and a caretaker responds with loving kindness, in the beginning it’s all a guessing game to try our best to soothe, respond and love.  But we really never know the true meaning behind those cries.  Even the best intending people may put their own needs and assumptions on those cries and respond the way they see fit.  That’s the best they can do until that baby can confirm those suspicions.  Is that baby having every need met, or is that sweet, dependent soul beginning the journey of taking what is offered and making it fit? Such is life as we grow into ourselves and begin to make our true selves heard.  And even then, how much are we forced to push down and ignore of what we really want and need?  Those innocent smiles on children desperate to please may be the faces of little ones learning to do the best with what is given to them while learning to manage what they truly wish.    

As we grow and mature, we have a chance to consider who we are and what truly makes us happy.  Are you letting yourself be the person you were meant to be?  How do we figure out exactly who that is?  After years of being told what to do, it may be difficult to truly be authentically present and acknowledge how much of who we have become is put upon us and how much of it we were free to develop on our own.  Take a step back for a moment and think about where you are, why you are there and whether or not it is who and where you would like to be.  Such is life really, but the next phase is letting go of some of that ingrained learning and allowing yourself to push back from the shore and mindfully explore what your choices will bring.  Navigating your path after you set sail on an adventure such as this may be filled with unknown, but it’s always in times of deep reflection or exploration that we have the opportunity to grow the most.        

Need to change a few things?  I do, and I want to learn more about myself.  There are 5 steps I am taking to thoughtfully process this lesson.  

Live life and engage in activities I enjoy.

Over the last few years I have found myself diving into new experiences with a brave, awakened yearning for change.  Feeling satisfied and content was no longer acceptable.  I longed for a divergence from my routine and I have found myself engulfed in exciting new opportunities saying, “YES!  THIS is me! THIS is what I crave and how I want to live!”  And it feels good.  I want more of that, so I make it happen.  

Stay curious and learn

Instead of sitting in wonder of some of my interests, I decided to engage in workshops and learn new skills, read new books and attend readings of their authors, and manage my own new business focused on my passions.  I hunger for new knowledge and I will never know enough about the matters that interest me.  

Live in the present

Engage.  Put down your technology, turn off the television and properly engage with the people and experiences around you.  I like to make a pile of cell phones when my friends have dinner and the first one to reach for their phone instead of being immersed in the gathering is handed the check.  If we all remain engaged and never touch a piece of technology then I consider that a win.  If you are not enjoying your surroundings and need the stimulation of outside sources, then it’s time to unravel that.  That unraveling is genuine work and you should be making time and space to focus on and improve that matter.  It’s the constant learning and unraveling that makes us grow indefinitely, but it’s in the present that we live.  Wherever you go, there you are.  Be there.  

Meet new admirable people and reawaken valuable lost connections

The people I have met and align myself with have made all the difference, and the people I have reconnected with from my past have impacted my journey more than words can say.  It’s those who love you unconditionally and authentically that deserve your precious time and attention.  Strengthen those bonds, throw your energy in their direction and it will come back to you with boundless possibility.  Your soul mates, no matter how abundant or few, will see the authentic YOU emerging and admire the light shining from you.    

“All of me loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections” -All Of Me, John Legend

Sleep and spend time alone

When I am alone with my thoughts and without other influences to taint my perspective is when I catch a clear glimpse of who I am and what I truly want.  I like to form my own impressions without speculation of others leaking in.  And, never underestimate the importance of rest and renewal.  Our sleep patterns are the refresh opportunity that we have everyday.  After expending all of this energy to make change and become my authentic self, I need to let my body absorb this information so it can truly be integrated into my reality.      

The question of who I am may never definitively be answered because she changes with each moment, but it is the promising journey to discover and rediscover myself that ignites my spirit and inspires my momentum.

 

above photo is of my daughter holding my hand that very first day

Midlife Miracle

youarehereAfter sprinting forward out of my teen years, dancing through my twenties and coasting into responsibility in my thirties, I’ve hit the speed bump known as midlife. I’m 40. So, I decided to slow to a stop and take a thoughtful look behind me to see what I’ve done so far.

I’ve been an honor student, competitive figure skater, off-off broadway actress, sign language interpreter, college professor and wellness coach among other things. I’ve had a lot of fun and met some amazing people along my journey. I imagine it’s not so uncommon to have a few thoughts about “life so far” and what is to come when folks hit 40. I’m allowing myself to acknowledge that it’s a big deal simply because it feels that way to me.

When I hit 30, I had no idea who I would marry, how many children I would have or where I would end up living. But at 40, I know the answers to most of my unanswered questions. At times it feels like life is now about managing and maintaining the life I’ve built and the choices I’ve made. But I don’t want this life adventure to feel stagnant. I have so much more to do. Who knows what I will know at 50 that I hadn’t realized at 40?! I have an obligation to this life to keep growing, seeking and creating adventurous change!

During my look back I realized how much I have been able to accomplish so far and I see how much more is possible! The miracle about reaching midlife is that you are armed with plenty of life knowledge and wisdom that you didn’t have when you launched into your independence. And, you still have so much time left to enjoy it.

Midlife means power. Midlife means dynamic capability to take control of choices and live a life that serves us. Many of us take the helm of our families at this stage and become responsible for raising the next generation while at the same time helping our parents transition into the next phase of their existence. Sandwiched between the young and the old we learn how strong we have become and how capable we are. Embrace your strength and let it shine from inside of you. The more people depend on you the more they believe you can handle. Show kindness to yourself and then to those who look to you for courage and fortitude. We are the midlife soldiers, we are the miracles for so many people in our lives. Wear it as a badge of honor and serve those who need us with love and respect. But also learn how to look deep inside and serve yourself with just as much loving devotion.

After my long look behind, I’m ready to turn back around and see what is to come. Instead of a midlife crisis, I am having a midlife miracle. I’m moving forward giving and receiving unbridled, rampant, radical positive energy!

“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives” – Alan Sachs

This beautiful life won’t last forever, but that’s what nature intends. We live, we learn, we love. We laugh, grow and play. Your responsibility in this life is to make it count. Life itself is a steady natural awakening. The meaning of life is to live! 

 

photo credit to pippalou on morgue file.com

 

Live Simply, Think Gently

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“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Wisdom of Confucius

I like to be barefoot, I like to take it slow.  I enjoy riding a bike, and I enjoy being near the water.  I like finding beauty in my life where I hadn’t noticed it before.  I like to have time to think before I speak and I like to feel connected to the ones I love.  I like to spend time with horses and I like to walk my dog.  I like to live simply.

I’m moving more toward a simpler life as I continue on this journey.  I have been moved to clean out my entire house this summer and shed myself of anything that has no purpose or meaning.  I’ve shed the clutter in my house as I’ve tried to clear out the negative thoughts that clutter my head.  With less “stuff” to worry about, I find it easier to live mindfully in the moment and create space to really connect with my friends and family.

I want to feel light, I want to feel fresh.  I want to hear wind chimes and birds singing when I step outside into the cool morning air.  I want to feel unencumbered by technology and start my day with my own thoughts.  I like the smell of hot coffee and the feel of warm morning sun as I start my day.  I want to live simply, but I also want to think gently.

This pull toward a simpler existence has spun my mind in directions it’s not used to.  With a life cluttered with tasks and too much “stuff”, I found my mind was constantly on high volume and there were several thoughts competing for my attention at once.  Living simply is not just about my surroundings and my belongings, it’s about living with more ease on the inside as well.  Being kind and gentle with myself involves an effort in my body, mind and spirit.  Quieting the alarms that have been pre-set for ages has not been easy.  Slowing down and trying to think one thought at a time has been a way to start.  Deep breath, look at the sky, close your eyes.  Exhale.  Move on.

I do love the hardly bearable feeling of craving something that I want so badly that I can barely stand still, but I enjoy the calming, soothing feeling of swinging on a hammock in the afternoon more.  I appreciate the feeling of yugen which is to awaken an array of inner thoughts through mere suggestion.  It is an intense, breathless feeling of inspiration and beauty.  But, a feeling such as yugen is meant to be enjoyed in small doses.  You can’t live in a state that takes your breath away, but you can revel in it for a moment, appreciate it, and find joy.  Thinking gently is about finding a state of mind that you can enjoy and still be a productive, functioning member of your life.

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Find balance, seek peace, crave joy.

When you learn to think gently, the volume is lowered and the level of intensity becomes manageable.  If you are kind to yourself and treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love, you may begin to notice more calm feelings and find more space for relaxing in your life.  Gone are the days of feeling guilty for taking a moment to myself.  I’ve reached the age of permission and I’ve earned my right to feel happy just by being born.

We deserve to be happy.  So I’m choosing to live simply and think gently.

 

photos from morguefile.com

Becoming a Butterfly

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“Does the caterpillar know it is turning into a butterfly or is it in panic, stuck to a tree feeling all fat and crispy” -Becky Walsh, Mind Body Spirit Magazine

Our world is filled with BIG and FAST, so we may be conditioned to get what we want right in the moment we want it.  But, transition takes time and patience.  Change for the better is best achieved thoughtfully and slowly.  Nature gives us plenty of examples to support this theory like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. We don’t know for sure what goes on inside that cocoon.  I wonder how that caterpillar feels as it creates it’s new home.  Does he have time and space to prepare for this change?  Is he looking forward to becoming a butterfly or was he happy being a caterpillar?  Let’s assume he is simply following his instincts and having faith in the process.  Wouldn’t it be comforting if we were all capable of that kind of trust and belief in our lives as we experience our own changes and transitions?  Sometimes enjoying the journey takes endurance and poise and sometimes you just hang your head out the window like a happy dog feeling the wind.  It all depends on the day.

“You can be presented with some rather difficult situations that bring about the transformation needed for you to fly.”  -Becky Walsh, Mind Body Spirit Magazine

The good news for the butterfly is that when it emerges it will be able to fly.  The process to get there may be unpleasant or it may be cathartic, that we will never know.  The process is private and looks different for everyone, and every caterpillar.  The key is to be kind to yourself and remember that the things in life worth waiting for are usually the best things we encounter.  Often at the other end of a trying time is a realization that you have come to know yourself better from your experience.  When you figure out the thing or things that you want most in this life it’s hard to sit still and wait, but manifesting change with intention takes time.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” -Billy Crystal as Harry in When Harry Met Sally

Love may be the easiest way to demonstrate that feeling of eagerness and craving when it comes to transition, but there are several things in life that work that same way.  Anyone who finds themselves feeling stuck in a career and suddenly has a realization that there is something better out there will relate to this process as well.  The process of learning what you need to know to start a new career may be slow and tedious, but in the end, after all of your preparation, you feel strong and ready to charge out of the gate running.  Anyone who has a dream knows the anguish of waiting and working towards the hopeful day that it will come true.  The important component in all of this is to take your time and put intentional energy into getting to know yourself and learning to be at peace with your life’s path.

“The key to transformation is simply this: the better we know ourselves, the better equipped we will be to make our choices wisely.”  -Gregg Braden, Mind Body Spirit Magazine

Meditate On It

 

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“It’s almost like mindfulness is becoming a folk religion of the secular elite in Western Culture.” – David McMahan (Buddhist Scholar)

SInce Buddhism and meditation have been brought to Western Culture, it has been reinterpreted and reapplied to fit the needs and intentions of the varied followers who practice.  Are the meditation practices being used today truly in alignment with original Buddhist practices?  Or, is what we practice now just a modernization of an ancient practice that is meant to be independent of culture and time? Are we meditating authentically? Do we concern ourselves with these thoughts and comparisons or do we just meditate in our own way and veer from tradition to simply extract what we can and pull what we need from it?  This topic would no doubt give Buddhist scholars much to pontificate about, but my opinions here are those of a Westerner who holds a deep respect and appreciation for all that Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness have taught me.  I am not Buddhist, but I enjoy reading about what it has to teach us.  I do meditate and feel that I do it in my own way following my own agenda.  I try to live mindfully, but I interpret what that means for my life.  In my position in life it would be impossible for me to live up to true Buddhist customs.  I do what I can with what I’m handed.  I don’t concern myself with popular belief, I concern myself with what serves me and what makes me feel at peace.  Meditating in my Meditation Garden for as long as I have time for is what works for me.

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What is being done in present day may be more like a quick and convenient shot of meditation espresso, but I feel that may be what we need and all we can accommodate right now. The life of a modern day member of Western Culture looks much different than that of a Buddhist Monk.  And, if the end result brings us the desired outcome then should we bother even considering our means to a desired end?  If our intentions are good then our methods are sound.  I see people pick their method and adapt their ways to fit their busy lifestyles and I don’t judge.  Judgement of these things would, of course, not be in alignment with practices such as this anyway.

However, if you decide to incorporate your version of relaxation meditation, understand that your result will be just that: relaxing.  Without internalizing dharma by reciting scriptures and sinking deep into your own mind for devoted periods of time as the Buddhist Monks do, you will technically not reach the insights intended to be learned through ancient meditation.  But, don’t misunderstand me.  My message here is one of support to all of you who meditate for as long or as short as you wish and in whatever way you decide.  “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.  Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” -Ella Fitzgerald

In this world of chaos and unpredictability, for me it is comforting to turn to meditation to quiet my mind and relax my body.  I feel comfortable calling what I do meditation even though it follows the guidelines of more popular beliefs about meditation than the Buddhist protocol.

With a healthy dose of self love and a whole heap of good intentions, mindfulness and meditation in any capacity will serve you well.  “Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines” – Shiny Happy People REM

photos taken in my meditation garden

The Story of a House

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Just after coming back from a lovely walk, a car slowed to a stop in front of my house.  I yelled out a “hello” and asked if he needed something.  He was a nice, Hungarian gentleman who went on to tell me that his name was Laslo and he had built our house with his bare hands in the 1950’s.  He said he had lived here for 20 years after he built it and raised a son here.  Every time he is in the area he takes a drive past the house, this time I just happened to be outside.  He told me that our house was the first one built on the street and that he used to walk to his job just up the road at a factory.  He explained that in the beginning, the house would flood when it rained because of the pitch of the driveway which was why he installed the sump pump at the base of the driveway.  He told me that he put a penny in every corner of the main room under the wood floor.

I invited him to come in and take a look to see what had changed in the house over the years.  I told him about the addition the previous owners had built and about how much we had done to the backyard.  He declined and even started to drive away when I mentioned it.  I think his memory served him well and he wanted to visit this place in his memory, not learn about what we had done to change things.  He looked over at my neighbor Pete, also Hungarian, who was in front of his house trimming the hedge.  He explained that Pete’s house was the second on the street and built in the 1960’s.  He said they knew each other back then and that they helped build the street we live on.  To my surprise, he never took a second glance at Pete or slowed his car as he passed him to offer a hello to his old neighbor.  When we were done talking he just took a long last look and drove away.

I went inside with new thoughts about my house, this place that I come home to every day without even thinking about it.  You get numb to your routine, you find comfort and settle in to a pattern.  So often we forget to be grateful for all of the things that surround us.  After meeting Laslo I took a new look around my house.  I became grateful for his hard work and his care of this house all those years ago.  I wondered who else had lived here since then and I realized that I was now a part of the story of this house.  Maybe someday I will drive past and tell my part of the story to a new family of how I raised my daughters here and spent countless, relaxing hours at the park right across the street.

People spend a lot of energy and time making their private space just the way they want it.  We leave our mark on the world with the way we live in those moments.  At home is where you relax and let it all go, hopefully.  I thought about how attached people become to their homes when really I think they are attached to the space in time represented by that house.  I don’t necessarily feel attached to the brick and mortar of this house, but rather I feel an affection for the times I have had here.  I’m grateful for the strength and integrity of the house itself, but it’s the memories and the time that I will carry with me long after I leave this place.  I have other special places like this as well, and something still makes me long to be in those spaces sometimes.  Being there helps me remember, feel, and even smell the memory from way back when…. and that is nice.

So, thank you Laslo, for coming by and paying a visit to your memory.  Thank you for reminding me that life goes on and that we should take time to be grateful along the way.

No Ordinary Journey

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I love to walk.  I love to just walk out the front door and go wherever I feel.  Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I go for more of a mediative walk, but I always love the act of moving and looking and being out in nature.  My neighborhood is lovely, but I decided to take a break from my usual path and head into a new neighborhood across town.  I drove until I found the right place to park and I got out and started to walk.  It felt great to be in a new place with no plan of where I was going.  I saw beautiful houses, new people and wandered down different streets.  It was refreshing.  It’s not the familiar path that I enjoy when I’m walking, it’s the act of getting out and feeling the walk.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama

Create more joy in your life!  Find more adventures in your own backyard and have control over your happiness!  Take an inner journey to learn more about how you feel and how you respond to varied experiences without outside influences seeping in and tainting your true feelings.  Life is never going to be perfect or even how you predict it to be, but if your happiness comes from within, external circumstances can only exist around you and cannot affect your true feelings.  Take a vacation from the familiar.  Free yourself from the influences that may be seeping in to your thoughts and impacting your choices.  Take a new walk and let go of your old routine.  Change things up and you will feel the change!  Take note of how you feel and reflect on how you can use it to grow.

Instead of saying, “I’ll be happy when…..” just decide that you are going to be happy as you move through your life and work towards your goals.  You don’t have to achieve a goal to bring you to some magical happy place, start enjoying happiness NOW by enjoying the ride and appreciating your own hard work along the way.  Do something familiar in a new place, take a walk in a new neighborhood, just create a new experience for yourself.  Break free from your routine and explore how you feel.

“Life is a journey, not a destination” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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As I walked, I noticed the brick that still made up the road in this neighborhood, something I don’t see only a few miles away near my home.  I thought about the history of that brick and how the whole street must have looked that way so many years ago.  I noticed the difference in architecture on this side of town and the way the streets turned and wound around the ravines over there.  So many subtle differences right there in the same town.  After some time had gone by, I realized I was successfully able to break free from my normal, reoccurring thoughts that normally fill my head when I walk in my familiar surroundings.  I felt grateful for this break from my routine.  Where will I walk tomorrow?

This was no ordinary journey and for that I was grateful.

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Judgement Vista

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You spend time in nature and enjoy magnificent views. You hear lovely sounds and smell fresh, crisp air. The wonder of natural things replaces the burdens of everyday thinking and you are grateful. If just for a moment, or for the moments in between, you take in the beauty and feel the experience and naturally place a judgement on what you see. You decide that what you see is beautiful or strange or what you smell is refreshing or pungent. Nature is as varied as the opinions of those who enjoy it. One person may assign one judgement and another will see things with a different reasoning. None of that changes the ancient layout that has been growing and changing since the beginning of time. It is YOU that places a name, opinion or judgement on those things, nature will exist and grow regardless.

You are standing on Judgement Vista.

When you look out at nature, your judgements are most likely simple and sweet. You see the beauty, or not, and with all of your senses take in the moment and process how you feel about that scene. But, the scene itself is unchanged. What if we could see all of life and all people with the same eyes we use when we are in awe of those magnificent views? What if those breathtaking moments of awe could exist within us and we could learn to live on that vibration consistently?

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

When I look at nature and stand on MY Judgement Vista. I like to absorb the beauty and stand in awe that I am a part of it. I don’t mind feeling small and insignificant within it’s surroundings because it takes the pressure off of me to be bigger than life which is how I normally tend to feel in my world of caring for others. If I can take that simple, peaceful feeling that I feel in nature with me into my everyday world, my judgements may be lighter and have less ignorance. Maybe I can gain more perspective of how small I actually am in the scheme of things and revel in the simple things that make me happy. I often wish I could spend more of my time in nature instead of trying to channel the feeling, that would make me happier, but for now I will take it all in and refill my reserves.

Existing in judgement is natural, we need to judge lots of things all day long to keep us safe and healthy. We judge whether or not it’s safe to cross the street and we sniff the milk to judge whether it’s still fresh enough to drink. We need to have good common sense and reasoning to get along in our daily lives. Good judgement is a quality I hope to manifest well in my daughters. Without judgement we are in danger.

We also judge each other. We either judge from a place of necessity or negativity. I judge whether or not I think people will be nice and have things in common with me when I meet them and hope to find a friend in them. I judge whether people are devoted, committed and responsible when I consider doing business with them. I judge all the time and I make an effort to do it from a place of goodness. I am only human after all, a small piece of the nature that created judgement. I place these judgements, but I do it with care and respect.

I judge myself. I consider whether my reasoning and savvy are being put to good use and I try hard to develop the wisdom it takes to use my judgement for good. I am often hard on myself with my own judgement and I try to remember to take it easy and be kind. I am a work in progress. I aim to stand on my Judgement Vista as often as I can to remind myself the true nature of things and how I can let go of negativity and be in awe of the beauty of my life. It’s healthy for me to be reminded, gently.

Moving from judgement to admiration of people and situations just as I am when I look out on a beautiful scene of nature is what I hope to accomplish more often than not. Those same people who receive our judgement are also creations of nature and are imperfect just like us, and imperfectly perfect just like that scene in nature.

I hope I have made you as happy as you’ve made me. I hope I can judge you gently and you can see me through eyes that have visited YOUR Judgement Vista. Because if you judge me with eyes that have not yet looked out at your world with awe and gratitude, then I choose to acknowledge your judgement and release it. It doesn’t serve me and it doesn’t serve you for me to receive it.

“When you delete critics and fault-finders from your life, good things will start to happen to you, and it won’t be a coincidence.” ~Art Jonak

The Long and Winding Road

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You embark on a journey and it fills you up and teaches you more than you ever thought possible.  This is the stuff of myths and fairy tales born from real life heros and explorers.  You ask the tough questions and seek the true answers.  You absorb the result no matter how energizing or shocking they may be because it’s better to know and grow than wonder and stay stagnant.  Along the way we make discoveries that we may not fully process until a later point in the journey.  The journey is never over, so I won’t say we process our experiences at the end.  This is an ongoing, beautiful movement through our life.  We are all on a journey, we all have a path.  Learning to be at peace with your life’s path will bring you just that, peace.  You have the power to interpret your journey and take action to make it serve you.  Be your own hero.  Live a beautiful life.

Then you reach the part of the journey where you have gone through vital self discovery and realize you want to make changes.  Maybe you feel like life and details are in the way and you are tethered to certain routines and will have to get crafty to make these changes.  But the changes are possible, anything is possible and change is good.

“How you spend your days is how you spend your life” – Annie Dillard.  For me, creating and basking in happy days is ultimately the only choice.  Though we may have to work hard to self discover and manage our findings, the task is well worth the struggle no matter how enjoyable or painful those outcomes may prove to be.  There are times you discover things that challenge you or take your breathe away.  It’s all in how you see those things and how you take action that make the difference.

This life is truly a long and winding road, and my life is made up of so many varied experiences and truths, but the truth I hold most dear and cannot breathe without is the belief that all of this hard work will continue to lead me on a beautiful, happy journey.

“I think a spiritual journey is not so much a journey of discovery.  It’s a journey of recovery.  It’s a journey of uncovering your own inner nature.  It’s already there.”  -Billy Corgan

Picture Perfect

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The most beautiful moments in life are frozen in time.  Maybe they live as a perfect picture on paper or in your memory.  And, even though we may feel melancholy as we remember those times, they are never really over.  Memories melt into our existence and give us peace and hope of living more beautiful moments.

When you can see your beauty, strength and potential in the eyes of another, possibility and hope abound.  The present is a creation built from the past and future.  Memories and moments play like an old movie in my head.  I am the joyful, lone movie goer in a big, empty theater while I remember…. and I’m grateful.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss

From our experiences we hold souvenirs and meticulously incorporate them into our trinkets on a shelf and they become part of our story.  Maybe we wear them around our neck or tuck them into a pocket and carry them with us as a reminder.  We look at them, touch them, turn them over and over in our hands to incorporate tangible senses into our remembering.  The story of my life is told on the shelves and walls of my house as well as live in my heart.  Those souvenirs remind you that those memories actually happened, the story is written and will stay with you.  Some of the best memories are the ones you didn’t know you were creating at the time, they come from life flowing around you and letting yourself fall in love with that moment without even realizing it’s happening.

Life may happen between those moments, but those moments are the magic.  I live for picture perfect times like that.  But, it’s the past and no one can live there.  We move on to the next phase and wait for new moments and memories to find us.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” – LP Hartley

Create moments, gather memories and live your life as if you are walking through a garden.

 

photo above was taken by me on a picture perfect morning

I Love A Rainy Night

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When I wake up on a rainy, summer day, I don’t feel down or blah, I see it as a day to change things up.  I welcome the sweet smell of fresh rain and the sound of it tapping on my window.  I love letting the kids run into the grass barefoot and feel the rain all around them.  It’s fun to get soaked on your way into the house when you have no where to go and can just giggle and undress and put on cozy, dry clothes and relax.  No kids, we don’t really need an umbrella, just run through the rain and enjoy!

Yes, we waited patiently through a winter of polar vortex weather and being stuck inside during frigid days too cold to enjoy the mountains of snow pilling up outside our window for more than 20 minutes at a time out of fear of frost bite.  And yes, I love waking up to the sun and feeling it kiss my skin when I take my first steps outside in the morning, it makes me smile.  I like watering my garden and wearing sandals instead of shoveling snow from my car and maneuvering around big, bulky coats and boots for so many days during the winter.  But, too much of anything, including sunshine, can be overload.  Even when it’s raining I can still see the sunshiny smiles of my kids when they look to me to fill the day with new activities and adventures.

I enjoy twists and turns in my daily life, they keep things interesting.  Relaxing into a comfortable routine can satisfy some and seem mundane to others.  Everyone has a different idea of what they would like to get out of each day.  Some plan and plan and need to know what’s around each turn.  Some flitter around taking things as they come.  No matter what your personality demands, stop and consider if what you are creating is serving you.  Try a little change and see how it feels, see if it pleases you.  Stability is still good, it provides us with the things we need, the money to pay for the things we need and the comforts that we choose to enjoy.  Just consider stepping out of that “comfort zone” and experiment with a new path.  You can always go back to your routine.

For me, there are still shells to collect on the beach when it’s cloudy and much singing to do in the rain.  There is something romantically scary about listening to a thunderstorm while laying in your bed in the middle of the night.  And, when the sun peeks through after a day of rain and shines so brightly for you to enjoy, the feeling is like laughter through tears if you let it be.  It’s all in your perspective when you wake up to a rainy morning.

 

 I Love A Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbit

Well I love a rainy night

I love a rainy night

I love to hear the thunder

Watch the lightning

When it lights up the sky

You know it makes me feel good

Well I love a rainy night

It’s such a beautiful sight

I love to feel the rain

On my face

To taste the rain on my lips

In the moonlight shadow

Showers wash

All my cares away

I wake up to a sunny day

‘Cause I love a rainy night

Yes I love a rainy night

A Father’s Love

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Thanks Dad, for your generosity, support and open mind.  You’ve taught me to be my own person and that it’s alright to be exactly who you are no matter who you are with.  You are a unique being and you make life interesting!  And, you make being a father and grandfather cool!

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Thanks Paul, for giving our girls a dad who can be fun and also tend to their every need.  They are lucky to have a dad and a “mate” like you!

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” —Anne Geddes

Happy Father’s Day!

Inquire Within

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I woke up feeling reflective and distracted this morning, so I took a ride over to my favorite spot down by the lake.  I used to go down there when I was a kid.  From the minute I got my driver’s license, I would hop in my car and head straight to my spot.  I used to bring my lunch down there during high school.  So for 24 years, this spot has been my quick escape right in my own “backyard”.  I have many treasured memories sitting with close friends at this spot catching up, reflecting, or just sitting and enjoying the view.

So what was on my mind this morning?  Why was I so distracted?  Love.

Over the 24 years I’ve been going to that spot by the lake, love has meant different things to me.  I’ve gone down there to think about friends, boyfriends, and even family but now I just went down there to think about love.  Just love in general.  I thought about the many kinds of love I have experienced since I started visiting the beach.  At first, there was my first love… mmmmm …. and the love of friends getting to know what life is all about.  Later, I learned about the love between a mother and child from both sides, the love of a husband and wife, the love between two girl friends as a kid and as an adult, and the love between myself and other moms as we enjoy this wild ride together just to name a few.  And, over the last few years, I’ve gotten far more familiar with my own love for myself.  And now, I realize that my sensitivity to my own ideas about love is really the only kind of love that actually exists.  As Byron Katie tells us, the important thing is “loving what is”.  The rest is what we believe is conjured up by others and sent our way.  We interpret that “love” and create a story around it.

The only thing with more optimistic power than love is the idea of “tomorrow”, the idea of what is to come.  To feel genuine love for another and feel the promise of that love being there tomorrow is no less than magnificent.  What I understand now is that my love for myself will be there tomorrow, and always.  It is a striking reason to continue this journey of finding more ways to fall deeper in love with myself.  It also inspires me to find ways to feel confident in my love of my friends and loved ones and their love for me.  “Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.”  -Byron Katie

My heartfelt wish for myself and for everyone is to feel and experience non-judgmental, unconditional, mind blowing love in every way possible in your life.  Whether it be from your dog, your lover or your mother, breathe in all the love in your life and breathe out delight.  Just be sure you continue to inquire within for the love of yourself.  Every bit of love that you experience is the result of how you perceive love, no one can give you love, you simply feel what is in your own heart.  “Peace doesn’t require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.” -Byron Katie

“Love” is one of my favorite songs by John Lennon, but the only line in the song that really needs to be sung is the last one.

“Love”

Love is real, real is love

Love is feeling, feeling love

Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love

Love is reaching, reaching love

Love is asking to be loved

Love is you

You and me

Love is knowing

we can be

Love is free, free is love

Love is living, living love

Love is needed to be loved

-John Lennon

photo above was taken at Park Ave Beach

Unapologetically, Authentically You

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Living an authentic life means not being afraid to be your true self.  Authentic people embrace and respect what exists and make no excuses for not riding on the bandwagon.  An intention to be authentic may be enough to get you started, and being brave enough to uncover what that looks like for your life is a noble stride toward making peace with your life’s path.  To be authentic means that you don’t look to others to assess experiences, make a choice or feel an emotion.  You let it flow and accept what naturally spills from your heart as true.  Being a keen observer of your authenticity will make you understand your journey and yourself.

Being authentic in a relationship is possible when you are being true to yourself. Hiding what you feel will hinder others from loving you for who you are.  If you are consistently you, others can consistently love who you truly are.  What a lovely thought, and what a lovely experience.  Imagine spending your day being absolutely true to who you are and being sincerely loved for it…..

“Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss

Accepting yourself as exactly who you are is empowering and freeing!  Start with forgiving yourself for your past.  Everything that has happened up until now made you the person you are today.  Without each day of that existence you could not be the person you are now.  Express gratitude for every lesson those past versions of yourself have endured and realize that you are smarter and more schooled than all of the past versions of yourself.  When you go easy on prior versions of yourself and allow the present version of you to benefit from the past, those fundamental life lessons begin to serve your life education instead of break your stride.  Let the past contribute to a breakthrough, not a breakdown.

A quiet, uninterrupted mind will reveal simple truths about yourself.  What do you think about when you wake up in the morning?  Before the world and technology shifts your thoughts and invades your head space, what and who comes to mind?

Do you know how to be yourself?  Can you experience it?  What if the YOU in your quiet moments could be the YOU that moves around in the world?  Would that make you happy?  Would that bring you peace?  I often wonder how much of a mask people hide behind and how much they let themselves just be.  Varying degrees of authenticity depending on the setting, people around you and your comfort level in a situation is such hard work.  Are you constantly playing a role or are you living authentically?  Can you stay connected to your vital relationships genuinely or do you feel like there are rules to follow and guidelines to adhere to?  Why do we over complicate things?  What if we could just simply be….

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves.  Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” – Steve Maraboli

Waldo image from Google Images

40, Fierce and Fabulous!

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Major milestone baby!  I’m 40 today!  The best part of turning 40 is that I have no idea how 40 is supposed to feel because I don’t feel a day over 20…. ok maybe 30.  I admit the daunting feeling that a big change was coming was hard to ignore recently, but there is no point in resisting time because it just keeps going.  I’m starting to gain a new respect for time.

A woman before she is 40 is like a fruit hanging and ripening on a tree.  Many young people go on and on about how old and mature and all-knowing they are, but it’s not until you get a bit older that you realize how dumb and immature and actually senseless you have been and still are about most things in life.  Embrace the unknowing and go out and explore!  You go from anxiously waiting to be plucked from that tree to wanting to hang out there as long as you can and enjoy it.  The next stage will come when it’s time, no reason to rush it along because you can’t change time.  What you can do is embrace change, ride the wave, and throw out your mini skirts!  40!

It took me a long time to realize how much there was that I didn’t know.  That realization has taken me from being a seeker to being a finder, it’s slowed me down and it’s given me a true north.  Having a journey to look back on helps me to understand some of my choices and encourages me to mindfully step into the future knowing that all I can do is try my best to be at peace with my life’s path.

I’m 40, I’m fierce and it’s fabulous!!  Embrace your place in life, you’ll be happy you did!

Dear Maya Angelou

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Dear Maya,

Thank you.

With love,

Jamie

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

Join The Mindful Revolution

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First we saw a rise in society’s belief in physical fitness and we are now seeing a rise in the attention paid to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Just as you began to see variation in attendees of exercise classes and gyms, now you see a complete mixed bag of people who attend yoga and meditation classes.  Even science is standing behind the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  Just as people are encouraged to exercise, the trend is moving also toward people incorporating mindfulness and meditation practice into their daily life for the benefit of their overall wellbeing.  You can spend hours, days, and years exercising to attain the body you want, but in 30 minutes of meditation you can be leaps and bounds closer to a calm, peaceful mind.

We live in an age of RIGHT NOW and sometimes change takes time, so I’m not surprised to hear frustration from people wanting to see changes from their effort right away.  But, like a beautiful garden, these things take time.  Plant the seeds, nurture them and be patient for what is to come, it will be worth it.  Consider being open to what is available and abundant around you instead of fighting against your circumstance and constantly looking for what you WANT.  Many of us already have what we need, but we have to learn to need it.  Feel gratitude for what you have, the lessons you’ve learned and for what is to come that is still unknown.  The power to manifest the things that you desire is true.  It all begins with exercising your ability to calm your mind and listen to your truth.

One way to begin your path to emotional and spiritual wellbeing is to start practicing mindfulness.  The goal of being mindful is to be present without judgement.

Challenge: Pick an activity that you do regularly and make a commitment to perform it mindfully.  That means make an intention to be present in the activity and only focus on the actual act of performing that task.  If thoughts begin coming in, gently acknowledge them and then swiftly escort them out.  Some possible activities are showering, doing the dishes, taking a walk, riding a horse, driving a well traveled route, putting on your makeup, shaving.  Breathe, connect with the present moment and keep that moment real and free of external static.  This can be considered a first step toward a meditation practice.  Meditation would be doing this same mindful act without the activity.  So, begin with practicing mindfulness during an activity and move forward from there.

“Mindfulness is like that—it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

photo courtesy of jade from morguefile.com

Discovering my Om

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Meditation has been a vibrating part of my journey and has shown itself in many forms.  Whether it falls to the background and lays silent or resonates loudly, I constantly feel the presence of Om and all I have learned about it’s value which reflects no beginning or end and embraces all things.  The quest for a quiet mind and a mindful existence can be elusive at times and a calm partner in others.

Many have mentioned to me that they struggle with the idea of meditation and the thought of sitting still in silence for long periods of time.  This is when I refer them to the Zen Proverb “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day, unless you’re too busy.  Then you should sit for an hour.”  It’s about shifting your mindset from being busy to having priorities.  There is always a choice.

When I began meditating, I was told to imagine a white room and as thoughts came into my head acknowledge them as if they entered through one door and then escort them out another door on the opposite side of the room.  In the beginning, I remember thinking:

“I am sitting here all alone in this imagined room with all of these thoughts!”

As I sat in meditation that became:

“I am here in this room with my thoughts.”

As I sat more and more often that evolved to:

“I am here in this room” 

and then:

“I am here”

Eventually, I was able to get to:

“I am”

and now I feel like I am approaching

“Om”.

Tonight I attended a Gong Meditation Bath with Gong Spirit along side some of my close friends.  It was nice to sit in silent awe of these ancient therapeutic sounds with every frequency tapping into different parts of my meditation.  I sank deep, and I appreciated the time.  I feel a major difference when I sit in silence and when I meditate with sound.  The gong is a stress reliever and a mood enhancer.  My body had a natural calming response from the first sound.  Time had no meaning, there was no time and plenty of time.  The sound of the gong is at once a driving force and a calming lull.  A gamut of emotions are experienced, confusion comes into focus.

All too often we jump to a conclusion or make a snap decision or judgement.  The next time you have the opportunity to make a move in the game of life, try meditation.  Your final result may be a more relaxed response to your true self.  For this lesson from the gong I am grateful.

photo taken on a meditation walk in Sarasota, Florida

Mother’s Day Gratitude

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Into every life a few spirits enter whose impact are not easily put into words.  Their gentleness can leave a lasting impression on our soul.  I consider myself fortunate to have met a handful of these folks on my journey.  But, the first one who guided me with a gentle hand and a strong model to follow was my beautiful mother.  She is a valuable, generous friend and a wise guide to those around her.  Among the many lessons I have learned from her, the ones that first come to mind are to always pay attention to the needs of those around you, treat everyone as equals, and be kind, patient and loving to yourself and those who love you.  She will never apologize for her imperfections, which gives those of us around her license to be less than perfect as well.  She doesn’t see people as having flaws, but as being more of a work in progress with her being their biggest supporter to succeed in spite of whatever life throws their way.  It is this mindset and this view of life that has made me who I am and at the same time launched me into a life of knowing that I can become the best version of myself, though still knowing that who I am today is just fine with her.  It is with that bit of steady confidence that I have been able to go gracefully on this journey.

Thank you mom, for being who you are and making me who I am.  Knowing that you love me just the way I am makes me want to be a better woman.  Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

photo above is of my beautiful parents whom I love very much!

My Version of Eat, Pray, Love

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With a mindful attempt at focusing on my heart-mind connection, I set off on my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except mine was more Spa, Solace, Family.  Along the way, I got a chance to settle into a few versions of myself that I normally don’t get to enjoy.  At home, “me time” normally lasts a few hours at most and is spent in the aisles of the grocery store or meeting a friend for coffee.  The luxury of unwinding and relaxing into myself was a welcomed gift.  I was hoping to mindfully direct attention toward some of my less attended to “parts” that had been neglected for far too long.  I needed to find balance, I needed to find harmony.  I was lacking the sense of wholeness that yields happiness and like the tin man waiting impatiently rusting in the field, my parts needed to be oiled.  During three recent and varied journeys, I was able to enjoy and reflect on how variation and taking a break can help you reflect and achieve balance.

My first journey took me to Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona where I was able to enjoy a bit of pampering and spiritual growth along side two wonderful girlfriends and a few other amazing ladies we met along the way.  It was an inspirational few days spent among the red rocks enjoying hiking, massages, chakra balancing, meditation, and even a bath of milk and honey.  I had time to do some beneficial spiritual reflection and left feeling light and energized, ready to get back to my life with a sense of desire to apply what I had discovered to my daily life.  Interesting that some time away from my life brought me a keener sense of reality.

The next leg of my journey took me out of the red rocks and into Phoenix where I dropped off my traveling companions and checked myself into a beautiful hotel in Scottsdale to spend some time alone.  I got to catch up with a few close friends, but this time was about going inside and staying within myself for a change.  I didn’t know how much I had needed this time alone until I took it and the balance it gave me was both welcomed and surprising.  Sometimes it’s not clear where the balance will come from or where the pieces will fit until you gently let them fall at you and find their place.  Letting go and following the flow has it’s own quiet calm, like watching water rise and fill crevices and trusting and knowing that it knows just where to go.

A week later I was off on yet another vacation to relax as a family and let my daughters spend some quality time with their grandparents in Florida.  A different type of trip completely where I was reminded that having us all together is what life is all about.  Family is love and love is family.

From these three experiences, I felt balance.  I see the need for all of these kinds of escapes to recharge and gain momentum in different ways.  Finding this kind of balance has been a missing part of my self-care, and I plan to explore more ways to get out of my comfort zone and take a little more time for myself.  I’ve been shown that a bit of true “me time” is good for my balanced soul.  There is a fine line between self-care and being selfish and the debate continues over where that line exists.  The truth is that it looks different for everyone and getting to know yourself and your needs make that line clear as day.  It’s possible to find solace and pockets of time to recharge and reflect reasonably within your own life, but getting out of your life and having new experiences always presents the opportunity for added perspective.  And, though the true definition of balance may literally mean ‘even distribution’, sometimes just a bit of divergence can lead to a major shift and provide the balance you need.

photo taken at Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona

It’s Not Easy Being Zen

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Finding and keeping your balance means existing with a connection between your heart and your mind.  When what you desire and what you consciously believe are in harmony, you have peace.  Balance is a fickle, tricky ongoing orchestra of moving parts and effort.  Having balance leads to being happy.  Happiness is having a sense of wholeness, that all your parts have enough attention and love.  Like mothering multiple children, all of your many parts need attention and kindness in different ways.  Each part needs and deserves your undivided, mindful attention and energy to attend to it’s needs of the moment.  But in this busy life, it’s hard to find the time to focus on ourselves let alone separate that time out into finding time to attend to each part of ourselves.  So, balance often remains elusive, but with some reflection you can achieve congruence in heart and mind.

The more you have piled on your shoulders, the harder it is to achieve balance.  Whether weighed down by obligation or caught up in unfounded theories behind why life has handed you certain challenges, a good way to regain balance is to begin by figuratively and literally putting it all down to consider what you need.  Imagine an overly cluttered room.  In your mind, remove every bit of furniture, artwork, clutter, anything in that room to get down to a bare space where you can begin again.  Mindfully refurnish that room with only the things that you need and desire.  How did that room feel before?  How does it feel now?  Which room would you rather live in?

Finding balance may be easiest when you don’t try so hard.  I struggled and stretched inside my box and felt trapped and limited, but when I unplugged and left it all behind for a while I took some meaningful steps farther down my path.  A few recent getaways did the trick.  I took some “me time”.  Now that I’m back from my version of Eat, Pray, Love (blog post coming soon) I feel recharged and ready to step back into my daily routine with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.  Everyone needs a break from their worries and in coming back to life with a clear head we are better able to find our balance.

After taking some time to separate out and care for my parts that needed attention I feel better.  When I let go and let life flow I realize how much unfounded theory I attach to many of my thoughts.  When I unplugged from my routine, my mind was more willing to loosen it’s grasp on those stressful patterns and simply see and accept things for what they truly are.  Instead of living with disharmony, I am able to feel the ease and lightness of a bit more peace.

I put a lot of effort into moving through life more effortlessly…. I see the irony now.  I need to loosen my grip even on that.  Feeling more peace is so much different than searching for it.  There is a significant shift from swimming vigorously upstream to letting yourself float quietly downstream.  The universe still embodies the same flow whether I fight against it or not.

photo above is of my new friend Ken, the frog of karma and zen

Out Loud

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Sometimes I hate being right.  The moment the Audiologist confirmed my suspicion, I knew this was one of those times.  I’m not sure if it was the ringing sound that seems to keep getting louder and more distracting or noticing that I am constantly saying “what?” to friends and family that made me talk to the doctor, but when I finally said it out loud, my assumption was confirmed.  I have to say, I’m still in shock really.  Having worked as a Sign Language Interpreter for 16 years, I never considered that at some point I would be the one with the hearing loss.  So, I guess you could say this is some crazy irony.

My first thoughts went to my heathy body parts.  I’m grateful for things like my strong knees and my healthy organs.  I’m grateful to be approaching 40 this year at a healthy BMI and good cholesterol and all that.  So, all things considered, I’m happy about my body and I remain thankful for how it carries me through life.  But, my hearing…. Not something I ever considered before, I simply just took it for granted.  Even after spending a good portion of my life studying Deaf Culture, Sign Language and enjoying many friendships with people whom I communicate with solely in ASL (American Sign Language) did I ever consider how a hearing loss would impact me personally.  Seeing words written on paper like “hearing loss” and “possible irreversible nerve damage” and finding out that the situation can actually worsen impacted me deeply.  My mind has gone to where a hearing loss would effect me as far as my children are concerned.  That above all else is what concerns me the most.  Will I be able to hear them call for help?  Will I hear them cry out in the night?  I’m used to being able to use this sense, it’s disarming to have it taken from you.

Other changes I notice are with music and communicating with friends and family.  I notice it during tennis lessons, while watching television, during dinner conversations, and in a noisy restaurant.  If I’m talking to someone and they turn away or leave the room I know I’m in trouble.  I had to turn on the closed captions to watch a movie on the airplane during my last couple flights to catch more of the words.  It was amazing how much more relaxed I felt after I did that.  I hadn’t noticed how hard I had been straining to understand speech.  This has all been happening over the last year or so, but when that audiologist confirmed it last week it was as if a series of snapshots played in my head over and over reminding me of all the times I had suspected this about myself before I actually said it out loud.  And now here it is, out loud.

I think we have more than five senses.  Our physical senses may be taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing, but we have so many more.  Consider our additional senses such as our sense of gratitude, our sense of humor, our sense of wonder and all of the senses that we all need to complete this experience in life.  You can experience these other senses without all of the main body senses.  You don’t need to necessarily touch, taste, or smell something to experience it’s sense of wonder….  I don’t need to hear every bit of a song anymore to still feel gratitude for it.  So I’m going beyond my five original senses to discover more senses to explore since there is so much more to life.  I’ll be able to adapt to this new challenge, but it may take some getting used to.

I Will, I Wish

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We set goals all the time. Short term goals, long term goals, realistic goals and goals that keep us moving through each day with a purpose. Goals move our feet in the right direction when they often want to veer off onto the wrong path…. Setting goals can keep you grounded, but being realistic and not overzealous with your goal setting will serve you best in the end.

Dreams…… ahhhh dreams….. it’s just as important to dream as it is to be serious and accomplish goals. You could reach your goals with a staircase built one step at a time, but you should have to sprout wings and fly to your dreams…..they should be that far off and exciting! Look way off in the distance at what you wish for….. But, give as much energy to those thoughts as you do to your grounded goal setting thoughts. They are just as important and should demand just as much attention. If you remember the difference and devote the right amount of time and energy to both, they will serve each other and provide balance for you.

And, when dreams float down close to you and you can finally build your staircase to reach up and touch them, then do it! Like catching a butterfly, enjoy watching your dreams float beautifully around you until the time is right to swing your net. Just know that some dreams are better left to fly free and be admired.

Serenity Prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Whatever it is that you do, run toward what you want, and thank your healthy body for carrying you there. Praise your strong will for guiding you during the times when you wanted to give up. Envision the body and life that you want and need. You are the person in your dreams, just catch up and enjoy! Even if we dream about perfection, our goals should be geared toward the best we can accomplish. And, be kind to yourself…..nobody’s perfect.

You May Say I’m a Dreamer

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Dreams are romantic, bigger than life, and sometimes they come true. When we dream, we let our minds play like children in a field of perfect grass, running and skipping in the warm sunshine.  Dreaming is letting your mind wander through the notes and lyrics of a soothing song that takes you back to your childhood or a particularly endearing time in your life.  Dreaming can catapult you into an imagined future filled with potential successes or fairy-tale reveries.  Floating and gliding through a tranquilizing contemplation can be a saving grace.  It can lift your spirits.  Everyone needs to dream.  Dreaming motivates us to keep going and to become better people.

But, we also need to set goals.  There is quite an important difference between a dream and a goal.  Not every dream is meant to become reality, but a goal is a clear and meaningful intention meant to come to fruition.  So, it’s important to spend time and energy putting goals down on paper and deciding how you will reach those goals.  At the same time, allow your mind to spend some time dreaming and playing and creating without worrying how to bring every thought to fruition.  Create a clear line in your thinking.  Knowing and realizing which plans demand your undivided, serious attention and which should occupy your free time is a distinction that can mean the difference between being well prepared and level headed and being frazzled and unsure of how to head down your path.  The key is balance, and balance is the key.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” -John Lennon

above photo courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

Positive Habits for the New Healthy

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We all want to live a happy, healthy life, and these days it’s becoming possible to live healthier and happier even longer than ever before.  Making changes in our daily habits can make all the difference, but that may mean stepping outside of our mental comfort zones.  I remember watching my Grandfather “Papa Roger” as he got older.  He lived to 93, but it was very clear that he became pretty uncomfortable in the last part of his life.  I wish that he could’ve had more years of comfort and better function.  If he had changed his habits early in his life, he may have been able to get some more life out of all those years.  The choices we make early in life and the habits we create will decide the quality of our later years.

Often we have to make change to develop positive habits and change is transformation.  Everything we do moves us closer to or farther away from our goals and ultimately the person we want to become.  Stop to consider whether a habit is serving your highest good.  When you commit to making change you are in essence parenting yourself in a meaningful, conscious way.  Be supportive, patient and nurturing with yourself, but hold yourself accountable and know that you are capable of change.  If you are completely committed then there will be no parts of you left to self-sabotage.  Move at a reasonable pace and make realistic choices.  “It is better to make many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” ~Proverb

Have some self-compassion.  There is no such thing as perfect, so give yourself a break.  Don’t speak meanly to yourself, it’s important to love yourself and remember that self-sabotage is toxic.  At the same time, be sure to feel your emotions and know that talking about your feelings is like detoxing your spirit.

The new healthy embodies a wholeness of mind, body and spirit working together to create and support your best self.  Finding balance and sustaining it can be delicate and satisfying yet grueling work.  Your self-talk creates your reality and your body knows how to heal itself.  The greatest habit you can adopt is learning to relax into your body and get out of it’s way.  We all have a lot of freedom and with that freedom comes the responsibility to make positive choices.  Ultimately life is beyond our control and constantly changing.  Learning to adapt to the new idea of healthy is a good habit to develop and nurture.

photo above is of my Papa Roger in his 90’s

Love is the Answer, But I Forgot the Question

Whether it’s truly, madly, deeply or you live in a Brokedown Palace, it’s always around Valentines Day that LOVE weighs heavily on the mind. Love is a broken record echo when you don’t have what you need and the needle skips and scratches just out of reach, but the moments that it consumes you the river flows, flows, flows…. Time means nothing and everything with love. Let love define you and it can be a powerful Overlord, but let it be a part of you that exists and shines it’s light for you and it is a lucky penny in your pocket. Love is sunshine and warmth and happy tears. Love is energy, love is everlasting. Love is yours to design but also yours to destroy. Love is shared and love is protected, love is yours to find and yours to lose. Love is a snowy day or a ray of sunshine, it’s whatever you need at the moment you need it. “Love is the answer, and you know that for sure” -John Lennon.

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever.” – The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks

“Love is real, real is love” -John Lennon

(Video above “Love” by Jason Silva from his collection “The Human Condition”, a series of artful vignettes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2WVm7WDpOk)

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Circles of Love and Life

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I am many things in this life, and I feel a strong responsibility to be my best self in those roles.  Above all else, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a sister.  Family is first and family deserves your best.  When there is unrest with a member of my family it’s as though a part of my own body is not well.  When there is balance and love within my family, I feel peace.  Many refer to your family, your immediate close group around you, as your inner circle.  I cherish the symbolism of the circle and I see much symbolism connected to the circle energy of my family.

We are all human, and as humans we come from a world of circles that are reflected in our world and in our own bodies.  Our home, the earth, is round and we see the moon and sun in the sky which operate in circular cycles.  We track time on a circle, and our seasons move and rotate in a cyclical pattern.  We use a circular symbol to signify one of the most significant milestones in our society: a wedding ring.  Circles bring feelings of peace, protection and boundaries.  Even a fire which can feel angry, hot, and unpredictable can be quickly transformed by surrounding it with a circle.  A circle is sacred and represents inclusivity.

With all that we are thrown up against in this life, it is our circle of comfort and protection that we can depend on to surround us when we are out in the world and feel the pull back inside.  There are so many twists and turns that take us far outside and beyond the comforts of home and family, we can always feel a part of our inner circle no matter how far apart it’s members may physically exist.  And though we are each made up of our own circles and remain strong in our own right, it’s the journey of how we all rotate and revolve around each other that drives me to continue to become my best self.

 “Happiness Runs”

Donovan

Little pebble upon the sand

Now you’re lying here in my hand,

How many years have you been here?

Little human upon the sand

From where I’m lying here in your hand,

You to me are but a passing breeze.

The sun will always shine where you stand

Depending in which land

You may find yourself.

Now you have my blessing, go your way.

Happiness runs in a circular motion

Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.

Everybody is a part of everything anyway,

You can have everything if you let yourself be.

Happiness runs, happiness runs……

And with that we have come full circle.

Self-Care in a Toxic World

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Self-care is often mistaken for self-ish or self-centered, but I didn’t say self-indulgence now did I?  To me, self-care does not mean getting a weekly manicure or massage, but is more about finding the balance between the things that serve you and the things that cause you stress in your life.  Making sure you are eating a healthy, well balanced diet, getting enough exercise, keeping creative outlets in your life, and finding ways to relax, such as meditation and yoga, are some of the essential parts to building a life of wellness and self-care.  These parts of life are essential to your well-being and not over indulgent.  And, when we begin to care for ourselves and see health and wellness as fundamental, I believe we also begin to deepen our ability to care for others.  Being able to care deeply and in a meaningful way for others makes life better and when life is better, everything is better.

No matter how much better we feel, our world is still filled with toxins.  Toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we use and the food we eat.  Toxins are also scattered among our days in the form of negativity, gossip, and the thoughts in our own heads.  Deciding to put more focus on self-care involves being able to shed the toxins that keep us from being happy and healthy.  It’s hard to bring in the good when there is too much room being taken up by the bad.  Taking a hard look at what toxins exist inside your body and your life will help you begin to shed those toxins and avoid bringing them back into your life.

I recently hosted our first Wellness Wednesday which is a new community event created to bring like-minded people together to have conversations about wellness.  These gatherings will each focus on a different topic related to wellness and inspire people to incorporate more wellness into their daily lives.  I will personally speak about different topics that inspire and move me into action and encourage others to share their stories and journeys to wellness as well.

Our first Wellness Wednesday was an inspiring beginning to what will be an ongoing, moving gathering for those interested in enhancing their journey down a path toward wellness.  Making time for yourself is essential along this journey and gathering knowledge and meeting like-minded people along the way will help push you forward and gain momentum.  We’ve already seen several positive things come from that first meeting and I look forward with enthusiasm to continuing the journey!

Our next Wellness Wednesday will focus on HABITS: The Good, The Bad, and The Really Great!  Is it possible to be happy and make lasting changes during The Mindful Revolution we are surrounded by these days?  Yes!!  If we keep the conversation going and learn from each other, it is!

photo courtesy of fitwalk on morguefile.com

The Hero’s Journey

Be Your Own Hero: My Obsession With Jason Silva

“Be your own hero and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” -from Hero’s Journey by Jason Silva

I have a passionate obsession with artist, film maker and general mind blower Jason Silva. If you haven’t looked through his collection of short films “Shots of Awe” on YouTube then get on it! His short film above embodies his enthusiastic and contagious optimistic view of life and is an ideal example of how he makes living life to the fullest seems so obviously accessible and paramount. Of course we should be considering all of the things that make the universe the way it is and of course we should all be starving for more knowledge about how and why we have become our present selves. But, at the same time, leap forward into tomorrow with curious smiles and hungry minds full of memorized quotes of the greatest thinkers of the present and past. I admire the way he pays homage to our rich history of amazing sage scholars and masterminds and looks forward with a cheeky, bad boy grin and a savvy and wise mindset. I’m a fan in every way, but it’s how he turns me on and makes me feel so incredibly high on thinking that energizes me and leaves me wanting more insight and awareness every time I watch one of his pieces.

I get excited when he reminds me that our lives are given to us with the opportunity to turn them into a grand piece of artwork. We have the opportunity to be our own hero and expand into our highest potential. Every person we meet and everywhere we go has something to teach us, we just have to be open and ready to receive the messages that are constantly coming at us. My knees buckle when Jason mentions the idea of “Quest Physics” which was the premise behind the movie Eat, Pray, Love and presents the idea of seeing what seems like despair and hardship in your life as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. If you are capable of this, then you can become your own hero. Giving in to the mundane, living life with your head down and ignoring the ride is such a waste and waiting for someone else to come in and be your hero may leave you disappointed, or even worse, it may leave you numb.

It’s up to each one of us to shake up our lives and our perceptions. Leave the barriers of your comfort zone to see what lies beyond in order to satisfy feelings of wanderlust or a craving for the unknown, whatever it may be for you. Consider your patterns and patterns of thought and even how you process your processes. Create and reconfigure how you want your “life art” to appear in the final version of your “life reel”. We hold the brushes and we are the paint and clay makers. We are the conductors and we control the orchestra.

If you are on a quest for a hero then stop searching and realize that you can be your own hero. Breathe in your potential and breathe out a life of poetry.

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Letting The Days Go By

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Is there a “real you” trapped inside yourself somewhere waiting to be revealed? What is she like? How do we rescue her? Is she ready to be shown to the world? What keeps her hidden? Is it fear of what others think or may think of her?

If all of your attachments were severed right now, where would you go and what would you do? Just live in that space for a moment. Forget the ties that bind you to all the details in your life and give yourself the freedom to imagine a path before you with a wide open space of possibilities. In that deep breath of freedom you may reveal truths to yourself that have been hidden or denied. Our lives push us down paths in certain directions and we may end up at some points looking around and thinking about how we got there or whether or not our place in life is best serving our needs.

It may not be possible to make big sweeping changes today. It may not make sense to run into your room and throw open your suitcase and fly off at a moment’s notice. But recognizing that the course you have plotted is not where you want to be heading is a big step in the right direction. Take a moment to recalibrate your compass and consider what needs to happen to get that “real you” to come out and start living. Get yourself to a place where she feels comfortable enough to make an appearance because only then will you begin to truly love this life. When you live an authentic life, moments of peace and serenity will begin to appear and the dots will begin to connect themselves. Fill your day with what you love and what you love to do. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” -Annie Dillard. If your days are not authentic and filled with love right now, begin to consider how you might change them to reflect a day that better resembles the life you want to live. Little changes affect your day, big changes affect your life.

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Falling In Love With Yourself

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Life comes without guarantees, except that smiling will brighten your face, laughter will enhance your eyes, and falling in love will change your life – Melissa Gaug

Think about the times in your life during which you’ve made significant change. One that stands out for me, and probably many others, is falling in love. When you fall in love you make numerous changes in all parts of your life that will directly effect your immediate world, and even the world of your loved ones and closest friends. When you find “the one” it changes how you live, and sometimes where you live. You begin a process of negotiating so many big and little changes that your life becomes no longer recognizable and you are happy to see this change happening because you are in love. You do all of this in an effort to create a life filled with wonderful hopes and dreams, whatever that looks like for you. You build and you plan and it takes shape one step at a time.  Love gives you energy.  Love sustains you when you would otherwise feel low.  Love can bring you motivation when you may otherwise feel blocked.  Love can be magic, and love can change your life.

So, now, as you look at your life, fall in love……..with yourself. Be open to making those changes, both big and small for the love of yourself in an effort to make yourself happy and sustain your own wellness and motivation.  Get reacquainted with all of the things about yourself that make you feel proud, the details you enjoy sharing when they happen to come up in casual conversation.  Reignite an old passion or hobby that had been pushed to the back of the closet, or enjoy an activity that had been placed on hold for a while.  Make an effort for yourself and be mindful of the happiness it brings to you.  Do what you need to do, change whatever you need to change in an effort to bring more wellness into your life. Do it for yourself and those closest to you will feel those changes just as if you have come upon a milestone such as a new love, a wedding or a birth. Celebrate yourself and others will celebrate you!

I feel a shift happening.  Although happiness in itself is a noble goal to aim for, I believe the time has come to go beyond happiness and set our sights on bigger things.  I want to feel happy, but more than that, I have learned that I want to feel peace, and love.  There is a calm contentment in achieving a feeling of hushed zen.  A serene harmony with no hurried rush has become more attractive than a happiness high as I move along this journey.  I want to love this life, and when you fall in love with yourself, you fall in love with life!

As I get to know myself, and as I fall deeper in love with myself, my most treasured part of this journey has been the ability to enjoy times of peace when I can sit back and enjoy my new world I have built for myself as if I am spending a day at the beach enjoying the waves and sand of the ocean.  I’ve taken the time to get to know what I need, I’ve accepted who I am, what I want and I am happy with who I am becoming.  I have been able to fall in love with myself.  I respect my decisions and I enjoy the people with whom I choose to spend my time.  I see myself from the inside and also do my best to see myself from an outsider’s perspective to make sure who I am presenting to the world matches up with who I want my daughters to see moving around in the world.  I am mindful, I try to be kind, and I care how my behavior affects others.  These are the qualities that I hope for in others, so these are the attributes that I hold myself accountable for in order to continue this love affair that am enjoying so much.

I’ve made changes and I’ve made them for love……the love of my family, and the love of myself.

thanks to Desiree Beauchemin for being a lovely photo subject

10 Easy Changes That Lead to a Happier, Healthier Life!

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Now, who wouldn’t want that?  I speak from experience on this.  I have spent the last two years trying to better myself body, mind and spirit.  I realized after getting deep into this journey that I still have a long road to travel, but I have actually accomplished a few things so far.  I have picked up a lot of momentum along the way and when I stop for a breather and look back to see my progress, I’m satisfied.  I’m satisfied and motivated for more change!  So, here are 10 changes I have made that I think are quite easy to integrate into almost any lifestyle.  And here I am a happier, healthier person for having made these very changes!

  1. Drink more water!  Drink half your body weight in ounces of water everyday.  Yes, you read that right.  Try it for a week and see how much better you feel.  Better yet, try it for 30 days because that that is how long it takes to incorporate new behavior into your life.  Drinking plenty of water helps keep you hydrated inside and out.  So, if you’re looking for a way to shed that water weight and/or those fine lines and wrinkles, no magic lotions, potions or diets necessary, it’s as easy as drinking enough water everyday.
  2. Eat your breakfast!  Every morning I have to get myself and 2 children ready for school before 9am so it would be very easy to dream up an excuse for not eating breakfast.  Well, I stopped doing that and I started having a nutritionally dense protein shake every morning.  It takes me 52 seconds to prepare and even less than that to drink it and I feel much more satisfied than I used to feel leaving the house on an empty stomach.  In fact, I feel VERY satisfied!  It’s a delicious and it’s chocolate!
  3. Take your vitamins!  Even with our best efforts to eat a healthy diet, most of us do not get the necessary nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from our food.  And don’t get me started on processed foods and GMOs!  It’s very important to include the right vitamins and supplements into your diet everyday.  And, now that I’m starting my day with a protein shake full of the vitamins and minerals that my body needs, I can effectively absorb these vitamins I’m taking.
  4. Eat more organic food and use less toxic products!  I’ve seen plenty of studies showing that organic food has more nutrients and less toxins.  It’s as simple as that.  It’s all about what you value, and I value the health of my family.  I choose to spend a few extra dollars on buying certain foods organic and figure out ways to save a few dollars on other household needs.  Everyone has different priorities and that is for each family to decide.  What I put in my family’s bodies and what I use to clean our house, clothing and toys are very important to me.  I don’t mind spending a little more money on that.  It’s worth it.
  5. Stop drinking soda!  Soda is sugar water that has no nutritional value and leads to obesity and diabetes among other things.  Even drinking DIET soda doesn’t keep you safe from the many dangerous effects.  Some of the many scary side effects include an increase in fat around your liver, heart and kidney issues, muscle loss, cavities, memory loss, nerve disorders, behavioral problems, infertility, osteoporosis, accelerated aging, and worse.  And, if that’s not enough just Google all the things you can clean and dissolve with Coke.  That’s just more than enough about that.
  6. Swap your coffee for tea!  This one will ruffle some feathers, so if you insist on sticking with your coffee ritual consider switching to an organic, instant coffee and enjoying one cup with less toxins rather than a pot full of coffee that may contain toxic chemicals.  But for a moment, consider that coffee is a stimulant and effects the hormone serotonin in our brains which controls sleep, mood and appetite.  When you put a chemical into your body that regulates these things, you impede the body’s natural ability to do so.  It will also effect your hunger signals and contribute to that late afternoon slump.  So, take all of this into consideration when you decide how important coffee is to your daily routine and remember that Starbucks also sells tea.
  7. Discover adaptogens!  Stress on your body and your mind has become a regular part of life in today’s world.  The fight or flight instinct that we all have has become overused and worn thin.  We all experience stress and we all search for a way to successfully manage it.  Adaptagenic herbs help your body balance stress related demands such as impatience, anxiety and irritability.  Calm your nerves and reduce the impact of stress with drinks that have these properties.  The ones that have worked for me are Ionix Supreme and t+Chai both made by Isagenix.
  8. Keep snacking!  Keep your blood sugar and insulin levels stable and stop yourself from eating too much at your main meals by consuming small amounts throughout the day.  Remember to keep your calorie intake at a reasonable level.  Eating more often doesn’t mean that you should eat MORE.  Grazing throughout the day should be in a mindful way and with regulation.  Done properly, a balanced day of eating can lead to a healthier diet and leaner body.
  9. Forget perfection!  If you strive to be perfect you are doomed to fail.  Give yourself a break.  I do my best to eat healthy, organic meals and live a healthy lifestyle, but nobody is perfect.  I live by the 80% good and 20% not-so-perfect rule.  If I’m tempted by something I don’t have to beat myself up for saying yes.  Everything in moderation.
  10. Think happy thoughts!  When you join The Optimist’s Club you will enjoy less depression, better coping skills, increased life span, greater resistance to the common cold, and lower levels of distress.  Gain a better understanding of positive self-talk and change your world!  Self-talk is the stream of chatter that runs through your head.  Make your thoughts more positive and enjoy a more positive outlook on life.  Reduce stress with more positivity to yield amazing health benefits.  It’s that easy and you have complete control over your thoughts.  Give it a try!  To successfully incorporate all of these things into your life all you need is the desire and motivation to be well!  I have been able to achieve this and I know you can to!  Get in touch with me to learn more about getting well and staying well!!      drakejamie@mac.com 

Developing and Calibrating Your Life Compass

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Finding your due north and setting out on your life’s path can be a daunting task.  It’s important to consider how you want that compass to guide you.  Understand that if your compass is sturdy and calibrated correctly, no matter what obstacles you encounter, the directions cannot be denied.  Your inner compass can guide you through hard times and has the ability to guide you home.

As with anything, things don’t always stay the same and may need to be adjusted and tinkered with from time to time.  A well calibrated and cared for compass may only need a slight re-calibration once in a while, just as a well kept piano only needs a slight tuning every so often.  But leave it ignored and over time that compass can point way off course and confuse even the most skilled navigator.  It’s up to each of us to make sure our due north stays true and strong by whatever means speaks to you.

Our society often attributes success to financial freedom and corporate status.  So, for a moment let’s just use those guidelines as a way to map out the importance of developing strong mental focus and strength.  One of the most successful entrepreneurs of his generation, Jim Rohn, said that “if you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself, you can make a fortune.”  So, even by the standards of the business world, it is important to have a strong sense of self and develop who you are and what you stand for.

For years we have known the importance of caring for our bodies and making sure we are healthy, but recently it seems the world is waking up to the possibility that it is just as imperative to strengthen our minds and develop our identities.  It’s not uncommon or out of the mainstream anymore for people to spend a great deal of time practicing yoga or developing a regular practice of meditation.  Quiet your mind and listen to your inner voice to learn how you view the world and where your own due north lies.  In the quiet is where you find the answers.  In the stillness is where you seek more questions.

“As a solid rock is not shaken by a strong gale, so wise persons remain unaffected by praise or censure.” -Buddha  Spend time developing your life compass.  Take the time and energy to craft it as if it means everything.  It just may steer you right someday.

photo courtesy of dieraecherin from morguefile.com

Be Grateful

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I’m the happy host of Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I have thankfully taken over this holiday and hope to continue to host for years to come.  I love the possibility of turning the actual tradition and legacy of this bloody, depressing holiday on it’s ear and giving it a renewed, hopeful boost.  I aim to make it all about being thankful and showing gratitude and all but ignore the real reason for the holiday.  My kids will learn about that in school.  At my thanksgiving table we will celebrate each other and the things we are thankful for while we fill ourselves with delicious food that we are grateful to be eating.

As I decorated my table for 17 with flowers and candles and such, I realized something was missing.  So, I gathered several of my favorite gratitude quotes and printed them on nice paper and carefully placed them around the table.  As I placed them, I realized that the quotes told a story.  So here they are, and here is the story they have to tell.  Some I was able to attribute to people and some have just been tossed around for so long that  I’m not sure who originally said them, but all ring true and all bear repeating.  And for all of this, I am grateful…

Start each day with a grateful heart.

I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have, for the journey that I’m on and to relish each day as a gift. ~James McGreevey

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.

Someone else is happy with less than what you have.

The root of joy is gratefulness.  ~David Steindl-Rast

The happiest people do not have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. ~Melody Beattie

It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.

Gratitude unlocks the fulfillment of life. ~Melody Beattie

Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind. ~George Simmel

What are you grateful for today?

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Healing Crisis

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When you realize that you’ve been sleeping, and until now you haven’t quite had the awareness that you have now, there comes a moment that your eyes may open quickly, maybe a bit wider than usual, and you are finally more awake than you’ve been in a long time. You hear sounds more acutely, see things in deeper focus, and smell scents that you may have missed just moments before. The world has opened up. You’ve become more aware. How did you miss this before? What was I doing without this perception?

It may seem euphoric at first. Thoughts come flooding in about the things that you’ve overlooked and all the things you can achieve with this new sense of wonder and curiosity.  So much to say and do!  And it may last for a while… But just as suddenly as the realization hit you, the same type of understanding may lead you to another apprehension. Maybe it’s all too much. Change is difficult and your body and spirit may process this as it would a traumatic event. Transition can be difficult and growing pains can hurt. Bringing in something new means getting rid of the old. A spiritual and emotional cleanse can happen in different ways for different people. I liken this to a good cry. But for change to happen, a shift must occur. A spiritual cleansing can be good for the soul, but it can hit hard.

When you cleanse the physical body of toxins, some people experience a healing crisis.  Their symptoms worsen before they improve. This can be scary and uncomfortable, but it can lead to a release of years worth of impurities that had been stored within the body and finally released. After you recover from this, you begin to truly feel the benefits.  Sticking with your commitment to bringing your body into balance can bring a new sense of accomplishment and wellness that often motivates people to continue to bring in more positive changes. The reward is a refreshing feeling of a cleansed, healthy body and is worth the effort and stamina it takes to achieve. Experiencing new life regimens can lead to feelings that you are breaking down or losing control, but if you view this time in your life as an opportunity for continued positive change than you will more likely see it as a break through.

Flushing toxins from your body can have distressing temporary side effects, but can bring about many positive long term changes. The same goes for the release of toxic emotional and spiritual beliefs that can bring on an awakening for people who often times didn’t realize they were lost or sleeping. Dealing with a crisis brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. It’s not until we are faced with a challenge that we often have the opportunity to get reacquainted with our true selves.

Photo courtesy of hotblack from morguefile.com

Discovering Yugen

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Yugen is an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.  Yugen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art in Japan.  It values the power to evoke rather than the ability to state directly.  The principle of Yugen shows that real beauty exists when, through it’s suggestiveness, only a few words, or brush strokes, can suggest what has not been said or shown, and hence awaken many inner thoughts and feelings.  “Yugen is to watch the sun sink behind a flower-clad hill, to wander on and on in a huge forest without thought of return, to stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands, to contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.” (urbandictionary.com)

The concept of Yugen suggests that true beauty lives in the moments of life in between the grand gestures of greatness and is found in the subtle, yet suggestive efforts that can evoke emotion beyond words.  Those fleeting times that take your breath away and remind you that life has depth beyond our awareness.  These times give us hope and courage to move forward and inspire the promise of more Yugen yet to come.  These moments are my muse.

From what I can tell there is no exact English counterpart for this word.  I believe it can be compared to being in awe of something or feeling a state on enlightenment.  An experience of Yugen is meant to define a moment of true bliss involving a profound sense of beauty.  For me, this type of experience evokes a reflective state when I can summon provoking concepts for further study.  I liken it also to a song that brings you right back to a moment in time or a smell that snaps you into an altered state.  Yugen should be celebrated as a natural high and a unique opportunity to marvel at the rare moments in our lives when we are lucky enough to witness nature’s true unaltered beauty, or just the intricate artistry of life.  There are beautiful things all around us, though we don’t see them everyday or even often enough.  But when you open your eyes to possibilities of finding more Yugen in your life, then more Yugen will appear.  You can’t find something you’re not looking for, and anything in this life that gives rise to feelings of such splendor is worth the endeavor.

Life is short and it is our only true job to enjoy it.  Claw to the top of the mountain and know that when you get there you will be able to stand in awe of the Yugen you have found and the Yugen you have created.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Photo courtesy of keyseeker on morguefile.com

The Awakening

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About 2 years ago I felt a spiritual awakening begin to happen within myself.  The process has led to many changes in my life including a change in career and a complete shift in my physical body.  At times I’ve been surprised by what I’ve discovered and other times even delighted at what I’ve been able to learn from all of this.  When you open your heart and begin to pay attention to your intuition, beautiful things can be brought into your life.  But it doesn’t always come easy and there are a few lessons to be learned along the way.  “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.” -Yoda

During a time of transition such as this, you may be stopped dead in your tracks by some unforeseen circumstances and realize that you have to stop fighting so hard against all that is coming at you.  You learn that there is nothing to gain when you blame others for the things that have happened to you and that complaining about frivolous things does more to push people away than to bring them in.  You learn to shed the beliefs that you’ve outgrown and realize that people don’t always do what they say or say what they mean.  You realize that integrity, honesty and bravery are worth the effort and being the better person really does mean something.  It’s a time to assess and redefine in order to discover the difference between what you want and what you need.  If you do all of this from a place of truth, then a rising sense of self-confidence is born and you learn to become more self-reliant and feel more secure in your decisions, possibly seek less counsel from others.  In turn, others may start to seek more counsel from you.

Writing has been my companion on this journey, and I can now look back through the phases of my transformation marker by marker.  When I feel that I’ve hit a new marker I tend to go back and not only read through what I have written, but try and go deeper into the thoughts that were beginning to manifest during that leg of the journey.  If I had not documented this whole journey, my mind would have jumbled the details into a mess just as it has some of the other phases of my life that I chose not to archive.  When you script your testimony you create a memoir for the ages that may have otherwise never been shared.  These memoirs can be kept for yourself or shared someday with your loved ones, that is up to you.  But, writing things down in the moment and keeping a running dialogue with yourself can be extremely soothing and even healing should you need it.  It’s amazing how often I’ve needed my own hand to hold over the last few years.

Every awakening comes in phases.  Some happen suddenly and come to an abrupt end and some last for months or even years coming in waves and you risk being swept up by the current at any time during this often unsettling time.  However, the better the foundation you create for yourself, the more likely you will be to withstand the vulnerability of it all.  Ride the wave the right way and you deepen the learning in a way that can only happen during such an unpredictable time.  It is during these times that going back and reading what you have written during less grounded phases will be a well earned reward.

And sometimes, during these times, the most amazing things can happen.  Suddenly things that have been buried deep or long abandoned can find beautiful renewed meaning.  This journey, after all, is about getting back in touch with who we really are and what we really need to truly be our happiest selves.  The one person who knows the answers to all the questions that you’ve been out there seeking is you.  “Already know you that which you need.” -Yoda

Photo courtesy of my friend Devon Delricco and his fishing boat

 

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