01 Jun 2013
Tags: believe, birthday, horoscope, intuition, journey, path, personal growth, stars
Today is my birthday and I decided to take a look at my horoscope to see what the coming year will bring! What I found was amazingly in tune with what I am hoping for and a resounding affirmation that I am on the right path. What a wonderful birthday gift I have given myself, a few quiet minutes of indulgence today was, as it turns out, just what I needed for my birthday.
The stars assure me that I can trust my heart more than I believe and I should learn to have full trust in my developing intuition. I am at some sort of a turning point in my life in terms of personal growth and I’m on a new journey that has come out of a strong drive to get involved in something completely different. When I read that a complete change of career was involved and an adventure in unchartered territory was in motion, I knew I was headed in the right direction! This is exactly what has been happening to me.
I’m in for a year of big ideas and big plans, new ideas and good, solid communication. I am going to be enthusiastic about my ideas and magically very capable of expressing myself verbally and in written form. Now is the time to make long-range plans including those for publishing a project. I should step back and see the big picture and decide what is really important to me.
I was happy to learn that my social life will be rewarding and pleasantly busy, so if you’ve been thinking we should get together this is the year to give me a call. I will be asked to speak publicly and enjoy new channels of communication!
I am thrilled to hear that my dreams that have seemed far off will now seem more realizable and I will be identified as a leader in my field!
I put this out into the universe in hopes that it will all come true and as a way to look back and compare what has happened next year to what the stars have told me will likely be my path for the year to come. What better confirmation do I need than the stars in the beautiful sky letting me know that it’s all going to be ok and that this is the start of a wonderful year? I’ll take it.
14 May 2013
Tags: American Sign Language Interpreter, coaching, energy, happiness, healing, holistic, Infinity Foundation, joy, meditation, path, peace, spiritual journaling, toxin cleansing, zen
I’m really enjoying my energy healing training at The Infinity Foundation and I’m finding myself moving even further forward into a new phase of my professional life. I worked as an American Sign Language Interpreter for 16 years channeling messages for others, never having input into my work situations, always being a neutral communication facilitator yet there was so much responsibility on my shoulders. An interesting vocation to say the least. As the field has changed and so has my life, I’ve found myself pulled farther and farther away from my desire to be an interpreter. The list of reasons is long, but the pull toward other things is far greater than my pull toward interpreting so this past January, I put my certification and license on hold and decided to officially pursue other interests that I’ve been unofficially seeking out for years.
Oh, I’m so glad I did! Talk about throwing yourself down a path toward happiness! Talk about manifesting peace and joy in your existing life! There is a happier, more zen version of myself waiting to be further discovered, and it wasn’t waiting in someone else’s doctor’s visit or business meeting (as an interpreter) no matter how much I wanted it to be there. I wanted to explore ways to unlock my full potential in both body and mind in ways I never had before, and more than that I wanted to also help others do the same. Now I’m on my way to doing that and my promise to find a happier, more fulfilled version of myself is paying off in spades.
For me, taking the next step literally meant putting myself in a new pair of shoes. I needed to shed myself of the professional life I was leading and completely step into a new phase to finally feel at peace with my life’s path.
Though I still feel a strong connection with The Deaf Community and the many friends I have made along the way, I am ready to move forward into the next phase of my professional life. I strongly believe that a calm mind can help you create more peace in your life. I believe I can help people discover more zen in their lives by helping them create an adjusted daily routine incorporating toxin cleansing, spiritual journaling, and/or a regular practice of meditation. These things have made all the difference in my life and I would like to move forward and guide others to be at peace with their life’s path.
I look into the future with great optimism and excitement as I expand my coaching practice that I began last April into a 3-part coaching system and welcome the opportunity to begin working with people using a more holistic approach. So much more to come…
03 May 2013
Vacations are great. Since I’ve had children, I haven’t had a proper sit-on-the-beach-and-relax vacation, so I was long overdue. Five days away from reality with my feet in the sand and my head in the clouds are just what I needed to sort through a few thoughts that had been pushed to the back of my head waiting for the right time to be dusted off and rolled around the right way. I was able to wander around shops during short breaks from the beach, popping in and out of the bright sun with a cold drink in my hand. I’m not gonna lie, it was heaven.
Over the last few years I’ve been working on ways to quiet my mind in the midst of a happily chaotic life filled with the normal household noises and chatter, but this was a whole new level of peace and calm and for the first time in a while I had time to do things like thumb through magazines. I picked up the May 2013 issue of Shambhala Sun while at an organic grocery store in town. I was attracted to the photo on the cover of Jeff Bridges and Roshi Bernie Glassman and the article inside called “The Dude and The Zen Master” about them having a bromance and I just couldn’t resist. When I started reading, I found so much more inside this magazine. It was filled with articles about superheroes of peace and stories about living in the age of distraction.
I found one particular article called “Journey to Awakening” by Judy Lief about a Three-Yana journey of Vajrayana Buddhism that made a solid impact on me. She likened a spiritual path to any journey we take into uncharted territory and urged the reader to be armed with a map and have a basic understanding of the terrain they are about to encounter while having an open mind and leaving plenty of room to explore.
I found myself drawn to one particular portion of this article describing Hinyana: The Path of Individual Liberation. Before heading down this yana, there is a pause and reflection of where you are on your journey. This yana says we all create our own consequences. It forces you to see where your life path will lead if you continue living the way you currently live. You are forced to examine every choice, big and small. By doing so, you can reveal areas that cause pain and may need attention and change. “This is the yana of personal responsibility. You begin to see your own role in creating the thought habits and emotional tangles that entrap you. You realize how much of what seems to be out there or coming at you is your own projections bouncing back at you.”
This is brilliant truth! This is such a useful path to happiness because the work can begin right away. Although I do believe in the Law of Attraction, this particular awakened state can empower you to enlist a Law of Action! A simple, yet mindful awareness that can stop allowing you to be held prisoner by opinions and judgements and not become so overwhelmed by intense emotions. Being a slave to an impulsive speedy mind has kept me from enjoying a simple, genuine presence and not until I read this article with a calm, peaceful mind did I think it was possible for me to find a vehicle to truly live in the moment. I hope for this quality of kindness and self-acceptance and strive for it through compassion for myself and others, but there was something about these Buddhist yanas that led me to see this possible life shift in a new way.
I am admittedly composing this at the end of a lost weekend, away from home and with an extremely relaxed mind. I’ve spent the last five days letting my mind melt around these words and soaking in the message. I’ve been able to ramble on for hours about nothing in particular with my darling traveling companion and haven’t thought about a bill or a carpool for a second. I wonder how I will feel about all of this when I am back in the middle of my everyday life. I only hope I can find a way to merge all of this into one beautiful yana that can be my happy life.
14 Apr 2013
Tags: family, happiness, healthy-living, human nature, journey, parenthood, parenting, personal reflection, savior
A savior is one who brings salvation, one who can can provide you liberation from ignorance. Even when we skillfully prepare for life events there are still things you never knew you never knew. Acknowledging this lack of awareness while at the same time being truly open to new experiences you often gain the most useful and definitive knowledge. Be a student of life and life will bring you teachers. My children are my saviors. My children have become my teachers.
Parenting has presented me with abundant opportunity to flounder and plenty of liberty to become versed on living in the moment and being open to admitting that I don’t even come close to knowing it all. Knowledge of human nature, for example, is best acquired by seeing it grow from the moment parenthood begins. There is no better way to grasp human kind than by being a parent. I didn’t know this until I became a parent. Even the experience of being a person doesn’t prepare you for raising one. This in itself is a conundrum. But the wonderful, unexpected part of parenting is that you have the lucky chance to learn a great deal about the person that you already are, the person you bring with you and the person you want to become all by entering into this new undertaking. You are suddenly presented with a key to unlock a secret part of your brain that opens up a new level of concern, caring, kindness, and love. With this unlocking, you gain the opportunity to expand your ability to love and devote yourself to others in an entirely heightened manner. My children have not only expanded my ability to grow into a reawakened version of the self that had felt at a plateau, they have unlocked courage to pursue interests in ways I never dreamed achievable.
I want to be the best version of myself regardless the sacrifice. I recognize parenting as a practice much like many other pursuits in life. Each experience builds your knowledge base and prepares you for the next, and every person you meet has something unique and salient to impart on you. Just make it your aim to pay close attention and decipher the messages in the right way at the right time.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
16 Mar 2013
Tags: balance, happy, karma, kind, kindness, peaceful, positive, spiritual
When you bill yourself as a spiritual kind of person you open yourself up to a world of interesting feedback. This is nothing new for me, I have been this way since I was a kid, always defending even the nerdiest of nerds to the coolest of cool kids even at the risk of social suicide. I held strong in my convictions even as a pony tailed little pip squeak with hands on hips shaking my finger at the playground wrongdoers blissfully unaware that I was developing my hippie tendencies into a full blown John Lennon, Give Peace A Chance, Birkenstock wearing adulthood. I was a peaceful warrior from the get go.
You either have the ability to consider other people and their needs in your field of vision or you don’t. I truly believe it’s something you are either born with or not. I like to believe I am tuned in to what others are feeling and that I am capable of becoming even better at anticipating what I can do to reach out to them as I would hope they would reach back to me. Being in tune often makes me wonder how others can live so off key.
I love that I have found a community of other like-minded, spiritual people that I can feel comfortable around who also live a positive, happy existence. At the same time, I’m confused by people who have adverse reactions to my positive choices and attraction to paying it forward directly into my karmic bank account, and into the goodness and kindness of mankind in general.
I lean into pay it forward opportunities. I know it’s the right thing to do and I want my daughters to learn the same way. Whether it’s as small as holding a door open for someone or as important as returning a found wallet completely intact, there are opportunities everyday to do the right thing and even more opportunities to just be kind.
I have found that being happy begins with being balanced and being balanced requires a spiritual understanding of yourself. Although I have always found it important to be kind to others, I’m finally truly seeing the importance of being kind to myself.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible” – Dalai Lama
26 Feb 2013
Tags: Anniversary, blog, grateful, gratitude, journey, writer
Happy 1 year Anniversary to me! I started this blog 1 year ago today, and I’m so very glad that I did. Thank you to all of you who have been following my journey and supporting me in all of your different ways. I am grateful for every like, comment and mention at the family dinner table for they all mean that someone has taken the time to acknowledge me as a writer. This blog is far from my first effort as a writer and will be far from my last, but it has been an entirely new kind of learning experience. The Blogosphere has been a spectacular new realm for me to explore! What a wonderful gathering of information and talent, technology and innovation!
This blog has been read in 50 countries around the world in my first year, has 1,136 followers, and received 2,121 hits as I write this. I’m grateful, and I hope that I will continue to earn your respect and interest in the years to come. Thank you.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
23 Feb 2013
Tags: connectedness, culture, happiness, interpersonal, world
My blog has been read in 50 countries around the world and that makes me very happy! But, it also gets me thinking about how the concept of happiness translates across cultures. Do my musings about happiness translate to all of you?
We are a multi-cultural household. My husband is from Australia and I am from the US. Much of our ideas about happiness overlap, but we have seen some divergence along the way. So, I have seen that culture does play a role. That being said, I have learned that it is each individual that ultimately defines their own happiness no matter what their culture outlines for them.
I do think a smile translates into any language.
In some cultures, it is frowned on to flaunt your wealth and good fortune while in others it is perfectly acceptable to declare your worth. Does that impact happiness? Can you achieve more or less happiness on your own, or does it make a difference if others know your happiness status? Is what you broadcast to the world as your level of happiness your actual level, or do you put on a brave face while feeling quite different inside? What is acceptable in one household or one extended family within the same culture varies, so happiness means so many different things to so many different people. What means the most is to figure out what it means to you.
Many cultures define their level of happiness by the level of interconnectedness among people within that culture. There is an interesting book about the link between culture and happiness called “The Geography of Bliss,” by Eric Weiner that explains this idea quite clearly. For example, the people of Maldova do not have a strong feeling of trust within their people and are known to be some of the least happy people in the world. Compared to other, happier countries such as Italy that encourage more deep rooted personal connections within their culture, it’s hard not to blame this lack of connectedness for their lack of happiness.
Sad to think that the US may be leaning more and more in that direction. So many of us spend long hours at work and in our cars and end up having less and less time to connect with loved ones. Will we end up being a less and less connected culture and therefore a less and less happy one? Has it already started to happen? Eric Weiner believes that the US “is not as happy as it is wealthy”.
We each have to take our happiness in our own hands and fight aggressively against that end. Just as we each must fight for our own health and well being, we must also fight for our own happiness. Long gone are the days of just being handed these rights as we sit back and enjoy them while our kids play outside until the street lights come on and we all come inside for a family dinner.
So, no matter which generation you were born in, what culture you come from, or what your mindset is right now, you still have the power to decide how you define your own, personal happiness. Do you want to define you happiness by your personal achievement, your interpersonal connectedness, or the number of zeros in your bank account? It’s not for anyone to judge but you, but do consider the outcome of each before you make your decision.
“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” -Maya Angelou
16 Feb 2013
Tags: characters, connections, contentment, energy, game, happiness, intentions, journey, joy
I would lose the game of Survivor as reality television has defined it in modern society. I like to see the good in people, maybe to a fault. I would fall for every lie and get voted out of the tribe pretty quickly, most likely; my torch ceremoniously snuffed in no time flat. I find myself longing for more deep rooted connections with people who make decisions with their soul, I don’t have time for anything less. “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for” -Bob Marley.
Along this journey we meet all kinds: the huggers, the secret keepers, the hand holders, and even the ones with broad shoulders that light up our world and give us hope that the energy we give will be well received and maybe even returned to us. But we also meet the greedy, needy, depleted, obstinate, and egocentric characters who pull us down and drain our positivity and good energy. It’s never much of a stretch for people who only think of themselves to concoct a useful strategy to get what they perceive will fill their needs. “The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment” -Doug Larson.
Our lives are full of choices each day, each minute, each thought. Our time is too precious to be wasted on anything that doesn’t raise us up and bring us joy. Anyone who does not get you to that end does not truly have your best intentions tied to their own heart. “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” -Abraham Lincoln.
09 Feb 2013
Tags: expectations, happiness, inner balance, inner peace, journey, pact, perspective, promise, self honesty
A promise is your word that you will accomplish something. When you make a promise to yourself, it’s a promise that simply can’t be broken without serious consequence. So, that’s the thing about a promise to yourself, it’s a pretty serious undertaking. If I can’t keep a pact with myself, I am only accountable to me. No one to blame, nowhere to hide. So, I accept this obligation with great urgency. I did this to myself, pledged this oath all on my own. The punishment for failure is far too great for me to consider even straying from this path for a second.
I know a lot more about what doesn’t make me happy and who I am NOT than what does make me happy and who I AM. But that’s a start. I want to get to know myself better. Part of this journey is understanding who I am and where my happiness comes from. “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” ~James Openheim So have I been foolish? Have I been seeking happiness off somewhere else instead of seeing it and nurturing it right here where I am? Maybe.
Self honesty is an important part of inner balance and in turn, inner peace. How you honestly feel about yourself and how you truly feel about your values and your life will form your real opinion of yourself. See your true value and speak it in your own mind and in your own heart. Make it a habit to see the positive things about yourself and others will see them as well. We are usually our own worst enemy. “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James
‘My Happy Promise’ is a promise I made to myself, and even on the days when I don’t feel at my peak, I hold myself to my highest expectations. I have seen people go to great lengths, both positive and negative, to gain the approval of others and I hold strong on my need to only gain the approval of myself. It is not through the eyes of other’s expectations and perspective that I choose to measure my happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I seek counsel from those whose truths and values are similar to my own, but even they know that I make the ultimate decisions. It is the best teachers in life that guide your hand but don’t solve the problem for you. And so I challenge myself yet again to get to know myself in a brutally honest way. I pledge to be mindful of my thoughts and responses like a research scientist. I will gather data and record my findings.
How well do you really know yourself? Do you truly acknowledge all the real things about you? Are you the best possible version of yourself or is something holding you back? If you can’t have this conversation quietly in your own mind, then you can’t move forward and truly find peace. How can you hold yourself to your own standards, understand your own values or visualize who you want to become if you can’t take the time to understand who you are today?
20 Jan 2013
Tags: abundance, balance, change, chaos, character, choice, fortitude, hope, inner peace, needs, pathfinder, perspective, soul searching, strength, struggle, yoga
Most soul searching is sparked when things go wrong. It often takes a dark patch to inspire the pathfinder in us. The ability to find strength and opportunity to grow in the midst of hardship shows fortitude and spirited character. We can find ourselves feeling lost and confused in any kind of situation. It’s about perspective. It doesn’t always takes true dire straights to feel truly out of balance.
Not everyone has the means to fly to Italy and India to eat their way to the pleasure of nourishment and pray their way to inner peace. Some of us have to find balance within the context of our comfort zones, no time to take a step out and make changes. We have families and homes that need our attention and time.
The truth is, we hold all the tools we need to change our path right where we stand. The way I feel at the end of a good yoga class is often the same way I feel at the end of a great vacation.
I’m learning to find balance and add peace to more moments in my current existence. I’m weaving peace into the chaos of daily life. Eventually there will be so much peace that the chaos will no longer have as much power. This is my choice. I have to make that choice in each moment.
I’m a mom of young daughters and most of my time is taken up serving the needs of others. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing at this point in my life, but that being said, this is no easy task. My own needs often go unmet and although I happily give myself to my family, even the most giving mother will struggle with this from time to time. I’m finding myself being pulled toward wanting to take an inner journey at this stage in my life, but I just don’t have the time to devote to focus on myself. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the time to focus on myself that I feel this pull, but I feel it nonetheless. So, it’s my onus to balance this life that needs my full attention with my own need to go inside and do some searching.
Even if the scale tips heavy toward my family responsibilities in this moment, my perspective needs to remain unobstructed. There is no need for a self indulgent journey around the world for inner peace when I can gently pull at the threads of peace and work them into my life right now as best I can. I will find them, weave them in and watch them become more and more prevalent.
When the time is right the threads will become thicker and more abundant, but there will be plenty of time for that later and I can wait. The truth is that what seemed to be a dark patch is actually a shining light of hope and abundance. Change your perspective, change your life.
10 Jan 2013
Tags: change, growth, happy, mind, nothingness, promise, thankful
My mind is a playground and sometimes I just let it play and I don’t write things down. It runs and skips and splashes in puddles. It giggles and does cartwheels and flying penny drops.
Other times my mind paddles a heavy canoe down a long murky lagoon and gets tired.
Some days my mind lays in the grass basking in the warm sun enjoying the nothingness…
There are times after I have let my mind wander that I wish I had written more things down. I know I had some good thoughts. Thoughts that made me pause and consider, grow and ruminate. But, like any growing pain, it’s the ultimate growth and change that matters. You don’t really remember the pain exactly, only that it happened.
The difference now is that I am thankful for the growth, and even the pain. Every romp on the playground, row in the boat and time spent in the nothingness are steps taken in the right direction toward a better, happier me. And that, in the end, is the reason for my promise.
24 Dec 2012
Tags: Christmas, family, grateful, happiness, John Lennon, journey, love, personal reflection
Here we are at the close of another year and I’m feeling grateful for another season of giving and receiving love. Seeking happiness has led me to find it in some wonderfully unexpected places. It’s also led me to have a deeper appreciation for a music icon for whom I have always had a strong admiration.
It may not have been John Lennon’s intention to give the world such a highly recognized Christmas standard when he released Happy Xmas (War Is Over) considering his original intentions were more politically aligned with protesting the Vietnam War, but as with all art, we can all extract our own beauty and meaning from his brilliant words.
The song itself has been covered by so many artists, but I prefer to hear John himself sing it to me. Each time I hear the song I get lost in his words and his simple message that seems so easy to understand. He hopes I had a nice year and he thinks I should look back and consider what I did and didn’t accomplish and it’s pretty important to remember my loved ones this time of year.
And then there is the new year. He hopes it’s a good one, that’s a nice thought. I hope it is too. And I wish he was still here to enjoy more time, it’s sad that he didn’t have more time to enjoy.
So, no matter who you are, where you are from, or how old you are, he hopes you have a very, merry Christmas and a happy new year…and that bears repeating…
Happy Xmas by John Lennon
So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
The rich and the poor ones
The road is so long
So happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
And we hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now
30 Nov 2012
Tags: dreams, happiness, lake house, legacy, mentality, mindset, success, time
Each person has their own definition, or idea, of success. For me, success is defined as being the master of my own time. Feeling rushed and constantly hurried from one thing to the next is not the mindset legacy that I want pass on to my daughters.
I long for lazy, Lake House afternoons. That is the setting of my dreams. A Lake House is symbolic of so much for me. It means taking it easy. It means that I have the means to pay for it. It means that I have the time to spend there. So for now, I’ll settle for my pursuit of Lake House Mentality right here in the suburbs.
The pursuit of Happiness is an uphill battle that can be bumpy and disappointing. When you set your expectations too high you are destined for disappointment. When I imagine time spent at a Lake House, I don’t imagine a group of happy people bouncing off the walls shouting about how happy they are, more like a relaxed group of my closest family and friends finding a place where they feel welcome to kick off their shoes and really take some time off.
If you covet a Sitcom Mentality where every problem finds it’s clean, witty solution in a timely manner or Chick Flick Mentality where everyone finds their sidekick buddy who picks them up when they’re feeling down, then you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment. But if you instead find your own reasonable, attainable version of Happiness that becomes the backdrop of your dreams and provides you with what YOU need to feel happy, then you’re on the right path.
I haven’t started shopping for my Lake House just yet, but I’m able to see it in my dreams. For me, in this moment today, happiness isn’t a fancy car or a designer handbag, it’s the idea that while I wait for my Lake House, I can start working on my Lake House mentality right here where I am.
22 Oct 2012
The deep rooted symbolism of a tree is hard to deny, and over the last year of my life in particular, the strong, massive presence of trees and what they stand for has been an undeniable presence in my life and down my life’s path. I would like to recognize their importance in my life and take notice of what lessons they have to impart.
A forest full of trees is as beautiful as it is dangerous which makes the allure even more great. The lessons that I have learned while walking through this particular stretch of forest have been as daunting as a dark forest in the dead of night and as inspiring as a lush, green path at the break of new day. I’m taking it all in. I’m learning and growing slowly, like a tree.
A flower may grow to it’s full beauty in one season, quick and noticeable, but that’s not what I’m after. A tree grows long and true. A tree stands firm and strong for years to come. A flower may attract more attention in the short term, but the tree stands it’s ground and lays roots as far and wide spread underground as it does above ground. You may not realize as you stand next to a tree just how much is underneath the surface.
Wood is solid, wood is long lasting, but at the same time with a spark can be burned to the ground. Even the strongest of oak trees has a weakness. But the symbolism of a large, abounding tree is unmistakeable. There is much to be learned from our forest friends and I am in constant awe of their lessons and beauty.
07 Sep 2012
Tags: content, habits, happy, healthy-living, mindfulness, personal reflection, promise
A funny thing happened on the way to being happy. I learned that being happy is an embellished state of being and not a completely sustainable state. It’s like adding bling to being content, or at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But, there is a way to raise your content state if it’s been set down too low and needs a bit of raising. I have found that the more ‘happy habits’ I incorporate into my days, the happier I find my sustainable happy state to be.
Some of my happy habits include:
1. Have conversations with my happy friends and try very hard to avoid communication with the people in my life that tend to be more negative.
2. When people ask me to do them a favor I always do everything I can to say yes.
3. Purge some of the everyday stressors…I changed careers and am now A Nutritional Cleanse Coach and help people get healthy and flush their body and life of toxins and negativity!
4. I mind my own business. I am working on being mindful about not making other people’s drama and emergencies my own unless completely necessary.
5. The complaint department is closed. It’s a lot more fun to share good news than complain about what is not exactly perfect. Life is pretty good, after all.
Instead of riding the highs and lows so frequently, I am finding it much more enjoyable to find the middle ground and coast; like going for a boat ride on a clear day when the water is like glass and the bumps seem even and soothing. I’m not going to miss riding the boat during the 6 foot waves when it feels like a storm is coming and the end is near; the days when you need to know exactly where your life vest is at all times because you never know when you’ll have to reach for it.
Finding my best self has meant finding that nice, comfortable middle ground. Life is full of storms, I don’t need to create my own on perfectly clear days, which is exactly what I was doing before I made my happy promise. Maybe I should have called it My Content Promise, but that just didn’t have the same ring.
Above photo courtesy of my relaxed and floating friend Shannon. Even her pretty toes look content.
13 Aug 2012
Tags: accomplishment, character, cleanse, endurance, happy, healthy-living, journey, personal reflection
A happy wife means a happy life, but lately it’s been nice to see my husband so happy about his new obsession…racing. He is becoming his own finely tuned machine, and it’s pretty fun to watch it happening. Paul has been a PE teacher, personal trainer, swim coach, tennis coach, and Australian Rules football player and coach since I’ve known him. He’s always loved to run, swim, bike, lift weights and just generally push the envelope, but something changed a few months ago when we both did a nutritional cleanse. We each dropped 25 pounds and ran our first races, me a 5k and Paul a half marathon. We both felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and knew we would be doing more races in the future.
Not long after, Paul announced he had signed us up for another 5k and that he would be running his first triathlon after that. I knew he was addicted. Any free minute he had he was going for a run, hopping on his bike, or swimming laps in the pool. His training was really starting to show. After shedding those pounds and getting focused on these races, his body is starting to look better than it has since I’ve known him! I’m very proud of him and in awe of the hard work and endurance it takes to complete these long races. Immediately after each finish he seeks the next starting line and starts training all over again. What a great display of character and determination and what a wonderful lesson to be teaching our daughters. Watching my husband pursue this new interest has made this wife happy and in turn our life happy.
A special congratulations to my honey for finishing 1st in his age group this past weekend at The Waterloo Fit City Triathlon! Way to go honey! What’s next?
09 Aug 2012
Tags: camp, childhood, family, grateful, happy, journey, mindfulness, personal reflection, summer, traditions
Family traditions have to start somewhere and my family is just getting started. So, I’m planting some good, solid roots that can grow into long established traditions in years to come. A dream of mine is to someday own a lake house where my family can gather and spend lazy days and nights gathered around delicious meals and campfires. As of now I don’t have that lake house of my dreams, so for now, I’m planting the seeds of summer time vacations spent together at a place that is very close to my heart, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
As a little girl, for 5 summers I took the ride up to Elkhart Lake to spend my summer at Harand Theater Camp…..a fairy tale memory of childhood dreams of endless days and nights, bonfires and beach games, swimming and roller skating and all that magically happened in between. When thoughts of summer camp roll around in my head, I remember friends as they were in camp t-shirts eating ice cream cones and opening care packages, sitting on bunk beds and passing pitchers of bug juice down long tables of laughing campers excited to embark on the night’s next activity.
In the heart of camp sat the main building (which was appropriately called Wonderful Town) that over the years has served different purposes to different owners which I learned as I walked down the halls of the now beautiful, family-friendly resort that sits on what used to be Harand Camp. Old photographs of generations from even before Camp Harand was in existence tell the stories of what had come before. I imagined what those people would have thought had they visited our camp years after the land had changed from the way they had known it. Nostalgia abounding, my mind was spinning with curiosity about the people that have wandered those grounds over the years.
It’s still hard for me to stretch my mind enough to remember where the cabins sat, where the lush green pastures lay and how that piece of land could have possibly been the same place that pops up in my dreams so regularly. But somehow, in my dreams, the lawn is untouched and every inch is as it was decades ago. But as I walk the property with my daughters telling them stories of why there are concrete handprints from friends I knew back then that I am still happy to call my friends today, I try my best to realize exactly what has replaced those treasured buildings from my childhood.
As I enjoyed a peaceful massage at what is now a beautiful spa, in my mind I could hear the sounds of the screen door slamming and friends laughing and running around on the porch of Wonderful Town. When I left the spa, my mind projected campers running to Sam’s Place (our dining hall) and as I turned to walk back to my room, I heard echoes of campers singing “No Man Is An Island” in Gaffin Theater as if Uncle Byron himself were on stage leading the group. I began to think….even if camp was still standing as it were when I was a little girl, I would still never be able to go back to those memories the way they live in my head. I keep those in my mind and just being there helps me to remember.
The corner of the world where Camp Harand stood for all those years has been my Giving Tree throughout my life. As bittersweet as it has always been since the minute I heard that camp Harand as I knew it was coming to an end, during this trip to Elkhart Lake I came to peace with that end as if finding a resolution to a long time quarrel. I discovered a beautiful PEARL that has been resting there, waiting for me to find it. What was once a childhood fantasy has now become a family wonderland. This place has changed through the years almost identically to fit my needs and for that I have found a way to be grateful.
29 Jul 2012
Tags: clutter, comfortable, family, flow, happy, healthy-living, mindfulness, organizing, personal reflection, relax, zen
The act of organizing seems so un-zen, but a completely organized, clutter-free abode is so completely zen that I’m feeling myself being pulled in that direction. I’m so acutely aware of my surroundings lately that it’s like I’m seeing my clutter with new eyes. It’s as if I’m a new visitor judging another’s piles of stuff and feeling the need to weed through the chaos.
I enjoy the feeling of a comfortable, lived-in home. I want you to come in and feel like you can relax, sit wherever you want, and let your kids run around and touch stuff. Kick off your shoes, grab a drink and plop down on the couch for a nice chat. I grew up in a house that felt that way and I aim to make my house as welcoming and cozy as my parent’s home. Between my husband, myself and two toddlers we have a lot of stuff. The problem is keeping it all in check. I don’t want my guests to come in and see piles of papers, toys and laundry and have to take flying leaps over shoes, backpacks and dolls. This family needs to find a way to get organized, and as the Mom, I’m in charge of “Project Organize This House!” As of right now, it feels like my ducks are pretty far from being all in a row.
I can’t organize an entire house at once, I have to organize one room at a time. So, the first thing I need to do is make a list of rooms in order of their priority. Which room overhauls will make the biggest difference for my family? Which changes will make our lives flow easier? In which rooms can I uncover the most happiness for my family?
Here is my plan of attack:
1. Family Room
2. Girl’s Rooms and Bathroom
3. Master Bedroom and Bathroom
4. Laundry Room/Storage Room
5. Linen Closet
6. Coat Closet
I’m allowing myself 8 weeks to complete this task and granting myself a reward if I am able to complete the entire task on time. I believe a day at the spa will be in order, that seems pretty zen to me….om.
22 Jul 2012
Tags: goal, journey, process, soul, toxins
Goal Reached! Now What?
Maintain. Sustain. Don’t gain.
Being healthy makes me happy. Feeling light and unencumbered is something I haven’t felt since long before I started growing my family. Twenty pounds lost and I’m moving through the world differently. My list of things to do is ever growing, but my reserves of energy are never ending! Instead of feeling heavy and overloaded with burden I feel joyful and poised to prevail! It’s amazing what you can convince your mind and body to feel when you have the motivation.
Sometimes when I watch my family doing the quiet things they love, it’s in those moments that I remember why I made this promise to rise into my best self. The journey needed to begin with shedding toxins from my body and that will be an ongoing process. But, it is going to be those glimpses of my beautiful daughters sleeping or my husband out enjoying his garden that will remind me of why I continue to do the work that may not be as noticeable to the masses as the reformation of my outer shell. Now that I am learning a more healthy way to feed my body, I have to keep finding better ways to nourish my soul.
04 Jul 2012
Tags: 4th of July, celebration, fruit, happy, healthy, heat, Mom, snack
It was record breaking heat that ruled our 4th of July celebration. Temperatures topped out above 100 degrees and no one could stand to be outside for more than a few minutes, but we didn’t let it spoil our happy day! We still managed to find a way to have some healthy, indoor fun on the 4th. It may not be the prettiest, but this flag of fruit is the most beautiful thing this Mom has ever seen. We washed and cut strawberries, blueberries and bananas and tried our best to recreate a photo we found on the internet. The finished product lasted about 3 minutes before we tore it apart and ate it as our afternoon snack! Happy 4th of July!
01 Jul 2012
Taking my daughters to see their first movie made me very happy! Having to carry my frightened 2-year-old out during the trailers because they were incredibly terrifying did not make me happy. Who matches up the movie trailers with the feature film and why is the rating of the actual movie not considered more carefully in this process?
I took my 2 and 3 year old daughters to see Madagascar 3 in the hopes that they would be entertained by the familiar characters and easy to understand humor. In my opinion, three of the five movie trailers were exceedingly inappropriate for the target audience that a movie trilogy like Madagascar attracts. I have no problem with my kids seeing Katy Perry don all sorts of crazy outfits and sing about fireworks, but when my girls saw the trailer for Paranorman they were almost driven to tears by the horrific monsters and Psycho and Jason spoofs that were way too nightmarish for their innocent little eyes. Do they really need to be introduced to the idea of creepy, green monster hands coming out from underneath a bed while eerie music plays? I have done a pretty good job of hiding this sort of thing from them so far only to be bamboozled by the movie industry.
I was able to take my youngest out of the theater and calm her down. It took a few minutes of convincing her that the actual movie had not started yet and then we were able to enjoy the rest of our time at the movies. So shame on the movie industry for dropping the ball on this one. I really feel like there must have been some better trailer choices for a cartoon meant for young audiences. I’ll never arrive in time to see the trailers again, so the movie industry is missing out on a big advertising opportunity with this family.
As for the happy part of this adventure, I’m thrilled to have another outing I can enjoy with my kids! Being able to venture out to see a movie on a rainy afternoon is a pretty cool option to add to my mommy bag of tricks. We nibbled on popcorn and licorice together and giggled with each other through the whole movie. I’d just like to keep it G rated for as long as I can.
23 Jun 2012
Tags: choices, family, healthy-living, intuition, mothers, personal reflection
Strong, confident mothers make me happy. Watching mothers drench themselves in their children’s enchantment delights me. Mothers with a diligent commitment to their children’s well-being are a gift to this world and it is a mother’s natural intuition that sets the stage for the path down which we lead our children. Good intentions and sensibility doesn’t guarantee a good result, but it does provide us with the promise of a mother’s love.
I believe in my own intuition and that I usually know when to trust my gut and when to look beyond my wisdom and seek the advice of others. Who is to say what is right, what is wrong, and what makes sense for your family? In the end, we are all perfectly imperfect. Mother nature shows us the beauty of imperfection all around us. A wild, natural field of systematic equal lines and measures would be awkward and unnerving. Nature tells us that magnificence means random splendor and haphazard protocol.
Every mother is born with intuition; that feeling in your gut that speaks to your heart and guides your hands and feet. We all have it, but with so many “experts” with so many different theories, do we ever have an opportunity to exercise it? Always being told exactly how to handle every scenario doesn’t leave much room for going with our motherly guts. Are some of us missing the connection to our own innate mother’s wisdom due to lack of self confidence? Modern mothers often seem to fear drawing their own conclusions. Maybe we are just simply afraid of being wrong. We are constantly turning to the “experts” on our children to solve even the most mild issues, or non-issues. I wish more mother’s would trust their instincts before consulting a professional; listen to their heart before listening to anyone else. Why should a doctor’s diagnosis always be more important than a mother’s intuition?
YOU are the expert on your child. Whether you gave birth, adopted, or inherited the child you are caring for, it is you, and only you, that knows your child better than anyone else in the world. Making a decision takes time and consideration. Sometimes your intuition tells you to consult with someone you trust. If it’s a friend, make sure you want their opinion. If you speak to a professional and your intuition tells you something is off, consult another. Take time to come to a conclusion, don’t jump to a label or course of action because you feel bullied. There is value in professional advice or advice from a loved one, and they have a lot of it. Make sure you weigh it against what your gut tells you is right.
Mothers, let your intuition guide you. Don’t be afraid to listen to the unexplainable, often visceral, voice that speaks from your gut and longs to guide your heart. Trust what your Mother gave you.
17 Jun 2012
Tags: father, happy, love
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Theodore Hesburgh
I’m lucky to have an amazing husband who knows how to cook a meal, tend to a garden, keep a nice house, be a good father, and so much more, all while being a damn strong man. How lucky can a girl be? All that makes me very happy.
Thanks darling, for the man you are, and for the woman you have helped me become. I love you.
06 Jun 2012
Tags: change, choices, happy, healthy-living, kind, kindness, mindfulness, personal reflection, right, wrong
It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong. It’s humbling and uncomfortable to eat crow. People avoid it at all cost even to the point of driving a dead end point to it’s nonsensical conclusion to avoid being wrong at times. Wouldn’t it feel better to just give yourself license to be wrong sometimes? It takes true character to admit defeat, even if only in silence, and create a moment to learn and grow. It takes confidence and wisdom to concede being right and give way to being kind. There is more happiness to be found even in the most basic, daily interactions. I’d like to see what happens when I surrender being right and try listening more openly to what others have to say without feeling the compulsion to counterpoint. Sometimes the Devil doesn’t need an advocate.
It’s staggering how much your thoughts show up on your face. (I’m sometimes bothered by how my thoughts translate and can be felt by those around me even if that is not my intention. I clearly need to work on my poker face) What is lost in being tenacious about debating your stance? What is gained in letting it go and allowing yourself to relinquish control? Which leads to more happiness? Even the look on your face will change along with your thoughts, but no one controls those thoughts but you. “You haven’t lost your smile at all, it’s right under your nose. You just forgot it was there” – Unknown
Change the way you process and respond, and the people around you will respond back in a new way. It’s easier to go with the flow and be open to other’s point of view when you feel engaged and supported by those around you instead of feeling strife and turbulence. When you change yourself, you change the world around you.
“Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant
25 May 2012
Tags: books, family, happiness, happy, illustrations
I love children’s books. I love the way a simple, well written life lesson paired with a beautiful collection of illustrations can create such a sentimental piece of a child’s memory. There are a few stories that we read as a family every night that have lighthearted, but fitting themes like “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney and “The Kiss Box” by Bonnie Verburg. Both explain to the children that Mom and Dad may not always be right there in the room, but we are never far and either way our love stays with them. I love the messages they impart and hope my daughters drink in and treasure both the messages the books share and the time spent together savoring them. I am grateful that on most nights we cuddle up as a family and chant the words together because we have done this together so many times before. Every night, no matter what has happened during that day, this makes me happy.
Since I have been on this journey toward finding more happiness in my life, I have come across one book that has stood out. ”That’s When I’m Happy” by Beth Shoshan presents a perfect amalgam of how I imagine my memories will be when I look back on the early years of raising my daughters. It’s not only the words and how they make me feel, but the illustrations of the happy bear family with their content, peaceful grins that make my heart feel warm and serene.
“There are some days when I’m very happy…
and there are some days
when I’m a little bit sad.
But now, on those days
when I’m a little bit sad…
I try to find my way back
to being happy.”
What a wonderful, true life lesson to impart on my girls. And, what a sweet reminder for myself as I put my kids to bed after a long day.
“When it’s warm inside and my Mommy
and I run our fingers through the books…
And when we look at all the pictures…
And when she chooses
one special book for me
because it’s our favorite
better than all the others…
And then Mommy reads
the perfect story to me
and I can read some
of the words…
But mostly the ones
with the letters
from my name in them…
that’s when I’m happy!”
What an extraordinary thought to hold in a child’s mind as they drift off to sleep. To hold a child’s attention while cradling her in your arms and sharing a few quiet moments…I’ll keep doing it for as long as they’ll let me.
22 May 2012
Tags: gratitude, healthy-living, journey, mindfulness, perception, personal reflection
Thank you. Thank you for reading my blog and making me feel like I have something important to say. Thank you for letting me express myself in this way that I feel comfortable. I feel grateful for being able to write this blog. I feel grateful for the dexterity to move my fingers, to own a computer, and most of all to live in a peaceful place that allows me the time and quiet to share these thoughts. I’m grateful to have family, friends, and colleagues all around me who inspire me everyday in so many different ways.
When you make an effort to live a life of gratitude, there is little time or space for negativity and judgement. When you give up complaining and criticism you start to smile on the unbecoming. Acknowledge that life is not perfect and you can learn from the ebb and flow of life and even begin to see unending possibilities for growth and change.
This past weekend I attended a conference for work to earn CEUs and learn about the new developments in my field. It’s an exciting time to be an American Sign Language Interpreter as our profession has changed more in the last few years than the last few decades. But, with change comes growing pains and unfortunately this particular conference had a very negative overtone and left many of the attendees frustrated. I left feeling like there may not be much future for me in this field even though it has been the only career I have known. I worked hard to become certified and licensed over the last 16 years and it seems a shame to throw in the towel. But, it’s so easy to consider walking away when you feel such despondency.
So, as we drove 4 hours back home after leaving early, my traveling companion and I had plenty of time to process what we had just experienced. Lucky for me, my friend is also on a journey of her own to find more happiness in her life similar to the way I have pledged my happy promise. So, we talked and talked about how to turn this antagonistic groupthink into a learning opportunity. We talked and talked as friends do, and in the end the farther away we drove, the easier it became to let it go. I rolled it around in my mind long after I dropped her off and my overwhelming feeling was one of gratitude. I’m thankful for having an opportunity to see my colleagues whom I don’t get to see very often, and I’m grateful to have had an opportunity to exercise my new awareness that I have worked hard to procure. I spent the weekend being mindful of what I was experiencing and was able to practice conducting myself with gratitude. A situation that would have once drained my spirit now allowed me to gain and thrive just because of a change in perception.
The details of the conference will fade in time, but what I will remember is the way this gathering made me feel. I am grateful for the lesson and I am grateful for the unforeseen chance to stretch my newly evolved spirit. I’m grateful to feel…..happy.
15 May 2012
I accept personal responsibility. I accept blame. Even if I had been blindly guided into each decision that has led me to today, I still indict myself for every choice. I’m not any worse off than my neighbor and I never got a bum deal. It’s all perspective and it’s all in my head. Taking an honest assessment of my strengths and making an effort to sort through my weaknesses keeps me in check. If I am to find happiness, I need to be willing to give up on blame. I need to stop giving away my power and take responsibility for my own life and my own choices. The consequences give me wisdom to grow, change and learn from all that I experience. The consequences are what help me survive and motivate me to stay my course on this journey.
So what am I supposed to do with all this disappointment? Harboring disappointment will never lead to happiness. I seem to feel disappointed when others fall short of my expectations, so again, it’s ultimately my responsibility to keep my expectations in line with reality. And then there is regret. I am accountable for my own choices and therefore must direct the blame inward when a personal choice does not meet a positive outcome. The disappointment about the outcome itself should only be a lesson, not a source of stress. My energy is better focused on finding healthy ways to avoid poor decision making by using more careful analysis. Always thinking that the glass will remain half full no matter what happens is a fool’s fallacy.
Then again, when I have a win, I can feel fully empowered while I take my victory lap with my fists pumping and my smile wide. Positivity is a skill to be mastered and must be attained with mindfulness. The world doesn’t owe me any favors and I’m ok with that. I take pride in working hard for what I achieve. Fulfillment is like a warm shower after a long run…sometimes that’s the best part.
The running diatribe of others that I hear means that I’m listening to the wrong source. It’s not my burden to bear, it’s my choice to change the channel. Even static in between the stations is better than negativity.
11 May 2012
Tags: body, cleanse, deep cleansing, habits, healing, healthy-living, isagenix, toxins
I’m a terrible cook. I have never felt comfortable with food or food preparation. I have no creativity when it comes to meal planning and I’ve never been good about knowing what I should or shouldn’t put into my body. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do know that chocolate chip cookies are not actually their own food group and I do NOT have to have one (or 3) everyday. So, I’ve been in search of a good tool to get my act together in the eating department. (Jenny Craig was just not the way to learn how to create healthy eating habits). I’ve also been very curious about doing a cleanse for quite some time. My frustration with feeling as if I’ve been wearing a fat suit since I gave birth to my two daughters mixed with my strong desire to create healthier eating patterns for myself and my family led me to start searching for something to fit the bill.
After seeing a few people in my life start to have life changing results with The Isagenix Cleanse System, I decided to give it a try. The more I learned and the more people I spoke to about their experience, I realized it was exactly what I was looking for and I made a commitment to the 9-day Deep Cleansing System. Here I am at the other side of my first cleanse 9 pounds lighter and feeling fantastic! I’ve been sleeping better and my mind feels more clear than it has for a long time. Overall, I feel like a better version of myself with a better handle on what foods I should be eating and when. It made me happier and isn’t that the goal here? Yes!
Isagenix was designed as a transformation system to combat the toxins in our environment and improve body composition, but for me it has provided so much more. On my quest to find my happy place I have pledged to make significant changes to the way I think, feel and respond. Experiencing the Isagenix Cleanse and the maintenance that has come after has taught me several lessons about the way I live, the habits I would like to shed and new ones I would like to form. By cleansing toxins and replacing them with vital nutrients, minerals, vitamins and enzymes, the body will release stored fat and begin the healing process.
Now that I have jumpstarted my body’s healing process, it’s clear that I have to focus more on my spirit and wellbeing. There are several lessons to be learned from living this cleansing lifestyle that are just as important to evolving my spirit as the system has been for cleansing my body. During this process, I’ve learned to give up attachments to food and long established habits and lived to tell about it. I’ve learned that some things that feel impossible are entirely within reach. My resistance to change was stubborn, but the knowledge I’ve gained and the feelings of empowerment over what I put into my body has well outweighed every feeling of anxiety I experienced about doing a cleanse. It was worth it, and it worked.
08 May 2012
Tags: body, excuses, garden, happiness, healthy-living, mindfulness, personal reflection
Happiness is not a far off goal. It is not a place over the rainbow that we will never quite reach. Happiness is all around us, like a garden waiting to be tended right under our feet. You won’t see it until you look for it, but the moment you rub your eyes and take a closer look, you’ll see the beautiful, fertile dirt surrounds you just waiting for you to get your hands dirty. The more work you do for your garden, the more beauty you will reap. Some will stand in awe of your garden and want to enjoy it with you. Some will stand beyond it and criticize your dirty hands. Either way, this is your garden and together with the magic that mother earth provides us, you have conjured up perfection. That perfection should be consumed and enjoyed….that perfection should make you happy.
Your body is like a garden. When you plant a seed, or make a small change, you can’t expect to reap the benefits until you have also cared for and tended to your garden. Your garden will not rest for toxic excuses made in an effort to procrastinate pruning. Your garden will not produce life without careful, constant love and attention. Your body is worth that same constant, careful love and attention. Why do we only see the world around us and so often look past our own needs and well being? Take a moment and look down at the gift you have been given to move you through this life. Have you done all you can to be gentle and loving to your gift?
Are YOU ready to begin?
03 May 2012
Tags: family, happy, health, healthy-living, journey, mental-health, personal reflection, promise
We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world. -Helen Keller
The more hard times we face, the stronger and more brave we will become? Not necessarily. When I experience happiness it makes me crave more happiness. When I struggle through pain and endure hardship I lust after joy. Either way, I long to settle into a pleasant existence. Some people around me seem to settle into sadness like a cozy pair of slippers while others dig and dig for delight until they are exhausted. The journey to Serenity is different for each person and the destination just as distinct. It’s up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to be happy. Maybe it takes more effort to be happy, but I see the endeavor as worthwhile. The payoff is big and the lesson I pass on to my daughters is valuable.
There are several parts of my personality that I am dedicated to working on during this journey to find more happiness for myself. Even the more difficult changes are worth tackling if I ever want to truly reap the benefits of this process and one of the most difficult things for me to overcome may be my negative self-talk. I work hard at rolling a big boulder of positivity up a very steep hill only to hear a voice in my head shouting cynicism in an effort to slow my progress and make me drop the boulder and get crushed in it’s path back down the hill. I’m tired of losing momentum because of the angry committee in my head that spews negativity. It seems that maintaining my happiness may be as hard as maintaining the positive self talk. If I let even one negative thought sneak in, it slows my momentum. But this life presents us with adversity and it’s not always so easy to stay positive.
My hope for myself at this point is that my hunger for happiness will help drive my ability to learn how to quiet the negative self talk and let me turn the naysaying into affirmations!
It’s only nice to say SHUT UP to yourself.
26 Apr 2012
Tags: health, healthy-living, mental-health
“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
I’ve been focusing most of my energy on myself lately in an effort to find more happiness, but the truth is that all of my happiness will not come from such confined focus. When you put yourself out there, you risk getting hurt. It’s hard to trust others with your own happiness. But, surround yourself with people who are happy and capable of giving goodness and there will be more happiness in the air.
Next week I’ll be running a gently used baby clothes drive at my daughter’s nursery school. The clothes will be going to local families in need. In the past, they have held a food drive this time of year, but the director of the program that will be receiving the items asked if I would turn it into a clothes drive as it seems food is not as much of a problem these days as new moms finding clothing for their young children. Their wish is my command and a clothing drive is underway. I will hopefully be carting boxes and bags full of coats, hats and clothes that will then be given to families that need them. I’m looking forward to being the one who sees this task through and I’m grateful to all the families willing to sort through their belongings and donate to a worthy cause.
As I am going through the process of both literally and figuratively de-cluttering my house and myself, I am learning a great deal about the difference between want and need. I’ve filled bags with unneeded clothes and belongings. I’ve spent the last 4 days cleansing my body with The Isagenix System. I’m taking a long, hard look at what I have in my life so I can mentally sort out what makes me happy, and what doesn’t. You can’t expect change if you don’t make changes. I’m optimistic about my results, excited for the upcoming community service and filled with zealous when I think about what will come next in my journey. What a wonderful path I am on.
21 Apr 2012
Tags: excuses, family, happy, healthy-living, journey, mental-health, personal reflection, promise
The toxins in your life can range from the things we put in our body to the excuses we give to ourselves for doing, or not doing, the things we do. Our world presents us with some toxins we can control, but more often there are many more that we cannot control. The air we breath and the water we drink fill us with toxins everyday, yet we need them to live. For many people, the excuses we give are just as toxic as what we put in our body. Our brains are just as hardworking as our livers sorting through the junk and trying to figure out what is good for us and what is bad. I only wish my brain was as scientific and unbiased as my liver in making that separation. I can’t fool my liver into thinking something will help me when I know down deep that it actually does more harm than good. I am capable of making excuses for my excuses in my brain if it means I can get what I want, and I’m sick of living that way. Making excuses is not helping me to reach my full potential. Making excuses is not making me happy.
I’m pledging to give up my excuses. Just the way I would give up sugar and gluten in an effort to shed some pounds, I want to stop lying to myself and creating excuses for not doing the things I should be doing. I think it will be just as easy to create opportunity to get things done as it has always been to build an obstacle course of excuses blocking me from achieving. I’m ready to attack the toxins head on and fill myself up with more goodness and positivity. It’s going to take a lot of work to flush these toxic excuses, but I’m ready for the task.
I do not know of a cleansing system on the market to flush out negative thought toxins, so I will have to do that work on my own. The tools that I have learned so far on this journey such as mindfulness, guided mediation, diaphragmatic breathing and yoga will be more useful to me now that I am more familiar with how to use them properly, but each of us are in complete control of wrangling the web of excuses we create for ourselves. No more excuses, I want to be happy.
Can you pick one excuse to flush out like a toxin today?
14 Apr 2012
Tags: healthy-living, mental-health, personal reflection, yoga
Mention code word HAPPY for a special deal!
It would be silly to think this journey would be best traveled alone, even though it is me who must be present to take each step. This past week, I attended my first of a 5 workshop series called Walking Mindfully Toward the Promised Land. A group of amazing woman sat together discussing ways to guide each other, and ultimately ourselves, into a happier and more fulfilled life. Each time I attend a workshop or class or anything such as this, I move myself closer to where I want to be. I encourage you to go out and find something similar or come join us if you can!
Walking Mindfully Toward the Promised Land
During the time between Passover and Shavuot, Judaism teaches us to take these weeks and prepare ourselves to receive the lessons of the Torah. Please join us for a unique women’s workshop series where holistic life coach Allison Harris and Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler will help to guide you out of your own personal “Egypt” and into the “promised land” of increased happiness and fulfillment in your life (and, by extension, the world). This transformational series will focus on the practice of mindful living and meditation as well as incorporate journaling for personal reflection, visualization, aromatherapy, and open discussions based on issues that women face today.
Each workshop can be attended individually; however, we strongly recommend joining us for the entire series. All women are welcome.
Individual Workshop Cost $25 Dates: Wednesday April 11, Wednesday April 25, Wednesday May 2, Wednesday May 9th, Wednesday May 23
What classes or workshops have you taken lately that helped to guide you more clearly on your path?
10 Apr 2012
Tags: destiny, epigenetic, excuses, family, fate, happy, health, healthy-living, mental-health, personal reflection, promise
Do we each have a predetermined destiny? How much control do we have over making changes to our own life’s path? We are who we are, that’s true, but each of us has the power to change, or not change, our current position.
Epigenetics is a complex area of study focusing on genes and the way they predetermine our health. (Well, that’s my very basic understanding). There is also a cultural epigenetics of psychopathy that is focused on mental disorders that gives light to how culture can influence a person’s developmental trajectory. I would assume that all the effort going into both medical fields is to ultimately make positive changes in people’s lives. All of this research just may allow people to trade in a few cards from the hand they are dealt. We CAN alter the repeating patterns of the cycles that rule our lives. If you have the motivation, the science is there to support the changes necessary to be happy.
I watch myself approach life situations the same way over and over and get disappointed in the same negative results. Since becoming more mindful of my actions, my life is now being shown to me in 3-D, and the negative actions of others now seem to jump off the screen. An intense position allowing me an unclouded view of those around me. Even the simplest interactions with people get scrutinized beyond recognition in my effort to pinpoint the specific changes I need to make to become a better version of myself. Unfortunately for me, some of the people closest to me have limited patience for the pace in which I’m making changes. In the end, this invokes the pauperization I often feel and ignites the fire under my impending course redirection. My experiment in Family Epigenetics. I’m ending this cycle of unhappy.
Sometimes the negativity you claim to see in another is actually a mirror into your own psyche. Maybe looking into the face of your own child, or parent, exacerbates the hidden insecurities we hide deep within ourselves and claim to have conquered when really they represent the biggest mountain left to climb. Maybe the mountain you don’t have the courage to even acknowledge.
I refuse to exist with a mountain blocking my path to happiness. My epigenetic battle has just begun.
26 Mar 2012
Tags: family, happy, journey, judgement, karma, personal reflection, promise
I think you CAN judge a book by it’s cover. Isn’t that the point of the cover? The declaration that you CAN’T judge a book by it’s cover has always been a confusing one for me. We all have a story to tell and our covers reveal to the world exactly what we want others to judge us by. The way we decorate, or not decorate, ourselves each morning as we leave the house and go out into the world speaks volumes about who we are and even where we are going.
When we cross the line from judge to judgement is where we fall into peril. Is it natural to form opinions and judgements about others within the committee that lives in your head? Whether your thoughts and opinions about others are positive or negative is your own business, but be warned: The way you perceive and judge others may have more to do with yourself. How often do we use that same judgement on ourselves? How fair and impartial are you on yourself compared to how you judge others?
I can be pretty hard on myself. Why can’t I step on the scale and simply record a number in my head without the inner monologue about baby weight and not enough “me” time to work on it? Why do I even need to step on the scale at all? No reason really, other than to set the tone of my day: winning or defeated? Depends on the number. But, in the end, that’s all in my head. THAT is self-judgement and it isn’t making me happy.
Letting yourself be prisoner to harsh self-judgement is like being trapped under something heavy. What is gained through constantly being your worst critic and how do we learn this behavior? More importantly, how do we un-learn it. I’m digging deep. Then I’m digging deeper. I want to finally break through to my inner self and reveal the root of all this guilt and negative self-judgement. Now that I’ve picked up the pace and started to muster the courage to go deep, it feels like I’ve gone from a walk to a run. I pay more attention to my initial reaction to a situation instead of dismiss it and move on. I’m becoming an observer of how hard I can be on myself, and others, and I don’t like it. If I had a friend that was as hard on me as I am on myself, I would be very hurt. I need to stop hurting myself and start showing myself a lot more love and patience. I have a choice to be my own best friend or my own worst enemy.
It’s a lot more complicated to judge from the inside, but it’s easy to find the good in people, and yourself, if you try. I do believe that karma is only a bitch if you are.
20 Mar 2012
Tags: family, float, happy, health, healthy-living, journey, personal reflection, pledge, promise, stress, unbind
When I get up in the morning I know certain things need to get done, but I just can’t seem to get into a routine. Everything eventually gets accomplished and my daughters and I seem to leave the house with clothes on our backs and food in our bellies. My day turns into a series of hurried moments followed by hushed lulls in the action. I see most of the moments of chaos coming, yet I can’t always find a way to stay calm in the middle of all of it. I know it’s times like these that deplete me, but I also know there are things that need to get done. Avoiding these happenings is not an option. Changing how I handle myself is the only way to go.
I started to realize how many times I am in this type of situation these days….
Could this be the key? Is this what needs adjusting to make me happier? It’s possible. Definitely worth some attention. I have to concentrate on being mindful during these moments of chaos and stress and learn how to get through them without losing my cool. I have to clear these hurdles with my patience intact. I admit it, I need to learn to let things go.
Let things go….words that make me cringe. Such an easy fix. But how?
I need to disengage, loosen up and unbind, but not surrender. I need to let things float past me without judgement and continue on my way. Relinquish control and accept things for what they are. All of this is completely against not only my good judgement most of the time, but also my personality. But the truth is that holding on to all of this minutia is not serving me well. It’s not making me happy. To move forward on this journey I have to be willing to make changes. Some that I have never considered before. So, in the spirit of taking a giant leap toward my happy place, I am pledging to let things go. I’m going to loosen my grip and go with the flow. I think just making the decision to do this will serve me well and be the wind at my back.
17 Mar 2012
Tags: discovering, exercise, happy, healthy-living, journey, personal reflection, run, running, zen
“I only run when chased”. That used to be my response whenever the subject of running for sport ever came up in conversation. I have always been secretly jealous of people that can tie up their gym shoes and run out their front door and enjoy it. I’ve never enjoyed running. I tried track in high school and quit immediately. But my curiosity is peaked with so many people in my life lately talking about running and the happiness and sense of accomplishment it brings. The hulabaloo over running a 5k or a marathon always peaks my interest as well. It’s time for me to consider why I have always discounted running as a sport for someone else.
So I gave it a try. I mapped out a 2 mile route in my car and decided to try it out. At first there was a lot more walking than running and my times were far from impressive. But, even after only a few runs and some seriously sore legs, I’m starting to understand what all the talk is about. I’m happily surprised at how rewarding it feels to set a goal and run out my front door!
I’m starting to see all the benefits of running compared to some of the other types of exercise I’ve been doing. I come home exhausted with a huge sense of accomplishment 20-30 minutes later instead of two hours later after a one hour class. The roads are always open, and free, so no fitting in a class or driving anywhere and paying a fortune. I just tie my shoes and go! I can go in any direction, stop and start as I please and challenge myself any way I want. There is no one out there looking at me or keeping track of what I can or cannot do. It’s completely my own. I benefit directly when I make the effort and I don’t benefit when I decide to slack. No fake turning the resistance button on a spinning bike.
I have not started to focus on my breathing or form too much. Right now I’m just working on not falling down. I know that my body knows how to reward itself for this hard work, so now I am searching for the key to unlock the endorphins and let my brain chemistry work for me. I’m hoping to go from running on empty to discovering the zen of running.
13 Mar 2012
Tags: discovering, happy, mindfulness, owl, personal reflection, pledge, spirit animals, zen
I talk too much and I wear my heart on my sleeve. A dangerous combination that leads to vulnerability. If I can stop blabbering and be a little less transparent, I may be able to take another step toward happiness.
Native Americans believe that animals have unique meaning and power. An animal guide, or spirit animal, can appear to you in a dream or in the physical world. Whether or not you believe in the power or presence of animals as guides, they still have many important lessons to teach. Native Americans used animal traits to teach their children lessons the way we use fairy tales and myths. They used the world around them and what was available in their surroundings to impart knowledge and wisdom. Every culture uses this practice in some way, but something about this Native American tradition speaks to me. I’ve always had much respect for the simple, natural way they view the world with respect and awe.
Eleven years ago, I was in a bit of a low valley of my life and during a trip to Arizona to visit friends and regroup I stepped outside to enjoy the warm night air. As I sat and let my mind wander in search of answers, I looked up and saw an owl. We stared at each other for a long time. In that time, my mind was quiet for what felt like the first time. You never know where comfort and peace will come from, but being able to recognize those moments and draw from them is important. Enlightening moments will not always show themselves as obvious as an owl looking down on you in the midst of a troubled time, so I need to learn to pay more attention even during the chaos in which I exist at times.
Since that night in Arizona, I believe that the owl had something to teach me. Whether I was meant to have that chance encounter or I read too much into it, I drew knowledge and wisdom from that moment: I need to be more like that owl. I need to quiet my mouth to quiet my mind. I need to learn to take in more and disclose less.
The truth is, that moment happened over a decade ago and I have still not been able to translate that insight into my life. I’ve often gone back to that night in my mind, but haven’t known how to apply it. As part of my happy promise, I pledge to unearth the premise that being more owl-like will lead to more happiness.
11 Mar 2012
Tags: happy, me, mindfulness, personal reflection, tea, wisdom, zen
A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water. - Eleanor Roosevelt
Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. – The Buddha
The quieter you become the more you are able to hear. – Lao Tzu
My afternoon cup of tea has become the small bit of ME time that I can carve into just about everyday. I’ve jazzed it up a bit by trying some new teas and even letting myself add a cookie. It’s important to bring a snack on a long journey. Heating the water, grabbing my favorite mug, picking a tea…all menial tasks that prepare me to have a few minutes to sit, sip and take it easy. I find that while being mindful, I can find pleasure in all of those small steps. Being in the moment and not letting my thoughts wander to past mistakes or future stressors is like a gift I can give myself in the midst of a busy day. When I stop and feel grateful for the time I am taking for myself I feel like I have made a small step in the right direction.
Most of the teas I have discovered include a bit of zen wisdom to enjoy while I am idle. The words on each tag can influence the thoughts I have during my down time. Some seem cynical or sarcastic, but some actually read like an impressive Facebook status and spark my interest. However you get your Zen inspiration, add a bit of mindfulness to create an opportunity to honor yourself and soak in the positivity. If I take time off from my day and let all the negative thoughts seep in I would be wasting my time. No sense in heating up water just to stew in my own negative thoughts. No stew for you! You’d just be getting yourself in hot water.
09 Mar 2012
This is my mind space and that is your mind space. The thoughts I hold in my head are my responsibility and the only one they hurt, or benefit, is myself. The only person who can control, and clear, my mind space is myself.
I worry a lot and it doesn’t serve me well. My worries are my training wheels and I’ve never been able to take them off. Our problems and stressors make up who we are as much as our individual quirks and unique pasts. Why do we cling to our problems and let them create who we are? Is pain a crutch too easy to lean on that we can’t even consider letting go out of fear we will not be able to stand without them? If I stop worrying about something will that alone make it happen? Why is it so hard to let go and just be happy in the moment?
I’m ready to let it go. I’m ready to be happy. I want to take off my training wheels and I’m finally open to learning how to do it. The first step was learning to calm and clear my mind. Any time a negative thought, or any thought that I don’t want, sneaks into my head, I now mentally bat it to the side like I’ve reached the end of a line on an old typewriter. Ding! I let it go. I visualize that thought flying out of my head and enjoy the peace that replaces it. This works well in a quiet room by myself or in a state similar to meditation, but the next step is being able to put this into play during the chaos that makes up my daily life. Although I haven’t quite mastered that part of it, I’m better off for having put this practice into play. I’m able to enjoy a quiet mind more often and THAT is a win.
So once you leave the calm and serenity of your own physical space, the trick is to covet and protect your mind space in the same way. Something I can take with me that has a lot of power over my thoughts is music. Certain songs have the power to immediately change my thoughts. Sometimes I know exactly which song I need to hear and other times I surf my favorite radio stations, but either way music has the power to clear and change my mind space. Another thing that can propel me out of a moment quickly is a certain smell. I’ve started to learn more about Aromatherapy lately. I know now that it goes beyond that chance fleeting whiff of a cologne that reminds you of your high school boyfriend and being whisked away in your mind to those feelings
of teenage puppy love. Different smells elicit different memories and feelings. Some smells can actually have a strong effect on how we feel by tapping into the part of the brain responsible for regulating feelings, emotions, memory, learning, and physical drives. The result can be sedating, relaxing, stimulating, or euphoric in effect. A great place to learn more about Aromatherapy is Karma Healing Solutions.
I want to let go of my worries and start to move easier down this path toward being happy. “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” Ajahn Chah
08 Mar 2012
Tags: exercise, gypsy, mindfulness, personal reflection, spinning, yoga
I am not a creature of habit. Instead of a daily routine, I’d say I follow more of an outline. I seem to approach exercise the same way. I like to jump from activity to activity with the goal of burning some calories and easing some stress. During my very scarce free time these days, I can be found ice skating, hiking, doing yoga, kickboxing or riding my bike aimlessly around my neighborhood. So, as much as I’d like to have more “yoga” moments in my life, I also need some time to rock it out and sweat my day away. This week I decided to try doing it on a spinning bike. I went to a class last night after dragging myself away from my family all nestled in my house and getting ready for bed leaving daddy to enjoy the bedtime routine. As much as I love bedtime with my kids, Momma needs a night off once in a while if I’m gonna find this mythical happy place.
When I walked into the spinning class, the lights were bright and people seemed pretty relaxed doing their pre-class preparations. As people wiped down their bikes and found a home for their water bottles and towels, I found my own bike and started to spin my wheels. Out of nowhere, the teacher roared in like a bullet from a gun, turned the lights way down, the music way up and the room exploded with energy! We all spun our butts off in the dark keeping form and wiping our brows for the entire hour until the mood came to a screeching halt and the hour was over. It’s almost disturbing how quickly those kinds of situations start and stop so unnaturally fast. All the riders scattered quickly, like gypsies, when the class was over, all seeming to have no problem punching their off buttons. I reached my goal of burning those calories, but was left feeling almost lonely walking back to my car. It was such an intense experience. My ears were still ringing when I got home, like I’d been to a concert. It took me a while to come down from that. I may not get to my happy place riding a stationary bike. I think tomorrow I’ll go back to yoga.
I’m not sure I can make a habit out of that spinning class, that just wouldn’t be me.
06 Mar 2012
Tags: intentions, mindful, peace, personal reflection, yoga
If only I could approach my life the way I approach a yoga class, maybe that would make me happy….
I approach my yoga classes with strong intention: To take a full hour to quiet my mind and strengthen my body and soul. I walk in, turn off my phone and step onto the mat knowing I will focus only on my own well being for the duration of the class. I always leave a class feeling refreshed and calm which is the state I wish I could enjoy more often than I do these days. Much like life in general, I have a deep respect for yoga even though I am still a beginning student even after over a decade of attending classes. Even though I have a strong desire to dive deeper and study the roots of yoga, I seem to stay at the surface of the practice and enjoy the shallow benefits that I can feel within a one hour class.
I love the idea of a group of people gathering with positive intentions in a peaceful way to achieve wellness. I like the idea of yoga for the same reasons I like the idea of observing the Sabbath. When you remove the religion and culture from both, the basic goal of each are pure in nature and focus on gathering with like minded people to pay resect to yourself and those around you. Both practices can be easily translated to our current life situation and both allow practitioners to slow down, unplug and get back to basics. All of this is what I need more of in my life, but the challenge is being able to contain the feeling I have during a yoga class and translate it to my life in general.
I can fall pretty deep into my mind during a class, and I’m always trying to be mindful of what my body is telling me. Also much like life, the minute I take my attention off of myself and try to catch a glimpse of what others are accomplishing I loose my balance and then my focus…or is it the other way around? Learning to keep my focus and keep my intentions clear and pure will serve me well in my yoga practice and in turn in my life in general. So, having yoga in my life may get me closer to living a more yoga life.
04 Mar 2012
Tags: dreams, happy, meditation, mindfulness, personal reflection, relax, spirituality, yoga
It turns out that drinking tea called “Relaxed Mind” does not alone a relaxed mind make. So, it’s gonna take more than a cup of tea to achieve this goal. My mind races most of the time. It’s hard to relax your body when you can’t relax your mind, so in the midst of being mindful I realized the volume of thoughts racing around in every moment. I needed to slow this down to start the process of getting happy. So, I needed to find something that could relax my mind and peak my interest. I needed a healthy, positive distraction that could help me relax and get happy. Focusing on spirituality seemed to fit the bill.
I’ve always been interested in focusing more on my spirituality, so when I began thinking about relaxing my mind and calming my thoughts a few things came to mind: yoga, meditation, dream interpretation and Reiki. Since dreaming was the easiest and most familiar, I started there. After a few visits with my holistic life coach, I began to understand the importance of writing down and evaluating my dreams. It’s amazing how much insight to yourself is contained in your own dreams. Having a wise, insightful guide delve into those dreams and what they mean can shine a light on some of the things that are so easy to look past in your own mind. I think it’s normal to push past the tough thoughts and try to make the dreams fit what you want them to mean, but revealing them to another person and letting them interpret and decipher the symbols and intricacies of your dreams can be liberating. Even after sharing only a few dreams, I was able to start taking a new look at how I was feeling. This path felt right. I wanted to keep going. It was already starting to make me feel….happy!
My success with dream interpretation led to learning a new tool…guided visualization and meditation. I quickly realized that in order to meditate I needed to really commit to having a more relaxed mind and that is a whole other cup of tea.
04 Mar 2012
Tags: bath, happy, judgement, mindfull, mindfulness, serenity
Before I can start making changes, it’s important to start evaluating the things that need changing. Intentional mindfulness is an acute awareness of how you feel and react in each moment, the goal being to begin practicing this without judgement on yourself. Being aware of every thought, feeling and intention can be hard to take, but it allows me the ability to start taking inventory of the things holding me back and standing in the way of my happiness. This level of reflection seemed difficult, and throw in a dose of reality and it can be beyond challenging. I’m in the midst of raising 2 toddlers and find myself focused far more on their needs than on my own. Being able to stop and focus on myself seemed selfish and irresponsible at first. Anytime I tried to take any kind of moment for myself, even taking a bath, I had overwhelming feelings of guilt that I was wasting the time I was supposed to be spending on my daughters. But, as I move through my days now with the intention of being mindful, I realize that I can benefit from some time to myself to recharge and collect myself. I now recognize that it is important to identify the things that fill me up and the things that deplete me so that I can move closer to my goal. So, I am now an intentionally mindful person moving through my days with the goal of learning how to become a happier person. Just making the decision to learn more about myself has helped me to move towards learning to “let things go” in an effort to actually figure out how to achieve a more relaxed mind in the midst of any chaos. So, I’m starting to take a long, hard look and hoping to benefit just from being open to it.
04 Mar 2012
Tags: family, fate, guide, happy, healing, journey, karma, life coach, oils, promise
I believe in fate. I believe that life hands you tons of opportunities everyday and your life is made up of the decisions you make moment to moment. When I started to think more about my own happiness I started to become more mindful of the small choices I make throughout each day. I remember having this realization, but I had no idea what that small moment of clarity would bring to me. About 6 months ago I got an email that I would normally have deleted and never thought about again. It was advertising an Open House event at a massage and physical therapy center I had used to help ease my back pain during my pregnancies. In the spirit of finding more ME time, I decided to attend the open house with a friend to learn more about how they were expanding the services offered at the center. At the event I met a holistic life coach named Allison and had an amazing conversation with her about aromatherapy, healing and ways to incorporate more ME time even in the most menial tasks throughout the day. I bought some beautiful oils from her and made an appointment to come talk to her soon after. Most of the journey so far has been guided by her wisdom, and I know it was fate that made me go so far out of my box and attend that event that night. I owe Allison a big thank you, she is not only wise, but brilliant at being a gentle guide and life coach. So, thanks Allison, my life is better because of you.
26 Feb 2012
Tags: choices, happiness, journey, personal reflection, realization, vision
I have a vision for myself. I see a peaceful, engaged family doing things together and enjoying it. I also had a realization. I’m not as happy as I’d like to be, and if I want to have a happy family I need to start with myself. Being a Mom is a stressful job, but I’m dedicated to enjoying as much of my daughters’ childhood as possible while at the same time providing them with everything they need. Before I became a Mom I hoped I’d be great at it, but until you become a parent there is no way to understand how hard it can be. It’s hard to be happy when you’re sleep deprived and putting the rest of your family’s needs ahead of your own. As much as I want the rest of my family’s happiness to lead to my own, I’m learning that I actually need to focus on my own to actually achieve it. Before I had children, every minute of my day was ME time, but now I have to actually schedule it if I want to even have a chance of having any. So, I’ve started to think about the things that make me happy and the things in my life that need adjusting. It’s hard to know where to start, and where the choices I make will lead me. So, I’ve decided to create this blog as a roadmap to where I’ve been along this journey.
22 Mar 2013
Tags: adventure, bonus activity, creativity, family, journal, memories, packing, plane, planning, tips, travel, vacation
The business of packing for a happy family vacation takes a bit of time and planning and a lot of creativity. There is a craft to it, make no mistake. But, when done properly, it can seem effortless and make all the difference. With 2 young daughters and half of our family living in Australia, we have plenty of long plane rides and complicated travel plans in our future. I’ve made it a bit of a hobby to collect good travel tips. I hope for happy memories of wonderful vacations as a family, so in order to make that happen, I feel like the work I put in now will yield better results and better memories. I want to set the stage for a lifetime of fun, enjoyable adventures!
Here are my top 5 tips plus a bonus traveling activity for kids of all ages…
1. Let the kids help you pack. Let each child pack a small carry-on of their own that they are responsible for carrying. Set limits as this can quickly get out of control. I allow up to 2 small furry friends and a parent has to do the final check (and usually a bit of negotiating) before the pack is approved for travel. Include the kids in packing the main suitcases too so they know what to ask for on the journey. Throw in a few surprises for meltdown moments. I always buy a new book, toy or movie for each kid and keep it for emergency situations….ok, I buy a few.
2. Take less stuff! After you are done packing, take a bunch of stuff out! Packing less stuff and doing a little laundry on the road will really lighten your load. Less is more! You don’t need all those toys! Going on a trip is like a scavenger hunt! New places and hotel rooms have plenty of new things to play with like cups and wash cloths that become instant new toys! A few coloring books and furry friends from home are usually enough to bring along for the ride.
3. Bring plenty of snacks both familiar and a couple new ones that you think your kids will likely enjoy. This is definitely the time to allow them to have a few extra goodies. Things like crackers, pretzels, and maybe just a few sugary snacks will come in handy to occupy your wee ones at the most necessary times. Bring lollipops for take off and landing if you’re going on an airplane. They will help keep those little ears from being uncomfortable and hopefully keep your kids (and your fellow passengers) a little happier. Carry a self-filtering water bottle for each family member so you can fill it up wherever you go. (Target carries a great one called Bobble) Keeping hydrated while traveling is always a good idea!
4. Bring your own car seats with you and rent the stroller at your destination! Check the seats with your baggage (in my experience airlines don’t charge for this) as soon as your kids are ready to sit on their own on the plane. Getting car seats onto the plane is not a pretty site, but having them when you reach your destination is worth the schlep. (We use GoGo Babyz Travelmate which snaps on to your car seat and turns them into a stroller to make it easy to push through the airport) When you arrive, you don’t have to worry about the level of safety or cleanliness of your car seats, you’ve brought your own from home. I’m always far less concerned with the state of my stroller than my car seats.
5. Don’t over plan! Taking it easy and going with the flow will let you enjoy the small stuff and hopefully allow you to enjoy your time together more. Having a tight schedule and over planning will surely lead to disappointment and stress.
And here is a bonus traveling activity for kids of all ages!
* Bring a notebook or journal for each child. On each trip, I bring a small journal, crayons, stickers (possibly that match the theme of our trip) and anything else related that suits our adventure and hand it out to each child at our first restaurant meal. Each time we eat out, while we wait for our food we use the time to journal and draw about what we’ve done up to that point. It helps bide the time since restaurants become a regular scene while on the road and can get to be a tough time for young kids. For the youngest vacationers, adults at the tables can write down the activities for them and they can illustrate and add stickers. For the child just learning to write, he or she can write down either words or sentences about the trip as you go. Each vacation journal will become a treasured souvenir. You can even add photos to it when you get home.
If you have another good travel tip, please add it in the comment section!
Happy trails to you!