And So It Goes

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

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

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

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

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

 

photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Goodbye Robin

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

 

beautiful words from the movie Jack starring Robin Williams

Becoming Me

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

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

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

Live life and engage in activities I enjoy.

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

Stay curious and learn

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

Live in the present

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

Meet new admirable people and reawaken valuable lost connections

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

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

Sleep and spend time alone

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

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

 

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

Midlife Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

photo credit to pippalou on morgue file.com

 

Live Simply, Think Gently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Find balance, seek peace, crave joy.

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

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

 

photos from morguefile.com

Becoming a Butterfly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meditate On It

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

photos taken in my meditation garden

The Story of a House

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

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

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

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

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

No Ordinary Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Judgement Vista

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

You are standing on Judgement Vista.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Long and Winding Road

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Perfect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

photo above was taken by me on a picture perfect morning

I Love A Rainy Night

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

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

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

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

 

 I Love A Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbit

Well I love a rainy night

I love a rainy night

I love to hear the thunder

Watch the lightning

When it lights up the sky

You know it makes me feel good

Well I love a rainy night

It’s such a beautiful sight

I love to feel the rain

On my face

To taste the rain on my lips

In the moonlight shadow

Showers wash

All my cares away

I wake up to a sunny day

‘Cause I love a rainy night

Yes I love a rainy night

A Father’s Love

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

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

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

Happy Father’s Day!

Inquire Within

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Love”

Love is real, real is love

Love is feeling, feeling love

Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love

Love is reaching, reaching love

Love is asking to be loved

Love is you

You and me

Love is knowing

we can be

Love is free, free is love

Love is living, living love

Love is needed to be loved

-John Lennon

photo above was taken at Park Ave Beach

Unapologetically, Authentically You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waldo image from Google Images

40, Fierce and Fabulous!

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

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

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

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

Dear Maya Angelou

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Dear Maya,

Thank you.

With love,

Jamie

 

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

Join The Mindful Revolution

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

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

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

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

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

photo courtesy of jade from morguefile.com

Discovering my Om

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

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

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

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

As I sat in meditation that became:

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

As I sat more and more often that evolved to:

“I am here in this room” 

and then:

“I am here”

Eventually, I was able to get to:

“I am”

and now I feel like I am approaching

“Om”.

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

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

photo taken on a meditation walk in Sarasota, Florida

Mother’s Day Gratitude

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

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

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

My Version of Eat, Pray, Love

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

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

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

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

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

photo taken at Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona

It’s Not Easy Being Zen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Loud

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

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

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

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

I Will, I Wish

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

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

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

Serenity Prayer

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

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

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

You May Say I’m a Dreamer

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

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

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

above photo courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

Positive Habits for the New Healthy

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

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

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

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

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

Love is the Answer, But I Forgot the Question

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

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

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

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

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Circles of Love and Life

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

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

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

 “Happiness Runs”

Donovan

Little pebble upon the sand

Now you’re lying here in my hand,

How many years have you been here?

Little human upon the sand

From where I’m lying here in your hand,

You to me are but a passing breeze.

The sun will always shine where you stand

Depending in which land

You may find yourself.

Now you have my blessing, go your way.

Happiness runs in a circular motion

Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.

Everybody is a part of everything anyway,

You can have everything if you let yourself be.

Happiness runs, happiness runs……

And with that we have come full circle.

Self-Care in a Toxic World

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

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

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

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

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

photo courtesy of fitwalk on morguefile.com

The Hero’s Journey

Be Your Own Hero: My Obsession With Jason Silva

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

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

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

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

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

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Letting The Days Go By

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

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

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

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

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Falling In Love With Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

thanks to Desiree Beauchemin for being a lovely photo subject

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

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

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

Developing and Calibrating Your Life Compass

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

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

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

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

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

photo courtesy of dieraecherin from morguefile.com

Be Grateful

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

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

Start each day with a grateful heart.

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

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

Someone else is happy with less than what you have.

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

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

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. ~Melody Beattie

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

Gratitude unlocks the fulfillment of life. ~Melody Beattie

Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind. ~George Simmel

What are you grateful for today?

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Healing Crisis

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of hotblack from morguefile.com

Discovering Yugen

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of keyseeker on morguefile.com

The Awakening

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of my friend Devon Delricco and his fishing boat

 

Taking A Moment

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Pick a version of yourself from the past that makes you feel loved, hopeful, and at peace.  Add as much detail as you want.  Is there someone there with you that deepens that impression?  Let yourself fall in love with the person you were and remember that you are still that person.  Embrace her, take some time for her, and let her be free of all the things that you know are about to happen to her.  I’m glad that younger version of me didn’t know how it was all going to turn out.  Why should we worry her with details?  Let her enjoy the moment.  Life’s best moments are just that: moments.

There’s not much I wouldn’t do to make myself well and keep myself healthy.  You might say I’m having a love affair with myself.  I’m pretty invested in making myself happy, and I’m not afraid to say it.  But a big part of learning how to love myself meant going back and learning to love the younger versions of myself that brought me to where I am today.  I have spent some time thinking about the times that were hard and how they have brought about the most change.  There’s nothing enchanting about sitting idle in a brokedown palace.  There is nothing natural about being stagnant.  Life is about evolving and growing.  By embracing the flow and staying focused on self-love along the way you nurture your soul and create hopeful and peaceful versions of yourself in the present to look back on in the future.

So when you convince yourself that you don’t have enough time to devote to yourself, or that you just can’t take a few minutes away from your busy life to quiet your mind and calm your soul, remember that one day you may need today’s version of yourself to draw on to ease your mind another day.  Take a moment. Make a memory.  You’ll thank yourself later.

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

photo courtesy of mconnors from morguefile.com

Friend of the Forest

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“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what things ought to be.” -William Hazlitt

An animal is born in a forest.  It has everything it needs and all it will ever use from that moment until the day it dies.  I don’t think a squirrel ever sits back at dusk and thinks about what it could’ve done with it’s life or all the opportunities it may have missed.  It simply enjoys the day.  Sometimes I envy that squirrel, but other days I don’t.  My thoughts go back and forth when I think of what my life would be without all of this responsibility, all of this abundance.  There are days when I want to freeze my life and just take a day to stop it all from happening.  Who doesn’t?  A squirrel, that’s who doesn’t.  But will a squirrel know some of the amazing experiences I have known or will know later in my life?  No.

There are days when I float through my existence feeling happy to be alive and enjoy running from one responsibility to the next.  I can even brush past traffic jams or small bumps in the road that used to make me pause in frustration.  I feel the growth.  All this hard work has taken me far.  But still, I don’t know if I am truly enjoying this life the way it should be enjoyed.  My perspective has changed, my attitude has improved and my momentum is good.  This promise to be my best self is in full swing and I feel good about where I am standing when I look behind me.  But life throws you curve balls and just when you think you have things under control, the universe will try and teach you a lesson that you are not always ready to receive.

At this point, now that my eyes are wide shut and my mind is widening, I’m able to extract more lessons from life.  There are signs and significance all around us, the trick is to open your mind to let them in.  How we receive information, and more importantly what we do and how we act upon what we learn, is what sets us apart from our animal friends.  When a squirrel runs into traffic only to run back when it realizes it will never make it across alive, it is demonstrating a smart choice.  If a squirrel had the thought pattern of some people, I think we would see more dead squirrels.  They have two choices: run or go back.  I feel pretty confident in saying that they don’t over think the process.  Humans on the other hand, have mastered the art of over thinking.  So, what are YOUR thoughts on being a squirrel?

“It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his perceptions.” -Mark Twain

I would never call a squirrel dumb.  Those smart little things have it made in the shade.

I love this life and I enjoy the abundance I have been granted.  I will continue to enjoy the goodness that I have been handed and be thankful for my life everyday.  But, that is not to say I don’t often pause and wonder what some of these lessons are about that my life seems to be throwing me.  Am I on the right path?  Have I made good decisions?   Will I continue to honor myself and make decisions that will lead me down the best path?

Life is a journey we take alone, but there is nothing that impacts us more than those we meet along the way.  There is nothing more important that spending time with the ones we love.  Even a squirrel would agree with that.

“All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” -Samuel Butler

Become A Master Of Forgiveness

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Your computer runs infinitely smoother after you empty your junk and clear your cache, or computer’s memory.  Your computer knows that less “stuff” in the way means that more energy can be focused on the important task at hand.  I always enjoy my desk more and feel more productive after I’ve cleaned off the surface of extra papers and “stuff” that I don’t need.  When I follow through and complete the “clearing out” in whatever way it needs to be done, I’m always happy I did.  It feels like a weight or a burden has been lifted and it brings me a bit of peace.

This same principle can be directly related to how we feel about the “stuff” in our lives.  All too often we give up valuable space or “real estate” in our thoughts to the useless junk in our minds that doesn’t serve us and is in serious need of being cleared out.  We tend to hold on to these thoughts and feelings for far too long.  When we feel hurt or wronged it’s hard to let go of the negativity that attaches itself to a situation and gets under your skin.  Be it from a simple, fleeting traffic incident or a deeply rooted issue, our thoughts about a situation or experience can occupy valuable space and keep us from living well and thinking freely and to our highest potential.

So how can we begin to live free of this burden?

The first step to letting go of negative feelings is to validate them.  Take them out into the light, give them a chance to be heard.  Allow them to speak their peace.  Say it, write it, breathe through it, get it out, and let it be done.  This process looks different for everyone.  For some, it can be the validation from another person that can finally allow you to move forward to the next step.  For others, it can be the act of writing it down or letting yourself think it through and giving that thought some time and focus.  The key to this step is to recognize and authenticate the importance of that feeling and give it recognition.  If it has occupied space in your thoughts and brought pain or any other significant feeling or emotion to you then it deserves your respect.  Stop and accept your feeling and allow your spirit to confirm it’s existence before moving forward.  The action of validation is an offering of respect and will lead you to the next step in your journey.

The next step, and the most important part, is forgiveness.  Forgive the feeling you have validated or the person whom has done you wrong or the feeling or situation that has led to this moment.  Forgiveness is a strength we all posses but few know how to truly harness.  Forgiving is something you can learn and master.  No one can tell you how to do it, but if you want to learn, all you have to do is try.  It looks different for everyone, but the end result is the same.

Forgiveness allows you to release the burden and clear your “cache”.  Your mind is now free to let go of the negativity that held your thoughts prisoner and breathe in new thoughts and ideas. When you free your mind of the junk and let “stuff” go, the reward is peace.  The process may seem simple, but the task is hard.

Validate.  Forgive.  Release….. Peace.

Above photo courtesy of hotblack on morguefile.com

Studying The Happy Animal

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An ideal site for a brisk, early morning walk.

There are many folks out there writing about how to find happiness, how to sustain happiness and the many keys to why happy people have been able to successfully sustain a happy life.  The truth is, one person’s definition of happy may differ so greatly from another’s that these articles often make me pause.  Giving general advice on how to make the masses happy seems like a valiant effort, but an uphill battle to say the least.

Each person has their own story, their own sense of happiness and joy that can either elude or consume them depending on the moment.  Happiness can be fickle.  Happiness can be fleeting.  Happiness can be simple.  But, the common thread of happiness is that it’s worth the effort and people will forever chase the carrot.

I will forever be a seeker of a more abundant, happy life.  I seek more time, more fun, more food, and often more spiritual growth in an effort to reach a happier state.  The abundance that turns me on and satisfies my definition of happy may not be what excites my neighbor.  My ideas of happiness may bore or disappoint others but leave my heart pounding with anticipation.

Recently, I went for a brisk, early morning walk around my neighborhood and listened to Native American flute chakra music to get my day started.  Next, I went to The Body Mind Spirit Expo with my dear friend who is a Healer and Reiki Master in her own right.  Throw your hand up if this sounds like a great day so far!  Maybe not everyone agrees, but for me, I’m pretty happy about this plan.  A happy, abundant life looks different for everyone.

Opening your mind and heart to being able to let go of your own judgements long enough to see the perspectives of other people’s happiness and how they may have arrived at their reasons can be an exercise in studying the social animal.  Have you ever pledged to reserve judgement only to immediately form an opinion of whether you like it or not?  Reserving judgement is a talent that takes practice, and considering other’s perspectives takes patience and understanding.  We are raised to form opinions about our environment constantly throughout the day and we often look to others to form those opinions.  Naughty or nice?  Accepted or not?  How often do you make your own choices and how often do you wait for others to make them for you?

I wonder how many of the things that make up my life exist in my world because they make me happy and how many of them have been put into place because I have been told they should make me happy?  Do we need general articles written about happiness to tell us how to be happy or should we all write our own?  Could we?

I challenge myself to continue to be a seeker of my own happiness.

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Another photo of an ideal walk. I just love bridges! Oh, and I just love those two little girls walking across this particular bridge.  Photo courtesy of Paul Drake

First photo in this post courtesy of Mary K Baird from morguefile.com

Two Healing Hands

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Whether or not you believe in superstition or any sort of ominous patterns of events, it seems an accepted tendency for people to look for events to happen in foreboding combinations of threes.  How we are to know when one faction ends and another begins is a another story.

But for me, it seems that matters occur in duplicate.  Whether milestones or simple life facts, for me beginning with being born under the sign of Gemini, I have always seen a dualistic pattern.  I believe this karmic impression was set in motion before I was born.  My grandfather was a twin and the twins married sisters.  Those couples had literally mirrored existences living and raising their families as neighbors, having a son and a daughter each respectfully and all sharing undisputably similar faces.  My mother has two brothers, I have two brothers and I now have two daughters.  I transferred to a second University where I found a first career and I had a first husband before I found my second to whom I am now married.  It goes on and on from there, always presenting a pattern in twos.  I feel a true duality in my life and most overwhelmingly apparent in my present existence is my second career I have found and feel deep gratitude for finding.

Just as I have two hands for healing, I have found a way to marry two paths of healing together.  This came as no surprise to me, two has always been my magic number.  I began a journey of nutritional cleansing just a couple months after I initially made my happy promise.  It came naturally as a step down that path.  When I decided to make a change, that change needed to incorporate not only becoming the best possible version of myself mentally and emotionally, but it also needed to incorporate a physical evolution into the healthiest version that this body would allow.

As I began a journey to heal myself and continued the process of documenting the journey, a new piece of the puzzle started to become obvious:  I needed to share this process as well.  As my family and friends witnessed my transformation from near and far, others joined in and shared the same positive changes in their own lives and I can now proudly say that my path has now taken me in a new direction.  I can devote more of my time and energy to healing others because I have gained financial freedom and continue to do so from all I have gained from my work with Isagenix and nutritional cleansing and I am grateful.  And, true to my dualistic nature, I am now earning a Certification in Healing Energy to expand on what I can offer to my clients.  So, MY happy promise has now become A happy promise that many others will continue to make to themselves and their families.  I feel truly blessed and this journey has only just begun.

My practice lives under the name My Happy Promise and offers clients a dual approach of nutritional cleansing with Isagenix with an option of added services in the field of holistic healing energies.  What I wish for people is for them to be at peace with their lives path.

Life is a journey.  “Not all those who wander are lost” -J R R Tolkien

Claiming Sacred Space

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Herbs and trees are our ancestors.  They were here before animals.

There is much to learn and respect from the ceremonies established around herbs by Native American Culture.  I have always been intrigued by ceremonial smudging which uses natural materials such as sage, sweet grass, tobacco, cedar, feathers, and abalone shells to clear negative energy from people, homes, and objects in an effort to claim sacred space.  I knew the basics of what was involved in smudging, but I wanted to go deeper and learn even more about this ancient ritual.

As I sat in a recent workshop given by Lozen Brown Bear, an inspirational Native American woman of Apache decent, I was consumed by stories of her extended family and how she was raised in a family rich with Native American Culture.  At the helm of her family is her mother whom she spoke of often during the workshop with great respect and homage.  The narrative of her family and the ritual of smudging and claiming sacred space were intertwined in the lessons imparted during this workshop.  A person needs to be grounded and anchored in their own space in order to perform this ritual.  It was very clear that Lozen’s mother took great care teaching this integral lesson over the course of her life, even to this day.  What a wonderful culture so rich in love and tradition to produce such a beautiful ritual, and what an amazing family to share this bounty in such a loving way.  I appreciated every word Lozen spoke.

During the workshop, Lozen led a Four Directions Ceremony to begin the ritual which pays homage to each direction and what it stands for.  The East symbolizes the sun rising, new beginnings, energy, faith and renewal.  The South represents animal teachers, guardians, instinct and the love and patience granted to us all.  The West represents The Council Fire, great wisdom and power and the opportunity to learn more.  And finally, The North represents the physical here and now and our sacred bodies.

The four herbs used during the ceremony each have a specific role and work together to pull out negative energy, replace the void with positive energy, honor the ancestors who have given us this ritual and anchor us so we can learn from these lessons.

It’s important to acknowledge Mother Earth during a smudging ceremony and thank her for her compassionate love for not only each other, but also for her.  We need to ask her for forgiveness for what we do to her and thank her for her beauty and bounty.

There is so much more involved in a smudging ceremony, and everything I have stated here I have learned directly from spending time with Lozen Brown Bear.  I want to sincerely thank Lozen for her guidance and wisdom and I look forward to spending more time gaining wisdom and guidance from her in the future.

I now use smudging in my work with people as I begin to dive deeper into my energy healing work.  I’ve learned so much from the healers and other guides whom I’ve been working with and learning from and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn even more as I continue on my journey.

A Gift From The Stars

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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.

Feeling At Peace With My Life’s Path

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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…

Five Day Journey to Awakening

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Be A Student of Life and Life Will Bring You Teachers

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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

Leaning In

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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

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