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

Happy Anniversary To Me!

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Happy 1 year Anniversary to me!  I started this blog 1 year ago today, and I’m so very glad that I did.  Thank you to all of you who have been following my journey and supporting me in all of your different ways.  I am grateful for every like, comment and mention at the family dinner table for they all mean that someone has taken the time to acknowledge me as a writer.  This blog is far from my first effort as a writer and will be far from my last, but it has been an entirely new kind of learning experience.  The Blogosphere has been a spectacular new realm for me to explore!  What a wonderful gathering of information and talent, technology and innovation!

This blog has been read in 50 countries around the world in my first year, has 1,136 followers, and received 2,121 hits as I write this.  I’m grateful, and I hope that I will continue to earn your respect and interest in the years to come.  Thank you.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”  - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The Culture of Happiness

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My blog has been read in 50 countries around the world and that makes me very happy!  But, it also gets me thinking about how the concept of happiness translates across cultures.  Do my musings about happiness translate to all of you?

We are a multi-cultural household.  My husband is from Australia and I am from the US.  Much of our ideas about happiness overlap, but we have seen some divergence along the way.  So, I have seen that culture does play a role.  That being said, I have learned that it is each individual that ultimately defines their own happiness no matter what their culture outlines for them.

I do think a smile translates into any language.

In some cultures, it is frowned on to flaunt your wealth and good fortune while in others it is perfectly acceptable to declare your worth.  Does that impact happiness?  Can you achieve more or less happiness on your own, or does it make a difference if others know your happiness status?  Is what you broadcast to the world as your level of happiness your actual level, or do you put on a brave face while feeling quite different inside?  What is acceptable in one household or one extended family within the same culture varies, so happiness means so many different things to so many different people.  What means the most is to figure out what it means to you.

Many cultures define their level of happiness by the level of interconnectedness among people within that culture.  There is an interesting book about the link between culture and happiness called “The Geography of Bliss,” by Eric Weiner that explains this idea quite clearly.  For example, the people of Maldova do not have a strong feeling of trust within their people and are known to be some of the least happy people in the world.  Compared to other, happier countries such as Italy that encourage more deep rooted personal connections within their culture, it’s hard not to blame this lack of connectedness for their lack of happiness.

Sad to think that the US may be leaning more and more in that direction.  So many of us spend long hours at work and in our cars and end up having less and less time to connect with loved ones.  Will we end up being a less and less connected culture and therefore a less and less happy one?  Has it already started to happen?  Eric Weiner believes that the US “is not as happy as it is wealthy”.

We each have to take our happiness in our own hands and fight aggressively against that end.  Just as we each must fight for our own health and well being, we must also fight for our own happiness.  Long gone are the days of just being handed these rights as we sit back and enjoy them while our kids play outside until the street lights come on and we all come inside for a family dinner.

So, no matter which generation you were born in, what culture you come from, or what your mindset is right now, you still have the power to decide how you define your own, personal happiness.  Do you want to define you happiness by your personal achievement, your interpersonal connectedness, or the number of zeros in your bank account?  It’s not for anyone to judge but you, but do consider the outcome of each before you make your decision.

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” -Maya Angelou

Losing The Game, Happily

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I would lose the game of Survivor as reality television has defined it in modern society.  I like to see the good in people, maybe to a fault.  I would fall for every lie and get voted out of the tribe pretty quickly, most likely; my torch ceremoniously snuffed in no time flat.  I find myself longing for more deep rooted connections with people who make decisions with their soul, I don’t have time for anything less.  “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for”  -Bob Marley.

Along this journey we meet all kinds: the huggers, the secret keepers, the hand holders, and even the ones with broad shoulders that light up our world and give us hope that the energy we give will be well received and maybe even returned to us.  But we also meet the greedy, needy, depleted, obstinate, and egocentric characters who pull us down and drain our positivity and good energy.  It’s never much of a stretch for people who only think of themselves to concoct a useful strategy to get what they perceive will fill their needs.  “The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment”  -Doug Larson.

Our lives are full of choices each day, each minute, each thought.  Our time is too precious to be wasted on anything that doesn’t raise us up and bring us joy.  Anyone who does not get you to that end does not truly have your best intentions tied to their own heart.  “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”  -Abraham Lincoln.

The Thing About A Promise

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A promise is your word that you will accomplish something.  When you make a promise to yourself, it’s a promise that simply can’t be broken without serious consequence.  So, that’s the thing about a promise to yourself, it’s a pretty serious undertaking.  If I can’t keep a pact with myself, I am only accountable to me.  No one to blame, nowhere to hide.  So, I accept this obligation with great urgency.  I did this to myself, pledged this oath all on my own.  The punishment for failure is far too great for me to consider even straying from this path for a second.

I know a lot more about what doesn’t make me happy and who I am NOT than what does make me happy and who I AM.  But that’s a start.  I want to get to know myself better.  Part of this journey is understanding who I am and where my happiness comes from.  “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.”  ~James Openheim   So have I been foolish?  Have I been seeking happiness off somewhere else instead of seeing it and nurturing it right here where I am?  Maybe.

Self honesty is an important part of inner balance and in turn, inner peace.  How you honestly feel about yourself and how you truly feel about your values and your life will form your real opinion of yourself.  See your true value and speak it in your own mind and in your own heart.  Make it a habit to see the positive things about yourself and others will see them as well.   We are usually our own worst enemy.  “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

‘My Happy Promise’ is a promise I made to myself, and even on the days when I don’t feel at my peak, I hold myself to my highest expectations.  I have seen people go to great lengths, both positive and negative, to gain the approval of others and I hold strong on my need to only gain the approval of myself.  It is not through the eyes of other’s expectations and perspective that I choose to measure my happiness.  Don’t get me wrong, I seek counsel from those whose truths and values are similar to my own, but even they know that I make the ultimate decisions.  It is the best teachers in life that guide your hand but don’t solve the problem for you.  And so I challenge myself yet again to get to know myself in a brutally honest way.  I pledge to be mindful of my thoughts and responses like a research scientist.  I will gather data and record my findings.

How well do you really know yourself? Do you truly acknowledge all the real things about you?  Are you the best possible version of yourself or is something holding you back?  If you can’t have this conversation quietly in your own mind, then you can’t move forward and truly find peace. How can you hold yourself to your own standards, understand your own values or visualize who you want to become if you can’t take the time to understand who you are today?

Throw Yourself Down The Path

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What could you change in your life right now to allow for more happiness?

If only you had more….time?  money?  patience?  stamina?  drive?  talent?  what?

Is it something you can learn?  Something that is already in you?  Something you’ve always wanted to do do but never found the……?

If you could pick one thing to focus on starting today, what would it be?

If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies.  People like to talk about the before and after pictures, but not many tell the tale of in between.  We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but shy away from discussing the process it takes to become one.  There is no shame in what happens in that cocoon, nature grants us amazing gifts like metamorphosis and renewal.  We see this process each spring.  Nature celebrates growth and evolution because from it we gain beauty, knowledge and transformation.  We tend to gardens and sow seeds from plants and trees that have gone through their own metamorphosis that will now give way to new plants that will grow and change and so on and so forth….

Is there something small you can change in your life that would make a big difference?  Is there something big you can change that you’re ready to shift?  We’re all on our own journey, we all have a path to follow.  “What you’re missing is that the path itself changes you.” -Julien Smith, The Flinch

Throw yourself down the path you choose and let your feet catch up when they can.

We lay the tracks now knowing the train will later come and have a smoother journey down this path.  It takes hard work to lay those tracks, but I lay them with care so my children can ride that train until my hard work runs out and they must get out and begin to lay their own tracks.  I can only carry them so far, and then they must learn and build for themselves, but I can be a positive guide and show them a good path to follow by choosing to make small changes for the better each chance I get.

“For the likes of you, the path to happiness is one mean son of a bitch of a path.” – Dean Koontz, Dead and Alive.  I’m more afraid of the alternative.

On Perspective

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Most soul searching is sparked when things go wrong.  It often takes a dark patch to inspire the pathfinder in us.  The ability to find strength and opportunity to grow in the midst of hardship shows fortitude and spirited character.  We can find ourselves feeling lost and confused in any kind of situation.  It’s about perspective.  It doesn’t always takes true dire straights to feel truly out of balance.

Not everyone has the means to fly to Italy and India to eat their way to the pleasure of nourishment and pray their way to inner peace.  Some of us have to find balance within the context of our comfort zones, no time to take a step out and make changes.  We have families and homes that need our attention and time.

The truth is, we hold all the tools we need to change our path right where we stand.  The way I feel at the end of a good yoga class is often the same way I feel at the end of a great vacation.

I’m learning to find balance and add peace to more moments in my current existence.  I’m weaving peace into the chaos of daily life.  Eventually there will be so much peace that the chaos will no longer have as much power.  This is my choice.  I have to make that choice in each moment.

I’m a mom of young daughters and most of my time is taken up serving the needs of others.  There is nothing else I’d rather be doing at this point in my life, but that being said, this is no easy task.  My own needs often go unmet and although I happily give myself to my family, even the most giving mother will struggle with this from time to time.  I’m finding myself being pulled toward wanting to take an inner journey at this stage in my life, but I just don’t have the time to devote to focus on myself.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have the time to focus on myself that I feel this pull, but I feel it nonetheless.  So, it’s my onus to balance this life that needs my full attention with my own need to go inside and do some searching.

Even if the scale tips heavy toward my family responsibilities in this moment, my perspective needs to remain unobstructed.  There is no need for a self indulgent journey around the world for inner peace when I can gently pull at the threads of peace and work them into my life right now as best I can.  I will find them, weave them in and watch them become more and more prevalent.

When the time is right the threads will become thicker and more abundant, but there will be plenty of time for that later and I can wait.  The truth is that what seemed to be a dark patch is actually a shining light of hope and abundance.  Change your perspective, change your life.

Orange Rose

My Mind is a Playground

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My mind is a playground and sometimes I just let it play and I don’t write things down. It runs and skips and splashes in puddles. It giggles and does cartwheels and flying penny drops.
Other times my mind paddles a heavy canoe down a long murky lagoon and gets tired.
Some days my mind lays in the grass basking in the warm sun enjoying the nothingness…
There are times after I have let my mind wander that I wish I had written more things down. I know I had some good thoughts. Thoughts that made me pause and consider, grow and ruminate. But, like any growing pain, it’s the ultimate growth and change that matters. You don’t really remember the pain exactly, only that it happened.
The difference now is that I am thankful for the growth, and even the pain. Every romp on the playground, row in the boat and time spent in the nothingness are steps taken in the right direction toward a better, happier me. And that, in the end, is the reason for my promise.

Happy Christmas!

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Here we are at the close of another year and I’m feeling grateful for another season of giving and receiving love.  Seeking happiness has led me to find it in some wonderfully unexpected places.  It’s also led me to have a deeper appreciation for a music icon for whom I have always had a strong admiration.

It may not have been John Lennon’s intention to give the world such a highly recognized Christmas standard when he released Happy Xmas (War Is Over) considering his original intentions were more politically aligned with protesting the Vietnam War, but as with all art, we can all extract our own beauty and meaning from his brilliant words.

The song itself has been covered by so many artists, but I prefer to hear John himself sing it to me.  Each time I hear the song I get lost in his words and his simple message that seems so easy to understand.  He hopes I had a nice year and he thinks I should look back and consider what I did and didn’t accomplish and it’s pretty important to remember my loved ones this time of year.

And then there is the new year.  He hopes it’s a good one, that’s a nice thought.  I hope it is too.  And I wish he was still here to enjoy more time, it’s sad that he didn’t have more time to enjoy.

So, no matter who you are, where you are from, or how old you are, he hopes you have a very, merry Christmas and a happy new year…and that bears repeating…

Happy Xmas by John Lennon

So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

A new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear ones

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

The rich and the poor ones

The road is so long

So happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red ones

Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

And what have we done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

And we hope you have fun

The near and the dear ones

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

War is over, if you want it

War is over now

Merry Christmas!

Lake House Mentality

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Each person has their own definition, or idea, of success.  For me, success is defined as being the master of my own time.  Feeling rushed and constantly hurried from one thing to the next is not the mindset legacy that I want pass on to my daughters.

I long for lazy, Lake House afternoons.  That is the setting of my dreams.  A Lake House is symbolic of so much for me.  It means taking it easy.  It means that I have the means to pay for it.  It means that I have the time to spend there.  So for now, I’ll settle for my pursuit of Lake House Mentality right here in the suburbs.

The pursuit of Happiness is an uphill battle that can be bumpy and disappointing.  When you set your expectations too high you are destined for disappointment.  When I imagine time spent at a Lake House, I don’t imagine a group of happy people bouncing off the walls shouting about how happy they are, more like a relaxed group of my closest family and friends finding a place where they feel welcome to kick off their shoes and really take some time off.

If you covet a Sitcom Mentality where every problem finds it’s clean, witty solution in a timely manner or Chick Flick Mentality where everyone finds their sidekick buddy who picks them up when they’re feeling down, then you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment.  But if you instead find your own reasonable, attainable version of Happiness that becomes the backdrop of your dreams and provides you with what YOU need to feel happy, then you’re on the right path.

I haven’t started shopping for my Lake House just yet, but I’m able to see it in my dreams.  For me, in this moment today, happiness isn’t a fancy car or a designer handbag, it’s the idea that while I wait for my Lake House, I can start working on my Lake House mentality right here where I am.

Advice From A Tree

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The deep rooted symbolism of a tree is hard to deny, and over the last year of my life in particular, the strong, massive presence of trees and what they stand for has been an undeniable presence in my life and down my life’s path.  I would like to recognize their importance in my life and take notice of what lessons they have to impart.

A forest full of trees is as beautiful as it is dangerous which makes the allure even more great.  The lessons that I have learned while walking through this particular stretch of forest have been as daunting as a dark forest in the dead of night and as inspiring as a lush, green path at the break of new day.  I’m taking it all in.  I’m learning and growing slowly, like a tree.

A flower may grow to it’s full beauty in one season, quick and noticeable, but that’s not what I’m after.  A tree grows long and true. A tree stands firm and strong for years to come.  A flower may attract more attention in the short term, but the tree stands it’s ground and lays roots as far and wide spread underground as it does above ground.  You may not realize as you stand next to a tree just how much is underneath the surface.

Wood is solid, wood is long lasting, but at the same time with a spark can be burned to the ground.  Even the strongest of oak trees has a weakness.  But the symbolism of a large, abounding tree is unmistakeable.  There is much to be learned from our forest friends and I am in constant awe of their lessons and beauty.

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On Being Content

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A funny thing happened on the way to being happy. I learned that being happy is an embellished state of being and not a completely sustainable state. It’s like adding bling to being content, or at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But, there is a way to raise your content state if it’s been set down too low and needs a bit of raising. I have found that the more ‘happy habits’ I incorporate into my days, the happier I find my sustainable happy state to be.

Some of my happy habits include:

1. Have conversations with my happy friends and try very hard to avoid communication with the people in my life that tend to be more negative.

2. When people ask me to do them a favor I always do everything I can to say yes.

3. Purge some of the everyday stressors…I changed careers and am now A Nutritional Cleanse Coach and help people get healthy and flush their body and life of toxins and negativity!

4. I mind my own business. I am working on being mindful about not making other people’s drama and emergencies my own unless completely necessary.

5. The complaint department is closed. It’s a lot more fun to share good news than complain about what is not exactly perfect. Life is pretty good, after all.

Instead of riding the highs and lows so frequently, I am finding it much more enjoyable to find the middle ground and coast; like going for a boat ride on a clear day when the water is like glass and the bumps seem even and soothing. I’m not going to miss riding the boat during the 6 foot waves when it feels like a storm is coming and the end is near; the days when you need to know exactly where your life vest is at all times because you never know when you’ll have to reach for it.

Finding my best self has meant finding that nice, comfortable middle ground. Life is full of storms, I don’t need to create my own on perfectly clear days, which is exactly what I was doing before I made my happy promise. Maybe I should have called it My Content Promise, but that just didn’t have the same ring.

Above photo courtesy of my relaxed and floating friend Shannon. Even her pretty toes look content.

Happy Trails

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A happy wife means a happy life, but lately it’s been nice to see my husband so happy about his new obsession…racing. He is becoming his own finely tuned machine, and it’s pretty fun to watch it happening. Paul has been a PE teacher, personal trainer, swim coach, tennis coach, and Australian Rules football player and coach since I’ve known him. He’s always loved to run, swim, bike, lift weights and just generally push the envelope, but something changed a few months ago when we both did a nutritional cleanse. We each dropped 25 pounds and ran our first races, me a 5k and Paul a half marathon. We both felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and knew we would be doing more races in the future.

Not long after, Paul announced he had signed us up for another 5k and that he would be running his first triathlon after that. I knew he was addicted. Any free minute he had he was going for a run, hopping on his bike, or swimming laps in the pool. His training was really starting to show. After shedding those pounds and getting focused on these races, his body is starting to look better than it has since I’ve known him! I’m very proud of him and in awe of the hard work and endurance it takes to complete these long races. Immediately after each finish he seeks the next starting line and starts training all over again. What a great display of character and determination and what a wonderful lesson to be teaching our daughters. Watching my husband pursue this new interest has made this wife happy and in turn our life happy.

A special congratulations to my honey for finishing 1st in his age group this past weekend at The Waterloo Fit City Triathlon! Way to go honey! What’s next?

Paul Waterloo Triathlon

My Giving Tree

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Family traditions have to start somewhere and my family is just getting started.  So, I’m planting some good, solid roots that can grow into long established traditions in years to come.  A dream of mine is to someday own a lake house where my family can gather and spend lazy days and nights gathered around delicious meals and campfires.  As of now I don’t have that lake house of my dreams, so for now, I’m planting the seeds of summer time vacations spent together at a place that is very close to my heart, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

As a little girl, for 5 summers I took the ride up to Elkhart Lake to spend my summer at Harand Theater Camp…..a fairy tale memory of childhood dreams of endless days and nights, bonfires and beach games, swimming and roller skating and all that magically happened in between.  When thoughts of summer camp roll around in my head, I remember friends as they were in camp t-shirts eating ice cream cones and opening care packages, sitting on bunk beds and passing pitchers of bug juice down long tables of laughing campers excited to embark on the night’s next activity.

In the heart of camp sat the main building (which was appropriately called Wonderful Town) that over the years has served different purposes to different owners which I learned as I walked down the halls of the now beautiful, family-friendly resort that sits on what used to be Harand Camp.  Old photographs of generations from even before Camp Harand was in existence tell the stories of what had come before.  I imagined what those people would have thought had they visited our camp years after the land had changed from the way they had known it.  Nostalgia abounding, my mind was spinning with curiosity about the people that have wandered those grounds over the years.

It’s still hard for me to stretch my mind enough to remember where the cabins sat, where the lush green pastures lay and how that piece of land could have possibly been the same place that pops up in my dreams so regularly.  But somehow, in my dreams, the lawn is untouched and every inch is as it was decades ago.  But as I walk the property with my daughters telling them stories of why there are concrete handprints from friends I knew back then that I am still happy to call my friends today, I try my best to realize exactly what has replaced those treasured buildings from my childhood.

As I enjoyed a peaceful massage at what is now a beautiful spa, in my mind I could hear the sounds of the screen door slamming and friends laughing and running around on the porch of Wonderful Town.  When I left the spa, my mind projected campers running to Sam’s Place (our dining hall) and as I turned to walk back to my room, I heard echoes of campers singing “No Man Is An Island” in Gaffin Theater as if Uncle Byron himself were on stage leading the group.  I began to think….even if camp was still standing as it were when I was a little girl, I would still never be able to go back to those memories the way they live in my head.  I keep those in my mind and just being there helps me to remember.

The corner of the world where Camp Harand stood for all those years has been my Giving Tree throughout my life.  As bittersweet as it has always been since the minute I heard that camp Harand as I knew it was coming to an end, during this trip to Elkhart Lake I came to peace with that end as if finding a resolution to a long time quarrel.  I discovered a beautiful PEARL that has been resting there, waiting for me to find it.  What was once a childhood fantasy has now become a family wonderland.  This place has changed through the years almost identically to fit my needs and for that I have found a way to be grateful.

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Finding Zen In Organization

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The act of organizing seems so un-zen, but a completely organized, clutter-free abode is so completely zen that I’m feeling myself being pulled in that direction.  I’m so acutely aware of my surroundings lately that it’s like I’m seeing my clutter with new eyes.  It’s as if I’m a new visitor judging another’s piles of stuff and feeling the need to weed through the chaos.

I enjoy the feeling of a comfortable, lived-in home.  I want you to come in and feel like you can relax, sit wherever you want, and let your kids run around and touch stuff.  Kick off your shoes, grab a drink and plop down on the couch for a nice chat.  I grew up in a house that felt that way and I aim to make my house as welcoming and cozy as my parent’s home.  Between my husband, myself and two toddlers we have a lot of stuff.  The problem is keeping it all in check.  I don’t want my guests to come in and see piles of papers, toys and laundry and have to take flying leaps over shoes, backpacks and dolls.  This family needs to find a way to get organized, and as the Mom, I’m in charge of “Project Organize This House!”  As of right now, it feels like my ducks are pretty far from being all in a row.

I can’t organize an entire house at once, I have to organize one room at a time.  So, the first thing I need to do is make a list of rooms in order of their priority.  Which room overhauls will make the biggest difference for my family?  Which changes will make our lives flow easier?  In which rooms can I uncover the most happiness for my family?

Here is my plan of attack:

1. Family Room

2. Girl’s Rooms and Bathroom

3. Master Bedroom and Bathroom

4. Laundry Room/Storage Room

5. Linen Closet

6. Coat Closet

7. Playroom

8. Kitchen

9. Office

10. Garage

I’m allowing myself 8 weeks to complete this task and granting myself a reward if I am able to complete the entire task on time.  I believe a day at the spa will be in order, that seems pretty zen to me….om.

Watching The Quiet Things

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Goal Reached!  Now What?

Maintain.  Sustain.  Don’t gain.

Being healthy makes me happy.  Feeling light and unencumbered is something I haven’t felt since long before I started growing my family.  Twenty pounds lost and I’m moving through the world differently.  My list of things to do is ever growing, but my reserves of energy are never ending!  Instead of feeling heavy and overloaded with burden I feel joyful and poised to prevail!  It’s amazing what you can convince your mind and body to feel when you have the motivation.

Sometimes when I watch my family doing the quiet things they love, it’s in those moments that I remember why I made this promise to rise into my best self.  The journey needed to begin with shedding toxins from my body and that will be an ongoing process.  But, it is going to be those glimpses of my beautiful daughters sleeping or my husband out enjoying his garden that will remind me of why I continue to do the work that may not be as noticeable to the masses as the reformation of my outer shell.  Now that I am learning a more healthy way to feed my body, I have to keep finding better ways to nourish my soul.

Two Wolves

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Love is Like a Butterfly

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Cleansing Old Habits

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It’s been 11 weeks since I started the cleansing leg of my happiness journey.  I’ve lost 17 pounds, I feel healthier than I have in over 5 years, and I finally have the stay-at-home business opportunity that I have been searching for since I became a mother.  I’m starting my second round of cleansing today with a new set of goals and a peaceful mind ready to embrace more change.

Any time you approach a life changing opportunity for a second time, you proceed for the with larger pool of knowledge to pull from.  So, this time, I’ve realized that I can give myself a few more goals to accomplish in addition to shedding some unwanted pounds and more importantly flushing my body of unwanted toxins.

The first time around I was able to give up my resistance to change.  Without change there is no renovation, transformation or evolution.  I embraced my metamorphosis and I have reaped the benefits of feeling healthier and having a more clear mind.  I have more energy!  I ran my first 5K.  I broke free of old fears and as I rose up to meet my new challenges it felt as if the world rose up to meet me.  I had not expected these particular changes, but I happily accepted them and celebrate them with a renewed exuberance!

This time around I have pledged to attack some new binding flaws holding me back from being my best self. I want to give up some of my unhealthy food attachments and form some healthy new ones.  I want to give up the excuses about why I cannot give up certain foods and why I can’t add others into my diet.  I want to experiment, investigate, research!  I plan to cook, create, concoct!

Today is day 1 of my 11 day cleanse and I am bouncing around the room with excitement!

Fruit on the 4th

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It was record breaking heat that ruled our 4th of July celebration.  Temperatures topped out above 100 degrees and no one could stand to be outside for more than a few minutes, but we didn’t let it spoil our happy day!  We still managed to find a way to have some healthy, indoor fun on the 4th.  It may not be the prettiest, but this flag of fruit is the most beautiful thing this Mom has ever seen.  We washed and cut strawberries, blueberries and bananas and tried our best to recreate a photo we found on the internet.  The finished product lasted about 3 minutes before we tore it apart and ate it as our afternoon snack!  Happy 4th of July!

Bamboozled at the Movies

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Taking my daughters to see their first movie made me very happy!  Having to carry my frightened 2-year-old out during the trailers because they were incredibly terrifying did not make me happy.  Who matches up the movie trailers with the feature film and why is the rating of the actual movie not considered more carefully in this process?

I took my 2 and 3 year old daughters to see Madagascar 3 in the hopes that they would be entertained by the familiar characters and easy to understand humor.  In my opinion, three of the five movie trailers were exceedingly inappropriate for the target audience that a movie trilogy like Madagascar attracts.  I have no problem with my kids seeing Katy Perry don all sorts of crazy outfits and sing about fireworks, but when my girls saw the trailer for Paranorman they were almost driven to tears by the horrific monsters and Psycho and Jason spoofs that were way too nightmarish for their innocent little eyes.  Do they really need to be introduced to the idea of creepy, green monster hands coming out from underneath a bed while eerie music plays?  I have done a pretty good job of hiding this sort of thing from them so far only to be bamboozled by the movie industry.

I was able to take my youngest out of the theater and calm her down.  It took a few minutes of convincing her that the actual movie had not started yet and then we were able to enjoy the rest of our time at the movies.  So shame on the movie industry for dropping the ball on this one.  I really feel like there must have been some better trailer choices for a cartoon meant for young audiences.  I’ll never arrive in time to see the trailers again, so the movie industry is missing out on a big advertising opportunity with this family.

As for the happy part of this adventure, I’m thrilled to have another outing I can enjoy with my kids!  Being able to venture out to see a movie on a rainy afternoon is a pretty cool option to add to my mommy bag of tricks.  We nibbled on popcorn and licorice together and giggled with each other through the whole movie.  I’d just like to keep it G rated for as long as I can.

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Sense and Sensibility

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Strong, confident mothers make me happy.  Watching mothers drench themselves in their children’s enchantment delights me.  Mothers with a diligent commitment to their children’s well-being are a gift to this world and it is a mother’s natural intuition that sets the stage for the path down which we lead our children.  Good intentions and sensibility doesn’t guarantee a good result, but it does provide us with the promise of a mother’s love.

I believe in my own intuition and that I usually know when to trust my gut and when to look beyond my wisdom and seek the advice of others.  Who is to say what is right, what is wrong, and what makes sense for your family?  In the end, we are all perfectly imperfect.  Mother nature shows us the beauty of imperfection all around us.  A wild, natural field of systematic equal lines and measures would be awkward and unnerving.  Nature tells us that magnificence means random splendor and haphazard protocol.

Every mother is born with intuition; that feeling in your gut that speaks to your heart and guides your hands and feet.  We all have it, but with so many “experts” with so many different theories, do we ever have an opportunity to exercise it?  Always being told exactly how to handle every scenario doesn’t leave much room for going with our motherly guts.  Are some of us missing the connection to our own innate mother’s wisdom due to lack of self confidence?  Modern mothers often seem to fear drawing their own conclusions.  Maybe we are just simply afraid of being wrong.  We are constantly turning to the “experts” on our children to solve even the most mild issues, or non-issues.  I wish more mother’s would trust their instincts before consulting a professional; listen to their heart before listening to anyone else.  Why should a doctor’s diagnosis always be more important than a mother’s intuition?

YOU are the expert on your child.  Whether you gave birth, adopted, or inherited the child you are caring for, it is you, and only you, that knows your child better than anyone else in the world.  Making a decision takes time and consideration.  Sometimes your intuition tells you to consult with someone you trust.  If it’s a friend, make sure you want their opinion.  If you speak to a professional and your intuition tells you something is off, consult another.  Take time to come to a conclusion, don’t jump to a label or course of action because you feel bullied.  There is value in professional advice or advice from a loved one, and they have a lot of it.  Make sure you weigh it against what your gut tells you is right.

Mothers, let your intuition guide you.  Don’t be afraid to listen to the unexplainable, often visceral, voice that speaks from your gut and longs to guide your heart.  Trust what your Mother gave you.

Happy Fathers Day

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“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Theodore Hesburgh

I’m lucky to have an amazing husband who knows how to cook a meal, tend to a garden, keep a nice house, be a good father, and so much more, all while being a damn strong man.  How lucky can a girl be?  All that makes me very happy.

Thanks darling, for the man you are, and for the woman you have helped me become.  I love you.

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