My Self-Love Top 10

votewithmyfeet

As the Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I believe he was not just talking about being kind to others, I believe he was talking about being kind to yourself. Kindness has been very much on my mind lately and I’m trying to live what I’m learning and practice what I’m preaching. I’m trying.

Lately life has been a strategic game of priorities vs. enjoyment. I’m trying to get all the important stuff done while still including some fun for myself, not always an easy task. Truth be told, none of this is possible if the self that you use to perform all of these life tasks is not functioning at optimal levels. We need to keep self-kindness at the forefront in order to accomplish anything else. So, for that reason, consider the things that you do to take care of yourself. I try very hard to not allow the self-care items on my daily to-do list be the things that get ignored when time is running short. Always make time for yourself. Always.

So what do you do to show yourself love? Here are some simple things that I do to show kindness to myself that make a big impact on my ability to feel at peace. Because when I feel angry, sad or disappointed, I’m not as likely to show myself any kindness. It’s an ongoing circle and balancing act of kindness, responsibility and effort.

Here are the top 10 things that I try and do for myself everyday…

1. I drink water. I try to drink as much water as I can everyday. The days that I don’t make it a priority, my body feels different and I always regret it.

2. I breathe. I never hesitate to take a moment and just breathe for a bit. I stop what I’m doing, fill my lungs with air and let it out slowly. Breathe. 

3. I play. Whether it’s with my dog, my kids or just being silly with a friend, I always feel better when I let loose and just play for a while.

4. I say no. I don’t let guilt get in the way of allowing myself to say no if I feel like it. I don’t always have to have a good reason, I just have to give myself permission to not do everything.

5. I unplug. I like to put my phone on silent and turn it over so I’m not tempted to check it. Unplugging leads to being present, and being present leads to enjoying the moment.

6. I sleep. 7-8 hours. Every night. Period.

7. I say thank you. When someone does something nice for me, whether it’s big or small, I make sure and say thank you. I make sure and show that I am grateful.

8. I speak my truth. I’m not one to mince words, I tell it like it is. Speaking my truth makes me feel good.

9. I eat mindfully. I pay attention to when and what I’m eating and I make a major effort to be as healthy as possible. It often takes a bit of extra effort, and sometimes self-control, but in the end it’s worth it to pay attention to what I put in my body.

10. I vote with my feet. When I am present it means I want to be there and it shows people that I care enough to make an effort. I show up. Excuses are easy, but when I know it really matters, I make an effort to be there.

What’s on your list? Have you done any of them today? There is still time, but now is the best time. Now.

gratitude to 5demayo for the perfect photo from morguefile.com to show how lucky we are to be able to vote with our feet

My Patchwork Life

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I am a Quilter. I am creating my connected moments one at a time, weaving them together to create a beautiful and intricate story representing people and places and moments that come together to resemble the story of my life. My patchwork will show varied times of balance and divergence and then the piece when I find center. These are all moments stitched together into one big interwoven quilt: my lifetime.

Peace comes when you can create and string together more moments of calm and begin to brush away the times of aversion. It’s about learning to create your own reality in a space where you can quiet the chaos that life brings us regardless of how many calm moments we can stitch together and enjoy in a row. Life can be messy, life can be beautiful. Look to nature to see that often even the moments that seem vile and disgusting are usually necessary to bring about change. But, it’s the varied colors, stitches, patterns and binding that create interest and make your story your own.   

Imagine your quilt with all of the moments of your life strung together and interwoven into a beautiful flowing adornment of comfort that tells the story of you and the ones you love. The people closest to you will have significant presence on your quilt and the places you go will be pictured there as well. This is what keeps you warm on cold nights and protects you from the chill.

What experiences are you wrapping yourself up in? Do you like the look of your life’s quilt? Does it represent what your heart calls out for? Are there changes that need to be made as you create the next piece of your patchwork? You are in control. You are the Quilter.

gratitude to ronnieb on morguefile.com for the above photo of the quilt

Radical Empathy

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What if we all practiced radical empathy? What if we could understand and share the feelings of another on an organic, fundamental level and we allowed ourselves to show profound appreciation, compassion and kindness in every way possible? What if we could take that extreme level of compassion and apply it to our lives? Three ways of manifesting and expressing this kindness would be toward yourself, kindness to others and kindness to the earth. How closely could you align to this idea? Keep in mind that part of this process would be showing kindness to yourself, so there is no need to be perfect. “Everything in moderation, including moderation” – Oscar Wilde

With a deep acceptance of the state of the world in general and the ability to have sage perspective of concepts like ego, we can achieve kindness to the self. On so many levels, kindness expressed to yourself can liberate feelings of anxiety, guilt or obligation and beyond. Enjoying self empathy is so much more than taking a break, a vacation or even getting a massage. At so many points we get in our own way of feeling calm and enjoying a feeling of peace. We convince ourselves that we are not strong enough or capable enough and opportunities to be happy or enjoy life simply slip by. Being kind to yourself includes accepting things the way they are and letting go of the outcome. The tighter we cling to controlling an outcome, the further away it seems to slip. If we can learn to truly let go, we can show ourselves the most organic, radical kindness. At the same time, inserting the radical part of this equation means understanding how to create a foundation of love for yourself and getting primal about satisfying your needs and desires. When you marry these ideas, you can reach a deep level of self-care.

Kindness is the act of showing the love you feel. Showing kindness to others becomes easier when you lay a strong foundation of self love. When you genuinely feel good and can let go of the guilt often attached to enjoying a calm state, you can begin to show kindness more easily to the people around you. Showing kindness is elemental really. We are how we treat each other. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

Are you always as kind as possible? If you express kindness in even the most basic everyday interactions, it not only feels better and helps you enjoy a flow state of calm, but it gets passed forward to those on the other end of your gentle kindness. But, I don’t practice kindness so it will come back to me, I enjoy the gentle look on people’s faces when they receive it. Seeing people happy and relaxed makes me happy and gives me hope. Try making your everyday acts a bit more kind and see how it effects you maybe even more than others.

It’s amazing how many times during each day we have the opportunity to be kind to the earth. So many of the choices we make throughout the day a chance to express your values. From the products you put on your body to what you chose to put on your plate three times each day, we have so many chances to show our morality. We have so much power over our actions which is ever present in the compassionate activism related to our food, our practices, and our world. “The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.” – Michael Pollen  The choices we make demonstrate how we exist within our environment. Imagine what else is possible with kindness. 

Practice kindness, make mindful choices, own your journey. What if radical empathy was the new black? 

children know radical empathy, thank you Tori for showing me what it looks like in the photo above

The Kindest Kind of Kindness

mother child photo

When did liking yourself become a rebellious act? When did taking care of yourself become something to feel guilty about? How can we possibly take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves? How can we ever be a proper role model if we don’t model how important it is to value yourself?

We all play our own unique role in this grand village raising our kids. We all teach them different ways to live and the many different paths to follow. But, for me, of all the lessons I am capable of teaching, how to love yourself and stand strong and brave are the lessons that my heart and soul are best suited to teach. I want to teach my children to be kind by showing them how I am kind. I want them to internalize the importance of being nice to yourself just as they are learning to be kind to others so it becomes something they value throughout their lifetime.

So why do some people find it so hard to show kindness to themselves? Those who know and understand their needs and can swiftly and adeptly cater to them should be revered! What a wonderful trait it is to know yourself well and understand what makes you happy. How beautiful a mind that can take it all in and sift through to make their own distinctions and then respond accordingly. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristolte I find that those who can take it all in, know what they need and then act on it are the happier people I know and I believe that is because they understand the importance of self-kindness. Whether it be an evening walk in the crisp fall air, a massage or not accepting a thought that gives you pause, knowing what your body and soul need to feel calm and at peace has become a rare, hidden talent in today’s world. Being kind to yourself is the kindest kind of kindness and we need to become experts at it as well as make time and space for it.

Just as the meaning of life has always been vague, the definition of happiness is purposefully left cloudy so each person can reimagine it for themselves. For me, kindness is a major component of happiness. I enjoy being kind to others and living as a kind citizen of the world. This means being mindful of myself and my environmental footprint as well as trying to satisfy my needs while reaching toward my dreams. That’s a tall order and somedays happiness seems like a lot of work. But, just as with everything, a bit of forethought, planning and creativity seems to be worth it when you get to enjoy the spoils of your efforts.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” -Dalai Lama

Gratitude to hotblack on morguefile.com for the beautiful photo above

What I am

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What I think…

Happy is better. But, happy can be complicated.

I’m going to find my happy no matter how many bumps I find in the road. I’m learning new ideas and starting to feel them sinking in more and more deeply as the journey goes on. Most importantly, I’m internalizing that happiness is an inside job.

All of the “if I only had …. then I’d be happy” and the “it’s really his/her fault that I’m not happy” are not real. Reexamine those. 

Using excuses and blaming other people or situations is futile. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about accepting your path and your reality. No matter what you believe in this moment, you hold the reigns and you control the outcome. Or maybe you believe in fate, but the framework of what fate means to you still grows from your conscious. It’s all up to you. 

You may frame a less-than-desirable outcome as a disaster to linger and fester over OR you can see it as an opportunity to grow and a chance to take a step toward a better future. The only one who suffers from your anguish and funk is you. The person (or place or thing) that may have contributed to your state of being in this moment is far more focused on themselves and their own funk. Let them exist in it, you have the beautiful opportunity to create your own reality. You have the choice to create your own happy.

What I will become…

Peaceful. I long to create a life that feels peaceful and calm. I want to feel love flowing through my house and my relationships. I want to master the tools that work for me, but never stop learning and growing. I am and always will be a Seeker. I want to die hungry and curious because there is too much to ever learn or know in one lifetime.

What I know…

Life is magnificent. Life is to be enjoyed.

Happy is possible. I deserve to be happy.

What I am…

I am a Wellness Coach. I’ve studied many of the healing arts such as yoga, meditation, Reiki, smudging, chakra balancing, and so on, but I am not a Healer. I guide and empower people to heal themselves. Healing is an inside job. As much as I would like to help others or take on their pain, each person has to learn how to heal and grow in their own way and in their own time. I have a passion for guiding people to discover what will work for them, but everyone has to do the work for themselves. Roll up your sleeves people, there’s work to be done.

The photo above (by mrmac04 from morguefile.com) of the lotus flower reminds me that even a beautiful flower can emerge from muddy water… everyday. 

Being Present

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Being present means living in the moment. Being present means enjoying right now instead of replaying past events or role playing possible future scenarios. There is a time for each of these to take place, but when it’s time to be present, it’s good to be able to relax into the moment at hand. It’s a skill worth mastering.

Our ability to be present depends a lot on having good boundaries. Your boundaries should be intentional and unapologetic. Keeping good control and understanding of what you want and need helps you to stay “in the moment” and enjoy more. Having weak or undefined boundaries makes you more likely to be passive or let others define them for you. Taking responsibility for yourself avoids the opportunity for others to take control of us. At the same time, respecting other’s boundaries will demonstrate how you want to be treated.  This means often letting go of our attachment to outcomes and need to control each result. Inner peace comes from letting the outcomes naturally play out in each moment without judgement or attachment. Being present means paying attention to yourself and whether you are trying to alter the moment and outcome instead of just observing and accepting it.

When you add judgment, comparison, or competition to the present moment, you are no longer being present. If you can let go of what you think “should” be happening or what “might have been” then you can more easily let go and enjoy being present. There will be enough time to lick your past wounds later. Trust that you can handle this moment, you deserve to enjoy what’s happening now and you will be capable of juggling whatever is thrown your way next. “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure” -author unknown 

Do you have a mind that constantly races in every direction? One way to bring yourself into the present is to learn how to quiet your mind and focus on what matters right now. Taking yourself out of the moment and becoming an observer when you begin to feel anxious or fearful may help you to gain insight into whether or not this moment really requires that response. Fully experience this moment until it’s time to move on to the next. Being an observer of yourself may help you learn more about what triggers those moments of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is power. Observe and breathe…

The moments are going to keep happening. Fighting against the moment does not make it go slower. Each moment comes when it is supposed to come. Take a big, deep breath in. Now let it out slowly. You either took the time and felt present enough to enjoy that breath, or you rushed through it to see what was next. Each breath happens, quick or slow is an illusion and a judgement that you put on those moments. Time never speeds up, time never slows down. Even if you fight against the present moment it will still happen and still move at the same speed. Change will happen, change keeps coming. No matter how hard you try, you can only breath in OR out… never both at the same time. Each breath comes when it is time. 

Staying present means realizing that you can only do one thing at a time. Whether it be work, pleasure, obligation or otherwise, multi-tasking with either your body or mind is just not possible. Being able to do several things in quick succession with great ease should not be confused with multi-tasking. Complete one thing, then move on to the next.

Let time move and change and flow while just being within the movement of each moment. The less expectation of the next moment, the more you can fully enjoy the present. Reflection has it’s time and the process of learning involves thinking beyond the moment at hand and there will be time for all that too. But, when you can live and breathe in the now….. just be.

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Taming The Beast

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The moment I asked to receive gentler messages is the moment the nightmares stopped. I sat up in bed one night a few years ago after another horrible scene passed through my head and demanded that there must be a more gentle way for my subconscious to relay these messages to me as I sleep. The nightmares lived in my head for years, scary images and intimidating possibilities ran wild while I slept. I was sick and tired of feeling overtaken by these cloudy ideas that would linger in my consciousness. I became angry. There was no other choice, I needed the nightmares to stop. Whether it was my inner being that took serious notice and finally internalized that message or a universal energy or entity that heard my plea is not important. I had enough of that feeling of terror and sadness in the middle of the night and I needed it to stop.

And it did. I haven’t had a nightmare since that night.   

That was when I realized how much power I had over my body and mind. That was when I knew I could make significant change all on my own. When you play the victim you attract attackers, but when you stand up straight and strong, aware and capable, the attackers move along to find a more willing victim. I chose to stand strong. As I tell my children now when they are afraid, “any monster that would come into this house should be far more afraid of me than I would ever be of it”. And I don’t just say it, I believe it wholeheartedly.

It only takes a person to recognize their own power to be able to achieve this kind of shift, this kind of life changing revelation. It’s something that you may have to reiterate to your heart and soul each day like a mantra, but the power and ability is within you to not only ask for kinder, gentler messages but also to receive them. You create the framework within your head, no one else can control what happens in that space. You are responsible for every thought, excuse, missed opportunity or achievement because it was born inside your own mind. Taking the reigns and learning to tame the animal within you is one of life’s major struggles. When you recognize that the animal inside CAN be tamed, the journey becomes more about what you put out into the world and less about all of the things holding you down and keeping you from moving forward. When you recognize the power of the body and mind you have been given and use those powers wisely, you discover that you are, in fact, a superhero.   

After Max visited the land of the Wild Things and deconstructed the myth of monsters and reframed how we live inside our own rooms, fears and families, we see that everyone has hopes and fears and everyone has the beast within who tries to control how we frame our surroundings and our lives. But, when you open your eyes to the possibility that we have complete control over how we manage those beasts and how we teach our children to manage their own beasts, we see that the monsters are within us to make us stronger, more human and more fierce than we ever thought possible. Once you figure out the science behind harnessing strength, change happens. 

So “let the wild rumpus start” (Maurice Sendak) and begin to tame and understand your beast within. Let the power of monsters give you strength to fight for a wonderful life, not keep you in chains from the beauty and peace that you deserve.

If you want the nightmares to stop, just ask. 

gratitude and photo credit to http://wallpoper.com/ for the above photo from the movie Where The Wild Things Are based on the amazing and empowering children’s book written by Maurice Sendak

The Brightest Side

Koan mountain view

It’s not about someone else discovering you, it’s about you discovering yourself. It’s not about getting noticed, it’s about noticing. The world starts to feel different when you let go of stressors that don’t serve you like judgement, obligation and guilt. You don’t just start to see the brighter side of things when you make the decision to be genuinely happier, you see the brightest side. It’s a truly conscious decision that you have to make over and over consistently, and with absolute confidence. Being decisively committed to your own happiness allows your inner light to shine. 

I made an authentic decision to create positive change in my life. After years of hard work, growth, discovery and deep reflection, I feel confidently optimistic about the path I have put myself on. I knew that in order to build a life filled with things that make me happy, I had to first dismantle my existing life to the point where I felt lighter and better able to become who I wanted to discover. So, I sold my house and most of my belongings and moved to a place that I had always wanted to live, Colorado.

It was a complicated couple months as we sorted through belongings deciding what had value, served a purpose or felt sentimental. We held an estate sale, garage sale and sold several items online. In the end, we were left with the essentials and packed our lives into a 16 foot rental truck.

It’s been 2 weeks since I became a resident of Colorado. I’m not sure if it’s the crisp mountain air, the light refreshing afternoon rains, or the new zen patio I set up the minute I got the keys to my new place, but I’ve never felt so calm and peaceful. The easygoing lifestyle combined with the welcoming, friendly people have made me feel very at home. With a lighter schedule and beautiful sunny weather, my girls and I have been able to spend long summer days exploring our new home and surroundings. We’ve been enjoying each other in a whole new way. My girls and I have truly savored this gift of time with each other and I know they are appreciating their more relaxed and happy mom.

Instead of struggling through stressful, less-than-ideal days and feeling stagnant in my life, I decided to take a leap of faith and look on the brightest side, and I’m so glad that I did. 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw

gratitude to koan for the beatiful photo above from morguefile.com

Dear Chicago

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Dear Chicago,

I’m not leaving because of something you did wrong. It’s not you, it’s me. From your beautiful summer nights to the birth of my two daughters, I leave here with so many beautiful memories, too many to list.  And, I’ll be back to make more memories as a visitor, for at least a while. I’m not moving away from something as much as moving on and trying to let go of who I have been here. This journey to find my happy place has vividly pointed out what doesn’t make me happy. I’m still working on figuring out exactly what does.

I deserve to be happy, feel comfortable and grow. I deserve to reconfigure my normal. You can’t go back, but you can go forward. The only way to change is to change the way. It’s all about the journey.

Warmly,

Jamie

Dear Denver,

When we met 25 years ago, I had no idea that I would never be able to stop thinking about you. I considered coming here for college and was accepted to the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1994 as a transfer student looking to make big changes and relocate to somewhere exciting. Even though I chose Phoenix at the time, I always wondered what it would have been like if I had made a different move. I’ve been back several times over the years, and it always feels more like home than anywhere else.

The pull to give you a try has now taken me over and I’ll see you in a few weeks to start my next chapter. Now, I know you have a lot going on and a lot of people here to please, all I’m asking is that you show me kindness and support. I’m not in a hurry, but I would like to see if my future is here. I’m feeling confident that you will give me a sign and show me the way, not let me wander too much from what could bring me happiness. I believe in you.

See you soon,

Jamie

gratitude to dharder on morguefile.com for the above photo

Seesaw Sisters

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Jewel and Joy are sisters. They love to play together. It’s fun having a play mate right in your own house, but sometimes Jewel and Joy want to do different things. It’s hard to always agree on what to play.

One day, Jewel went to her mom and asked to spend some time alone at the park. She was tired of playing with her sister all the time.

So Jewel went to the park without Joy. She spotted the seesaw and jumped on! But the seesaw is not as much fun by yourself. As she sat on the seesaw unable to make it move, she wished her sister was there with her.

Just as Jewel wanted some time alone, so did Joy. The next day, Joy wanted to go to the park without Jewel.

When Joy got to the park she ran and hopped on her favorite piece of equipment, the seesaw. But as she sat on one end staring up into the sky at the empty end of the see saw, she realized that the park was much more fun with her sister there.

The next day, Jewel and Joy decided to go to the park, together. The both ran and hopped on the seesaw and enjoyed how it went up and down and up and down! They laughed and smiled as they flew up and then down enjoying the beautiful day, together.

Sometimes together is better, but sometimes you have to be alone to figure that out.

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