Category: Everyday Goodness

For times where we get to check ourselves and appreciate small, meaningful moments. Or even big moments that give us a good kick in the pants!

Knowing You are Good “Enough”

blue star backdropIn this day of fitting in one more thing, or “reaching for the stars” it can be difficult to see what we are actually doing. It can seem like no matter how much we run from one work task, child’s activity, volunteer task, paperwork, financial document, or exercise class, the only feeling that we feel is run ragged. At the end of the day, all we check off in our heads are the to-do checkmarks left undone and the tasks that didn’t make it on the list at all. Even when we feel like we have had a “busy day,” we can feel unaccomplished and unworthy. The measuring stick of accomplishment can seem like it constantly is moving. All of us in this society of perpetual bootstrap-upping are asked to be masters of their own homes, successful in their careers, genuine spouses and expert parents, financial gurus, accomplished socialites, and oh wait, have the lean body of Gillian Anderson? All of that, while also accomplishing the basics (which often go by the wayside) of feeding, watering, and resting ourselves. It is even a wonder with those expectations that we don’t show up forgetting to put our pants on in the morning. Have we even counted up the hours necessary for that cacophony of expectations? My gracious. No matter how much Steven-Coveying we do in planning sometimes it feels like we are still going to end up in the negative. All of this with most of us working a US average of 47 hours a week and spending more time with our kids than any time in US History (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/19/AR2007031901972.html). We continue to raise the bar on what it means to be “an adult” in America while constantly feeling like we are failing.

A good friend, who is a wonderful mother, and the organization guru that I only aspire to in my wildest imagination, said to me this week how she went to the gym with her four children, did a class, and had her children participate in a class. All had a wonderful time and she had a feeling of pride at this new accomplishment. However, the enthusiasm was dampened when she met another woman who also had four children, all approximately 6 months older than hers, but she told me that they all seemed to do things a bit “better.” Coordinated exercise outfits, organic snack in between activities, etc. etc. and they had been to the gym four times that week. All my friend could think of (and frankly, myself too!) was “HOW DID SHE DO THAT?” She did everything that I did….but better??? My friend’s excitement at having made it to the gym with all of her kids withered and it bothered her, because all she could see was the image in front of her, and like a cruel mirror it said, “Haha. Nice Try.”

Why did her image of her accomplishment change? Why does all of our moments of accomplishment change, that alters that sense that we “are enough.” Many times it is the moments where we look around and see what we perceive to be each other’s “baseline of operation” and judge ourselves for not cutting it. We concentrate on the magic trick in front of us, not knowing the circumstances from where this comparative image comes from and forget to see what we are doing day by day in creating the life we have. From an evolution stanpoint, I suppose this makes sense, in a rather “survival of the fittest sense.” We want better for the next generation. And I think that sometimes this translates to what we perceive as “the next generation” of ourselves? Like New Year’s Resolutions, we try and imagine the next “version” of ourselves. Not all of us have children, but each day we have the opportunity to make ourselves better, a rebirth. Does it truly make us better? How is that even defined?

The author Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements” offers us this: he states that one of the four basic rules of living is to “Do Our Best”—nothing more and nothing less. Only our best. Ruiz states that we can only do our best and that our best is customized and personalized only to…you guessed it, ourselves. He states “Our best will change from moment to moment, will be different when we are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.” One of our greatest mistakes is comparing our best to someone else’s best, without truly knowing all of the circumstances surrounding the person we are comparing ourselves. Yes, they may have done the seemingly impossible—successfully wrangled four polite children in coordinating outfits to the gym four days a week—but we don’t know who may have helped her at home with that, what some of the other areas of her life looked like, if her house is as messy as mine….who knows….and frankly, should we care enough to compare? Does it serve us to care or compare, or does it make us simply feel bad about ourselves and our contributions? We cannot possibly have the energy and focus to “be the best” in all areas of life, and even if that were the case, what best would we be comparing ourselves? Ruiz states “always do your best” not “always do the best,” which is a gigantic difference in perspective. It is the difference between feeling like you have done enough, and that you accomplished something, and the feeling like you are always coming up short. Do we do our best when we feel like we are always coming up short or does it deplete us? Give yourself the gift of feeling like you are enough by acknowledging your accomplishments, and see how you feel. It may “the best” thing you do for yourself all day. 

Activity: As it is the beginning of the month, look back on February and think of all of the things great and small that you accomplished. Did you finish a proposal or paper? Were you friendly to someone when you didn’t exactly feel like it? Did you exercise (even once!)? Did you cook dinner at home for your family? Clean your house? Did you make a tough decision? Or deal with some lingering grief? Do a small home project that you had been putting off? Log more hours in at work? Did you make a therapy or doctor’s appointment that you have been putting off? Do something new or out of your comfort zone? Go out with a friend…or phone one that you haven’t spoken to in a long time? Anything counts, and should, as a good first step in recognizing what you bring to the world.

And remember, the old saying, reach for the moon because if you miss you will land among the stars is an astrological impossible quest. Stars are further than the moon, so in reaching for the moon you will just land in the earth’s deadly atmosphere. Keep it local people. Reach for being your best self….which is complicated in and of itself!!

The Power of Meditation

In our fast-paced, frantic world it seems like the thing we want most is to be able to just sit and relax! And then we get the opportunity to do just that . . . woman-computer-phone-internetand then the TV goes on . . . and the smart phone . . . and the tablet – and before you know it there you are surrounded by technology and providing your brain with no less than 4 separate tasks. Does that sound relaxing? At all?

Meditation is pretty much the exact opposite of that. It is an opportunity to be mindful and completely present, an opportunity to take control of your thoughts and not let them kidnap you and run away with you. There is an abundance of research on how helpful mediation is in calming anxiety, stress, and general unhappiness. It has incredible short and long-term benefits. It is free and takes no more than 20 minutes a day. So why aren’t we doing it?

It is so hard to slow down and to give yourself the luxury of doing nothing but sitting and being present. Do you even know how to do that? It certainly isn’t intuitive, you have to learn how to do it and work on being present and still. Meditation is an act of cultivating stillness and silence. Those are two things that society tells us is bad, that to be happy we need to be seeking the next best thing and to be doing something fun and enjoyable. If that were actually true wouldn’t the search for happiness be over?

Something must be off, so let’s try something different and look inward for sustainable happiness. Something that doesn’t fade and doesn’t have conditions on sticking around.

How do you meditate?

Meditation Postures 008This is a very simple question, simple process, but with difficult follow-through. In order to meditate you sit in a quiet place in a comfortable position, generally on a chair (not a lazy-boy), and close your eyes. Then focus on your breath, breathing in and out being mindful of you body, remaining still and silent. You’ll have a lot of thoughts come zipping through your mind “Did I pay the water bill?” or “I want ice cream” or “This is boring.” Just let them pass and fade away and remain still and silent, focusing on your breath.

So easy, right? After you sit for 20 min, let me know how easy it was to stay focused on your breath! It is challenging but the cultivation, the continuous process of bringing your attention back to your breath and the here and now, that is the mediation. That is what will lower your stress and anxiety. The decision to respond to life’s challenges in a mindful and intentional way is how you can stop stress from controlling your life and stop anxiety from creeping in when you least expect it.

A good introduction to mediation is to practice mindfulness, I have posted about mindfulness in daily life and mindfulness for stress relief, but there are also great resources out about mindfulness meditation that are a great addition to your personal library. 1

Have you ever tried to meditate? What was it like for you?

Notes:

  1. Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Gift from the Sea: by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Picture1Recently, a surprise came to me in the mail, unmarked, but a completely perfect gift.  I later found out that my sister had sent me the book “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a book that she had mysteriously found while vacationing at my grandmother’s home.  It had been my mothers and had filtered through 3 generations.  This book is timeless in how it captures the common struggle of finding time to live, to pursue, to raise children, to work, to struggle, to find purpose and meaning, and to not go completely insane in the process.  It is also, I was surprised to find out, written by the wife of Charles Lindbergh, not only the wife of an adventurous aviator, but also the courageous woman who went through the terrible uncertainty and loss of having her first child kidnapped and found out later, killed.  I was also surprised to find out that included in their history were five other children, an escape to Europe for safety and privacy life that was interrupted by war, and a return to the states where she and her husband lived by the ocean with their children and wrote.  Her pursuit for peace amongst so much chaos and tragedy is inspiring, especially when life can feel so uncertain.  I think that in grief, whether that is of a loved one, a broken relationship, or of a lost dream, most all of us know that there is a good deal of looking back, but that also included in grief is a look forward, of what we might be seeking once we come out of the clouds of grief.  For the Lindberghs, without knowing them personally, it seems like from their story they went to the ends of the earth in search of peace, and by finding that peace they also found wisdom.  Here is a small excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s learned wisdom:

“Vague as this definition may be, I believe most people are aware of periods in their lives when they seem to be “in grace” and other periods when they feel “out of grace,” even though they may use different words to describe these states.  In the first happy condition, one seems to carry all one’s tasks before one lightly, as if borne along on a great tide, and in the opposite state one can hardly tie a shoe-string.  It is true that a large part of life consists in learning a technique of tying the shoe-string, whether one is in grace or not.  But there are techniques of living too, there are even techniques in the search for grace.  And techniques can be cultivated I have learned by some experience, by many examples, and by the writings of countless others before me, also occupied in the search, that certain environments, certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others.  There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow.  Simplification of life is one of them.

I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily–like a hermit crab.  But I do not.  I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity.  My husband and five children must make their way in the world.  The life I have chosen as wife and mother entails a whole caravan of complications.  I involves a house in the suburbs and either household drudgery or household help which wavers between scarcity and non-existence for most of us.  It involves food and shelter, meals, planning, marketing, bills, and making the ends meet in a thousand ways. It involves not only the butcher, the baker, the candlestickmaker, but countless other experts to keep my modern house with its modern “simplifications” (electricity, plumbing, refrigerator, gas-stove, oil-burner, dish-washer, radios, car and numerous other labor-saving devices) functioning properly.  It involves health, doctors, dentists, appointments, medicine, cod-liver oil, vitamins, trips to the drugstore. It involves education, spiritual, intellectual, physical; schools, school conferences, car-pools, extra trips for basketball or orchestra practice; tutoring; camps, camp equipment and transportation.  It involves clothes, shopping, laundry, cleaning, mending, letting skirts down and sewing buttons on, or finding someone else to do it.  It involves friends, my husband’s my children’s, my own, and endless arrangements to get together, letters, invitations, telephone calls and transportation hither and yon.

For life today in America is based on the premise of ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves not only family demands, but community demands, national demands, international demands on the good citizen, through social and cultural pressures, through newspapers, magazines, radio programs, political drives, charitable appeals and so on.  My mind reels with it. What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives.  It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!

This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of.  It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace; it destroys the soul.  And this is not only true of my life, I am forced to conclude, it is the life of millions of women in America. I stress America because today, the American woman more than any other has the privilege of choosing such a life.  Woman in large parts of the civilized world has been forced back by war, by poverty, by collapse, but by sheer struggle to survive, into a smaller circle of immediate time and space, immediate family life, immediate problems of existence.  The American woman is still relatively free to choose the wider life. How long she will hold this enviable and precarious position no one knows.  But her particular situation has a significance far above its apparent economic, national or even sex limitations.

For the problem of the multiplicity of life not only confronts the American woman, but also the American man. And it not merely the concern of the American as such, but of our whole modern civilization, since life in America today is held up as the ideal of a large part of the rest of the world (22).

…(29) Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside. But I am starting with the outside. I am looking at the outside of a shell, the outside of my life–the shell. The complete answer is not to be found on the outside in an outward mode of living. This is only a technique, a road to grace. The final answer, I know, is always inside.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh: A Gift From the Sea, Written in 1955,  p. 18-22 & p.29

Justify This! Live Your Live without Explaining Yourself

Erin recently sent me a link to this article listing out 18 things women shouldn’t have to justify or explain. It is a great article, and a fun read and I encourage you to check it out here. But it got me thinking: what is the point and purpose of justifying yourself? Justification is not something that serves us well (and if you have read any of our other posts you know how I feel about doing things that serve you well), so let’s cut to the chase and just live as we will and do the things that bring us happiness, rest, and a sense of wellbeing.

justify-cartoon

Justification is damaging to the person needing to present the reason or purpose behind an action, event, or state of being. Sometimes things are out of our control and to have to explain away why something is when we had no hand in creating it is ridiculous. Looking at #11, justifying why you wanted to put less makeup on today versus yesterday is ridiculous – it is no one’s business and it brings into question your level of worth as a person through someone else’s point of view. Justification means we have to explain to someone why we are worthwhile and why we are important.

People demanding justification from us are the same people who are trying to put you down or belittle you. I don’t want to imply that this always comes from a malicious place or that people are out to get you because they aren’t! Most people ask for justification because they honestly don’t understand something, they have a different worldview, or they really want to help you be better by examining your though process. I bet you had no idea all that was riding behind, “Wow – you just ate more than my kid brother after hockey practice, were you really that hungry?” This person is probably a little surprised you could hold that much food at one time, and is wondering if it is healthy for you to ingest that much at once. A question that is rooted in concern and surprise grows into a mess of judgment, blame, and guilt.

When we don’t understand things we ask for an explanation. Now, truth be told, I think that is a good thing. When you don’t understand or you are interested to know more you should ask questions and dig around a little bit to find answers and deeper understanding. But seeking understanding and seeking justification are two different things.

  • Understanding is non-threatening and is validating to us.
  • Justification is judgmental and harmful to both the asker and the person asked because of its sneak attack on personal worth.

Justification has become so ingrained into our culture that we often provide justification for the things we do without being asked. We are questioning our own self-worth before anyone else is. That is how deeply rooted this guilt-seed has become. You wear leggings and you have to say that it is because they are comfortable; you want to spend all Saturday watching your favorite show and that is ok because you worked a full 40 hr week. What is that like, to have to prove why your thoughts, feelings, and actions are valid? To have to prove that it is ok for you to be you at your best and worst times? I think that is kind of hard, and it takes your biggest advocate (YOU) and forces them to be your first critic.

When we have self-compassion and we cherish ourselves, then we know that we are innately worthy and that our choices are good just because they serve us well. You love leggings – so enjoy wearing them. You love your favorite show, so watch it relax!1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Out with the Old, In with the New

It is amazing what we can learn about life by listening to our bodies. I have been working on breathing a lot lately, especially when it comes to helping people deal with issues around anxiety and stress. When we get really worked up and our worry, our anxiety, starts to run the show then deep-breathwe don’t allow our body to fully exhale. The body hyperventilates and the breath is shallow. When that happens the inhale becomes rapid and short and the body doesn’t take in the oxygen it needs.

All of that is to say that when we breathe the way our bodies naturally breathe best (the kind of breath that occurs in deep, restful sleep) we are exhaling fully, emptying all of the air and breathing deeply to fill the lungs with fresh oxygen. When we take in that fresh oxygen we are giving our body another opportunity to sustain life, another opportunity to move forward. The complete exhale makes room for that deep inhale, that full opportunity, to happen.

What would it be like to draw a parallel between our breath and the way we look at life?

When we exhale fully we are letting go, shedding the air that no longer serves us, the air that has completed its task. When we let go we are freeing ourselves up for new and full opportunities. Sometimes it is difficult to do that, scary even. What if we aren’t able to take in enough air? What if we start to feel lightheaded and uncomfortable? There is something about holding onto the air we already have (as used as it may be) that is comforting. We want to hold onto it because it is familiar and it gives us the illusion of fullness.

If we don’t let go off that used, hot air, then we can’t fully take in the new, fresh air around us. Just the same, when we don’t let go of the things that no longer serve us, the stuff that is used, we aren’t able to fully pull in the opportunity to start again. To breathe in fully is the same as moving forward to new opportunities in our lives where we can be refreshed and fulfilled. By keeping old air in that space is to deny ourselves of the full opportunity to move forward.

Where in your life are you holding onto old, hot air that has already served its function? Are you wanting to feel better about your work performance but can’t let go of the comfort of letting others take the lead? Are you wanting to take your relationships to a new level but are hesitant to move forward? Are you wanting to start a healthier lifestyle but find that letting go of certain creature comforts is overwhelming?

For every space in your life where you feel afraid to fully let go of the old things that no longer serve you, consider what you have to gain by exhaling fully and inhaling the new possibilities. Is it worth the temporary discomfort to potentially move yourself to a new, fresh place? A place you have been wanting to go but have been hesitant to go there?1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Cultivating Happiness

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I have been hearing a lot about being thankful and noticing where we can have an attitude of gratitude instead of dwelling on the things that we wish were better. If you have been reading anything I have posted you know I am a big fan of being proactive and intentional. Can you tell what is coming? That’s right – we are about to get intentional with our happiness and gratitude.

Yesterday Erin wrote a great post on keeping a Gratitude journal. It is an awesome idea and if you haven’t read the post please check it out here. It will be time well spent! I want to take that idea of noticing good things in our lives and take it a step further. How would it be if we created opportunities for ourselves that we are thankful for or that made us happy?

happinessHere’s the challenge: If you have been thinking how nice it would be to get together with family, to call up an old friend, go for a hike, whatever it is – I want you to make an opportunity for yourself to do just that! This does not need to be something that takes a lot of time or money or effort. Does it get any easier than that? A phone call takes minutes and is free. Spending time with your family can be a lot of fun and with the holidays coming up you have the perfect moment to get folks together to do something a little out of the ordinary.

There will always be a million things that we want to do and a million and one reasons why we shouldn’t go and do them. Those reasons that are keeping us from the things that make us happy are keeping you from cultivating an experience of joy. When you take care of everything else on your list but the thing that would make you smile or just feel good then you are doing yourself a disservice. You are your most important investment and when you take the time to take care of you then the other things on your list the things you need to accomplish will be so much easier to knock out.

Now taking time to invest in ourselves and as Erin put it to “build our family timehappy” is a difficult thing to do in today’s culture. We constantly hear that we need to do things for us, we are number one, but then we get a mixed message that we should not be selfish or self-serving. We need to be humble and still do everything to stay on top. That is confusing and it wears a body out! We are getting mixed messages and it is darn near impossible to please both sides. Of course we want to be able to be there for others and do avoid that selfish label like the plague, but we also want to be happy and do good things for us.

So how is this challenge of creating opportunities for happiness different from the cultural messages we are slammed with every day? I would venture to say that by cultivating a lifestyle of happiness through small experiences of joy we are setting ourselves up to be able to pour out to others. We proactively build our happiness through small attitude and action shifts and when we do that we have more energy to be our best with the people around us. Happiness is contagious and when we are happy, through shifting our attention to an attitude of gratitude or creating opportunities for happiness, the people we come into contact with have a prime example of how to cultivate happiness in their own lives as well.1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Letting Our Dreams Grow

I once heard that our dreams and ideas for our future are like seedlings and that in order for them to grow it takes time, nurturing, but also a lot of positive praise and patience.  It also takes the right people to know about the seedlings, which sometimes can be a very select few.  There is nothing better than the person who mirrors our own excitement about our dreams and encourages us forward.  However, have you ever, in your excitement about your dream, your new best thing, told the absolute wrong person only to be disappointed by their reaction?  We all know them, the naysayer, the balker, the minimizer, the worry wart…they can be like the four-horseman-like quartet that destroy dreams from the outside in.  They are the ones that say, “Ha! That will never grow here!” or from the balker, “Why are you trying to grow something like that? THAT will never work” or the minimizer, “That thing is so small.  I grew that when I was like 5!” or the worry wart, “Are you sure that in growing this plant it is not going to destroy the very life that you have built??????” (That worry wart is probably a little on the dramatic side…we will call them Drama Queen Worry Wart).  

Now, those that have these reactions don’t always intend to stomp on your seedling of “now broken dreams” (now who is being dramatic), and often they have their own reaction based on their own fears, concerns, remorse, regret, etc. in their lives or concerns for yours.   I am also not at all suggesting that these people are this terrible source that come raining  an apocalyptic hail on your little tiny plant on purpose.  No.  Often those that we trust with our news are those closest to us, those whose opinions we value highest, which makes the disappointment so real.  Do you have a close family member who you love dearly, but you know that every time you tell them something you are excited about, you end up being hurt by their reaction?    Do you have a friend that is going to make your good news (that is in its early stages of growth) about them?  We all have those people in different points of our lives and we love them dearly, despite their flaws, as they love us dearly….despite our flaws.  They play an important role in our lives….even though one might consider exercising caution when flying to them with our new, great news!   Sometimes we feel that we have to tell someone right away or “first” because that is a “family rule” or “friendship rule” yet, we get blasted with negativity every time we tell them.  We need to recognize what dreams we want to let grow to a sustainable height, before we tell those people who are important in our lives that are not always the most supportive.  This is also is about knowing who those people are who will encourage our most fledgling seedlings, keep confidences; those who we can tell our “most developing” news to and they not think us off our rocker. 

Knowing the difference takes a lot of love, knowledge and acceptance of those people in our lives and who they are, and of ourselves, knowing who we are as well.   Sometimes we need to love the people in our lives enough to know that while they may be the best person to go to for some things, they are not the best to go to for others.  It is also about knowing what our own underlying intentions are in the telling of our news.  Sometimes we tell the people we know might be critical of our dreams, just so we don’t have to be the one to throw the dirt on our own dreams that we believe cannot be achieved.  That is knowing ourselves enough and loving ourselves enough to step back and say, “Why am I doing this when I know that they will be critical?”  It is loving ourselves enough to soothe ourselves through the anxiety of what-ifs, not be our own version of the apocalyptic horseman by destroying what we have created from the most intimate part of ourselves, push through and say, “Okay, I can do this and I deserve this.”  This is also where going to a good therapist can help you sort out your own patterns, and go through the rocky work of personal development and relational stress in your life.

 Here are a few things to consider when we have a new dream or some news we are just dying to tell a family member or friend:

1.)    Pattern: What has been their reaction to this type of news in the past? If you know that every time you tell them happy news they dump in negative, wait until your dream has become a little bigger and stronger before you talk to them.  Are they worriers that think of everything that could go wrong?  Wait until you have relieved your own worries and are confident enough to move forward to tell them.   

2.)    Intuition:  If there is a nagging voice telling you….maybe I shouldn’t tell this person right now….listen to it.  Chances are that is your intuition speaking up for a reason.  Wait for a time where your intuition and confidence gives you the go-ahead. 

3.)    Timing:  Is this the right time to tell them?  If your best friend just broke up with their girlfriend or boyfriend and they are a drippy heap on their couch….probably not the right time to tell them you just met the man or woman of your dreams. Exercise your own sensitivity.    Also, have you allowed enough time for your dream to develop and become strong before you tell them?  

4.)    Confidence in your creation: Are you confident enough in your dream that even if they do nay-say, balk, minimize or “catastrophize” it is going to roll off your back?  When are you going to know that the seedling is strong enough to withstand a negative reaction?

5.)    Honesty  Be honest with yourself.  Ask the question: Why do I want to tell them about this dream or good piece of news?  Is it just that I want to tell someone? Or is there a particular reaction that I am hoping from them (either negative or positive)? Sometimes these questions are very hard to answer honestly because what we want to believe about those that we love may bump up against the reality of what they can give us, which can be a difficult pill to swallow.  Evaluate the role that criticism plays in your life and recognize how you deal with “constructive criticism.”  It is one thing to hear constructive criticism and think, “Okay, haven’t thought of it that way” and move forward….another to spiral downward into shame and doubt of yourself and your dreams. 

If you love mnemonics, yes, those items above spell “PITCH,” an interesting word that can mean throwing something at someone, launching an idea, the angle which holds up a roof, or a black sticky substance like tar that some native Northwest legends tell us is used by a witchy woman to spread over the eyes of children who stray too far in the woods (ala Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel…apparently the woods were not the place to be).  Like this word’s many definitions, we often have a myriad of reactions that may come our way when divulging something truly important to us and it is important to exercise caution.   We want to make sure that, like the definition, we don’t throw our dreams out there too hastily, launch it to the wrong person, divulge before our dreams are stable, and definitely not trust it to someone who is going to wipe tar in our eyes in order to eat us for breakfast.  Trust those that are going to see the potential in what you are trying to create, encourage you forward and watch with you as your dreams grow stronger. 

Have you ever told someone about a new dream or good piece of news and it not go as planned?

What has been your experience with this?

Savor The Moment: Mindfulness In Your Daily Life

dessertWho doesn’t like dessert? If someone tells you they don’t like dessert don’t believe them. They are obviously gravely mistaken or severely ill. Dessert is awesome. Sometimes when I have dessert I take the time to really enjoy it, to savor it and the sweet boost to my day. That is sometimes – most of the time my taste buds freak out and I eat whatever it is really fast! It tastes so good and my brain is going in to overdrive. I cannot slow down and appreciate the moment.

If we are all truthful with ourselves we do this a lot with many different things – we get excited or overwhelmed with the anticipation and we move through the good moment at 100 mph. How many things do we miss out on because we zip though it? How many opportunities to make the good things truly memorable and lasting have we missed?

We don’t just gun it through the good things we have been looking forward to – we speed right through the uncomfortable things as well. Move through the situation or event as fast as humanly possible so we don’t have to marinate in the discomfort. What could we have gained by sitting in that space a little longer?

If you have ever gotten a massage you know that when working on a tight muscle or a knot it is uncomfortable when pressure is gradually and firmly applied and the discomfort builds until the tightness finally releases and then you feel so much better. If you had shied away from the discomfort then you wouldn’t get to experience the sweet relief that followed. Although it was uncomfortable, savoring that moment is worth it to get the pay off in the end.

This idea of savoring can be applied to work, kids, significant others, recreation, any moment of your day-to-day existence is worth noticing.

When you see yourself zipping through a moment catch yourself and see why it is you are speeding through. Are you escaping discomfort? Are you carried away because the moment is so good? Are you not being mindful of the moment?

When you are able to identify why you aren’t savoring then do some soul searching and decide if there is anything to be gained by slowing down a bit and savoring the moment.

Enjoy your time and your experiences. Even those that are more difficult to savor, often those have a sweet pay-off if we can hang in there. Your experience is worth your attention – so savor it!1

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Changing Your Ripple Effect

A good friend of mine lost someone this week. Max Gjerde. My friend and Max went to school together, Max was diagnosed with a rare from of soft-tissue cancer shortly after they both graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington KY. I never knew Max, but the impact he has had on those around him is a legacy that speaks mountains of the generosity and compassion that this man had for others.

After reading this article and briefly hearing from my friend about Max and what he was passionate about, I really feel like I need a priority check. In the last days of his life Max was concerned for others and was an encouragement to the people he came in contact with. He was really an inspiration.

rippleAnd that has me asking, what do I do to encourage and inspire others? Is that even a priority? It is so easy for all of us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that we don’t pause and reconsider the ripple we are sending out in to the world and what consequences that will create.

Max wasn’t a ripple, he was a wave. The fact that I am even thinking about how I can be more compassionate, more encouraging – that is the consequence of his unwavering strength of spirit! But what do I do about it? What does anyone do when they are placed in front of a mirror and asked to reflect on how others see them and how they see others?

We have to decide. Are we comfortable with the way we impact others? Are we content with the knowledge that we could have a more positive impact if we adjusted our focus or put in a little more effort?

  • What is your legacy?
  • How do you impact and reach others?
  • What does your ripple effect look like?

Let today be a day of reflection. Take a look inward and see where you think you might want to move forward from here, how you might want to start reaching out.1

*If you are interested in reaching out to others in a way that would honor Max, please consider donating to his favorite charity 3 Little Birds 4 Life. You can make a donation in his name by clicking here.

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953

Celebrate Your Life

diadelosToday is the last day of Dia de los Muertos and I am on a hunt for pan de muerto.  That is a traditional sweet bread that is eaten on the holiday. You can find out the basics of what you need to know on Wikipedia, but the gist is that this is a celebration of life.  Families honor their children, honoring the innocents in their lives, and spend countless hours making shrines and gifts for those in their family that have passed, honoring and celebrating their lives and the family’s heritage.

A lot of the symbols of Dia de los Muertos are the same as Halloween, with skulls and bones and children dressed up but everything is so colorful and bright.  The family has a time to come together and remember where they came from. This all has me thinking about my family history and how little I celebrate the lives of those who have come before me. The work they put in to build the family that I enjoy today. And how do I celebrate life? This presents a great opportunity to be mindful of life and living well.

When I say living well I don’t mean being uber healthy or going the extra mile every day. I really mean honoring yourself and the life that is yours. How do you do that? Do you have a moment tucked away in your day, your week, where you can really honor yourself and recognize that you are worth celebrating?

Sometimes this may create feelings of guilt. “I don’t have the time or resources to honor myself and that would be wasteful.” Or “To honor myself would be arrogant or prideful, and that’s not the kind of person I am.” But honoring yourself, celebrating life and the life that you live can be a simple as not doing something that would be harmful to you, like staying late at work every day this week instead of spending time with your family and recharging for the next day. Deciding to take some time to read a book you enjoy or that is inspirational to you instead of neglecting your need for relaxation.

We all have moments where we can decide to honor ourselves or to put that celebration of self, of life, on the back burner. It is always on the “to-do” list but never at the top. Prioritize yourself and honor your life today! I know I am going to do some digging and honor my heritage today too.1

Quien con la esperanza vive, alegre muere. (He who lives with hope dies happy.)

Notes:

  1.  Google + Author, https://plus.google.com/u/0/102851063175689428953