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Day 5

Let’s talk about consumerism for a minute. I’m a product of the 70’s and 80’s. My teen years were spent in the 80’s in Southern California during the height of consumerism. We wanted everything and the best of everything at that. Everything was BIG and MORE. How many earrings can you fit on one ear? As many as possible. This way of thinking never really left me. In the 90’s I was life-building. I got married, had children, bought a home, bought another larger home and then yet another larger home after that. We had luxury cars and our kids never went without. I shopped for sport. Buying new wardrobes for myself and the kids every season. We went on multiple, expensive vacations every year. I remember one summer in particular when we went to Disney World, Hilton Head and New York. Excessive to say the least. And this spending just continued for years and years. Until one day it was time to send our oldest to college.

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At the same time I was getting our finances in order I was reading about minimalism and basically our throw away society. I was also becoming much more aware of the environment, plastic pollution and climate change. All of this together suddenly made me rethink how I was living. Also, the meditation work I was doing was leading me down this path of where true happiness lies. And let me tell you it’s not in the stuff. I no longer shop for sport. I shop when I actually need something. Not when I want it. Seasonally, there will be a few things I’ll need to replace and I will. But I no longer spend recklessly. And I never, ever, pay full price for anything. Not necessary with all the cool apps to help you with codes and cashback! If you want to read more about rejecting consumerism please click here for more information.

The best way to describe it is that it was a mindset shift that happen over time. Deepak says “Nothing is enough when not in the present moment. We are never satisfied. When we express thanks, we are aligned with the universe.” More reasons to STAY PRESENT.

I also suggest reading Cait Flanders book A Year of Less. I loved this book and it really made me look at my own life, how to get out of debt and reject consumerism.

Thanks for being here!

Building My Tribe!

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Day 4
At this point in my journey I had found myself involved in several new adventures. I was attending my new yoga studio regularly and had gotten to know the teachers and other students. It was another new group. I was also getting involved in local politics, becoming an activist without even realizing it. I began see friends on a regular basis. Lunches, movies, book signings, coffee, you name it.

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My tribe was building. And it felt amazing. Suddenly I had the group I had wanted and needed in my life. It’s all about making the effort. I’ve talked before about taking action when it came to all the changes I was making in my life and this was no different. Every area of my “wellness wheel” (see previous post) had action steps. Nothing happens if you just look at a post it with a slogan on it every day. That will not change your life. It’s about knowing what you need to do and then taking steps, even tiny ones, every single day towards your end goals. Suddenly life just gets better.

Deepak says this is grace working in our lives. According to Deepak, when we express gratitude, grace responds. Suddenly you are in the flow and moving forward in your life. Things become effortless, he says. It’s a shift that I felt and still feel 100%.

Are you feeling the grace in your life? If so please share it below. I’d love to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!

It’s the Little Things

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Day 3

I’m always saying “It’s the little things.” Because it truly is. Gratitude can come from the most simple things. It’s the multitude of these little things adding up to the whole that create happiness.

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This week I was to list a few simple things that made me happy. Here we go:

Seeing the birds at my feeders
Walks in the warm sunshine
Hot baths

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When I have a day that hits all of those things, I’m generally very happy. They are mood boosters in the most simple way. I’m grateful for them.

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Next, I was to think of a recent experience that I enjoyed. For me it was a concert my husband and I attended. I’ve talked about the fact that we are both music lovers and see a lot of shows. One of my favorite was seeing U2 a few years ago. I’ve been a fan for 32 years!! But this was my first time seeing them. I absolutely LOVE being in the presence of the artists I love so much and appreciate. And sharing that with thousands of other people is such a communal experience. Few things make as happy as going to a show. It can be transcending.

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I am a big morning person. No surprise there, but during this time in my life I became utterly obsessed with sunrises. I was taking pictures just about every morning. If you were following my Instagram at that time you would see I was constantly posting pictures of the sunrise! The absolute stunning beauty of the sunrise floored me. And sunrises are so peaceful. I just love the combination of the early morning, the quiet and the beauty. This is something to be grateful for!

This week think about what are the small things you are grateful for. Make a list and then continue to use a gratitude notebook to record this simple pleasures. Before you know you will have an entire year’s worth of things to look back upon and see the richness of your life.

Can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!

Elevate Yourself

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Day 2

Taking the gratitude notebook practice to the next level was what I got out of the next day’s practice. Not only was I to list 3-5 things I was grateful for, but then to say thank you for them. This is where the grace happens. We are changing pathways in our brains, according to Deepak Chopra. This daily practice will elevate your gratitude practice into something you can feel and experience.

The day of this particular meditation I wrote the following:

Today’s three good things:

My family
A nourishing meal
The birds at the feeder

Simple gratitude. Taking the time to recognize these things was the change for me. Really visualize the thankfulness. To have it in my life.

Next I was to recall a time when I told someone how much I appreciated them. That was easy. It was when I told my personal trainer, Carrie how much I appreciated her. I tried to tell her as often as I could. (see my previous posts for more on how much Carrie has helped me in the past). When I told her, instead of just a blanket “thank you”, she told me how much she appreciated that I trust her. Oh, I didn’t expect that! See what happens when you start sharing your gratitude? It comes right back at you!

A few take-aways for me from these exercises was to not just write down five things I’m grateful for each night. I needed to express my gratitude to those I was maybe taking for granted or someone who should KNOW how much I appreciate them. I decided to do the following:

Be more considerate of what my husband Mike wants.
Write a note or give a small gift to A.
Don’t be bitchy around Carrie because of the changes she made to her program.

Yes, I got very upset when I heard that Carrie was making changes to the program I loved so much! I saw it as the end of my progress, but honestly, it was just the beginning. Carrie was just trying to move forward in her business and I took it extremely personally. Mistake! The truth is, the changes led me down another path where I increased my yoga (which I so desperately needed to do) AND allowed me to try different strength classes at my local rec center. Now I’m taking classes I NEVER would have considered myself ready for and guess what? I’m just fine! And getting stronger all the time!! I was ready but needed a BIG push. This is the universe at work again. Every time I think I’ve hit a wall or something has happen that I find devastated and I fall to tears, I find it results in bigger and better things in my life. Every time. Sometimes we can’t see how the universe is working but it always is.

This week try a gratitude practice that includes a thank you visualization. Let yourself feel the emotions that come with that practice. Then let me know how it goes!! I can’t wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!

Life Changing Gratitude

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Day 1

Today I’m going to dive back into Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation series. This time the subject was Manifesting Grace through Gratitude. Deepak explains that gratitude makes a connection to grace. It’s actually physical change.

It’s hard to be unhappy when you are focused on gratitude. Instead of spending time wanting more and more (more clothes, more furniture, better cars, more trips), learn how to be TRULY grateful for what we have. After going through the horror of my pain experiences, I was and still am so grateful for all the small things. Because when all the small things are taken from you they become the big things. As I was doing more, the more grateful I became for being able to drive again, to could use my computer and the ability to read for 10 minutes a day. I was incredibly grateful when I could start taking pain free walks and being out in nature… the list goes on and on. These are things I didn’t think twice about before the pain. Even when I was still not fully functional I would do my nightly gratitude practice. It’s not easy when you feel awful, but here is an example of a couple of my gratitude notebook entries in 2018.

January 27th

A complement from an old friend
Sitting in the sun reading
Finished a wonderful book
A nice dinner out
A really good night’s sleep

February 13th

Good visit with Dr. B
Fun exercise classes. Everyone was happy today.
Tippy is feeling better
Enjoying the Olympics
A laugh with a stranger on an elevator

See, these are not big things. But I was GRATEFUL for each and every one of them. So grateful.

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This week I was to make a list of the people I was most grateful for and why. (Only using first initials for their privacy) Here we go:

M for loving me.
M for her point of view and support.
M for always being there for me.
N for being real.
D for his guidance.
My physical therapists for helping me feel better.
N for his heart.
O for her kindness.
C for seeing my strength when I couldn’t.
A for being an example of what I want to be.
S for understanding me.

There are personal stories behind each and every one of these people, but the point is when I list them I can see how each one has had such a huge impact in my life and I’m certainly grateful for them all.

Do you have a gratitude practice? All it takes is a dollar store notebook and pen! Start today!

Goal Setting Part 3

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At this point I was discovering so many teachers and really a new way of life. One podcast led to a book, that led to a program, that led to a class, that led to new friends. Life was rolling along and I was learning everything I could along the way, seeing improvements in myself, my life and everything around me.

During this time I had heard Mel Robbins speak on one of the many podcasts I listen to. I started following her and in January 2019 I completed her Mindset Reset program. Mel is someone who doesn’t beat around the bush. She’s up front and honest. So, her program and approach woke me up and got me moving on a lot of things that were just swimming ideas in my head. For Mel, it’s all about taking action. And I had learned just what taking action could do for me, now I was going to take it to another level.

Getting back to goals. Mel says you must do a visualization exercise for every goal you have. If you haven’t done visualization before, you basically imagine yourself doing the very thing you are aiming to achieve. Not only are you picture it, but you need to feel the positive emotions that come with the visualization. Because your brain doesn’t know the difference between real memories and visualization. She suggests doing this practice for 30 seconds every day. This way you are developing the skill as if you were actually doing it. Wow! That’s amazing! If you want to know more about how visualization works to help achieve your goals you can learn more here

I have a morning routine that includes my meditation time and reading, among other things, so I decided to add in visualization time. What I love about this process is the overall impact has when I’m only dedicating a small amount of my time to the practice.

Have you done a visualization exercise to help achieve your goals? Give it try! Let me know how it goes! Thanks for being here!

Goal Setting Part 2

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After learning how to craft my goals I created my Big Goal as suggested in The 10 Keys to Happier Living. My Big Goal was “To Have a Job with Purpose”. With three scenarios.

Scenario number 1 Become a Health Coach
Scenario number 2 Become a Food Activist
Scenario number 3 Write a Book

Next was my Common Sub Goal, which was “Finish Health Coaching Certification”.

And my Specific Sub Goals looked like this.

Read/Use Christy Whitman’s Business Book
Look into part-time work in this field
Listen to Wellness Podcasts
Look into Food Advocacy
Have a Website
Start a Blog
Start Writing a Book

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It’s amazing to me to see where all of this started for me. Looking at my three scenarios, I have achieved the goal of becoming a Health Coach. Yay! And I’m in the process of writing my book as I type this! I’m still working on the Food Activism goal. But it is in the works! I also achieved some of my Sub Goals. I started my blog! As you can see! I also started writing my book and I’m currently researching ways I want to get involved in Food Advocacy and Public Health. I actually have read Christy Whitman’s book Business Boutique and I LOVED it. I’m just not there yet. At this time, I’m working part-time, not in the the wellness industry, but in another love of mine, the library. After I’ve written my book, I plan to launch a Health Coaching business, set up my website and at that time I’ll dive into using Christy’s book.

I’m really happy with how things are going right now. I’m working in a field I LOVE. I’m also blogging and writing within the space I want to be in the future. Win-win!

How is your goal setting going from last week? Can’t wait to hear about it! Thanks for being here!

Goal Setting

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There’s a lot of information out there about goal setting. I never paid any attention to goal setting until recently. As I have said before, I wasn’t someone who set any goals for myself. Ever. I liked challenges, and by nature I’m a doer and organized, but true, structured, short and long term goals? Never happened. Until now! Having goals propels us forward into growth. Without them life just happens to us. We are adrift.

In The 10 Keys to Happier Living, the author suggests crafting goals with the five “how-to’s” below.

1 Be Specific – Identify the what, where, when, how, how much or how many.

2 Know Your Why – Have a clear reason.

3 “Will Do” not “Won’t Do” – Frame goals as what I will do. Not what I won’t do.

4 Growth Goals (Not Being Seen as Good) – Goals should about doing better. Not
being the best.

5 Write Down and Share – Write them down and share your progress.

I was currently using two of these how-to’s correctly. That was number two and four. I for sure knew my why. It’s the entire reason I started this wellness journey in the first place! To be pain free! For number 4, I never had the interest in being “the best” at something when setting my goals. Even now, I don’t strive for that. I have goals for my yoga practice, but I’m not there to be the best in my class. I just want to progress in my poses and increase my mindfulness while doing so.

I did change my goals to include more specifics. For example, instead of “read more” my reading goal for this year is to read 100 books. And I then broke that down to reading a minimum of 50 pages a day, in the morning. This checked the box of “what, when and how much”. It definitely keeps me on track.

Three was interesting because I did have a goal of eating meals not snacks. And that’s exactly how I worded it. A better goal would be “Eat three complete, healthy meals a day”, because when I do that I don’t snack or if I do it’s minimal. Good tip!

I was writing down my goals but not sharing them until I discovered Gretchen Rubin’s podcast and they began their 18 for 2018, 19 for 2019 “goals” list. Then I began sharing everything in the Happier in Hollywood facebook group (Gretchen’s sister’s podcast). It’s great getting the feedback and I have a ton accountability partners. Also, when we share our goals they become REAL. I remember the first time I told anyone I was writing a book. The only person who knew was me! But here I was I meeting someone for the first time and it just popped out of my mouth. I figured if I just start saying it, it will propel me forward to complete it. I became a writer at that moment. A writer who is writing their first book. And since then I’ve told a ton of people. Because you never know where a conversation will lead or what the universe has in store for you!

Are you someone who sets goals? How do you go about setting them? Try the steps above to help you get clarity on what you want your goals to be. I’d love to hear about how if goes in the comments! Thank you for being here!

Be Happier

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One of the many books I read during this time in my life was “The 10 Keys to Happier Living” by Vanessa King.

I love this book. It’s extremely straight forward and gave me lots of little tips and tools that I put into practice right away. King explains that the following list is “based on an extensive review of the latest research about what really helps people flourish. These are not “ten commandments”, because each of us is unique and what works for one of us may not for someone else. They are simply ten areas that tend to make a big difference to our happiness – and are within our control.”

GIVING Do for others
RELATING Connect with people
EXERCISING Take care of your body
AWARENESS Live life mindfully
TRYING OUT Keep learning new things
DIRECTION Have goals to look forward to
RESILIENCE Find ways to bounce back
EMOTIONS Look for what’s good (gratitude)
ACCEPTANCE Be comfortable with who you are
MEANING Be part of something bigger

Do you see a lot of familiar themes here? I certainly did. I decided that from now on when I make my New Year’s resolutions and goals that I will make sure I hit each of these areas. I wrote in my notebook “Use this for 2019 goals” And I did. It’s very easy for me to let one or two slip, the maybe the one’s that are the hardest. For me that would be acceptance, resilience and giving.

Acceptance of what is and acceptance of others for who they are and not trying to “fix” them is a constant struggle for me. I think it partially my Upholder personality at play. But I did learn from Deepak Chopra that everyone is where they are supposed to be on their journey. I cannot change that. I can be an example and that’s about it. Unless someone asks specifically for help, I need to be accepting of who they are at this moment. I’m also very self critical. I’ve learned from my study of the Eneagram (I will dive into this more later) that I’m a Type 1 Reformer. Which means not only do I want to change others and change the world to do what is “right” I also have a running self critic in my head that tells me all the things I’ve done wrong. More on this later!

Resilience is a learning process for me. If you’ve read my blog from the beginning you know I had almost zero coping skills and focused on having them right from the start of my recovery. I’m still working on this. I have found the most helpful ways for me to bounce back are meditation, music, reading, support from friends and problem solving.

Saying I need to work on being giving doesn’t give the best impression of me, but I don’t have the best track record in this department. I do give. I’m just not the person who is first to take action when someone is in need. I really need to step outside myself and my world more and help those around me. I’m good at helping on a BIG PICTURE level. That’s the activist in me. I get so worked up and feel the need to DO and GIVE, but sometimes loose sight of those right in front of me that need help. Work in progress.

Have you thought about ways you could be happier? Take a look at the list above and come up with some goals to fill in the gaps of where you could improve. I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Thanks for being here!

Final Thoughts

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Day 19-21

These meditation practices are so healing for me. It’s like what I image therapy must be like! I probably should have had some therapy along the way in my life. Deepak ends by talking about wholeness being a completely healed state. Deepak explains that “we can meditate our problems to solutions and allows us to be a healing force.”

Knowing that I have the power to heal myself and others is pretty amazing. It truly is an awakening (hence the name of my blog). I am now awake. I was not before. These are true statements. And it’s pretty obvious when walking through this world how many people are not awake. I’m thankful every day that I’m no longer living that way. I’m not only a happier person, everyone around me is happier (emotional contagion). I can speak my mind forcefully, but respectably. These may sound like lessons for a child, but honestly, somewhere along the line these were areas missed in my youth. So, better late than never.

That’s all for this week! Short and sweet! Next week I’m switching gears to talk about The 10 Keys to Happier Living! Thanks for being here!