Live by This!

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Day 11

At the time when I was working through this 21 Day Meditation, if someone would say “anti-aging” I immediately would think of serums and injections to keep myself looking youthful. But Deepak is talking about anti-aging as a skill. A skill we can master. He calls it the “formula for your life!” Yes, please, tell me more!

The seven things people who age well have in common are:

1 meditation
2 wide social circle
3 close relationships/friends
4 vitamins
5 sleep and activity
6 curiosity
7 new challenges

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Some of these areas I was already working on, like, meditation and sleep, and I had activity covered, but I had work to do (and still do!) on the others. First, I needed to widen my social circle. At this time, I hadn’t jumped into much volunteering yet or started working part-time. But knowing I needed to widen my social circle prompted me, along with many other reasons, to get out and meet more people. And my volunteering and new job definitely did that for me. When I was a full time stay at home mom, I had a supportive social circle of other young moms. Period the end. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that because I needed those more experienced moms in my life to help me through motherhood. Those relationships were super important. But, I would have been better off if I would have kept my friendships from work or other areas in my life as well. I had a tendency to let relationships fade if they weren’t right in front of me. I don’t do that now, but I see for many, many years this was the norm. When we moved from California to Virginia I hardly kept in touch with my old friends other than Christmas cards and an occasional phone call. Facebook certainly makes this so much easier now.

Having close relationships and friendships is something I’ve talked about before and is always something I’m working towards. That’s not an overnight thing. You need to find your tribe and then make the effort to want to be a good friend and vice versa. And that second part is out of your control. I’m so thankful for the good friends I do have. I don’t take them for granted anymore.

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Vitamins! This should have been on my New Year’s resolution list! I have yet to take any supplements and that is mostly because what I’ve read of them has me confused. I’m not a fan of the fact that they aren’t regulated in any way. And because of that, when they are tested things show up that are not listed in the ingredients and other things that are listed aren’t in them at all. So much fraud and honestly, I find that a bit dangerous. On the other hand, if I knew they were clean, there are some I would take. This is an upcoming project for me!

Curiosity falls under my Happiness Project theme of “Saying Yes”. I consider “saying yes” part of continuous learning and trying new things. I’ve tried more new things in the past two or three years than I could count. I never in a million years thought I’d be a class exercise type person, a yogi, a hiker, a blogger, an activist, a writer, a library aide, or a notary public. If I wouldn’t have tried those things my life wouldn’t be nearly as happy or rich as it is today.

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New Challenges is similar to curiosity but I look at this through the lens of fear. Without fear, I can challenge myself to actually write this book. Without fear, I can go for those yoga poses that I NEVER would have considered before. Without fear, I can walk long distances without pain. Without fear I can learn how to nature sketch. Without fear I can go back to work and learn a new skill set and meet new people. Without fear I can set a REAL budget and work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY. All of these things were challenges for me but if it doesn’t make you a little nervous then it’s not a big enough challenge!

The key is really to continue working ALL seven of these areas for the rest of your life. THAT is anti-aging. At the time, I wrote in my notebook “Live by this!!” That makes me smile today.

How many of the seven areas do you feel you are working in your life? Do you see areas where you could improve? Use this list as a guide. Place post its in your bathroom or in your car. Or make a vision board using these areas as a guide for how you want to live.


Sitting Too Much, Not Sleeping Enough

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Have you heard sitting is the new smoking? Our bodies are designed to move, not sit all day. In fact we should be moving for five minutes for every hour we are sitting. Moving every hour actually maintains our energy. You can read more about the effects of a sedentary lifestyle here. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sitting-is-the-new-smokin_b_5890006?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAALZvfyveMZMStcpTuOzWOOVGrZwQCbFXBDgeCCabrdOM9zuUKjvpLaBZcSVsuIp4UxRWVXJAndpEchMc5mKpAdEm8jLRffMpnT-Oq66U6LWj6QXUkZOanURZAUurlE9mnB1z1NszUS1EK_kYZVL60D9WsKr2UVL2sXkbz8c0fDR

Over day 9 and 10 Deepak explains the importance of movement, rest and reducing stress. For a long time I sacrificed sleep. It’s still my default go-to short cut for fitting everything in, but now I’m much more aware and catch myself before I fall into any destructive patterns. I wasn’t one to stay up too late, though occasionally I’m guilty of that. For me it was choosing to get up at 4:30am or 4:45am on days where I should have slept a little longer to get those 7 hours. Typically, I sleep 6.5 – 7 hours a night. My body RARELY needs 8 hours. I have to be sick or sleep deprived for that to happen. Remember, I’m a fairly high energy person, so lying around in bed doesn’t sound appealing to me. But now I know that when we are sleeping our brains are actually getting rid of toxins. Like a big clean up. This is incredibly important to prevent alzheimer’s, as sleep deprivation can lead to memory problems just for this reason. Read more here. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/brain-may-flush-out-toxins-during-sleep

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I decided that sleep was going to become a priority for me. Like most of us, in my twenties, sacrificing sleep for partying or studying was the norm. I saw zero consequences of this behavior and didn’t see it as important at all. In my thirties, I sacrificed sleep for my babies and though I DID feel that, I still just thought that is just part of motherhood and caught naps here and there, but still did not take care of myself. And in my forties, well, you know, this was the reckoning of all my behavior to this point, along with the injuries that followed. Right now, my typical routine is to wake up between 4:30am -5:00am depending on which yoga class I’m headed to. I have my morning routine of tea, reading and writing then out the door I go. On the other days I still get up at the same time, have more time for my routine then head to yoga, strengthening class, a walk or a hike. My bedtime is ideally is 9:30pm. This gives me a solid 7 hours and life is good. But, 10pm happens more than I’d like mostly due to chores around the house, chatting with the family, picking someone up or we are actually just out doing something fun! If I go to bed at 10pm for more than a couple nights in a row, I start getting that cloudy head and meditation becomes more difficult because my body wants to fall asleep instead of meditate. By the way, if you find you are falling asleep during meditation that is a huge clue that you aren’t getting enough sleep.

Do you want to increase your physical energy or hours of sleep? Try the following:

Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to move every hour that you have been sitting.

Set a bedtime alarm along with a wake up alarm. This is a Gretchen Rubin tip that I love. The bedtime alarm forces you to start that bedtime routine and stick to it! I can’t wait to read your comments! Thanks for being here!


My Time, Your Time, and Our Time

Day 12

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According to Deepak Chopra, we all have our own rhythm. We can’t and shouldn’t expect others to be in our rhythm. The ego tells us “our time is better” but we do need to respect each other’s styles. And when we come together those differences go away and the attention needs to be on “us”, not “me.”

In my notebook I have a three things listed under My Time:

Sketching
Reading
Meditating

We all know what happen with sketching! (see previous post) My intentions were good. I tried it and it didn’t stick. That’s ok. If I was to do this exercise today I would replace sketching with yoga or journaling.

Reading is a mainstay in my life and a BIG priority. It gets A LOT of my free time because I get so much happiness from reading and everything to do with reading. Like, browsing the library, reading book reviews, going to author talks and signings, going to books stores, talking to others about books.. it goes on and on.

And the last area I wrote in my notebook to under My Time was meditation. Another non-negotiable. I make sure I have my meditation time early in the morning when no one else is awake and there are no distractions. It’s by far my favorite part of my day. I know I’m doing so much good for myself. Changing those pathways in my brain!!!

For Your Time, I couldn’t choose what my husband does with his free time, I just know that he needs to choose that for himself. Most of the time he will choose golf. He enjoys it because he’s in outdoors in nature, walking, and playing a sport he loves. If not golfing, the other activity he chooses for his free time is running. As long as he has his time to do his thing, all is good.

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Then there is Our Time. I’ve talked about this before too, but our dates mostly consist of seeing concerts and other musical events. We are BIG music people. I didn’t realize how big until recently. I thought, “doesn’t everyone want to go to as many concerts as possible?!” No, they don’t, actually. Ha! Well, these are our dates most of the time. He enjoys eating out way more than I do. When restaurants catch up to what healthy eating consists of, I’ll venture out again. There are a few places doing it right, but not many. I like knowing what’s in my food these days.

Do you have scheduled time to yourself? Try the following:

Make a list of three or four things you want to do with YOUR time.

If you are in a relationship, what are the things you could or want to do with OUR time?

I would love to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


Inflammation

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Day 8

The first time someone explained leaky gut to me I didn’t really understand it. I was in the middle of all my pain with NO answers. But, this chiropractor was on to something when he explained to me how when we take antibiotics it wipes out not only the bad bacteria but all the good bacteria as well. So, not only did my drug reaction cause me injury, it pretty much destroyed my microbiome, which is the source of most of our immune system. Also, when we eat inflammatory foods our small intestines get inflamed which then causes particles to leak out of the small intestine and into our bloodstream. When this happens our body then thinks these are foreign objects that need to be fought. This is the cause of many autoimmune issues and fibromyalgia among a host of other things. If you want to know more about leaky gut and the effects on the body click here. .https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451

If you’ve read My Story, you know what repairing my leaky gut has done for me. A forever lifestyle change. Once I knew what inflammatory foods were doing to my body and my BRAIN it was easy to make the switch. If you want to know how I went about changing my diet, please read my blog post title “A Lightening Bolt Moment on the Hallmark Channel”.

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This week Deepak talks about reducing inflammation for lifelong energy. Yes, an anti-inflammatory diet certainly does give you more energy and so much more. Did you know your gut and brain are connected and that your brain can actually become inflamed? This can cause another whole host of problems related to your nervous system and even your mood. You can read more about it here https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection.

Did you know meditation actually reduces inflammation? You can read more here. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/meditation-brain-changes-study_n_56b4b7aee4b04f9b57d93bef Meditation brings us peace and calm. Deepak says “Daily stresses won’t trigger you as easily.” I’ve talked about how transformative meditation has been for me and it absolutely has translated into my daily life!

If you want to reduce inflammation try an anti-inflammatory diet or paleo diet. I really don’t like the word “diet”. It’s actually a lifestyle. But, you can give it 30 days and see how you feel! I highly recommend Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

Thanks for being here!


Get Real

Day 6/7

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If you are not familiar with Brene Brown you should be. Her Ted Talk, books and now podcast (yay!) have been so helpful and eye opening to me. Mostly in the realm of authenticity. Deepak says “Living a life not owed by you is draining. Being yourself is the most fulfilling”. Yes, it certainly is. It’s just so obvious. I spent SO many years especially in my teens and 20’s not being my authentic self. I was really good at molding myself into whoever I was around. And I continued to do that all the way through my 40’s. For example, I mentioned before that I have bird feeders and like to bird watch. This was a hobby I kept under wraps throughout my adulthood. Why? Because I didn’t think anyone else would have an interest and honestly I thought their eyes would glaze over if I told them. But I love it. I love seeing all the different birds at my feeder. I love identifying new birds. I love tracking my life list to see how many species I’ve seen and I love going on birding walks and hikes. So, if I hid this hobby, how was I going to meet anyone else who enjoys it too? I mean, isn’t that the way to make real friendships? Not fake “let’s get a drink and do nothing else” friendships. Now, when I meet people I’m upfront about all my goofy things I like. I’m SO ME. And people can take it or leave it. It’s amazing how many people I meet who say “me too!” when I tell them something I’m really into. Ugh, so much wasted time not doing that. A long road, but I’ve learned this now. I’m only half way through my life so better to learn it now and make the change than to never have learned it!

It’s true, but until the reckoning of my late 40’s, I never attempted to be my authentic self. And it makes me sad and a little regretful of my past. But, I cannot live there. I can only look forward and be my authentic self from here on out. And in doing this, some people might drop out (and have) of my life. And that’s ok. When I really am who I am I find the right people to be around. They just “show up”. I can’t explain it!

Deepak says we need to do the following to be be our most fulfilled:

Be open and vulnerable
Have inner strength
Live in the now
Increase strengths
Be kind
Overcome fears
Be helpful

This again was all the things I was working on. More reinforcement that I was headed in the right direction.

Do you feel like you are being your authentic self? How could you be more true to yourself. I suggest checking out Brene Brown’s work at https://brenebrown.com.


Self

Day 4/5

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There is a lot of talk about self care these days. And for good reason. I think as a society we are starting, very slowly, to realize that how important self care is and that “busyness” should not be a badge of honor.

Usually when we think of self care we think of exercise, spa treatments, meditation, sleep, etc. but Deepak asks us to think about where we put our attention. He explains that our creative energy come from joy. So, I asked myself “What brings me joy?” and do more of that. Pretty simple. It’s basically the same principle as The Happiness Project. (Read more on The Happiness Project here www.gretchenrubin.com. I knew I was on the right track. This lesson just reinforced what I already knew I had to continue doing.

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It feels really good to value myself enough to make my own happiness a priority. As a mom, I put myself second. For everything. I lost myself so completely during my kids younger years I don’t remember doing anything for myself outside of the occasional trips to the salon. I never pursued my hobbies and interests, I didn’t read as often I as would have liked, I didn’t go out with friends very often and I didn’t volunteer outside of my children’s school. My world was small. It was all for them and that’s perfectly fine. I choose it and I WANTED it. But looking back, I could have stayed home with them and kept my sense of self by pursing some of these other options for myself. Maybe the build up of fear and anxiety wouldn’t have happen or at least not to the extreme that it did. Who knows. Lesson learned. The HARD way.

Are you finding joy in your every day life? Are you pursuing your interests and the things that give you the most joy? Try the following:

Try a Happiness Project! It’s a GREAT way to find and rediscover what you love. I have a series of posts about my Happiness Project. Check it out!

Please comment with your thoughts! Thank you for being here!


Fulfillment!

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Day 3

Do you ever notice how you don’t feel tired when life is satisfying? In today’s meditation Deepak explains that when we have organized energy with meaning and purpose, we then have fulfillment in our lives. And we do not except stress and obstacles. Once again, it’s about staying in the flow.

The Centering Thought for today was “When I feel fulfilled, I have enough energy for anything needed.” This really was a bit of a lightning bolt moment. Every since I began my journey and started focusing on all the areas of my life (diet, exercise, spirituality, meditation, having goals, being in nature, volunteering, coping skills, conquering fear, becoming an optimist, building community) and basically pursuing EVERYTHING that makes me happy, I have found an energy that just flat out didn’t exist before. I’m just SO ALIVE. I was always a “doer”. That’s not new. And my Upholder tendency allows me to get done what I want to get done. The difference was the work and intentionally I had put in resulted in so much happiness and energy. I can’t even relate to people who walk around in the “I’m so tired” state. Think about how many people say that to you in a given day. Or maybe it’s you. And I know by looking back that it wasn’t just “one” thing to make this happen for me. It was all the things. I am a work in progress. It is easier to move forward knowing that everything I put into this will comeback ten fold. I keep moving forward in all areas of my life and I also keep finding new areas to learn about!

Take a minute this week to think about how fulfilled you are in your life. Does your life give you energy or drain it? Do you have meaning and purpose that fulfill you? I’m excited to hear all your comments! Thanks for being here!


Building Resiliency


Day 2

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I spent the first half of my life with almost zero resiliency. And I paid a high price for that. I had almost no ability to bounce back from setbacks or upsetting situations. According to Deepak, resiliency gives us energy and the ability to rebound mentally and physically with energy. Stress is a HUGE energy drainer. A simple practice of getting enough sleep can help in this area. I have always been an early riser. Always. Just naturally. My mistake was I was still going to bed at 10 or 11 and then getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. I didn’t feel that bad, but when I made the switch to a 9 or 9:30 bedtime, I felt amazing. I was getting enough sleep and being productive. I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my health and wellness for work, family or anything else. My health is first or everything else goes to crap. I saw it happen in my own house when I was not functional.

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Deepak says we must “build a platform by making positive choices EVERYDAY”. Yes, every day is key. This is partly why I think people don’t find lasting change with things like, Dry January, or a Whole30. Even though I agree wholeheartedly that giving up alcohol and eating an anti-inflammatory diet are super important, doing it for a month isn’t setting yourself up for meaningful changes in your diet. It has to be a LIFESTYLE change. Same for meditation. Doing it once in a while is helpful, but having a regular practice is life changing. These are all the ways we can build our platform as Deepak says.

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A couple ways I maintain these habits is to keep everything in my calendar. I’m a bit of a planner junkie and I have a couple systems in place to help with reminders. On my weekly page of my calendar I have a section I call My Morning Routine. In it I have my routine that begins at 4:30 or 5:00am every morning. They are:

Meditate for 15 minutes
Read
Visualization

This is how I start my days. I may meditate or read again later, but starting out his way guarantees it gets done. Another way I use my planner to build my platform is the Habits section. Here I list the five habits I want to maintain every day. Right now mine are as follows:

Hydrate (for my and my weight, that’s six glasses of water a day)
Read
Meals not snacks
Meditate

You can see some of these overlap with my morning routine. It’s just another way for me to stay on track.

How are you building your platform? This week think about where and how you can add habits to your life that would help build your platform of positive choices! I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks for being here!


21 Day Meditation Experience Round 3 – Energize Your Life

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At this point I was ready to dive into my next 21 Day Meditation Experience with Deepak Chopra. I had gained SO MUCH insight into my own self I was excited to keep going. This session’s topic was called Energize Your Life – Secrets to a Youthful Spirit. When we think of energy we typically think of food fueling us up to give us energy. But Deepak explains there are actually four types of energy. They are; Physical (moving), Mental (understanding), Emotional (caring) and Spiritual (meditation).

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I am a pretty enthusiastic, high energy person. That’s because I’ve learned to put things in place in my life that give me energy, not deplete it. For example, I’ve already talked many times about finding my tribe and taking toxic people out of my life. After I’ve met up with girlfriends for lunch or a movie or whatever, my energy is through the roof. Literally. I feel like I’ve had 10 cups of coffee, I’m smiling and I feel like I can take on anything. I try to maintain some type of connection with my friends once a week. I’ll send a quick text and see if someone wants to meet up or if I see an event I want to go to I immediately think of which friends in my life would most enjoy it and start contacting them to get it on the calendar!

I always had this tendency, but ever since I began this journey and started working on myself I’ve discovered I’m overflowing with energy. Even though, I’m an Upholder (see previous posts about The Four Tendencies), I did not always want or do the right things to maintain the energy I wanted in my life.

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According to Deepak, meditation increases and renews our energy. There are a couple of places in my life where I practice meditation and all of them clear my head in a way that gives me spiritual energy. First is my morning meditation at home, second is my yoga practice and third is my soul writing (more to come on that later!). All three of these practices makes it possible for me to move through my day without stress and worry.

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On the other hand, there are a few things that challenge my energy levels. First is cloudy weather. I know that sounds like a small thing, but more now than ever, the weather has a huge impact on how I feel. If I wake up to a warm sunny day I feel a surge of energy and happiness. I’m happy just to go to the grocery store!! Just to be out in the bright, warm sun feels so good to me! But an overcast day can kill my mood, so best bet for me to counteract this is to meet up with a friend or go exercise in some form, preferably outside. One thing I haven’t done yet but want to, is to purchase a sun lamp for home. I feel like it would be good to have during our cold Northern Virginia winters.

How are your energy levels? Start noting what depletes and energizes you. Try the following:

Meet up with friends that raise your energy level, not deplete it.

Exercise. Preferably outdoors.

Meditation regularly.


Follow Your North Star

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I wanted to take a minute this week to talk about commitment. Elisha Goldstein wrapped up his Mindful Living Course discussing commitment, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject too. I’ve talked here before about how I was a bit “adrift” in my life. Things happen to me more often than I had planned for things to happen. I didn’t know any better. I cannot emphasize enough how having direction, goals and knowing where you are headed changes your life so drastically. I am making things happen for myself now. Like Dorothy, I had the power all along but just didn’t realize it. Manifestation is REAL. I see it working in my life everyday.

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The difference is having intention and commitment to what it is that I actually want with daily reminders. My reminders come in all forms. Some days, it’s in my yoga class. My very favorite instructor, who is like my guru, will say just the right thing on the right day. I swear, he can read my mind, and body for that matter. He knows exactly what I need to hear and what I need to physically do! I’m sure I’m not the only one in the class that feels that way, but that’s the magic of a brilliant instructor.

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Another reminder is good old post it notes! These are great to write your intentions on and post on the dashboard of your car, your bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator. Wherever it will be seen!

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Of course, another way to be reminded of where you are headed is a vision board. I keep mine in my bedroom as a constant reminder. I love it. I’ve actually used mine for two years straight, as my goals remained the same, but the week I’m writing this I’m having a vision board party to make a new board with my friends! I used Sarah Centrella’s book #futureboards as a guide this time and I’m SO glad I did. She made me think really big. Way bigger than I would have done on my own. And this will not be a board for just the coming year. It’s my vision for the next 10, 20 or 30 years! I can’t wait to put it all together. If you want to know more about the #futureboards book or Sarah Centrella click here https://www.sarahcentrella.com/.

Have you found your North Star? Do you have reminders in place to keep you committed to your mission? Try one or two of the following:

Write your intentions on post-it notes in your car, bathroom mirror or refrigerator

Have a yoga or other meditation practice to keep you mindful and intentional

Make a vision board

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