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!


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.


Emotional Contagion is REAL

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Have you ever felt drained after meeting with a friend? Our friends should give us energy, not deplete us. Emotions are contagious. You can learn more about emotional contagion here. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201906/protect-yourself-emotional-contagion That is reason alone to review who you are spending your time with since we are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Elisha Goldstein explains that we are a highly social species and whoever we are around influences our behavior. Having a high social connection has become one of my overarching goals for many reasons that I’ve written about here before including longevity. I’ve made some huge improvements on this front, but still have more to work on.

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In this lesson, I was to make a list of all the people I spend the most time with and then rate them on a scale of 1-10 by asking how much that person inspired me. At the time, I came up with a list of 17 people that I saw regularly. I thought this would be a difficult exercise but it was not. The uninspiring people were glaringly so. The lowest number I assigned any one person was a 3. Needless to say, I’m not really in contact with that person anymore. There was nothing so terrible about her, but she was the kind of person who when they speak, only complaints come out of their mouth. I was like that too at one time, and I probably would have been a snarky cohort, but now I see it and I want to run!


On the other end, the highest number I assigned was a 9 and that went to three friends. One of which was my personal trainer Carrie, which made complete sense since she jumpstarted so much of this for me. One other was one of the ladies in my exercise group who did some incredibly meaningful volunteer work. The kind of work that stopped me in my tracks to ask more. She was SO inspirational to me. She was the reason I started doing more important volunteer work in the first place. Not to mention all the health benefits of volunteering that I’ve mentioned before. I used to joke in class that “When I grow up I want to be her”. She lives her beliefs and there’s nothing more inspiring than that. My last 9 went to a friend who I feel is truly supportive. I never felt drained around her, in fact, the complete opposite is true. After seeing her I feel GREAT! She actually listens to me and understands me. Our conversations are real. She is most definitely part of my tribe.

This week try the exercise above. Make a list of the people you spend the most time with and assign each a number based on how inspiring they are to you. If nothing else you will see where your energy gets lifted up and where it gets drained. I can’t wait to hear about your experience with this exercise! Thanks for being here!


Say Yes to Life!

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Today focuses on playful manifestation. Deepak talks about “saying yes”, which is one of my happiness goals that I wrote about earlier. Here I got a much better understanding of why this is so important.

According to Deepak, “To be carefree is to trust the universe to take care of everything.” For an Upholder like me this seems to be an impossible task. I like controlling situations. Being “carefree” was not in my vocabulary. To be honest, I spent my whole life up to this point doing the exact opposite. Never in the flow, always worrying and trying to control outcomes. Desperate and uptight = disappointment. There’s a slogan for your fridge! And a good reminder!

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Deepak says when we let go of resistance to life it amplifies the law of attraction. I find this to be true. Letting go is a constant struggle for me, although I am MUCH improved. For example, as I write this my 19 year old son is planning his 4 month study abroad trip to Prague. The old me would be literally SICK with worry. All of the horrific scenarios worked up and spinning through my head on a daily basis. I would have been losing sleep, researching the area intently and constantly “talking” it over with my husband. I have done NONE of that. I’m trusting that things will be just fine. Because, if I was to apply my ABCDE strategies here, I would come to the conclusion that the facts would be on my side and I didn’t have much to worry about. That being said, as we get closer, I will have a talk with him about safety and we will be sure he has everything he needs. And then I will let go! Life is so much better this way. Both physically and mentally!

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Are you someone who is naturally carefree? Do you aspire to be so? Try saying yes to whatever comes your way and see how your life opens up and the law of attraction starts working. Try letting go of controlling outcomes and situations. Let me know how it goes! Thanks for being here!


Don’t Impose

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There is a fine line between helping others and imposing our path onto them. I walk this line all the time because I’m SO PASSIONATE about what I’m doing and what I’ve learned. It’s the whole reason I write this blog. I suddenly, after never wanting to discuss what happen to me, I wanted to scream it from the rooftops to everyone I know. And at first that’s exactly what I did. I BOMBARDED my family and friends with “Did you know.. blah, blah, blah” Basically, “everything you’re doing is wrong” is what most people heard me saying I’m sure. I just get very excited about new things and the science is there to back it all up so I just felt the need to share. And I’m still doing that, the difference is I’m letting the people who want to know find me, instead of me telling everyone around me whether they want to hear it or not.

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I recently overheard a conversation between two people, congratulating themselves, while eating peanuts, on what healthy snack choice they made. Inside I was bursting at the seams wanting to say, “Peanuts are are not nuts, they are legumes and they are inflammatory! Also, what kind of oil are those cooked in? Mostly likely canola, which is a processed oil known for causing heart attacks!” My brain was spinning, but I didn’t say anything. Because, it’s not my place. Deepak says we don’t know what other people’s path entails. We need to let nature take it’s course. I needed to let go of ego control and judgement! Whew, that resonated with me!!! As an Upholder (see Gretchen Rubin), I’m just programmed to do what is “right” and follow the “rules”. So, when I read about a way to improve my health and well being that maybe isn’t widely known yet, I just jump aboard and do it. I needed to stop trying to “fix” everyone. On the other hand, helping people is what I’d signed up to do! The difference is when I’m asked, or if it comes up in conversation with me directly, I will speak up, but I will not jump into a conversation just to tell someone they are wrong. Deepak says we should “envision that everyone’s mind/body state is perfect just as they are.” That’s so important to remember. And one that I work on constantly.

Do you feel like you try to control others actions? Do you feel like you are judgmental? Try reframing these feelings and tell yourself that others are on their own path and are right were they need to be. Once we release ego control we become more relaxed. I would love to hear your comments below! Thanks for being here!


The Four Tendencies

I can’t tell you how much self-knowledge has changed my life. It makes everything so clear and EASIER. Knowing yourself enables us to pursue all those things in life we want to pursue, it allows us to tackle problems and makes change. One of the ways to do this is to know your tendency, as laid out by Gretchen Rubin in The Four Tendencies. You can find it here. https://amzn.to/2VfHJ46 This is just one small slice of your personality, but an important one. Your tendency shows how you respond to expectations, both inner and outer.

I’ll start with Upholders because I fall into this category! Upholders easily meet inner and outer expectations. They like to do lists and generally can do what is it is they want to get done. They are doer’s and rule followers. On the downside, they can be rigid and can seem like a killjoy. They also experience “tightening” which is when they go beyond the rules to make more rules. They can be told they have a “extreme personality” (oh yes, I’ve been told that) I tip a little bit to Questioner, but not much. One more thing, this is the second smallest group.

Questioners only meet expectations that fit their criteria. If they believe it to be true or from an authority they trust they will meet the expectation. So, everything becomes an inner expectation. They tend to analyze to death and have difficulty making a decision. They can end up in “analysis paralysis”. Questioners also don’t like to be questioned. I can vouch for all of this, as my husband is a Questioner.

Obligers are the largest group! Most people are Obligers. They meet outer expectations but have trouble meeting inner expectations. They can meet the work deadline, but have trouble sticking to their exercise program. Obligers do well with an accountability partner. They will meet the expectation if someone else is expecting it from them. Accountability partners or accountability in some form are key for Obligers.

Rebels are the smallest group. Rebels only do what they want to do. They tend to not meet inner or outer expectations, unless they want to. If someone tells them to do something, it makes them not want to do it more. Rebels do not like to-do lists. They can do anything they want to do. Usually, reframing the situation works well for Rebels. Forming the expectation into something they want for themselves is key.

Not only is self knowledge important, it’s also so helpful in all your relationships. Now that I know my husband is a Questioner, I can see when his tendency is showing up immediately and most of the time, it doesn’t get under my skin because I take a moment to pause and think “ that’s his Questioner personality coming through”. I really think it helps in friendships, families and coworkers as well. Once you know the structure, it’s pretty easy to identify someone’s tendency and therefore you can more easily understand where they are coming from. If you want to know your tendency you can take the quiz here. https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/four-tendencies-quiz/ When you are done come back and leave a comment telling me your tendency! Can’t wait to hear! Thanks for being here!


I am

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Day 14

Stream of Consciousness with the prompt “I am.”


I am:

A mother, a wife, a daughter. A reader, an activist. I’m a health coach, a library aide. I’m caring. I’m a seeker. A music lover. A patron of the arts. History lover. Admirer of Gretchen Rubin, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Mark Hyman, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Oprah. I am an animal lover. I am pretty, strong and smart. I’m a doer. I have a lot to give and get out. I feel something big. Don’t know what yet. I am a writer. I am an author of books. I am an influencer.

The goal was to just write and let if all flow.

It’s funny what comes out when you are prompted this way. If I was to do it on my own, in my own time, the list would be much longer. I shocked at the amount of things I left out as I am definitely more than this. But I think it’s revealing that this is what came out first. On that particular day. At that particular time. It’s funny to see Gretchen Rubin and Oprah lumped in with Mick, Keith and Freddie! But that’s just where my brain was at the moment. It’s like a little poem of me.

I did feel something in me that needed to get out and it’s this blog. One day I just felt the need to get it out of my body. That’s where the “I have a lot to give and get out” comes from. It’s here and I need to get it out to the world. And I’ve talked about this before, but that wasn’t something I ever wanted to do even a few months prior. I was absolutely cringe when someone would talk about how far I’d come. Whether it was my doctor or a family member. They would start with “remember when you…” and my body would just shut down. I couldn’t and wouldn’t hear it. It was like reliving my pain. And one day that just left me and it was replaced with this sudden need to talk about it all the time and get my story out to the world. Unexplainable to me.

Try it! Share your “I am” free flow in the comments! Thanks for being here!


“What do you want to grow in yourself? Dwell there.”

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Taking part in Mindful Living Week by the Awake Network (https://www.theawakenetwork.com/) was one of the most beneficial things I have ever done for myself. This was an online program that I participated in back in May of 2017. Right when I was revving up to start making corrections in my life and start living better than before. The presenters were top notch and just full of useful, practical information and tips that I applied in my life immediately.

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Starting on Day One with Mindfulness, Calm and Happiness, Dr. Rick Hanson talks about how meditation works in your real life. He uses the example of when you work out physically, it makes your muscles stronger. It’s the same with mediation. When you are meditating and return to the breath, you learn control, and that carries over into your real life. I saw this happen in my own life, which I have talked about before. There is a calm that takes over. What a pleasant way to live! It’s fascinating to me that every time you get a little lost in meditation then come back to the breath you are having a “mini-awakening” at that moment, as Dr. Hanson calls it. That’s SO important. The coming back is the brain training. So, it doesn’t matter how many times you get lost, coming back is the exercise. Over time, you actually change and thicken the cortex of your brain. You are making structural change that will impact your life, becoming more empathic and less agitated. This is absolutely true for me. When I heard all of this for the first time I was so excited! It felt like someone let me in on some sort of secret! “Why isn’t everyone doing this?!” I thought. Just the idea that doing something as SIMPLE as meditating could have such an enormous change in my brain and body! Dr. Hanson says “you become what you think about”. If you live in a state of worry, as I did for so many years, the accumulation of wear and tear of stress and anxiety is something you not only experience, it’s what you become. This all made perfect sense to me as I looked back on the previous year or two. My state of mind was so destructive. A “state- to -trait” if you will, as Dr. Hanson says so well. If you want to learn more, watch the following Ted Talk by Dr. Hanson. https://youtu.be/jpuDyGgIeh0 My favorite quote from Dr. Hanson during his presentation was “What do you want to grow in yourself? Dwell there.” Yes, dwell there. SO POWERFUL. We are growing these muscles for life. And I couldn’t wait to get started.

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Dr. Hanson also focused on how we need to note the small moments of joy that occur every day. When those little small doses of joy happen for us we need to savor them. And really absorb them. For me it could be the birds at my bird feeders, sitting in the warm sunshine or spending time with my kitty. There is so much happiness there. Don’t let those moments float by!

Another way to bring joy into our lives is to wish someone else happiness two times a day. This does not need to be said to the other person, just a a personal wish of our own, maybe during meditation or just taking a few minutes a day to think about someone else. Wishing someone else was happy automatically makes you happy, according to Dr. Hanson. I have to say a agree with this. I did a little experiment with this tip and I did find that it brought me more happiness. It brought me out of my own head which is always useful.

This week think about starting a meditation practice if you haven’t already. You could also try the following:

Wish happiness on someone else two times a day!

Notice the small moments during the day, and savor them.

I’d love to hear your feedback! Please comment below! Thank you for being here!


18 for 2018

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In December of 2017 I was a new listener to Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In this episode Gretchen and Elizabeth talk about creating a list of 18 things to accomplish or complete in the year 2018. This is not a New Year’s resolution list, nor is it a vision board, it is simply 18 things you want to DO in the coming year, big or small. Some things might seem trivial to you, but the idea is to get things done to create happiness and unload the to-do’s into action. I loved this idea. The Upholder in me literary jumped at making my list. The minute the podcast was over I started making my list. It looked like this.

Take an online mindfulness class.
Find the perfect crossbody bag.
Plan a fun adventure with Nathan before he leaves for college.
Purchase a Swell water bottle.
See as many exhibits as possible.
Organize my linen closet.
Have Carney family heirlooms framed.
Frame my National Book Festival poster.
Go on a bird walk with my Dad.
Purchase a receipt organizer.
Return to my book club.
Learn to sketch.
Buy new outdoor cushions and pillows before Nathan’s Graduation party.
Buy a new birdbath.
Go to lunch with friends regularly.
Have the fireplace cleaned.
Visit a used bookstore.
Plant perennials.

I love a list and a challenge. Something in my Upholder personality loves to make lists and check things off of them. I ended up completing all but number 9, (because I was being overly ambitious about my capability to hike for any extended amount of time) and number 10, for no good reason (that should go on my 20 for 20 list!) And hmmm, that fireplace did not get cleaned. Another for my 20 for 20 list. But overall, I did really well. Gretchen says “things that can be done anytime are often done at no time.” That’s the truth! I easily could have done any of these things (maybe not the hike) at any time but then did nothing. Why? Get it on a list and get it done! I can’t tell you how good it felt to get all these nagging and some fun things completed! Another tip, is to know your tendency. I’ve spoken about this before. Once you know, it’s much easier to complete lists like this. For me, being an Upholder, this type of challenge is fun and I have no problem completing, however, a Rebel, Obliger or Questioner may want other strategies to help them complete their list. All tendencies have strengths and weaknesses. Once you know yours life becomes much simpler. You can learn more about the tendencies here. https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/

Do you have a things you want to get done or accomplish but they seem to never happen? I hope you will join me in the New Year with a 21 for 2021 list or if you want to start now, make yourself a very short list to complete by December and then you will be ready for a new list in January!

Thanks for being here!