True Self

Day 1/2

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I began my fourth Meditation Experience in July of 2019. This was my forth go around and was excited to get started. This time the focus was on relationships. I needed to work in some of these area more than others. And to be clear, relationships were an area that needed some work for sure.

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Deepak says “We are not our feelings. Our true selves are always fully awake”. I’ve heard this before explained as “we are not our thoughts.” Being authentic has been a focus for me ever since I started learning from Brene Brown, Deepak Chopra and Gretchen Rubin. How much time did I waste not being authentic? And surrounding myself with those who I truly had no connection with and not really enjoying the things that I loved and made me happy?

There was a time when I would meet someone new and I would hear myself edit my conversation as I’m speaking! Maybe not tell the entirety of my story. And for what? What does not being authentic do for me? I think I’m meeting someone new, I’m looking for that bond or I’m thinking this could be a new friendship so don’t scare them away! Ha! When I stopped doing that, suddenly I had the best friendships I’d had in a long time. The right people just fell into my life. If I fall in that trap I stop and correct it, being my true self instead. There are places where I’m ALWAYS my true self. With my family, when writing, at yoga, and with my new friends. And it goes hand in hand with feeling my best.

Do you feel like you are your authentic self when meeting new people? This week try and catch yourself when you hear yourself not being authentic. You will be so happy with the results and the people you attract into your life! Thanks for being here!


Favorite and Life Changing Podcasts

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Are you a podcast listener? I LOVE podcasts. My addiction started slow, but once I found ones I loved I became hooked. There are podcasts for any niche thing you are into. I find I would much rather spend time listening to something that really resonates with me or be learning something over most (not all) of the mindless shows on television.

I have many favorites that have either helped me in some way, or I’ve learned something from or I just flat out find them entertaining! I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

Personal Development/Health and Wellness

Happier with Gretchen Rubin/Happier in Hollywood
Goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of her work. This show has all three of things I was talking about. I learn little tips and tricks to use in my life, it’s helped me to focus on what is important and it’s super entertaining. It’s where I began my second Happiness Project that sent everything in motion for me and how I started my “18 for 2018” lists and every year after.

Happier in Hollywood is Gretchen’s sister Elizabeth’s podcast that she does with her TV writing partner Sara Fain. In the same vein as Happier but with the twist of life in LA as TV writers.

Balanced Bites
This one is no longer producing new episodes but you can still access all the previous years of content. This was PERFECT for me when I began my paleo lifestyle. Diane SanFilippo and Liz Wolfe are just a fountain of knowledge when it comes to clean eating.

The Doctor’s Farmacy with Dr. Mark Hyman
This took my knowledge of wellness and food to a whole other level. His guests are top-notch! He goes beyond just “what should we eat”. He dives into climate change, farming, mindfulness, mental illness, social justice and list goes on. He has truly opened my eyes to the BIGGER picture and has inspired me to get involved with food advocacy. Future project!

Infinite Potential with Deepak Chopra
Another teacher/mentor I have learned so much from . With all of his 21-day Meditation Experiences I did, this was a no brainer. Every week Deepak interviews a guest to discuss everything mind, body, spirit and beyond.

Ten Percent Happier
If you are familiar with Dan Harris from ABC News you are probably already aware of this podcast. Every week he interviews a mediation teacher or leader. I always come away inspired and motivated and I learn something new every single time.

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations
It’s Oprah! What’s not to love? I’m a fan of SuperSoul Conversations on TV but if I miss the episodes, I can always find them here.

The Sheri and Nancy Show
If you are a woman 40+ I guarantee you will find this show not only relatable but entertaining! Sheri spent most of her career as Oprah’s producer and now with her friend Nancy they are working on their “pillars” for all of us to hear and learn from. This show is great. It’s all about the second half of life. Sheri is 60 and has no intention of slowing into retirement. What keeps you alive are all the things I talk about on my blog and on this show they are sharing what happens as they work on all of those things. This show gave me a total mindset shift. When I was approaching 50, I kept thinking, I can’t believe I finally figured out how to live and it’s almost over. I was sad about that for a while, but after listening to this podcast I have a whole new attitude. When I tell people my age I also add that “I’m only half way” and that’s how I view it. I’m in the second HALF. When I reframed it, I now think, “ wow, there’s SO much I want to do and I have the time to do it. Life is good”. But it doesn’t magically happen on it’s own. If you don’t work on all aspects of your life you won’t get there or if you do you probably won’t feel so great and will be force to stop “living”. See my post on my Wellness Wheel to see the areas I’m working on for longevity. Another way I’ve heard it described is “training for the centurion olympics”. I love that. If you want to get to 100 AND feel good you absolutely must train NOW. Ok, that was a lot on one podcast! Update: This podcast is no longer producing new episodes, but the old ones are there for you.

Being Well with Dr. Rick Hanson
Think of Dr. Hanson as a kind of Mr. Rogers for adults. He is SO CALMING. And extremely knowledgeable. His show focuses on mindfulness, compassion and happiness and all the science behind it. I find it fascinating.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Personal Finance

HerMoney with Jean Chatzky
You may know Jean Chatzky from the Today show or Oprah. When I decided to truly get our finances in order I began listening to MANY personal finance podcasts. Some stuck and some didn’t. This one stuck. It’s informative and practical and she always has interesting guests. I needed a lot of help in this area. I knew NOTHING about personal finance and money in general. I was starting at ground zero. I’m so much more literate now. This podcast was only a very small part of my learning. I went to our local library and checked out every basic personal finance book and read them all. I found a budgeting method that works for me and now I work on our finances every single day. But the podcast keeps it in the forefront of my mind.

Photo by Elviss Railijs Bitāns on Pexels.com

Music (aka podcasts that makes me happy)

Disgraceland
Stories of rock stars behaving badly told by Jake Brennan. Not for the faint of heart. Some of these stories are just outrageous. But that’s what it is to be a rock star. Personally, I can’t get enough.

My Favorite Album with Jeremy Dylan
Great concept for a music podcast. Jeremy invites a musician to discuss their favorite album song by song. A lot of fun to hear what these artists favorite albums are and why.

27 Club
Another darker podcast from Jake Brennan. This focuses an entire season to one artist that passed away at 27 years old. I love a podcast that takes a deep dive and this one definitely does.

Rolling Stone Music Now
From Rolling Stone magazine. The best interviews and music journalists in one place. I love their conversations and find myself laughing all the time.

80’s Music Exposed
This is a fun one! Especially if you grew up in the 80’s like me. This is a monthly podcast where they discuss the albums that came out in the 80’s in order by month. It’s really fun to hear some of this music again and to hear the critiques. The two guys are musicians and also around my age so I like hearing their opinions about what they liked then and now and what holds up and what doesn’t.

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Random

You Must Remember This
Probably the most well done, entertaining, informative podcast I listen to. Karina Longworth hosts this podcast about old classic Hollywood. These stories are FASCINATING! The best part about this podcast and what makes it unique is that she doesn’t just pick random stories. She selects a subject and then goes deep. Truly better than anything on TV. This podcast along with Disgraceland have won a couple of awards and you can tell why when you start listening. They are just on a different level and it’s obvious the work that went into them.

The Librarian is In
The New York Public Library has a podcast of book recommendations and what I love about this podcast is how it’s relaxed, but intelligent. I’ve tried other book related podcasts and they are either stuffy or just someone reading a list of recommendations and info off the book jacket. These are two employees of the library who come to discuss one book that each of them read. The conversation always takes a turn into something else. It’s just conversation. I love it. It’s funny, emotional and educational. And very New York.

Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda
I’ve always liked Alan Alda. Smart and funny, just seems like a great guy. And loved watching him on MASH. I didn’t know until recently about his interview podcast. All the guest are well know and when Alda interviews them, it’s a sincere, thoughtful and intelligent conversation. Reminds me of BBC’s Desert Island Discs if you’ve ever listened to that podcast.

Lost at the Smithsonian
Assif Mandvi takes us to the Smithsonian Museum to explain the importance of one object in the museum per episode. He interviews the staff as well and those who are knowledgeable about the history of the object. This one is so fun to listen to partly because Assif is so funny. One of my favorites was Henry Winkler’s Fonzi jacket from Happy Days. His interview with Henry Winkler was just heart warming. Another favorite was Dorothy’s red ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Give it a try!

Listening to podcasts about things you are interested in or want to learn from can help you achieve all your goals. By listening regularly you will keep everything that is important to you at the forefront of your mind and help you stay on track. Win-win.

I’d love to hear your podcast recommendations! Thanks for being here!


What I learned

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Day 16-21

Wrapping up my 21-Day Meditation Experience these last few days I realized how much I had learned and grown in my practice. Being grateful was so much more than writing down five things every night. That part of my practice is solid and the base of everything else, but what I’ve learned is to “sit in those feelings” when they are happening. Take the time to really feel the joy and gratitude when things are going well. If you don’t feel it and you are just writing things down, it won’t have the same effect on your brain. And I do have memories from the past that are so good and so vivid that I can still feel them. Events big and small. Big events like when my children were born of course or that feeling of falling in love when my husband and I were dating. But small things too. I vividly remember a day in my early twenties. At this time I was living close to the beach and occasionally I would ride my bike from my apartment to the beach and bike along the strand to the next beach town and back to my apartment. This day in particular is a great memory for me and I can’t explain why other than I remember feeling extremely independent and free. I can still remember how the sun felt so warm that day and I also remembering feeling strong. I was working out regularly but biking was new for me. I LOVED it.

Photo by Adam Dubec on Pexels.com

There were many lessons for me in this meditation experience, but it also made me glaringly aware of how much I judge. (see last week’s post) Awareness is key. This is something I’m now working on more than ever. I’m an enneagram one, the Reformer, so by nature I like to “fix things”. That includes myself and others. If you aren’t familiar with the enneagram, it’s not exactly a personality test, it’s more your true nature. I’m all about self knowledge! If you want to know more about the enneagram, you can read more here.
https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions

One of my favorite quotes from Deepak during these last few sessions was “I am consciousness that accepts life with wisdom”. It was time to take what I learned into my life!

I’d love to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


Stories We Tell Ourselves

Photo by Victor on Pexels.com

Day 7-9

As much progress as I’d made to this point, I would occasionally have thoughts like what could have been if I hadn’t been hurt. This is not a good road to venture down. For so long I was only focused on the negative. I was consumed with pain. It was a constant battle to focus on the positive and move forward, but I did it. I realized too, that I should have been much more in charge of my own health. I don’t necessarily follow all of what a doctor will tell me these days. I use my common sense as well as I listen to what I’m told. The difference is when I was younger I would follow the doctor’s instructions to a tee, even if inside it didn’t feel right. Never questioning.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

It’s hard I think for some people to understand what a gift I was given with these events occurring in my life. You hear people say this after a tragedy occurs, and you think that can’t possibly be how they feel. But it is. Every single part of my life is better because of what happen to me. Just to name a few.. I fixed my diet, I did another Happiness Project, I learned how to meditate, I learned how to exercise with correct form, I learned yoga and made a ton of new friends. And as you know, if you have been reading this blog, each of those areas ricochet into many more areas of improvement. A big self improvement, self healing journey. I guarantee you NONE of that would have had happen if my life hadn’t been stopped in it’s tracks.

Deepak says no two people see reality the same way. Reality is personal (the stories you tell yourself). This was a big AHA moment for me. The fact that there even could be stories I was telling myself was a new idea. What do you mean? You mean every thought in my head isn’t based on facts? Ha! I catch myself in this one ALL THE TIME. Am I making up a story in my head? Or is this something based in facts that I know is true? Life changing when you are aware of this. Deepak says “we are the author of our life story”. I love that so much. I’m just going to keep living my truth. I hope you will too.

Do you feel like you are telling yourself a story about what is happening in your life? Or is it based on actual facts? It’s a good question to ask yourself. Often. Once you start asking you can see where you can let go of a lot of anxiety and worry. Please comment below! I can’t wait to hear from you! Thanks for being here!


My Time, Your Time, and Our Time

Day 12

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

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

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

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”.

Photo by meo on Pexels.com

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

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!

Photo by Natasha Fernandez on Pexels.com

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Binti Malu on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Pexels.com

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!