Like a Roadmap to My Life

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Day 5/6

“Fear of accepting that I’m just not as “book-smart” as some others.” This was what I wrote about myself on Day 5. Not having a degree would sometimes make me feel like an outcast in social situations where I live, as we have the most degreed population in the country. It gets very uncomfortable. Especially depending on the crowd I’m around at the moment. Deepak says “true self esteem means to rest in the self.” Our self image is built over the years and to the ego our self image is everything.

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Next I was to make a list of positive attributes about myself. Don’t judge! This is just the feelings I had at the time and based on my life experiences.

Motivated
Organized
Honest
Caring
Green Eyes
Pretty/Nice Figure
Reader
Varied Interests
Take Good Care of Myself
Good Mother
Responsible
Empathetic

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Making a list like that was not something I’d ever done before (or since!) It does make you quite uncomfortable to start. What great things can I say about myself?! Not something I do! But why not? Just looking at the list I feel proud of who I am. Ok, so I don’t have my degree. But that does not mean I’m not intelligent. Life circumstances stopped me in my tracks while I was in college and I never finished. Life changed again and a few years ago I did earn my Holistic Health Certification and I’m really proud of that. When I finished my certification I was overwhelmed with ideas of what I wanted to do. I wanted and still want to do it ALL!Should I pursue a job working for a doctor? Should I do one-on-one coaching? Should I do group coaching? Seminars? Or online coaching? The list goes on and on. Then during this mediation series I had an a-ha moment where I decided what I wanted to do first was write a book and tell my story. I wrote in my notebook:

“I feel the need to get it all out there to help others. I dream of being an author and someone that can help others with my story. I have no experience in writing but I’m doing it anyway. I just have this pull to do it and get all the words out. There is a story there. Write a book and share it on my blog.”

Well, there is it. I had my answer of what I was going to do! These meditation experiences have been revolutionary and truly life changing. It’s made me think through every problem or opportunity in my life. Working through the journaling at the end of each session really got to the core of my BEING. And the words would flow out like a roadmap to my life. I really believe that.

This week try making a list of all of your positive attributes and see how it feels! I’d love to hear how it goes! Don’t forget to comment! Thanks for being here!


Favorite and Life Changing Podcasts

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


Present Moment Awareness

Day 6

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Continuing my 21 Meditation Experience, Day 6 was going deeper into present moment awareness. Deepak says “You must be present to give and receive love.” He continues, saying “If you are angry or gossiping, you are not in awareness.” He suggests taking a few deep breaths to get back to the present anytime you are not in awareness.

In my journaling that day wrote down three things that take me out of present moment awareness. They were:

Multitasking
Worry
Interruptions

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I think I’ve talked about the fact that there in no such thing as multitasking. SINGLE tasking was my goal. As often as possible. I will actually pay attention to what I’m doing, or more importantly, pay attention to whomever I’m speaking to. Most often, my children. Instead of reading, writing, creating my to-do list or whatever it is I’m doing while my children are talking, my focus now is to stop what I’m doing and LISTEN to them with my full attention. Not half way. Single tasking. Multitasking is a habit that made me feel so accomplished. Look at me getting it all done so efficiently! But the truth is multitasking results in two (or more) things being done poorly instead of one thing being done well. It’s tempting to multitask. This is one I’m always working on. If I keep coming back to the “why”, then it’s easier to do.

Worry absolutely was taking me out of the present moment. There is no anxiety in the present moment. So, if I was worrying about something that could happen in the future, or a past hurt, that will create unnecessary stress. If I caught myself doing that, I would refocus my attention to the now.

Interruptions are inevitable. But I could try to minimize them as much as possible. If I had something I want to do uninterrupted I try to plan to do it either when no one else was home or when I was alone elsewhere. This would decrease the times someone needed mom or my husband had a question about something or just wanted to chat. I especially like uninterrupted reading time. And my favorite place to read is outdoors. I find it so relaxing. If I wanted to spend a significant amount of time writing, I also try to do this when no one else is home. Having an interruption when in the flow of writing is frustrating and can take me out of my thoughts and it can take a while to get back to where I was before the interruption.

How do you stay present? Try the following:

Ask yourself what takes you out of present moment awareness?

How can you make changes in your life to minimize interruptions?

Can wait to hear your comments! Thanks for being here!


Living in the Now

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Day 3

Did you know if you are living in the present moment there can be no anxiety? How about that?! If you are dwelling on the past or projecting into the future and it’s making you stressed, focus on being right where you are in the present moment. You can read more about the science behind this here. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201807/5-truths-about-anxiety-help-you-stay-present Once I had this awareness, it helped my stress levels tremendously.

For years I spent so much time worrying. Mostly about my kids, but somehow over the years, my anxiety levels grew into fears that weren’t there before like flying or going to the doctor. It’s like I was so hyper aware of everything I needed to do as mom to keep my kids safe, it bled over into everything I did for myself. Suddenly afraid of so many things I wasn’t before. I spent A LOT of time worrying about the “what if’s” with my kids. What if my son didn’t get selected for the team he wanted to play on, what if my daughter’s audition didn’t go well, what if a stranger approaches them, what if they get hurt, what if they get sick, what if, what if, what if… It’s enough to drive a mother mad. We all do it. I mean, we love our kids and are going to protect them. Period. But living in the fight or flight mode all the time will destroy your health. I simply could not continue that way. I think by the time I got to my own health problems I was at such a high stress level and then getting a lot of “I don’t know what’s wrong with you” from doctor’s, it just made me project more into the future. I can see that now.

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Dwelling on the past is just as destructive. Reliving old hurts does not help anyone. Do you know that your mind doesn’t know the difference of whether you are actually experiencing these moments or are just replaying them in your mind? The result is stress either way. Deepak says “I restore inner balance when I live in the now”. Yes, so true. And to do this it’s as easy as a one minute breathing meditation. There are guided meditations out there to use when you are actually experiencing a stressful moment and you need to bring yourself back to the present. I list some helpful apps below.

It’s a mindset I can see now, looking back, that was affecting my health in many ways, slowly over time. I’m happy to be out of that place! I’m not saying I don’t have fears now, but if I do, I have ways to work through them now without just getting upset or working myself up into a frenzy.

Do you find yourself living in the past or future? Is it causing unneeded stress and worry? Try the following:

Download a meditation app. I like Insight Timer, but there are many (Calm, Headspace) and use a guided meditation to bring you back to the present moment. Choosing just a one minute breathing awareness meditation can be so helpful. You can always choose a longer one if you like.

Make this a practice you use in your life and you will find yourself to be in a much calmer state of mind.

I would love to hear how it goes! Please comment below! Thanks for being here!


My First 21 Day Meditation Experience

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I’m not sure how I came upon my first 21 Day Meditation Experience with Deepak Chopra, but I do know it came at the right time. Because I was so new to meditation and just began using my new Insight Timer app I was open to learning more. So when I saw this I immediately sign up. If you aren’t familiar with these programs Deepak Chopra offers, they are in collaboration with Oprah and guide you through 21 days of mantras, meditation, self discovery and journaling. I find them to be incredibly useful. I have learned so much about myself from these programs. Oh did I mention they are FREE? Yay! It’s amazing the amount of aha moments that come out of these experiences for me. I have everything written in my notebook and I can see where the learning happened and how I moved forward with it and the changes made in my current life because of it. Pretty powerful stuff! Here are my thoughts and lessons learned throughout the my first 21 Day Experience.

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Day One

Each session has a theme. The first one I did was Time. There were a lot of lessons for me to learn here. First being “making every moment matter.” On Day One Deepak says “If you don’t have enough time, you need to manage it better.” Yes! Of course!

Three things I want to have more time for:

My husband


Volunteering


Having fun

Three things that feel like I lost time or wasted time:

Household Chores

TV

Scrolling on my phone

The goal here was to achieve a more fulfilling use of time while decreasing wasted time. I decided to make use of my early afternoons and early evenings volunteering or doing something fun. I can see now I took those to heart and are now all happening in my life. The doing something fun also took care of spending time with my husband. A two for one! We make a regular habit of going to concerts, as we are both music nerds. He being in a band in a previous life and me as a music lover surrounded by musicians in high school (my husband being one of them!) We have a deep love for music. This is our thing.

Volunteering was the other area I wanted to have more time for in my life. I did a little research and found a meal delivery service for seniors who were home bound. This was a county program where I could make my own schedule. It was a perfect start. I love seniors!! They are the most honest, funny, lovable people! It made my day to deliver their meals and chat a little. Doing for others is so important for both the people you are helping and your overall health. Win-win.

As far as the lost or wasted time, I decided that household chores are inevitable so I make the most of them by listening to a podcast or audio book during this time. No more TV on in the background. I go days without watching tv now. I don’t miss it at all. I have my shows recording and when I schedule the time to watch, I get my fill. You can do anything you want to do if you start taking control of your tv habits. Phone scrolling is the same. I started setting a timer when I would sit down and scroll through my phone in the morning and evening. If I don’t, an hour can go by just like that! I could have been reading, writing, exercising, meditating or any of the other things I want to bring into my life. This is a habit I’m still working on. I still forget to set my timer sometimes. I need to set a reminder for my timer!!

While on the subject of wasted time, I want to mention Laura Vanderkam and her books on time management. I found her work fascinating. She suggests keeping a time log for a few days to see how you are using your time. If you want to know where you are wasting time just try it! My time log was eye opening! Most clearly was my unplanned time scrolling on my phone. It was all there in black and white. I have a lot I want to accomplish and the only way to do that is to manage my time well. This is an area that I have to continually come back to for review and get back on track. Here’s a link to Laura Vanderkam’s TedTalk. https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_vanderkam_how_to_gain_control_of_your_free_time?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Do you feel like you have lost or wasted time in your day? Try the following:

  • Keep a log of your time using Laura Vanderkam’s method or choose one of your own.
  • Make a list of things you want to have more time for. Keep it small, three or four things.
  • Make a list of areas of wasted or lost time.
  • Think of ways to use your time more wisely to increase what you want to bring into your life and how to decrease the lost or wasted time.

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


Spirituality

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At this point, one thing was clear. I needed a jumpstart on my spirituality practice. Over the years my practice changed. As a child, I had no practice whatsoever, coming from a home of agnostics. Even that has changed as my parents and our personal journey has evolved. But I’m not here to tell their story, only mine. My husband was raised Catholic. We did not discuss religion much at all when we were dating. I was pretty clear about my agnostic ways, but there was no real discussion there. Until, we were expecting our first child. Suddenly it was very important to my husband that we raise our children Catholic and that I also convert. I agreed to take the classes. I actually found myself drawn to it. Looking back I probably would have been drawn to any spiritual practice at that point just because I was a little starved for it but didn’t realize what I was missing. So, for years we went to our local Catholic Church, enrolled the kids in CCD classes and I joined a playgroup with the moms of the church. There was a lot of good that came out of those years. I certainly needed the moms. As a new mom not knowing many women in my neighborhood (as I was working up until my pregnancy) I needed their help and support. I was the only new mom of the group. I got recommendations on preschools, advice on parenting and the friendship of seeing these women every week for about 2 years. Over time though, my husband and I came to have dissatisfaction with organization as a whole and could no longer stay. We then attended a local Methodist Church for a few years which all of us really liked. I found it VERY welcoming and even joined a ladies bible study. It was at this time that I began a daily spiritual practice of praying everyday, reflecting upon my day and bible readings. Over time, the leadership of that church changed and our kids were much older and slowly, we stopped going altogether.
I continued my daily practice for a few years after we stopped attending church service. As I was suffering through all the pain of my situation, I continued this practice but I was craving so much more. With this in mind, I devoted a month to Spiritually.

Spirituality

My Quotation: “Spiritual growth involves giving up the stories of your past so the universe can write a new one.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Pray Every Day

Gratitude Practice

At the time, that was it. My practice would grow tremendously over time. I would now include my meditation under spirituality because I don’t feel like they should be separated. At the time though, this seemed right.

I feel like prayer comes in a different form for me today. Every morning I start my day with a 10-20 mediation. Sometimes it’s another gratitude practice. Thanking the universe for what I have. Prayer can be my walking meditation in nature or the quiet moments in yoga when everything is coming together and I’m being extremely mindful. These are all spiritual practices to me. I will go much deeper into this later when I began to grow in my journey.

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I’m sure you have heard the miraculous changes that occur with a regular gratitude practice. I desperately needed this. When I sit down every night to write my five things I’m grateful for that day, it is nearly impossible to be upset or wallow in my own misery. There are ALWAYS things to be grateful for. Even when things aren’t going well. There is always something. Some days are harder than others to find those things I’ll admit, but they are there. Even if it’s just the beautiful birds at my feeder. I don’t find myself wanting more stuff anymore. That desire is gone. I have plenty. When you start to be grateful for what you have everything shifts.

If you want to know more about how a daily gratitude practice can be beneficial for your mental health, you can read more here. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

Do you have a spiritual practice? If you would like to begin I suggest the following. This is not a one size fits all situation. It’s very personal, so do what you feel is best for you. Some things to explore.

  • Your local church
  • Daily prayer
  • Daily Gratitude Practice
  • Meditation

Please feel free to comment below! Thanks for being here!