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It’s not over yet! 6 Ways to celebrate the rest of 2016.

It’s not over, ’til it’s over!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had so many people already asking me what my word for 2017 will be, what my New Year’s Resolution is going to be, etc., etc. And the thought that keeps going through my head is:

WAIT! 2016 isn’t over yet!

Why are we in such a hurry to get to the next year? What’s wrong with the 30 glorious days we have left in THIS year?

So I, for one, am waiting. And while I wait, I will enjoy this month as much as I possibly can!

How will I do it?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. Although, it won’t be easy every day. I will enjoy. On purpose. I will continue to work through each day as though it matters.

Because it does.

Here’s my game plan:

See? Super simple. While some days, it won’t be so easy – I may have a busy schedule, or not feel well, or something. Truth be told, I’ll probably miss some of these on any given day. But I’m committed anyway. Because I know it works. Making a plan, doing my absolute best to stick with it, and getting back on the wagon if I fall off.

There’s still 30 wonderful days! Let’s LIVE them!

I’d love to hear from you – how do YOU live your days on purpose? Leave a comment below:

A few words about grief

We’ve all experienced grief at one time or another.

Are you experiencing grief today?

It’s quite possible you’re experiencing grief this week as a result of the election. I know many who are seriously grieving over recent events and the resulting chaos in our country. Of course, it may also be something completely different for you today. Have you lost a job or opportunity or ended a relationship? Have you lost a friend or family member? These losses in particular, can take quite a long time to grieve. Perhaps you experienced the loss of a pet. We do get so attached to our pets.

The fact is, no matter the source of your grief, it’s real. There’s no reason to try to pretend it away. It wouldn’t help if we did.

I know everyone is familiar with the stages of grief, so I won’t go into all that right now. What I’d like to do instead is to re-frame our perception.

Grief isn’t always bad.

Sometimes…

Sometimes, grief is beautiful.

Stay with me here. I know that statement could possibly come off as insensitive or stupid or just plain wrong.

But even still. I hold to that statement.

Let me explain.

So often, we put emotions in categories. Joy, Happiness, and Wonder  all go in the “good emotions” category. Sadness, Anger, and Resentment all go in the “bad emotions” category. Right?

Here’s the thing I’d like to suggest: emotions are neither good nor bad. Joy is no better or worse than Anger. They are both intense and amazing feelings. One happens in response to events that we prefer and the other in response to events that we dislike.

However…

Anger can often move us to much-needed action! Sometimes it takes the fire of anger to get us motivated to make changes. Or the intensity of a deep belly-laugh to relieve our stress.

So, what about grief then?

In some of my most recent experiences with grief, I have noticed that it is full of texture and beauty. This is much like loneliness (which can be so full and expansive when we let it). Grief is raw, and often feels like our hearts are ripped wide open. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that is EXACTLY what I need! I can get so closed or detached from the real-ness of life. And a season of loss brings me back to raw reality. As my heart feels like it is bleeding beyond repair, I find I am more aware. I notice the acts of kindness from a friend that I may have taken for granted yesterday. I see the hurt another person is experiencing and have enough presence of mind to give them a smile or a hug.

Grief is expansive.

Grief sometimes feels like it oozes onto everything for days, weeks, months and years. And we cry. We feel despair. We sit in disbelief.

And yet….

Grief is also full of experience. Tears are wet, and salty, and endless! Our hearts ache and heave with the waves of intensity. We are opened up. We see others – not just as coworkers or neighbors – but as people with their own very real experiences. Joy. Sadness. Wonder. Anger. And sometimes…grief. But now, we have a small understanding. We have a little more patience and tenderness for their experiences.

And that, my friends, is BEAUTIFUL.

Are you grieving today? If so, I invite you to lean into it a little bit. What does it feel like? What does it look like? How does it taste? Sit with it long enough to gain a new perspective about it. Sit with it until it feels beautiful.

When rain on your parade is the best thing ever!

My fam and I just went on a mini vacation. Five fast days. We went from Phoenix to San Francisco (by plane). Next, we went on to Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. We then finished up the trip in Los Angeles before heading home.

It was awesome!

largest tree in the world, in the rainOur vacation, which was originally scheduled for August got bumped a couple times due to circumstances beyond our control. So, by the end of October, we were MORE than ready to get out of town for a few days.

You know how it gets. After too many months of the daily grind, you really need to take some time to be away from the demands of life and spend time with family, or even by yourself. I’m sure my family and friends would testify if I asked them to – over the last few weeks, I’ve been more tired and perhaps a little cranky too.

Anyway, we were off on our adventure and the first two days had perfect weather. Cool enough to pull out something besides tank tops and flip flops (we are desert dwellers, you know), but not so cold that we were miserable. I was thinking that the entire trip was going to be smooth sailing weather-wise.

But no.

general-sherman-treeOn day three, it started to rain. A lot. Lots of rain. We were driving in to the Sequoia National Park to see those indescribably huge trees, and we could barely see far enough in front of the car to drive safely in! I was concerned that the day was a bust. No one was going to have fun. I love our kids, but if Thing One gets wet feet or Thing Two gets too cold, it’s all over. I was understandably concerned.

Well, bless the people who order merchandise at the Museum Shop, because THEY HAD RAIN PONCHOS! Even if those things had been $20 a piece, it wouldn’t have mattered – we would have been buying them to ensure fun was had by all! We bought four of those little ponchos and put them on as soon as we got to the car.

The thought did cross my mind that someone among us might not have been too happy about the color or bulkiness or SOMETHING. But, against all odds, EVERYONE in the car was happy about these bright blue blobs of awesomeness!

We may have somewhat resembled huge blueberries…

my family in rain ponchosBut, what can we say? We were the cutest family of blueberries you’ve ever seen!blueberry-family

Want to know what’s even better?

A simple, small act of caring for ourselves made all the difference. We would have survived if we hadn’t gotten the ponchos. We all had dry clothes to change into. But we would have been miserable. We probably would have been shivering from the cold. And, guaranteed we wouldn’t have lingered long enough to truly enjoy the beauty of these trees that are thousands of years old. Did it cost us a few extra dollars? Sure. But the comfort we experienced and the memories we made were priceless!

And that’s how it is with self-care.

Does it cost us something up front? Sure. Sometimes the cost is in dollars and sometimes the cost is in time. But no matter what it is, almost every single time, it IS worth it! When we take the time to really care for ourselves and make that investment, not only do we gain the benefit of the investment, we also send a super strong message to ourselves that we are WORTH that investment. And that message, my friends, goes a long, long way!

How did you sleep last night?

Isn’t it the best when you wake up from a wonderful night’s sleep? Those mornings when the alarm doesn’t go off too early, and you wake up with a smile on your face. You hear the birds chirping and can’t wait to get going with your day. Ahhhh….

If Amazing-Sleep days happen less often than Why-Is-It-Morning Already days, read on!

It happens to all of us at some point. We wake up feeling less than stellar and spend all day looking for the next cup of coffee or try to sneak in a quick nap between appointments because we’re so exhausted. And unfortunately, sometimes we get in a rut of these days that lasts weeks or months or years.

Yawn…

What to do? How can our sleep (and consequently our sanity) be rescued from the downward spiral?

While no single solution will work for everyone, and sometimes we really do need professional help to get our sleep-groove back on, I do have a couple of suggestions for you!

Meditation

If you find that your mind just will not let all those thoughts from the day go, this is where I would start! It doesn’t have to be all fancy-schmancy, but 10-20 minutes of quiet meditation can change EVERYTHING! Our brains respond really well to this planned quiet time and are able to turn down the volume on the barrage of thoughts when we take the time to be still and quiet. Not sure where to start? Try this meditation for Letting Go.

Gratitude

Yes to gratitude! Oftentimes the things we mull over in our mind focus on what we don’t have or how things are going wrong. If you ever get caught in this hamster-wheel that goes nowhere fast – JUMP OFF! Let go of those thoughts that center around lack and start thinking of every single thing that went right today and then actually say, “I am so grateful for _____.” After 3-10 of these awesome gratitude thoughts, you will be AMAZED at how much better you feel!

Want to know more?

I hope so, because I have more great ideas I want to share with you! Join me for a FREE webinar on Wednesday, October 12th @ 1:00pm Pacific where I will share my Top 5 Sleep Strategies for Resting Easy!

Until we chat again, sweet dreams!

How to create your Dream Day in one easy step

How was your day yesterday? Would you describe it as a “Dream Day”?

If you could rate it from 1-10, what would you say? For many of us, I know the answer would be lower rather than higher. You know it too. Listening in to conversations around you throughout the day can show you the general level of satisfaction people are feeling. And yesterday, as I listened, the general mood was not a 10. Maybe not even a 6.

Why is that?

What is causing people so much dissatisfaction?

Sure, life has it’s share of troubles. No question. Everyone has something going on that’s less than awesome. But, if you are reading this on your personal computer, your iPad, or your smartphone, you obviously have enough discretionary income to purchase such a device. Probably then, food on the table and a roof over your head is not a daily concern.

And yet, when you visit a place where food and roofs (thatched or otherwise) are not so common, the conversations have a very different flavor. The people are happy. They enjoy life and express it all day, everyday.

So, what gives?

Why are people who aren’t sure how they are going to feed themselves and their children so happy when those of who are “privileged” are so unhappy? What do they know that we don’t?

I think I know.

And it’s more simple than you think.

There is something we can all do in this exact moment that can turn it around. And I’m not talking about winning the lottery!

Here’s the deal – when we spend our thoughts on our frustrations and problems, then we are unhappy. Plain and simple. We may not even realize how much we do it, but we probably spew our dissatisfaction all over every conversation we have. Our poor friends!

However…

When we turn that around and CHOOSE to think about the things in life that we enjoy and are grateful for? Everything changes. Right that second. Seriously.

Don’t believe me?

Try it. Right now, think of three things you are grateful for. And do me (and you) a favor, don’t just give the “right” answers. If the answers come out flippantly, those aren’t the ones for today. Really think about it.

As you choose the first one, spend some time on it. Lean into the gratitude you feel. Let it sink in how beautiful this aspect of your life truly is. Let it bring a smile to your face.

And then choose the next one.

And the next.

Now…how do you feel?

I’m gonna go ahead and believe that your perspective on your day just took a massive shift. It’s even pretty likely that the day you thought was a 4 just magically turned into an 8.

You see, it’s all about perspective and gratitude. I know we all “know” that. But do you really know – deep down inside? Have you given gratitude a proper chance?

Here’s what I know:

When I am feeling very frustrated and maybe even a little depressed about an area of my life, if I choose to pause and recognize three things that I’m grateful for and then really experience that gratitude, everything changes. I don’t feel as upset, and maybe what I thought was such a big deal just isn’t anymore. I may even move on to the next moment with a smile on my face and in my heart.

Creating your Dream Day isn’t about being on vacation or having the latest and greatest technology or any of those things we chase after. Nope. It’s about how you see your day. Every single day can be a Dream Day. It’s up to you. When you choose gratitude, the day becomes dreamy.

I recently did a webinar on this topic! Sign up for the replay here.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your experiences with gratitude? How has it changed your life?

Well grounded and flying high. Start your day off right!

One of my favorite things to do in yoga class is inversions and arm balances. I love the feeling of strength and balance and the playfulness of being upside down! I know, I know. Some of you are probably thinking about how much you HATE arm balances and inversions, right? They don’t seem grounded or they seem scary, or wobbly, or disorienting. Guess what?

I used to feel that way too.

Seriously.

But I kept at it. At first I kept at it mostly because my friends in yoga class liked them and so I thought I might as well try. And so I did. And I failed.

Over. And over. And over.

And then I went to an Anatomy and Alignment for Yoga class and it changed everything.

See, up until that class, I thought that one day these poses would just magically work out for me. Also, I didn’t really get how important it was to build the poses and work with my body to set it up for success. These poses had taken me to a place of insanity – you know, trying the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result. I wasn’t thinking ahead at all.

I didn’t understand how important my planning was to my success.

Once I understood how vital it is to make sure each pose is grounded well and then move from a strong and focused core – I could do it! As a result, these previously inaccessible poses were instantly at my disposal! I’m not saying I was perfect at them the next day. Not at all.

What changed is that now I had a PLAN!

I knew how to build my strength and balance so that it was possible for me to do the poses. I knew that if I continued to practice with this new knowledge, that it wouldn’t be long until I could do these poses. Finally, it worked! Now I can do any arm balance or inversion at any time. I can do them in yoga clothes! I can do them in jeans or shorts! I can do them at the yoga studio! I can do them at the gym or in my house or at the park! (I do feel a bit like Dr. Suess, right now! Green Eggs and Ham, anyone?)

(Also, if you want more info on arm balances, Check out this article I wrote for the YogaFit blog on Crow Pose.)

And, as happens with most of the things I learn on the mat, this lesson transfers well off the mat.

When I am frustrated with something and it feels like I am not improving or can’t figure out how to get something “off the ground,” I am reminded of this realization from yoga. For a pose to “fly,” it must be well-grounded and there must be a plan! The two things go hand in hand.

Does this sound dreamy to you?

And maybe a tiny bit impossible?

Well, it’s not impossible at all! Start with the center and core of the goal you want to accomplish. Once you start there and create a plan – you can do it!

Take a deep breath. 3 Meditations to get you through the day

Do you ever feel like it’s hard to just breathe?

I was talking with one of my clients (who also happens to be a good friend) the other day about breathing. She mentioned how she often holds her breath, like so many of us do in stressful times. So, we discussed how to use the breath in all kinds of situations from calming ourselves down to using the power of our breath when we need it.

During our conversation, we realized something.

We realized that when we learn a particular breathing technique, that it is a good thing. We learn to use our breath to accomplish a specific outcome. And then, when we add another technique, it is an even  better thing. Now we can choose between the two techniques in any given moment. We can use our breath for strength and power (think martial arts or Pilates) OR we can use our breath to calm down and unwind at the end of the day (think meditation or yoga).

THIS IS COOL, YOU GUYS!

When we take the time to breathe. I mean REALLY breathe, we have taken charge of our responses and how we handle life to a whole new level! Using just these two techniques, I can start off the day with a few powerful breaths to get me going, soothe myself when things get stressful, re-energize myself in the late afternoon, and unwind at the end of the day to get ready for rest.

When we learn to harness breathing in this way, it becomes a POWERFUL tool we can use at will! And the best part is, we don’t need special tools. We don’t have to make time in our schedule for a class or buy any special gear! We don’t even have to make extra space in our suitcase for it when we travel!

And here’s the best news: it’s not even hard!Meditation 3-pack

Start with a simple breathing practice. You can give this one a try* for starters. Then, once you feel good about the first one and feel like you can do it anytime, you can add another*, and then another*!

Imagine your life when you are able to move through of life’s moments with ease using a powerful breathing practice.

 

*With these and any breathing practices, please follow the needs of your own body. If at any time your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, return to your normal breath and release the practice.

Release mid-day stress!

The other day started off like most others. I meditated, got ready for the day, taught a yoga class, and then – BOOM! The rest of my schedule got thrown out the window when a series of unforeseeable events unfolded. It was after 6:00pm when I realized I hadn’t had any water or even had a chance to visit the restroom since before 9:00am. And I admit, I was pretty flustered. I was grumpy, I was irritable, I may have even been a tiny bit snippy with the lady at the bank. I certainly hadn’t chosen to release the stress when it came on. Ugh.

Has this ever happened to you?

Of course, it has! Things like this happen to everyone. Despite our best plans, sometimes we just can’t be prepared for every possible challenge. And when our day goes askew, we don’t always handle it as well as we would want to. Thankfully we can apologize and promise to do better next time. And sometimes that works. Other times, not so much. The real issue is when we don’t handle it well and the tiniest setbacks cause us to “lose it” with unsuspecting (and undeserving) people we see throughout the day. If we start to notice that the occasional setback is becoming more the norm in our life, then it could be time for a revolution!

Any of these things sound familiar a little too often?

*Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, or moody
*Feeling overwhelmed or like you’re losing control
*Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
*Feeling bad about yourself, lonely, or depressed
*Avoiding others

These are all signs of stress. None of them are surprising, I’m sure. You hear about stress in the news and from your doctor all the time. You likely even experience it on a daily or weekly basis.

Here’s how it goes sometimes – you wake up, meditate, work out, get ready for the day. Pack a lunch, play relaxing music at your desk or in your house, and then something happens that throws everything off. And then what? How do you handle this unpredictable event? Do you have a game plan for what to do in stressful situations? If not, my guess is you are reacting instead of responding. And that reaction may include yelling, slamming doors, being snippy with people, or retreating, putting on PJs and eating a pint of ice cream.

Are you ready to revolutionize your response and release mid-day stress?

If you would like to revolutionize your response and learn how to release mid-day stress, then I would like to invite you to join me for a webinar where I will show you some great ways to ease the experience of unexpected stress and how to handle it in a way that puts you back in the driver’s seat of your responses and actions instead of being left at the mercy of emotional reactions. I’ll talk about incorporating yoga poses and share some breathing exercises. I will share how I use essential oils to help ease emotional experiences and how to get the most benefit from them.

The webinar will be on Tuesday @ 1:00pm PDT. Ready to join me? Click here to get signed up!

In the meantime, try this the next time you feel that sense of overwhelm coming on:
Inhale for the count of 4Hold your breath for the count of 4
Exhale for the count of 4
Hold your breath for the count of 4
*Do this 4 times in a row*

*As with this and any other breathing exercise, if you begin to feel faint or uncomfortable, release the exercise and breath normally.

How’s your schedule?

Ahhh, summer. How I love thee. The endless days of sunshine, the radiant heat that warms all the way to my bones, the lemonade, the pool, the release of the school-year schedule. So relaxing. So wonderful.

I do love summer.

You see, I have the amazing privilege of being able to relax my schedule a bit in the summer. A little less work, more time with the kids, a little sleeping in from time to time. And it’s such a nice break from the super early busy-ness of the school year and all the after-school activities, etc.

But even breaks can have their downside when they last a long time.

As I look at my planner and see that school starts again next week, I find myself feeling like I am ready. Ready for the excitement and a new schedule. Ready for increased productivity. Even ready for the change of the weather! Although I LOVE the ridiculously hot summers here in the desert, I know that the variation in the weather keep me appreciating my favorite times of the year.

I also love having my daily routines and more things to do on my schedule. I enjoy that I get more things done during the school year. The change in the air also leans into a change in me.

I must admit…

For the last couple of weeks I have been kinda hard on myself. Feeling like it has been way too long since I have gotten much done. Too long since I spent a few hours doing the work that I love to do. As I was telling my friend about this, she helped me to re-evaluate. She showed me that while the outward productivity has been down, I have spent a good deal of time and energy doing some internal work and also laying foundations for projects I am working on launching in the fall. So, while there’s not a lot to show on the outside, yet…. I am doing valuable work nonetheless. And even if I all I had done for the past few weeks was rest and enjoy summer, that’s great too! We all need times to pull back, take our minds off of work and do something different. When we do, we come back to our work with a new creativity and refreshed love for our work.

Now for the good part!

With my new schedule starting up next week, I am in preparation mode. You know, dusting off my calendar, getting my pens and pencils all in order and thinking about how I want to spend my days. Because the nature of my work ebbs and flows with the school year, I have a built-in opportunity to re-evaluate and re-construct my daily routines if I so desire. And I usually do change things up a bit.

Here’s how I do it:

I start with the things that are important to me – daily meditation, exercise, business goals, reading, etc. And time with family, rest and time with friends DEFINITELY makes that list! We all need things in our weekly routine that give us joy and a chance to connect with our loved ones.

Need meditation_Then, I look at the things that are beyond my control (school start times, class times for the yoga classes I teach at the local country club, family time, etc.) and then begin to put things by most important first. So, I start with meditation. I know I am the best me when I start (and usually end) the day with meditation. It’s super easy for me to hit the ground running in the morning. But when I stop for 20 minutes to center myself and connect with the Divine, I handle my day in an entirely different way. Need a meditation? Grab this one – it’s on me!

flight of the birdNext up is exercise. Also too easy to let it slide through the cracks if it’s not on the schedule. I also make a point to tell my friends and family what I plan to do and when I plan to do it. If I don’t, then I will push it aside if someone wants to plan a get-together. Telling them helps me keep it a priority. How about some yoga? Check out this simple practice.

You get the idea, right? I know I’m not telling you anything new. I just know when I’m ready to start fresh, this is my process and it helps to review it! Start with the big things – what’s MOST important to your health (spiritual, mental, physical, AND emotional)? And then go from there. That way, if you find yourself running out of time blocks before you have all the activities on the calendar, then the things that don’t make the cut are the LEAST important things instead of the MOST important things!

Do you like this, but wish there was MORE? I will be doing a series of webinars this month where we will unravel the mysteries of relieving mid-day stress, creating mindful daily plans, and designing a restful sleep strategy! Click here to get the updates so you don’t miss a thing!

Make a map of it

make a map of it

Maps are helpful. They get us from Point A to Point B. The live, interactive ones even tell us when we need to change our route to get around a traffic delay. Truly remarkable!

Last week we talked about feeling all alone and then realizing that we’re really not. But what to do when you truly FEEL that way? When it feels like you don’t know up from down, left from right, in from out. When all the regular landmarks are missing and you don’t know which way to go.

What do you do then???

Our tendency is to push the feelings away. To pretend they aren’t there. Or to do whatever it takes to get rid of them as soon as possible. We’ll over-fill our schedules, self-medicate, and enlist outside help from friends or counselors* – ANYTHING to get rid of the feelings of disillusionment as quickly as possible, right?

I have a suggestion.

Instead of fighting as hard as you can, try this: make a map of it.

lean into the experienceInstead of running away as fast as possible, what if we sat with the discomfort and took stock of the surroundings? Instead of trying to get rid of the “bad” feelings, what if we leaned into them and explored them? Instead of incessant resistance, what if we met our feelings with a sense of curiosity?

I’ve tried this a few times, and I have to tell you, after getting over the initial discomfort, the experience is AMAZING. When diving into the depth of the feelings and emotions and really leaning into all they are, I begin to realize that most of the time, they aren’t “bad” at all. They’re just intense. Sometimes, REALLY intense, but not necessarily “bad.” Sometimes feelings that I previously avoided turn out to be kind of cool in their own way.

I’ve noticed that anger feels hot and spicy and explosive. The map of my surroundings in anger looks dark, and red, and billowy and desolate. Sadness feels salty, like tears to me. And the landscape is kind of yellow-green until the sadness starts to subside and then everything becomes a soothing shade of soft blue. It’s also a place of alone-ness. I call it alone-ness because it doesn’t really feel lonely, just alone. Which is actually kind of nice sometimes.

So what do you say? Would you be willing to sit with an intense feeling with a sense of curiosity and make a map of what you see?

*please know that I am not a licensed mental health practitioner and am in NO WAY encouraging anyone to stop seeing a counselor. I believe strongly in the work counselors do and am grateful for them. I am also NOT saying anyone should discontinue or refuse a medication they need and are using under the care of their medical or mental health care provider. These decisions are very personal and should not be taken or refused lightly. I am simply sharing from my own experience and observations. Please check with your chosen health care team if you have specific questions regarding your health care needs.