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How to enjoy the holidays

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced it, but sometimes it can be a challenge to enjoy the holidays. Maybe it’s been a tough year, or there’s a conflict with someone in your family, or you’re working a second job to make ends meet, or whatever. And once it gets going down that road, what to do then?

Choose. Choose to enjoy the holidays.

Yep. Make a conscious choice to enjoy the holidays anyway.

Here’s the thing – our life situation is really only responsible for about 10% of our happiness. The other 90% of happiness is attributed to, you guessed it – choice. How we perceive our life, and choose to view it and respond to it is THE number one factor in us experiencing JOY.

For example…

You’ve seen it – the person with no money and a terrible life circumstance that somehow rises above it all to show kindness to others, or the homeless person who volunteers to help out the “less fortunate.” All you have to do is take a 5 minute tour through FaceBook to see one of those heart-warming stories that makes you cry over the goodness of humanity and the ability to overcome.

Now, I’m not saying this is easy. Not by any means. I’m sure the people in those stories didn’t FEEL like life was full of sunshine and roses as they walked through their days under such hardship. I would imagine that it seemed like an unbearable load most days.

However.

Each of the people in those inspiring videos did the same thing. They CHOSE to see things differently. They CHOSE to rise above the hardship and spread love and light ANYWAY.

Know what the best part is?

Those people in the tear-jerker videos don’t have any special super-power. They are just regular people who decided to enjoy life no matter what.

And you can too!

If choosing to enjoy the holidays as a whole is too daunting, try enjoying today. If there is a particularly challenging event or get-together coming up, decide now to see the joy that IS there. Because there is always something to enjoy and be grateful for. And I can guarantee if you truly change your perspective about that thing you are dreading or hate, the entire scenery of this season will change. The lights will twinkle brighter, the songs will sound sweeter, and YOU will be filled with joy, because you chose to be.

So, tell me – how will you choose to enjoy the holidays this year? Let me know in the comments below!

When did “rest” become “lazy”?

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, “I was so lazy this weekend, I just laid around in my pjs and didn’t do anything!”

Wait…am I wrong? I thought that’s what weekends were for? To rest.

Right?

For reasons I don’t completely understand, resting has become taboo. To “not do anything” is something to be ashamed of, to be confessed in a whisper to your best friend.

But why?

Have we forgotten that we actually NEED rest? I mean, we really do. Our bodies were never meant to run 24/7. Our minds and bodies need rest everyday, and every week. Am I talking about sleep? Sure. We definitely need sleep, but I’m talking about more than that. I mean REST. Not “doing” anything at all. Or engaging an activity that rejuvenates your mind, body and soul. This is no luxury – this is a necessity!

I get it, it seems there is never enough time to get everything done. And you’re right. There’s not. We will never get it ALL done.

And guess what?

It’s totally fine.

Let that sink in for a minute.

It’s OK if all your to-dos don’t get done today. The world will NOT fall off its axis. Promise!

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning, The Robcast, and Rob was talking about this same thing. About the need for rest. You can check it out here.

This is a concept I really grasped when I first started studying ayurveda a few years ago. In fact, I was so inspired a wrote a little poem about it! (Yes, I know that’s insanely cheesy, but what can I say?) I began to truly understand that the earth has a rhythm to it’s life and cycles, and so do we.

Even the most simple thing – breath – has a distinct rhythm to it. We know we NEED oxygen. We can’t live very many minutes without it. No one would argue with me on this one!

However…

We can’t inhale ALL the time. Nope. If we did, we’d just explode. We also have to exhale. We have to release the old air to make room for the new air. It’s a beautiful relationship, this thing we call breathing. We need the oxygen, we must inhale. But we must also be expert exhalers to make room for the air we need. Equal time: inhale and exhale.

See the correlation? If we are busy all the time and never rest, we become like a bomb – eventually one of two things happens: either we explode, or we implode. Either we unleash a fire-breathing dragon of anger on everyone around us, or we fall into a heap of exhaustion. And frankly, neither are good options. I’ve tried both personally, so I can tell you firsthand!

So, why not forego the drama and make a different choice?turn-off-your-phone-for-awhile

A choice to rest. On purpose. In whatever way you like. It could be sitting around in your pjs all day, or turning off your phone for a day, or scheduling a massage, or taking time to enjoy lunch with a friend, or planning a family movie night.

Whatever activity you choose, I would love to ask you to do one thing – please re-frame your perspective on rest. See it as the good, necessary, and beautiful thing that it is! Rest can be celebrated and enjoyed and loved! And just imagine how much more restful our rest will be when we stop looking at it as something to be ashamed of and start seeing it as the amazing gift that it is!

So tell me, what will you do to rest this week? I’d love for you to share in the comments so we can all get good ideas from each other!

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.