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?
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?
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!
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
*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
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.
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*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Next 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!
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.
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?
Instead 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?
In fact, that’s why Iridescent Dragonflies is even a thing.
Let me take you back a couple years…
It was the Spring of 2014 and I had been working at a job I loved as a nonprofit consultant for a little over 5 years. The company I worked for helped small nonprofits build a strong internal structure, raise money and develop better communications with their supporters. It was one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had.
It wasn’t that I was bored with my job. Nope. Still loved it immensely. However, I felt a stirring deep inside. A stirring that compelled me to do something more personal.
You see, I was hungry. For knowledge, for growth, for a community of people who shared my same desires and hopes. And I was really interested in yoga, meditation, essential oils, energy work, and stones. I had some great friends that I very much enjoyed hanging out often we would really dive deeply into these things, but they had just moved away and I knew it would be hard to create another similar relationship built around these interests.
Remember camp as a kid or teen?
I LOVED that experience! Getting to leave behind all the stress and worry of life and hang out in some beautiful location for a week (or more) and spend time on personal growth and building relationships. I wanted to go to camp! But that doesn’t really work in the middle of work and family and carpools, does it?
I knew that if I wanted to experience personal growth and delve into these things that were so intriguing to me, then I had to figure out a way to do it right in the middle of life on a random Tuesday afternoon, or after an argument with my kids, or a disappointment at work, or whatever.
I couldn’t be the only person on the planet who wanted to experience deep personal growth but still had a life to live. Right? And if I hadn’t been able to find that community in person, or online, it was HIGHLY likely that there were other people who wanted the same thing and also hadn’t been able to find it. Right?
So it seemed absolutely clear.
I needed to create it!
So I started writing and researching and learning about the things that intrigued me. And then I started posting these things through my blog and on a FaceBook page. I wasn’t alone after all! You were there, too!
A little over two years have passed since I knew it was time to follow this deep gnawing inside. And about a year and a half since I wrote the very first blog. Since then, I have taken courses in YogaTherapy 2 (all about subtle body energies), Meditation, Essential Oils, and Yoga for PTSD. I have researched and made friends with people who know lots about stones and had many energy work sessions that have truly blown my mind. And every time I learn something new, I share it with you guys either via blog or FaceBook post.
It’s my hope that you find a community here that supports you on your own journey and connects you with resources that provide light and practical help on a Thursday afternoon. I’m so excited you are here and hope that we can share this journey for years to come. We are definitely not alone!
Are you feeling alone right now? Need a boost today? Looking for something to brighten up this moment? Here are 5 of my favorite ways to bring myself back to the moment and live in joy. Feel free to download and print it out!
Graduations happen all over the country this time of year. But usually they just pass on by and I don’t think too much about it.
You see, my firstborn is graduating High School this year and so I’ve been thinking about it A LOT.
As we all know, the ceremony is typically called “Commencement” and when I was graduating, it didn’t make much sense to me to call it “Beginning” when it was CLEARLY and “Ending.”
I am older and (hopefully) wiser these days and now I LOVE that it’s called “Commencement.” Every ending is the beginning of something else and so to name the event “Beginning” truly is a wonderful way to go!
So often in life we are completely focused on what we’re losing, or who we will miss that we cannot see all the possibility in front of us. Just think back to a transition that you were super sad about. Remember the tears? The sorrow? The nervous-ness? Apprehension?
Think about what happened next. What new life experiences did you have? What new friends did you make?
So that sorrowful ending became an exciting new beginning didn’t it? Even if the new thing wasn’t perfect, or had it’s share of bumps along the way – would you agree that something fantastic happened that you are so grateful for? Perhaps it was the new place or job. Maybe it was the new friend you gained that you cannot imagine life without now. Or perhaps a lesson learned that may have been painful but has served you well ever since.
Sometimes our Commencements are a natural flow of life and we know they are coming – like Graduation or a job promotion. Other times they come at us like a freight train and out of nowhere – like a job loss, or the death of a loved one or a unexpected illness.
And other times?
We choose our Commencement! Sometimes it’s as simple as New Year’s Resolutions, or the decision to join the gym or make friends with people who are a positive influence. The point is, we can CHOOSE a new beginning any time! This is fantastic news!
Does all this “New Beginning” talk make you want to choose a new beginning RIGHT NOW???
What is one thing you’d like to begin – TODAY? And what are three steps you can take as you begin this new thing? I’d LOVE to hear from you what your Commencement is and how you plan to get started. Email me and let me know!
It’s that time of year. School is winding down and kids are graduating. Mine included. My oldest is graduating high school this year. I admit – I am mostly in denial about this fact. I am none too happy that the child grew up so fast, and GRADUATION??? THAT was NOT supposed to happen this quickly!
And yet, I am grateful, too. Grateful to have a son. Grateful that he has made it this far and has done so well. It’s a big moment all the way around.
Well, the other day I was on FaceBook and one of my friends from Moore High School was posting that her daughter is also graduating this year! Her daughter is a Valedictorian at the same high school where we were part of the Valedictorian group. Her daughter was asking for advice on writing her speech and so my friend dug out the high school box where she had KEPT our speeches from graduation all those years ago!
Moore High School was pretty big back in the day, and so there were 22 of us that gave speeches that night as best I can recall. We each had something like 25 seconds to share our parting thoughts with our fellow students. I counted – and my speech was exactly 6 sentences long. I really didn’t know what to say, but did my best to come up with something (anything!) that would fit the bill for Graduation Night.
Let’s suffice it to say I did not want to make that speech AT ALL.
I labored over those six sentences! Rough draft. Editing. Re-writing. Practicing. Worrying. Starting all over. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Anyway – my friend took pics of all twenty-two speeches (Xerox copies made from the dot matrix original, you know) and posted them! So I got to re-read what I had written. First, it was humbling. NOT a work of art, I tell ya! It wasn’t particularly well written. Nor was it compelling.
Even twenty-six years ago I knew something deep down. I knew that we are more than just our surroundings. We are more than our graduating class. We are more than our town. We are more than our nation.
We are individuals.
Each of us has a beautiful gift to give. Even in 1990 (I know – eeek!), I had the sneaking suspicion that each of us have a wonderful sparkly self to share with the world.
So that’s the story. Before I had ANY idea that I would go to University and earn a Bachelors in Music Education, get married, teach for 3 years, have two amazing kids, work for an insurance company, teach private piano/voice lessons, do the stay-at-home-mom thing, be in a band, work as a nonprofit consultant, and become a yoga trainer…before any of that – I KNEW that we each have something beautiful to offer.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I hide it, or disregard it, or think it isn’t sparkly ENOUGH. But guess what? IT IS. When we cover it up, or hide it in a corner, or whatever, we’re not the only ones who miss out, EVERYONE misses out.
So if that’s been you – if you’ve denied that thing that makes you unique and amazing, let’s change that. Take it out, dust it off, tell it you’re sorry, and then LET IT SHINE!
Please tell me, what is that special thing that makes you, you?
What’s the most important item on your schedule today?
I hope it’s YOU.
You know that feeling when your schedule is too busy and you feel like you’re running all over the place and there’s no time for yourself?
The only person who has control over the busy-ness of your schedule is….yep…YOU!
So, whataya say? Are you willing to make yourself a priority? It really isn’t that hard, it just takes a little planning. If you haven’t already, how about trying one of these today:
These things are so simple, but can absolutely change the trajectory of your whole day!
Have you seen Kung Fu Panda? It’s amazing to me the life lessons that you can learn in a cartoon movie! In the movie, the wise teacher is a turtle named Oogway. In a critical moment of the movie, one of the cahracters, Shifu tells Oogway that he has “very bad news!”
Shifu: Master! I have… it’s very bad news!
Oogway: Ah, Shifu. There is just news. There is no good or bad.
I love this moment in the movie! I recall it often when I want to jump to conclusions and immediately assign the label of “good” or “bad” to a situation. How can I truly know if something is good or bad? Some things that I thought were just awful in the moment have turned out to be the biggest blessings of my life, while other situations that seemed grand at the outset have nearly sunk me in the end. When we receive news, let’s pause for a moment and realize that it is only news. It is not good news or bad news. We have the choice of how we will respond.
Even in the middle of an intense situation, we can choose to care for ourselves. I have seen this in action and it is POWERFUL! Even when the situations of life are not what you had hoped or planned, and it seems like “very bad news,” we can make the conscious choice to take care of ourselves and make that care our top priority of the day. We all “know” it’s true, but we simply MUST take care of ourselves if we are to take care of anyone else.
So, Dragonfly, please share. What will you do to take care of YOU today?