As you may know, the fam and I recently went on vacation. One morning, we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific. It was very cool! All kinds of amazing ocean creatures were in huge aquarium tanks where we could see them all swimming around.
I must admit, my favorite part was the section where we got to reach into tiny pools of water and actually touch different sea animals. We got to touch jelly fish! Who knew they are dense and spongy? We got to touch anemones, too. They are kinda slimy or coarse – depending on which one you reach out to.
But the ones that really blew my mind were the sea urchins. I had experienced sea urchins last summer when we went diving in St. Croix (read about that here), and those were not happy experiences! My husband accidentally stepped on one and he definitely paid the price! As far as I knew, sea urchins were not to be messed with and certainly not enjoyable to experience.
So…when the seemingly nice lady at the aquarium encouraged me to touch one with my bare hands, I did not immediately do so! No way! Was she kidding??? So I told her my St. Croix story and emphasized the part when Brad had sea urchin spines stuck in his foot. I thought for sure this woman was mistaken! Surely you cannot touch sea urchins – she needed to be warned! She listened in an understanding way, and then simply said, “If someone was trying to step on you, wouldn’t you try to defend yourself too?”
So….after a long pause, and intense consideration, I asked her how to touch them so they wouldn’t hurt me. She explained that if I reached out to them and touched their spines with two fingers, that they would hug me back!
Well, that was enough to make me curious. Now I had to know.
I put my hand in the freezing cold water and very cautiously, touched the sea urchin’s spines.
And, what do you know?
That sea urchin (now adorable in my eyes) hugged me!!!
I couldn’t get enough! I had to touch all of them and got sea urchin hugs by the dozens!
Here’s my takeaway: when we encounter things in life, sometimes we push too hard, and then we get hurt in the process.
When we pause for a moment and learn more about the situation and then proceed mindfully, the same situation that caused us pain, can actually hug us back when we lean into it!
The next time this happens, try leaning into it and see what happens! Leaning in doesn’t necessarily mean you have to jump in, or jump ship – it just means to lean into the possibility.
It’s amazing what happens in our minds when we consider what can happen. Our minds shift from absolute certainties into a brand new world where anything is possible! Think of the transformation that could take place with a shift like this!
Are you ready for life to hug you back?
Check out this AMAZING painting by my son’s girlfriend, Lydia. She painted the negative. Then she flipped that negative around to show the positive. It is mind-blowing to me! She is SO talented at showing not just incredible detail in her art, but also capturing the moment. (check her out on Facebook – yes, she does commissioned work!)
I don’t mean become a phenomenal artist necessarily, but you can learn to take the negative and flip it around to see the positive.
Stop for just a moment and listen to what’s happening in your thoughts…what are you thinking about? The chances are high that those thoughts are following some sort of pattern. And the chances are also fair that those thought patterns going on are giving you a hard time about something.
If you are experiencing the first set of thoughts more than the second, THERE IS HOPE! Will it take some work to flip the negative? Absolutely! Will it be worth it?
Oftentimes when we get stuck in that rut of yucky thought patterns, we can begin the process to turn it around by creating some space!
Give this a try.
Think about your life. Where is the place you would enjoy having less clutter and more space? Is it somewhere in your home? Spend one hour cleaning out a closet, or your desk, or the garage. Is it your schedule? Clear out 1-2 hours to relax and care for yourself with a soak in the tub, or a long walk or some leisure reading. And watch the process begin to flip the negative around to the positive!
And while I was at it, I bought a lovely set of colored pencils. Grown up ones. All sleek and beautiful. In their own special case. I am a sucker for great packaging. I once bought a lipstick I didn’t even like the color of because it came in a really cool case. For reals.
I bring it all home and wait until (I think) the kids are in bed. I take it out of the bag, find a page I like and start methodically coloring the page. Choosing just the right color, following the lines around the page, and thoroughly enjoying the whole process.
And in walks my son to say good night…one more time. He takes a look at my shiny new coloring book. “Whatcha doin there mom?”
“Oh, just coloring.”
“Yes.” (maybe starting to get a little self-conscious at this point…)
“Ok…how long have been doing this?” “Since today. I bought this book today. Um…isn’t it great?”
“Sure mom. Whatever you want. Goodnight.”
Oh well. Perhaps there is something he or I needed to learn in that moment.
Once I got back into it, it reminded me of being a girl and how much I loved to color. I would get in my own little zone and everything that was bothering me would just disappear, at least for awhile. And then I realize that is exactly what’s happening NOW! As I am picking just the right color for the next section and adding in shading, I realize that I am no longer thinking about the woman who literally screamed at me in the school parking lot this morning, I’m not worried about the malfunctioning smoke alarm anymore, I’m not even wondering how I’m going to get all my tasks done tomorrow. All I’m thinking about it this. precise. moment.
The thing I realized is how important it is to take time to do things that allow our minds to be still and think about only what’s happening right now. And for me, today, it’s coloring.
But, it doesn’t have to be a coloring book. If you are attracted to gardening, go get some plants and a new spade. Or maybe your thing is Bonsai trees, or painting, or waxing cars or dancing or cooking or any number of other amazing activities.
Today, what would allow you to create that mind space?
So I am at my local Starbucks to get some work done. I get this fabulous Caramel Macchiato, sit down, open up my computer, and proceed to try to login to the wifi only to realize that wifi is down for my entire region of the state.
My daughter came home from school and announced, “I’m making cookies on Thursday afternoon!”
I had a friend over and we were working together. My friend asked her, “Why are you making cookies?”
My daughter says, “Why am I making cookies on Thursday afternoon? I dunno. Because I want to. I don’t need a reason.”
Why do we wait for some special occasion to do fun things in life? There’s really no reason, right?
During this same fun afternoon, me and my friend were fixing ourselves a beverage and decided to mix orange juice and coconut water. It was SO YUMMY! We were going on and on about how yummy it was and my daughter said, “You guys are so cute! You are getting so excited about orange juice and coconut water.”
Why not be excited about whatever is happening RIGHT NOW?
Whether it’s making cookies on Thursday afternoon or working at the office or going on vacation or even having a challenge in a relationship, there is something to celebrate. The fact that we can make cookies, or have a job, or the chance for vacation, or relationships that teach us and stretch us. Every single one of these is a gift of utmost benefit.
What is happening right now in your life that you can choose to see the excitement in?
Yes. This is a REAL conversation I had a few days ago. A glowing example of how to carry on a meaningful conversation…
I truly want to cultivate friendships that exist beyond just the surface. I mean, I discuss how to talk about more than just the weather with people on a weekly basis! Now I realize not EVERY conversation, EVERY single day is going to be an award-winning discussion about the meaning of life, but I like to have deeper conversations than the change in the weather.
Truthfully, this conversation was just fine. It was with a woman I had met only about 5 minutes prior. So, I am not beating myself up over here. But it did make me think a bit…
I had a wonderful conversation on the phone yesterday with a good friend from out of town. We immediately jumped in where we had left off months ago and before our 20 minute conversation was finished, we had both earnestly listened to each other, encouraged one another, and deeply complimented each other on strengths we see in each others’ response to the stuff of life.
Ahh! I felt refreshed and renewed when I got off the phone. I felt lighter.
You know what though? It didn’t just happen. Nope. We had to be vulnerable. We had to talk about things that mattered to us and purposefully be open to the others’ feedback. It can feel really scary to open up like this. And I don’t recommend doing this with the next person you see in line at the grocery store (as a rule, anyway). But when I am sincerely looking to deepen a friendship, I have to take a risk. I know I could leave feeling silly, stupid, or misunderstood. But, I have also learned that it is worth it! The rewards for developing great friendships is amazing!
So, how do you feel about your recent conversations? Deeply engaging and fulfilling? Yay for you! Not so much? Don’t fret about it, but instead create an opportunity to have one of those amazing conversations asap! It will require effort, it will require vulnerability, it will be WORTH IT! Tell me how it goes in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear your stories!
Bringing a little happiness into our daily life goes a long way toward living our full-color iridescent lives. And truly, happiness is a choice we make every moment of every day. As far as I can tell, no one does this better than my friend Dave Romanelli.
Dave has been talking about and living in the deliciousness in the moment for years and years. And guess what? His new book is called, Happy is the New Healthy and is all about enjoy life RIGHT NOW!
Here’s a bit from Dave about Happy is the New Healthy:
I am so excited to share with you my brand new book Happy is the New Healthy.
But before I tell you more…here is some kicka$s Native American wisdom as you head into the holidays. It came from the heart of a Native American healer who goes by the name Bob Bear The Medicine Man.
I met Bob Bear on my annual retreat to Sedona, Arizona (see below for more) which is the healthiest, happiest place in the nation, and widely considered one of the most spiritual places on the planet.
Bob Bear said, “Don’t need for things.
“The Great Spirit knows what you need and will provide.
“Your job here is not to need.
“Your job here is to DREAM in a way that lifts, heals, and inspires the world.
“Do your job, dream big, and magic will rain down on your life.”
For anyone out there who is stuck on their needs…
“I need more money.”
“I need more love.”
“I need more time.”
How about taking a little advice from Bob Bear The Medicine Man and daring to pry open your mind and embrace the greatest dream of all: the dream for total and complete happiness. To wake up each day feeling full in your heart and spirit…that’s what we live for!
Maybe you are already there.
But if you are ready to make 2015 the year of less needs and more DREAMS (which, by the way, is an incredibly liberating shift)…that’s the idea behind Happy is the New Healthy.
The premise of the book is to flip the wellness paradigm on its tightly toned a$$ and shift the priorities from losing weight, doing fancy yoga poses, and seeking the latest juice cleanse to…
…loving more deeply, living more passionately, and saying YES to the full fury of life.
If you are in the mood to celebrate happiness…and Happy is the New Healthy sounds like your kind of philosophy…
Get your copy of Happy is the New Healthy!
Someone asked me the other day why I do what I do (referring to this blog and my Facebook page). What’s the point in spending all that time coming up with content to brighten people’s day? Why study about meditation and chakras and oils and stones and self-care and take the time to post it on a Facebook page for a bunch of people I haven’t ever met in person?
Are you ready for a story? This is where it began:
Back when I was around 10 years old, my dad and I were out on the property (5 acres outside Oklahoma City) and had been to the garden to pick summer’s bounty of blackberries. By the time we had finished gathering berries and started heading back to the house, it was getting dark. We followed the path toward the house and dad was telling me about the stars. We came to the natural bridge between two little creeks where I would fish for crawdads by day and, to get a better look at the stars, we decided to just lay down there on the cool grass. He showed me how to locate a few constellations and that was cool, but the part that really struck me was the space and the freedom in that moment. We could have been there for 5 minutes or two hours. I don’t know. And I don’t care. What I do care about is that it was the first time I can remember being truly present in the moment and old enough to be able to “know” that I was being present.
Ever since then, I have longed for such moments in time. Moments when nothing else matters but NOW. Moments when all the cares of the world melt away. Moments when I am tangibly aware of the divine all around me. Sometimes I can find them in seemingly mundane moments of the day like sitting at a stop light or waiting for my kids to get out of school. Other times I find that same stillness in meditation or practicing yoga. I have realized that I can also find those moments when shopping for stones for someone or creating an essential oil kit that meets someone’s needs.
But do you want to know what my biggest take-away is? It’s not any ONE of those things that allows me to pause and breathe and experience the oneness with all things. It’s all of those things and MORE. The ability to find the peace and stillness isn’t found in one magical object or technique or practice. Finding and creating space for quieting our minds leads to our inner transformation. And that truly takes all of our lives to do. It’s not only in the 20 minute meditation before we get out of bed. That meditation sets us up for mindfulness so that when we get to the grocery store and the line is ridiculously long, instead of seeing a mini-tragedy, we see God. It’s not only the 90 minute yoga practice (no matter how awesome it is), but the attention to breath we carry with us long afterwards, so that when the stress of life happens we respond with a deep cleansing breath instead of a nervous breakdown.
The Source Energy isn’t only in those special moments when we set aside time to connect.
And this is why I do what I do. To live a life of practicing awareness in each moment and share my experiences along the way. Then to post those experiences on a random Facebook page so that all of us looking for those beautiful moments have a place to share them together.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. It is an honor to share it with you. Namaste.
Just to clarify right off the bat, I do not now and have not ever been a drug-user. : ) But today, when I went to compulsively check the Facebook feed (don’t pretend I’m the only one, because I know I’m not!), I realized I have a “drug problem.” It’s not a pill I pop in my mouth, but it is my “drug of choice” I “use” to fill the emptiness, to numb the challenging feelings, to escape my reality for a few minutes. So, what’s your “drug of choice”?
I don’t think this is something we have to get all judgmental on ourselves about. But it is great awareness to have. What do I turn to when I think I can’t handle the day? What keeps me from experiencing what’s happening right here, right now? When I was scrolling through that Facebook feed, I came across a friend who posted that she had deleted the FB app off her phone simply because she realized she filled ALL the little gaps in her day with it. So, she got a bigger purse and put a BOOK in there to READ in her spare moments! What a concept! I am so inspired I am considering doing the same thing (thank you Skila, you trend setter)! You can check out other Skila-amazingness here: www.skilatheyoaggirl.com
So, thanks to Skila’s inspiration, I have decided to pause before I reach for my phone, or open my computer, or grab a chocolate, or any of those things that distract me from this moment and ask myself WHY I am doing so. If it’s because I am “using” it to take my attention away from my family or my friends or even my breath? If so, I intend to PUT IT DOWN and choose to simply “be” in this wonderful moment that has been given to me as a beautiful gift.
My entire family loves the Lord of the Rings movies. We watch them at least once a year, and most years even more than that. Well, last night was one of those nights – complete with popcorn and s’mores (with gourmet chocolate, of course)!
In The Twin Towers (movie number two), three of the characters, Aragorn (a man), Legolas (an elf) and Gimli (a dwarf) are running across the country-side in an effort to save two of their Hobbit friends (Merry and Pippin) from certain death. As you might imagine, Gimli, being a dwarf, is having some challenges keeping up with the much taller and leaner Legolas and Aragorn. As he seems to be about to give up, he says, “Keep breathing. That’s the key.”
Arguably, one of the oldest meditation and mindfulness practices around is breathing. Yup. Breathing. This seems too good to be true! We don’t have to read a manual or hire a coach or ANYTHING – this is something WE CAN DO!
Simply paying attention to our breath brings us into the present moment instantly, slows our heart rate, and takes our stress level down a notch!
Not sure if you believe me? Let’s give it a try…I’ll practice while I’m typing it, you practice while you’re reading it. Inhale. Feel the air coming in. Notice the movement in your body (tummy expanding, chest rising). Exhale. Feel the air moving out. Notice the contraction of your ribs and abdomen. Now, check in with your stress level – notice any change? I do, and I thought I was relaxed already!
Now imagine what might happen if you tried this little trick anytime you feel stress coming on, or as you drive in rush-hour traffic, or even stand in the grocery line. If you strung about 10 minutes’ worth of these purposeful-breath-things together everyday, I dare say, your life might even change for the better. It’s certainly not going to hurt anything! Give it a try and see what happens.
“Keep breathing. That’s the key.”