For a Short While ...

For a short while I’m going to take a break. Break from blogging and from accepting new clients. My mother’s needs are great right now and I want to spend some life energy with her.

Not sure when I’ll be back but trust that it is soon.

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What To Do Next

Lately I’ve been having many conversations about boredom with clients and friends. I’ve been feeling a tad restless myself and not sure where its coming from. Below is an article I found on boredom — its an interesting look at where boredom comes from and its complex nature. Reading the article I noticed feeling engaged and not bored.

There are so many things to do on this planet … things to see, hear, taste smell and touch. So many things to challenge our minds. Today, challenge yourself to do something different- something you have not tried - challenge yourself to be truly curious about something - anything. Then just notice what happens … what happens to boredom when you are feeling challenged?

What is Boredom and Where Does It Come From?

You take it for granted and the internet capitalizes on it, but it's a unique psychological phenomenon.

By  Neel V. Patel

Boredom ranges from a mild, hazy inability to pay attention, to an unholy feeling that even pain might be a sweet relief from nothingness. It is the itch we spend our lives scratching, and it is a considerably more complex phenomenon than most people think. It’s a curse of evolution, sure, but also a weird sort of blessing.

There are three major things to understand about boredom:

1) Boredom requires having a certain amount of energy, and no sense of where to devote it. You can’t simply be in the midst of something that’s not fun or stimulating in an emotional, mental, or physical sense. You have to feel like there’s nothing particularly engaging going on, and a sense of wastefulness adds to the pressure to do something.

2) Being bored is about being aware of your own boredom. When you’re bored, your mind’s typical reaction is to let itself wander off into loose threads hanging around and daydream. In a 2012 paper  published in Perspectives on Psychological Science a group of researchers found that this actually just accentuates the feeling of boredom — presumably because the moment you become aware you’re daydreaming emphasizes how boring your current situation is.

3) The feeling of boredom comes from a perception that it’s an environmental factor. Boredom isn’t a choice you make for yourself; therefore, you’re likely to believe it’s the outside world that’s failing to hold your attention. Nothing around you is happening — at least, nothing interesting. How true that is entirely dependent on the kind of person you are and what’s actually going on, since there might actually be a thousand different things worthy of your attention.

All of this culminates in a feeling of powerlessness — which is the most problematic consequence of boredom. When you feel like you have little control over your situation, you’re effectively handing off agency over your own feelings. A mild irritation cascades into a feeling of being trapped. Time slows down. You start to dislike the things you think are making you bored and you dread having to be confronted with them again— such as your boss leading a meeting at work, a terrible book you picked up, or Vince Vaughn in the second season of True Detective.

But boredom varies greatly, depending on your situation. A 2006 paper pinpointed five different kinds of boredoms:

  • Indifferent: a calm sense of withdrawal from external stimuli

  • Calibrating: feeling slightly unpleasant. Open to anything that might cure the bored feelings, but not yet in a state of exploration.

  • Searching: an increased sense of negative feelings, where the individual is actively looking for something to do.

  • Reactant: an intense feeling of negativity, where the bored individual starts indicting other people, places, or things for their own boredom. Their sour about their situation, and ready to blame anything else for it.

  • Apathetic: someone in this situation is actually experiencing low arousal. They don’t skew positive or negative — they are more in the midst of feeling a certain sense of helplessness or depression.

In the context of these categories, the boredom you’re likely to feel may also depend largely on the type of personality and disposition you have. If you’re easy-going, you probably seldom feel reactive, and are more likely to just be indifferent. If you’re naturally aggressive, your boredom is probably reactive (and your friends are likely the same).

The question remains: Why do we even get bored?

Scientists have yet to really determine that. One can probably imagine that as our brains got better and our cognition became much more complex and we learned how to process all the things our senses were picking up, boredom became a way to identify the lack of that sensory measurement. Ennui was our physiological reaction to surroundings and situations with which there was no longer a reason to be engaged in. And for our ancestors, this was  the perfect fire under our asses to keep moving. Stimulation keeps our brains active and less prone to atrophy and degradation.

Modern-day technology has greatly transformed what boredom means. With devices at our fingertips, we always have something to do to stave off severe boredom, which means we often experience the feeling as a sort of mist or haze. Severe boredom is almost extinct, which is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that information is fun, but bad in the sense that boredom offers the raw materials for creativity and relaxation. If boredom is a self-imposed state than it can also be banished by the very minds that suffer from it.

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Just "Feel" It

"Beneath Problem Solving"

From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, p. 43

Beneath most headaches is a heart ache.

Often we find it easier to think our way around things rather than to feel our way through them; what can we do to pull ourselves out of a bad mood? What can we buy, remove, or repair that will reduce or solve a loved one’s anger or sadness.

In retrospect, I realize I have spent many hours problem solving emotional facts I just need to feel. I know now that my frequent labors to understand what went wrong, while somewhat useful, often were distractions from feeling the sadness and disappointment necessary to heal and move on.

It’s all very human. No one wants to feel pain, especially when you can’t quite point to a specific cut or wound. So it is with the heart. There’s nothing to show or stitch up, yet everything is affected.

The truth is that while analyzing and strategizing and preparing ourselves can occupy our minds, and may even help prevent us from being hurt the same way twice, there is no substitute for giving the wound air, which in the case of the heart means saying deeply, without aversion or self-pity, “Ouch”.

  • Sit quietly and allow a recent discomfort of hearts to rise within the safety of your breathing.

  • Breathe slowly and allow yourself to move through the discomfort by feeling it.

  • Breathe deeply and trust that your heart has the wisdom to filter and process this discomfort, if you will only give it the chance.

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Make Space

We just got a new kitty - she is so sweet, adorable and SO MUCH ENERGY — I’m exhausted. She has been with us for 2 weeks. At first I was trying to maintain my regular schedule and do all the things I normally handle and then I started to notice that I was getting irritated and frustrated with all the time Maggie required. Resentment started to creep in at poor little Maggie and then at my husband for (in my head) not being more helpful.

My brain, George, started kicking in and sending old messages of “your an idiot for thinking you could handle this”, “what a failure you are”, “it will never work out”, “Maggie needs to go back to the SPCA”. Luckily this did not go on for too long. I caught my “non-helpful” thinking and reminded myself that when we add things to our calendars we have to make adjustments to the old things.

I began letting go of details that weren’t essential (just things I enjoy having a certain way), started checking my perfection thinking and reminded myself that time with Maggie was more important than a perfectly swept floor, I checked my ego and asked my husband for help when I needed.

Glad to report that my resentment has disappeared and that I’m growing fonder of Maggie with each passing day. Paying attention to my irritability and frustration was a clue that something needed to be adjusted.

Remember when there are big changes: new job, birth of a baby, move to new city, new relationship - we all need to readjust and allow space for things to be different.

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"Not Two"

Just last week I was sitting with a client who was struggling with a big life decision. Its so very hard to have choices and paths because we can get caught up in the pressure of right & wrong and failure & success. Today’s morning reading from THE BOOK of AWAKENING by Mark Nepo reminded me again of the importance of staying open to all paths. Hope you enjoy these words of wisdom as much as I did:

Not Two: To Reach Accord, just say, “Not Two!” -Seng-Ts’an

Almost fourteen hundred years ago, one of the first Chinese sages we know of offered this brief retort to those who pestered him for advice-”Not Two!”

This reply is as pertinent as its is mysterious. To make sense of it, we need to understand what isn’t said; that everything that divides and separates removes us from what is sacred, and so weakens our chances for joy.

How can this be? Well, to understand this, we must open ourselves to an even deeper truth: that everything-you and I and the people we mistrust and even the things we fear-everything at heart follows the same beat of life pulsing beneath all the distractions and preferences we can create.

Once divided from the common beat of life, we are cut off from the abundance and strength of life, the way an organ cut out of the body dies. So, to find peace, to live peace, we need to keep restoring our original oneness. We need to experience that ancient and central beat which we share with everything that exists. In feeling this common beat, we begin to swell again with the common strength of everything alive.

Yet we tend to lose our way when faced with choices. Tension builds around decisions because we quickly sort and name one way as good and another as bad. This quickly twists into an either/or sense that one way is right and another is wrong. In prizing what we prefer, we start to feel a thirst for something particular, which getting we call “success,” and fear of not getting it, which we then call “failure.” From all this, we begin to feel the tightening pressure not to make a terrible mistake. Thus, we are often stymied and confused because we forgot that-beneath our sorting of everything into good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure-all the choices still hold the truth and strength of life, no matter what we prefer.

To be certain, sharing a common beat does not mean that everything is the same, for things are infinite in how they differ. And faced with the richness of life, we can’t value everything the same. But when we believe that only what we want holds the gold, then we find ourselves easily depressed by what we lack. Then we are pained by what we perceive as the difference between here and there, between what we have and what we need.

We still need to discern the ten thousand things we meet, but holding them to the light of our heart, we can say, “Not two! Only one!” And realize there are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.

  • Mediate on a choice that is before you.

  • Identify the distinct options you have.

  • Try not to view these options with the urgency of what you prefer; rather focus on the experience each option might offer you.

  • Try not to attach your sense of identity to any one option.

  • If you don’t get what you want, try not to see it as a failure but as an unexpected opening.

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The Decorations Are Down

I spent all day taking Christmas down. Took the lights off the house, put decorations back in their boxes, and stored the boxes back in the garage. Luckily, we had nothing scheduled today so I had the luxury of taking my time.

Christmas was really nice this year: quiet and peaceful - filled with friends and family that I truly enjoy. I’m very grateful for all I have in my life. Sadly, our sweet cat, Tabby, died early in December and that brought a lot of tears - his death threw a shadow over the holidays and yet I kept reminding myself that I could be sad for the loss and still create room to enjoy other things. That feeling is very new for me. I used to live in these extremes - as if their wasn’t room for joy and sadness. As humans we can do both!

Today, as I put away ornaments and said good-bye to Christmas I acknowledged the passing of time and had a brief moment of sadness of the holiday “gone”. Then I took a deep breath and became excited for all that lay ahead.

I invite you to take a deep breath & truly be present. Its amazing how much richer life can be when we are open to each & every moment and each and every sensation.

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Whats the point ...

10 Life Purpose Tips to Help You Find Your Passion

July 19, 2017 by Jack Canfield

If you want to be fulfilled, happy, content, and experience inner peace and ultimate fulfillment, it’s critical that you learn how to find your passion and life purpose. Without a life purpose as the compass to guide you, your goals and action plans may not ultimately fulfill you.

How to Discover Your Life Purpose

After working with more than a million people all over the world, I have come to believe that each of us is born with a unique life purpose.

Identifying, acknowledging, and honoring this purpose is perhaps the most important action successful people take. They take the time to understand what they’re here to do – and then they pursue that with passion and enthusiasm.

For some of us, our purpose and passion in life is obvious and clear. We’re born with a set of talents and through persistent practice, we develop our talents into skills.

My children are prime examples of clear purpose. It was clear from the moment they got on the planet what they were interested in.

One son wanted to draw all the time, and he is now in the art world. Another son was always tapping out rhythms on paint cans and dishes, and he’s now in the music world, along with one of his brothers.

My daughter is in the literary world, and my stepson is definitely in the business world.

My stepdaughter is also in the arts – she began singing and drawing when she was two. And my stepson is in the business world. He was making business plans and selling things to his friends by the time he was in middle school.

They all had natural talents that were clear indicators of what they ended up ultimately being passionate about.

For some people, though, it’s not as easy to identify a passion. You may even have asked yourself at one point or another, “What should I do with my life?”  “What is my passion?” or “What is my life purpose.”

Alternatively, you may enjoy what you do, but on deeper exploration, discover that you’re passionate about something altogether different than what you do.

Below I’d like to give you 10 tips to help you find your life passion and true purpose.

1. Explore the Things You Love To Do & What Comes Easy to You

We are all born with a deep and meaningful purpose that we have to discover. Your purpose is not something you need to make up; it’s already there. You have to uncover it in order to create the life you want You may ask yourself, “What is my purpose in life?” You can begin to discover your passion or your purpose by exploring two things:

  1. What do you love to do?  

  2. What comes easily to you?

Of course, it takes work to develop your talents- even the most gifted musician still has to practice-but it should feel natural, like rowing downstream rather than upstream. I love to teach, to write, to coach, to facilitate, to train, and to develop transformational seminars, workshops, and courses. I love to bring other leaders together for conferences and to co-create new approaches to our work.

These things come easy for me. Although I invested many years in learning how to master these skills, I loved every minute of it. In other words, work is required, but suffering is not. If you are struggling and suffering, you are probably not living on purpose.

2. Ask Yourself What Qualities You Enjoy Expressing the Most in the World

First, ask yourself, What are two qualities I most enjoy expressing in the world? Mine are love and joy.

Second, ask yourself, What are two ways I most enjoy expressing these qualities? Mine are inspiring and empowering people.

I inspire people with the moving stories that I tell in my seminars and that I write about in my books, and I empower them by teaching them powerful success strategies that they can apply in their own lives.

3. Create a Life Purpose Statement

Take a few moments and write a description of what the world would look like if it were operating perfectly according to you. In my perfect world, everybody is living their highest vision where they are doing, being, and having everything they want. Finally, combine all three into one statement, and you will have a clear idea of your purpose.

Mine is “Inspiring and empowering people to live their highest vision in a context of love and joy.”

4. Follow Your Inner Guidance (What Is Your Heart Telling You?)

What if I told you that you have your own guidance system within you that can help you get from where you are in life to where you want to go?

It’s called your inner GPS. Your inner GPS is similar to the GPS system you use in your car or on your phone. It tells you how to get from point A to point B.

When you get in your car and are heading to a specific destination, what is the first thing you input into your GPS? First, it finds your current location. Once it’s determined where you are, it gives you directions to where you are heading.

For the system to work, it simply needs to know your beginning location and your end destination. The navigation system figures out the rest by the use of an onboard computer that receives signals from multiple satellites and calculates your exact position. Then it plots a perfect course for you.

All you have to do from that point on is follow the instructions it gives you to reach your destination.

Decide Where You Want to Go

All you have to do is decide where you want to go by clarifying your vision, then lock in your destination through goal setting, affirmations, and visualization, and then start taking the actions that will move you in the right direction.

With every picture you visualize, you’re “inputting” the destination you want to get to.

Every time you express a preference for something, you are expressing an intention.

A table by the window, front row seats at a conference, first-class tickets, a room with an ocean view, or a loving relationship.

All these images and thoughts are sending requests to the universe.

If you stay out of its way—meaning you don’t interrupt the process with a stream of negative thoughts, doubts, and fears, your inner GPS will keep unfolding the next steps along your route as you continue to move forward.

In other words, once you clarify and then stay focused on your vision (you can do this with a vision board  or mediation the exact steps will keep appearing along the way in the form of internal guidance, creating ideas, and new opportunities.

5. Be Clear About Your Life Purpose

Once you are clear about what you want and keep your mind constantly focused on it, the how will keep showing up—sometimes just when you need it and not a moment earlier.

You were born with an inner guidance that tells you when you are on or off course by the amount of joy you are experiencing. The things that bring you the greatest joy are in alignment with your purpose and will get you to where you want to go.

When you present your goals to the universe with all its powerful technology, you will be surprised and dazzled by what it delivers. This is where the magic and miracles truly happen.

Take some time to think honestly and openly about where you currently are in your life and what you want to do with your life.

What is your financial status? How are your relationships going? How is your health? And so on…

Next, think about where you would like to be.

If your life were perfect right now, what would it look like? What kind of job would you have and where would you be living? By continually doing this exercise, you’ll send powerful triggers to your subconscious mind to help you get there.

6. Conduct a Passion Test

Developed by Chris and Janet Attwood, The Passion Test  is a simple, yet elegant, process. You start by filling in the blank 15 times for the following statement: “When my life is ideal, I am ___.” The word(s) you choose to fill in the blank must be a verb.

When Janet took me through the process, my statements looked like this:

  • My life is ideal when I’m being of service to massive numbers of people.

  • My life is ideal when I’m helping people with their vision.

  • My life is ideal when I’m speaking to large groups.

  • My life is ideal when I’m being part of a spiritual leaders network.

  • My life is ideal when I’m creating a core group of ongoing trainers who feel identified with my organization.

Once you’ve created 15 statements, you identify the top 5 choices. To do this, you compare statements #1 and #2 to identify which is most important. Take the winner of that comparison and decide whether it’s more or less important than statement #3.

Then take the winner of that comparison, and decide whether it’s more or less important than statement #4, and so on until you’ve identified the passion that is most meaningful to you.

Repeat the process with the remaining 14 statements to identify your second choice. Then repeat the process until you’ve pinpointed your top 5 passions in life.

Next, create markers for each of your top five passions, so that you can look at your life and easily tell whether you are living that passion.

For me, a life goal would be, “When I’m helping people live their vision I’m giving at least 20 workshops a year for at least 10,000 people total, and at each event, people are coming up afterward and saying, ‘You’ve really empowered me to live my vision.”

Once you know what your passions are and how your life will look when you are living it, you can create action plans to turn your dreams into reality.

7. Think About The Times You’ve Experienced the Greatest Joy In Your Life

Another technique you can use to help you identify your purpose is to conduct a joy review. Simply set aside about 30 minutes and make a list of all the times you’ve felt the greatest joy in your life.

(When I did this it was when I was a patrol leader in the Boy-scouts, when I was an officer in my military high school, when I was a summer camp counselor at a camp in Maine, my years as a leader in my college fraternity, my years as a high school teacher, when I was conducting workshops and training, when I was telling jokes, telling stories and when I was traveling.)

Then look for a pattern among all these times.

In my case, it was when I was teaching, and when I was inspiring and empowering people to go for their dreams and to have more love, joy, and abundance in their lives.

Since we know that joy is part of your internal guidance system telling you when you are on course, you can determine a lot about your life purpose from completing this joy review.

8. Follow This Example of Finding Purpose

One of my coaching students, a successful cardiologist, was struggling to identify his purpose. I suggested another exercise, and asked him to look back over his life and answer the question, When have I felt most fulfilled?

He shared three periods in which he felt the happiest and most fulfilled.

First, he told me about a time with his grandfather when he was growing up in India.

The second was his experience of playing with his own grandchildren.

The third was a time he spent vacationing on a sailboat.

When I asked him what was common to all three of these experiences, he told me that it was the sense of freedom that he felt.

Noticing that none of his three experiences related to his profession in medicine, I asked him to tell me about his most fulfilling experiences as a doctor.

The incidences he reported were when he had donated his services for free or for a lesser fee than his partners thought he should have charged. He shared about a time when he took a much longer time than usual during an office visit to support and encourage a family who were in fear of losing their father during an impending heart surgery.

Take Time for Yourself

As we examined his life further, it became apparent that he took very little time for himself. He was always on call, always working late, always over-scheduled with little or no free time for self-care. I asked him why this was so. He answered that people could die if he didn’t attend to them.

The problem became clear: By attending only to patients and never to himself, he was in a sense- dying.

To drive this point home, I asked him what he would do in the following situation: “A patient comes to you for an operation. If you operate on this patient, you will die. If you don’t operate on him, he will die. It’s him or you. What would you do?” He reflected quietly on this scenario for a long time, and then finally, he said, “I would choose to live, rather than die myself. It doesn’t make sense to kill myself to save others.”

This was a turning point in his life. He later told me that while he still wants to serve people, he now knows he has a right to take care of himself, his mind, his body, and his needs.

This cardiologist now places a higher value on doing what truly comes from his heart, not someone else’s.

9. Align Your Goals With Your Life Purpose and Passions

We’re all gifted with a set of talents and interests that tell us what we’re supposed to be doing. Once you know what your life purpose is, organize all of your activities around it. Everything you do should be an expression of your purpose. If an activity or goal doesn’t fit that formula, don’t work on it.

Aligning with your purpose is most critical when setting professional goals. When it comes to personal goals, you have more flexibility.

If you want to learn how to paint or water ski, go ahead and do so. If your goal is to get fit and lose weight, move ahead with confidence. Nurturing yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually will make you more energized, resilient and motivated to live your purpose on the professional front.

However, don’t ignore the signs that your job or career is not right for you. If you dread Monday mornings and live for the weekends, it may be a sign that it’s time to follow your heart and pursue the work you long to do.

10. Lean Into Your True Life Purpose

Once you have gained more clarity about your purpose, you don’t need to completely overhaul your life completely all at once. Instead, just lean into it, bit by bit.

Start living your purpose a little more fully every day, and pay attention to the feedback you’re receiving from others and in terms of the results you are producing, and also to how you are feeling.

Breakthrough to YOUR Success with this Formula

I continually ask my students the same exact questions I’m about to ask you:

  • Are you where you want to be?

  • Have you accomplished all you thought you would by now?

  • Are you enjoying the lifestyle, travel, weekends and leisure pursuits you’ve always dreamed of?

  • Do you want a more fulfilling career or business?

  • Could your relationships be deeper, more rewarding, and more meaningful?

If not, I’d like to challenge you to up-level every single aspect of your life, career, and lifestyle, STARTING NOW. I believe with the right tools, everyone can cultivate a mindset of success, and discover their greatest life purpose.

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Smile More ...

Happy 2019 - one of my resolutions this year is to smile more and just truly notice the little tiny things that add so much to each day. Below is a list I found on a “mommy” site but even if you are not a parent its a great list that we can all relate to. Just the exercise of creating the list can bring a smile. So if you want sit down now and as a way to start 2019 create your own list of 100 things that make you smile.

Here’s a Random List of 100 Things That Make Me Smile (in no particular order):

By Chrystal Johnson (Happy Mothering Blog)

  1. Watching my babies sleep

  2. Watching a sunset

  3. When I accomplish a goal

  4. Getting a good night’s sleep

  5. Watching our baby chicks

  6. Seeing the wildlife come alive each Spring in the forest

  7. Sitting in the sunshine

  8. Sitting in the dirt outside with the kiddos

  9. A good comedy

  10. Catching up with a friend who I haven’t talked to in ages

  11. My hubby doing the dishes or helping around the house

  12. Going for a long walk by myself

  13. Seeing a new organic option at our local grocery store (because we don’t have a health food store)

  14. When my girls tell me they love me and I’m the best mom ever

  15. Getting a date night without the kids

  16. Helping someone in need

  17. Finally getting ahead on work

  18. Connecting with a new like-minded person

  19. Knowing that I’ve made a difference to someone

  20. Sharing my knowledge

  21. Learning something new

  22. A clean house

  23. Putting the last load of laundry away

  24. Watching a movie by myself

  25. A good glass of wine

  26. Hearing someone tell me how well behaved my girls are

  27. Watching my girls’ desire to learn about everything

  28. Teaching someone something new

  29. The first day of the year when I can pull out my flips

  30. Being able to walk around in shorts and a tank top

  31. Traveling to a new place

  32. Good music

  33. Good quotes that relate to how I’m feeling

  34. Wearing makeup

  35. Blow drying my hair

  36. A good chick flick

  37. Pinterest

  38. A long, hot bath

  39. Yoga

  40. Blooming flowers

  41. Butterflies

  42. Rainbows

  43. A good cry

  44. A starry night in the mountains

  45. Surprising my kids

  46. Coming home after I’ve been away and seeing the girls’ excitement to see me

  47. People watching

  48. A good cup of tea

  49. Looking at pictures from my childhood

  50. Friends having babies

  51. Getting my hair cut

  52. Seeing family

  53. Dancing

  54. Feeling loved

  55. Snowboarding

  56. Hiking

  57. Real food documentaries

  58. A new hoodie

  59. Finishing a book

  60. Getting a pedicure

  61. Taking a shower alone

  62. The first snow of winter

  63. Getting a good deal

  64. Being told I look much younger than I am

  65. Seeing people realize I’ve been right all along

  66. Time with my sister

  67. My niece and nephew

  68. Writing

  69. Freshly washed sheets

  70. Sarcasm

  71. Hearing hubby play his guitar

  72. Seeing someone smile

  73. Being trusted with a secret

  74. Laying on the lawn watching clouds

  75. Watching the girls jump into their Daddy’s arms when he comes home

  76. Hummingbirds

  77. Waking up to kisses

  78. Seeing updates from friends across the planet

  79. Pretty leaves in the fall

  80. A good piece of art

  81. Being crafty

  82. Giving the perfect present

  83. Reading stories to my girls

  84. Good dream

  85. 80s music

  86. Jack Johnson

  87. Sitting on the beach on a warm, breezy day

  88. Watching my girls dance

  89. Listening to my girls sing and explore music

  90. A good cup of coffee

  91. Waking up early before anyone else and enjoying the morning peace

  92. Seeing a full moon

  93. Hearing good news

  94. Feeling understood

  95. Family time

  96. Creating something

  97. Baking

  98. Successfully making a new recipe

  99. My girls giggling

  100. Kombucha

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Buckets of Tears

Buckets of rain
Buckets of tears
Got all them buckets comin' out of my ears
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand
You got all the love
Honey baby, I can stand - Bob Dylan

Our sweet sweet cat, Tabby, died last Monday. The week has been filled with buckets of tears - he was the sweetest guy, so gentle, so full of life. I miss him terribly and I just want him back. He had all the “love that I could stand”. Its sad, empty and so terribly painful.

My hubby and I have been talking about how you can’t have the joy, the happiness, the love of a pet without the knowledge of saying good -bye. And of course this is true in all of life’s relationships and even activities. The old adage no pain - no gain really is true.

The trick to some contentment in life is truly about opening space for the reality of this ole life. No way did I plan or want Tabby’s death to be part of Christmas 2018 and yet here it is. So for today with a heavy heart I will allow for the tears of grief, making sure to create space for them (unexpressed grief turns to anxiety). The more I focus on what I do have - our other sweet kitty, CG, our fish and water snail, my sweet supportive husband, a roof over our heads, the ability to be kind and giving to others. As I give gratitude for the here and now - the loss of Tabby is more bearable.

The secret to it all is just plain letting go … nothing is forever, its all in constant motion and is all changing - as it should be.

Thank you Tabby for so much joy, smiles, and warm cuddles. Thank you for letting us take care of you and letting us love you.

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Not Again !!!!!

Yesterday I was running around the house cleaning up, doing laundry, wrapping Christmas presents and making lists of all the things I need to do this coming week. It was nice to hear the laughter coming from the living room as my husband played with our 2 cats and our new robot mouse.

We woke up this AM to find our Tabby cat missing. Its not even been 24 hours since we last saw him and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully he will come in through the pet door very soon. Our other cat, CG, disappeared for a week just a few months ago and my head was screaming NOT AGAIN. Had I known he would disappear I would have spent more time with him yesterday — yes duties are important but its quality time with friends, family and our pets that truly matter.

I miss Tabby so much already — my fingers are crossed that we see him again. For today I’ll be gentle with my heart and invite you to do the same when you are in pain. While I wait for Tabby’s return I want to share the following article with you.

TIME SPENT WITH CATS IS NEVER WASTED

(Taken from Exploring Your Mind Blog - 2/11/2016

This quote from the father of psychoanalysis tells us something that most of us undoubtedly already know. However, sometimes something that is so ordinary, like spending time with cats, can reach a therapeutic level because it’s so comforting.

One good example comes from Japan. In that country, cats are both admired and respected. They’re a symbol of good luck, and the Japanese pioneered the development of centers called “cat cafes,” which can now be found all around the world.

The first “cat cafe” opened in Taiwan in 1998. The purpose? Very simple. Japan is a very industrialized and work-oriented country. Work days are very intense and it’s common to suffer from stress and other emotional shortcomings that must be released.

Petting a cat is a cathartic act. It regulates stress, improves cardiovascular health, soothes the mind, and offers a sincere opportunity to express affection and to be captivated by one of the most interesting domesticated animals. (Or maybe it’s the other way around, who knows?).

Let’s delve into feline psychology to understand a little more about what these animals can offer us.

Their beauty attracts you and their personality captivates you

Cats, unlike dogs, don’t belong to anyone but themselves. It’s us who become captivated by their art, their leadership, their divine charm, their understanding of space, and a love that is not dependent, but absolutely faithful.

You could really write an entire book about cat psychology. And while people always say they’re selfish and independent, in reality, that’s not always completely true. Hence their interesting nature, hence the intrigue they provoke in us.

Cats will love, respect, and defend us like we’re their own family. They are possesive when it comes to their space, their routines, and their owners, however they know how to keep their distance without suffocating us or depending completely on us.

They enjoy being pampered and adored. They seek daily affection, but they demand limits, and will show you in a demonstration of their elegance and independence. Sure, they draw attention with the brightness of their eyes, or their therapeutic and soothing purr, but what we like the most about cats is their personality.

We live in a world marked by sometimes useless priorities that detach us from what is really important: the light of the sun, peace, ourselves, our loved ones…

We wrap ourselves in artifice, in unimportant problems. We accumulate things and lose sight of experiences and emotions …

For cats, the world turns at the proper rhythm. Life is leisurely, measured by moments resting in the sun, laying next to us on the couch, going on excursions to learn and feed their curiosity. They are wise creatures that open their eyes to the world like windows full of light and hope.

It is sometimes said that cats are well-versed in the world of yoga. They can spend long hours meditating in front of a window or a bowl of water. What truths do they sense? What realities do they see that escape human senses?

They spend time sitting immobile in their own world, going from introspection to action in less than a second. They go from reflection to activity so rapidly that they leave us breathless and in awe.

What’s endearing is that everything they do, they do with all their senses, of which there are surely not 5, but 6, because their intuition, their ability to jump to our lap when we really need it, is without a doubt a virtue that only cats have.

It’s not just crazy people who have cats

Who was it who said that crazy people will end up with 100 cats? Cats are wise and serene creatures that make life richer, simpler, and more interesting for anyone who lives with these animals with such great personalities.

They’re ideal for both children and elderly people. They’re faithful companions to spend quiet afternoons with and relax in bed with. They’re excellent friends to live with and learn from every day.


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Enemies Good - What?

“When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place. You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

— Winston Churchill

Seldom do we think of enemies being a good thing … but the above quote strikes me as an interesting thought. We can have “enemies” meaning people who think that we are wrong or people who won’t spend time with us because of what we believe. Its important to stand up for things that are important to us - justice, love, equality - even if family or friends judge us,

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December Tidings

1) The time is now

2) Everyone is a teacher

3) Let your heart shine out

4) Your life is an inspiration (big time)

5) Your thoughts create the world

6) Choose loving thoughts

7) Well-being is your natural state

8) Shift your perspective

9) See beauty in the mirror

10) Your body is a temple

11) Spirit moves through you

12) Recognize your self as divine

13) Experience joy in detachment

14) Live on purpose

15) Embrace your uniqueness

16) There is enough for everyone (and more)

17) Pursue what delights you

18) Learn from nature

19) Become an instrument of peace

20) Dance with your shadow

21) Visualize positive outcomes

22) Accept generosity with joyfullness

23) Apply your inner-wisdom

24) Choose both

25) Love spontaneously

26) Possibility is everywhere

27) Who you are is beautiful

28) Live in yes

29) You are a star

30) If you think you can you can!

31) Shed your skin

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Its Soooooo Hard -

I’m not proud of it but I find it very hard to admit that I’m wrong or that I don’t always have the “right” answers for people. Its something I’m forever working on and know that I will battle this particular monster till my last breath.

The history of it sadly comes from growing up in a family that treated every disagreement like it was a fight for “the truth”. When we are kids and feel like we are “fighting” for our egos with our opinions and beliefs - its hard to step back and feel like I’m still ok if I believe in different things than the people around me.

As we go into the holiday seasons with families coming together with their different opinions and thoughts I’d like to share the following piece and hope that its helpful in staying focused on whats really important.

BE HUMBLE - Matt Huston, Pscyology Today, Nov/Dec 2018, page 12

Not only is humility a virtue. It might bode well for your relationship. Duke University psychologist Mark Leary answered the question: What have you learned about intellectual humility-the willingness to admit that you might be wrong?

“You can be intellectually humble or arrogant about even trivial things, like the correct way to put toilet paper on the roll. When we measured people’s beliefs on a topic and presented opposing arguments, people lower in intellectual humility were more likely to denigrate those who didn’t agree with them. Intellectually humble people, are somehow able to separate the message from the messenger. They were also more attuned to the quality of evidence. In a not-yet-published study, we found that less humble men had less satisfying relationships. They and their partners said they were less likely to try to understand the partner’s position and more likely to storm out of the room.”

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Vote - November 6, 2018

Today, November 6th is election day - go vote!!!!

The following piece written by James Hovey is a reflection on the importance of civic duty - I trust you enjoy and grow from his blog:

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from new generations.”

So wrote Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn in his monumental The Gulag Archipelago, detailing the history and horrors of the Soviet labor camps, published 43 years ago this week. The book was met with instant international acclaim;  one review in the New York Times called its subject “the other great holocaust of our century.” In the wake of its publication Solzhenitsyn became something of a pop-culture cold war hero in the U.S., where interest in militarism and interventionist policies had been fading in the aftermath of Vietnam. Solzenitsyn’s belief that Russia should turn away from international military involvement and embrace the Church and its own rich cultural history was favorably received by conservatives, as was his view that the U.S. had capitulated too quickly in Vietnam. Liberals embraced him as a dissident and rebel, though he was criticized for his insistence that Lenin was as culpable as Stalin for the monstrous atrocities of Soviet totalitarianism, and that the political state is often its own end regardless of its founding ideology.

Solzhenitsyn’s unstinting criticism of Western materialism often made him a difficult figure. He spent nearly two decades in the U.S., yet never stopped railing against what he saw as its moral complacency and spiritual emptiness. In 1978 he shocked many with his commencement address at Harvard University, where he was given an honorary doctorate in literature. In it, he urged his audience to look beyond the material satisfactions of U.S. culture:

“If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President’s performance be reduced to the question how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.” 

Critics often shrugged off Solzhenitsyn’s social commentary while acknowledging the truth of the horrors he wrote about; one anecdote in his New York Times obituary recounts Susan Sontag’s conversation with Russian poet Joseph Brodsky:

“We were laughing and agreeing about how we thought Solzhenitsyn’s views on the United States, his criticism of the press, and all the rest were deeply wrong, and on and on,” she said. “And then Joseph said: But you know, Susan, everything Solzhenitsyn says about the Soviet Union is true. Really, all those numbers—60 million victims—it’s all true.”

Also included in the Times obituary is the story of how Solzhenitsyn managed to smuggle out writing under the harshest conditions of Soviet internment. Banished under Stalin to Ekibastuz, a camp where writing was routinely confiscated and which would become the source of his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, Solzhenistyn used a special rosary fashioned for him by Lithuanian Catholic prisoners to commit 12,000 lines of prose to memory, using one bead for each passage.

Such conditions are almost impossible to fathom for Americans living today in a world of relative material comforts and freedom of the press. Yet his critique of our shallow moral standards and sense of entitlement is at least as relevant now as it was in 1978. Should we elect political leaders based on our satisfaction or dissatisfaction with our salaries, or the price of gas? Or should we also have a higher purpose in mind, a vision of somehow making the world a better place?

Solzhenitsyn was prescient about the effect materialism would have on the political landscape, seeming to forecast the yearning for what Ronald Reagan would articulate a couple years later as “morning in America,” the vision that rejected the economic and political uncertainty of the Carter years in favor of a nation characterized by plentiful goods, free enterprise, and military might. Now it appears we are in another 1978 moment, a moment characterized much as it was then, by economic fear, fear of international terrorism, and lack of faith in political leadership. In The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House, Douglas Brinkley describes the moment of Carter’s loss as one that seems on the surface very unlike our own, yet at bottom contains the same underlying fear and malaise. Carter’s era culminated in “inflation in the double digits, oil prices triple what they had been, unemployment above 7 percent, interest rates topping 20 percent, fifty-two American hostages still held captive in Iran, and unsettling memories of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.” 

In contrast, the U.S. economy this October, just before the 2016 election, saw the biggest economic growth in two years, increased exports, and a shrinking unemployment rate, yet the economic insecurity of 2008 continues to linger eight years later, much as the effects of recession lingered throughout the 1970s. U.S. growth in October of this year was historically slow compared to historic measures, and our “gig economy,” where people drive their own cars for companies like Uber and Lyft, means that millions of workers are filling temp jobs because they can’t find stable, well-paying work. 

Thus while we are not nearly as precarious economically as we were in 1980, we feel as precarious as we did in 1980. On the one hand, it is right to take note of economic conditions that leave too many people living in poverty, whether from the unavailability of any work or the availability of only the lowest-paying kind of work, and as a result choose to vote for better opportunities for everyone. On the other hand, faced with having too little, or thinking we have less than we should, or fearing we will lose what we have, some of us vote to have more, no matter the cost.

We find it hard to ask, whether in asking for more than we have, or more than we think we can get, if we are in fact asking for the right things. In the wake of a 2016 election defined for many by the fear of “falling behind,” of losing the material security promised by the American Dream, we need to think about how we define the contents of that dream and examine the entitlement behind the notion of “falling behind.” We now know that many more voters were galvanized this year by appeals to fear and entitlement than were moved by visions of social justice and equality. We need to address the appeal of fear and entitlement before we can go on to articulate a larger vision of a just society where there is opportunity for everyone.

Appeals to morality rarely win elections. We now know that “the unlimited availability of gasoline,” for example, while making certain economic sense, is not the best thing to ask for when electing public officials, especially given the devastating effects of carbon emissions on the global environment. Yet the virtue of self-restraint—temperance, really—called for by Solzhenitsyn in his Harvard commencement address is no more popular now than it was in 1978, when many Americans rejected it in favor of a 1950s-style domestic prosperity characterized by plenty of cheap gas and consumer goods.

President Carter, a famously moral person who spoke openly against violence and advocated daily prayer, was unable to effectively sell his vision that U.S. voters should cultivate temperate, self-transcendent characters. Solzhenitsyn’s warning in this era that human life must consist of more than “the search for the best ways to obtain material goods” vanished in a country weary of recession and fearful of international terrorism, and is similarly lost today in a nation where people fear slipping into poverty at home as a result of stagnant wages and vanishing jobs, and see only an unstable and violent world abroad. Yet Solzhenitsyn’s warning that Americans—humans—are prone to self-interest and self-indulgence is one we should still heed. His insistence that the human tendency to keep one’s head down in the presence of injustice proliferates injustice is especially urgent in our moment, when the temptation to retreat into private life can seem so seductive. In this dangerous world, getting involved is a necessary self-transcendence, “the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty,” a call to witness, and a call to action.

Written by James Hovey  is Associate Program Director for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.


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November Thanks

Enjoy these words from the calendar of inspiration & joy:

1) Turn over a new leaf

2) Uncover more layers

3) Release self judgment

4) Your soul is grand

5) Embrace your joy

6) The truth lives inside you

7) An end is always beginning

8) See yourself happy

9) Laughter is good medicine

10) Be loving inside

11) Widen your compassion

12) Honor your body

13) Fully engage in life

14) Your worth is un-quantifiable

15) Give thanks for growth

16) Continue to discover who you are

17) Let go of “what if”

18) Fully give in to pleasure

19) Listen to your feelings

20) You are funny

21) You are a manifesting machine

22) Find your center

23) Ask clear questions

24) Transcend perceived limits

25) Observe nature’s beauty

26) Happiness is up to you

27) Your life is precious

28) Rejoice in your prosperity

29) Flow like a river

30) You are so remarkable

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She Came Back ...

Don’t know if you read my blog about our sweet kitty, CG, disappearing but she did. On Oct 4th I fed her and her brother - nothing unusual and then suddenly the next morning - no CG. I went looking for her all around the neighborhood - no CG. I cried, I wrote a blog about her, I worked on accepting that she was gone and then …

On Thursday, Oct 11 she came in through the cat door as if she had never left. My husband and I were so happy to see her. She definitely looked skinnier but did not look hurt or traumatized. I could not have been happier, and then something really strange started to happen.

I found myself really worried that she would disappear again and I found myself struggling to let go of the idea that we would just loose her again and that I would be so sad all over again. My brain, George, was on overdrive with messages of worry and message of “whats the point in life” things always end badly. I actually started dipping into a bit of depression. I called in sick to work and found myself sitting on the couch trying to calm myself with ice cream.

This went on for several days, the grief of the week that she was gone truly exhausted me and I stopped some of my self-care habits: exercising, eating right, and my mindful work. I allowed my negative brain to take over and I went pretty low.

I’m wired on the negative side of life and I have to consciously work to stay positive - its effort but well worth it. There is no way to have love & joy in our lives with risking the pain of loss. It took a couple of days but I’m back on track enjoying the kitties, doing the work of letting go of thoughts that are not helpful and staying more in the here & now.

I challenge you to notice any negative thoughts you are having and any fear/worry of any pain that is to come.

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On Hold

A catalog order was placed on Oct 1st and still nothing has arrived. I’m on hold with the company. Over & over I hear that my call is important and that the wait won’t be long. The phone says its now been 24 minutes - sigh. My frustration is mounting and I’m tempted to just email the company and tell them to cancel the order.

Suddenly it occurs to me that this might be a great time to read about patience. Hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did:

The True Meaning of Patience: Let Go and Take Your Time

By Joanna Warwick

 “Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Patience sucks!

Well that is what I used to think.

I was taught growing up that it was a virtue, but I was never taught why.

In my experience, patience had meant I would miss out on something I desired. So I became the hare in the race and would fast track myself through career choices and opportunities and even relationships for fear that I would be forgotten and miss out again.

But in the story, it is tortoise that wins the race, because he is constant and sure-footed.

With all my “hurry up” and haring around I may have seemed to the outside world to be go-getting and achieving great things that seem so valuable in our materialistic world, but because I was so busy rushing to the next big thing, I was actually missing out on my life.

I’m 36, and I was brought up in an era that has been all about get it, have it, and then throw it away. For a long time, this left me feeling empty.

What I hadn’t learned was the true meaning and purpose of patience.

So I took up the piano.

After many years of wanting to play, and making endless excuses because I was scared of the hard work and the commitment it would involve, a time came when I was ready to face up to my fears.

I told my piano teacher that if it took me until I was 70, that would be fine, as I believed it was a skill I would like later in life.

All good words; however, not how I behaved…

As soon as I sat down on the stool and started to learn my first notes, I felt a building impatience.

I would get so frustrated with my fingers and hands for not working independently. Every time I took a small step forward and improved, I would barely savor the achievement and would once again get upset at anything I saw as failure.

My brain and body worked independently. For the first time I came face to face with the realization that I don’t have full  control over my body, and that it will only move at the pace it needs to go at.

I was surprised by the dark feelings of self-punishment, criticism, fear, and anger.

Through all this my piano teacher demonstrated true patience to me, even if I had not gotten to grips with it yet.

For a year I went either weekly or fortnightly for this torture.

When I felt enthusiastic I would practice between lessons, and if I didn’t, well I would avoid it until just before the lesson or not do it at all. Of course I would then be even more cross with myself that I couldn’t do it.

As a former professional sportswoman, I knew that it took repetitive practice to get better at a skill. At that time, I thought I was good with patience.

The truth, though, was I was a natural rider with an affinity for horses and I had been riding since I was four years old, so I found it a pleasure to practice and, therefore, easy.

But this was difficult, a new skill, and over and over again I wanted to quit!

Still I wouldn’t let myself. Even if I avoided practicing, I still kept turning up and paying the money. I had made a commitment to myself and I was determined to stick it out and see what would happen.

Through all this fight with myself I came to discover patience.

Patience is not a virtue; that makes it sound easy and light.

No, patience is hard and it takes practice. Patience is really about having the inner strength to stick to your guns, face your fears, repeatedly let go of internal expectations, and have trust that it will all work out in the end.

Slowly my hands and brain learned to adjust and they began to work in harmony—well, almost!

I began to be able to read the music without looking at my hands, and use both of them at the same time independently. Even as I write this, I realize that I haven’t truly acknowledged what a hard feat that actually is.

It was like learning to walk again, but with my hands.

Gradually, as everything started to come together just a little easier through patience and practice, I began to hear the music I was creating. For perfects moments I would feel pure joy and pride; notes on a page, which could only become music, because I learned to add space and timing.

And like that, a door opened to a new understanding of life.

The music that is our lives can only be fully recognized, experienced, and played out when we allow space to move, breathe, and enjoy. We need to let go and let time play out at its own rhythm.

When we rush around, we lose patience and enjoyment of the moment, as I had. We also miss our own individual melody and all the experiences, feelings, and people which help to create it.

So I am now practicing to be a tortoise, constantly moving, sure-footed and enjoying a more natural pace—which allows me to look around and smell the roses, if you don’t mind me mixing metaphors!

After a year I could play Beethoven’s Fleur de lis, not perfectly, but well enough so that I enjoyed playing it and could hear in my soul what Beethoven was expressing when he wrote it.

I still have my goal that I will be able to play well by the time I’m 70, but I am taking the time to make small steps in mastering the skill and enjoying the journey.

The practice of patience has dispelled my fears of inadequacy and by learning to harness and contain the energy of both fear and enthusiasm; not run or hide from it, but to own it and concentrate it into a powerful force, which consistently and steadily drives me forward in my life, towards my goals now measured at a pace which makes me feel both confident and appreciative of the journey.

So perhaps patience is a virtue after all, when we find our own route to truly understand it.

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