A Life with Soul

The soul that rests in each of us,
Is the angel that rests on clouds.
It lives quietly within us,
claiming no time or space of its own.
It restless comes awake some lives,
from the slumberous sleep of life.
It nudges you to start to seek or question,
and shakes life to draw attention to it.
We may see this as challenge, trauma, grief or loss,
we don’t often connect the dots.
But if we were to listen sooner to the signs from the soul,
pay heed with every breath.
We would find the Universe always in our favor,
and life, a more joy-filled endeavor.
– Niki Richardson

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Look Up From Your Phone

I went to a wine walk yesterday here in Camarilllo. It was being held in our little downtown district to help bring more visitors and drive traffic into the stores. A good concept to be sure. I took an uber to get there, and had this interesting out of body observation of myself.

I spent the entire 10 minute trip from my house to Studio Channel Islands on my phone. Not looking up once to see where we were, or even say a word to the driver.

I had a wonderful time with some wonderful friends tasting some excellent wine and stopping into stores and businesses that I had never entered before, even though I have lived here nearly 20 years.

In the uber on the way home, I was struck by the fact that this young man’s car contained water bottles in each of the seat pouches in front of the passengers as well as a little jar of dum dum lollipops and eclipse gum if you wanted to freshen your breath or were in need of a sweet treat.

A small but thoughtful touch, costing less than $5.

The young man struck up a conversation with me. I asked him what he did besides drive for uber and he let me know that he had big dreams among which were taking care of his immigrant parents. He wanted to have multiple revenue sources, he wanted to inspire people, he wanted to help people live better lives through health and fitness. He wanted a gym, a record company and a marketing and design company, all in the next decade.

Big dreams!

Big goals!

Very crystal clear intentions of what he wanted.

No 9-5 job for him.

He was not quite 25!

We talked about meditation then.

He said his favorite way to meditate was to visualize his future.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Kudos Vincent. (Yes i asked him his name)

So often these days we hide behind our screens instead of engaging with humanity. We use it as a way to zone out, numb out, the endless black scroll on social media dulling our senses and our abilities to connect.

We think we’re connected.

After all we have 2,000 friends and 9,000 likes on our feed.

But what do you REALLY know about those friends?

Are they really friends?

Recently someone pinged me and said- oh my goodness what a small world– we have mutual friends on FB. I stared back at her blankly– I didn’t know those people. They’re friends of friends so I didn’t reject their friend request.

So today, or tomorrow, instead of looking into your screen, following someone’s political rant, someone’s viral video or someone’s riveting schedule as it unfolds on social media, leave your phone tucked away, pretend that you don’t have that distraction.

And when you have a few minutes to kill in the grocery line or in an uber, just ask the person in front of you–

So how are you?

You might be inspired by their answer!

Time Shows Up

So I ran into a friend at Target yesterday. I was there shopping for home supplies and she was in line for her prescription. I walked toward her to hug her but she paused me — ‘pneumonia…’ she whispered hoarsely.

This friend, I’ll call her ‘Kay’ is one of the most inspiring people I know. She had a vision to make a change in her community and not only did she rally the community behind her idea, she got government and community leaders behind it as well. This vision is becoming a reality. And the entire city and county in fact will benefit from Kay’s idea.

Kay will go down in history of our area as being THE WOMAN who brought value to our kids, tourism to our area and tax dollars to our city.

She’s my hero!

This summer Kay’s vision moved forward very significantly. There was an outward showing for the community. The public could see this idea become a reality.

When I saw her at the public showing- she said that her whole summer had been spent for the most part in getting ready for this preview. Her little kids, her inspiration for this vision and this idea were a big part of helping her. This was their summer.

This woman doesn’t stop. She at everything. She’s networking, doing 1:1 visits and volunteering at places that will help increase visibility for her vision, she’s doing all the right things!

AND

She’s running on fumes.

When life is that busy, it’s easy to continually put yourself on the back burner.

Because self care feels selfish!

I’ll sleep when I’m dead!

I’ll rest after my vision is a reality.

I can’t let my family down.

I can’t let my community down.

People are expecting me to be the face of the organization/project/company.

Sound familiar?

Some version of this is always going through our heads.

Until our body collapses in sheer exhaustion.

It’s almost always the case that after a big event, project, presentation etc. we experience major exhaustion.

Our body carries us through the process, but then the minute it’s done—

Collapse.

Illness.

Fatigue so deep that you can’t move.

Complete system shut down.

Your body has been carrying you on adrenaline the entire time.

You’re way past normal functions, your mind is in flight or flight and fighting for survival!

And once you release the breath breath you’ve been holding your mind recognizes that the danger is passed and it can relax.

And it does.

Every cell

Every nerve ending

Every emotion

Releases

Relaxes

Collapses

Takes you out of the game for a while.

Or a long while.

So how do you avoid complete collapse?

Make your self care non negotiable. It doesn’t have to be complex, you don’t have to spend hours on yourself. But you can.

Go ahead, I give you permission.

30 minutes a day is all it can take.

Breathe: before starting your car, take three deep breaths. Before exiting your car do it again.

Walk: one mile can take you less than 15 minutes. If that’s not an option, find a way to move your body. Park as far from your destination as you can – and walk.

Hydrate: (water not coffee!) aspire to drink 1/2 your body weight in oz. e.g. a 130 lb person would be drinking 65oz.

Nourish: higher intake of lean protein keeps you full longer and gives you sustained energy. A plant based protein shake blended with berries, greens and a good source of fat (think avocado or nut butter) is an ideal breakfast for the dats when you don’t have time to sit and eat a good meal.

Sleep: 7 hours at least

And probably the single most important thing is to have intention.

Don’t make your self care another checklist item on your to-do list.

Promise yourself that you will care for you.

So that you can care for your family, community and the world.

And yes, it feels like if you do these things for yourself you’re stealing time from other more productive things you could be doing.

I can promise you this.

Time.Shows.Up

My Life Worth Living

Many of you have heard me talk about Robin Sharma’s 5:00 am club (my Holy hour) and how I am a proud member. It took me over a year to get to the place where I could easily and gracefully get out of bed at 5:00 am every day and I relish starting the day before the sun comes up. I love being able to see the sunrise; there’s something very special about the time right between dark and day break. Naturally, to be able to wake up at that hour requires that I turn off the lights and be in bed at a reasonable hour – usually 10:30 pm, no later. This too took practice. Interestingly, this discipline took a LOT longer to cultivate than the discipline of waking up at 5:00 am.

Since the start of the New Year, after all the holiday festivities were said and done, after the tree came down, the house got cleaned and we marched into 2015, I have been faithfully waking up at 5:00 am, working out every day, by either hopping on our trainer bike, going for a run (I love running outside when there’s no one there…I run in a safe area, I wouldn’t advocate for running in the dark if you’re not a 100% certain of your environment), and even yoga using my handy dandy Yoga Studio App. Even if I just get to do a 5 minute yoga routine, it feeds my soul. On some of the mornings when my body isn’t wanting to do the more active exercise, the yoga helps just move my body to wake me up. After my exercise, I usually either write in my journal or read something meaningful. I also take this time to review my Big 5 goals for this year. I LOVE this time. Even if I don’t end up doing much more than a work out, this early morning ritual wakes me up in a way that helps me fuel my day with the right nourishment for my soul.

Earlier this week, I had one of those days that in the past were standard days. I had started at 5:00 am as usual and then after getting my kids off to school, I had back to back appointments all day until I picked them up, after which we came home, ate, did homework, tag teamed them with my husband, and then I went back out to attend a training by one of my favorite Network Marketing trainers. I didn’t get home till after 10:30 pm. Needless to say my energy was completed depleted and I was entirely spent! Consequently, I did not get up at 5:00 am the next morning, I did NOT exercise or spend time writing or reading, my soul was undernourished and my body was exhausted. I didn’t course correct that day by spending time recovering and then getting back on track the next day. No, rather, because I had slightly veered off course and because I didn’t immediately auto correct, I veered MORE off course. Now, the next night, instead of going to bed early to get back on track, I hung around with my husband till even LATER than usual. I fiddled around my laptop doing nothing more productive than checking Facebook. So as a result, a second day of No Holy Hour ensued, and now I am even MORE off course.

Interestingly I am observing myself and my actions as if I am outside my body, which is the reason for this post. I have never been this observant of my own behavior before, mostly because we are all so b*&y in the hamster wheel of life (remember I boycott the word b&^y last year?) that we don’t take the time to see what things we are doing that don’t serve us. When I replaced the word b&^y with productive last year, I was amazed at the time that showed up for me, and how things got done with ease and grace and with time to spare.

All I needed to do in order to veer back on course is to sleep early, so I can wake up early again and everything will be back to normal, and I am finding it hard to do just that.

My husband had to remind me that it was late yesterday yet again. Today, I woke at 5:30 am (ok, so that’s a bit better) and interestingly I had this awareness, that I needed to exercise. I felt lazy to go outside or get into bike clothes, but at least I could do yoga. So I found a 15 minute routine and did it before sitting to start write this post. By the time the weekend ends, I am committed to being in bed no later than 10 pm so that come Monday morning, I can be up again to renew my membership in the 5:00 am Holy Hour Club.

So what I realized through this was this:

  1. All it takes are slight tweaks of behavior to change a habit from one that’s not serving us to one that is. What’s one thing you want to do differently? Do you need to drink more water? Perhaps you can start by increasing just one extra glass of water a day. Do it first thing, as soon as you get out of bed, or the very first thing when you enter your kitchen in the morning. Do it consistently, same time every day for 21 days and you will have formed the habit of drinking more water. Drinking a glass of room temperature water and a splash of lemon or lime juice first thing in the morning is a really good habit by the way.
  2. Our lives are so overly filled with activities, that we don’t have the time to slow down and consider our actions and whether they are hurting or helping ourselves most of all. I used to LIVE in this overdrive mode; in the kind of day that I had just once this past week. I booked my days to the gills and its no wonder then that my health wasn’t at its best, my habits didn’t serve me and I couldn’t be the best version of myself for my kids, husband, friends and family.
  3. In creating space, by creating boundaries and saying NO to projects and other things that don’t serve my top priorities right now, I created space for myself to BE more and DO less. I am after all a Human BEing, not a Human DOing. This allowed me to have more meaningful relationships with fewer people instead of having a 100 acquaintances. I am spending time cultivating friendships that mean the world to me AND more importantly, I am way less cranky to my family. I can laugh more, be more joyful and music to my ears, my 4 year old son lately has been saying ‘mommy you’re FUNNY’!
  4. I can LOVE more LOVINGLY. This one’s a big deal to me. Family is in my top three core values and yet family is what was taking the brunt of my burn out. I was less tolerant with my children and impatient with my husband and even my parents. I was on autopilot as a mom, wife and daughter. And I didn’t like it at all. I needed to be more present, more focused and more joyful for the 3 single most important people in my life…my husband and two kids.
  5. Today, in simply listening to my body and doing 15 minutes of yoga I was able to bring myself back on track. My mind is no longer racing at a frenetic pace and it can serve as an energy charging station for the people who I interact with, vs. being an energy sucking station (ever encountered one of those people? I used to be one!)
  6. Interestingly and not surprisingly, I am being more productive, more is getting done, I’m more aware of my projects/tasks and am methodically and carefully checking them off my list with a renewed zest.
  7. I MISSED my evening wind down holy time. Because I was staying up so late, I felt like I couldn’t take the 10 minutes I take at the end of the night to gather myself, give thanks, wind down in meditation and float off to dream land, instead, I would get into bed right away, then end up staying up even later because I couldn’t calm myself enough to go right off to sleep.

The ripple effects of overloading my agenda in months and years past is far greater than I even imagined. It didn’t just affect me, it affected people and activities around me. It caused me to be late, behind schedule and panicked, which caused me to be short, impatient, and slightly intolerant. It caused me to drive more aggressively, wonder why everyone was so slow on the road and just simply be unable to see the beauty of the world around me. It caused me to talk, walk and think at a pace that most people couldn’t keep up with.

Interestingly, I am finding myself at my creative and professional best as well. In clearing out the energetic and physical clutter in my mind and life, I have created space for magic to happen and I can see the momentum building to what’s possible for me. As we enter the year of the sheep, the year of collaboration I am excited to see what partnerships will transpire because of the space I created.

Now what I live for is the sounds of the birds, the patterns of clouds, sunrises and sunsets, the smell of the roses my husband bought me for Valentines Day, the orchid bud that’s beginning to open, the one that my 8 year old daughter and I have nurtured for half a year, the tapping of the birds at our feeder when its empty, the smell of incense burning in my home every day, the giggles of my children as I play tickle monster with them at the end of the day, the belly laughs I get when I make funny faces at them, the surprised smile on my husband’s face when I say or do something that he doesn’t expect, the playfulness that’s come back into our relationship, the purring of my kitties as I make the time to sit on the floor and tickle and play with them and quality time with girlfriends who I love and adore.

Isn’t this what life should be like for us all? It’s not impossible, and I’m here to say that it’s not hard. Mother Teresa said, ‘The Ocean is Made Up of Drops.’

The first step is awareness. Take stock of your life, keep a time journal, track where you’re spending your time for a week. Then we can assess from there. Let me know if I can help you!

Appreciate where you are

20130106-082345.jpg Appreciate where you are. You are where you are because that’s what you needed to experience up to this point and that’s okay. Standing on the diving board of appreciation is a perfect place to launch from into the pool of your desires. Instead of beating yourself up because you are not where you want to be yet give yourself a break. Appreciating what is good builds more of what is good.” M.J. Durkin

Allow the Universe to deliver

Stop resisting everything and start “allowing” all the good the universe wants to deliver to you on a silver platter. It’s all there for you if you will let it in. You don’t have to work hard to deserve it – you already deserve to have a great life. You are supposed to feel good, have great relationships, have an alive and vibrant body and have enough money to do all the things that you want to do. That’s your natural state. Stop junking it up with all these resistant thoughts. Be light and easy. Have more fun. Savor more. Appreciate more of what you have that you like and more will flow to you – easily. – M.J. Durkin