You Are the Designer of Your Life

We often believe that people, circumstances and situations outside of ourselves are responsible for shaping the course of our lives. If we get a certain job…then life will be awesome.

If we marry a certain person…then we’ll be happy.

If…then.

And when we place those conditions on ourselves, we find ourselves constantly harboring the desire, but usually our mind is racing around the negative track instead of the positive one. Usually we’re thinking- “oh, how I want that job, and there’s no way I can get it.”

Or

“I would do anything for her/him to give me the time of day, but s/he’s out of my league. What am I thinking?

So we constantly talk ourselves out of our greatest dreams and desires.

And we wonder why life won’t give us what we truly want.

Our job in this life is to be the designer of our lives. And there are many stories of people who set their mind in a determined fashion and accomplished what they set out to do. Why them? And why not you?

Are they smarter? No

Are they prettier? No

Do they have more luck? No

Do they live a charmed life where everything goes their way? Yes

Why?

Because they dream of their desires with dogged determination.

An elite athlete doesn’t take no for an answer; doesn’t see weakness in his/her body. They just train and train and train both body and mind to accomplish their dreams.

A performer, a musician, a tech mogul, a billionaire– none of them started that way. They all have the same things in common with us; they’re human and wear their pants one leg at a time just like you and I.

So what sets them apart?

Single-minded focus.

The inability to see their dream fail.

For them, there’s no question, beyond a shadow of any doubt that they will get where they’re going

So what’s the common denominator?

Harnessing the power of the mind to accomplish your goals.

Most of us live our present from our past. We are shaped by, and molded in the life of our past.

What if we lived our lives from our future?

What if we intentionally shaped and molded ourselves into the life we desire?

What if, instead of lamenting our past, we celebrate our future like it’s already here?

I’m talking about the future that we want to create. Not the one that is a natural extension of our past.

Life is a gift. As far as we know it, it’s the only one we have. We owe it to ourselves to live it in the best way we know how.

So the next time you find yourself using memory lane to blame your present circumstances; take a hard 180° turn and walk into your future.

A simple mind hack to get this started is to take one deep desire/want; and start to imagine it done. Not the HOW. But simply living in a future where it is a reality. If you can train your mind to spend 5-10 minutes a day in your future state, providence will start to provide the HOW.

You don’t have to worry about the HOW.

You only have to focus on the WHAT.

We don’t have to have the correct circumstances to make our dreams a reality.

We only need to have a very vivid dream.

So go ahead- dream in high definition technicolor.

Mold, Coffee and Self Love

So we discovered a leak under our kitchen sink earlier this month. Sadly we hadn’t discovered it soon enough to prevent mold. Not wanting to expose the little ones to any potential mold exposure we moved into a hotel. Luckily for us, we checked in the day before the Hill and Woolsey Fire broke out. One more day and we’d have found no hotel room. Given that we were likely here for a little of a long haul, we were very lucky to have found a two bedroom two bath suite at the local Residence Inn complete with daily breakfast included. Needless to say the kids were ecstatic.

Staycation!

So while on vacation I usually will indulge in drinking caffeinated coffee. You see my hubby is an amazing brewer of coffee. And well, let’s face it. Illy Italian coffee is the real deal.

So for the first 3-4 days we both woke up and enjoyed an absolutely delicious cup of coffee.

On day 5, I started to notice that I was hypersensitive to sounds. Everything was irritating me. I didn’t sleep very well that night either. Never fell into a deep sleep. I felt every toss and turn that Jason made (he obviously wasn’t sleeping well either). He was breathing too loudly, tossing too much, tugging at the sheets when he did…you get the picture- everything annoyed me.

And yet- what he was doing wasn’t new behavior. He was a super light sleeper, prone to waking up at o’dark hundred and then tossing and turning, or reading till he put himself back to sleep.

What was different was my response to it.

My response was different because I had introduced something into my chemistry that I usually never consume.

Heavily caffeinated coffee.

No noticeable difference the first couple days.

But then, the caffeine started to build up.

And started to alter my chemistry.

Which manifest in new behaviors.

Which if unchecked could have (and definitely have in the past) been unhealthy to our relationship. Staying in close quarters for an extended period of time, and going to work and continuing business as usual. It could have been disastrous!

The next day when he asked if I wanted coffee, I declined. And told him why.

Interestingly I observed that it had affected him too. Even though he DOES have caffeinated coffee daily. Just one cup of good espresso made into a short latte.

He was impatient about practically everything.

Because I had acknowledged my own irritation and recognized it early on.

Because I had checked it.

Because I had shared it with him.

I was now able to remove my emotions from the conversation and gently remind him that he too was experiencing symptoms as a result of the coffee.

His knee jerk response was ‘it’s not the coffee.’ But he knew better.

And I knew he knew.

So let’s just speculate how this would have gone down, had we NOT addressed this early on.

  • I would have woken up that first day of being irritable with very poor sleep and snapped at him for every toss and turn. I would have admonished him to be more sensitive to me. That if he couldn’t sleep, the least he could do is let ME sleep.
  • Lack of sleep would have led me to have less bandwidth to be gentle and compassionate with his impatience.
  • So when he snapped at me for the slightest, I would have snapped right back.
  • We would have likely blamed each other for whatever inconsequential thing was causing us to be irritated with each other.
  • And pretty soon, full blown war of the roses!
  • And unchecked this would have continued.
  • And in the close quarters that we are, our kids would have been fully exposed to behaviors and words from us that would have been potentially damaging.

So often in our relationships that falter we fail to be able to see our role early on to nip it in the bud. It’s so easy to assign blame to someone else or somewhere outside ourselves. Especially when life throws a curveball and we are hoisted from our comfort and regularity of actions. One of my mentors used to say ‘you can’t see your own eyebrows.’ Meaning you need others to point out certain things to you about yourself. You can’t see it for yourself.

So how do you become self-aware so that you can catch yourself in the act of being an a$$?

  1. Meditation helps you to center and ground yourself. It also helps you to not take yourself too seriously.
  1. Developing self-discipline helps you to develop body and mind awareness. This simply means having small daily actions that you do for yourself NO MATTER WHAT.
  2. Having an attitude of gratitude for the small things. Whisper thanks the next time you get a sweet parking spot. When coincidences happen, or when mold causes you to have to leave home for an extended period of time, say thank you that you caught it early enough for it to be just 3 weeks out of the house instead of 3 months. You get the idea. There’s ALWAYS a silver lining if we look for it.
  • Let’s face it we all make well intentioned resolutions for ourselves at the start of a new year. Most often these fall off before January 15. What we don’t realize is that when we allow ourselves off the hook that way (and we usually have the best of reasons) we are sending a subliminal message to ourselves that says we’re not worth it. That work, family obligations or even new volunteer efforts are more important that maintaining a commitment to ourselves. And if you think about it, that’s probably not the first time you have allowed yourself to be put on the back burner.
  • How can that be good for self esteem?

    If we’re a parent, what message are we sending our kids?

    If we’re in a partnership/marriage/relationship…how can we expect our significant other to respect us, if we don’t respect ourselves enough to follow through on our word?

    We teach people how to treat us by the way we behave.

    What are you teaching people?

    To love and respect you and acknowledge your contribution with gratitude.

    Or

    To think of you as SO dependable that you’ll do anything for them, even at the cost of your own health and sanity.

    Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s self love. Self love is good for you. And it’s particularly good for the people you love, the community you serve and the world you are changing.

    Forgiveness is for the Forgiver, not the Forgiven

    aquatic bloom blooming blossom

    You may remember that in August this year, I did the Ventura Storytellers Project, where I shared my story with a room full of strangers who somehow through those moments of sharing vulnerability, joy, struggle and victory became friends. One of the other storytellers was a man who shared the horribly poignant details of a terrible childhood, and yet he went on to get married, have kids and be a productive member of society. He talked about this:

    Forgiveness is for the Forgiver, not the Forgiven.

    It’s a really strong statement and one that truly gave me pause. Intellectually I could see how that was true. Forgiving someone for something that they had done to you, no matter how horrible could truly help assuage age-old, long-buried emotions, and truly help you move on.

    But, I didn’t understand it in my heart.

    Until today!

    I came across someone from my past who, for whatever reason decided that she needed to come clean to me about how she had treated me over a decade ago. This was someone I had the deepest respect and admiration for. Someone I could say was like a role model and mentor to me. She was a tough one, never shied away from doling out tough love to help me learn lessons of life. She had changed her perspective about me and therefore had changed the way she treated me through what I had perceived was no fault of mine. Or at least, none that I was aware of. She had made our relationship tenuous, but I never knew what had caused that to happen. Things got so tough, that I just had to cut her out of my life because it was affecting my health and my life. I had a little toddler at home, and couldn’t afford to be stressed out and miserable all the time. Since I couldn’t get a straight story out of her about why our relationship changed. I eventually moved on. I resented her for quite a number of years thereafter. I wondered what I had done to deserve this. I didn’t have the skills then to ask the right questions to get the story out of her, or to understand things from her perspective.

    She went on to tell me about a couple of other women in our circle. People I considered friends. Women I would have done anything for. They had colored her judgment of me by feeding her blatant lies (her words, not mine) about me. They had been literally building a case against me to drive a wedge between the two of us. And it worked like a charm. So, this woman, this second mother figure, decided that she was going to take their words as truth, and not give me a chance to tell my side of the story. Although till today I don’t know what story I would be telling. She wouldn’t tell me why they decided to do this.

    I had hairs rise on the back of my neck as I flashed back a decade and thought of these two women; both of whom I considered close friends. I had shared so many moments of vulnerability and weakness with them, I had let me guard down with them.

    You see, when I first moved to this area, I had no women friends at all. I had moved from New York to get my MBA at Pepperdine, where I had hoped to form close friendships but didn’t. I was a commuter student like most of my classmates, so while we did do things together socially, I somehow didn’t get to form much wanted long-lasting college buddy friendships. From college, I started working for a very small organization where all the other people were nearly twice my age. No opportunity to form friendships there either. So when these women started entering my life, I was ecstatic. Women friends have always been important to me as an adult, perhaps just because I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends growing up. Needless to say, I was shattered when my friend had so abruptly turned on me without any indications why.

    Now here she was; she said she had carried the hurt of this in her heart for all these years and she just needed me to know. She said she has watched me from afar, and is proud of the life I have built and the relationships I have nurtured over the years. She hopes that I would forgive her.

    Ahhhhhhh I get it now. Forgiveness is for the Forgiver, not the Forgiven.

    Yes, of course I forgave her. I had forgiven her years ago. I had made my peace. I knew that if I ever saw her again, I wouldn’t hate her, I wouldn’t wonder why, I would just embrace her as if none of that had happened.

    But she had lived with this for over a decade.

    She hadn’t forgiven herself.

    I had moved on.

    She hadn’t.

    Her heart still hurt from the role she had played in sabotaging our friendship.

    The ripple effect in my life of moving away from that relationship had been astounding.

    To say that my life flourished thereafter would be an understatement.

    I learned so much about myself through that whole process, and I also learned my boundaries.

    I learned that people will treat you the way you allow them to.

    We have to train people the way we want them to treat us.

    I learned so much about what goes into a good relationship.

    I learned about being a good friend and not being a pushover friend.

    I learned it was okay to say NO.

    I learned to say YES to myself always.

    But most of all, I learned that my gut has never let me down.

    And that in the noise of the outer voices of people’s opinions about me, I had drowned out the whisper of my inner voice; And the latter is the only one that mattered.

    So, as is always the case, the toughest critics, the biggest backstabbers, the most challenging situations are always the people, places and issues where we have the biggest breakthroughs in our lives.

    So the next time someone challenges you, irritates you, upsets you or plain annoys the heck out of you.

    Say thank you to them silently.

    Then go sit with yourself and ask yourself…

    What am I to learn from them?

    If you’re quiet enough for long enough, you’ll get an answer.

    I promise.

     

     

    Your Kids Are Watching Put On A Good Show

    So both my kids are swimming now. My 11yo is on the local swim team and swims 3x a week for 45min and my 7yo is still going through the levels classes for stroke development etc. Needless to say, their swim times DO NOT overlap and so yes, I either get to spend 3 hours at the pool or do two visits to the pool. I choose the latter. Luckily the pool is 8 minutes from home.

    My 7yo has 3 more levels to go before he can try out for swim team, and then the times should overlaps and my time spent at the pool will drop drastically.

    So last week was the end of level 3 and we waited eagerly to see if he graduated to level 4. I was sitting poolside reading (The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama— highly recommend btw!) and I observed a couple sitting a couple seats over from me. He was immersed in his phone, she– absolutely gorgeous with beautiful poker straight long hair looked practically angry. Her little 6yo adorable girl was in the same class as my 7yo.

    Class ended and I asked if he graduated. He didn’t know yet. I quickly toweled him off, and he and I both skipped our way to the coach to get the verdict. “He’s really close!” She said somewhat apologetically. “Yay babe, did you hear that, you’re almost there!” Was my response. “We need to re do level 3 one more time. It’ll be done in no time!”

    We walk back to our things, I start to change him. Gorgeous long haired girl has report in hand for her 6yo and I’m dying to ask her whether she moved up. But something holds me back from being my usual social self. It’s that look.

    She still hasn’t softened her look. Uh oh, the 6yo mustn’t have graduated either. She still looks mad! Husband is still immersed in his phone.

    So after changing, we go to the entrance to register for another round of level 3. I had already registered him for level 4 in anticipation of him moving up, so I just have to move him back down to 3. Gorgeous lady is in front of me. She lets the front desk people know that she wants to register her daughter for level 4, as she has just graduated.

    WHAT??

    Your daughter moved up, but you haven’t smiled once?

    Yes i know I’m being judgy here — I don’t know what’s going on in their lives and I ought not to make assumptions.

    I practically high-fived my boy for a job well done.

    He has come SO FAR!

    He was so intimidated by the pool. And now he’s doing dives and jumps off the diving board and even attempted the big curly slide. Something he would have NEVER done ordinarily.

    So much progress!

    I don’t care that he will redo level 3.

    It just means that he’ll excel when he gets to the next level and the next after that.

    But honestly lady!

    Smile at your kid.

    At least when you’re interacting with her.

    And definitely when she just graduated to the higher level of swim.

    This really got the wheels turning for me.

    Our kids are hyper-observant about what we do and say.

    It’s not do as I say, it’s do as I do.

    So what do you do?

    • Are they seeing/hearing you bicker a lot?
    • Do they hear you talk abruptly or rudely frequently?
    • Do you talk to your friends around them as if they aren’t there?
    • Do you complain a lot?
    • Do you cut people off or flip them off or rant in traffic?
    • How do you treat service staff?
    • Do you open doors?
    • Help little old ladies?
    • Ignore the homeless person who’s panhandling? Or use it as a point of conversation to teach them a life lesson?
    • How much do they see you on your phone? I think of this a lot– if they see me on my phone constantly- then when they do get their own phones – how can I ask them to minimize time on theirs?
    • Do they see you smile or frown a lot?

    You get the picture?

    Nature vs. Nurture here right? And in this case a little bit of both.

    If you are constantly a certain way- especially if it’s habitual – how can you expect your kids to be different?

    Kindness, smiling, managing our emotions, making good choices are all traits that can be learned. Leadership starts with leading ourselves.

    These are hard to focus on when we’re constantly tired, when we’re working long hours, when work deadlines are piling up.

    It’s easy to zone out and do what comes easiest- which is to possibly be short fused or snap or be irritable when they’re annoying you.

    But it’s in those moments in particular that we need to push past the pain of discipline and become super aware of our thoughts, words, actions and beliefs.

    After all we aren’t raising kids.

    We are raising our next generation political leaders, business owners, community advocates and professionals.

    But most of all, hopefully we are raising kind, compassionate and gentle men and women with a heart for their community and a commitment to do good in the world.

    Your kids are watching more than you know.

    Put on a good show.

    Be A Magnet

    On Thursday evening, I came home from work and kids activities feeling nauseous and barely able to lift my head for fear of throwing up. I thought it was food poisoning. I thought i would be back on my feet in 12 hours. But– i had no ‘ejections’ of any kind. Hmmm.

    Friday- I stayed home and after I got the family off to school and work, I fell back into a deep sleep for nearly 5 hours.

    My body was craving rest.

    It’s been a hectic few months– between fundraisers I have to attend, kids activities, work, business, family, it’s been nonstop.

    My 45 year old body needs attention too. Running, spinning, boot camp, yoga, dance. (More on the dance later.)

    Nutrition and hydration are always top of mind.

    I’ve been sleeping ‘fairly’ early — averaging about 6hrs 45min a night. Ok so that’s on the low side. I do make up for it by sleeping nearly 9 hours on Saturday/Sunday. Not ideal I know. Our bodies are creatures of habit and consistent good sleep is way better than inconsistent good sleep.

    So– what was this knock-me-off-my-feet episode all about?

    You see, when something like this happens to me, it’s always an opportunity to go deep and see why.

    It’s never the thing you think it is.

    It wasn’t food poisoning.

    Or even the 24 hour stomach bug that it turned out to be, complete with fever and achy body.

    It’s something more.

    It’s a message to me.

    From me.

    From my Inner Guidance System.

    It’s a message to slow down.

    Not just the outer body shell that executes all the instructions of the mind.

    Slow down the mind.

    I have meditated off and on for over 15 years now.

    But lately, the meditations were few and far between.

    The only time I was truly meditating was during the twice a week 5am walk.

    And while moving meditations are powerful.

    Your conscious mind is still activated and keeping you safe from the 21st century versions of saber tooth tigers and wooly mammoths. That is; fight or flight is still activated.

    It is only when sitting in what your conscious mind can consider to be a completely safe environment that it can even remotely attempt to quiet down, and allow your subconscious mind to be accessed.

    So today- after I sent my family off to their various activities.

    I sat.

    I primed my body with a powerful breathing technique by Dr. Joe Dispenza and then I meditated.

    And through my meditation this is what I received:

    Be A Magnet

    Keep your vibration high

    Keep your vision clear

    Keep your intention focused

    Keep your body nourished

    And your soul satisfied

    with the love you share

    the company you keep

    the gratitude you emanate

    Be a magnet for the best and limitless possibilities of all time.

    I came out of meditation with this profound sense of gratitude and love. I didn’t realize it but tears were streaming down my face. I had envisioned a wonderful world and it felt so real.

    Peace

    Bliss

    Joy

    Abundance

    Love

    So much love.

    Isn’t this what John Lennon said when he asked us to Imagine?

    Be A Magnet for all that is wonderful and good in the world.

    Take a stand for love.

    Love is truly magical.

    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!

    Exercise is Poetry of the Body

    Exercise moves your physical body and occupies your human mind for you cannot exercise and think about anything other than what you are doing for fear of injury. Stay focused. Exercise helps you engage all parts of your body and mind and get them working in unison in a way that few other activities can do. Exercise is the execution of God-consciousness. It is poetry of the body just as meditation is poetry of the soul. 

    The Storm before the Calm

    You cannot plant seeds or plants into soil that hasn’t been stirred up or amended. You cannot stick seeds for new growth into existing soil beds that already have plants growing. There is no space or nutrients for this new growth. In the same way in order for you to have growth, in order to step into the next best thing, you too need to be stirred up, amended and woken up from your status quo so that you can Be, Do, Have the next best thing in your life. It feels like the storm before the calm for you because you’re being shaken out of your reverie. Human nature doesn’t like change. It is resisted. Hence change has to come in a way that makes it a necessary one, often one that is seemingly out of your control. However the more self aware you get, the more you will realize that you do get early warning signs about the change. You usually ignore or overlook them because they aren’t as painful or uncomfortable. Only once we get to that level of discomfort where it is untenable, then that is when you are willing to change. Your job is to get hyper aware and heed the early warning signs for yourself and then change will become second nature and you won’t resist it; rather you will welcome it. 

    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!

    Inner and Outer Problems

    I attended a Buddhist meditation class last week. The teacher talked about inner and outer problems in a way that really resonated with me. Outer problems are the ones we have no control over- the ones that happen to us as a part of living our lives- our car breaks down or someone cuts us off on the freeway, an accident backs up traffic and makes us late to an important meeting or job interview, people talk to us badly or any myriad of things– these all comprise outer problems and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

    The inner problems are the ways we chose to deal with these outer problems. We can get super aggravated, retaliate by cutting off someone else or chase after that person to flip them off, get really upset and develop anxiety or have sleepless nights and really make ourselves and those around us miserable because of how badly we are being treated by someone in our lives whether it be a co-worker, a boss, a parent, a spouse or a friend or anyone else for that matter.

    This really got me thinking about this topic because I can certainly relate to this. In the past year I had a situation going on with me where for months I was in what I felt was a ‘stuck’ place– I didn’t feel like I had a way out with this person’s behavior and I couldn’t understand why I was being treated this way. I started sleeping badly, getting into fights with my husband Jason, and my 7yo started acting out which made things worse– only in hindsight after I extricated myself from that situation (and things at home went back to normal) was I able to realize that my husband wasn’t trying to ‘be controlling’ my daughter wasn’t ‘acting out’ rather it was ME! They were the mirror for my thoughts and actions and were merely ‘doing’ what I was…except they weren’t really doing anything– I was!! This was such a huge realization to me.

    How you chose to let this affect you is in your hands. Typically when someone treats you badly or says something that hurts it’s them using you as a mirror that reflects how they feel- and because they dislike how they feel and they don’t know how to articulate it so they lash out against those that are closest to them- usually family and people they care for and interact with on a regular basis. You can’t change them, but you can change you!

    I decided that my self-worth wasn’t tied to this person’s treatment of me, that no one gets to treat me this way- and that I ALWAYS have a choice! ALWAYS!

    There are two types of suffering in the world– the one is where you learn from it and never go through the same experience again– and then the other where you didn’t actually learn and implement your lessons and so the way the Universe works is that you continue to experience the same lesson over and over– what is it that we are taught in school at an early age? Repetition is a pillar of learning! Life lessons are no different. It took me 10 years and three different experiences to learn this particular self-worth lesson. I consider myself blessed to have had such great ‘teachers’ because without the angst they caused- I’d never have had these breakthroughs.

    So what can you do when you find yourself in what feels like and untenable situation?
    1. Remember that we give words a lot of power. We can take that power back.
    2. By being hurt/offended/upset by someone’s actions or words against us we are giving away our power to that person- and we can TAKE IT BACK!!
    3. You always have a choice! Extricate yourself from the situation as quickly as your time, situation and resources allow.
    4. Mentally disconnect from that situation and remind yourself that you control how you think and feel. And YES you can control your mind.
    5. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you! Use them like an AA sponsor and ask to connect with them when you’re feeling low! There’s no better feeling when your mentor, well wisher or biggest fan tells you how great you are because they truly believe that!
    6. Affirm daily that you are strong and that you are in control of how people behave with you.
    7. The world’s greatest thought leaders and humanitarians all shared the same message- Love and Forgive. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nonviolence (Ahimsa) movement in India is noted for literally ‘turning the other cheek’ and he’s not alone. I’ve never read the Bible- but someone once told me that the word Forgiveness appears more often than the word Love.
    8. Most of all love yourself above all else. Love yourself the way you love your children. Imagine how you would respond if someone hurt your child, said mean things or physically hurt them- that pain would be unbearable — it is that emotion and feeling that I want you to tap into when you love yourself. When you do that– nothing and no one will be able to say or do anything negative to you because you will have taken away their power to do so!

    Make a decision today that you will not let your feelings run away with you. That you’re in control and that you can’t be hurt by someone else because their words/actions have no power over you. It’s your time to shine!

    Sending you light and love

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