Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Moving into the Winter of our lives

Here in Minnesota it seems we went from (a late) summer right into fall. One day it was in the 80's and the next it was in the 50's and hasn't rebounded to anywhere in between. It's been cold and rainy, so much so that it prompted me to ponder, "October showers bring November....?"

While I wish we had some warm or at least warmer, fall days before the snow loomed, I know it's coming one way or the other: Winter. Alas, don't fear the winter. After many late evenings, feeling sleepy from all the sun. After time spent outdoors as much as possible. After doing everything we normally do in our daily lives, AND fitting in barbecues and baseball practice and walks outside, I for one am actually looking forward to winter.


Winter is a time to snuggle into your house and snuggle with your family. Watch a movie and eat popcorn, cook some homemade soup, get caught up on household projects or just sleep a little more. I often say I don't have a favorite season. My favorite season is all of them, as they begin and we shift from one set of activities to another. As the newness of each season approaches with anticipation we look forward to something different, even as we go about all the same routines and habits of old.

Speaking of old habits and routines, the changing of the seasons is also a little time for reflection. As you move into this winter, take time to look back, before the year is over completely, on what has transpired. Is this year going the direction you intended? Have you accomplished those things you wanted to do? Has it gone the way you wanted? Are you getting the results you want in your life?
Either way, I think winter in general, as opposed to just January, is a fantastic time to make some changes. Winter is a time for staying in, for being together, for self reflection. You go out less, you interact less, you spend less. Just like in the current economy. Sometimes life is lively and exciting and growing and expanding (summer) and sometimes life is calm and peaceful and introspective and reflective (winter). What will you do in this winter, both of season and of economic cycles? Go with the flow and take a look back at yourself.

Self reflection can mean reviewing those goals you set earlier in the year, or earlier in your life. It can also mean you find what's not working so well and find ways to make it better. Read more books, educate yourself, find someone you can talk through your problems and issues with, take charge of your health, spend more time with your family. Take this time, this winter of your life, to do whatever it is you need to do to prepare yourself for summer and the next cycle of expansion!

"There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. "
~Ruth Stout

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FUN

Have you heard the phrase, "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about?"

There is some truth to that. What if FUN is what it's all about? What if playing games and singing songs and dancing around is what it's all about? What if?

Then working your fingers to the bone, accumulating debt and things and being tired and crabby is NOT what it's all about. Then many of us are missing out on a really important part of life. The people having fun are the ones we're attracted to. Deep down don't we all want to be included in the party?

I recently road my bike by a graveyard and saw a grave stone that was prepared for a couple. It had their names and dates of birth engraved on it. It had their children's names on it. It also said, "Proud members of the Fun Bunch." Wow, what a concept. They seem to me to be fully prepared for the end of their lives and fully aware that having fun is what it's all about.

"Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have FUN, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process." ~Anthony Robbins

I asked my children what was fun to them. A bouncy house. A slip 'n' slide. Fishing. Watching fireworks. Oh, to have a child's eyes (and lack of self-consciousness) when it comes to fun.
I know an adult's idea of fun can be a little different than a child's. Maybe it is the same, just done in a different way. You can dance, but take lessons. You can sing, maybe just in the shower. You can play, it's just not duck, duck, goose. Or maybe it is.

Here is a list I recently made of ways to spark fun. Please choose 3 and do them. Today.

  • Listen to music loud in the car by yourself singing loudly. Roll the windows down. Sing to the people in the car next to you. Use your thumb as a microphone.
  • Play tennis. Especially if you've never played before. Pink balls preferred. By yourself - try to do both sides.
  • Wear shirts with funny sayings or pictures on them.
  • Learn some jokes that really make you laugh. Then try to tell them to as many people as possible. At least until you can do it without laughing. (here's a good one: A pirate walks into a bar and he has a ship's steering wheel attached to the front of his pants. The bartender asks him, "What's up with the steering wheel?' and the pirate answers, "Arrr, it's driving me nuts")
  • Eat a donut. With lots of icky frosting and sprinkles. Or maybe pancakes with sprinkles on them.
  • Dance. Anywhere. Anytime.
  • Bury yourself in the sand at the beach. Bonus points for having kids bury you. Bonus, bonus if they're not your kids.
  • Play video games. Especially simulator ones you get to sit on - like a motorcycle or ATV. Or wii.
  • 3 words: Dance Dance Revolution
  • Go to a music concert. Preferably loud rock or a music festival. Don't forget to crowd surf.
  • Make up new words to songs.
  • Jump in a bouncy house, or on a trampoline. Bonus points for a flip that doesn't land you on your head.
  • Get a pogo stick or a hula hoop.
  • Go on a frog hunt. Bonus points if you catch one and it pees on your hand.
  • Go watch fireworks. Outside in your pajamas, laying on a blanket right underneath where they are being shot off.
The last one we did on Saturday night. Enjoy.

video

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stop and Smell the Milkweed

Take time to stop and smell the roses.

You know what that means. Slow down. Take time to appreciate the sights and sounds (and smells) around you. Stop rushing around and go with the flow. Stop, bend over and smell a flower for goodness sake!

We all rush around so much trying to DO that we forget, no, we won't ALLOW ourselves to stop for anything. Not our food, not our sleep, not our health, not our kids, and certainly not for a flower. Have you ever not taken a break just to go use the bathroom because you were urgently trying to finish something? How bad is it when we can't even stop to use the toilet??

Maybe you do take care of yourself. Maybe you do use the restroom, eat good food, play with your kids and smell the roses.

Do you stop to smell the Milkweed??

As hard as it may seem sometimes to stop for the things we know are really great (the smell of roses), it may seem crazy to think we should stop to check out things that at first glance don't look so hot (a milkweed).

For those of you who don't know, a milkweed is, well, a weed. It's a wild plant that in it's common form is found in the northeastern and north central areas of the U.S. and adjacent areas of Canada. It's called the milkweed because if broken it leaks a sap that looks like milk.
It can grow to between 4 to 6 feet tall. It is poisonous.

At first glance (and with no help from it's name) the milkweed is nothing special. If you found it in your yard or garden you would probably pluck it out. But if you looked closer you'd find an extraordinary plant. It may not have the conventional beauty of a rose, but it has it's own beauty and a whole host of surprises awaiting anyone willing to stop and smell the milkweed.
  • The milkweed has over 140 known species and it's flowers range from white to orange and a wide spectrum of pinks.
  • It's filaments (that carry the seeds once the milkweed pods open) have been used as insulation and some say are better than down feathers.
  • The milkweed sap is a natural remedy for warts and poison ivy.
  • Milkweed nectar was used as a natural sweetener by Native Americans and Voyageurs
  • The Genus for milkweed, Asclepius, is named after the Greek god of healing, because of the many folk-medicinal uses for the milkweed plants.
  • Milkweed plants and nectar are beneficial for many insects, including bees and the most well known milkweed feeding insect - the Monarch Butterfly.
When you do slow down in life, don't just stop for the beautiful things, the things that everyone else says you should enjoy, stop for the unusual, the different, the undervalued, the seemingly insignificant. Because the best part about taking the time to stop and check out something that we overlook and undervalue, the weed, is that...

...the flowers smell better than roses!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Your View, My View

I posted this awhile ago on a blog for my e-course, Awaken to Joy, around the subject of Communication. Laura and I are discussing this topic on our Awaken to Joy radio show today. Enjoy!

Your View, My View
It's important to remember that in every situation there really isn't a truth or reality, it is only your perception or view or evaluation of what is happening. Even so-called objective bystanders are only speaking from their viewpoint.
In any given situation one person may feel angry, indignant, laughed at or criticized. While the other person may be feeling the exact opposite! So which one is right? Is there a right?
Try watching a conversation between two people and see if you can observe without taking sides or forming your own opinion. Notice how each person has their own viewpoint and it becomes their own reality. Then can you do it in a conversation you are participating in?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things I know to be True

No one else is looking.

Everyone else is just as afraid as you are, it just may be of something else.

Happiness is possible.

Ice is cold, fire is hot.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

3 year olds do everything opposite on purpose.

Everyone does want to have meaningful work.

The larger the company the more inefficient and ineffective it becomes.

There is a reason for everything.

It is always darkest before the dawn.

We all just want to be loved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Leisure

I recently participated in a great visualization exercise. This is the second time I've done it, although it was slightly different than the first. The essence of the exercise is to imagine yourself 5 years into the future, living your dream life. You picture yourself living in the house of your dreams or the in the city you've always wanted to live in. You imagine your day - how and where you wake up, what you eat for breakfast, who you spend your day with and what you do for work (or not, as the case may be).

The first time I did this, I was then asked to imagine 4 years, then 3 years, then 2 and so on discovering the point at which I couldn't "see" the dream anymore. When does it feel like it's no longer possible? When does my mind start to say, "no, I'm not ready yet" or "that just isn't possible"? A very telling experience in itself.

Yesterday was a little different and equally as telling. We went to the 5 year place and as I imagined my dream life I was to think about how I felt about different areas, say work, home or family. I had a before and after for a little bit of comparison and what struck me as being most different was my sense of leisure in my dream life. It was peaceful, deliberate, purposeful. It wasn't rushed, frantic, panicked or hurried. In a word, leisurely.

In our lives we so often think that things will be better when. When I get a different job, I'll make more money. When I find the perfect spouse I won't be lonely. When things slow down I'll spend more time with my kids. Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is WHEN is never going to happen. The good news is, WHEN is NOW. And some things you can literally change right this instant just by changing your attitude.

For me, leisure has felt like something I'll get when. When the work season is over. When I finish this project. When the house is clean. blah, blah, blah. That's my old story. New story: I can do everything with this feeling of leisure I apparently covet so much in my dreams.

For today I'm going to take a deep breath before I start my car, turn on my computer, get dressed, brush my teeth, speak to my kids. Today I'm going to purposefully move a little bit slower. Today I'm going to talk a little slower, eat a little slower, drive a little slower. Leisure is the theme of the day. I might even go put on a leisure suit to celebrate. Well, maybe not.

Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

Many of my family, friends and students know that I have a smoothie every morning for breakfast. I am a huge advocate of eating breakfast and since changing my morning bowl of cereal to this smoothie I find I have more energy, energy for longer and don't get hungry as soon. In fact, this morning I didn't have it and I found myself hungry at 10am and wanting to take a nap. That's how I used to feel all the time.

Now, I am not a nutritionist (yet!) and I do want to give full credit to someone who is. This recipe is taken from The Fat Flush Plan, written by Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S. Don't let the title fool you, it's really more of a cleanse or detox than your average diet. It does have the benefit of losing weight for many people. It's not something I do consistently but something I do parts of or, when I feel like I need to cleanse, do for several weeks. She is a (holistic)nutrition specialist and if nothing else, read the first few chapters to learn how our bodies get out of balance and why these ingredients are so important. I'll try to summarize where I can, but for more in depth info check out the book.

For those of you in the Minneapolis metro area, I've also figured out an approximate cost and calories per serving (this may vary depending on prices where you live, keep reading for some cost saving tips* too). I know some of the ingredients are costly when you buy them all at once, but each smoothie is cheaper than a medium latte at Starbucks (and a whole lot healthier).

2 oz. of pure (100%) cranberry juice [$1.25 per serv/25 cal] - for liver/kidney health
6 oz. of water (0/0)
1 Tablespoon of Omega-3 oil (flaxseed oil preferred, I use Udo's brand) [$.71 per serv/120 cal] - for "good" fat/essential oil/brain health
1 cup of fruit (I use frozen strawberries and blueberries most often, can also use raspberries, mango or cherries) [strawberries: $.75 per serv/50 cal]
1 banana (optional) [$.20 per serv/80 cal]
1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed [$.03 per serv/30 cal] - for fiber
1 packet of Stevia (an all natural sweetener from the Stevia plant, comes in individual packets) [.12 per serv/0 cal] - is also a source of fiber
1 serving of whey protein powder (I get Whey Factors brand and love the taste- be careful what you get here, some are not that great tasting) [$.86 per serv/80 cal]

Mix all ingredients in a blender, pour and drink. Enjoy!

*The biggest cost items are the oil, protein powder and fruit.
I based price of the oil and protien powder on the brand that I buy, which I get at Lakewinds Co-op. You may find cheaper alternatives that still fit your taste, or the price may be different based on where you shop.
Cranberry juice is probably the most expensive ingredient. You can buy frozen cranberries (about $7 for 20 oz.) and cook them with (4 c. water to 12 oz. berries) then strain to get 32 oz of juice or 16 days worth (26 cents per serving vs. 1.25 per serving for pre-made juice)
Fruit varies greatly in price. I based price here on a 4 lb. bag of Cub brand strawberries. I have found 6 lb. bags at Costco for the same price (25 cents cheaper per serv). During strawberry season I go to local farms and buy strawberries to freeze myself and that cost is considerably lower. I buy blueberries during that season at a low cost as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Can you be a beginner?

Beginners mind. It's something referred to in Zen philosophy and other eastern philosophies. It means that you approach a situation, or life in general, as if you are a beginner and know nothing. I think it it has many purposes. The most basic is that you know you are not living by your ego when you approach something with a beginner's mind.

Can you do it? When you go to work do you say to yourself, "I can do my job, I know this, this is easy" or do you say, "what can I learn today? what is new about his job?". When you are around kids, do you act ever the authoritative knowledgeable parent or can you stop and actually listen, eager to hear what is on young minds? Now here's my favorite. Can you attend a class, let's say a Yoga class, and do everything the teacher asks, the way the teacher asks as if you have never done it before in your life? Or do you just do your own thing because you know how to do it and don't need to wait for the instructions.

If you approach something assuming that you somehow know everything about it, there is resistance in you somewhere, there is ignorance lingering. There is a lesson for you, whether you know it or not. The good news is that you have great opportunity to learn.

I have realized that there are only 2 types of people who go to a teacher. Beginners and Resistores. You can't tell true beginners from those in a higher consciousness that are exhibiting "beginners mind". Everyone else is resisting. What, I can't tell you. That is your lesson to learn.

What are you resisting today?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chaos can be messy at times

Forgive me for my little rant. I need to get this off my chest. Once again I've listened to a little too much news and I'm getting tired. Only this time I think it's brought me to a realization.

I know why we are in this mess.

We've stopped giving a shit about each other. And ourselves, for that matter. We can't tolerate anything different than ourselves. Hell, we can't even stand to hear it let alone consider it with an open mind. We don't have any patience left. (is that somewhere with our sanity?) Imperfection is a plague amongst us, to be shunned and rid at all costs. Not to mention love. As my mother says, "Where's the love?" I don't know, Mom, I don't know.

Somewhere along the line, someone or a whole buncha someone's, decided that fear was a better place to be. It'd be better if we were afraid of the devil, or sex, or being able to read and learn, or taking our health into our own hands, or each other. So, who's grand idea was that?

First it was power, then it was money and now it's power and money. It's the Cruella DeVille in the big fat Cadillac and fear is the 80's diesel fuel sending it careening around the corners of our life. Off to kill the puppies. Again.

Everyone's in an uproar over AIG. Bonuses. Bailouts. Simulus. Socialism. Wanna know the real secret? Do you really want to know who is to blame?

Every person who has committed an act of greed. Every act of selfishness, every unkind word, every snub or judgment. Some of us are better at it than others. I've seen the enemy, and it is us.

I imagine that just about every person at AIG had good intentions. They all just wanted to make a little money, right? For some that was a living wage (the janitors? customer service reps?) and some wanted millions (because that's what all the big wig Jones are getting!). Nothing wrong with wanting money. Except when it doesn't include compassion for your fellow man.

Just like the current presdential administration has good intentions. Why wouldn't the president want to fix the economy? He - and every person who works for him - would be crazy not to. So for those of you pissing and moaning about the "socialism" and the "just won't work" and the "it'll fail miserably"... If you don't have any better ideas or you're not willing to collaborate with others to solve the problem, just shut it.

Let me give you an example. Let's pretend we're all Amish. We have to build a big barn for all our cows or they'll all run away and we won't have food. (remember: no food=bad) We don't have electricity or big machines so it takes every able bodied person to help. Complicated sketches and blueprints that everyone can't read (contracts) means the barn won't get built (no food=bad). Whining that it will never work, is leading us into doom and in general is a bad idea will mean you get kicked out (no food=bad). Deciding that you deserve more cows than everyone else (bonuses) will get you stoned (stoned=bad). Do you see where I'm going with this? As I say to my kids, find a way to solve the problem by working together or go to your room and cry by yourself.

If we cared about each other, we wouldn't need so many laws. If people had integrity anymore, there wouldn't be a need for 300 page contracts with clauses I don't understand. If we all loved ourselves, we could send the drug lords back to Mexico and we could close the eating disorder clinics. If we had compassion for our fellow man, we could sit back and share our money and enjoy those luxuries knowing that there is always enough to go around, instead of wondering if we'll even survive the next 50 years.

What will mess and chaos do for you? Will it send you further into hate and despair or will you use it to wake up and be kind to mankind?

I thought so.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Let go and Trust

"At that point, I came to appreciate the ease by which I could release what I thought was for life and understood that reality was about having the courage to let go and trust." ~ Dr. Christine Page

What are you clinging to? To what do you need to let go of?

Take a deep breath in and exhale, letting go of whatever needs letting go of...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Luck, Schmuck

I am very fortunate to have really amazing friends and family. Some would say I'm just lucky. Since I do believe in the Laws of the Universe, I believe that luck really doesn't exist. And what, for most people, would appear to be luck in others is usually the result of focused intention, constant attention and ardent action. Meaning, it usually is the result of a lot more work than you can see.

I have been on quite a journey over the last 10 years, or really more I'm sure. It's hard to say where it all began. Maybe it was in Grade School when I knew I was going to do something important in this world. Maybe it was in High School when I was depressed and just wanted out of that feeling. Maybe it was in College when I got constant headaches and sought every form of treatment. Or maybe it really was that job with the people that "drove" me to panic attacks. It matters not because they all brought me to this path I am on.

That path was initially just a way out of bodily pain and general life discomfort. The aforementioned panic attacks, chronic knee pain, headaches, stress, not liking my jobs. The discomfort of my life was enough to cause me to seek something more. I was open and ready. Now my path is happiness and joy. I have found things - ideas, concepts, ways of thinking - that truly to bring me peace and joy. Now I strive to be there, in that place, as much as possible. Recently one of my business partners said they didn't like that word - strive - because it denoted working hard. I said, "well, aren't we?" Peace, joy and love is a full time job. If you don't give all your waking hours to it, the alternate is fear and hate. And I for one don't want that.

As I said, I am fortunate to have amazing friends and family. And some would say that they have given me much on this journey. They have. It's good to have friends and it's good to have connections. But one thing I realized today is that most of my important learning moments have been just me. I've had a lot of "A-ha!" moments on this path. Lately they've been more solitary. The insights I gained from reading a book. The soul searching after thoughts of my dad. The introspection during meditation.

Having the best friends in the world doesn't mean they have the power to change you. They may have been there along the way and they may support you in your growth, but they can't change the thoughts in your head. You have to be ready to just dive in, knowing that everything will be OK and trusting in the process.

"There are no slick solutions to the dilemmas...for self-individualization is asking us to metaphorically step out alone and, in truth, others may not understand..." ~Dr. Christine Page

In the end it's all you, baby. As they say in the movie Kung Fu Panda, "There is no secret ingredient..."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Panic vs. Confidence

I am tired of listening to talk about the economy. I realize that is what's going on, besides the Oscars which are now over, but still, I'm tired of it. I've avoided talking about it myself because I choose to believe that you get what you put your attention on. Trust me, I want my attention anywhere else. It's not that I'm putting my head in the sand. I'm just choosing to focus on the good things that are still happening. And yes, there are still plenty of good things happening, in case you hadn't noticed.

Tonight I heard a discussion on the radio about whether President Obama should give us false hope and talk positively about the future or should be more "realistic" and tell it like it is. "He has to choose his words wisely", "He needs to act as the Cheerleader-in-Chief", "I just wish he'd focus more on confidence and portray that to the American people.". True. And shouldn't we all? Have you listened to the news lately? Sometimes it seems as if the President is the only one staying even somewhat positive about it. I even heard that someone alluded to the fact that we may be in a downward spiral we won't come back from. Please, are we that special? Pretty all-or-nothing thinking if you ask me.

The fact is that we probably will drop about as far as we went up. By now I'm sure you've heard of the Law of Attraction. There are several other Laws of the universe you may not have heard of. One of them is the Law of Rhythm:
"Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates." - The Kybalion.
Which essentially means that the market will go up, the market will go down. The extent to which the market goes down is the extent to which the market goes up. We had some really great times and now we're not. Doesn't mean it doesn't suck for a bunch of people right now, but it's happening nonetheless.

What disheartens me, although not surprising, is everyone's reaction to it. Fear, panic, anger - regular signs of resistance. Resistance to change at the very least, resistance to growth (and I mean personal and spiritual growth) at the very most. This downfall, this turmoil, is a sure calling to make some major changes in ourselves and our world. I've listened to lots of people talk and there are several observations I've made.

1. You can't solve a problem in the same mindset that created that problem. Albert Einstein said that. I think everyone can agree that he had the genius in him. Now think about that statement really hard. We cannot solve this economic crisis by the same mindset that created it. The spend foolish, cutting taxes solves everything, partisan, name calling, greedy and corrupt mindset. Or as I like to call it, the old-crabby-white-man syndrome (my apologies to any older caucasian gentlemen that do not fit this description). This is NOT a stereotype of older white men. It's more a fitting description of most of the people who've a. driven us to this mess and b. refuse to take any personal responsibility for it and c. are the least willing to wake up to spiritual and personal development. We cannot keep doing the same old things. They just don't work anymore. There, I've said it. Now I feel better.

2. And yes, talking about it does just make it worse. I've been out in stores. If someone hadn't told me that people were buying less, I wouldn't know it. The people minding the books might know, but for many people it wouldn't have looked any different! It wouldn't have unless, say, the nightly news and every newspaper and website in the world weren't blasting headlines that foretold the end of the world. Nothing begets fear like fear, nothing begets panic like panic. No matter how much we like to think differently, we are much like lemmings and we do like to follow the crowd. We have nothing to fear but fear itself (and the people who perpetuate it).

3. While we're at it, let's explore that lemming idea a little further. I think many of the psychological tools of influence apply here - social proof, commitment, consistency... They have their place, but man, we're in a bind here, can't someone just think on their own for goodness sake?

I've started on my little diatribe and now I need to step back and let it go. I don't want to fall prey to one of my own complaints (the same mindset and all). I just hope that we can all have some, well, hope. If the Black Plague couldn't kill a society, then I doubt this will. This is just a push - a really big one, mind you, but a push still - to make some major changes. Personally, spiritually, financially, mentally. If you lost your job, explore what you really want to be when you grow up and go do it. If you are scared and feeling lack, spend some time appreciating what you do have. If you are fearful of the future, focus instead on the present, since we really don't know what the future will bring it doesn't help to worry about it.

I just received this in an e-mail. I think it pretty much sums it up:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.
Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The great blue unknown

Fear of the unknown. Isn't that really at the root of most fears? I mean, that's the entire future of everything! Unknown, that is. It's called worry and it has to do with concern for anything that hasn't happened yet. Or really the imagined future. What if... this and what if... that. What if, indeed.

Does this fear hold you back? Are you not doing something because of a fear? Do you worry too much? Then you need a Moving Through Fear guide book. I haven't written it yet, but I imagine it would look something like this.

Chapter 1. Fear is everywhere. You could be afraid of everything. Anything can kill you at anytime without warning. Get over it.

Chapter 2. If you succumb to your fears you will not do anything. You will live a boring life. In fact it's pretty much impossible to not do anything. Most people probably couldn't if they tried. Lie on the floor all day. Is that what you really want?

Chapter 3. Decide which fears you can live with and which you can't. Do you really need to be around snakes? Can you avoid living where earthquakes happen? Who said you need to jump out of an airplane? Eating food and exercising - yes. Going out in public - probably. Speaking in public - maybe. Using public restrooms - optional. Pick your battles.

Chapter 4. Worrying doesn't change anything. It's a waste of time. Especially if it's over and done with (yes, I know people who worry about things that have already happened!) You may think you can't help yourself. You can. Trust me, waste of time. You have better things to do.

Chapter 5. Fear just keeps you small and limited. You were meant for bigger and better things. You want bigger and better, right? Or would you be willing to admit you want small and insignificant?

Chapter 6. Fear makes you do things you normally wouldn't do. Think about animals. When in fear, say cornered, they will bite, scratch, attack, maim, kill their own babies, push others off a ledge, gnaw their own leg off. Oh wait, I guess humans do that too. I think you can find a better way than gnawing your leg off, don't you?

Chapter 7. There is no such thing as NO FEAR, despite the brand name to the contrary. Without fear you would be paralyzed. So, just to be clear -you can live without worry, you can't live without fear.

Chapter 8. Now that you know you can't get rid of it altogether, figure out a way to move beyond it, through it, past it. It's called Courage. The people who have lived through the most fear have the most courage.

Chapter 9. In order to move through fear, find something more important than the fear. Your friends, your family, your children. How about yourself? YOUR livelihood. YOUR well-being. YOUR sanity. YOUR happiness. Isn't THAT worth it?

Chapter 10. Now, get out there and GO!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

FEAR

In the Awaken to Joy program, our topic for the month is Fear (and Unmet Needs). I've been thinking about Fear a lot this year, partly because I've set my theme for the year to be Personal Power.

Creating Personal Power has a little to do with getting beyond Fear. One of the things I'm doing is actively seeking out things that push me out of my comfort zone. I didn't realize how challenging that would prove to be.

First, I have to find these things. Great discussions have ensued. Challenges have been suggested. Lists have been made. I've determined that this means I have to find things that, A. Do make me a little fearful, B. Are things that I am, in fact, remotely interested in, and C. Things that are feasible, for the most part.

For example, sky diving is something I am somewhat afraid of. Maybe I would do it, yet I've also determined it is something I am not the least bit interested in. It would probably cost more than I'm willing to pay. If I die 60 years from now without ever having gone sky diving, I will still die contented. I'm not sure sky diving would support my growth, nor am I sure it would bring me strength and power.

One of the things on my list is to skate in an Inline Skating Marathon in September. Inline skating is something I used to do a lot. Since having kids I haven't done it very much. I exercise very frequently, but to do a marathon I'd have to increase my strength and stamina plus get reacquainted with my skates. It won't cost me that much and it is something I'm a little nervous about doing. Check, check, check.

Most of us avoid things we are fearful of. Like the plague. Or sky diving. This is a good thing. For the most part. Yet, sometimes it is good to examine our fears and determine if they really are necessary. Fear is a learned behavior. Fear is a learned emotion. Often times something happened to condition us to fear. Or everyone else does it so we do too. Like snakes. Why does everyone hate snakes?

Do you really know what you are afraid of? Do you know why? Can you break free from the bonds of your own Fear? For me, Personal Power is about building the strength, internal and external, to handle anything that comes my way. To realize my fears and determine their validity. To dismiss them as unwarranted or decide I'm going to keep moving anyway. I want to be fearless. There is no joy in hiding anymore.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rise Above

"We truly believe you can rise up above anger. That is not to say we rise up above all of our anger. We are still human and, as such, anger will appear. But with a higher consciousness, we are able to see more perspectives; we understand more, therefore we are able to choose different avenues than anger. After all, traffic is merely a whole bunch of cars going the same direction you are; a slow line at the grocery store is just other people who are also buying groceries for their families; and children make mistakes all the time, as do we all. "

Today, at least for today, think of yourself as a better person. The kind of person who can put yourself in another person's shoes and imagine what they must be going through. Right now, in this world, there are a lot of people who are hurting. They are hurting because they are afraid. They are hurting because they are hungry. They are hurting because they are confused and don't know what will happen next. Take stock of your life and be grateful for everything you do have. Step away from your pride and ego and let yourself be the calm one or the compassionate one. Be the one that helps another human being simply because you can.

Humans have a tremendous ability to rush to the aid of others in traumatic situations- a baby in a well, hurricane victims, cancer patients, plane crashes. Yet if we don't visibly see the source of suffering we allow ourselves to get irritated if people don't act the way we want them to. Enough is enough. Just for today reach out to someone, ANY ONE. Be a better person than you normally are.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Practice makes more.

"Practice kindness, and you start to become kind.
Practice discipline, and you start to become disciplined.
Practice forgiveness, and you start to become forgiving.
Practice charity, and you start to become charitable.
Practice gentleness, and you start to become gentle."

(Marianne Williamson)

Sensing a theme here?

I've suffered for some time from a so-called lack of will power. At least that's what I've told myself. And now I've said, "Self, this is bullshit. It's time you got off your duff and just did it anyway." And so I have. I now have the power of my will. At least that's what I'm telling myself and by God it's working.

James Arthur Ray says that we all suffer from ADD, at least when it comes to our misery. I'll add to that our laziness, our apathy, and our distractions. All the time, energy and money spent on the useless, the pointless and the negative. It's time to take back our attention and redirect into something meaningful and life changing. Why not? Were you planning on having a routine boring life? My guess is that wasn't what YOU wanted to be when you grew up.

So, what do you want to be? Just as important, how can you get there? I'm starting by acting as if. I wanted a meditation practice so instead of saying I didn't have the time or space, I changed it to "I meditate every day". And now I do. "I want to be strong." I go to the gym every day. "I want a strong immune system." I eat well and take vitamins. "I want to write." Yes I do.

And when things aren't going the way I want I remember that if I want to be it, I must start by doing it. No one else is ever going to do it for me and it sure as hell isn't going to just land in my lap.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Featured Yogini

I'm so excited that my teacher and friend, Laura Erdman-Luntz has been featured on the ShareYoga blog, including a quote from me! I hope you get a chance to read the article. Congrats, Laura!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Detox

"But the spiritual journey, the path of recovery and personal growth, is a detoxification process in which we bring up and out the negative beliefs we have carried with us from the past and that now poison the present."
- Marianne Williamson

Like my anger?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Anger

Don't be misled. I'm not angry. At least not right now. There was a time when I wasn't angry. Then there was a time when I wasn't angry and didn't show it. That was a long time. That's not to say that I was angry all the time. It's just that I just didn't get angry enough or loud enough in my anger. The problem is, as with anything, if you stifle it long enough it's bound to blow.

Then one day I woke up and I was angry. Really angry. Except I didn't even know I was angry. I just became what I felt was "violent". Please don't be misled. I didn't beat my husband or my children. I didn't throw things (unless you count pillows). And I didn't hurt myself. But I did see a rage I had never seen before in myself. I yelled. A lot. I'm almost embarrassed to say how much I yelled. I yelled at strangers on the phone. I yelled at my kids. And I swore. A lot.

Then one day I realized that I was angry. Great. Now what? Angry at what? Circumstances forced this anger to the surface and I got to really experience some raw anger. I was angry that I didn't have help. I was angry that I didn't ask for help. I was angry that I couldn't give my kids more of my energy. I was angry for having to be their everything - maid, servant, housekeeper, chef, chauffeur, personal hygienist, stylist. I was angry at being pregnant when I didn't want to be. I was angry at my body not being able to do what I wanted it to do, what it used to do. I was angry at being alone. I was angry at being alone and not being able to be angry at anyone else for it. I was angry at how women get treated. I was angry at and about everything.

Once I figured out that I was angry and what I was angry about, I let myself just be angry. Just be. I just made sure I didn't hurt anyone (at least physically) and I just went with it. Eventually I tired of it. I wore it out. I ran it and ran it and ran it until it was just out of breathe. Yelling felt old and useless. Swearing just seemed ineffective. I was starting to be done. It was good and it was done.

Now anger is one of the spectrum of emotions I feel. Part of my repertoire, a flavor I taste sometimes when the meal and moment is in need. I explored anger. I've determined when it's really anger and when it's merely irritation, or frustration or annoyance. There's a path to anger. Sometimes there are signs that appear and I try to remember that they lead to anger. Then I can remember that I don't have to go there. I might if the time and the situation calls for it. But then again, I might not.

Monday, January 5, 2009

WoYoPracMo

It's that time of year again! WoYoPracMo is back!

In case you aren't up to speed on tongue-twister-esque social site names, WoYoPracMo stands for World Yoga Practice Month. If you are a yoga practitioner or teacher, please join me and other Yogis and Yoginis in dedicating yourself to practicing yoga every day in January. You can set up your own page, add photos, blog about it, read other people's blogs and you may even get a prize!

When you join, come be my friend - search Members for Breezeatdawn. I want to hear how YOUR practice is.

Need some inspiration? The Musasana pose of the month is Vasisthasana, better known as side plank pose OR better known as the one my students groan about. I love it though! It's great for strengthening the core, legs and upper body. Let me know how it goes for you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Farewell to the Year.

     Walking in the night;
Snow is falling,
     A farewell to the year.
Shara

The word farewell is from Middle English (faren wel) and means a wish of happiness or welfare at parting.  It also means a last look at, or reference to something.  I have also read that it was used previously to wish someone a good and safe journey.  I think it's safe to say all of these apply to 2008. 
I hope that you, as I do, have no regrets about the last year.  It was a spectacular year in terms of my personal growth and I believe has set me up for bigger and better things to come.  Things didn't always go the way I wanted or planned.  I have learned to go with the flow and be more in harmony.  Now, things may not go the way I want but I do understand that in some way or another I have asked for it and I can't always dictate exactly how I get it.  Be it physical things, experiences or life lessons.
As I have no regrets I do wish the last year well.  In other words, I depart in happiness.  I plan to take what I've learned - the things I liked - about last year and repeat them with bigger and better results.  Likewise, for all those that have touched my life, or I theirs, I wish them happiness and well being too.
I look forward to a good and safe journey for 2008 and beyond.  A recent Muselan discussion regarding New Year's Resolutions brought up the idea of a theme for the year, instead of a list of goals.  Some of the themes offered by others included creativity, adventure, nonattachment and growth.  I had initially set a theme of Bigger and Better.  But recently, one of my friends who is turning 40 in a few weeks told me this is her year of "me".  I said, "More power to you!".  So in the spirit of a bigger and better me, let 2009 be the year of Personal Power!

In the New Year may you all be happy, healthy, wealthy, wise and whole!