Your End of Summer To Do List

butterflyI think we can all agree that is has been a really odd year. I’ve been feeling pretty stagnate like I want some big change. I sure got some big change when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of June and died five weeks later. His death ignited a fire in me and while I’m grieving I also realize I need to make some change happen. Death can ignite change. I’ll write more about grieving in another article. I’m sad and bummed that my Dad died, I really do hate that he died but I’ve accepted it and I’ve also used his death as my fire.

I’ve been writing this blog for awhile now putting down recipes and thoughts so I can express myself and also keep a place for all these ideas I come up with. My Dad’s death in a way was symbolic of a chapter closing and a new one opening up. Shortly after his death we experienced the solar eclipse, I think we can all say the solar eclipse was a metaphor for a chapter closing and another one opening up.

Really we can ignite change and create new chapters every day when we wake up or when we go to sleep. I’ve had a million things buzzing around in my head lately. In particular things that I want out of life. All those thoughts started to make me anxious and made me feel overwhelmed. I looked at those things that I want out of life and simplified it – these are action items. At work, I have an ongoing task list for all my action items. So I decided to write down the things out of life that I want just as I would my task list for work, a to-do list, or a grocery list. While this is a small gesture, I organized my thoughts and only wrote down the things that I want to happen.

Any gesture whether it small or large, symbolic or actionable can ignite change.

Take a few moments to write down some things you would like to do for yourself. It doesn’t matter what it is. These can be work goals, spiritual goals, health goals, savings goals, travel goals, anything and in any order. Do not deny yourself of it. Spend some time with that list, put it on your fridge, save it in your phone or put it in a journal. Come back to it often.

Believe that everything you put down on that list will happen. It may not happen in the exact order you want it to. The timing may seem slow or like it’s never ever going to happen – but keep on believing in that list and above all keep believing in yourself.

You can take it a step further and manifest the list, allowing yourself to feel joyful and fulfilled when you think about all the wonderful things you are welcoming into your life.

 

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How do we return to our natural state of grace?

As human beings, we have free will. We have a choice and the ability to return to our natural state of grace. When we are born, we are full of infinite love, no fabricated self-limitations, just pure love. However, for the most part, not by anyone’s fault, we are exposed to all sorts of things, good and bad – it’s part of life’s journey. We have all observed, listened and have heard stories rooted in fear and naturally start to absorb that information and believe it is our truth. Little by little, we move further away from our natural state of grace, rooted in love and for self-preservation, we move closer to survival mode, rooted in fear. A Course in Miracles says, “ If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within.”The mind is a source of information; it is not the source of our spirit.

While on planet Earth, everything has to have a happy ending – or else it will keep happening.  

“Atonement uproots the source of fear,” ACIM. We must make amends in order to stop the cycle and return to our natural state of grace. As we make amends with our self,  the source of fear is uprooted. Making amends returns us back to our natural state of grace, which is rooted in love.

Trust in the magic of the Universe.

Once we trust in the magic of the Universe, and give ourselves permission to make amends, and uproot fear, we have opened up the pathway to let love into our lives and return to our natural state of grace.

Just realizing that disconnected feeling is the first step to returning to our natural state of grace. Second, is realizing we have a choice, third, is making amends, fourth is trusting in the magic of the Universe. None of this happens over night, for a few lucky people out there it might, for the most part it’s a continual practice of self-reflection.

 

Are You Listening?

Active listening has been a hot topic lately. Research shows, we only capture about 25% of what people are saying. As everyone gets busier and more stressed out, we have a tendency to be less present in conversations or want to react.  Below are some helpful tools to help us all be better listeners and be more present in conversations….even if we may not agree with the information we are hearing.
Five Tips’s for Active Listening:

1. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly. Texting indicates otherwise. 

  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts. (Breathe)
  • Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.

2. Show That You’re Listening – Be attentive

Body language and gestures convey your attention, make them feel comfortable. 

  • *Nod occasionally.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
  • Leave your cell phone at your desk or in your bag.
*Some schools of thought feel differently, and suggest not being expressive as a way to be present and nonjudgmental – I tend to think a combination of the two is effective.
3. Provide Feedback

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions. Breathe through it even if you don’t agree, wait until the person finishes what they are saying. (See #4 and #5)

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
  • This is a self check to ensure you’ve understood the information as well.

4. Ditch the Judgment

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. By not interrupting, you’ll be able to gain more information.

  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments, this is distracting for everyone in the room and disrespectful to the presenter.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions.

5. Respond Respectfully

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. Attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down add’s nothing (it makes the attacker look like a jerk if anything). 

  • Assert your opinions respectfully.
  • Be open, and honest in your response.
  • Treat the other person in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.
(Source: mindtools.com)

Unplugging is Good for You

As ambitious individuals, we want to do our best, earn that promotion, get that raise, close that deal or learn that new skill; but it’s going to be a lot harder to kick ass and take names if you’re burnt out.

If you’re not sleeping, having a tight jaw or your shoulders are pretty much at your ears all day everyday — your body and mind are telling you to unplug. Some other signs telling you it’s time for a break include, making little mistakes you normally wouldn’t make, everything seeming just really difficult, being creatively blocked or you simply hate everything (and everyone).

You may have anxiety about taking time off, or are afraid you’re going to miss out at work (hello FOMO!!). According to an article in Scientific American, “downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance.” And if you’re dealing with an anti-vacation manager, you might want to share the article with them.

So taking a break isn’t a bad thing. Quieting your mind and stepping away from the day to day is advantageous to your success. You’ll come back refreshed with a clear mind and new ideas.

 

What the Funk? How to get out of your funk.

For the past two days I’ve been feeling less than. Kinda like shit to be honest. At first I wasn’t sure why because I went down the vortex and started getting all blue and anxious. Everyone has the tendency to get in a funk. It happens, we’re human. Everyone also has the ability to pull themselves out of a funk.

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When this happens to me, there are a few things I do to get out of it. Not dismiss it, just allow it to happen and move on from it in a healing way.

I sit with the experience, then start to unpack it and make sure to be honest with myself.

So recently I got caught in the comparison game. It happens, I’m human.  I went down the vortex – it was a combo of self deprecation, jealousy, and paranoia. Real dark. Went next level and told myself and believed it for a minute that I’m going to be broke, poor, unsuccessful and my coaching and energy healing business isn’t going to thrive. WHOA!?!? What the Funk?!??!!

Feeling like this kinda feels like a hangover! 

I sat with “it” (aka the funk) for a moment and decided it was time to clear it out. Sometimes with this stuff we can be stubborn and hold on to negative thoughts and feelings for a long time. In this case I went to bed in the funk and woke up in the funk. It was time to get out of the funk.  Taking a few deep breathes, I “looked” around at the funk and visualized what it looked like and where it was in my body.  Being able to sit with it, locate it and visualize it helps unpack the funk, which is ultimately someone else’s story.  Then, I asked myself,  to think about what triggered me. Who around me was feeling like they are broke, unsuccessful, and not good enough?  I asked myself if these feelings I was having were these persons? I asked myself if I wanted to hold onto these feelings? Obviously no! Then I gave myself permission to wash those feelings away and let them go, knowing that they aren’t mine. I then told myself what I needed to hear. I call this the nurturing cup of tea moment.

Throughout the day, I try to do nice things for myself. Listening to music, opening the windows, buying flowers, engaging in a hobby, getting outside, sweating a little bit. It keeps the momentum. I also will give myself permission throughout the day to release the energy that is not mine.

The mind is like a computer, it freezes and needs to be restarted. 

So when this happens to you and hopefully it doesn’t, here are some tips to get through the funk:

  1. Be nice to yourself.
  2. Sit with the funk.
  3. Be honest with yourself – admit if you’re feeling jealous or angry, it’s okay, you’ve gotta be honest with yourself. No one is going to hear your inner dialogue.
  4. Breathe.
  5. Know it’s totally temporary and your mind is a generator of information.
  6. Unpack the feelings. Ask yourself if the feeling was familiar? Ask yourself, who were you around that might have been feeling that way? Don’t feel guilty if it’s your spouse, mom, best friend – it’s okay. Everyone has a tendency to pick up other peoples energy without realizing it. It happens. The key is to ID it and wash it away.
  7. Give yourself permission to wash it away.
  8. Ask yourself how you want to feel.
  9. Give yourself that nurturing cup of tea, the pep talk, the caring words.
  10. Do something nice for yourself – a cup of coffee, a walk, a hobby, listening to music.

You’ve got this! It’s going to be okay!!!!

Getting Back into the Meditation Game

I think that “meditation” is having a moment. Kind of like kale and avocado toast had their moments.  The thing with meditating is that it’s been around forever. Millions of people do it daily all over the world. In some places around the globe, I’m sure people meditate more frequently than they have access to bathing (my opinion). You don’t have to be some spiritual guru, yogi or ultra crunchy enlightened being to do it. Any one can do it. You can be liberal, conservative, living in a mansion, living in the projects – you get the point. You really don’t need statues of the Buddha or Ganesh, or an altar, or a special pillow – I think that’s  western consumerism creeping in to the actual practice. Which is fine, but that stuff isn’t needed.

Meditation can be helpful during stressful times. For me it’s been key to navigating through stressful times. I’ve used it during a career change, family illness, stress at work etc.  However, as the stress eases, I’ve noticed the frequency of mediation tapers off. I’ve gone from meditating daily, sometimes twice daily to eventually a few times a week, to once a week to not at all. Sound familiar? The edginess and the stories creep right back in. Yep, we’re human. Meditation is new for a lot of people. It’s not something a lot of us in Western culture were raised with. So we’re learning. We have a beginners mind. Which is one of the core elements to meditating.

Another aspect of meditating is observing without judgement. For me I’ve observed, that I’m coming up with excuses to not meditate — the “oh I’ll do it later,” I’ve started checking social media in the morning, instantly stimulating my mind, rather than waking up, stretching and meditating for 15-20 minutes. Right, we’ve all done this. It’s escapism and distraction. The key is to not judge or beat yourself up. Otherwise, that puts major road blocks in the way of actually get back in the meditation game. Been there done that.

For me, the key has been to find really easy ways to integrate it back into my life. Like using the snooze button as an automatic timer.  My snooze is nine minutes. Those nine minutes are pure uninterrupted deep breaths, noticing the sounds in the morning, my cat purring, dog snoring, checking in with myself, being still — by the time the snooze button goes off, I take a moment to express gratitude for the practice and always know my breath is my anchor. Ironically enough, as much as I want to stay in bed and snuggle with my pets and husband, I feel more awake than hitting the snooze button 3 more times.

So, if you’re trying to get into meditating, have been doing it for a long time and fell off the wagon. Use that phone of yours as a handy tool. Set the timer or use your snooze button when the alarm goes off, sit and breathe for a few minutes. You’ll feel clearer and start to notice you’re becoming more present vs. focusing on other things.

 

It’s Retrograde Season

Retrograde season is upon us, which means we’re heading into Spring with longer days, more sunshine and warmer weather (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). In the southern hemisphere, it’s time to nest, go inward and appreciate the shorter days. As the planets move into retrograde, take a look around you and become aware of yourself. Being mindful of your actions or reactions is a step towards upgrading your life.

The Universe has always been in a constant state of change as have we — which makes life so special. Think back to where you were in life 10 years ago, what are you still holding on to, what have you let go of? Personal growth goes beyond the material and the tangible accomplishments, it goes beyond the career, the car, the house, the balance in your bank account or value of your stocks. Sure all that stuff is nice and there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting yourself up. However, in order to fully enjoy all that stuff, you must be okay with you. All that stuff does not define you. You the whole wonderful being that you are, goes beyond the material.

Retrograde is a time of self-reflection, of really paying attention to what’s serving you and what’s not serving you. What seems to be working and what doesn’t. Have you given yourself permission to let go of any feelings that are no longer serving you? If not, have you asked yourself how those feelings are serving you?

Trusting the Process

I’ve been feeling creatively stifled for 2 months.

Earlier in the year, I had a wave of inspiration to write. To capture recipes, stories and insight into living a more balanced, peaceful life.

It stopped – came to a halt. Rather than generating ideas or content, I started to look inward. I started to practice healing techniques, meditation, words of wisdom and recipes on myself. I became less social and savored quiet time. I felt this was right for me and trusted the process – I also felt frustrated. But I asked myself, if that was really my feeling of frustration or someone else’s?

I’ve been programmed to hurry up, to keep generating and I’m being lazy if I stop. I’ve been programmed to not be patient with myself. None of this is true. Yet, as I trust my intuition and inner voice to take some time to embrace life — the outside “noise” pipes up causing me to second guess myself.

I think many others feel this way too.

Part of the process in enjoying life is to stop, absorb it and practice the lessons we learn along the way. It’s important to embrace what we’ve learned and what we’re passionate about. If we’re always doing, moving on to the next best thing, we can’t savor it. So many times, we reach our goal or learn a new thing and we’re on to the next. I really admire people who practice what they’ve learned – there is a sense of calmness and expertise.

If I push myself to be generating content or force myself to learn more, it turns into information overload or a power surge, nothing productive happens and in fact, it becomes counter productive. There is a lack of passion, it’s a half baked idea and it’s obvious. Wheels keep spinning, energy is spent, I exhaust myself and go nowhere.

Looking within helps.

When the feeling of impatience comes up with myself, I note it, pause, start to look with in and unpack the way I feel. I try to identify where that feeling is within my body and visualize it. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and visualize what being kind to myself looks like. Ironically enough, the kinder I am to myself, and more patient I am – the more creative and productive I become.

The take away is, trust the process, look within and be patient. We all have these moments from time to time. It’s part of life. We are human, not machines. 

Do You Really Like Waking Up Grumpy?

cropped-melissa-cover-e1458245750766.jpgDo you find yourself waking up in a bad mood on a daily basis? Are you making excuses such as  – “I’m a night owl” or “I feel better after I take a shower?” Have your housemates, spouse or family commented commented on this? Do you even like waking up every day in a bad mood? Well you’re not alone. It seems with all the stress in our lives, due to more information, striving, paying bills, getting good grades and a million other things, we can get bummed out pretty easily.

There was awhile I was waking up super bummed, day in and day out, after awhile, I was over it. I noticed waking up depressed or in a bad mood really set the stage for the day and didn’t make it any easier. The outside stressors were controlling my life, I didn’t want that. Not to mention, how could I possibly achieve my dreams by starting off the day with a bad attitude? I was painting a negative picture, projecting and that was keeping me further away from my dreams. So, I decided to take some action and turn it around.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to wake up grumpy every single day. Plus — if you become more aware of your morning attitude, those who live with you won’t have to work overtime to work around it. You probably didn’t think about how your bad mood affects the people who interact with you in the morning. It does. The energy projects.

What if – instead of waking up wanting to hide under a rock and mope around like Grumplestilskins – you wake up, keep your eyes closed and breathe in some stillness around you? Just allowed yourself to breathe. Breathe. BREATHE. Then what if you allowed yourself to feel that wonderful calm morning air? And experience the cool, still morning light, then listen to the symphony outside your window of birds chirping or if you live in an urban environment, the buzz of the city? That doesn’t sound so bad. It’s calming and very nurtuing. As you really sense it and allow it to be just as it is, start to think about everything you are grateful for, that bed you’re sleeping in, the covers that are covering you, your pillow, your ability to breathe, the fact that you are able to wake up and experience the day and so on. Say some nice things to yourself. Then, set an intention for the day. What ever you do – DON’T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE. Looking at your phone, automatically induces stress hormones. You’re trying to mitigate your stress in this morning routine and stress is the reason you’re waking up in a bad mood.

We’re human and I do not discredit things that come up in life that may cause you to wake up totally bummed out. Especially as we get older, the stressors can get super intense. Trust me — I’m talking from experience here. There are plenty, PLENTY of things that have caused me and cause me to wake up bummed. I sit with it, embrace it, but then I start to focus on gratitude and all the things in my life that are going well.

This is a small way of finding peace and balance in your life. It’s also an opportunity to bring awareness into your life. Think about it, how would you feel if your sig other or housemates were waking up in a foul mood day in and day out? You would dread it. It’s an extra layer no one really wants to deal with in the morning. Spending time with yourself and cultivating a joyful, grateful feeling is a way to minimize the stressful clutter in your life.

 

 

 

Turn Up the Volume – Retrograde’s are Amplified Lessons

MoonsetWhen I first learned about Mercury in retrograde, I would be so anxious leading up to it, getting all thrown off during it and dreading the next one. Truth of the matter is, at some point, every single planet goes into retrograde and it’s part of that amazing Universe we live in.

Long story short, I decided, it’s pointless having all that build up of anxiety and started to look at each major retrograde as an opportunity to learn something about myself and my environment. Each retrograde has a theme or lesson that is amplified. Kind of like, turning up the volume on a favorite song, so you can really feel it. If we look at retrogrades as the Universes way of teaching us awareness, we can create the space and to do a little self reflection.  Start to ask yourself, “How can I apply that lesson into my daily life?”

Some examples of the lessons tied to retrograde include the most recent Mars in retrograde, focused on communication and the value of being mindful or selective with how we communicate with others — why is it only during that timeframe we should focus on that, shouldn’t we focus on that in our day to day lives? When Mercury goes into retrograde, technology issues can come up, often creating agitation — the lesson there is patience and acceptance.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, retrogrades vary depending on planet size, but their retrograde period is often a couple of weeks, which is long enough to reflect, learn, and apply the lessons each retrograde is teaching us into our lives. Cultivating awareness is key to becoming more compassionate and conscious.  When we start to self-reflect we can look at how our actions and non-actions affect others and the environment around us.  So the next time a planet is in retrograde, as tempting as it may be, don’t hide under the covers, turn up the volume and really experience the lesson the Universe is teaching!