Holiday Tips to Help You Get Through

The holidays are officially here! Bring on the pumpkin pie! This time is filled with delicious foods, fun gatherings and cozying up by the fire place. It’s also a time to spend with our family and friends.

While we love our family and friends, sometimes getting everyone together can bring out the best and worst in people. You may find tensions bubbling over like gravy on the stove. Don’t worry, here are a few tips to get you through so you don’t boil over:

  • Don’t expect other people to change, it sets you up for disappointment. People are creatures of habit. Eliminate from your thoughts, “hoping,” “maybe,” “hopefully..” Your 70 year old racist Uncle is 70, he’s not changing. Accept him for who he is.
  • You’re the one who has changed. Pat yourself on the back.
  • Laugh at the uncomfortable moments.
  • If you need a breather, excuse yourself to the restroom for a few minutes or get some fresh air. This really helps, especially when things get extra weird. You can go to your car and scream. That sounds liberating.
  • Go easy on the libations. Seriously. Inhibitions go out the window with a little too much vino.
  • Buy pre-made sides, put them in a casserole dish. Act natural. No one will know. Many markets set up holiday dinner packs that you can order ahead of time. You can order something nice for around $200. Costco even sells sides. Cooking, eating healthy and entertaining are my jam but it’s not in me this year. My Dad passed away, work has been crazy and of course with death there is a lot of “extra.” Making all the things just doesn’t sound fun. Honestly if you’re feeling pulled in every direction, it’s not a bad idea to cater your meal. Your kitchen won’t be a mess, you’ll be able to rest and you’ll be able to enjoy your day off. It’s called self preservation my friends. You can sleep in, go for a walk, or do some yoga.
  • Did someone say stretchy pants? Athletisure is really a game changer. Obviously there is a lot of enjoying that goes on with the holidays, why be uncomfortable? But DON’T get into the habit of wearing stretchy pants all winter…..you won’t notice if your skinny jeans become too small. Been there done that.

Hopefully you find the tips to be helpful and a little humorous. Most importantly take care of yourself. Make sure you rest on your days off. Your time is valuable.

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On Grieving

My Aunt Rosemarie took her final breaths on September 16th, 2016 at 8:56 pm, 16 years to the day her husband passed, right as the lunar eclipse was ending on the full moon. It was no coincidence that she transitioned to the after life on that day. As she was transitioning she was surrounded by her daughters, sister, cousin and myself. I rubbed her back, told her we loved her and kissed her as she took her final breaths and danced between this world and the afterlife. There was no other place at that time I wanted to be but there, beside her, with my family. As I write this almost 6 months later, I still tear up and get sad. My heart is broken.

Throughout her life, she was always serving people, she was everyone’s mother, taking care of everyone. Always being a nurturing figure. She taught me a lot. I believe she chose to transition on that day, so her daughters would not have to have two days each year to remember the day they lost their beloved parents.

To say the last few years have been rough is an understatement.

My Aunt’s passing was the biggest blow, watching her gradually fade for 11 months was gut wrenching. Watching my mother unravel as a result this has been heart breaking. Over the last six years, I’ve watched what cancer and addiction can do to people and their families.  It’s fucked up but I have kept on going. I’ve learned to prioritize, where to put my energy. Where not to. And not to beat myself up – I’ve learned to be nicer to myself. To find that self love deep down in the root chakra, my foundation.

I’ve experienced high’s and lows in the last six years. I’ve consoled my family and fought with them. I’ve been to jails, courtrooms, doctors appointments, and hospitals and I’ve been to beaches, temples, waterfalls, and rivers.

I’ve been so stressed out that I wake up with sleep paralysis and I’ve been so depressed that all I could do is cry and not move. I’ve found meditation, my guides, spirituality and awareness. I’ve found that there is no wrong or right way to grieve. I’ve learned there is no timeline, no schedule, it’s a deeply personal journey. For anyone to say other wise, I ask myself if they’ve ever grieved. I’ve seen a lot of anger through the grieving process. Anger is a distraction to fear and sadness. Insomnia, anxiety, depression it’s all part of the process. What’s important is self care. That cup of tea, those five minutes of peace and quiet, the gym, yoga, that hobby that helps you get centered. The manicure, pedicure or comedy show. That deep breath. This is part of being human.

I look at life through a different lens now and find I have a hard time relating to the day to day trials and tribulations. I have a hard time getting caught up with the desire to strive and accomplish to meet the expectations of others or to keep up with the Jones’. I don’t really care too much about being popular, or being in the “in-crowd” at work. I’ve stopped going to happy hours, stopped hanging out with people who make me feel less than, and if I don’t have something in my life I create it. I’ve learned how to meditate, be less judgmental, while being less tolerant of the BS, have an open mind and restrain myself from reacting. I’m not perfect and will still get caught up from time to time but notice when I do. I’ve learned to be more accepting of my parents and appreciate the time I have with them. I’ve learned to let go of the resentment, because I feel it causes dis-ease. I’m learning about boundaries, how not to take things personally and how not to pick up the slack from others. I still get my feelings hurt and feel left out. I’m still human. I’m learning how silence is enjoyable and noticing how I feel stretched on days that I really should put myself first. I’m learning balance and the art of speaking up in a way that’s not abrasive. I’m learning to be happy for other people and not feel resentful because it’s not my time. There is so much more to learn. It’s never to late to learn and it’s never too late to put down what’s no longer working.

Life is bittersweet, but we’re here to show up. We each have our own karmic path. We are all on our own journey.  It’s fucked up at times, but you have to keep going. I think acknowledging that it’s fucked up is part of continuing on the journey. You learn to prioritize, where to put your energy. Where not to. We’re all here to learn something about ourselves and the world. We’re all at different places in our karmic journey.

I’m here, alive, taking a breath, coming up for air and, waiting for the next round.

 

 

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!

 

Easy 7th Chakra Meditation for Letting Go

IMG_6352The Crown Chakra or 7th Chakra is located at the very top of your head – which is the universal connection point. Since energy is everything, we are connected at a basic level rooted in nature. This is the center for peace, joy and happiness. The 7th Chakra is the point at which we give and receive energy. Any tension we want to let go, we let out from the top of our head. According to Chakra Anatomy, it’s the point where the finite (body) and infinite (soul) meet. A deep purple is associated with the Crown Chakra, it’s the place that allows us to connect with our more spiritual side.

The 7th Chakra reminds us to have gratitude for this life, to let the ego go and accept that we are all interconnected. As we move through life and through day to day activities, we sometimes take for granted all this life has to offer. We get caught up in the comparison game and the “should’s”- we forget we’re all connected because the “noise” around us is canceling out who we truly are. We forget we’re here for a bigger purpose, which can get overshadowed by the material and superficial status quo that have somehow defined our “happiness.”

An easy way to re-engage with your Crown Chakra, is to sit quietly for 7 minutes, with your eyes closed, no cell phone or other distractions. Breathe deeply seven times, to calm your mind and settle in. Imagine a calming, nurturing white light coming down from the sky, starting at the crown of your head, and running all through your body. Notice how good this light feels. Allow the calming feeling of the light to flow through your body. Repeat the following mantra to yourself, “I trust my intuition, I allow myself to be present, I love and accept myself, I am at peace.”

When nurturing your 7th Chakra, repeat the mantra to yourself throughout the day. Reminding yourself to release any negative energy that is not yours.

What we need to remember is that we’re all part of the bigger story line. We have to have faith and trust that the Universe will guide us to exactly where we set our intentions. What you have to remember is, we all get there at different times. Life is about ebb and flow, yin and yang, finite and infinite, death and life. Once we liberate ourselves from falling into the trap of the comparison game and the “should’s” we open our life up to infinite possibilities. We are human and are not free from stress, struggle, sadness, emotions – however, once we liberate ourselves, become more present and live our own authentic way of living we can truly experience those emotions, let them sit with us and experience the process of life from a clearer lens.

 

Easy 6th Chakra Meditation for Intuition

IMG_3271Located in between our eyebrows, the 6th Chakra is our intuitive center. It’s often referred to as our 3rd Eye. It represents clarity, imagination, intuition, and the ability to be present. A deep indigo blue characterizes the 6th Chakra, blue is calming and represents a deeper knowing. Indigo blue, is symbolic for the night, connecting us with our inner thoughts and higher self. At night when we sleep and are in a relaxed state, we are able to connect with that deeper part of our self, which during waking hours we are unable to.

Whenever we have an “aha” moment, our 6th Chakra is leading us to transformation, whether it be big or small – we’re realizing something and making a change. The third eye is where we get our “gut feeling.” As we nurture the 6th Chakra, we quiet our mind, settle our bodies so we can truly listen to our intuition and become aware of that “gut feeling.”

From time to time, it can be challenging to listen to our intuition, because stories come up. As I’ve said before, we’re in an information overload, which is essentially cluttering our minds. Often, those stories overshadow our intuition, and we listen to the stories thinking it is our intuition. As you begin to nurture your 6th Chakra, you’ll be able to tell the difference between the stories and your true voice, bringing you clarity. We’re then able to connect with that deeper part of our self, during waking hours. Meditate on the 6th chakra, so you can trust yourself, and put yourself in the drivers seat of your life.

Set your timer for at least 7 minutes, close your eyes, take a six deep breaths, and begin to relax. Focus your attention on the area in between your eyebrows. Imagine a deep blue light, calming and easing any tension in that area. Notice how good the peaceful, tranquil, blue light feels. Repeat the following mantra to yourself, however many times you feel necessary, “I have clarity in my thoughts, I trust my intuition, I am present in every moment, and my imagination is blissful.” When you’re finished with the meditation, spend a few minutes and savor that relaxing feeling.

You can always repeat the mantra throughout the day as a reminder, however many times you feel is necessary – there are no rules.

Easy 5th Chakra Meditation for Communication

IMG_3641Located at our throat, the 5th chakra is our communication center. We communicate all the time, whether it be verbally, via e-mail, text, phone – you name it. Since we are always communicating, we need to nurture the throat chakra. The color associated with the throat chakra is blue – a soothing, cool blue. Blue is associated with heaven and the divine. Blue has a calming, healing, peaceful effect and reminds us to slow down and take a step back.

We’re so busy and constantly being filled with information overload as a result, we’re always doing, communicating, striving– when we think of blue, let it trigger you to slooooooooow down and take a step back. Before we get sick, we feel it in our throat, which is the first sign self-care is needed. We often keep pushing ourselves, because the demands we’ve put on ourselves require us to do so. We end up getting more stressed out, which affects our ability to communicate from a place of love. When we get stressed out we communicate based on the feelings of stress, therefore what we say can come across as rude and offensive. Nurturing your throat chakra allows you to be in tune with your communication center.

Alternately, when we are shy, or feeling insecure, we often hold back from communicating – because that good ol’ story of not being enough, surfaces and gets in the way of full expressing ourselves. What happens is we psych ourselves out from really finding the power within to clearly express ourselves and get that important message out there.

Follow this easy 5th chakra meditation to help you nurture the throat chakra and find your ability to express yourself from a place of love. Set the timer on your phone for at least 7 minutes and settle in:

Close your eyes, breath deeply for 5 breaths, imagine a cool, soothing blue light centered on your throat, notice how good it feels when the blue light cools your vocal chords, continuing to breath, repeat to yourself, “I communicate from a loving place, I allow myself to express myself freely and easily, I allow myself to speak the truth, and I communicate with clarity and ease,” repeat this however times you feel necessary.

Alternately, repeat these affirmations throughout the day, take a deep breath and imagine the blue light at your throat before you communicate.

The throat chakra relates to the throat, esophagus, thyroid gland, neck, cervical spine, mouth, teeth, and jaw. When nurturing the throat chakra, eat foods that are blue in color, such as blueberries. Eat foods that naturally require little effort to harvest when ripe, such as apples, oranges and peaches. Drink herbal teas, such as chamomile, ginger tea and peppermint tea, which are soothing and calming.

Remember, you owe it to yourself to speak the truth from a place of love.

What Happens When You Unplug for 20 Minutes?

IMG_5400 (1)I think the word “meditation” gets mixed reviews –  from sounding like a bigger deal than it really is, to some “crunchy” “new ” thing people do, to being reserved for Buddhists and Hindu’s.  Trust me, I used to think the same thing.

So what is it? There are a million articles, books, blogs, apps out there.

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

meditation

noun med·i·ta·tion \ˌme-də-ˈtā-shən\

Simple Definition of meditation

  • : the act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating

  • : an expression of a person’s thoughts on something

To simply put it, meditation is all about spending time with yourself and being in the present moment and unplugging. It’s about spending a few minutes away from technology and our ever looming list of things to do. Being in the present moment means being aware. Aware of your body, the way it feels at that very moment.

When you meditate sometimes your mind will be really busy, other times like a lake. We close our eyes in meditation, because it’s easier to look inward when they are closed. We’re less likely to get distracted. Things will come up when you meditate – say hello to it. Think of those things as an old friend.  That old friend can be, anxiety or that familiar story from the day before that stresses you out.

Meditation is about noticing what happens to your body, when your old friend anxiety shows up or that story is told. Often times, we’re so busy we don’t allow ourselves to have 20 minutes of stillness. We’re so busy, the feelings associated with anxiety and stress go unnoticed until we’re sick or just so taxed we have to stop.  As we start to notice the old friend anxiety or the familiar story and say hello to them, they become less painful and less of a burden. Whatever story may come up, I now look at it as a story, it makes it easier to be in my own skin.

The whole point of meditation is to connect with yourself in a non-striving, non-judge mental way.

Why is meditation hard for you? What have you started to notice as you meditate? 

We’re Always Doing Something

IMG_5517

I was 16 or 17 when it occurred to me we are always doing. I was a new driver waiting at a stoplight, the sun was beating down, I looked around and noticed movement everywhere. Nothing was stopping. Cars moving in either direction, lights turning, people walking across the street, a train going by, people fidgeting in their cars, a breeze blowing, birds flying by – you get the picture. I was an island in the middle of all this movement and I realized “nothing really stops.”

We’re taught at an early age we need to always be doing and not being. If we’re not doing then we’re told we’re lazy. Which is untrue – there is a difference between being and being lazy. I found great comfort when John Kabat-Zinn wrote a whole section about this, in his book, Full Catastrophe Living. We’ve become a society that is constantly on. We don’t really make time to turn off, other than when we sleep. We have disconnected from ourselves because we’re always doing. We never stop.

We can reconnect with ourselves if we get into the practice of turning off and allowing ourselves to just be. What if we spent 20 minutes a day, just being? When we set aside time to just be, our bodies cannot thank us enough. If we fully immerse in our bodies, and we turn off everything around us to focus on right now, concentrate on our breath and our body and immerse in the stillness, then we naturally connect with ourselves.

I recommend giving this a shot, a couple of times a week and see how you feel. Try this without judgment or expectations and allow yourself to turn off and just be. Start by, turning your phone to silent – not vibrate, setting the timer for 20 minutes, sitting in a comfortable place, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath as you inhale and exhale. You can even repeat in your head, “in,” “out,” with each breath, or “peace” on the inhale, and “joy” on the exhale. As you’re focusing on the breath notice how good it feels to relax your mind and your body without any outside distractions and just be.

Let me know how you felt – if 20 minutes seems too much at first, try 10 minutes and increase it from there.