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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Next Chapter (write your best one yet)

  I hate where I live. I don't deserve to be loved. My life is boring. I can't lose weight. I’ll never get a decent job. I'm not good enough.

Certain things we say to ourselves and accept as the absolute truth. We carry these beliefs or attitudes with us into each new day and they become a part of our make-up.

We have heard these things enough (whether we've said them to ourselves or they’ve been said to us by others) to not question them anymore. But we should question them. We should question everything. This is our life, our very own, and it is our choice how we want to live it and who we want to be.   
Have you ever wanted to write a book? Well, you already are. You are the author of your life. Like a book, where some chapters are extraordinary and others leave something to be desired, if you don’t like how your story is unfolding, you have the power to change and write a remarkable next chapter. What parts of your life would you like to change? What things do you want to do? What really matters to you? 
Many of us spend much of our time dwelling on the past, what we did wrong or how we were wronged. Instead of looking at our past with kindness, knowing that every day is a learning experience, we beat ourselves up for bad choices we’ve made and certain actions that we’ve taken, always entertaining the “why’s and what if’s.” Our power comes with the control we have over today.

Look at your life up to this point. Who are you as a person? What do you value? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? When someone tells your story, how would you like it to read? Now is the time to do some more character development and start a new chapter. 

But how? If you find yourself using your past as an excuse for why you can’t get ahead in life, you need to make peace with it. Love that person (you) and all she has been through (because even the bad has made you who you are today.) Be gentle, be a best friend. Give yourself a little motherly bird push. Forgive. Now move on. (Yes, I know I’ve simplified this, but you can actually go back and rewrite your past. If you're interested and not sure how to start, contact me for information.)

Give yourself a powerful voice. Don’t be afraid to be heard. If you don’t speak your truth you won’t be able to communicate the essence of your soul, which is who you really are. And if you are speaking with a voice that isn’t your own, you will always feel less than, unauthentic, and have a disconnect with your own self. Your voice is your power and knowing your own voice gives you strength of character.

In your story, surround yourself with notable characters. Just like in a great novel, fill your pages with people who make you feel more alive. People who help you grow, inspire, motivate and cause you to think and look at things in new ways. Look at the people you now surround yourself with. Are they happy, optimistic, enthusiastic, adventurous, supportive, fun? Make sure the people in your life are the types of characters that you want in your story.

There are lots of ways to take control and live the life that you truly want to live. In my practice as a Wellness Coach and Feng Shui Practitioner, I help my clients reach their full potential by examining all the different life areas, setting goals and designing a personalized roadmap for them to get there. The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of life you want to live. 

So, don’t forget ~ you are the author and main character of this book ~ make it a best seller. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I'm not goin' all chia seed porridge on you ~

I’ve always admired athletic people. The ones that I see riding their bikes up the steep mountain grade or the loyal followers of yoga, with mats rolled up under their arms, entering the studio for their 6:00 am class. Not being able to make simple commitments has always been one of my biggest challenges. I don’t know exactly why, but I’m working on finding out. It just seems that the minute I make one, I feel like my freedom has been snatched away and now there is one more rule to follow. And this is even when the commitments are good for me.

The funny thing is that I am finding that most of the people I am health coaching are the same way. Maybe for different reasons, but many of us seem to have an aversion to too much regulation, too many “shoulds” ~ even the good stuff.

So instead of asking or telling you that you need to get up and get in a 30- minute workout, give up your coffee, and eat chia seed porridge (which by the way, I actually love) I’m going to give you something much simpler to start out your day. And yes, it is a bit of a commitment, but one so simple that you just might find yourself wanting to do it on a regular basis!

Begin with a good stretch
 ~ take a cue from your cat or dog.  Notice how they wake up. With a stretch ~ and it feels so good. Spend a couple of minutes stretching. This, you can even do while still in bed.
Now, get up. Follow this with a few “holding up the sky” stretches. Reach as high as you can with both arms, keeping your hands flat as though you are holding up a tray. Hold the stretch for a count of 10, then let your arms and head hang down toward the floor.  Repeat this a few times. And now, maybe a few, "touching the earth" ~ gently bend forward reaching for your toes (or maybe your knees). Do those a few times and then finish up with some waist twists, letting your arms swing.
If you’re anything like me, you are anxiously heading to the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot about now.  So, while you’re waiting for the annoying buzzer to let you know that the coffee is done, you can take a seat and sit with your eyes slightly open (which shouldn’t be hard, since you just woke up!) Sit on the chair with your back straight, feet flat on the ground, and hands in your lap. Take a few deep breaths and wish the world well—whomever and whatever enters your mind at this time, simply think, I wish you well.

Continue to breathe quietly and deeply, paying attention to your breath. If you find yourself worrying or grouchy about something just tell yourself, It’s OK and go back to breathing.  A great morning mantra is “My life is amazing. Thank you, *God.” (*universe, world, whatever works for you.) I say this several times a day, and especially when I'm feeling the opposite! It kind of brings me back into a more grateful state. 
Giving thanks helps set the tone for the rest of the day. You can always find something to be thankful for upon waking. This should be fairly easy. There are a few obvious choices here: you woke up, you have a chair to sit in, and maybe even a delicious cup of coffee/tea/lemon water. Finish this morning practice off with another few deep cleansing breaths.

This way of starting each day can loosen up the knots in both our physical and mental bodies. These simple, feel good baby steps can often turn into big leaps, and who knows, you might just find yourself enrolling in a yoga class soon or joining a bike team, or hey, maybe even able to touch your toes. Sounds crazy, but one never knows. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

They say to feel happy, make someone else happy

The old saying, It’s better to give than to receive, apparently is true on many counts. For most people that makes it a win-win. Unless of course, you’re a sociopath, narcissist or any one of the Frank Underwood Administration. There are always exceptions.
I suggest that we try this for one week, 7 little days out of our lives. One gesture of giving, of kindness a day and let’s see how we feel at week’s end. In fact, if you are feeling down or upset, one of the greatest things you can do is to share a bit of kindness. Here are some really simple suggestions, things that you can do right now.

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

1. Give someone a compliment. We can always find something good — whether, I love your shoes, your smile, the skip in your step.
I told the girl behind the counter at the post office the other day that I loved her new haircut. I don’t know her but I see her there when I drop off packages and I noticed she had cut quite a bit of hair off. I was actually taken aback by her response.
Do you really? She was so excited. Oh my gosh, you just made my day. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. Oh, I’m so happy you think it looks good!
She was gushing and I left there feeling pretty good about my own self, too. Even though that was not at all my intention. I really did like her hair!
2. Take someone a small gift (flowers from your backyard/a bowl of oranges or fresh herbs from your garden)
3. Make someone’s day (buy the guy in line a cup of coffee, or better yet, the guy standing outside the coffee shop)
4. Call a friend. Or your Mom. Or someone who would love to hear from you.
5. Say hello and smile as you pass people.
6. Visit someone who lives alone.
7. Let someone go in front of you in line.
8. Listen without distractions. That’s right, put the phone away. Be present.
9. Leave your server the biggest tip you can afford.
10. If you see someone struggling, with a stroller, with grocery bags, up the steps or with whatever, do the old boy scout deed of helping. Lift groceries into their car, or up the steps, or tell them if tag is showing or their shirt is inside out. (Trust me, people appreciate this, it happened to me!
And remember, surround yourself with positive people, listen to your head, listen to your body, know when to say yes, and when to say no. You deserve kindness too!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Best Years

I’m turning 62 this year. I remember not all that long ago when I heard people say things, like, “life starts at 50” or “the best is yet to come” I thought, Well, that all depends. How bad or mediocre was your life before? I always had a feeling this was somebody's idea of trying to cheer us on so that we would make it to the finish line.

But now I'm realizing that there is some truth behind this best years sentiment. It isn’t that there is more excitement, better sex, wild parties, booming career opportunities or lots of firsts to do or tell; it's because we finally get to be authentically, genuinely, ourselves.We don’t need to give a damn if we don’t give a damn. We no longer need to hide behind the facade of being perfect. Or of being effortlessly beautiful, or agreeable, or worrying if people like us. We can let our guard down and relax a little. Or like in the movie, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, we can finally exhale. 

By this time we should know who we are. No apologies necessary. We know what we like and what we don’t like. What we’ll live with and what we’ll live without. We have our tribe. We know our comfort zone and our boundaries. We may choose to leave them on occasion, but we at least know where they are.

Every age comes with its difficulties. If I look back, I’d have to say my teen years were probably some of the hardest. Or maybe it was my late 20s. There were struggles in my 30s, while 50 found me going through a divorce after 13 years of marriage. I was living alone in a small apartment with the one cat I never really bonded with, my daughter was off at college and my self-esteem and vitality were at an all-time low. Yeah, every life has its struggles, and they present themselves at every age. 
Even if we find ourselves with more challenges, such as physical limitations, or maybe we have become divorced, widowed, out of a job, or faced with an illness, if we’ve made it this far we have a fairly strong sense of survival. We’ve all experienced the good and the bad, the yin and the yang, and we know that what goes up, must come down. Whether we like it or not. Nothing lasts forever.

I’m not really sure if there are “best years” - I think just being lucky enough to have years makes them all pretty great. Different, but great. While some things definitely become a little harder with age, there are so many things that become easier. For example:

  • I can make peace with my hair and forget about trying to find the perfect hairstyle (I've had the same one for the last 40 years, obviously, I'm not gonna change)
  • I can quit thinking that one day I'll wear floral print dresses to garden parties instead of my jeans and black t-shirt  (I've actually accepted that I have always had a "didn't think I was going to get out of the car" kind of style)
  • And, I no longer have to beat myself up for not running a marathon or making an attempt to climb Mt. Everest (I've felt the pressure before that these are types of things that I should want to do, but now I can say, I honestly have no desire to and never did)

And that's ok. I finally know and accept who I am. And it only took me about 60 years to do so.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Guilt doesn't do a body Good

Tis the season. Full of thanks and Ho Ho Ho’s. We’ve survived another candy-coated Halloween and are now sitting down to the Thanksgiving meal which encompasses an entire day of non-stop eating and a day or two of filling up on leftovers. Then, off we go running to the month of holiday parties, get-togethers, school and work functions and various other food-filled festivities. 

I just want to remind everyone, that if we focus on all of the sugar (and as many of you know, I’m pretty serious about getting sugar out of my diet), and all of the carbs and calories that we will be consuming, we will spend the season singing the blues instead of Joy to the World. And this, my friends, is not healthy.
November and December, for most, are filled with tradition. Traditions are good, and let's face it, food is usually the center of family traditions. Having fun in your life, feeling joyful, laughing and spending time with loved ones is just as important (or more so) than the food we consume. I don't want to downplay the importance of eating a good diet and taking care of yourself on a regular basis, but feeding our soul is what gives us the fuel to love and live a life of passion. 

So, during these types of events, relax, let it go. The stress and worry about what and what not to eat can be more harmful to your health than that slice of pumpkin pie or serving of stuffing with a little extra gravy. That said, if you find yourself slumping down in the front seat of your car, eating a pumpkin pie straight from the box that you just bought at the grocery store, you might have something to worry about.  But otherwise, you don't need to deprive yourself and you don't need to be a glutton, either.  Practice moderation and enjoy.  This is life ~ it is short, and every moment should be savored.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

Monday, November 6, 2017

Changing with the Seasons

One of the things I miss most about where I live is witnessing the change of seasons. Living in Santa Barbara, the seasons change, but not too drastically. Our seasons consist of “Amazing” then comes "May Gray" followed by “June Gloom” (which refers to our two overcast months) and with any luck, another season that consists of some light rain and nights cold enough to wear my peacoat. 

Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the coolness of the air on my skin, the surge of energy I feel, and the way I sleep like a baby under heavy blankets. I also adore boots, jackets, scarves, and turtlenecks. Yes, turtlenecks.
A fall day at the beach in Carpinteria

There's something to be said for appreciating a beautiful day. Here, every day is pretty beautiful and it's easy to take that for granted. We really do need something to look forward to. Whether it's a sunny day, a vacation, a Broadway play, we need to have plans, events, things that are not ordinary, not delivered to us daily.

I can remember what it felt like when after having a long cold winter, the first day of spring rolled around, and flowers started to bloom and birds started to sing, and there was that exhilarating feeling of everything coming back to life. That feeling of wanting to dance in the mixture of spring rain and warm sunshine. Everything seemed possible in spring. 

Whereas, fall is the time of year when things slow down, nothing seems as pressing; it's restful. Fall and winter are such quiet times. They are more in line with the likes of the hopeless romantic, where it's easy to get lost in an epic novel. There is a peaceful hush to the world. Fall and winter seem soft, nurturing, and safe. To me, they feel like cashmere and smell like freshly baked banana bread.

Even if the leaves aren’t turning orange and yellow where you live, there are subtle shifts happening outside and in us all. There is a communal slowing down. Fall helps us make the transition from the frenzied activity of summer to the deep quiet of winter. It can also remind us to pause, to be present, and to reflect on the past year. It's a time for us to look back on what we have achieved, on any unfinished business in which we need clarity or completion. It's a time to stop the fiery summer energy of running around, of trying to accomplish maybe too much at one time, and breathe. Just breathe.

So, if the idea of the warmer weather being over brings you down and the thought of the cooler and colder months ahead already have you feeling a bit blue, try to relax and embrace the notion that we are meant to change, just like the seasons ~ and rest assured that spring will return and those hot summer days will come again.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The G Word

I’ve been talking, ok, maybe preaching, about the importance of practicing gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal for years. But I’m gonna come clean, I haven’t been keeping one on a regular basis either. I have a hard time doing anything over and over - except, strangely enough, I manage to keep my daily commitment to morning coffee. Hmmm . . .

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
I always think of myself as being grateful, of paying attention, practicing mindfulness and staying aware of how blessed my life is. But in reality, when I stopped journaling months ago I have since noticed that my life feels a bit less grounded, I have more cynicism, more anger, and at times feelings of hopelessness. The negative shows up on the big screen for me.

So back to my journal. And I only ask myself to come up with three things a day (actually I do it at night, right before bed.) Three things are easy to come up with, there’s no fishing, no going through my daily memory bank for things to write down.  But just these few things seem to be enough to switch my frame of mind. To remind myself of the beauty, the blessings, and the ease of my life compared to so many others in the world. I once again find myself appreciative of the smallest things. Things like some half and half in the refrigerator for my coffee, for the refrigerator itself, and for electricity to keep the refrigerator going! Things that normally are not given enough appreciation.

So truly, if you are better at routine than me, or even if you’re not, start a gratitude journal. Three little things a day - you can do it - it really only takes a few minutes. Not that much of a commitment but you will definitely notice the changes in your mindset, your mood, and your overall well-being. Keeping a gratitude journal forces you (in a gentle way) to look for the good. 

And that, my friend, can’t be bad.