Love-Full Wrap-Up March 17

Here are the stories and tidbits making me smile this week … I hope they spark a little love in your heart, too!

Have a story that made your heart sing and tugged the corners of your lips upward? Let us know in the comments … and share the love! Happy Friday. ❤

22 Minutes to an Amazing Morning & Day

I am a firm believer in the power of a morning routine. I’ve been spending much of 2017 so far tweaking mine (and, quite honestly, have a ways to go. There are definitely some mornings when I still roll over and instantly check email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram … and maybe even play a round or two of Candy Crush. And do you know what kind of day I generally have on the mornings I succumb to my smartphone?

A crappy day, that’s what!

As I’ve experimented with various routines, I’ve learned the more mindful my morning is, the rest of my day generally goes smoothly. I feel more confident and capable when issues arise at work or in my personal life.

Now, I’m a single woman with a dog. I don’t have to worry about a spouse or children or any other responsibilities in the morning, and I recognize that I am fortunate as far as that goes … I can take all the time I need. On the other hand, we all want a streamlined, more efficient and effective way to start our day. And I think what I’ve found is that all you need is 22 minutes to complete five tasks for a morning that will set your day on fire.

  1. Right after you wake up, before anything else – before you even open your eyes – pray. I’m fond of this prayer inspired by “A Course in Miracles“: What would you have me do today? Where would you have me go? Who would you have me see? What would you have me say?
    I’m also a fan of the prayer of St. Francis of AssisiLord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where these is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.
    Whether you believe in a specific power of God, the general oversight of the universe, or the inner strength of yourself … a prayer in your mind helps set the tone for the day. Total time: 1 minute
  2. Meditate. To me, prayer is you speaking your intent. Meditation is the time to listen. Now, in the evenings I use meditation as a way to relax and ultimately fall asleep, but that won’t work in the morning! After I get up and get my dog walked and settled, I sit down for at least five minutes. Sometimes, I simply focus on my breath. Other times, I set a specific intention for the day and focus on that. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, but using just a few moments early in the morning helps clear your mind for the day ahead. Total time: 5 minutes
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Don’t use the excuse that you’re not a breakfast person. Even if it’s just a cup of tea or hot lemon water, take those few minutes to sit down and introduce your physical body and mentality to your healthy intentions for the day. Personally, I love breakfast, and take the time to cook up some eggs and chicken sausage nearly every morning. I usually add some avocado for an extra dose of healthy fats, and sauerkraut for gut health. Now, maybe that kind of savory breakfast isn’t for you … maybe you’re more of an oatmeal and berries person. Whatever you do, don’t rely on a drive-thru window for your morning sustenance on a regular basis. And again, even if you don’t generally eat breakfast, take a few minutes for a cup of tea or hot lemon water. It’s not only about fueling your body, but about training both your body AND mind to anticipate nutritious choices throughout the day. Total time: 10 minutes
  4. Stretch. Guru Singh said this delightful term in one of his videos: “Stretch into your body sock.” I can’t stress how much I love that phrase and the idea behind it! It is our duty and honor to take care of our bodies, the physical vessels our souls have here on Earth. Regular stretching helps you get in touch with your body and the many capabilities you have. I like finding short video clips on YouTube, or just follow my own routine. Total time: at least 5 minutes
  5. Make your bed. Many experts recommend making your bed every single day. Surveys show that the people who make their beds daily are generally happier than people who don’t. Self-help gurus also suggest that having a neat and tidy bedroom helps keep your mind “neat and tidy” as well, and it’s also a gateway to other good habits. Is that all really true? Who knows, but for something that requires minimal time and effort, I’m willing to take a few seconds every morning. Total time: 1 minute

BONUS POINTS!

Have some more time in the morning? Consider adding these additional activities:

  1. Exercise. Along with stretching, if you can carve out 30-60 minutes of exercise every morning, both your mental and physical health will skyrocket. Plus, you won’t have to worry about fitting it in later in the day. Total time: at least 30 minutes
  2. Journal. I have two journals – one that I use at the end of the day, to chronicle what happened and work through any emotions/issues. And I have a small notebook that I call my prayer journal. I use it in conjunction with my morning meditation. Along with setting my intentions mentally, I take a few minutes to jot it down and get it on paper. This is just an extra way to firm up your intentions for the day, and solidify your focus. Total time: 5 minutes (at most)
  3. Read. “Leaders are readers.” It’s a cliche because it’s true. Many of today’s leaders and high-level thinkers are advocates of reading. You’ll learn more by reading (even fiction) than by turning on the morning news first thing. Total time: at least 20 minutes

Image courtesy of Johan Larsson. 

Love-Full Wrap-Up March 10

Here are the stories and tidbits making me smile this week … I hope they spark a little love in your heart, too!

Have a story that made your heart sing and tugged the corners of your lips upward? Let us know in the comments … and share the love! Happy Friday. ❤

Fear

Today, I want to talk a bit about fear.

All emotions of life fall under two parents – Fear and Love. As you can imagine, all the positive emotions fall under Love – happiness, confidence, compassion, comfort. Being in a state of pure love is always the goal of any spiritually in-tune person.

On the flip side, there’s Fear with all of that pesky baggage – anger, irritation, frustration, insecurity. Your Ego uses Fear to keep you self-minded, not spirit-minded. And it’s through our spiritual practice that we begin to expose and recognize Fear for what it is – a useless life partner.

But here’s the distinction, and why I wanted to write about this topic today: Fear is a useless life partner. To put it another way, pretend you’re driving the car called Life. Fear is a terrible driver, and it’s not a good navigator either. Fear keeps you from going after that job; fear talks down to you when you’re wondering why you continued that relationship way too long. Fear looks at the road map Love has given you, and whispers in your ear that this is a bad idea – just stay on the current route that we know is safe.

So now we know we should never let Fear drive the car of Life. But one thing I’ve noticed is the tendency to want to label Fear as bad, useless and something to be avoided entirely. Not only is this impossible – we’re humans living a human experience, fear creeps in – but I don’t think Fear is completely bad or useless. In fact, while it’s a useless life partner, I would say Fear is a pretty darn useful life tool.

At its most basic level, Fear is what keeps you from walking in front of a bus. Fear keeps you from going up to that Grizzly and kissing it right on the nose.

But more subtly, when you can truly expose and recognize Fear, it begins to work more effectively with Love … which, I think, should be the ultimate goal. The goal shouldn’t be to live in a state of Love; the goal should be to awaken to a marriage of the two.

While Fear can lead you into a bad relationship, it is what initially leads you to recognize you’re in a toxic/abusive relationship. Love gives you the self-esteem and confidence to remove yourself from the situation.

While Fear can lead you into poor financial decisions, it can also look at that empty bank balance and sound the alarm. Love is what gets you to the place where you pay yourself first.

While Fear can lead you into poor health decisions, it can also look at the scale and sound the alarm. Love begins the work of self-love with nutrition, exercise and stress-relief.

Fear is still kind of a bad guy – after all, maybe some of the above scenarios could have been avoided entirely had it not been for Fear. But Fear also is the guy that tapped on the driver’s side of the Life car and said, “Whoa … that turn back there? Why did you listen to me? That turn back there was a bad turn!”

The idea is to get a point in your spiritual work where you can expose Fear, recognize him, and instead of saying “No room for you in this Life car, Fear!,” you allow him to ride along in the backseat.

But remember … he’s never allowed in the front, nor is he allowed to dictate the way forward. And when you do listen to Fear? Turn to Love and simply request:

Show me the way.”

Love-Full Wrap-Up March 3

Here are the stories and tidbits making me smile this week … I hope they spark a little love in your heart, too!

  • I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” … I’m only halfway through, but this book is a must read!
  • These two little boys who wanted the same hair cut, and ended up teaching so many how to see past skin tone.
  • This preview of 33 rescued lions being transported to a sanctuary.
  • The British celebrating Pancake Day!

Have a story that made your heart sing and tugged the corners of your lips upward? Let us know in the comments … and share the love! Happy Friday. ❤

Lent

I was raised Catholic … well, for at least half of my childhood. I did participate in the rite of First Holy Communion, but I never went through Confirmation. In fact, I stopped attending church shortly after going through Communion, and now rarely go unless it’s a special occasion and/or holiday (if then).

I am a spiritual person, but I don’t believe God is found in a church … at least, I’ve very rarely felt God in a church. I find God in nature, and in my quiet moments alone. So I pray quietly to myself. I try to get outside often (or, at the very least, leave my windows open). Maybe some people think I’m ridiculous, in that I don’t “feel” God inside a church … but to me, what’s important is that I connect with God/the universe/the spirit as often as possible. And that’s rarely in a church.

I personally do not identify as a Christian anymore, though I do still culturally celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter. At this point, Christmas is basically a commercial holiday, celebrated by many who don’t really keep a nativity scene in their home. And, again, while I don’t attach too much religious significance to it, my parents love Easter and it’s just a day for us to get together and enjoy a nice lunch.

But one tradition I carry forth with me every year, is the tradition of following Lent.

Lent is a Christian practice, beginning the day of Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 days through “Good Friday” – the day in Christianity when Jesus was executed and buried. Of course, Good Friday is right before Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection. The 40 days is symbolic of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert, and many Christians commit to some form of fasting and/or spiritual practice during the 40-day period.

As a spiritual person, and one who has committed in the past year to become even more connected to our greater purpose in this universe, I still use Lent as a time to practice minimalism, sobriety (not in the alcoholic sense … more in the ‘taming down my life’ sense), and just as a specified time frame to focus heavily on my spiritual practices.

My Lenten practices this year are two-fold, the first being to complete the Whole30 program. I’ve wanted to follow this program in an attempt to improve my personal health (good health lends itself to strong spiritual heath). There’s also enough in this program to count it as “fasting” – no cheese? No Diet Coke? No beans? Jokes aside, it’s a test of personal discipline and strength … so I plan to benefit, again, with my physical health and tying it into my spiritual practice.

On a more overtly spiritual level, I’ll be completing Gabby Bernstein’s “May Cause Miracles,” a 40-day guidebook offering a spiritual lesson every day. I did not complete it – I went through about three weeks back in August 2016. It was interesting and helpful, but I let life take over and I just never went back to it. As a follower of Gabby, I plan to use this book to carry me through Lent (along with her monthly Miracle Membership).

My theme of the year – 2017 – is the word compassion. Compassion for myself, compassion for others, compassion for my neighbors, compassion for the world. So while you can never quite guarantee what you’ll get out of a certain spiritual practice, I am hopeful that this year’s Lent season will allow me to grow closer to the universe, and to grow in compassion.

And, further, I hope YOU awaken this Lenten season, to whatever practices you desire, to whatever positive outcomes you are searching for in this life. Please, let me know in the comments if you are committing to any practices for these 40 days, and what spiritual guidance you hope to attain.

Featured image courtesy of Don Christner

Love-Full Wrap-Up Feb. 24, 2017

Here are the stories and tidbits making me smile this week … I hope they spark a little love in your heart, too!

Have a story that made your heart sing and tugged the corners of your lips upward? Let us know in the comments … and share the love! Happy Friday. ❤

31

Today’s my birthday.

Truthfully, for most of my adult life, I’ve dreaded my birthday. I never really enjoyed celebrating it; sure, cake and a few presents just for me is always nice. But for most of my 20s, it was me just dreading that ever approaching, inevitable date – when that first number in my age flipped over to a 3.

And then … exactly one year ago, that day actually happened.

And I didn’t care – in fact, I welcomed it.

The internal shift actually occurred a few months before that date … the lifting of the proverbial chains. It is really true, what people older and wiser have said … as you gracefully move out of young adulthood, you no longer care so much about the small-mindedness of other people. You stop caring so much about your appearance, and focus more on your soul. The size of your butt is no longer as important as the size of your heart. You no longer care so much about where everyone will be on a Friday night … it’s much nicer to enjoy a quiet dinner date, or – better yet – just going home and curling up with a glass of wine and a good book.

No, I can’t stay up much later than midnight anymore. No, I can’t really go beyond two or three glasses of wine without feeling the effects the next morning. Yes, those lines around my eyes just magically appeared one day. Yes, the gray is starting to color my hair fast and furiously.

And no – my life looks nothing like what I had originally envisioned as a bright-eyed 20, 21 year old. I’m not married – in fact, I’m newly single so I’m not even close to marriage. I don’t have children. My bank account isn’t where I thought it would be by now. I’m not a famous author. I have a few extra pounds and every so often I can still break out like I’m not a day over 13.

But – to flip it all around – I’m no longer in the process of rushing from date to date, from Friday nights and online dating, in a desperate search for “the one.” When the universe is ready to send “the one,” he will appear. And if it doesn’t happen? Don’t get me wrong; I’ll be sad. I really wanted marriage and children for my life. But I also can be accepting of the alternative. And while I’m not exactly Warren Buffett, I’ve been through enough turmoil in my early career that I can now appreciate my stable job that affords me not only a roof over my head and some food in the refrigerator, but the chance to save a few extra dollars (and even a shopping spree or two). I’m not a famous author, but my writing has improved over time … and it will happen, one day. I’m no longer starving myself to lead to eating binges, or spending hours in a gym. I’m fueling my body with good food and the occasional treat. I enjoy long walks with the occasional jog, yoga sessions and some weight lifting thrown in.

The acne … that’s uncontrollable, but thankfully rare!

So now I no longer fear the passage of time; even though I admittedly am eyeing the day that ‘3’ turns to ‘4’ warily. But I can fully embrace all that I am – and all that I’m not. And I wouldn’t turn back the hands of time and give up this feeling of security for anything, even the real fountain of youth.

(Although if you have a recommendation for a good eye cream, please let me know!)

Here’s to 31!

Love-Full Wrap-Up Feb. 17, 2017

Here are the stories and tidbits making me smile this week … I hope they spark a little love in your heart, too!

Have a story that made your heart sing and tugged the corners of your lips upward? Let us know in the comments … and share the love! Happy Friday. ❤

Valentine’s Day

6874324473_98bcee8678_b

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day.

By conventional wisdom, I shouldn’t have many reasons to love this day. I’m usually single; while I was in a relationship the last two years, this year my love is five hours away in his new role, and we’re currently exploring the boundaries of a relationship that really isn’t a relationship, but still holds a lot of love and respect for each other. It’s complicated (clearly), but for all intents and purposes, I am again single.

But everything is pink (my favorite color), and men are buying roses, and women are making dinner dates, and pizza places are selling heart-shaped pizzas. It’s just fun to have a lot of “love energy” in the air, whether you’re in a relationship or not. I like cheesy romance novels and movies; I like seeing the frantic men looking at cards in the grocery store on Tuesday morning; I like all of the pink-themed bakery items. I just love love!

So in the spirit of loving this holiday but not having a romantic date, this year I am focused on “self-love,” which is actually having its time in the spotlight. I personally think it kicked off with Arianna Huffington’s new Thrive venture, and her crusade on making sure we get enough sleep. There’s also currently a lot of interest in the Danish concept of hygge

My personal opinion is that, as we are living in tumultuous times on a national and global scale, self-love and self-care are more important than ever. I’m of the firm belief that “your vibe attracts your tribe” – and you can only have a high vibration if you take the time to take care of yourself.

So, here are my plans for my personal Valentine’s Day of self-love and care:

  • Yoga. I usually start my days with at least five to 10 minutes of yoga and stretching; today shall be no exception! I’m not really the type to get in a hard workout first thing in the morning, but yoga allows me to get in some movement and connect with my body. I can begin my day grounded and aware of my presence.
  • Celebrating with others. I plan to make the day fun by sharing the joy with my coworkers; since we are all women, we actually celebrated “Galentine’s Day” yesterday! We’ll continue sharing the love today, and celebrating our unique talents we all bring to the workplace.
  • Fancy dinner. By “fancy,” I mean something I like and enjoy! I will be preparing a dinner-for-one at home. While I do live alone so this in itself isn’t that special, I plan to pour a glass of red wine, light a candle, turn off the TV, and just generally make today’s dinner a calm respite from my day. I plan to make this three-cheese zucchini lasagna.
  • Bubble bath. Personally, I love bubble baths. I usually reserve them for either Friday or Saturday evenings, to enjoy at the end of a long week. But today I will not only enjoy a bubble bath in the middle of the week, I will use one of my more expensive, luxury bath bombs AND bring that glass of wine from dinner along. (Who am I kidding … it will likely be a second glass of wine.) I also have a couple of magazines I’d like to read, so those will join me, as well.
  • Reading. My personal rule is no social media between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., and no device usage after 9:30 p.m. Today, though, I’ll put the phone up early and curl up with a good book, one of my favorite things to do. I’m currently reading “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama.
  • Meditation. Just like yoga, I always end my day with meditation. And, just like with my morning yoga, today shall be no exception. To help drift off to sleep, I like using meditations on YouTube from Hay House or Michael Sealey.

I’m excited and honored to celebrate love today by cherishing the highest love of all … self-love. When we love ourselves, we honor the higher power which created us, and there is no more sacred love than that. Consider this lovely poem by the poet/artist rupi kaur:

the universe took its time on you
crafted you precisely
so you could offer the world
something distinct from everyone else
so when you doubt

how you were created
you doubt an energy greater than us both.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends, and namaste. ❤