Live the Life You Love

How much do you love what you are doing? With your life? With your partner? With yourself? Are you able to look around your life and feel like YES! this is what I want to be doing? If not then it’s time for you to reevaluate your life and how you life it.  Read on to change your life.

First, take stock of what you are doing and why. What drives your daily routine? Is it material items you don’t care about? Is it work that you feel betters the world around you? Is it what you want to do or what someone else wants you to do?

Now I don’t ask these questions with the expectation that you will drop everything to do a 180 in your life today, however you can start small.

The next thing you need to do is figure out what you want to do. Write a mission statement. Begin by writing down one statement that encompasses what you want your life to stand for. Sometimes it can be helpful to start this process with a paragraph about you someone might read at your death. What would you like them to say about you? What is the impact on others and the world you have left behind? Once you have an idea around what you would like your life to stand for write down the why behind your passion. What is the driver of this desire?

Then write down one thing you can do each day to move closer to this living this life. Now start doing that thing every day. My experience has been as I begin with one thing it snowballs and soon I am doing a number of things that support the life I want to live and I am no longer living a life that drains my energy, steals my excitement, and leaves me feeling life – less. Instead I feel life – full.

Strength & Gardening

How many of you have gone into the garden full of hopes and dreams, excitement and desire only to come out with a sore back and tight hamstrings? A day in the garden doesn’t have to result in miserable pain when you take a few pre and post gardening steps. 

First, gardening actually requires quite a bit of flexibility and strength. We have to reach and twist and lunge and haul. So don’t ignore the importance of overall strength training.  Regular strength training helps ensure

that we’ll have enough core strength to reach for and pull those weeks while on our hands and knees. This move is actually a complicated move involving multiple muscles, joints, and our balance systems. Many folks would decline doing this move on their living room floor however don’t think twice about it in the garden only to wonder why it seems so difficult. Part of that is the mental component. It’s part of gardening so we don’t think it should be so hard, it’s what we’ve (or watched others) have done and it’s how we complete this task.

Second, don’t underestimate a good pre and post gardening stretch. Doing the activities in the garden may not feel like work to us – we love the smells, feel of the soil, the sense of accomplishment, etc. And … our body has worked out so treat it with a good post garden stretch session. It may even deserve a warm shower and good rub of lotion across those muscles. A regular flexibility program can help here, too. Stretch all the major muscles groups by going to the point of tension and holding. Take 3-5 long deep breaths and slowly release them as you melt into the stretch gently.

Lastly, be mindful. Enjoy the feel of the dirt, the hard work, the wonderful fruits as they excite your tastebuds when you get to eat them or your eyes as you gaze upon the brilliant colors your efforts have given.

The Power of Mindfulness – Build Your Brain

So today on this longest day of the year – just for the next 30 minutes – commit to Mindfulness. Just to see what happens. Just to notice if something is different in your regular routine after you try it. Just get curious. Just see…

This isn’t about a new age-y trip or about religion or yoga. This is actually about building your brain circuits. So why not try it out. See what happens in your brain when you become mindful for a short time. Just notice, see what is different than before. Maybe nothing … but I’ll bet something shifts for you.

This isn’t about a new age-y trip or about religion or yoga. This is actually about building your brain circuits. So why not try it out. See what happens in your brain when you become mindful for a short time. Just notice, see what is different than before. Maybe nothing … but I’ll bet something shifts for you.

Begin by noticing how your body feels, your posture, your hands, fingers, feet, and toes. How are you breathing? How are you holding yourself. Make a commitment to return to noticing as needed.

Then allow yourself to become immersed in whatever project you are doing. Turn off music, put away any distractions, tell your co-worker to be quiet (nicely). Allow yourself to connect with each detail of your project. What are the colors? Textures? Sights? Smells? Sounds? of what you are doing.

Finally, each time you find you are thinking about the future or the past note it as thinking and allow those thoughts to move through and out. If it helps you can tell yourself you won’t forget anything important that needs your attention – but for now you are focused on this project and will come back to those important thoughts once you are finished here.

No judgement – this is a practice for a reason. It’s not easy. So just give it a whirl and notice how it impacts your day. Commit to yourself for just 30 mins – Go On, Give it a try.

Let us know how it worked for you and read other’s comments by adding your story on our Facebook page under this post.

Slow Down, Focus, & Finish Strong

I had a lot to do today. I am feeling a little scattered. I started by getting the kids off to school, then working with my dog on the leash – so she doesn’t break my arm when she pulls, then  I went to work in my home office, which can be harder than leaving my house to work because, then I started to take the dishes out of the dishwasher, started to clean the counters, started to check my email, started to look up the local yoga studio schedule. AND I wasn’t finishing anything I started.

This becomes a problem. I had to complete something or my day would be full of starts and no finishes. That never leaves me in a good mood. So I sat down, took a few deep long breaths to help re-set my system and began again. I looked at my to do list and focused on one thing I could do right now. Finished it, crossed it off, and focused on the next thing, finished it, crossed it off. Now I usually do my blog at the end of my other things to do – hence the lack of postings while I am in mid-semester – so the very fact that I am writing now is a testament to the power of my breath to keep me focused.

What helps you calm your system and focus? What allows you to stop the mental chatter in your mind long enough to feel successful getting one thing done? What will you do today to slow down, focus, and finish strong?

Working out isn’t just about the Body – It’s also in your Mind.

Find the Essence of Life

How do your days go? Do you move through the days looking for something, anything to light you up or do you find yourself loving your life experience? Many of us can probably relate to both experiences with one being more dominate in our lives. In addition, many of us tend to “go through the motions” of life rather than fully experience each moment as it passes. Have you ever thought of trying to get more out of life? Would you like to learn to live yours differently? You can. For many just the process of doing their daily tasks is too much. It sucks the life and our joy right out of us so we need to be vigilant and have an understanding of what makes us happy. If I let my planner get too full of all the things “I have to do” rather than balance between the have-tos and want-tos of course I’m going to be crabby!

You can make small and simple shifts in the way you think that can bring balance back to your life and your life will naturally become filled with essence. Begin by noticing where your attention goes all day. Who saps your energy, who brings your more, what tasks do you cringe at doing, and which ones can you let go of and delegate to others? Just begin to notice without trying to change anything. Jot your findings down if you’d like. Also, begin to notice what brings you joy, energy, happiness, and contentment. Who are you with, what are you doing, can you repeat these experiences? Again, just notice, write it down only if that feels like a good idea.

As you begin to notice what brings you joy, happiness, and contentment begin to notice not only the emotion but also your posture, physical feelings, actions, thoughts, and facial expressions. How do you change with your whole body? How do you send those positive feelings out into the world? Do you smile at people you don’t know, do you say kind words, do you let trivial things pass? These simple things have the power to change the world and they all begin with you living your life to the fullest and experiencing your essence each day.

Think it is too simple to work? Don’t underestimate simplicity. Try it for 5 days and notice what shifts for you. Notice your thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms, and how you treat yourself and others when you are living life more fully. Only begin to shift your activities when you feel ready to do so. Sometimes all it takes is slowing our thoughts down enough to get off auto pilot. At that point the pain of staying the same becomes to great to continue living the way we have been and we can begin the process of small changes toward creating the life we want.  A life full of essence – yours.

Be Free This 4th of July

The fourth of July is here once again. Last year I asked you to let go of all that was no longer serving you and celebrate your freedom. Did you do it? What was successful? What was difficult? What will you let go of this year?

We’ve been talking each week for more than two years now. How have our online conversations changed you? How have you evolved? I would love to know. When I am out and about I hear many stories about your lives and would love to hear your story. Change is hard. When we support each other and believe we can make our goals happen. You could be the support another community member is looking for. Amazing things happen when we work together.

Today I want you to think about what you are free from. What have you left behind? Negative thoughts? Excess weight? Belief that you weren’t strong enough? Your slow race time? People who didn’t support you? As you look back on on the past two years what did you start with that you are now free from? Celebrate your emancipation! Celebrate your ability to accomplish a goal. Congratulations! You did it. Celebrate You.

The person you want to be is achievable. It happens moment by moment in the choices you make. As you think about what you left behind and where you are going next ask yourself if you are living now as the person you want to be. We are the only ones who control our behaviors. We may like to think others do, but it really is about you and your choices. Free yourself from blaming and begin in this moment, right now, living like the person you want to be. Start making choices which free you from being stuck and wishing to be different. Be different know.

Free your thoughts to direct your behaviors toward the person you want to be. Stop wasting space acting in patterns which no longer serve you and free up your thoughts to act in ways which do. Once your thoughts are in place to move in a new direction your actions have no choice but to follow. Free yourself to make the change.

Free up your mind and let go of all those thoughts that keep repeating in your head. Let go of worry and anxiety; just be. The 4th of July is all about just being. Relax and let go of all shoulds and coulds and free up your schedule. Feel your skin relax and rest as you free your body and allow space for all parts of you to relax. Don’t worry about places you would like to change or see differently in the mirror, toss the ideal and free your expectations and just begin doing. Accept who you are today for all your greatness. Tomorrow you will be great, too.

Sounds good, I know. Sounds easy, not really. This process isn’t easy. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Its not easy, but you can do it. Free yourself from the voice that says you can’t. Practice selective hearing and hear only; you can. To begin practically take the Healthy Lifestyle Challenge This week. Free yourself from constraint and begin your new healthy life today. Free You – Be You.

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge:

Begin by letting go. For the day practice being present to the moment. In each moment throughout the day you have a choice to do this or that. Decide which one leads you closer to the person you want to be and choose that choice. Each time you realize you are not paying attention just decide to pay attention again and repeat as often as necessary throughout your day. Goals are just the end result of many little choices made all day long over weeks, months, and years. Easy, no…doable, yes.

 

Take Time To Breathe

So many of us run from one thing to another while life passes us by so quickly we can’t keep up. Today take time to breathe, slow down, and notice. Here are 5 ideas to heighten your awareness.

1) Stop – right now, whatever you are doing and notice how your body feels
2) Take 5 deep breaths – allow your belly to rise and fall and notice how it feels to breathe deeply
3) Notice all the colors around you – what do you see? Describe it in detail
4) Watch the clouds moving by – just notice and don’t focus too hard on any one
5) Pick three and try them at least 2x each today

By taking time each day to notice how we are connected to things around us, our life becomes richer. In addition, we begin to see the small ways life is beautiful, perfect, and mystical. Enjoy!

Taking a Deep Breath Can Help You Manage The Holidays

As we blow through this holiday season searching for the perfect give, what have you done for yourself?We spend time wandering, looking, finding the perfect gifts. We expend all our energies finding things we believe others will want, but what about ourselves? Have you taken time for you?

We know that exercise combats stress but it’s the first thing many people slash when their schedules get overloaded. When we take deep breaths, exercising or not, we elicit a relaxation response, this in turn helps our body release hormones that calm us. They help slow our systems down. The result? Clearer thought patterns, more productive, more enjoyable everyday experiences.

Take some time for you this holiday season and don’t ignore the importance of exercise.

How Will You Give Thanks This Season?

The season of giving thanks for the abundance we have is upon us.  How will you be celebrating what you are thankful for this year?  

You could:

Take a walk in the woods. Listen to the silence and notice the peace which surrounds you. We are lucky to live in an area that allows us to get into nature easily. The Superior Municipal Forest off 28th street, Wisconsin Point, Pattison Park, Amnicon Falls, and more are available within minutes.  Beware of hunters!

Collect fallen leaves and write what you are thankful for on them. This is a wonderful  activity I do with my children. After collecting leaves I write what each is thankful for, then paste them to a “tree trunk” made of construction paper.  Their Thankful Trees become our decorations for the season. It is a wonderful way to help children understand the abundance which surrounds them and to talk with them about what is meaningful in life.

Make a list. Write down all the things you are thankful for and say thank you. If you can tell the people responsible for the items on your list. If not say thank you out loud – no one has to hear but say it and feel it.

Get out and do a Turkey Trot, a Christmas Fun Run, or another active event for charity.  This is a great chance to feel your own strength, give thanks for it, and help others in the process. Not to mention the friendship and camaraderie you gain and can give thanks for as you build relationships in your life.

When cooking meals for those who will share your spaces this holiday season, create healthy meals and do so with love and enjoyment. As Kahlil Gibran states in The Prophet, “For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.”  Give thanks for your friends and family by cooking healthy foods for them.

Watch the snow fall.  I know snow means winter has arrived, but without winter we would not have spring.  As the days turn colder we move within ourselves.  Think about the amazing task it must be to create snow, and so much.  Think about how beautiful the land looks when covered by a blanket of white.  Think about how quiet it is after snowing – to me it is always more quiet.  Enjoy the quiet and give thanks that you are able to watch this moment.

I know I’ve been a bit more philosophical this time, but I do believe we are surrounded by abundance if we chose to look.  Even in these times of economic crisis, crazy politics, and uncertainties we are surrounded by beauty and in beauty we find abundance for the spirit. It takes us to realize the abundance in our lives and through activity and rest we are better able to see what surrounds us, feel what moves us, and give thanks for what we do have in our lives.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

The Art of Being

The art of being. The ability to just let the flow and rhythm of your world take over. Times when we are able to let everything but we are working on in this moment go when the world has aligned for us. Times when we just be.

To focus on one thing at a time. To just be and in being it is enough; doing exactly what you should be doing in this moment. Keep in mind your body has its own best interests at heart. Gobbling down extra chocolate cupcakes? I won’t say wrong, but I would examine motives: am I being present to this moment or hiding from another?

The mind likes to be active and can spin out of control finding all sorts of forgotten things, like where that thing I lost two years ago must be hiding. When we slow our minds we are better able to connect with our higher selves, to listen to our bodies, and have more clarity about what we are doing and why.  Life becomes vivid.

To get started try to remember a time when you were totally caught up in the moment.  Were you dancing, walking, gardening, doing dishes, playing with children, what were you doing the last time you completely lost track of time?  Remember how that felt.  Do you remember the bliss of just being?  If a moment eludes you don’t worry.  For many we are so driven, focused, or have been taught idleness is wrong we try hard to avoid it and instead stay busy.

The easiest way I know to slow my mind is movement. I find a simple activity I can do while staying conscious of my breathing, like walking. With each step I step mindfully. In other words, I am focused on where and how I place my foot, how the movement feels in my body.  Step one I inhale, step two exhale, and repeat the pattern. If I get lost in thought, I just come back to the pattern of stepping and breathing. Try this for 2 min, 5, or 50.

Once you have the basic feeling of staying mindful transfer this technique to other activities, such as housekeeping, playing, or sitting. This is a time to keep your mind clear so TV, radio, and other distractions are not the point. The point is to go inside yourself so you can listen to your thoughts, feelings, and needs better. Those things take us out of ourselves and distract us.

There you have it, at the beginning of the holiday season, the art of doing nothing and permission, should you need it, to just be.