Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days, but it is nothing new. Mindfulness plays a large role in Buddhism (around 5th century BCE), but today, hectic schedules, long work weeks, crammed social calendars, and a strong addiction to technology has many craving simplicity. Is this you? Do you wish you could, just for a moment, stop and catch your breath? Well, you can. It’s easy, and you can do it anywhere at any time. Proper breathing is the essential first step in gaining control of your attention, to slow you down enough to be mindful of the present moment. There are many different techniques available, but the following is what I do and swear by its effectiveness:

1. Inhale through your nose for a count of six (ideally your stomach should expand as you inhale). Think to yourself, “In” as you breathe in.
2. Exhale though your mouth for a count of six. Think to yourself, “Out” as you exhale.

Repeat three times.

All that exists in that moment is your breath.

Your heart rate should slow down and you will feel more relaxed. Do this deep breathing as often as necessary throughout the day, whether you’re stuck in traffic, feeling overwhelmed at work, or when facing a difficult situation. During the workweek I have Outlook reminders set for the top of each hour as a reminder to breathe and refocus for the coming hour. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself to come back to the present moment and relax.

Breathe… You’ve got this.

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Making Plans vs. Making Goals

Making Plans vs. Making Goals

Today I am grateful for my overall good health. I had a bone density exam last week and the results are I have osteopenia in my lower lumbar (on top of the arthritis that is there). While osteopenia is not as severe as osteoporosis, I was still shocked at the diagnosis. I’m someone who does the weight training (for years), eats well, takes the extra calcium and vitamin D. The diagnosis ultimately ends my plans of eventually getting back into running, which is a bummer. I’ll just have to keep going with the cycling, and I assume, walking (which is fast-paced on a 10% incline – I beg the universe to not take this from me!). But other than this, I always feel fantastic, years younger than what I am.

I am grateful we got the garden planted this past weekend. Now just hoping the plants make it!

I am grateful for my quiet life. I adore it.

I am grateful for the love of great friends. Looking forward to spending an evening with one tonight at a Sixx AM concert.

I am grateful for my almond butter chocolate chip cookies (I use this recipe) – they are AMAZING! Make them all the time.

I’ve been thinking even more about this blog/journal and what more I can offer. I had a topic in mind for this week, but realized I needed to do a little research on it before posting. But lately me and the word “goals” haven’t been getting along well. I once loved setting goals, but after years of doing so I found myself pushing back against the ones I set for myself. I started feeling restricted rather than organized. I came to resent goals. I just wanted to live life, unbound by always being tied up in one goal after another. (Funny – as I sit here typing about goals I can feel my heart rate increasing. Automatic notice I’m entering territory I’m not meant to be in). But, in order to have a coherent and relevant journal, some additional thought has to go into it. So I’ve decided to make plans for more enlightening posts. Making plans sounds more fun to me, more relaxed. Like saying, “Let’s make plans to get together tonight!” or, “I’m making plans for summer vacation!” So much more fluid, I think, than “making goals”. Can you imagine saying to a friend, “Let’s make a goal of going to lunch tomorrow.” I feel like the date would need to be quantified on its effectiveness afterwards! Don’t get me wrong, goals have their place. But after a life filled with them, I’m over them.

So I will be thinking of a plan for next week’s post. But outside of that, I’m letting the universe take the wheel, trusting in it’s guidance. In other words, I’ll be enjoying life, as is. I hope you will as well.

Peace, love, happiness, and harmony always.

Begin once again…

Begin once again…

Been MIA the past couple of weeks mainly because I just wasn’t up to writing. Was having doubts about whether it was worth continuing the blog. Was having doubts if I cared enough to continue. But today I decided I’ll keep going, for me. And also because I hope to inspire at least one person to start journaling each day so they can focus on what they have to be grateful for in his/her life.

I am grateful to be working from home today. I think if I was allowed another day or two I would remain with this job for the next year. Please guide me.

I am grateful to be able to knock out all the housecleaning today! I do believe this Tuesday schedule is going to work perfectly.

I am grateful for my new Vans – I love them!

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Polynesian flair!

I am grateful for the sound of rain and the birds singing. The rain is nourishing the soil and will make for easy planting of my flowers and vegetable plants.

I am grateful for my perfect health. I am always healthy. My hip is healed and I am moving forward.

I am truly happy and excited about getting the cleaning done today – absolutely perfect! I know, totally corny, but it’s the little things. I am also feeling good about dropping the incessant need to be doing something “more”. It’s a huge sense of relief. I am currently successful. I do have everything I need to live a great life. When I think of those going without, it makes me embrace my wonderful life even more. I have the love of a good man; I have a job that pays exceptionally well for little output, and I have a great boss to boot (and great benefits); I have a roof over my head; and I have an abundance of good food to eat. I can afford whatever I want whenever I want it. Hubby and I can travel anywhere we want whenever we want. My life is perfect right now. I know the universe has been trying to point this out to me for years, so I thank the universe for putting up with my resistance for so long. I’m grateful the universe is always presenting me with what I need at the exact time I need it.

Hubby and I are looking forward to our upcoming trips: Cozumel and later this summer, Colorado. Already looking into the hot springs I want to visit in Colorado. We need the break.

Today is a great day. I am happy. I am relaxed. I am at peace with myself. I am enough. I am capable of doing whatever I want, and I am grateful for this ability. I am grateful for the love and guidance of the universe. Life is what I make of it. I control who I allow in. I chose my emotions. I choose happiness above all else.

Much needed inspiration

Much needed inspiration

Feeling a bit overwhelmed today. It’s the same feeling that always stops by: the one that tells me the life I’m trying to lead isn’t the life intended for me. It’s the same feeling telling me I am capable of so much more. It’s the feeling that keeps me restless. It’s the feeling that tells me it’s time to move on.  It’s the feeling that keeps poking me, wondering why I’m not doing something about all of this. It’s the feeling that’s not going anywhere, that will remain as the tightness in my chest, the tears that fall.

I’m in the mood for inspiring words. These are some of my favorite quotes – I hope others find them as uplifting as I do.

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“Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go.  You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.” ~ Unknown (although I believe it’s a Buddhist quote)

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” ~ Seth Godin

“Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.” ~ Paulo Coelho (THIS!!!! I just keep waiting because of others. I keep pushing desires and dreams aside because of this. I keep denying myself because of this.)

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.” ~ Frank Ocean

“Trust your soul.” ~ Unkown

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ~ Anais Nin

And finally:

“Why can’t I try on different lives like dresses, to see which one fits best?” ~ Sylvia Path (LOVE this one.)

Creative Flow

Creative Flow

One thing is certain about myself – I get bored easily. Going to change the format of these posts a little bit by eliminating the gratitude portion and include more insights and thoughts about art and creativity. Yesterday I spent about six hours doing art – a first for me. Normally I’m only able to steal an hour or two at any given time. Then I read a line from some essay/blog post (honestly can’t remember) that said (paraphrasing) that to do the things we really want to do we need not FIND the time, but MAKE the time to do them. This is an important concept to grasp: finding the time means everything else in your life is taking precedence over the thing you want most. Whereas with making the time, you are carving out specific time to do thing you love/want most, while everything else follows behind. Honestly, this isn’t a new concept for me – I’ve always known this. But old habits die hard – it was always easier to place art (or writing, or whatever) last on my to-do list because it seemed like a luxury. But there will always be something that needs attention around the house, regardless of how caught up I feel with the to-do list. So yesterday I put everything aside and just did art. And it was nice. I admit at times I found myself getting impatient (as I do) over minor issues while painting (the color wasn’t flowing right, the paint was lifting because I didn’t allow enough time for it to dry between layers). And when I caught myself getting tense, I literally stopped, took a deep breath, and refocused. So what if the paint wasn’t flowing right? After it dries, you can just paint over it. And what’s the rush? Just start another painting while you wait for this one to dry. So simple, yet I allow myself to succumb to the pressures from my ego to always be perfect, who then pushes, “While you’re at it, hurry the hell up!”

Once I realigned, getting into the creative flow was immensely relaxing. It’s amazing how time flies when I’m in the flow – the six hours flew by, and I enjoyed every minute. The second image below is one of the new paintings I’m working on. I love painting island landscapes and sea life – it brings me to absolute serenity.

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Current colored pencil work-in-progress (Faber Castell Polychormos pencils). 

People ask if I can paint things other than tropical scenery. While I can certainly try, frankly, I have no interest in doing so. Does this reduce my ability to make money or garner a larger fan base? Possibly. Do I care? Nope. In my year of authenticity, I must always remain true to myself and do only what resonates with me. And in doing so, I will attract those who feel the same and appreciate the work I do and enjoy the fact I specialize my art. Makes us both happy! So each Monday I have off (which is every other Monday) will now be dedicated solely to art. I will also make time for it during the weekends as well, if even only for an hour. Hubby always steals away time for himself by playing guitar, video games, or playing softball and baseball, so why aren’t I doing the same for me and my art? Slow progression is better than no progression at all.

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New oil painting I started yesterday (Winsor & Newton Artisan water mixable oil color).

 

The Comfort and Restriction of Safety.

The Comfort and Restriction of Safety.

I am grateful for the great workouts from the past few days. It feels SO good to be getting back to normal. I am grateful for the vibrant sunrise this morning, grateful I am able to witness such perfection. I am grateful for the bit of spring cleaning accomplished this week. Lifting dirt from out-of-reach places and clearing clutter does wonders for clearing the mind. I am grateful to live a drama-free life. I see others around me live lives that resemble the worst daytime soap opera or Jerry Springer episode and I am SO thrilled to be distant from all of it. Peace and harmony rule my life. And I am grateful my vegetable plant seedlings are kicking ass! 🙂 So excited to plant them in May.

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Seedlings ready to rock! 

Since letting go of the ambitious desire to create my own business I have been feeling more relaxed. But yesterday I started feeling the flutters again of still missing out on something. It’s this elusive “something” that has been picking at me for years now. That feeling that “something” is missing. But what? I’ve asked the universe numerous times to show me what this something is, and I haven’t arrived to a conclusive answer yet. When thinking about what I want to do with myself, the desire to volunteer for wildlife conservation always lights me up, yet trying to figure out the when and how leaves me standing still. I really have a strong urge to travel for a year just volunteering around the world – the elephant sanctuaries in Indonesia and the elephant orphanages in Africa are at the top of the list. I would also love to help with coral reef conservation, perhaps in Fiji. So what’s stopping me? Truth is – nothing. There is no true barrier preventing me from doing this other than the excuse that I have a mortgage to care about and a good job that may or may not be waiting for me when I return. Both are abundantly poor excuses though. I only have this one life, and a passionately strong urge to not regret NOT doing something for the sake of being safe. Safe is comforting at times, but also completely restrictive as well. Safe keeps you from taking the risks that will satisfy your soul. Safe keeps you from experiencing life at its fullest. Safe keeps you from achieving dreams. I want to embrace a baby elephant – and I will! I want to help older orphan elephants in their daily lives – and I will! I want to see this world and breath it in deeply – and I will.

When will I do these things? Soon.

Today is a great day! I am focused. I am happy. I am energized. Peace, love, happiness and harmony always.

Fear & Anxiety in an Uncertain World

Fear & Anxiety in an Uncertain World

I am grateful for the life I have – every moment of it. I am grateful to have a sound mind, one that is filled with love, peace, and harmony. I am grateful to see the good through the bad, the beautiful through the ugly, the right over the wrong. I am grateful to be able to not succumb to the fear, anger, rage that is consuming so many here in this country, in this world.

I decided yesterday to unplug from Twitter for awhile because it’s become a cesspool of fear, anxiety, and an abundance of negativity. Granted, I can control what I look at and have done a pretty good job of cleaning up who I follow, but the ugliness still seems to trickle in regardless. I am not denying what is happening in this country, but putting focus on so much negativity sends my stress levels through the roof. My anxiety puts me on edge and my depression demons attempt to storm back – and I refuse to let this happen. I think what gets me distressed more than those blindly following a fascist are those who have given up hope on progress and good overcoming evil. The ones crying, “The end is near!” and “All hope is lost!” I simply cannot be around this. I cannot tolerate this. Don’t just sit around telling everyone how fucked we are – do something about it. But ultimately, I need to care for my well-being above all else.

I’m usually not this “ranty”, but it’s been eating at me this past week. There is no progress if you live in fear. There is no progress if you hold no hope. My hope is that anyone reading this will kick fear to the curb and embrace positive progress for themselves and for all.

Peace, love, happiness and harmony always.

See the Light
See the light – let it guide the way.