Anyone who knows me - knows I'm all about the balance. So when I saw this blog post by my friend Leo Babauta I knew I had to share it with all of you!
Work-life balance is a bit of a myth.
Sure, we work too much, don’t have time for all the other things we want to do, are always tired, eat convenience food or comfort food rather than nutritious or nourishing food, never have time for solitude … but that’s the life we want, right?
OK, maybe it needs a bit of readjusting. Work and life and learning and relationships and health are all really the same thing, and so “balance” is perhaps the wrong word, but adjusting our lives to our aspired priorities is not a bad thing.
A friend recently asked me how I balance my personal life and all my projects, and it made me pause and think. And that pause, and the thinking, is really the key to it all!
Here's what I've discovered:
1. Pause regularly. In our lives, we are so busy and caught up in what we’re doing that we have no space for thinking. I build regular pauses into my life, so that I have some space for thought. What kind of pauses? I use morning meditation, drinking coffee in the morning with my notebook, my morning shower, a walk alone, tea or a run or other meeting with my wife or a friend, as space for thinking about my life. Pause regularly to create space.
2. Zoom out. When you take a pause, zoom out from the close-up view, so you can look at the big picture. What are you doing with your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Are you making decisions in the aggregate? What are your priorities? And are you living those priorities? You don’t need to think about all of these things during each pause, but use the pauses for this kind of thinking.
3. Readjust. When you notice that you’ve been spending too much time on the computer, and too little with your kids or other loved ones, make a note of it. When you notice that some important projects are being neglected, or you don’t have time for exercise, or your diet has gone to hell and settled in there, make a note. Think about what adjustments you can make.
4. Now actually block off time. Making a note and mental adjustment is great, but it’s meaningless without action. What kind of action can you take to adjust how you actually spend your time? Make a commitment, on your calendar. Not one that you’ll skip when the time comes and you’re browsing your favorite sites. A commitment you’ll keep.
For example, if you want to work out more, make a regular date with a friend to go for a run or do a bodyweight workout in the park or go to yoga class or go to the gym you signed up for 11 months ago and never use. Make a regular date. If you want to work on a project, make an appointment to go to a tea house or library for 3-4 hours just to work on that project. Or commit to a whole week of working on your novel. Tell somebody about it, and better yet commit to getting them the work by the end of the week (or whatever period you choose). Make the time, solidly.
That’s the method. Four steps, done regularly.
Life is a constant readjustment. It’s whether you readjust consciously that makes all the difference.
My thanks to Leo! You can find more great words of wisdom from Leo by visiting his blog - Zen Habits.
Supporting you on your journey,
This week a friend asked me about how clarity can be found in chaos.
My answer was Surrender, but not in the way you might think...
In the not so distant past I made a move from Florida to N. Carolina with my boyfriend. He had been offered a Producer's job with a local news station there. It meant taking a chance (I was in my 40's) but I would be closer to my oldest daughter and so I went. Long story short - he lost his job a year into the move and I was not working at that time. Three of my four grown daughters had come to live with me and it felt like life was going to hell in a handbasket. I was beating myself up for somehow manifesting the situation and I even railed at the Universe. I actually screamed! "Show me what I'm doing wrong!"
Here's where things get interesting... within 24 hours of that frantic cry for help - a calm, peaceful 'knowing' settled over me. I felt really good. I knew that everything was going to work out. I surrendered it all to the Divine. Surrendering was not in my nature (still something I struggle with...lol) so this was BIG.
Outside circumstances declined. Money ran out. My boyfriend could not handle the fact that I was happy and not worried about the future. He packed his things and took the only car we had (and all of the remaining money) and he left to return to FL. Rent was past due. I STILL couldn't bring myself to worry. (What the heck?!)
The day after he left - a miracle came...a Best Selling author that I had emailed with a glowing review of her latest book - emailed me. We talked on the phone and it turned out she needed some remote admin help. She wanted me to be her personal assistant. She immediately sent me a retainer that was not only enough to settle my debts, but also enough to rent a truck, load our things and return to FL. How crazy is that?!
I went on to work for her for two years and during that time I gained some essential tools and knowledge that I use now in my own business. I also began to embrace my life purpose - to help others Heal.
I've often reflected on that time in my life. I know that I learned something invaluable through the experience. I realized some time later that there were so many factors involved. One of my four daughters who came to live with me while I was there (she had left a difficult relationship) met a young man 6 months before I moved back to FL. When I left - she opted to remain there and I now have another amazing grandson (Connor) that I celebrate every day.
The Divine works in such magical and inspired ways!
Yep, great chaos, lots of drama, change, AND a gift (or two) from the Divine. I learned that when you surrender it doesn't mean conceding defeat or that you are being complacent about your current circumstances. It means no longer fighting, hiding and resisting. You can be happy - NOW - knowing that the future will take care of itself.
That said.... I experience these moments less frequently than I'd like. lol I'd love to experience this kind of knowing every day. I still worry. I still fear. I still question myself, judge myself and even occasionally holler at the Universe.
Oh My! But I do it less. I remember this amazing experience and others like it. I smile!
I hope my sharing this experience will help you to remember that surrendering is an essential part of life and Healing. Embracing where we are and choosing Joy. Now. It all opens the door to amazing possibilities!
Supporting you on your journey,
It's only a week into the new year so I'm sure that you're all sticking to your resolutions, right? Easy Peasy. We've got this. Or do we?
With almost 50% of Americans making New Year’s resolutions, close to 90% of those resolutions fail. Why? Get out your pocket protectors, it's time for some science!
For a resolution to be successful it takes willpower.Willpower is located in the area of our brain (prefrontal cortex) that handles abstract tasks, short-term memory and staying focused among other things. Resolutions (especially when we make so many) overwhelm the prefrontal cortex, which like a muscle, needs to be exercised and trained to handle this cognitive load. Kinda like participating in a triathlon before learning how to swim.
To make things more clear; It’s almost impossible for your brain to focus on abstract goals that are not already connected to a specific behavior. The key is to make our goal intuitive, second nature, habitual.
So how do we make our resolutions stick? Read on…it’s easier than you think.
Reflection – Yes, this is the time we look back at the past year and… beat ourselves up for what we didn’t do. Wince at our perceived failures. Say hello to regret, remorse and self-judgment. Sound like you? This can be a familiar refrain for many of us, but with good reason.
Did you know we are programmed to remember and concentrate on the negative MORE than the positive? We think about negative emotions longer, more vividly and in more detail than positive ones.
Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University explains,”As with many other quirks of the human psyche, there may be an evolutionary basis for this. Those who are “more attuned to bad things would have been more likely to survive threats and, consequently, would have increased the probability of passing along their genes,” - “Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less urgent with regard to good ones.”
Okay Gia, so now that we know why - what can we do to clear the air and start with a clean slate?
Sometimes you get the best light from a fire: This may seem a bit metaphysical and woo-woo but keep in mind that this concept has existed since ancient times.
Writing down all of the issues, events and emotions that no longer serve you and throwing the paper into a flame has been seen as a cleansing force that allows us to release the old events of our lives and clear the path for new beginnings. Of course exercising safety and caution is a given.
The Gratitude Jar: Since we’re programmed to concentrate on the negative more than the positive, this is the perfect way to counteract that survival mentality.
Find a jar, a box, an old butter container with a slit in the top, whatever speaks to you (decorate it if the mood strikes) and set it somewhere convenient along with paper and pens (you can add artistic flare here as well with colored pens/torn paper etc.).
When something good, great, momentous, funny or amazing happens – write it down and stuff it in your gratitude container. The physical act of writing things down brings more focus to it. It may be hard to be grateful in difficult or painful times, but even the smallest thing matters. Next Year on New Year’s day take out the papers and read them. Believe me, it will far outshine the negative ruminations and set the tone for a new, exciting year!
Setting Intentions: We’ve talked about willpower and making abstract goals successful by connecting them to behaviors. To make any goal a habit we need to start with only one. Yes, that’s right, one goal at a time! (Your prefrontal lobe will thank you). Once we’ve set the goal we need to take small, easily attainable steps toward success. As we complete each step we can adjust the increment of the next step accordingly. (Keep a journal of your “wins”, it will serve as a constant reminder of your success.)
Leo Widrich has an excellent example of this in his article: The Science of New Year’s Resolutions: Why 88% fail and how to make them work.
“Here is a list of examples of how this translates to some of the 4 most common New Year’s resolutions:
Hack Your Brain and Bring on the Rewards: Shake things up and make some new neural pathways. Our brains strive to be as efficient as possible and that means our neural pathways are quite happy playing with the same old habits. The good news is that our ‘fear of change’ can be bribed into silence by our ‘pleasure at rewards’! When we reward ourselves we feel good and a University of Chicago study shows positive feedback increases the likelihood of successful new habits.
Ben Thomas tells us in his Huffington Post article - How to Stick to Your Resolutions by Hacking Your Brain: “ …psychologists suggest giving yourself little rewards, like a dinner out or a drive in the countryside, every time you meet a milestone or step outside your comfort zone. The more you reshape your expectations of yourself and reward yourself when you defy those old limits, the more you'll find yourself sticking to your goals.”
Now that you're armed with more information it's the perfect time to re-think your resolutions. Choose ONE thing you'd really like to change or incorporate into your life, break it down into manageable steps and remember to reward yourself along the way. Yep - We've got this!
Supporting You On Your Journey,
Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation.
When repeated often, they are impressed on the subconscious mind.
Is it time to have a little chat with YOUR subconscious?
The process of using affirmations pushes the subconscious mind to take action and to strive to make the positive statement come true.
We all repeat negative words and statements in our minds concerning the situations and events in our lives. Words work to build or destroy. It is the way we use them that determines whether they are going to bring good or harmful results.
Your subconscious mind accepts as true what you keep saying. It attracts corresponding events and situations into your life. So why not choose positive statements, in order to get positive results?
Are you using negative statements, such as:
I cannot do this.
It is just too hard.
I'm not strong enough.
I am going to fail.
Are these, or similar words, running through your mind? Then it's time to give your subconscious a new mantra!
Science has proven that positive self-talk definitely brings about changes in the brain.
Whether you are a beginner to affirmations or practice them frequently (and would like to refresh them), here are 10 powerful affirmations that could change your life.
I am releasing that which no longer serves my highest good.
I am Healthy. I am generating new, perfect cells in all of my body.
I am calm and relaxed in all situations.
I am easily manifesting my needs and wants into my reality now.
I am in control of my thoughts and actions.
I embrace love and happiness.
I am successful in all that I do.
I am discovering new and wonderful things about myself every day.
I am receiving more wealth and abundance into my life now.
I am finding it easier to love and accept myself completely.
By stating what you want to manifest - what you want to be true in your life - you will feel and intend it to be true. No matter your circumstances - you will attract these things into your life.
Some of these affirmations are transitional. We can't always go from a feeling of denial or disbelief when stating an affirmation to a feeling of it being real and true. Sometimes we need a bridge. That's where transitional affirmations shine!
Feel free to customize these affirmations to meet your needs or to create new ones! If you have any questions or would like a little guidance please feel free to contact me - I'd be happy to help!
Supporting you on your journey,
The terms Spiritual Awakening and Spiritual Enlightenment have and are used in many ways to describe a wide range of experiences from the most complex to the vaguely simple. From the narrow construct of the dissolution of ego and "separate self" to the theory that we are all "awakened" but not all of us have recognized this fact; it can be difficult to pin down a definitive definition.
I think a good starting point might be to differentiate between "awakening" and "enlightenment". For me, enlightenment infers a constant state, whereas awakening is an action. It would be reasonable then to recognize that each person's individual spiritual journey can be a combination of both. If consciousness is the same awareness in each of us than we all have the same potential to reach enlightenment.
We have the Divine in every cell of our DNA and when we begin to animate the Divine within us....when we manifest our reality from the inside....when we actualize our power and begin to remember the unspeakable joy of unconditional Love - we truly experience a spiritual journey. The journey, the "awakening" is different for each and every one of us. It can be a gradual process, a string of small "awakenings" or a sudden shift.
The tools we use are also different. My Truth is not the same as anyone else's Truth. What resonates with me may not resonate with you. It is my life purpose to provide guidance and tools to help you discover, define and embrace your own Truth. So you can expand your connection to the Divine and live the life of your dreams!