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Best of Our Blogs: July 11, 2014

Friday, July 11th, 2014

It was 3 in the morning. The baby would not stop crying. It had been an hour of this and I was done. I was drained of energy and ideas on what to do next. I knew it was going to be another long day with little sleep. I was on the verge of tears, helpless and exhausted.

Parenthood is tiring. But like any of life’s challenges it stretches us past the point of comfort, beyond what we imagined we were capable of.

Hidden in that moment of pure pain and hardship is an unlikely gift. When we’re ready to collapse in the waterfall of our tears, we’re ready to surrender. Surrendering to a moment that is imperfect, a far cry from what we’d wish for ourselves, challenges us to react courageously. It’s in that moment when we say, “Why? Why does this have to happen to me?” that we’re also on the verge of a breaking point.

Whether it’s parenthood, mental or physical illness or burnout, life is waiting for you to rise to the occasion. The experience of fatigue, fear and powerlessness, does not feel like a courageous moment. There are no trophies, awards or ceremonious applause for enduring it. But for those who encounter an obstacle and choose to be there in it, be proud of yourself for the quiet victory of meeting a difficult moment with pure presence.

{Photo from here.}

{Photo from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: July 8, 2014

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

I often hear people diagnosed with an illness say:

“But I’m not going to change my ___ (diet, lifestyle, etc.).”

I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t want to feel better or do what you can now so you can live a healthier tomorrow.

But then I remembered the four letter F-word that often comes between what we really want and what we think we want: Fear.

We’re afraid of what a diagnosis will mean. We’re afraid of how it will change our lives. We’re afraid that we will never be illness-free ever again. The thought of how we will live our lives henceforth can be paralyzing. It can rob us of our desire to heal. It can take away our power to make positive changes in our lives.

We’re afraid of sacrificing the way we were in order to be who we need to be. But sacrifice isn’t necessary a bad thing. Poet and author Mark Nepo said on Super Soul Sunday that the original meaning of sacrifice is, “to give up what no longer works.”

To you, that could mean giving up the belief that your life will be the way it was, or the dream of who you thought you were. But through loss, trauma and other life challenges, a door opens. Through it, shift happens. We say goodbye to an outdated way of thinking. We say goodbye to what once was. And the life that now greets us may be unfamiliar, but often better than we ever imagined.

{Flickr photo from here.}

{Flickr photo from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: July 4, 2014

Friday, July 4th, 2014

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.” – Sir John Lubbock, “The Use of Life” via Real Simple

I bet you have at least a dozen promises you’re committed to. Helping out a friend, picking up a prescription for a loved one, whipping up something fancy for 4th of July, writing thank you notes for your child’s party, visiting a relative, volunteering, etc. That hardly includes the groceries, the laundry, or taking care of your family.

It’s a long overflowing, unending, list of things to do. For others.

But are you on that list?

Have you forgotten about your own needs in lieu of their needs?

This 4th of July celebrate your own independence by freeing yourself from obligations and the fear of disappointing others. For once, give yourself permission to enjoy your freedom to be.

It’s not your responsibility to mend your family’s wounds. It’s not your fault if your kids or your in-laws are unhappy. You don’t have to be happy all the time. You are not supposed to look like you leaped from the cover of a magazine. You don’t have to put everyone’s life back together. You are capable of controlling only one thing-yourself.

Celebrate you and all of your quirks, uniqueness and abnormalities. Celebrate your freedom to let things slide for just this moment and breathe.

Happy 4th of July!

{Etsy painting from here.}

{Etsy painting from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: July 1, 2014

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Right now what are your greatest concerns? Is it the stack of unpaid bills to your left? Are you worried about the unknown, the future, your career, your loved ones, your health or the health of your relationships?

Youth gives us the privilege of rushing past our days. I often forget that as I’m hitting my to-do list like checkpoints in a marathon. Do more. Be more. Accomplish more than you think you can. It feels like a race to the finish. But what I’m really burning up are moments in my life.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch an early preview of the new animated movie Wrinkles starring Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine. In it, two elderly characters rebel from the institutionalism of a nursing home. It’s haunting to watch them contemplate their own mortality.

Life that was imbued with vitality, an unending amount of choices and busyness inevitably becomes a life shrunken. None of it matters-the trips, the career, past relationships. In the end, what really matters is love.

Let these posts teach us that what we’ve done or what we haven’t done, who we are and who we are not, pale in comparison to who we love.

{Etsy print from here}

{Etsy print from here}

Best of Our Blogs: June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27th, 2014

All I could think about was I was late again, I was the only one who forgot snacks at our mommy group, and why oh why do other people seem ____ (calmer, more put together/accomplished) than me?

That’s one perspective to take.

I could have also focused on the fact that I manage to get up and get out of bed with my 11-month old every week, balance the load of both work-at-home and stay-at-home parent adequately well most days, or that I find time to exercise, have dinner with my husband, and go out with friends.

Instead of beating myself up about the things that are kind of unimportant when you think about it (doing more, being perfect), couldn’t we all just give ourselves a break for the things that matter? Like forgiving ourselves for messing up, for not being perfect, for hanging in there during really challenging times.

Maybe instead of shining a light on our accomplishments, we could embrace our less glaringly obvious virtues, like being there for our loved ones when they need us or being kind. The latter won’t win you applause, fame, an award or promotion, but they also will grow into the kind of gift that’s worth keeping around.

{Photo from here.}

{Photo from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: June 24, 2014

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

It’s officially summertime. Do longer days and hot weather signal relaxation and fun to you or do  you dread it? Would you rather crawl into a black cloud and wait until the all too sunny season is over?

Difficulty happens at every season. Loss creeps up when we least expect it. Discrimination, despair and disease comes during supposedly happy occasions just as it visits us on ordinary days. I’ve learned over time that the most important thing isn’t necessary why it happens, but how we will deal with it when it does.

As you read this, you may be in good spirits. You’re looking forward to time off vacationing with loved ones or spending more time with your kids. You’re excited about tank tops and shorts, parties, and spending more time outdoors. But you could also be in transition-just graduated, got married, recently retired, became an empty nester or a new parent.

Maybe you’re anxious about the increased time with family members, wearing a bathing suit or getting over a loss. If so, give yourself a break. It’s okay to mourn, to be antisocial, and to wish it wasn’t a summer day. Be compassionate toward yourself. But also remember that while it’s not fun, nor desired to go through hardship, if you endure it, you’ll find beauty, depth and wisdom from whatever you’re currently coping with.

“As a shovel digs up and displaces earth, in a way that must seem violent to the earth, an interior space is revealed for the digging. In just this way, when experience opens us, it often feels violent and the urge, quite naturally, is to refill that opening, to make it the way it was. But every experience excavates a depth, which reveals its wisdom once open to air.” – Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred

{Photo from here.}

{Photo from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: June 20, 2014

Friday, June 20th, 2014

When I think of summer, I dream of booking a retreat, some place secluded, serene and life changing. If there was a season that could inspire change, summer would be it. Its carefree breezes, temperate conditions and longer days invite hope and possibility.

You may be like me and dream of a summer getaway, but your finances, work, kids, or your life in general, prevents you from doing so. Here’s the thing. You can give your life a makeover no matter where you are. Use every situation, circumstance and moment as an opportunity to do something different.

You may not be lounging around poolside sipping on a tropical drink or working on your problems with a celebrity coach at a fancy schmancy retreat, but you can still do something good for yourself. Use this time to reflect on your current life and what you want to accomplish at this age, as a parent, with the special circumstances, obstacles and personality that you have. Then make a decision to say, “Yes” to all the things that will bring you closer to what you truly want. That’s how you transform an ordinary summer into an extraordinary one.

{Photo from here.}

{Photo from here.}

Best of Our Blogs: June 17, 2014

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

How many times has your self-worth affected you today?

It may, for example, be the reason why you grab fast food instead of healthier fare.

It’s why you stay in the same toxic relationship(s) with your job, your friends and your partner.

It’s why you live where you do, work where you work and surround yourself with the people you do.

It dictates how you walk, how you talk, how you dress, and how you introduce yourself.

An old college roommate once told me quite generously that I could wear a potato sack and look nice, yet I walk with my gaze down. It was a life-changing statement. I realized that you can’t hide the way you feel about yourself. You can dress nice, speak perfectly and act confidently, but your actions will eventually deceive you. Instead of focusing all my energies on appearing nice, normal, and capable, I would just focus on learning to like me.

That being said, it’s not easy.

It’s much easier to spend money on an outfit, a car, or the gym to make others think you’re confident than to look at the mirror and say, “Hey I know you’re not perfect, but you’re pretty okay.” And not just say it, but actually mean it.

When it comes down to it, most of our problems stem from a lack of self-love. The good news is we can do something about it. You’re here. You’re reading this. You want to change your life. Let these posts on self-care and self-compassion be the vehicles to get you that much closer to loving you.

{Etsy photo from here}

{Photo from here}

Best of Our Blogs: June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13th, 2014

When I hear my baby cry, when he’s hungry, wants that toy, needs to be held NOW, I think about how we all have a little bit of that within us. It’s worsened with smart phones and our instant gratification culture. And it explains why many of us are okay with popping a pill, but skeptical about seeing a therapist.

I think within each of us is a wish for a magic wand. Deep within our unconscious there’s a dream for a secret recipe to happiness and an easy solution to remedy all of life’s problems. Instead of getting our hands dirty in the mess of our lives, we’d rather take a short cut leading straight to happiness, health, love and success.

The truth is if we allow the travesties in our lives to mold us, we will change for the better. Lasting permanent change comes from within. We need to change in order to be changed. We need to do the work in order to grow. But when we’ve done what’s necessary to improve our lives, change our thoughts, address the real issues, the courage it took to face our fears will transform us from fearful caterpillars to limitless butterflies.

{Etsy print by LJA Photography}

{Etsy print by LJA Photography}

Best of Our Blogs: June 10, 2014

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Every moment is a choice. You can choose to be the slow moving sand under the fast changing current. You can be the rock or you can be flexible like the branches of a tree.

You can choose to be your circumstance, your illness, your childhood, your tragedy. But you can also let it be a part of your life and not who you are. And you can do it, for just this moment.

You can decide to be kinder to yourself, your body, and your loved ones.

You can smile for what is instead of what should be.

You can take a deep breath and simply relish in it.

You can leave the dishes alone, the bed unmade, a loved one’s problems to be fixed on their own.

You can have cereal for dinner, leftovers for lunch and dessert for breakfast.

You can choose play instead of work.

You can say how you feel without regret.

You can simply be, and breathe for one single moment. Let yourself go. Let yourself free.

Happiness. Forgiveness. Love. Self-acceptance. Health. Peace. They all take work. But it’s all about baby steps. Let our posts this week inspire you to do something small to change your relationship with others, yourself and your current state of mind.

{Etsy print by SnapshotSeven}

{Etsy print by SnapshotSeven}

Best of Our Blogs: June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6th, 2014

“It is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction…How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell-phone use simply because we don’t do that thing that our heart, our inner genius, is calling us to do? Resistance defeats us. ” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

That’s it isn’t it? It’s the real reason why we haven’t grappled our demons yet. It is the demon. The big enemy that’s standing in our way of everything that we dream of, lust after, obsess over. The healthy body we desire. The relationship we always wanted. The success that everyone else knows the secret to but us. Happiness. Joy. Peace.

We’re just stumbling over our lives on automatic pilot, eating/drinking/shopping it away. Mindlessly. Buying into the superficial life or the lies we tell ourselves. Things like:

It doesn’t matter anyway.

I’m not good enough.

Some things just are the way they are.

I’m just not talented/smart/attractive/worthy of it.

Someone wise once told me, the only difference between you and that successful person out there is that they tried. They don’t necessarily have as much talent, experience or connections. They had the same resistance, fear and uncertainty. But they met their obstacle with courage. What will you do?

You may have an inkling that something’s wrong and needs your attention (whether it’s with a relationship, a therapist, your health, etc.). Let our posts this week be a reminder to listen to that inner voice. Kill resistance by doing something about it.

{Etsy collage by Kitty69}

{Etsy collage by Kitty69}

Best of Our Blogs: June 3, 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When is the last time you had a real conversation with someone. Not a quick chat with a friend online, superficial passing at the grocery store or shared gossip about someone’s “bad” behavior?

When is the last time you had a one-to-one, phones off, open-hearted, uncomfortably vulnerable moment with someone you trusted? When was the last time you shared how much of a dope you were, how awkward you felt, how genuinely apologetic you are for something you shouldn’t have said or did?

I’m not sure either.

I can remember what I ate for lunch, how much projects I have in cue, and how long my baby slept last night, but I can’t tell you when is the last time I had a long, or meaningful conversation with a loved one. And that’s not good.

When I found out that Dr. Maya Angelou passed away, I was as heartbroken as if I had known her personally. She touched a deep place in a lot of people’s hearts. And when I think of her, I am reminded about what’s important-true, authentic connection.

“We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” - Maya Angelou

This week you’ll find a range of reasons why it’s important to prioritize relationships. Our top post, for example taught me how good social support can increase our health and well-being. But click over and you’ll find out how constantly arguing can be life endangering. Another post is solely devoted to Dr. Angelou and the way she’s impacted all of our lives. And there’s one on research that shows we’re wired to connect and empathize with others. There’s lots to reflect on this week. Hope it will inspire you to think differently, reconnect with a loved one or just spend time doing something that truly matters!

{Etsy magnets by RogueRadish}

{Etsy magnets by RogueRadish}

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