Thursday, January 31, 2013

February 2 is a big day around the US. Not only is it Superbowl weekend, but it's also Groundhog day. But what some people don't know is that February 2 is a very special day for one other reason as well. It marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice (first day of winter) and the Spring Equinox (first day of spring.) On this day, winter is officially half over!! For thousands of years, it has been celebrated with festivals all over the Northern Hemisphere. Lighting Fires and drumming to wake up the earth are common practices. So this February 2. light a candle, do a little drumming or dancing and celebrate the coming arrival of spring!! Having something to celebrate is always a good thing. :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

On Death and Dying

I had an interesting question posed to me the other day and it got me thinking. If  you knew that today was your last day on Earth, would you do anything differently?  It's not as easy a question as it first sounds. My gut reaction was to say, "No.". But after thinking about it for a while, I wondered if there might be something I would do different. My answer turned to yes. I would make sure I told  everyone I know how I feel about them. I would tell them all of the things I love about them, you know, those little things we just adore about someone but never bother to say. Why is that anyway? It's like giving compliments has become a thing of the past. But I digress. I would try to do one thing, just one little thing to make a difference, no matter how small. Maybe I would do a little extra to help the environment or help a stranger with their groceries or write a letter to my Congressman(woman) to help make a change in my community. Things I WOULDN'T  do: I wouldn't stop trying. I wouldn't stop loving. I wouldn't stop taking chances and I absolutely would not put a pair of shoes on. 

I have to wonder though, why I would consider doing anything different at all. After all, we are all dying from the moment we are conceived and there are no guarantees that we might live beyond the very next breath we take. The person dying of cancer may die suddenly in a car crash. The healthy young boy down the hall may die tomorrow from a cerebral aneurysm. I could walk outside and have a meteorite drop on my head. OK.. that's a bit far out.. but who knows? Strange things happen all the time. My point is, that we all assume that we are going to live to be old and plan accordingly and when something happens that makes us think otherwise, we change how we view the world. A good friend of mine named Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. She was devastated by the news and decided that she would never date again because she didn't want to deal with loving someone then leaving them. I told her that we are all dying every day and that none of us knows when our time is going to be up. It got her thinking. A few weeks later, she met Craig. It was love at first site and a year later, after much success with her cancer treatment, they got engaged. Through Rachel, I learned that every moment is a blessing and that we should never change how we view our lives because none of us can ever know when it will end. I think the phrase, "live like you are dying" is a good one because until we do, we aren't truly living.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My rant for today is simple:
Trust your instincts. Of instinct and intelligence, instinct is the smarter of the two.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Sometimes, one must give up the world in order to gain a Universe." - Mary Caliendo

When we make resolutions, we almost always focus on our goal. We make changes, create new routines and push limits. But as we press forward, we often overlook our secret longings to hold onto old habits and patterns. We admonish ourselves for allowing those thoughts to enter our minds. And then we fail. It is not enough to want something. It is not enough to work for it. To truly succeed, we must allow ourselves the freedom to accept what was and yes, even grieve for, our old lives. After all, it was a part of what made us who we are today. So as we work towards our goals, remember that it to honor our path for what it was, is the surest way to succeed. We can't climb a mountain by starting at the summit. It's the camaraderie at base camp and the climb uphill that make the journey worthwhile. So while we let go of our comfy "base camp", remember that a beautiful summit view awaits us as the end of our climb.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Note About Rituals

 A new year brings with it the promise of a fresh start. But why? Why is it that we choose this one day a year to start over, empower ourselves to do new things and reach beyond our comfort levels? Wouldn't it be better to do it everyday? I think the answer lies in the power of ritual. Setting aside days that are significant and meaningful are an important part of our lives. From celebrating one's birthday, to observing an anniversary, we mark the things that mean the most and in doing so, create value and meaning in our lives. If we take this and scale it down, we can create small daily rituals that can have profound impacts on our lives. We can motivate, inspire, teach and comfort ourselves with just a few simple gestures. Here are a few small rituals that I've heard about (and some I've tried) from readers that have made big differences in their lives:

* "I like to light a candle every morning to invite light and wisdom into my life" - Darlene B.
* "As soon as I pour my coffee, I write down the things I want to accomplish that day and put it in my wallet. I check it throughout the day to make sure I'm on track" - Daniel R.
* "I say a prayer every morning before I get out of bed to have a good day" - Amber C.

So, whether you are looking for some guidance, to keep those resolutions or just to get better organized, bringing the energy of the new year into your daily life can be a wonderful, uplifting experience and help you create the changes you long for. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ten Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Making resolutions is easy. Keeping them long-term can be a challenge, even for the most serious-minded folks. Here are a few tips to keep you going. Enjoy!
1. Make sure your goals are reasonable and attainable within the time frame you set. Goals such as "I'm going to lose 20 lbs in the next two weeks" are not only unreasonable, but could be dangerous to your health. 

2. Include your goals in your daily schedule and make them routine. For example, let's say your goal is to exercise more. Examine your schedule and find a slot that would be doable on a consistent basis. Things like 15 minutes before hitting the shower in the morning and a 15 minute power walk on your lunch break might be easier than trying to carve out a thirty minute chunk of time each day.

3. Make your goal your daily mantra. Write your goals down and each morning, as you get up, read them over. This will reinforce your commitment and keep the drive to achieve them fresh. I like to write mine down on an index card and laminate it. Then, I can hang it on the mirror in the bathroom and read it as I brush my teeth in the morning and at night before I go to bed.

4. Don't be hard on yourself. Making changes to any routine is going to take some getting used to. Setbacks are to be expected. So if you miss a day of exercise, smoke a cigarette when you're trying to quit or forget to put money in your savings account, don't beat yourself up about it. Instead, look at it as a challenge for you to get back on track and keep working toward your goals. Every day is a brand new start.  So start over and keep going! You will get there eventually

5. Remember that changes take time. As citizens of the 21'st Century, we have been taught that we must have everything and have it NOW. If you want to be successful, FORGET that sentiment. Changes take time. Sometimes a long time. Smoking cessation takes weeks for the nicotine to flush completely from your system.Savings take time to build and weight loss and fitness take months to really show. Be patient with yourself.

6. Keep a journal of your progress. Commercials use "Before and After" picture for good reason. Having a point of reference can be a valuable tool to keep yourself on track. In three weeks, when you're feeling like you've accomplished nothing, you can look back in your journal and see where you started and realize that even if you are only one miniscule step away from your starting point, you are still one step away and every step is one closer to attaining your goal. Keep going! 

7. Reward Yourself for each small victory. Every time you complete a small milestone (12 hours without a cigarette, 1 pound of weight loss, 10 dollars in savings,) be sure to reward yourself somehow. A nice hot bubble bath, a relaxing movie night, a new app for your phone, whatever works for you. Don't forget the long-term rewards too. If you're quitting smoking for example, put the money that you would have used on cigarettes in a savings account. At the end of the year, use that money to do something special. If you're losing weight, put a set amount of money aside (say a dollar) for each pound you lose. Then, when you've lost the weight, splurge and use the money to buy something you want or put it toward a nice night out with friends.

8. Be proactive! Your home is your sanctuary, so prepare it for your new lifestyle. Remove temptations (junk food, ashtrays, etc) and make small changes that will encourage you to keep on track. For example, if fitness is your goal, set aside a special "fitness" drawer in your dresser to hold your workout clothes and a small space (even a corner of your bedroom will work) to stretch and do simple exercises like push-ups or crunches. Create healthy menus for the week and if you have time on a Sunday, cook up meals and freeze them ahead so that you can have healthy, hearty meals even on those crazy nights you have to work late.

9. Share your Dreams! Sharing your goals with others and enlisting their support will help you stay on target. 

10.  Last but not least, Get Involved! Joining others who are working on the same goals as you are will help keep you motivated and working toward your goals. Fitness Clubs, Weight Watchers, and meet-up groups will help get you out of your old routine and make you "accountable" for your success. 

Have a safe and happy New Year!