Sunshine Memories

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Draw or print out a smiling sun. Along the sun’s rays, write down who and what brings you joy. Maybe it’s certain people in your life, activities you like to do, self-care like yoga, massage, reading, exercise, sleep. Whatever makes you happy and brings a smile on your face. Fill out all the lines–maybe not all today, but you can keep adding.
 
Then journal about that person or activity and why it brings you joy. You could write one a day. It becomes your positive memory bank. A place that you can return to when life feels too hard or you simply have a bad day. It reminds you that the sun will always shine.
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Decorate your positive memory bank page. Make it yours. There’s only a right way for you to journal, so do what makes you feel happy. Let your inner creativity shine through.

May Month in Review

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Most of May was maniacal mayhem. Amazingly, I journaled almost every day, but the level of activity for work, classes, writing, and foundation was too high. Everything else suffered. It’s difficult to find balance when I love all that I do. But there can even be too much of a good thing.

I exercised quite a bit in the beginning of the month, but as life got busier, my self-care suffered. My yoga practice fell off the planet. What I ate went down hill as I reached for fast and easy food. Yes, I know, this is when I should be going to yoga more and fueling my body with what nourishes me and makes me stronger. It’s very easy to write it down, but much harder to follow through. It’s a familiar pattern.

My son came home from college, so the house dynamics shifted. I am adjusting while also loving and appreciating having him home. My house suffered in May. Having another person in the house, yes, but really I didn’t have any time for upkeep and cleaning. I have this bone deep urge to rip my house apart and get rid of junk, stuff I don’t need, in order to clear my life and start fresh.

Create Space:

That’s my goal for no other reason than to be able to breathe a little fuller and appreciate what I have done instead of jumping to the next project because of unrealistic timelines.

Create a space conducive to my writing and creativity.

I am two weeks into June and finally have space in my calendar to catch up. Consistent journaling can be life saving, life altering, and indicative of what is bubbling underneath the surface.

There’s so much that I struggle with and burying myself in work is a way I cope, even if it’s not healthy.

If I want everlasting change I have to dig deep before the eruption takes over everything. That is what journaling during the month of May showed me.

Immediate Goals for June:

Enjoy and appreciate my family.

Get Saving Atlantis to my proofreaders by June 18. Get book to the printer by July 6. It’s a couple weeks off schedule, but still where I want it to be.

Get back to my yoga practice, healthy eating, and exercise.

Journal, journal, journal

How was your month of May? What are your goals for June? It’s never too late to change or start again.

 

Month in Review–February

I can either say that I needed a few more days in February or I have to continue my quest for time efficiency. Of course I can be the most efficient person, but if I take on too much, I’m not going to get everything done.

That was the theme of February for me. There were fun times, happy moments, first birthday party for my nephew, Liam. Here’s a photo in case you need some cuteness in your day.

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Valentine’s Day date with my hubby, outings with friends, my sister, and sunny days to walk my dogs.

But there were a lot of days where I didn’t get the work done that I needed or scheduled. I have become better organized using my journal as my calendar. I did start prioritizing by listing my monthly goals, but they aren’t translating into my daily business.

As I review my journal entries, I see a shift toward growing my writing and teaching business, plus lots of ideas that tend to distract me. There are entries like: “I’m not getting my work done.” Or “I bought mechanical pencils and I have no idea what happened to them! I frustrate myself!” The dogs didn’t eat them. In my frenzy of activities, I probably threw them out. Another entry, “I’m still saying yes too much.”

Seeing how much I had in my schedule did make a decision for me not to take on a mentorship, even though it would have been wonderful. If I can’t put 100% into it, I shouldn’t do it.

There was at least a week of not journaling. Not straight in a row, but a couple days here and there. I’m out more nights than I’m in and that is plain exhausting.

Where I thrived and hummed with happiness was when I was writing and teaching my Writer’s Journal program to fourth and fifth graders at Karigon. I know this is where I should be spending my time. Writing and sharing how to write is a huge part of my journey. I only need to clear the path.

One of the best parts of February was getting outside more, being on my yoga mat, and putting my health in the forefront of my day. I feel the benefits.

March

My goals for March? Stay home as much as I can. Get a solid 2nd draft of Saving Atlantis done to share with my beta readers in April. Plan more school writing workshops and write, write, write! Writing my goals down and what I want to happen is the first step. The second is scheduling it into my calendar and sticking to it.

How was your February? What are your goals for March? What is important enough to spend your time on?

Keeping track on how you feel about what you are doing gives you an idea of what is nourishing, dragging you down, or revving your engine! Pay attention and put it into action!

Combating Self-Doubt

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Photo by Alyssia Thomas

I strongly dislike the days when self-doubt takes over. When no matter what I try that feeling of I have no business doing what I’m doing lingers over me and grows like black mold. That was my day today. Despite the fact that I stayed home, sat my butt in the chair and did work, nothing felt right. I was frustrated by my lack of spark. Finally, I took my dogs and walked away.

Removing myself from my self-doubt is like walking away from a dangerous situation. If I stay in it, I may not be able to get out whole. I needed to protect myself, my self-esteem, and my energy. I decided to work it out. The physical exertion of yoga pushed me out of my head and into the moment and the power of me. By physically releasing my frustration, I beat at that self-doubt. How can I not be enough when I am physically challenging myself and kicking butt?

I gave myself the space and stepped away from what wasn’t working. I wrote about why I do what I do and what I want to give and share with others. For whatever reason, I couldn’t see it today and that’s OK. Sometimes that self-doubt actually serves to ignite the fire in me so it burns off my darkness and lets my light shine through.

Write down why you do what you do, what you want to share with the world, and how you will let your light shine. Burn that self-doubt away.

Baptiste Sisters—Gratitude Day 15

Sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt to get back on our path. Some days we need to be dragged. 

Karen, far right, did that almost three years ago to get me to a yoga class. I wish she had brought me sooner.

I have been struggling with a sinus infection for three weeks and haven’t made it to yoga. Once that happens it’s so hard to get back. 

Cara, pictured in the middle, is our Baptiste sister who trained with us. She came up for the weekend. She and Karen went to a 90 minute class yesterday. I wasn’t up for it and was bummed. 

This morning we planned to go. I woke up and told myself all the reasons of why I couldn’t go. But I knew since my sisters would be there, I needed to go. For the support, Community, and get me back on my path. 

They have been where I am, understand the hesitation, and know how to push me past my barriers. 

So thank you Cara and Karen. I am grateful to have you both in my life on and off the mat!

Community–Gratitude Day 11

Today I am grateful for the amazing communities I have connected with over the years. They have transformed me, supported me, helped me grow, and become stronger.

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The library and community of writers that I get to work and create with are the most encouraging and open-minded people I know. I am grateful to have an amazing group of writers who critique my writing and make me a better writer.

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My yoga community has kicked my butt, twisted my insides out, and flipped me upside down all while teaching me how to breathe and love myself. I have never seen such an accepting group of people. I can walk into any yoga studio anywhere and feel like I have been there for years. It’s transforming and empowering.

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My karate community challenges me every time I’m on the mat. The life lessons I have gained, the family that has become my own, and the foundation that we have built has sustained me through some of my hardest moments in life. They accept my goofiness, push me beyond what I think I can do, and literally kick my butt so that I’m safe on the street.

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The childhood cancer community is a balance of devastation vs. compassion and love. I would have never thought that losing a child to cancer would expand my family in such an incredible way. Cancer is absolutely horrible and if I could I would find a cure tomorrow and wish my boy back. But in the midst of horror, sadness, and pain, we as a community choose to find joy and have hope. That is the strongest definition of community.

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Family. It’s an old photo, but a damn good one. So much has changed in 12 years, but my family is my heart and has taught me the power of community.

Community: come bring unity to all. For all my communities, I am grateful

My Yoga Mat–Gratitude Day 4

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Sometimes the most important parts of us get pushed aside when life gets too busy. This always happens to me during this time of year and getting sick hasn’t helped.

Today I forced myself to uncurl my yoga mat, and as I knelt down into child’s pose I felt relief. I had finally arrived to my space where nothing is good or bad, deadlines, emails, and phone calls don’t exist, and judgement isn’t allowed. I felt like crinkled paper thrown in a trash bin, but after a huge coughing fit, my lungs settled down, and I flowed.

My mat is my sacred space. I can turn off the world, I can let my feelings flow, and I accept me as I am. I wondered why it’s the first part of me I let go when life gets hard.

Today I’m grateful for my yoga mat and whatever guidance pushed me toward it. The beauty of a yoga practice is I can do it anywhere, anytime, and I can always begin again no matter where I have been. It’s accepting, forgiving, supportive, and gives me the space I need both physically and mentally.

What I have found only four days into my month of gratitude is that I’m looking for the good things in this world. I’m searching for those moments of kindness toward myself and toward others. Being grateful opens the door to being a better human being.

What Grounds You

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For the last fews days the topic of forming my physical foundation and grounding myself has come into play. Much of what I physically do requires a solid foundation. In yoga, whatever is touching the floor is my foundation and connection to the earth.  Even today in class, when we were on our back, Jess expressed the needs to press every part of my body into the mat to feel connection and draw strength from it.

In martial arts, my feet are my guide as I smoothly and unobtrusively step across the floor to not give away my next move or have a strong foothold before I kick.

Even in boxing, I am repeatedly told, establish my footing before I hit my target.

My feet, my hands, whatever connects to the earth is my foundation, my center. But what grounds me? What keeps me on my feet and centered when life is off kilter? My breathing has become a huge part of what keeps me grounded. It’s a calming tool that I can use anywhere and provides the space for me to think before I react.

My family grounds me by keeping my head out of the clouds. They connect me to what is important and remind me of where my priorities are.

My spirituality and beliefs are a huge part of my inner foundation. I know I am forever connected my son, Nick, and that is a surety that gets me through the hardest days.

Having a strong foundation that you can root down into when a storm is brewing helps you weather even the most devastating ones. So it’s vital to have it established. It’s like living in a hurricane prone area in a tent. Your foundation is never going to hold.

What is your emotional, physical, spiritual foundation? What do you connect with and how do you root down when life is trying to tear you up?

Sometimes Beginning Again Sucks

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It’s a nasty Monday morning. I went to bed with the intention of getting up early, meditating, and getting back to my yoga mat and harmony in my life. I didn’t get to bed as early as I wanted, texts from my son kept me awake, and my belly is angry at me because of the food I ate this weekend. I haven’t been dedicated to my yoga recently and basically I’m cranky!

A big part of my yoga and journaling practice is the mantra ‘begin again.’ Yes if I eat Girl Scout cookies and my belly hurts, I know if I wait long enough that horrid feeling will go away and the next time I see cookies, I can say to myself, “Don’t Eat Them!” But sometimes I just want a cookie. But I know I shouldn’t eat them, because they upset my stomach. And when my stomach is upset, the possibility of having a soulful yoga class is completely out of the question, because my body feels like someone dropped me in a deep murky lake with a cement block tied to my feet, and I’m sinking fast.

For me, the idea of beginning again whether it’s the next day or the next minute of my day is about figuring out how to let those bad choices go. Yes I missed yoga for a week, because I’m concentrating on another goal and I have too much on my plate and I’m putting myself second. It happened, but today I’m going to yoga, and although I’ll suffer through the class because of my bad choices, I have made a great choice to be there. Hopefully that wonderful feeling will seep into every area of my life.

Beginning again is also about being able to find that space between the emotions that cause the need for the bad choice and the action that is caused by the emotion, the stress or whatever it is. For me it’s usually emotions and that sense of being overwhelmed.

So today I may not be very yogi-like. I may be pissed off and playing catch up, but I will forgive myself, go to yoga, and begin again. Sometimes that all I can do.

What are you going to begin again today?

 

Root Down to Rise Up

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Drawing from http://www.hellokids.com, but you can draw your own.

I did this healing exercise in both my adult and teen journal writing workshops. On the tree and in the branches, they wrote words that positively described them, how they were special, and how others saw them. Then under the ground in the roots, they wrote their values–what was important to them.

The oak tree has always had a strong symbolic meaning for me. My connection to trees is deep. (When I was a child, I sat in them for hours and read.) Despite the storms, wind, and rain, the oak tree bends, but it never breaks. Its roots run deep, its core is powerful, and it rises up to not only persevere, but to be a beacon of hope for the world.

It’s been a tough week on many levels, and everyone has those days, weeks, months that just seem like endless storms that pummel our spirit and soul. It’s not easy to dig deep into our roots, our values and let our positive attributes stretch forth when we feel like the world keeps knocking us down.

I went to yoga after my teen’s class, and as I reached my arms to the ceiling and rooted my foundation into tree pose, I thought about my positive attributes. What do I root down to in order to rise up to not only get through another day, but to make my life, my family, my community, and the world a better place? What do I reach for?

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

One word came to me–optimism. My hope and intuitive belief that the crisis that I’m in or the sadness that I feel will get better is what grounds me. No matter how devastated I have been, I have always reached up and reached out for the good in life, the best in others, and hope in myself that I can make this world a better place.

But it all begins with me. If I don’t grow deep and strong roots, if I don’t reach out to help others or ask for help, my branches are fragile, and I will break. Yes, some of our branches do break, but the core of who we are is forever powerful if we root down, dig deep, and find beauty, love, and sunshine no matter where we are in our lives.

So I ask you. What makes you strong when the winds of life beat on your branches and threaten to tear down your foundation? How do you dig deep and root yourself to the earth, so that your spirit isn’t ripped away? What makes you special? I hope you come up with at least 10 adjectives, because you have so much to offer. What is important to you? Knowing this makes you a powerful entity. Living by your values and sharing your unique attributes creates a community that is stronger together.

But it all begins with you.