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Lifestyle, Spirituality

The Magic of Gratitude

More often than not, when we’re feeling stuck, restless or frustrated with something in our lives, we focus on it. We invest energy in complaining about situations, people, places or things that we’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled about. We can’t stop thinking about whatever’s troubling us, pouring over the details and finding ourselves falling deeper and deeper into the difficulty behind an issue. The problem is that when we do this, we’re directing our energy to the wrong place.

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ~ Nikola Tesla, Inventor + Engineer

Like attracts like and the more we feel good, the more we feel good. So when we focus on negativity, we’re essentially perpetuating an existing negative situation and asking for more negativity.

Getting into a habit of gratitude is powerful.

When we’re grateful for what we have – even if it isn’t perfect or quite what we want yet – we’re telling the universe that we’re open for more to be grateful for. We send out the vibe that we’re ready to take on more good things that come our way and that we appreciate what has already been sent to us.

Embracing a sense of gratitude is the same as building any other healthy habit. Research shows that if you can stick to something for 21 days, you’re more likely to make that action a habit in your life. So if you want to start feeling better about your relationships, job, yourself – or anything in your life for that matter – it’s important to direct your energy where you want it to flourish and expand.

Gratitude Challenge

For the next 21 days, take a couple of minutes every day to list 3 things you’re grateful for. Set up an appointment in your calendar to go off everyday to prompt you to sit down with a journal and pen. Reflect on the last 24 hours and list 3 things that you’re thankful for. This can be anything from the fact that you caught the train on time, to the perfect lunch you ate, a kind smile from a stranger or the greetings your dog gave you as you walked into the door after work. Even the littlest things can be a source of joy. Once the universe sees that you’re thankful for what you have, it’ll begin to send you more.

Start right now by thinking of someone you love, someone who has made a huge impact in your life and has supported you through tough times. Pick up the phone and call that person. Tell them why you love them and let them know how much they mean to you. Let them know that you’re happy to have them in your life. You’d be surprised what kind of an impact expressing your gratitude can make on someone’s day and yours.

When you’re not journaling over the next 21 days, try to be mindful when your thoughts are going to a negative space. Catch yourself when you’re getting caught up in negativity about anything and pause to remember all the good stuff in your day instead. I’m not saying you have to shove difficulties under the rug and ignore them but remember that we can often make mountains out of molehills and make a small, crappy situation a bigger deal than it needs to be.

Happy gratitude-ing!

Much love, XXX

Lifestyle, Spirituality, Wellness

An Urban Hippy’s Toolkit: Nature

I adore the city. There’s something about the hustle and bustle, the lights, the energy and the eclectic culture of the downtown core that gets me going. Nothing beats a sunny day on a patio overlooking the sidewalk, lounging while people watching, beer in hand and indulging in a flowing conversation with friends.

I tried suburban living but it didn’t work for me. I need to be able to walk out and grab groceries for the night to whip up a hearty homemade meal. I thrive on the flow of people wandering Queen W with me, soaking up the ambiance and pulse of the surroundings. On my way back from Costa Rica, my heart skipped a tender beat as I caught a glimpse of the city skyline. As they say, there’s no place like home. And the city has stolen my heart.

Despite my love for the skyscraping architecture of the buildings around me – tall glass towers and sleek urban design – there’s another side of the city that I adore and find solace in.

Getting up at sunrise to jog the boardwalk down by the waterfront tops the list for me. The hue of a rising sun hitting the water is simply breathtaking. The city is different at 5:45am. It’s resting pace is calm and almost unrecognizable in comparison to the midday grind.

During the summer, I blissfully soak up the sun as I lean against a strong tree sitting in the grass with my journal and pen in hand, plotting how I’ll be pursuing my passion in this world.

Getting in touch with nature is vital to my sanity.

While I might grumble about the cold weather and the minus-something plummeting temperatures, stomping around in ‘I can’t feel the cold winter boots’ through a fresh snowfall brings out the kid in me. There’s a distinctive glow to the night sky when the snow is falling that almost makes you forget that evening has arrived.

Last week I spent 8 glorious days in Costa Rica rising at the crack of dawn for yoga in the middle of the rainforest, watching hummingbirds gently brush lush green leaves while the breeze cooled my hot skin. I fell asleep to the sound of insects and birds singing their delight in the heat. I stood in the ocean, giggling in glee while the waves crashed against me, engulfing me in its salty healing water, humbled by the vastness of its beauty.

Being there slowed things down for me. With limited wifi *gasp*, no TV and my iPod deliberately tucked away, I was enveloped by the sounds and sights around me. The chorus of cicadas serenaded me as I sat reading and journaling. In the far distance, I could make out the sound of the ocean crashing against the beach.

I was often left with nothing but my own thoughts and wow. It reminded me of how our thoughts can wander EVERYWHERE. With nothing else to do but experience the world around me, I had to remind myself that as long as I was present to the beauty and life around me, there was nothing to worry about.

Sometimes we have to pause, breathe and remember that there’s more to life than tight schedules and busy-ness. We have to catch our thoughts when they wander to the dialogue that tells us that we need to be worrying about something, anything, all the time.

Connecting to nature takes us back to basics and reminds us that our minds can often make mountains out of molehills. A tree doesn’t strain to grow. The sun doesn’t work hard to rise and set. If we can breathe and return to this sense of ease, we realize that the stuff that’s filling our minds and bodies with dread and anxiety probably isn’t as bad as we think it is.

Excuse me while I go hug a tree.

Much love, XXX

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Lifestyle, Relationship

I Love You

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I think it’s only fair that we have a frank discussion about romantic love, no?

Relationships are hard work. It takes work to grow and foster a connection and love can’t exist without a real connection.

When I say work, I don’t mean struggle. Struggle is different. If you’re struggling with someone – if you’re feeling like there’s more bad than good, if you can’t see eye to eye on anything and you’re more sad than happy, that’s struggle and that’s not the same thing.

I’ve had my share of difficulties in relationships. I’ve been married and divorced and rekindled a relationship that I thought was over. I’ve read a shit-ton (that’s the technical term) of articles on love and what writers think makes romantic love last. I’ve read books that attempt to break down love to its most basic tenets to help readers get closer to understanding what keeps relationships strong beyond the honeymoon stage.

There are couples that vow opposites attract. Others are convinced that their love grows stronger everyday because they’re alike in every way.

There are a million pieces of sage advice dished out about how you can tell if you’ve met ‘the one’ and how to know if it’ll last.

You know what I think it all boils down to? Simple. Love.

Let’s be real. There will always be challenges when we throw another person into the mix. Learning to live with someone is a skill within itself, especially if you’ve lived on your own for a while and have a certain way of doing things.

I think the key to a successful relationship – one in which both people feel supported, heard and held – is the ability to toss out the fears and caution behind loving another person and connect on that level.

If you’re going to love someone or claim you love someone, I think you have to go all in.

You have to be ready to have those honest conversations about how you feel in any given situation.

You have to be ready to back down when you’re in the middle of a heated argument and try to see the other person’s point of view. I’m not saying you have to agree but you do have to understand that it’s not always about being right. It’s about discussing, relating and communicating. It’s about respecting that they may have an entirely different point of view, which is neither right nor wrong.

You have to laugh at each other and with each other, not only at the easiest times but also when the chips are down. You have to know how to play with each other. When things get tense, it takes a lot to be able to pull out of a situation and smile at someone you love when they’re doing that little thing that drives you nuts but you know won’t make or break you two.

You have to be eager to rediscover who your partner is. Rather than make assumptions about who they are and what they think – be curious about each other. People change. And despite the fact that you might think you know your partner inside and out, you have to let them surprise you. You don’t spend every waking minute with your partner and there’s no way you can possibly know everything they’re experiencing. There’s no way to know how their perspective has changed on things based on what they’ve been through and how they integrate these experiences.

There are tons of ways that love works. What works for one couple could mean the end for another but love can’t develop, grow and sustain without a sense of connection.

Much love XXX

Learning, Lifestyle, Spirituality

Welcome To The Month Of Love

From Hallmark cards, to chocolate hearts, long-stem roses and romantic dinners, February is often marked as the Month of Love – the perfect time to profess our undying devotion.

We’ve all watched cheesy romantic movies with storybook happy endings. From Bridget Jones and her diary to Katherine Hiegl’s endless pursuit of love, we’re programmed to believe that real love is something we can find from someone else. It’s something that we have to search for from Mr. or Miss. Right. As if loving someone else suddenly makes us more loveable and worthy.

Now don’t get me wrong. Someone loving you unconditionally, despite all your weird habits, past mistakes and eccentricities is fucking magical. But when we find that kind of love, it needs to be an extension – a reflection of the love we feel for ourselves. The whole Jerry Maguire “you complete me” mentality is all wrong.

We have to start with really loving ourselves.

Loving ourselves is about knowing what we value so that we’re surrounded with the right people, places and things.

Loving ourselves is about recognizing and maintaining healthy boundaries so that we invest energy in what counts.

Loving ourselves is about speaking kindly to ourselves when we make a mistake. We take a breath, learn the lesson and move on.

Loving ourselves is about standing up for what we believe in even when others shoot us down.

Loving ourselves is knowing that there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s about seeing us in the mirror everyday, proud to be exactly who and what we are, flaws and all.

Loving ourselves is about chasing our dreams despite the stories that we may come up with that convince us not to. We all tell ourselves stories. We convince ourselves that we can’t do or be something because:

A) Someone told us so.
B) We tried something and it didn’t work the first time.
C) It’s too hard.
D) It’ll take too long.
E) Other people do it better or easier.
F) X event happened X years ago and because of that, we’re stuck.

For the longest time, my story went something like this:

Who am I to have a love that accepts me as I am? Who am I to really love my job? Who am I to shine? Who am I to chase my dreams? Who am I to expect that I can create a full life when there are so many people out there without what I’m wishing for?

Who am I not to? Cue Marianne Williamsom. Note – she refers to G-O-D in this quote. God can be anything you want it to be – the universe, your soul, your angels, whatever you like – this is not about religion. This is about being freaking fabulous.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So what’s your story? What are you telling yourself that’s holding you back? What excuses are you using to keep yourself stuck?

You’re the only one who can rewrite that story to get closer and closer to who you want to be in this world. Rewrite your story. Tell yourself why you deserve everything you want.

And go get it.

Much love, XXX