Introspection: 5 possible approaches

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a conflict and you’re not really sure how you got there? This has happened with me this week. I find myself in a conflict I would have never predicted and I don’t really know how we got here. It hurts my heart. I do not like conflict and typically work very hard to avoid it. All the same, here I am. I have been trying to use an introspective approach to determine what steps I can take in the future to avoid this same situation. After all, life is about moving forward.

The Oxford Dictionary defines introspection as: “the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional process.”  This seems like a good approach to heal this situation and avoid future ones. What could I have done differently? What within me caused me to react in the manner in which I did? What parts of myself do I need to heal in order to move forward without a similar future situation, like this,  rearing its ugly head? Introspection is about looking deeply within yourself. We can only control our own reactions and responses to situations.

There are many ways to approach introspection. Here are 5 of my favorites.

1. Journaling – journaling is a great way to let the words just flow. It is a safe space to say everything you want to say, and you never know what wisdom may flow onto the pages. There can be many “ah ha” moments while journaling.

2. Meditation – mediation allows you to step away from the circling thoughts and find a few moments of peace. This is a great space to set an intention of having clear guidance and insight flow to you. I find this a powerful process.

3. Therapy – Meeting with a good psychotherapist is a great way to have someone hold space for you to get beyond any issues at hand. This person can often help you identify blind spots or actions you do see, that can cause pain.

4. Exercise – Going for a walk, running, or yoga can also be a great way to go inside. There is something about this process that is not only healing but helpful in gaining insight into who we are and the type of actions we take.

5. Tarot – This one may seem weird to you but I find, working with either tarot cards or oracle cards, is a great way to dig into the subconscious. Our subconscious often has a different agenda than our thinking mind. Even if you do not know what a card means, looking at the symbolism you notice and thinking deeply about its message for you, can be a great source of insight.

Introspection is a great tool. Whether you are currently within a situation that brings a need to look at your own actions and intentions, or you are just on a journey to be the best version of yourself. We all have shadowy areas within ourselves. It never hurts to go in and clear out the cobwebs.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you have introspective insight when you need it, as if by magic.

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Making Time for Your Priorities: 6 questions to ask yourself

What are the things that are most important to you? What are the things in life that you wish you had more time for? Life is so full of the push and pull to do various things, that finding balance amongst all of these, is one of the challenges we all face. I used to look at people who were retired, or didn’t work for one reason or another, and thought they must have it made. They have all the time they need to do whatever they want. As I have paid more attention to this perceived abundance of theirs; it seems not having a job does not mean that there is plenty of time to do it all. These people are still very busy and vocalize having a lot on their plate to get accomplished.

So, I had a couple thoughts about priorities during a meditation this week.

The other morning, as I sat in meditation and my husband scurried around cleaning up the kitchen, it struck me that we make time for the things that are priorities in our life. If we feel that there is no time for our priorities, we need to take a look at our life and see how we are really spending our time. What things have crept into our life that are not priorities, but we just treat them as if they are? I am blessed to have a husband who shares the household duties with me.  He never suggests that I am not carrying my fair share of the load or that I should be doing more and this helps allow for more time. Working a full-time job, that often requires more than full time hours and almost weekly travel, makes the time to pursue things like blogging, planning retreats, offering classes, sharing inspiration, and my own personal development quite sparse. I have changed things in my life to be able to have time for the things I feel are priorities. Here are some things to ask yourself. I have and continue to reevaluate these as life marches on.

  1. Where does time go? By looking at how we spend time, it is possible to find some extra space in the day to do more. Things that steal time for me are playing games on my phone, procrastination (where I stay busy to avoid something else) and the occasionally TV binge.
  2. Is it really important? About 25 years ago, I made a conscious decision that the TV would not be in the main room of the house. When there it steals our time. It is easy to fall into the trap of coming home and plunking down in front of it. Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of really great things to watch on TV. Just be mindful about what you are watching and how much of your time it is truly taking. Is it really the priority? Our Tv (at home) is in a family room in the basement. So that it is not in the center of attention when meals and conversations are had.
  3. Is there another way to accomplish it? We all know that living in a sanitary way is important for health. I am not a germaphobe and my house does not have to be perfect, but It does need to be tidy. Also, according to Feng Shui, a cluttered environment causes a cluttered mind. Your space needs to be a priority, but maybe you make a chore list to share with others in your house? Can you hire a housekeeper? Are there efficiencies you can add like cleaning the shower as you get out of it in the morning once a week? We have worked out a trade deal with one daughter so she comes and cleans our house in exchange for us helping her with things she needs. Be creative!
  4. Is there times when you can multitask? I love audio books! I listen to them while I commute, exercise, cook, etc. It is a nice way to fit in some learning or self development while doing other things that I have to accomplish anyway.
  5. Could you start your day differently? I am a morning person and getting up early to get things done, before the demands for the day start closing in, works well for me. Even if you are not a morning person, is there a way you can make a morning routine more supportive of the things you want to be priorities in your life? I recently started daily meditation again as well as another 40 day yoga practice. I have found that if I get up a little earlier in the morning I have time to meditate, do my yoga, and often even blog, before I have to go to work. Having this routine has been very positive for me feeling more centered and finding balance in my life.
  6. Check your attitude. How is your mood or your tude? In March, I had a tough month. I couldn’t seem to find the energy or desire to blog or commit to other healthy habits. I was eating poorly, vegging out in front of the TV, and I was uncharacteristically crabby. Then I started “shoulding” all over myself, which made it worse. I felt guilty for the choices I was making but yet I seemed incapable of changing them that month. On April 1st, I decided enough was enough. I made intentional changes to take control of my life again. I got my diet back into check, stopped the sugar and restarted intermittent fasting. I stopped zoning out in front of the TV. I started the daily meditation and the 40 day yoga practice. My mood shifted the first day. It is very empowering to take control of your life.

I hope these questions will help you to make your priorities, priorities. Remember that you are a priority and not to give all of yourself away. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you will have what you need to be there for the others you hold dear.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your priorities fall into place, as if by magic.

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Plastic a go-go

I have decided to reduce my usage of plastic. I feel bad when I see articles about plastic being found in the bellies of sea life and that so much of it cannot even be recycled by our local recycling facilities. I want to do my part to reduce the use of plastic. I was raised Catholic and all my Catholic friends and family are talking about what changes they will make for Lent. For those of you who do not know, Lent is a 40 day period when Catholics make some sort of sacrifice or commit to do more good deeds.  Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I decided Lent was a perfect time to start a commitment to decrease my consumption of plastic.

Right off the bat, I learned that at this time, I cannot completely eliminate plastic in my life. Making this conscious effort to decrease my use of plastic has fully brought to my attention how it is everywhere. Let’s just start with my yesterday.  It was a travel day for me. That meant I was served my first beverage of the morning on the airplane. My water was given to me in a plastic cup, so I decide on the next flight to ask for the can of water without any ice and therefore eliminated the use of that plastic cup. For lunch I grabbed take out so I could get into the office and get to work. The takeout summer rolls were wrapped in plastic and came with a little plastic sauce cup of peanut sauce for dipping, that also had a little plastic cover on it. Then it was in a cardboard box which was placed inside a plastic bag with plastic utensils and a napkin.  I do not carry my own shampoo and conditioner with me when I travel. I just use whatever is in the hotel room. That is nicely package in more little plastic bottles.  When I checked into the hotel I was given 2 plastic bottles of water. For breakfast this morning I just grabbed some oatmeal to go. I put it in a disposable coffee mug and covered it with a plastic cover. Wow, this is going to be much harder than I thought, now that I see how much plastic I really do use.

I am having some success in the early phase of my efforts though. At home we are avoiding using the zip lock bags that I love so much. When we empty one that was used prior to this initiative, we rinse it out to reuse it. Out leftovers are getting put into storage containers that are reusable instead of plastic baggies. I am not using the plastic wrap either. If I do need to cover something, I am using tinfoil or putting it in reusable mason jars. Both my husband and I have reusable travel mugs and water bottles. We use those rather than plastic bottled water. We recycle the plastic items that come as packaging on things we buy. We use reusable shopping bags or ask for no bag whenever possible.

Just becoming aware of our use of plastic has got me thinking about how and where can I make other, better choices. Hopefully more and more companies will understand the damage this is doing to our planet and start to decrease plastic packaging. Better yet, switch over to biodegradable packaging. Until then, we will do what we can to make a difference. Even a small step can make a big difference, especially if a lot of people join in. You do not have to be a total “no plastic” purist, to have your small efforts matter.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you follow the call of your heart wherever it may lead you, as if by magic.

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Doing the “Right” Things

When I was young, what was “right” and “wrong” was easy. Listen to your parents and teachers, don’t lie or steal and do what you are “supposed to do”. As an adult this is much less of a sure thing. Words like “right” and phrases like “supposed to do” can take on different meanings. Those elder, who you love and respect so much, may have different opinions and views on topics than you do. So, how do you do the “right” thing? How do you know what that really is for you?

Even as young adults we look to our elders for advice. This is wonderful. They have a lot of life experience we do not yet have. Do they always know what is “best” for us? There is no way they could, even with all their history. As we grow older, we have to take the reins of our life in hand and make the best possible decisions we can, in the time and space we are in. We can and should certainly consider all of the advice given to us that our wise elders have offered. Ultimately though, it is up to us to make the final decision. What was considered the “right” things to do in the world those elders were born into, may be very different from what you feel is the “right” thing to do today.

When you feel that pull, deep down in your core, that is your divinity guiding you. Some call it the “still small voice within,” intuition, gut feeling, higher self, or your conscience. At times that voice can cause you to make decisions that seem counterintuitive, but it will not lead you astray. It does, however, take some practice to learn to hear it. There is some learning involved to understand how it speaks to you and become able to hear it over the sound of your mind; which is always trying to protect you. Start by practicing with small decisions and notice how those turn out.

Once you get good at listening to that inner knowing, it may ask of you some difficult things. It may ask you to make some choices to do the very thing your elders and friends are telling you not to. It may ask that you go against the advice of many trusted people and this requires great strength. When your Spirit is screaming at you to choose this path and everyone else strongly believes the other path is correct for you; it takes real personal power to stand up and say; “Thank you for your advice and concern for all involved, but I must go my way”. All of these people just love us so much and want to keep us safe. We are truly the only ones who could ever possibly make these decisions for ourselves.

As you become more comfortable listening to that deep part of yourself, you will know without a doubt, what you are really supposed to do. Ultimately you get to choose to listen or not. Believe in yourself! Be brave! Follow your gut! You may find it brings you much happiness; with your dreams waiting for you at the end of that decision.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! may you hear your inner knowing clearly speaking to you, as if by magic.

*Photo taken at Agrigento, Italy

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Stepping into the Keto Diet

My husband decided to join one of those weight loss contests that pop up at work after the New Year. They had set a pretty aggressive amount of weight to lose by 28 days. I had heard people were having great success on the Keto Diet and thought that this, along with the fasting we were already doing, might work best for him. So I suggested he give it try. Then I set off to learn as much about it as I could so I could help him. I was amazed by what I learned.

To start, I began looking for recipes. Keto friendly things I could make and have in the freezer, so he would have yummy, healthy food to eat while I am on the road. There are a tremendous amount of recipes available out there. The premise behind keto is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. It forces your body into a ketogenic state or ketosis, which causes it to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. According to Wikipedia; this diet was first developed in the 20s for treatment of childhood seizures.

This way of eating is in sharp contrast to the “Stop the Insanity” low fat diets from the 90s.

There is a documentary (which is available to watch on Netflix) called ‘The Magic Pill.’ Watching this documentary inspired me to also try the ketogenic diet as well. Sure I would love the weight loss but the health benefits demonstrated in the movie were my real motivation. This show follows several people for a few weeks as they switch to this way of eating. The results they had were miraculous. Cancer, Autism, Diabetes, and Asthma were all demonstrated life changing improvements because of it; not to mention weight management. One of the ‘ah ha’ moments for me was right at the start of the documentary. When they said; “Every animal controls its weight naturally, other than humans and animals fed by humans”. My goodness! I never stopped to think that there are no obese deer or even pump lazy sloths.

As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) the idea of going on a diet, without the American staple of carbs, seemed like a difficult choice. It takes away so many of the things I am able to eat on the road. I also have difficulty with my blood sugar, that can dip to low and cause me to not feel well, if I do not eat the right thing or go to long without eating. This has made me believe I need a high protein diet. I was about to learn that was not true! As I stepped off into the world of ketogenic eating, my first challenge came when I went to a German restaurant with friends. Their vegetarian dish was pasta and the fish/seafood dishes were with pasta or breaded. Hmmm… what to have? I elected for the green beans with almonds and a cucumber salad. I also ate a few pieces of cheese off a friend’s appetizer plate. I was full. Challenge accepted and completed. Next morning, eggs and veggies are a very normal breakfast for me, so that did not even require a change. Lunch was riced cauliflower made into fried rice with eggs and plenty of olive oil. Yummy!

Do you know what I discovered? My blood sugar has remained stable. I have not had the shaky or woozy feeling that I often get when I don’t eat enough protein. Here, all this time, my need for high protein was a result of a diet high in carbs. I am on my third day of this new way of eating and I feel great. I am also doing this in conjunction with the intermittent fasting I have been doing since June. The two seem to work well together.

With the combination of intermittent fasting and Keto Diet, my husband has lost 11 pounds in 6 days. Isn’t that amazing? One of his favorite treats on the Keto Diet is the Fat Bombs. They are a nice little treat but also help to keep the consumption of fat, good and high, as required for ketosis. There are lots of fat bomb recipes but the ones he likes are made with natural unsweetened peanut butter, cream cheese, a tiny bit of stevia, and rolled in semisweet or dark chocolate. They are rolled in balls about a quarter’s diameter and are delicious. You only need to eat one to feel like you had a treat and quite satisfied. After all, that is what eating fat does. It helps us feel satiated.

Whether you are curious about the ketogenic diet or planning to try it yourself, there seems to be potential benefit for amazing results. If you enjoy documentaries, I recommend you check out ‘The Magic Pill.’ It is very interesting.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find healthy eating that works for you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Palermo, Sicily

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Twin Flame Relationships

Have you ever heard of the idea of a Twin Flame? Many people romanticize this concept but there really is more ‘pain’ than ‘romance’ in most Twin flame experiences. It is a very different experience from meeting your soulmate.

Twin Flames; is the concept that your soul is split in two to go into this earthly plane to have very different experiences. From my understanding; Twin Flames are typically opposites in almost every way. (Opposite sex, passions, personality, demeanor, spirituality, politics, etc.) Although many people may meet their Twin Flame, very few of these relationships are successful. The differences are just too great. It brings to mind the song from the Disney Movie, Little Mermaid; “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” When this relationship is successful, it is likely a very old soul that has worked through many experiences in countless lifetimes.

Recently, I have seen several articles about relationships between Empaths and Narcissists. It struck me that the Narcissist is the anti-empath. They cannot empathize with others. Perhaps these are actually Twin Flame relationships. Twin Flames feel like Karmic relationships. Have you ever had a friend who is drawn to someone so opposite and bad for them, that it just doesn’t make any sense, but you can’t talk them into staying away? This very well maybe a Twin Flame. Despite all the pain, they go back again and again. They can even verbalize how bad the other is for them, but like a moth to the flame, they can’t stay away.

Because Twin Flames are a split of one soul, there is a feeling of completeness and of home that comes when the two are together. It makes it that much harder for them to breakaway from each other to live a healthier more balanced life.

Relationships are one of the biggest teachers we experience in this life, especially romantic ones. Nothing will put your “stuff” in your face, like a romantic relationship. Having a romantic relationship with a Twin Flame can feel predestine and still be the most painful thing you experience. There can be lots to learn and much growth, but it will likely take just as much healing, personal work, and self discovery to recover after the relationship.

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree with me that the Narcissists and the Empaths are drawn together because they are Twin Flames? Have you had a relationship with your Twin Flame? What was your experience like?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your life be filled with happy and healthy relationships, as if by magic.

*The featured photo on this blog was taken on The Little Mermaid Ride in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Orlando FL.

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Who Inspires You?

I was with a friend yesterday and she was talking about something her dad used to say. “A friend or a partner should make you a better person” ~ Don Ortmann. That struck me as some very wise advise. Do the people you surround yourself with make you a better person? Do you help your friends and lovers be better people?

We all touch other’s lives. Although no one can make us behave a certain way, we all have those friends who challenge us to be a better version of ourselves. These magical people inspire us, not by telling us how to be, but by just talking the talk and walking the walk. My husband is one such person. His kind and generous soul inspires me to be the best person that I can be. He never criticizes my behavior or says I need to step it up. He inspires me just by being himself. I am also blessed with other friends who, simply by living their lives, have inspired me to be and do better.

My elementary school had a secretary who had reinvented herself with the name, Henrietta Peach. She was a peach! This was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. She would make copies for the teachers to use as worksheets in the classrooms. The “Ditto Machine” had a round drum where the original was placed. As the drum circled it would copy the content of the original, in purple, onto the waiting papers. As the drum circled it made a rhythmic “chuchunk, chuchunk” noise. Henrietta Peace would do deep knee bends to this, saying she was “exercising”. This woman would not have said she was a role model. She was just living her life and having fun at work. She played the organ in the balcony of the church. She climbed those stairs, often multiple times in one day, even into her 80’s when cancer was sucking the life out of her. She was an inspiration to others. She would sing out loud in the school office and even had a song just for me. Sometimes at the end of mass I would hear that song being played on the big church organ. A little secret sign between the two of us. When I left that school at the end of the 6th grade, I named her as the person I looked up to. I am sure I was not alone. Ethel Mohn aka Henrietta Peach, was an inspiration. Knowing her made me a better person. She taught me to have fun at work. She taught me to share my talents with others. She showed me how making a difference in the life of a child leaves a mark on this world that grows and grows. I am a better person for having known her.

Think about the people in your life. Who are the ones whose actions pull you up to better yourself? Do you think you do this for others in your life? I am sure in many ways you do. Perhaps you would be surprised to realize how your actions inspire those around you. Whether you realize it or not, people are looking to you to inspire them.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you inspire others to be the best version of themselves, as if by magic.

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