What Is It you Most Want?

As Emy and I prepare to begin our retreat, I find myself wondering what it is I most want. What is it that I am hoping to gain from this experience? How will I grow as a result of going so deeply internal? What guidance will I receive? What will Spirit have to share with me? What should my intentions be?

I know I want to be more fully me. I want to step more completely into being the person I was born to be.  When we live our lives most authentically, then the magic happens. When you live authentically you will feel happier and things fall into place more naturally.

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards:
they try to have more things, or more money,
in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier.
The way it actually works is the reverse.
You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do,
in order to have what you want.

~ Margaret Young ~

The trick is to find the authenticity. We spend so much of our life being told who to be and how to act, that we get lost. As we move into and out of relationships (work, friendships, and romantic) we show different faces of ourselves. We mold ourselves (at least to some degree) to connect with these people. Think about the people who are close to you. Do any of them really know you or do they all know a different aspect of you? How well do you really know yourself? Getting to know ourselves, on a deeper level, is a great gift we can give ourselves.

No matter how you go internal and give yourself the space to learn your true nature, it can be a wonderful process. You never know what might come up. It maybe even be painful at times. Sometimes very painful past emotions will pop up and need to be felt and processed. Allow them to come; don’t push them down. Feel them! Then bless them and release them and know that your are safe in this process.

Authenticity will set you free! This will lead you into living the life of your dreams. Perhaps your dreams are not even what you think they are and will evolve as you get to know yourself better. Blessings to you on this journey!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you have an enjoyable journey finding your authentic self, as if by magic.

*photo was taken of Reflection Lake in Washington State.

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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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Letting Go of Darkness

The full moon is in a transformative time that comes every 28 days. It is all about letting go of the old, while the new moon is about manifesting or bringing in the new. These energies of the moon start about 4 days prior to the actual event and last for about four days after, according the Susan Miller: Astrologer. This transformative time gives us wonderful opportunities to think about what no longer serves us and what we would like to see come into our lives.

Last night was the full moon. My husband and I attended a Kirtan. These are becoming the favorite feel good events of ours to go to. This full moon Kirtan was a beautiful event and attended by many sweet souls. This, once again, made our souls sing along with our voices; as the call and response of the mantras progressed throughout the night.

When attending an event like this or starting a meditation, going to a yoga class or retreat; it is always a great idea to set the intention for what you hope to achieve or experience. I learned this many years ago from a wise teacher and have found it to powerfully enhance my experiences as well as help me along my path of healing and health. Knowing that there was a full moon shining overhead, I set an intention to let go of any darkness in my heart. To let any anger, fear, jealousy, hate, distrust, sadness, or need to complain flow gently out of my heart and into the earth. There it could become fertilizer to grow something beautiful. I intended for all darkness to leave my heart so only love would reside there. My great grandmother said, “Those who sing, pray twice”. Singing or chanting is a beautiful form of prayer.

As Chi Johnson lead us skillfully through the various chants. We came to the one that was so very perfect for a full moon Kirtan: “Nataraj, Nataraja, Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja”. (One part of this powerful mantra) Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. He is also called Lord of the Dance. This is basically asking Shiva to dance through our lives and destroy what no longer serves us, so that we can transform into who we truly are. As we sang this chant I asked Shiva to remove any darkness from my heart. No, not just remove, but destroy anything other than the love that was residing there. “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”, Lao Tzu.

When we are hurt, darkness can take hold in our heart center and it can come out in a variety of ways. It has a purpose though; it is trying to protect us. There is purpose is all things, even when we cannot see it or know what it is. The complication is, that sometimes we hold onto these things much longer than we need too. My heart’s fear of being hurt, served me well, as I was healing from the acute pain of a broken relationship. It no longer serves me though. I have held onto it much longer than I needed too. Now is the time to release any darkness in my heart to make room for unending love. Love for all people and things. Love and respect so that I can more fully live in the flow of life. By doing this I can open up to appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty around me.

I am grateful for the Full Moon Kirtan. I am grateful for Shiva dancing through my heart, so that I can release that which no longer serves it. I appreciate all of you who walk your journeys along side mine. When you are ready, know that you are safe to release those things that once protected you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you easily let go of the darkness that has taken up residence in your heart, as if by magic.

* Photo was taken on the banks of the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India.

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Wisdom From An Ancestor

My great grandmother had a saying; “You will never be truly happy until you think more about others than you do yourself” – Ura McGurran. When you make choices in life, do you consider how they affect others? Maybe too much. Maybe so much that you are living your life for others and not taking care of yourself. So how do you strike a healthy balance? There is so much emphasis today on self care and putting ourself first. How can my great grandmother’s words still be relevant now? Let’s take a look at some self care activities and selfless acts and see where the common ground lies.

Do you feel guilty when you participate in self care activities? There is no real reason to feel guilty for caring for yourself. Do your self care activities hurt anyone? One really wonderful thing about self care, is that by doing it, you set a good example for others. A recent conversation I had with a friend, was about her feeling conflicted because something she needed to do for herself, was being viewed as selfish by her daughter. I encouraged her to go ahead and do it anyhow because, by doing so, she was setting an example for her daughter about taking care of herself and following her dreams. Her actions didn’t hurt anyone. In fact her actions help recharge her to further help others. Even when we take care of ourselves we can still be thinking of others and the example we are setting.

Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. My husband helps a friend rake his leaves, every year. He has never been asked to do this. There is no expectation that he does it. He just does it because he cares about his friend. The really good feeling he gets in his heart from helping out his buddy is a form of self care also. Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. Does this idea surprise you? It is possible to think more about others and still find happiness and balance in your life.

When we think about people who have inspired us as a world, we see that their acts brought them both happiness and purpose. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama; show us how caring for others is also caring for ourselves. I assure you, that new outfit will help you feel great, but there is no greater joy than helping another and seeing the true appreciation in their eyes. When we help others do something they could not have done for themselves, a ripple goes out into the world. The movie “Pay It Forward” taught us this. It entertained us while sending a message that “random acts of kindness” are a form of self care. They help us feel good and shift the energy of the world higher.

By thinking more of others than we do ourselves, as my great grandmother so wisely shared with her children generations ago, we are also taking care of ourselves. By lending a hand to those in need, we can find happiness, change the world, and set an example for future generations.

Yes, please care for yourself. Treat yourself to quiet walk in a pretty place or take a nap when you are tired. But remember, true happiness can also come from helping others.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your life be filled with true happiness, as if by magic!

 

 

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12 Tips to Help Decrease Holiday Stress

It’s holiday time. Do you love this season or does it cause you stress? Are you worried about where all the money will come from to buy everyone that perfect gift? Are you worried about people not liking your gifts? I love the general good cheer in the air but with a renewed focus on our financial goals, the holidays can be a potential step backwards. Here are some tips to help you live within your means, enjoy the holidays, reduce your stress, and still show others you care.

Set realistic expectations for yourself – No one can be it all, do it all or attend it all. Be realistic with yourself, your time, your energy, and your money. Do not sign up for more than you can take on. In the past, I felt I had to be the best entertainer, prepare the yummiest meals, decorate until not a corner of the house was untouched, give the perfect gifts and attend all the events. Age and wisdom have taught me that is not only unrealistic but also unhealthy. Be gentle with yourself.

Make a budget– I love giving as much as the next person but buying someone a more expensive gift does not change how much I love them. Decide on a reasonable dollar amount to spend and stick to it.

Start saving now for next year– put a small amount into a Holiday savings account each payday so when the next Holiday season rolls around you will not have to go into debt to buy gifts.

Talk to people about gift giving– for years my brother and I would exchange gift cards in the mail. We finally spoke and decided to each get ourselves something from the other, rather than shifting money back and forth in the mail. Buying a gift for you may be causing stress for another, so by having a conversation, you may alleviate their stress and financial burden too.

Handmade happiness – there are so many beautiful handmade gifts that you can make to give others. Depending on what you are making to give, you may have to start early in the year to get them done, so not to cause yourself extra pressure to meet a short deadline. Do you knit, make “out of this world” fudge, write poetry or do cute crafts? All of these things can be very sweet and special gifts.

Initiate family gift exchanges – talk to family about drawing names for gift giving instead of a gift for everyone or agree on gifts only for people under a certain age. Be creative and communicate.

Make coupons for services– you can make coupons for gifts of services. Some ideas are, making a home cooked meal, shoveling snow, pet or child sitting, raking leaves next fall, painting a room in their home. Be creative and listen to the things they are wanting to get done. You would hate to hurt someone’s feelings by offering to fix something they don’t feel is broken. This isn’t about you telling them what needs to get done but rather doing something for them they have been wanting to get done.

Share the gift of time– talk to friends and family and ask about sharing the gift of time. Get together for a meal, a cup of tea, volunteer to help a local charity together or a visit to a favorite location. Set a date for after the Holidays and both promise to make it a priority. What better gift than the gift of time.

Meditate – the holidays can be stressful with commitments, planning, shopping, and cooking. Meditate to find your center and remain mindful in the midsts of the extra pressure you may feel.

Remember the reason behind this time of year– the holiday season means something a little different to everyone.  So remember what it means to you. Connect with that heartfelt space and take some deep breaths when you feel anxious.

Reach out for help – If the stress of this time of year seems overwhelming or loneliness is breaking your heart, talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you are missing a loved one, find a support group or person who can hold the space for you and just let you talk. Support groups, AA or other similar programs are a couple of places you can go to find support when it all seems too much. Remember you are loved, even when you don’t feel like it and you are not alone, even when it feels like you are.

Have fun! Find the joy in this time of year. There is a lot of it to be had. Live in the moment and enjoy seeing loved ones you don’t always get to connect with. Notice the good cheer in the air, all the extra seasonal events and the generosity that seems to flow through humanity. Look for the good and you shall surely find it.

Wishing you a most happy and loved filled holiday season. Take a deep breath and enjoy all that this time of year has to offer you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your holiday season be joyous and filled with love, as if by magic.

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Symbolism is All Around Us!

As we dance through life we see things that appeal to us or notice things we may have missed before, such as animals making appearances. All of these things may have messages for us. They may be a way that God or Spirit is trying to speak to us.

How many times have you been walking down the street and all of a sudden you are seeing something repeatedly. Maybe it has been there when you have walked the same path in the past, but for whatever reason, today they are standing out to you. They may have a message or symbolism that is important for you in this time. For example, in the spring of this year, I was noticing tulips everywhere. They were growing in planters, in vases and painted in pictures. Ironically, I was traveling at the time and missed the blooming of my own tulips. It was a time when I was feeling a bit disconnected from spirit. When I looked up the meaning of tulips it spoke to connection with spirituality. It seemed I was noticing the tulips because my spirit was calling out for that connection.

Now, just because that’s what tulips meant to me at that time, does not mean that is what it means for everyone. Allowing others to find their own meanings in the symbols around us and allow their message to you to be unique. I know a woman who knows her deceased loved one is near whenever she sees an Eagle. Eagles hold a different meaning for me. For many others, Eagles can have patriotic symbolism. Another example, I have of this, is about a time when I was seeing deer. They were outside my hotel drinking from the pond. Standing next to the pharmacy in a good sized city. Grazing in the woods next to the road. I was seeing deer all over and in very unusual places. They were, for sure, trying to get my attention. There are many websites and books where you can look up the symbolism of animals and other things. I looked deer up in various books and websites and nothing they said seemed or felt right to me. I finally took sometime to meditate and allow the answer to come to me. Suddenly, one day, it came to me. All the deer were standing or slowly walking. None of them were running. Even though they were in places that may have been dangerous, they did not seem to be afraid. I was in a new situation where change was causing me some fear. The deer were a sign for me that I was safe and had no reason to be afraid. I trusted the message and it turned out to be very true.

Watch and notice things and events  around you. There may be messages you are receiving that you are not even aware of. Be open to what they may have to tell you. It can be important and might even bring you peace.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you live a life full of messages easily received, as if by magic.

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9 tips and tricks to stop being so busy!

I have recently been repeating the mantra “I am so busy” and “I have no time.”  I finally realized what I was doing when other members of my Toastmasters group started saying to me, “Wow, you have had a busy week” or “I am busy too”. We are all busy right?! Why do I think I am so special, that my particular type of busy is worse than anyone else’s? And furthermore, why do I want to manifest being too busy? It was quite the eye opener for me to realize how I sounded. So, how do we change our use of time into something more healthy?

1. Change your thoughts and change your world ~ Norman Vincent Peale. Instead of reminding yourself how busy you are, try this mantra on for size; “I have plenty of time and endless energy”.

2. Make time for yourself. My husband and I were talking this weekend about how easy it is to be busy. You can always find some project, chore, or task that needs to be worked on. Luckily, you get to choose how you spend your time, so make some time for you on your ‘to do’ list. The chores will still be there after you spend some lazy time in the hammock.

3. Less multitasking. An article shared by one of my Toastmasters friends suggests that multitasking is part of the problem. It says rest time should be that also. Don’t use your “me” time to get a couple more things done.

4. Watch out for time stealers. I spend lots and lots of time on airplanes. In the past I have used the time scrolling through FB or playing games on my phone. These activities are time stealers. The time spent doing things like this can be shifted to other activities. Reading a book, completing some work, researching something, or taking a nap (reenergize!) can replace them and help you have more time when it really counts!

5. Appreciate the moments you do get. This weekend my husband and I were working on projects and getting things accomplished. Most of Saturday was used in getting things done. Saturday night we drove out of town (not far, just far enough to get out of the city lights). We laid in the grass and watched the meteor shower together. I so appreciated this quiet time, just lying there, looking at the sky. There are so many little moments like this when we get a break and have room to breath. We only need to recognize that we have them.

6. Look at your busyness in a different way. What is it you are spending your time doing? I spend time getting together with friends, making improvements to our homes, traveling, and blogging, in addition to working (a job I love) of course. In addition there are the Toastmasters groups, books we are writing, and spending time with family. What of these would I be willing to cut out of my life to be less busy? None! These are the things that make my life glorious and blessed!

7. Stay in the now. I often remind people when they feel overwhelmed, “How do you eat an elephant?” (not that I would want to as a vegetarian) “One bite at a time!” It is easy to get caught up thinking about all we have to do. By just staying present, the stress and pressure of all the other “to do’s” will not seem so looming. Lao Tzu said; “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

8. Make a list! I am a list making person. I love watching my progress as I cross things off. Using an orange marker to cross off items is my go to color, because orange makes you feel more productive. Another great thing about a list is you don’t have to think about what you need to do. Once it is written down you can forget about it until you finish that task. Otherwise it will be there waiting for you until you do.

9. Meditate! A Zen proverb says, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” It’s a great way to become more present, reduce stress, find some space, and connect with source.

I hope these tips and tricks will help your life feel more manageable. They may not change what you need to do or how much is on your plate but hopefully you can slow down and take life one bite at a time. Don’t just chew through it quickly, trying to rush to the next bite to get done. Take your time and savor it. Life is magical!

Thank you for reading my blog today! May you have plenty of time and endless energy, as if by magic.

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Daily Meditation Adventure: Week 12, 13, and 14

If you have not already joined our Daily Meditation Adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here’s how the last few weeks went for me.

Experiences during the week: Over the last three weeks my experiences have been varied. From drumming meditations to Deepak’s mantra meditations.

What I have learned: I have learned that the drumming meditations seem to resonate a lot with me but drumming is not always convenient. As when in a hotel room with neighbors.

My weight:   Intermittent fasting has proven to be a successful weight loss tool for me! I have lost 10 lbs. I give the meditation some credit as well, as it has helped with my stress management and stopped me from eating to comfort myself.

How I feel: I feel as if I am still searching for balance in my life. I feel as if I am still looking for a way to make it all fit into my schedule. I am searching for a way to organize my day so that there is time to do and be it all. I know there is a way to find this alchemy of balance, time, space, and connection. So I pull myself up and I journey on, still trying to be true to myself and respect what I need.

How it is affecting my life: There are times this meditation journey is a stressor and I feel blessed having not succeeded as I would have liked to by this phase in the journey. But then there are times the meditation adventure enhances my life. I have magical experiences and I find a peace and connection I would not, without it.

I would love to hear your experiences with this. Have you had magical experiences? Have you maintained daily meditation? Have you enjoyed this adventure? Is meditation helping enhance your life?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of peace, as if by magic.

Previous meditation blogs by the Adventure Sisters: Join Us on This AdventureMeditate the weight away?9 ways to improve meditation, Meditation contemplations, There’s an App for That: A review of meditation Apps7 Common Meditation Myths11 Types of Meditation 

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Feeling Great, Improved Health, and Being Proud – That’s what doing “it” can do for you!

I have done it with lovers, I have done it with co-workers and friends, I have done it by myself, I have done it in a group, I have even done it with family members. My husband told me of his plans to do it today. It made me reflect on times in the past when I would do it on a somewhat regular pattern. What is it? Donating blood! After I would make my donation, I always felt like a hero! Have you ever felt like a hero? When my husband told me what he was doing today, it reminded me of times in my life when I felt like a lifesaving hero! I congratulated him on his hero status but he just smiled and laughed it off.

Blood donation is not just good for those receiving your blood but it is also good for you. According to OrganicFacts.net; blood donations improve your health by reducing your risk of cancer, decreasing risks of diseases cause by iron stores (building up in the body) and decrease risk of some heart and liver diseases. It also stimulates your body to burn calories and can help support weight loss efforts. Additionally it stimulates your body to make nice fresh blood. I would also add the “good feeling” you get in your heart for making a donation is the best benefit of all!

Another type of this kind of donation is Plasma. Connectusfund.org has an article that lists the pros and cons of plasma donation. Many look down on this practical because of the financial reimbursement for the donors time. This has health impact for the donor as well and many lifesaving medications can be created from the plasma. It is used for patients who have suffered burns, are fighting leukemia as well as a number of other illnesses.

Plasma donations can be made up to twice a week, where blood donations are limited to once every 8 weeks. I personally have no issue with the reimbursement for these donors. If they are giving up some of their precious time and a part of themselves to help others, why not allow them some help too.

Whether you donate blood or plasma, I think you are a hero! I don’t judge. I currently cannot donate either one. My veins are too tiny for the plasma donations and my iron to low to donate blood. My hat is off to those of you who give of your time as well as of yourself, to save the lives of others this way!

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you have the opportunity to feel like a hero in your life, as if by magic.

I love you!

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Week 10 Check In; Starting again – Daily Meditation Adventure

If you have not already joined our Daily Meditation Adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here’s how the last couple of weeks went for me.

Experiences during the week: I have fallen off the meditation wagon. Why is taking time to take care of myself such a hard task?! Why, when the day is busy and there is much to do, do I put meditation to the bottom of the list? After so many weeks of (mostly) daily meditation, how could I suddenly stop all together? It is has been about 2 weeks since I have meditated faithfully. Today, I will once again recommit to me and begin my (at least) daily meditation practice again. I will give it new focus and place it higher on the priority list. I will attempt to find a rhythm or routine in my days, that I can make meditation a standard part of this. 

My weight: My weight has decreased by 4.6lbs since starting the challenge. I do have to credit  intermittent fasting with the majority of the weight loss.  I have lost 7.2 lbs with the intermittent fasting in about 3.5 weeks. Although, before I started that, I had begun to loose some weight just by meditating. 

How I feel: I feel disappointed in myself for falling away from something that I believe is a helpful and healthy practice for me. I feel ashamed for not following through on my commitment to you of 90 days of daily meditation. I feel hopeful that today is a new day and a new opportunity to start again. 

How it is affecting my life: I will let you know next week. 

What I have learned: I have learned that it is never to late to begin again. That not following through and failing are not the same things. I have learned that each new day presents us with the opportunity to put ourselves first and to find the rhythm of our lives that encourage us to continue on. I have learned that it is okay to love myself even in my imperfection. 

I would love to hear your experiences with this. Have you fallen off the meditation wagon? Have you maintained daily meditation? Have you enjoyed this adventure? Is meditation helping enhance your life?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of loving yourself as is, imperfections and all, as if by magic.

Previous meditation blogs by the Adventure Sisters: Join Us on This AdventureMeditate the weight away?9 ways to improve meditation, Meditation contemplations, There’s an App for That: A review of meditation Apps7 Common Meditation Myths11 Types of Meditation 

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