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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I Met God Today

Today I  meditated on compassion and not judging people, but just accepting them as is, including myself. My meditations are always a bit ADHD with thoughts coming and going. Images popping up before me and dissipating like smoke. I have learned not to fight what happens during meditation. I just stay present and accept what comes. I ignore my mind, which is constantly trying to narrate and document everything that is happening. I focus on my breathing, or a mantra, when the mind gets to insistent and just let it float to the background.

Today was no different. I was meditating, as usual, when suddenly there was this white light before my mind’s eye. It was a bright light and grew in intensity as it came closer. I grew to realize that this was God. I sat with him and just accepted the Divinity of this moment. My mind screamed at me to write it down and document it. I ignored the mind and allowed the observer part of myself to enjoy this extraordinary experience. Then it changed. The bright white light changed into an inky purplish black color. It was no longer a concentrated sun as the white light had been. It spread and filled the area of my vision, nebulous and changing. I came to understand that this was also God. She explained to me that God is all things; light and shadow. Duality is a necessary part of all things. She said just as I do not judge the moon, the negative charge of electrons or femininity, as bad, nor is the dark side of God or anyone. It just is.

This is a hard concept to wrap one’s head around. In the Taoist philosophy there is the Yin/Yang. This is the symbol we often see where the white and black swirls meet to form a perfect circle with a little spot of the opposite color on each side. It shows the nature of both being necessary for the whole and that each contains a bit of the other. Yin is feminine and the dark side. Yang is masculine and the light side. Neither is good or bad. But both are necessary for the formation of life. We could not continue the human race without both. A battery does not work if the charges are not aligned correctly. Night and day are both required for nature to exist in harmony. We must work and we must sleep. Why should it be shocking that God contains balance, duality within the Divinity of our source?

We have put so much negative connotation to the shadow side, that perhaps some of its true nature has been lost. Darth Vader tries to get Luke to come to the Dark Side and the movies make it all very evil. If you have ever watched the Disney movie Maleficent with Angelina Jolie, you know that a story can be told in a very different way, in which the villain’s story looks less like a villain and more human. Someone who is doing the best they can in the time and space they are in. What if we say that God is in all people? What if we noticed the duality and knew they were doing the best they could in the time and space they are currently in; to balance the duality within themselves? Know that they are doing their very best possible, to express the divinity from which they come. It does shift how we see each other, doesn’t it? I feel this makes it a bit easier to have compassion, rather than judgement, when experiencing others along this path called life.

Spend some time with this concept. Let it float around in your mind and in your dreams. Try it on and see how it feels. Find your own truth within it. I hope it helps you find more compassion for yourself as well as for others.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you find compassion over judgement naturally, 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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6 Tips to Decrease Procrastination

I have long been a procrastinator. Are you? My dad always said, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow”. I guess I took his funny little statement to heart because I would put everything off until the last possible moment. Telling myself that I work best under pressure. Let’s explore procrastination and see how it fits into our overall wellness.

People who are prone to procrastination tend to procrastinate until it becomes more painful to “not” do something than to do it. It is all about stress and pressure. We may think by avoiding doing something, we can avoid the stress and pressure of it. However, the stress and pressure of not doing it will be come worse by avoiding it and then we will eventually submit and dig in and get it done. When I was young I often quoted Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. “I can’t think about that today. I will think about that tomorrow”.

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that not doing things till the last minute does not actually give me any more peace. It actually just gives me, as my daughter would say, “Low key stress”. Instead of avoiding the stress, it just simmers under the surface, causing a little bit of subconscious pressure, until the task is completed. I even feel a little guilty about those things I put off, along with a bit of anxiety that I may miss a deadline or forget about it all together.

Over the past few years I have made a real effort to decrease my procrastination. Here are some of the techniques I have been using:

  1. Just Do It – When I need to write reports at work I start them and keep adding information to them as I go, so I can turn them in when my site visit is done, rather than having them hanging over my head.
  2. Use Natural Rhythms – I know morning is my most productive time of the day, so I work to jump out of bed and keep the momentum going. Using times that I know work for me, helps me to check the boxes and get things done.
  3. Make a List – I love to work from a checklist.  I use an orange highlighter to cross off what is done, because orange is the color that makes us feel most productive. Checking things off a list is also a nice visual way to see what you have accomplished.
  4. Notice How Good It Feels –  Notice the big relief you feel when you have everything done and nothing is hanging over your head.
  5. Rewards! – I like to give myself little rewards. I get to go for a walk if I get XYZ done on my “to do” list.
  6. Start With The Easy Stuff – Dave Ramsey suggests a debt snowball starting with the smallest debts first so you can feel that first success early and quickly. It is the same with procrastination. Do the easy stuff first so you can feel the success of getting stuff done.

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I would say I procrastinate 50-60% less than I used too. I definitely feel less stressed in life by getting things done as they arise (at least a little more often).

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find tasks easy to complete timely, as if by magic.

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Messy Emotions; How to better understand yours!

Emy and I returned from our retreat with such Joy in our hearts. We decided to set an intention to keep this Joy, regardless of what life through at us. We had no idea how much we were going to be tested. A series of random concerns and annoyances turned into opportunities to learn how to hold Joy firmly in our heart.

The Joy was overflowing from my heart while on our retreat. I couldn’t stop smiling. Having had the space and time to just be and work on myself was such a beautiful gift. Then we stepped back into our lives and it was life. Things were being thrown into our path to see if we could really continue to navigate with Joy. What a test it was! When I was having an especially hard day, Emy reminded me what Wayne Dyer had said. He told us that, when we are squeezed, all that can come out is what we truly are. If I am Joy then only Joy can be squeezed out of me. So as stressful situations and heartbreaking circumstances popped up, I purposely sent Love (Joy) into the world and to the other parties involved. Hate (Fear) serves no purpose. It only hurts everyone.

I do not mean to say that I am perfect and that I didn’t feel frustrated, fearful, or even angry at some of the things going on. I just didn’t allow myself to stay in those lower vibrational feelings. I believe that ultimately there are 2 emotions and everything else are just ranges along that continuum. There is Love. This is Divinity and our true nature. Love is the energy that creates all of the beauty and blessings we are surrounded by. On the far, other side of the spectrum is Fear.

Fear holds a much lower vibration and is a place where we can get stuck. Look at a situation in your life that brings up negative emotions and then ask yourself why you feel that emotion. Keep digging away and going deeper into that emotion. Keep asking yourself what is underneath it or what is bringing this emotion up. I bet as you peel back the layers you will find Fear deep in the core. You are also likely to find Love there too.

Let’s look at an example. Say you have a friend that has some unhealthy habits. You get so frustrated with this friend; because they just continue to make these poor choices. You try to talk to them or help them but ultimately nothing changes. You may even feel angry with them or even disgusted at this point. Why? Because you love your friend and you want to see them have a happy and successful life. You are fearful that they are going to get hurt or their choices are going to cause them problems that they cannot recover from.

Try this with scenarios in your own life and see what is deep down there. Understanding where the emotions are coming from may not change how you feel but it may make it easier for you to send Love to the person or situation, rather than Fear.

Thank you for reading my blog today! I love you! May you find understanding of your emotions and acceptance of yourself, as if by magic.

*photo was taken in Ybor City, FL

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What Does This Time of Year Mean To You?

During this time of year, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, there are many different holidays that are celebrated depending on your faith or your family heritage. What does this time of year mean to you? Do you like it or does it make you feel stressed out? Do you have a strong sense of community or do you feel more alone than the rest of the year? Does it bring back fond childhood memories or does it bring feelings of sorrow and loss? I think over the years I have felt all of these various emotions at sometime or another during December.

If you go way back before the birth of Christianity; people celebrated holidays according to what they called the wheel of the year. Winter Solstice, which happens on approximately December 21st, was a celebration of the light returning. The days getting longer again. The wheel of the year was based on the farming year. This time of year was considered a time for rest and reflection. It was not a time to start new things, but rather a time to evaluate how the last year went and what to do differently when the Spring Equinox rolled around again and it was time to start preparing to plant the crops. That being said, many of our ancestors used this as a time to go inward. It is in such contrast to the busy hustle and bustle of the holiday season of today. For many this is the bushiest time of the year. Many people pick up seasonal jobs to pay for the gifts they have to buy. Holiday parties and get-togethers fill up all of your free time. There is shopping and baking to be done. Lists to make and check twice. Children are in holiday plays or other performances. It is all very busy and much more focused on community and others, rather than that inward journey.

Please be aware that if you are feeling like it is all too much, this just might be the ancestral roots within you. They may be calling to you to say; “shhhh, just be quiet for a bit now”. They may be asking that you rest, gather your strength, and prepare for the spring. Having clear communication with others, when it gets to much, can help you set boundaries for yourself around this. Have a dialog to clearly express what you need during this busy season. Perhaps you want to delay that get-together until after the first of the year, when your calendar is open. Maybe it is setting limits on gift giving or, as I said on a friends post, “giving the gift of not having to exchange gifts” with someone. You are not alone. Many people are feeling the stress and expectations this season places upon us. My hope for you is that with clear communication and firm boundaries, some of the stress of the holiday season can subside and you can return to reflecting on what does this season really mean to you. How do you best want to enjoy this season?  There is much beauty in this time of year. Find the peace to be able to enjoy it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May the peace of this holiday season infuse you to the core, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in our back yard

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Financial Wellness: An Interesting Side Effect We Discovered

My husband and I recently decided to work on our financial wellness. You may be thinking that finances have nothing to do with your overall wellness, but I strongly disagree. Our finances have a profound affect on us. They allow us to pay for important healthcare; such as acupuncture, massage, or even a visit to the doctor.  Having adequate resources allows us to buy healthy and nutritious food. Money even supports some self care activities such as going on a retreat, vacations, or yoga classes. Even without all the things that having some coin in our pockets can do for us, there is the stress that not having enough cash causes. When the bills seem to out number your income or creditors all calling, the stress level can get out of control fast. High stress levels are not good for us. They can cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other illnesses including unhealthy weight problems. Gaining control of your funds is an important step to your overall wellness.

As my husband and I set out on our journey to financial wellness, we first had to get on the same page. We are grateful for the book, Total Money Makeover; by Dave Ramsey. Dave doesn’t believe in manifestation or the Law of Attraction. Interestingly, I feel it was my focus on manifesting financial abundance, that caused the Universe to bring Dave and his books to my attention. I am happy to agree to disagree with Dave on this point. Total Money Makeover inspired Marty and I to get serious about our finances and we started working on the steps Dave laid out in his book.

All of this was a new to me. I have done spreadsheets for bills and payments due but never made a plan for how to spend the rest of the money. It just never seemed like there was enough of it to worry about. However, not worrying about how to spend the rest caused overspending. This just made matters worse and financial stress higher. We downloaded the app, that has been developed to support Dave’s principles. It is called Every Dollar. Dave wants you to give every dollar coming into your household a home so you know where every dollar is spent. When we initially logged our October spending, we were shocked to see some of the ways that money was escaping from our pockets. There were a lot of little things we were spending money on that, quite frankly, were a waste. Money was dribbling away from us in little insidious ways. It was not big purchases that were doing damage to our bottom line. It was the few dollar here and a couple of bucks there.

Next, we developed a November budget and set forth to follow it as close as possible. It was the first time either of us had ever really budgeted that tightly. There were things that came up that we had to adjust another spot in the budget to expense them from. Everything needed to add up to zero at the end. There were a couple places where we placed too much money and a couple others where we did not plan enough.  In the end, we made it through our first month of budgeting. When we talked about how we felt during this first month of budgeting, we both agreed that we felt more in control of our finances and less stressed. The interesting side effect was, when we got to the end of the month and the next payday, we had some money leftover. It seems crazy but true. Somehow being on a budget, giving everything a home and watching where things were going; not only gave us the feeling of having more money but actually more money.

I am very grateful that my husband is the type of man who is willing to walk this process with me. It is truly a team effort. If you decide to start on a road of finance wellness, I wish you every success. That are many money gurus out there. Maybe Dave is right for you or maybe it is someone else whose process just seems to make sense and be the right tool you need to feel financial well.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! I wish you a lifetime of finding the right financial tools for your personnel wellness, as if by magic. Just as mine came to me.

*Photo taken in Rome, Italy

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