Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Mantra for the Holidays

Give yourself space and breathing room amidst the hustle and bustle of the season. Let you just be you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Where's Your Head?

Last week, I found myself cleaning kitchen renovation mess for the zillionth time, and the next thing I knew, I was on the computer Googling "Sisyphus."

If you're not familiar with Sisyphus, he was a king in Greek mythology who thought he was more clever than Zeus. Zeus, of course, disagreed... As punishment, Sisyphus was tasked with having to roll a boulder up a hill each day—but just as he was about to reach the top, Zeus would enchant the boulder and make it roll back down. And so, Sisyphus would begin again from square one the next morning. And every morning after that.

In my mind, I was Sisyphus.

Me and my yellow rubber gloves and cleaning rags were rolling boulders up hills every dang day. I had a story in my head on repeat about how infuriating and hard and not at all fun home renovations and clean-up were.

When we tell ourselves stories like this over and over—building bulletproof thought patterns—we're actually rewiring our brains. 

We're creating neural pathways that are paved with frustration.

I don't know about you, but I'd like my brain to be filled with unicorns burping up rainbows. Not Sisyphean stories of dissatisfaction and defeat.

So how to twist the mental wiring back to something that feels better than a frustrating story? 

Seek evidence on the contrary.

For me, this meant looking for reasons why cleaning dust and dirty hand prints in the kitchen again represented wonderfulness, ease, and fun. As I tried to reframe my story, I admitted to myself that the work I was doing wasn't actually hard. I wasn't sweating or straining. I wasn't doing math... The objects I was cleaning were beautiful—marble and glass and stainless steel. I recognized that creating the end product—a glimmering new kitchen—was kind of fun after all and would be extremely enjoyable to look at when it was all done. I realized that it was really only the second time I had cleaned that particular area of the kitchen, not the zillionth. And finally, I remembered that I had asked for this. I could have chosen to keep my old kitchen, but I (and my husband) wanted to upgrade. Bed made. Lying in it.

Do you have any stories of defeat on repeat in your head right now? 

Before this, some of my old favorites were:

I'm never going to meet the right guy.
The guy for me doesn't exist.
I can't find a job that pays well.
Working for myself is difficult.
Living alone is hard.
It's going to take forever to get to where I want to be.

It was only when I consciously started seeking evidence on the contrary of those—trying to turn them around—that my actual life turned around.

Seeing starts with believing.

And belief starts with a story.

What new stories are you going to use to pave your neural pathways?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Unleash Your Inner Hero or Heroine

Never doubt that you have the power to triumph. There is a hero inside us all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Going Deep: The Surprising Upsides of Worst-Case Scenarios

A few weeks ago, I attended my 20-year high school reunion. Not surprisingly, in the days leading up to it, I found my head intermittently plagued by thoughts like "I should have whitened my teeth," "It would have been smart to get my roots touched up," "What if everyone is shocked by how many crow's feet I have around my eyes?" "What if they think I look haggard?" "What if they judge me?"

Rather than acting on these concerns—frantically trying to arrange hair and dental and facial appointments—I chose to dive a little deeper into the worries.

What if my worst-case scenarios played out? 

What if my classmates thought I looked like crap?

Well first off, it was unlikely that anyone would  tell me what they thought face-to-face. Which is pretty nice. And even if they went home and discussed it with their friends or spouses, I would still get to go back to my micro-farm and sweet husband and chickens, and live my life.

Nothing would change.

I might not even see my "judges" for another several years. So what would it matter if they judged me?

I decided it wouldn't. They could think whatever they wanted and it wouldn't change anything for me—I could still go on to have a great, fun night and a great, fun life.

Then something else kind of magical occurred to me.

If people DID judge me, maybe it would end up making them feel even better about themselves. 

Maybe they'd feel grateful that the parentheses around my mouth were much more pronounced than their own. My perceived shortcomings might make them feel good. I kinda loved this idea. Something positive could come from my worst-case. Like a little gift I could dole out without even trying.

By diving into my scary story, I'd discovered a hidden upside—a deeply embedded joy—that I never would have realized if I'd taken my thoughts at face value.

What do you think you might find if you dove deeper into something worrying you? 

Try it. There might be a trove of gems hidden at the bottom of your worst-case pool.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Moving Forward by Letting Go

Untethering from the past gives us the freedom to move. To run, to dance, to fly into the future that is waiting for us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Fastest Way to Tame an Envy Flare-Up

I was wearing my grungiest pair of cutoff sweatpants, a dirty tank top, and no makeup when my neighbors passed our driveway and waved hello. They had just returned from a weekend getaway while we had spent the prior 48 hours covered in drywall dust in the rubble of our kitchen renovation.

I asked them how their trip was and they described delicious meals and decadent massages and relaxation at their resort's spa.

My muscles ached and my hands felt extra callused.

"I want your life!" I shouted to them.

I wanted a weekend away with lounging and downtime and new scenery! I resented our dusty house and displaced kitchen appliances.

As I walked back into the house, my husband asked me why I'd tell someone else I wanted their life. Why wouldn't I want my own life?

The green venom of envy had infected me. He was right to call me out and I knew there was only one antidote that could save me.


If you read this blog regularly, you know it's one of my top remedies for all that ails the spirit.

I put on my coaching hat and went to work to shed thy coveting of thy neighbors' weekend.

I forced myself to come up with at least 3 answers to this key question:

Why am I grateful that I didn't go away for a relaxing weekend?

1. My hubby and I made more progress on our renovation.
2. I saved money on hotel and restaurant costs.
3. I didn't have to worry about trying to catch up on chores during the week because I'd knocked them out over the weekend.

My envy loosened and slowly disappeared.

Ah, the power of gratitude. Such potent medicine.

Next time you find yourself under the thumb of the green dragon, take a minute and ask yourself how and why you can be grateful for the opposite of what you're envying. 

And then kiss the dragon goodbye and get on with your day wearing a smile.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Beauty of Imperfection

Letting go of that struggle to appear perfect can be such hard work. But each time you can embrace imperfection, you bring a little more peace into your life.

Friday, September 12, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: Garden Fountain

Is it just me or has this been a long week? If you need a little moment of peace, sit back, zone out and zen up with the sweet, soothing sounds of this ornamental garden fountain.

You know, my husband often catches me gazing intently out the window or across our yard and asks me what I'm staring at.

"I'm meditating," I tell him.

You don't need a yoga mat or incense or a guide to get to a place of stillness. All it takes is being present and allowing yourself to melt into the world around you a little.

Enjoy the fountain. Enjoy the melting.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Start With "Nearly Right" to Get to "Just Right"

I for one don't believe that getting what you want in life is a big mystery.

As I've explained in past posts, blending together a careful mixture of clarity, consciousness, confidence, and commitment can shift the energy of the Universe and bring what you want right into your realm of possibility.

But what if you're stuck with the first step? What if you're at a point where you feel deeply that you want something different, but you're not at all clear on what that new thing looks like?

Start with what you know. 

If it's a romantic relationship and you've had others before, think about the one that made you the happiest. Or the guy who was closest to the one you'd love to have in your future. Use him (and even the others who didn't rank as high as he did) as a starting point for the clarity you want to achieve.

You can do the same thing with a job or a home or a faithful shopping companion. Start with the one that was "nearly right" and use it to create clarity around what you want next.

If you're hankering for something you've never had, use other people as your models. Collect information and build a possibility portfolio.

Once you have the *close to* in mind, fill in this blank repeatedly until you have a fleshed out picture of what you want:

I'd like a {boyfriend/girlfriend/job/house/car/friendship} that/who is ________ like ________ but with ____________. 

So, for example, you might say "I'd like a boyfriend who is really smart like Paul but with a sillier side."

If you want to kick up the clarification even more, add another "like" at the end.

"I'd like a boyfriend who is really smart like Paul but with a sillier side like Daniel."

It may feel like you're playing Dr. Frankenstein, but if piecing together different attributes from different people or situations helps you get a clear picture of your ultimate desire, it's worth heading into the operating room!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Are Enough

Let yourself be who you were born to be. You may not be for everyone, but the people who matter will come around.

Monday, August 11, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: The Waters of Glacier Bay

It's been quite awhile since I last posted a one-minute meditation video, so I thought you stressed-out souls out there might enjoy this footage from our recent trip to Alaska. It's a look at the beautiful, serene waters of Glacier Bay National Park. If you're a nature and water lover like myself, you should also check out my good friend Mary Beth Leisen's recent endeavor Honor the Waters.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Problem-Solving With Dating Analogies

A friend of mine reached out to me last week, struggling with a decision about whether to continue pursuing a job she'd interviewed for. She said parts of the interview process were making her feel like she was digesting glass, but she thought she should really try for the position because it would make a good "bridge job" that could connect her to smart people and future opportunities.

"That's like dating a guy who makes you feel sick to your stomach just because he has really cool friends you think you might want to date someday," I told her.

She loved the analogy and suddenly I realized that just about everything can be likened to (and solved by thinking about) dating.

Stop rolling your eyes and hear me out...

The process of dating is generally one where you're trying to find someone who really fits with you. Someone who makes you feel great and who you adore right back. At its core, dating is about the quest for love—which I believe should be at the center of everything in your universe.

Picking a job shouldn't be much different than picking a potential mate. The ultimate goal is to find the right one.

Your relationship with money can easily be compared to a love relationship, too. At a workshop I attended, master money coach Nona Jordan encouraged us to consider how we relate to our money—as though we were relating to a human being. Do you ignore it and make it feel neglected? Are you all over its case, not trusting it to exist on its own? Or do you coexist with it joyfully, allowing it to enhance your life?

Your health and body choices are another topic ripe for analogies. You wouldn't tell your date his thighs looked chunky (nor would you want him saying that to you). You wouldn't encourage him to scarf down an entire half gallon of ice cream—or skip dessert for the rest of his life because his butt was too big. Caring for yourself should line right up with the kind of care you'd want to feel coming from your dream suitor. 

If I spend enough time pondering this, I might be able to come up with some correlation to dating for every situation under the sun....

As my friend and I were wrapping up our exchange about her job situation, she said, "Maybe I should just take the position even though it's giving me the icks."

"You're going to get in bed with a guy who grosses you out, just so you can get laid?" I don't think so.

Somehow framing my friend's dilemma in the context of dating made her decision become clear.

Next time you're making a choice or caught up in worry or criticism, take a minute to ask yourself what you'd be doing if you were in the dating world. It might help you get back on track to love and fulfillment.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What's the Story You've Been Telling Yourself?

I was talking with a friend recently about dating when she told me she was completely over it because she didn't want to tell her story to anyone new. It wasn't that she was tired of telling the same one over and over, it was that she had decided hers was too complicated to be heard.

As a writer who's worked in advertising for the past 15 years, I know all about stories.

Stories have the power to make or break products—and people. Report things one way and you've got a sob story, say them another and you've got a tale of triumph. You get to choose. (It's not the first time I've climbed on my story soap box over here.)
My friend has endured a lot of tough stuff in her life, but instead of recognizing her own strengths through all of it, she's berating herself.

We're always our own worst critics, aren't we? 

The thing about casting judgment on ourselves is that when we do it, we automatically think other people are going to judge us in the same way. And so, to protect ourselves, we hide our stories.

I say, why not just rewrite them? 

Before I met my husband, I could have very easily told myself—and him—a story that went something like this:
I just came out of a doozy relationship where I got cheated on pretty badly. The guy wasn't even anywhere close to being my dream man but I'm 31 and desperate to find love and settle down. I've been in a handful of longer-term relationships and every one of them has involved breakups and makeups because I usually don't have the chutzpah to walk away when I know it's not the right fit. And the guys know it's not right, so they dump me. I was a late bloomer and am in therapy because I can't seem to fully figure out all this relationship stuff. 
Instead, I chose to go with this story:
I just came out of a tough relationship. I knew it wasn't right, but I didn't trust my intuition. Lesson learned! Being cheated on was a huge blessing in disguise. Before that, I had some long-term relationships and am still on good terms with my exes. I love to travel and hike and pretty much nothing makes me happier than making other people laugh. If I can find a guy who thinks I'm endlessly hilarious, he might just be the one for me.
Now, both of these stories could be considered equally true. But one of them makes me feel a hell of a lot better about myself than the other—and likely made my hubby feel good about me, too. So that's the one I choose to believe as being truer.

Telling your story in a way that makes you feel like crap doesn't serve anyone—especially you.

Telling it in a way that feels compassionate and empowering will allow you to keep moving out of your past and into the future you deserve.

So tell me, how can you edit the story you're telling yourself today to better serve you tomorrow?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What Comes First

Go live your life. Do what you love. And everything will fall into place.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Rediscover Your Inner Balance By Spending a Little Time Outdoors

On a recent trip to Bryce Canyon National Park with my hubby, I was reminded of just how huge an impact the great outdoors can have on my psyche. Being in nature is more than just restorative to your sense of calm and connection—it can rejuvenate your ability to be creative!

Find out more about the healing power of time spent outdoors in my most recent post over at Mimosa Lotus. (And when you're done, do your inner state a favor and take a little stroll under the open sky.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

When Relationships Get Tangled

Recently I was cleaning up some construction stuff in our yard when I came upon a tangled mass of silver wire and yellow string. Two perfectly good, practical items that just needed to be extricated from one another.

I got this, I thought.

I began to work one of the loose ends of string through the loops of wire, trying to track the twists and turns as I went. I worked at it and worked at it, and eventually realized that the more I tried to untangle, the more tangled they seemed to get. And more importantly, the more frustrated I became.

It was reminiscent of some tough past relationships.

I'd stay in them thinking if I just put in more effort or just tried to understand my boyfriend's nuances better—just traced those lines more closely—I'd be able to sort everything out. I'd be able to find the magic escape route of our love labyrinth and get us back on parallel paths.  

Have you had a relationship like that? Where yourself and a partner—two perfectly good people who were fine on your own—suddenly find yourselves so rumpled around each other and in such a mess that you can no longer contribute anything meaningful to one another?

I know I've been there. Trapped by my own entwining. 

As I held the yellow string and coiled wire, I realized there was only one way to solve the problem.

The same way I had to solve the relationships that—no matter how much I worked and worked at them—seemed to get snarled and messier as more time passed.

I had to cut the tie.

The string and wire wouldn't serve anyone until they were separated again.

Are there ties right now you think you should cut to better serve yourself and the world, and relieve the frustration of a never-ending entanglement?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Often Are You Creating Tragedies Before They Actually Strike?

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I started thinking about how my husband and I are going to have to put our new baby chickens in their outdoor coop in a couple weeks. The next thing I knew, my mind was spinning up imagery of them being injured or dying and my husband and I crying.

Great way to fall asleep, right?

Do you let yourself go down dark mental paths when something new or exciting is about to happen?

Brené Brown calls this dress rehearsing tragedy. Joy and excitement are such vulnerable feelings for us that our pesky little brains aim to arm themselves—and make us less vulnerable—by playing out worst-case scenarios.

The problem with this is that it robs us of all the joy in the present. And it doesn't actually prepare us better or protect us if something bad does happen in the future.

I was talking with a client recently who is in the process of trying to buy her family's dream home. On one hand, she's so thrilled by the prospect of having more space and a brand new kitchen—but the other hand is flailing wildly, dress rehearsing tragedy, telling her that her family will go bankrupt and end up on the street.

Highly unlikely, but our defense mechanisms love to paint the bleakest of bleak pictures.

So how to cope when you find yourself creating a tragedy that may never even occur? 

Focus on gratitude. 

Instead of going down the path of "What if?" stay on the path of "What is."

Consciously choose your thoughts and fill them with what you have right now in this moment. Or if you want to get manifesty, let yourself daydream about the best-case scenarios. 

Not only does this feel better, it'll keep the vibe you're putting into the world more positive—which can help attract more good stuff into your life.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: Raindrop Rings on the Patio

The temperature in my town is supposed to rest around 90° all week. I'm a summer girl at heart, so I don't mind too much, but I would love for another storm or two to make their way through town—partly to quench my thirsty state, and partly just because I love the rhythmic sight and sound of a good rainfall.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

3 Little Questions That Can Transform Your Relationships

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post for Mimosa Lotus about the 3 questions relationship-seekers should ask before they dive into the dating process.

1. How do I want my ideal date/mate to treat me?

2. How am I treating myself? 

3. How can I bring these two things into alignment?

(You should really go read the full post, but those give you an overview of the thinking.)

As I thought about the post later, however, I realized that these 3 questions apply to every kind of relationship—not just the dating variety.

Want your coworkers to show you respect? Consider how you're showing respect to yourself.

Wish your spouse would be more attentive to your needs? Start attending to yourself more regularly.

Want your family to be more supportive of your ambitions? Make sure you're supporting yourself with the way you think and speak.

It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that a relationship's success or failure is determined solely by how you treat the other person and the other person treats you, but one of the biggest components is how you treat yourself.

And the good news is, you have complete control over that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Open Your Eyes

When  you look for it, you can find something wonderful in everything. Open your eyes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Zen Gardening

A couple weeks ago, two of my life coach pals were staying with me and very aptly pointed out that I have a tendency to spend too much time focusing on the future rather than being in the present. I love planning—and come from a long line of highly anxious individuals—which is the perfect combo for projecting about 80% of my thoughts into future goings-on instead of those that are happening right in front of me.

Do you spend most of your time grounded in the past, present, or future?

Cultivating mindfulness has a myriad of benefits, some of which can actually help protect your brain against mental illness. But for many of us (or is it just me?) staying present is about as easy as keeping ice cream from dripping down its cone on a summer day. Sure, it's possible, but it requires commitment.

The good news is, we're probably all practicing mindfulness already and we just don't realize it. 

As I contemplated my own forward-thinking nature, I realized (thankfully) that there are times I'm fully present in the now. When I'm gardening, I'm wholly devoted to what's happening right in front of me. I use all my senses—eyes scouting out dandelions that need to be pulled, ears tuned to the sound of my garden gloves rooting in the dirt, nose engaged by the scent of damp earth and cut grass, hands gripping my trowel to move dirt and gravel.

Who knew that weeding could be so Zen?

The more I can allow myself to approach other day-to-day tasks like I approach gardening, the closer I'll get to maximizing my mindfulness. (I'm feeling the keyboard right now as I type this, as a start.)

What opportunities in your do you see in your everyday life for grounding yourself in the present moment? And what activities already keep you in the now?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Instruction Manual for Making Your Dream Life a Reality

In the early 2000s when I was a young advertising copywriter in LA, I met another copywriter who almost immediately became my writer-girl crush. Janice had this bubbly enthusiasm about life and way of making it seem like anything was possible, which at the time was a bit of a foreign concept to me. I remember her sharing details with me about a book she was writing, and I was awed when she seemed to get it published almost effortlessly.

The girl clearly knew how to make her dreams come true.

In 2010, Janice started planning her escape from advertising—which, like her first book, she made happen quite quickly. It wasn't just a change of day-job scenery Janice wanted, however. She wanted to travel and have adventures and maybe even find romance.

Of course, she did all of it. And lucky for us, she wrote a book that chronicles how she did it. (Added bonus: the book will charm your pants off.)

Paris Letters tells Janice's story of emancipating herself from advertising, traveling to Europe, falling in love in Paris, and creating a business based on her passion. It's such a beautiful read, I didn't want it to end. In addition to loving Janice's storytelling, I was so struck by all the wisdom the book has to offer. (Mrs. MacLeod-Lik does have a Master's degree in Spiritual Psychology, so it's not really a surprise her book would be packed with life lesson gems...)

Janice took a lot of steps to bring her dream life into full swing, but my affinity for manifesty stuff made these ones stand out most to me:

1. Let yourself daydream (and plot and plan). 
The only way to get clear on what you really want—and how you can work towards getting it—is to give yourself time and space to focus on thinking about it. I'm a big fan of journaling (as is Janice) as a means of gaining clarity. The answers to your happiness only reveal themselves when you give them a place to show up.

2. Let yourself be steered.
Thinking you'll end up in Rome and then falling in love in Paris could be viewed as a derailment if you look at it from the wrong angle. When you can stay open to the reroutes life serves up—and make sure you're following your feelgood along the way—you'll ultimately end up in where you want to be. (Even if you didn't always know you wanted to be there.)

3. Listen to the whispers. 
Your intuition is always sending messages to guide you toward what you want most. It alerts you to possibilities and passions and solutions to the stuff you're trying desperately to figure out. You just have to make sure you're paying attention to what it's saying.

Janice took her yearning for something new and turned it into a fairy tale life in Paris. I truly believe that any of us can do the same if we just set our hearts and minds to it.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Paris Letters. It'll transport you to the streets of the world's most romantic city and make you believe in magic. And if it doesn't spark some ideas on how you can start moving toward your dream life—just like its author did—call me, I'd like to coach you on that...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What's Really Underneath the Thing You Think You Want?

I was talking with a friend recently who was frustrated with the way her husband was handling his to-do list. She wanted him to be more focused on the things that were clearly important to keeping their household running smoothly. But as we talked, it turned out that wasn't really what she wanted at all.

What she wanted was more quality alone time.

So often, the circumstances we want so badly to shift aren't really the keys to our happiness. 

When I moved into our new house, I was struggling so much in the beginning—thinking I would feel better if I had a proper washer and dryer, pets that would remain healthy for more than a week, and a Trader Joes that was closer than my current 35-mile drive. I was convinced that it was convenience I wanted.

But it was actually connection.

Underneath my frustration with the "hardships" of country living was really just a desire to have friends (or my husband who was working out of town) nearby so they could say, "I hear ya," when I said I felt overwhelmed. Or "Let's go on a walk around the block to take your mind off of it."

I wanted companionship.

The beauty of realizing what you *really* want is that you can get to the result you desire much faster. 

When my friend realized she actually wanted more alone time, we brainstormed ways she could get it—regardless of whether her husband took on more responsibility with the family to-do list. When I needed to feel like I wasn't all alone in my new, less-than-convenient living situation, I made it a point to call friends from back home or chat with people in my yoga class to feel more connected.

Getting to the bottom of what you really want to feel—be it freedom or companionship or respect—will allow you to achieve that feeling state without having to change people or shift external circumstances. It will allow you to take back the power and take inspired action to get yourself back to a place of peace and contentment.

Happiness is within your reach at all times. You just have to remember to look under the laundry pile that's sitting on top of it sometimes. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: Blowing Grasses and a Birdsong

I was helping the husband do a little yardwork in our old backyard a few weeks ago, when I decided to try to capture the rare moments of serenity that can be found in the city of Hollywood. The reeds blowing in the winter breeze are nice to watch, but the bird symphony in the background is the real treat in this video.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What to Do When Your Lizard Starts Climbing the Walls

I was sitting at my dining room table last week when I looked up and saw a shadowy visitor making his way up my screen door. One of the backyard's many lizards had decided to take a vertical stroll. I wondered if he was panicking like our inner lizards do when they start climbing the walls.

What's an "inner lizard," you ask?

There's a part of our brain called the amygdala, which governs the stress response and puts us into fight or flight—even over silly things like the mere possibility that we *might* have to speak up in an important meeting or our mother-in-laws *might* show up at our houses unannounced. You know, nothing major like the possibility that a tiger *might* eat us.

Because the less evolved part of our brains is often referred to as the "reptilian brain," my mentor Martha Beck dubbed that panicky amygdala brain voice "The Lizard." It's the voice that pops into your head and shrieks declarations like:
 "You CAN'T do THAT—what will people think?!" 
"You HAVE to do THAT—what will people think if you don't?!"
"If you wear that to the party, everyone will FREAK OUT!" 
"You better not make a career change because you will lose ALL OF YOUR MONEY!" 

It's the part of our noggins that goes all ballistic about stuff that hasn't even—and may not ever—happen. Yet that little lizard voice can send us into adrenaline overload before we even get out of bed in the morning.

So what to do when your lizard starts climbing the walls?

First, recognize that it's your lizard. Stop and be aware of the tone—does it sound like your calm, wise, higher self, inner voice? Or does it sound like anxiety amplified?

Second, take some deep breaths. Breathing helps calm the crazed stress response that the lizard triggers. I'm a big fan of doing alternate nostril breathing with my eyes closed. Pulls me out of stress response every time.

Third, treat it like it's your pet. Imagine patting your lizard on the head and telling it to simmer down. Thank it for trying to protect you from woolly mammoths and fashion faux pas, but tell it you're going to go ahead and do what you want even though it is trying to scare the bejeezus out of you. Let your higher self extinguish its freak out.

Fourth, remember it is the less evolved part of yourself and that's not the part that will guide you toward your best life. The calm inner voice that speaks in cool tones and gut feelings is the one you should listen to. Your lizard may protect you from imaginary threats, but it can also be the thing that stands smack in the way of your ultimate success.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Through Sorrow, the Path to Joy

In the depths of sorrow, remember there will be joy again on the other side.
Nothing is permanent.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

20 Ways to Show Yourself Some Love

Love is in the air this week. Or at least that's what Hallmark would like us to believe. 

But I'd like to invite you to shift the focus away from the lacy, red underwear you may have purchased to wear for someone special, or the paper hearts you've promised to help your child cut and paste to make Valentine's for his or her class. I'd like you to stop and think about yourself.

How are you showing yourself love these days?

Amidst the hustle of everyday life and the stories a lot of us have on repeat in our heads (I don't have time, everyone else's needs have to come before mine, my thighs are too fat to deserve love) we lose sight of the first place love needs to start: inside ourselves.

We can't really love each other if we're not loving ourselves. 

So here's a little primer to get your love pump flowing again. It's based on a question I encountered when doing some Tony Robbins work back in the day. Tony told me to ask myself, "If I really wanted to prove to myself that I loved ME, what would I do?" It was fascinating to explore the answers. I encourage you to come up with your own answers, but here are a few I think might also work for you...

1. Replace self-criticism with self-kindness (I'm talking to you, thigh comments).
2. Buy yourself flowers. Even the cheapest bouquet at Trader Joe's feels good.
3. Wrap up in a cozy blanket or wear really soft socks or slippers.
4. Spritz your pillow with lavender spray at night to help lull you to sleep.
5. Take yourself on a date. Go see a movie, read a book at a coffee shop, visit your favorite museum, drive to a pretty spot and look at the view—whatever makes you feel loved.
6. Stand up for yourself (including TO yourself if it's you who's doing the mistreating).
7. Accept love from others without feeling like you have to go overboard to return it. Just enjoy it.
8. Treat yourself to something silly like a Hello Kitty pencil or clown ice cream sundae or a balloon animal at the farmer's market.
9. Buy a head massager. Trust me. It's life changing.
10. Do that thing that makes you feel sexy (not THAT thing...but go ahead and do that too)—wear your favorite lipstick, blow out your hair, put on heels. Allow yourself to bask in the confidence boost.
11. Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Write yourself a note about it and heap on the praise.
12. Push yourself a little—stay on the treadmill for a minute longer, speak up even if you're feeling nervous, try the recipe that seems too complicated—and then reward yourself for going further than you planned.
13. Quit comparing yourself to other people's social media feeds. No one is as perfect as their profile appears. So stop it. Go outside and do something fun.
14. Massage really yummy lotion into your hands and feet.
15. Make that doctor's or dentist's appointment. Caring for your body is a huge piece of self love.
16. Take a bubble bath or a hot shower with some nice bath gel. It may sound cliché, but it really does do the trick.
17. Allow yourself to sit in silence, with no demanding bosses, hungry kids, or stressed friends in sight. Just sit and let your body relax and breathe.
18. Say hi to yourself in the mirror. Love starts with acknowledgement.
19. Ask for what you want and need. Use your voice.
20. Let yourself daydream. No rules, no restrictions. Fantasize about Clooney or the convertible or whatever it is that floats your boat and enjoy the deliciousness of what your mind creates. You never know—it could come true. 

Wishing you lots of love this Heart Day. And hoping most of that love comes from within yourself.

Friday, February 7, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: Fire on a Winter's Day

I grew up camping and have always been mesmerized by fire. There's just something about watching its lapping flames and orangey glowing embers. Like witnessing some sort of hero's journey—and you can't look away because don't want to miss what's going to happen next. I wonder if the cavemen found it as meditative to sit by as I do...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Putting Your Realest Foot Forward

Last week I hosted my first girls' night with women who live in the town where I moved over the summer. I hadn't spent much time with either of them, so I was nervous about inviting them into our home.

It meant they'd see all the flaws.

It's scary letting new friends into our lives, isn't it? 

Because what if we show them who we are and they decide they don't like us? What if they see our vulnerable little underbellies and decide to run?

As I busied myself dusting and mopping and hiding papers and clutter in unsuspecting cupboards, I kept getting hung up on a particular piece of damaged furniture in our living room. The leather chair in the corner has two circular "burn" marks on one arm. Not from a wild night of smoking. From a time I propped the running vacuum on the arm while I tried to suck a cobweb down from the ceiling of our old house. The spinning brush burned the faux leather right off it.

I wanted to hide it from my houseguests.

I draped a blanket over the arm of the chair, trying to make it look casually intentional.

And then it occurred to me that I'd have to drape that blanket every time my new friends came over.

Hiding a flaw once can quickly lead to hiding that flaw indefinitely. 

And who wants to do that? The thought of it immediately exhausted me. So, although I was afraid of being judged for my shabby chair, I decided it would be better to just put it out there and risk the embarrassment and shame.

The people who make us feel bad like that aren't the people we should be spending our time with, anyway. 

I left the chair's scar visible and made my peace with the other imperfections around my home.

What happened may or may not have had anything to do with my decision. It may have had everything to do with the pure delightfulness of my new friends. But as we sat around my coffee table, drinking wine and eating crackers and goat cheese-pesto dip, we all started revealing vulnerabilities. We traded fears and pointed out things that make us feel like others are looking at us with a critical eye. We talked about how hard it is when you speak up in a room full of people—taking a chance on something that feels scary to say—and no one reassures you. Perhaps because they're terrified of not seeming perfect.

It was a great night and I was so thankful that I left my chair uncovered.

Being real might just be the fastest way to connect with the people who'll appreciate the real you.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Want to Feel Happier? Go Have an Adventure.

Strolling through Washington DC with my niece.

Every day, we are given a ridiculously vast breadth of choice about how we'll live.

We can give in to the grind, our grief, or feelings of stagnation. Or we can go out and create joy. 

We can embrace opportunities to try new things, see new places, have adventures, or just indulge in our most favoritest activities.

The times you're feeling stuck or unfulfilled are probably most important—and hardest—times to do this.

But "doing cool sh*t" is one of the greatest keys to happiness.

In the fall of 2011 when I got laid off from my beloved job at Yahoo!, I could have gone down the dark path of worrying I'd never find another gig like that—or that I'd be collecting unemployment for months on end or run out of money altogether. Instead, I took a breath and tried to make the most of the situation life had thrown my way. Within weeks of getting the axe, I used airline miles to tag along with my niece on her college tour of the east coast. When I started working again, freelancing from home, I made it a point to pop out to my backyard during the day with my laptop and meet up with friends for lunch or morning walks.

I sought out stuff that made me happy.

Seeking joy and adventure doesn't have to mean climbing a mountain (although I highly recommend doing that at some point). It can be as simple as going to a movie by yourself on a Wednesday night or trying a new recipe or treating yourself to a walk on the beach at sunset. 

My friends over at Mimosa Lotus know this very well.

In fact, they've started a really awesome campaign to honor a dear, departed friend of theirs. They're calling it "How Do You Live?" and encouraging people to use that hashtag on social media to celebrate this simple, yet totally transformational way of looking at our time on earth.

The beauty of this approach is that the more you go out and do cool sh*t, create opportunities for happiness and growth, and let yourself take risks that feel good—the more you'll discover who you really are.

And isn't that why all of us are here? To wholly make that discovery?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Universal Secrets to Success

When I was in my mid-twenties, a girlfriend and I enrolled in a drawing class at the local community college. She and I worked in the same office, so once a week when the closing bell rang we'd carpool over to the school to indulge our creative genius. I think she was there because she wanted to become a better artist. I was there because I thought I might meet a cute guy.

I did not meet any eligible bachelors, but I did learn a lot about drawing—and life—from my professor. Frankly, I think he would have liked to teach more about the latter than the former. I remember one night, he went into great detail about the benefits of eating a macrobiotic diet. Another, he talked about the importance of changing your perspective—and how he often laid on the floor and looked up at his dog to feel what it was like to reverse their roles. The night I turned in my final sketchbook, he told me my skin was radiant. I think I radiated beet red after that.

He shared quite a lot with our class, but what stuck with me the most were six little words he said to help us ease into the artistic process.

Slow down.
Relax into it.

The reason they stuck with me was that they could be applied to so many situations. Maybe every situation...

Think about it: If you're in conflict with someone, don't things end on a better note when you slow down and breathe? If you're doing something scary for the first time—like giving a speech or writing an email to someone you just met on an online dating site—doesn't it ease the tension if you take a few deep inhales and exhales and relax into the process? Some people, like my friend Mike, would probably even say this is a great mantra for sex.

I think this approach has universal applications. The trick is remembering to apply it.

After my teacher shared this advice with us, I wrote it on a sticky note and kept it at my desk while I worked as an advertising copywriter. When I would get anxious about crafting the perfect headline or coming up with a winning ad concept, I'd remind myself that the best way to get into the zone and access creativity was to follow those six words. It worked like a charm.

Where do you think it would benefit you to slow down, breathe, and relax into it? Or are you already using this approach somewhere in your life and seeing success? Do tell!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One-Minute Meditation: Final Dance of the Apricot Leaves

Chill out with a little video commendation for the apricot tree's final performance—before winter's chill stole its leaves from our yard. Nature's wind chimes come in so many lovely forms. (Even silent ones!)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Do You Know You Deserve This Year?

"What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down."
- George Bailey, It's a Wonderful Life
Most people I know are really good at saying what they think they deserve. And not always so good at acting like they deserve it.

We all fall into this trap from time to time, knowing on one level that we should be getting more from our relationships, our selves, our paychecks—but maybe not quite feeling totally worthy of sticking to our guns to make it happen.

And so we make excuses and allowances.

When I was dating Mr. Redflags, I knew I deserved so much more, yet I told myself things like, "You're just being high maintenance," or "You have a strong personality, so no relationship will ever be easy." Lies. The truth was that I was compromising my own value because I was afraid of having another failed relationship at 31.

Fear of failing, and taking what you can get, will never lead you to what you really deserve. 

Although I can't take credit for the demise of that relationship, I can take credit for the mindset I maintained after it. I vowed to hold out for a love that I knew I deserved. I was committed to seeing my worthiness and keeping my standards high. And with that perspective top of mind, I went off into the world and tried to do as much fun stuff as I could (key to a happy life: go do fun stuff).

What happened came as a bit of a surprise to me then, but makes perfect sense to me now. I got what I knew I deserved. I found my Mr. Wonderful and began a pretty darn blissful life with him that led to marriage and a one-acre plot in Santa Barbara wine country.

You get to the good stuff when you decide you're worthy of it. 

When you truly see, feel, and believe how wonderful you are, not only are you better able to filter the less-than-excellent stuff and people, you attract more of the stuff and people you want—whether that comes in the form of a better working situation, more fulfilling relationships, more respect from family members, quality downtime, or all of the above.

Belief in yourself and your worth is at the heart of getting everything you want in this life. 

So how do you get to this place of belief? Start by watching the way you think and speak. Treat yourself the way you would someone you love. Take yourself on dates. Trade criticisms for compliments. Get really clear and actively build the case for your worthiness. And if you need a little push to make you remember how amazing you are, check out Wonderful U.

It's never too late to set new parameters around what you deserve. Why not try it and see what shows up in your life as a result?