Thursday, 29 November 2012

When You Feel Like Giving Up
So things didn't go as you planned. Life's unexpected ways have crept into your life and you don't know what to do anymore. You thought you had it all figured out until something happens and you need to learn how to do things differently. Things are changing. You step into uncertainty, struggling to keep your balance.

Someone once told me that we can't have happiness without sadness. It took me a while to accept this. To see that there is a certain life cycle that we must embrace. I had to watch this cycle run its course a few times before realizing that we are human beings meant to experience many different emotions. And yes, some are painful. 

But also, I realized something else. We can experience a difficult emotion like sadness at different points in our lives, but sometimes we suffer more. Why do we suffer more sometimes? Because we resist the experience. We ignore the emotion and expect ourselves to go on being happy 100% of the time.

Removing this resistance and allowing ourselves to feel and express what is present, makes the whole experience of any emotion very different. We don't feel stuck, we are going with the flow and allowing the natural process to take place. Difficult emotions run their course and then make room for happiness.

At any point in our lives, we can find freedom- even during hard times of change and loss, where we lose our energy and feel like giving up.

Of course, it is easier to feel free when we are happy. But we can also become free with uncomfortable emotion by letting go of our resistance to it and reminding ourselves of a few important things:

1 Each and every one of us experiences both ups and downs in our life, we are never alone

2 There is no "right" way to be, the realest we feel is when we are present to what is

Let go of the guilt tied to expressing uncomfortable emotions- there is nothing "bad" about allowing yourself to be human, whatever the emotion is

And remember, the tide always comes back, hard times eventually pass and leave us with more strength and knowledge than we would have ever imagined.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Take Some Time to Let Loose!
As we grow older and the responsibilities in our lives pile up, we sometimes forget to simply play. To be silly and thoughtless. Even though I am a firm believer in setting goals and planning for the future, I also think its important to savor the moment. Savoring the moment means being spontaneous and listening to our inner voice that sometimes just wants to be a kid and play. It is important to make conscious decisions and take consistent actions towards our goals, but doing this ALL the time can become exhausting. The truth is that we need everything- we need to do things that bring meaning and purpose into our lives as well as doing the things just for the sake of doing them- because we can and because we feel like doing them in the moment. All of this can be summed up in one word- balance. Here are some of the specific ways in which we can add some playtime into our daily lives and achieve balance:

1 Laugh 45 minutes every day!

As I think about the importance of daily laughter, I think back to my first blog post, "The Power of Laughter".( Now I realize why I felt so inclined to write my first post about laughter- it is a powerful and life-changing thing. The benefits of laughter are strikingly similar to those of a daily workout- more energy, a more positive outlook on life, increased confidence and creativity and a stronger core. So read some jokes, make ridiculous facial expressions, freak people out as you question your sanity and spend time with people who make you laugh and realize that life doesn't have to be taken so seriously!

2 Be Mindless

Being mindless means giving our over-active brains a break. Remember when someone told you to "just lose yourself" in the music? Well this phrase refers to just that. Our rational minds help us make sense of things, but great things are also realized through connecting to our hearts.  We often doubt the voice of the heart, that tells us to do things that we feel like doing. We want to reason our actions before they are done, but let me tell you, sometimes we realize why we did what we did after. And sometimes there doesn't need to be a reason- let yourself play simply because it feels good! 

 Run around your house naked, listen to an upbeat song and let your body go wild (I love Scatman,, call a friend to simply hear their voice and ask them about their day, send a dirty text to someone you like, play an instrument, sing a song, plan a last minute trip, bang some pots and pans, dress up, waste some money, take a bubble bath, cry about something that has been eating away at your soul and release that emotion once and for all, buy an instrument and play it, grow your hair, cut your hair, have sex, paint something, scream- the list goes on.

3 Don't be so hard on yourself!

Give yourself a chance to be imperfect and make mistakes.  Give yourself permission to not try so hard, to let go of the person you think you "should" be. Wear red pants, talk to strangers, eat some cake, watch a stupid movie, slouch, kick your feet up- whatever  your version of "imperfect" is. Allow yourself to be silly and let go of doing everything "the right way" all the time. And for the record, there is not "right" way to do things- this is your life and you decide what is right for YOU.



Monday, 26 November 2012

Fucking Fear.
What is the biggest thing that holds us back from following our heart and doing what we feel? Fear. Fear of failing, fear of looking foolish, fear of others' opinions. Most of the time, the fears that hold us back are not life-threatening, yet they still hold us back. We are so concerned with what might go wrong or what others will think of us that we hold back on a lot of actions. We spend more time in our heads, rationalizing and analyzing than doing the things that we truly want.

Before I continue with this blog, consider this question:

What do you really want?

Not what others want from you or what you think you "should" do. What do you really want?

Knowing what you want can start with small things. And as you focus on the little things you want in each in your life, they become big things, goals, passions. Knowing what you want starts with an awareness of your life experiences. After every experience, ask yourself if it brought you happiness, ignited an inner spark or provided you with new insight or information. If it did, then make it something that you want or would like to create more of in your life. And if it didn't, then learn from the experience and let it go. Move on.

The more we experience, the more we learn and the more we define what it is that we want. (or what brings us happiness, we all want to do what makes up happy right?)  Conscious Experience not only exposes us to the things that add to our list of things that we want, but it also pushes us past our limits. We learn that we are more capable and powerful than we previously thought.

Usually we have an idea of the kinds of things we might like to try. Yet we never actually pursue them because we are not sure. Well let me tell you something: you won't know what you like for sure until you actually experience it! And this is where facing fear comes into place.

We are so fearful of "what might happen" but really, our fears are just fears. The things we fear rarely happen.

Over the past few years I have developed the "so what" philosophy. Saying "so what?" is a way of challenging our fears and showing ourselves that it is never as bad as we think it is. Here are the "so whats" I tell myself in the face of fear. Beside each question you will find a response/affirmation of what will actually happen in each case.

1 So what if I fail or make a mistake?  I will learn and know what to do better next time. There is nothing bad about making a mistake. The most successful people are not afraid of failing.

2 So what if I look foolish? What I look like is not important. This is my life and doing what makes me happy is the most important thing. The people who support me aren't concerned with appearances.

3 So what if other people judge me? Yes, there will be people who don't see what you see, who don't understand you. But then again, there are people who do, and support you in following your passion. Who cares about the others!

So this is my proposition to you. Face your fears and take risks. Experience life with awareness and as you define your wants and sources of happiness. Find people who support you on your journey and let go of the people who don't. And learn- there is more to gain than lose. 



Saturday, 24 November 2012

Just Be Honest.
Yes, being honest is not always easy, but it is better. It saves you time and energy and life is much more simple. Being honest with yourself and others is one of the best habits to have in life. Honesty and straightforwardness is appreciated in the professional world and I'm sure that if you asked someone close to you for their opinion, you'd want it to be an honest one, right? 

Now I am not vouching for perfection here, nobody is 100% honest all of the time. We are not superheroes. But what I am vouching for, is an awareness of how honest we are with ourselves and others.

To be honest, we must first value honesty. We must believe that it will improve our lives. Why do I value honesty?

1 It allows me to discover who I truly am and what my desires are

2 I have formed deeper connections with people

3 I have found freedom in being the rawest, realest version of myself, letting go of the expectation's that others have of me

Now before I continue, I want to illustrate something (It will make more sense later)

The thoughts we think
The way we feel
The way we speak and act  

The point of this illustration is to show that everything starts with the way we think. Now there is no need to force ourselves to change the way we think. Start by simply being aware of the way you think of yourself. Sometimes just observing our thought patterns and noticing their negative effects is enough to make us want to change.

It's not about decreasing your dishonest thoughts, but increasing the honest ones. If you simply focus on strengthening an honest relationship with yourself, it will naturally cause anything that is false and meaningless to lose its power, validity and affect on your feelings and actions. 

So I challenge you to raise your awareness and ask yourself these questions.
1 What are my thoughts/my inner dialogue? What is true? What do I tell myself that isn't true? 

We often tell ourselves things that aren't true without realizing it- these thoughts come from a place of fear. For example, we are afraid that people won't accept us for who we really are so we say mean things about ourselves- these thoughts are not true!

2 How do I really feel right now?

3 How do I act and what do I say to others? Is it a true reflection of who I am?

A famous quote says, "Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." Why? Because it saves energy and makes you feel more real and alive. Sounds very simple. But with society expecting us to be and act a certain way, we sometimes lose sight of ourselves. So be YOU, and I promise you, it will feel better knowing that the people in your life respect you for who you truly are.

And this is the really amazing thing: when you become completely honest with yourself, being honest with others is a whole lot easier. 



Thursday, 22 November 2012

Myth: Dreaming is Only for Children

"Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity."

~ Will Smith

We all have dreams and things we want to achieve. We envision a certain future for ourselves. But as we get older, we sometimes lose sight of our dream and settle for a life that isn't entirely fulfilling.

There are two reasons why we settle:

1 We don't think we deserve better

2 We don't think we are capable of achieving better

I think that it is important for us to shift our mindset to see that there is no "right way" to live our lives. The way is to do what makes us happy, whatever this may be.

Another thing to know is that there is no limit to what we can achieve. What we think we can achieve is what we will achieve. Therefore, if we want to achieve more, we need to rid ourselves of all limits and conditions.

Following your heart is a journey that has its challenges, but it is a journey worth traveling. Life will have its challenges whichever path you choose to follow, so you might as well follow the path of your heart.

Pursuing a life of happiness is always worth it. Yes, it does require belief in yourself and a great deal of commitment, courage and persistence but at the end of the day, you will be happy and your life experience will be a meaningful one.
It may seem easier to simply do what others are doing or what is expected of you, but this path is not quite as fulfilling.  I say forget what other people expect of you and do what YOU want, knowing that anything is possible. Connect to YOU and what you want out of life, as an individual, and I promise that the whole journey will be filled with adventure, meaning and happiness.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Instant Calm: Take A Bath!
  If you haven't taken a bath in the past week, you might want to reconsider. Bath time is crucial for relaxation and maintaining overall balance in your life. I swear by the bath, I could write a whole book about the benefits of taking a bath and all the things you can do during bath time. Setting aside 20 mins-1 hour for a bath might just be the worthwhile investment that improves the way you feel every day. It is inexpensive and easy- find the time and I guarantee your success.

Taking a bath will provide you will the following benefits:
1 A relaxed and renewed body and mind

2 A chance to connect with your spiritual self as you nurture your body, mind and soul

3 The opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on your life: are there certain needs that you have neglected to take care of? Do you feel supported? Are you supporting and nurturing yourself?

4 A fun, peaceful, nourishing, fulfilling and perhaps adventurous time!

And on one cautionary note: You might want to set an alarm or maintain awareness throughout your bath so as to not fall asleep from feeling so happy and relaxed!

My recommendation of bubble bath:  Ombra Foam Bath

Having a few candles is imperative for your bath (for people with low bath budgets, dollar store candles will do. And for those who are willing to invest a few more bath bucks, head over to Winners or Michaels for bigger, scented candles)

As I said, I could write a whole book about all the things you can do during a bath- the list is endless. (This is why I received numerous bottles of bubble bath for my birthday) Here are my favorites:

1 Listen to Music and Meditate on the Breath

Putting these three things together is a combination destined for wellness! Calming instrumental or vocal music is the best ( Classical music is great. I also love Enya, a very calming vibe that will bring you closer to your spiritual self)

2 Read a Book...or Write One!

Pull out your favorite book or magazine or print an article from the internet that you would enjoy reading. Or, pick up your journal and start a book of your own! (Be careful with the candles, as you will need to bring them closer to you. If anything, they will just fall into the water)

3 Eat and Drink

Bring the dinner, wine and cookies over to the bath and experience something new- simply said. Anything you normally eat can be transported to the bath environment.



Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Do You Have Real Friends? 

We are a product of our environment and this includes the people in it. Your friends have a huge influence on the way you think, feel and act. I believe that we have total control of becoming the person we want to become. The friends we choose to be around most can do one of two things:

1 Inspire our growth to become the person we want to be

2 Stunt our growth and limit us from becoming the person we want to be

With this in mind, it is important to first be aware of the kind of people who are around us in our lives now.  Then ask yourself this question: are these people inspiring me to become the best version of myself? If they are, great. And if they are not, it may be time to find people who appreciate the best in you. 

Real friends see the best in you, support you no matter what you are doing, encourage, inspire, challenge and help you stay strong during tough times. Real friends share in your joys as well, holding your hand as you walk your destined path.  

When Demi Lovato came out of rehab, she did a friend cleanse, knowing that to be her happiest self she would need to be around supportive people.

"I weeded out people who didn't have my best interests at heart. Now I have friends who love me for who I am and don't care about what I'm doing." (Demi Lovato)

Commit to people who really care about you. Inspire and support and be inspired and supported. I remember when I didn't have real friends in my life- especially since I was going through a lot of stress at the time, everything became more challenging. Now I have amazing people around me who I feel more than blessed to have. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find the people you need, but believe me, they are out there. Don't ever settle for less than what you know you deserve.



Monday, 19 November 2012

Express Yourself!

I think that too often we keep our thoughts and emotions to ourselves. Weather we are going through a challenging time where the emotion is deep and painful or a happy time where the emotion is exhilarating, expressing that emotion will make it feel real. Remember, all emotions are beautiful and expressing them for what they are will allow you to experience their natural cycle. Two important things to know. When you express yourself:

1 Challenging emotion will be released: expressing pain, anger and sadness is the best way to let it be released, take its natural course and pass.
2 Positive emotion will be amplified: who doesn't want to feel the ecstasy of an orgasm amplified? In this case, when you express yourself vocally or have a more open and honest connection with your partner, you will feel free and there is nothing to hold back - you are allowing your mind and body to be fully present in the experience.

Now you may be wondering about the specific forms in which you can express yourself. Here are 7:

1 Tell Somone

Call up, text, email or meet with a friend or someone who you know will encourage and support you no matter what it is you are going through. Have a heart-to-heart and tell them what's really going on!

2 Take a Video or Picture

So you are taking a walk and you come across some beautiful trees. Breathe in the beauty and before the moment passes, capture it. Take a photo or video.

3 Write

Write a song or poem, start a blog or simply keep a personal journal. (Indigo sells lovely journals) Inject your writing with your pain, happiness, anger or joy- whatever emotion is present.

Be Spontaneous!

Do something without thinking, do it from the heart. Tell someone you care about how you really feel about them. Dance in the shower. Scream on a mountain. Walk around your house naked. Wear a cowboy hat next time you clean your room. Whatever it is, be YOU and express what is real.



Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Art of Self-Compassion

Sometimes when we need it the most, we forget to take care of ourselves. There is a time for everything- to be busy and then there is a time to quiet the mind and free the spirit. It's okay to take a break and practice loving ourselves.

Hard times are the best times to take care of ourselves. Instead of punishing ourselves for not being able to deal with challenges as we expect to, lets inject some self love.

1 Just Breathe

Oxygen is a basic need. It is essential to our survival and it is also free! Practicing breathing deeply can go a long way. Try lying down on the solid ground with a candle burning and the lights down.

2 Lean on Friends for Support

Isolating ourselves during challenging times may be what we want to do- get away from the world so to speak. But is is important to participate, act and reach out for support. Encouragement and kind words from good friends is something I feel very blessed to have. Sometimes we get caught up in thinking that we are a burden to others by asking for help. But it is actually the other way around- good friends are glad to help. We create stories in our minds about what people think about us when really, people are mostly thinking about themselves!

3 Cherish Today

Live for the moment. Practice mindfulness. (Here is a link to my article on mindfulness:
Use your senses to experience the world, observe beauty and give the analytical mind a break.

4 It's Okay to be Okay

Nobody is perfect. We are not superheros. We don't feel ecstatically happy all the time and feeling okay is okay! The truth is that all emotions are beautiful, including sadness and anger. Sometimes we need to embrace the lows to have the highs.

5 Everything Always Works Out: Trust the Process

Call it the work of God or some other spiritual means, there is an explainable way that things work out at the end of the day. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be. Embrace the beauty of whatever you are going through and let nature do its work.

6  Take Relaxing Seriously

When you relax, fully commit to relaxing- simply stated. This way, your body, mind and spirit will benefit the most.

7 Put a Stop to Self-Judegment

Many of us are super hard on ourselves in a negative way.  This doesn't help, especially during a challenging time.  And there is no "right way" to be or act. Also, we often think that others are judging us. And maybe some people are- but who cares about these people! Our true friends don't judge. So act with the fear or whatever internal chaos is present, knowing that there is no "right way" to feel and participate in life! Don't hold back.



Saturday, 3 November 2012

Why Never Giving up is Always Worth It

Sometimes life gets challenging and things don't go as we expect. All of a sudden, you don't have the same energy and it's harder to do the things you usually do. When emotional baggage piles up, we reach a tipping point and sometimes all we want to do it give up, stop what we are doing and hide from the world. Throughout my personal journey, there were times when I wanted to give up. Now I realize why I didn't and what makes the whole journey worth it, even when times are tough. Consider this quote:

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for this is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

I have found this statement to be very true. Things can change very quickly and holding on just a moment longer could mean the world. Whatever doesn't kill you definitely makes you stronger and wiser. Tough times teach us to be patient. They also help us grow, gain perspective and realize how strong we really are. With an open mind during tough times, we learn ways to support ourselves, develop lifelong habits, find people who show us the way and ultimately define what we want out of life.

We can't eliminate suffering and challenge, but we can face it with courage and a set of valuable life tools that give us comfort, vision and strength during such times. Here are some examples of valuable tools:
  • A positive support system of friends
  • Good sleep, a, balanced diet and regular exercise
  • Planning and setting realistic goals 
The powerful point here is how we face challenge. Using the right tools can go a long way in making things more manageable.

Also, keeping an open mind is very helpful. This means being open to support and opportunities. What you need could be waiting just around the corner. Things can change quickly. And it is important to hold on, even when we want to give up, because life has so much in store for us-  adventures, beautiful places to see and inspiring relationships.