Intentions for 2016

This is my first post in 2015 and I figured I would get it in at the 11th hour, typical of my life’s patterns. That is something I am looking at, that pattern of the last minute, the 11th hour, but I will look at it later….I have other things to do right now, like write my thoughts down for 2016.

Christmas is always a time for me to look at the past year and think about life, think about the people who are no longer in our life. Christmas Eve was spent with all 4 of my children and some of my favorite people in the world. I cherished each moment at the table, watching my sons banter about what order to watch the first 6 Star Wars movies. As I sat there adoring the faces of my children, I thought of my husband’s old friend who lost a son this year. I thought of her and her pain this Christmas missing the face of her son. Life is precious. We know it but we walk around forgetting it all the time. We are busy with our to-do lists and stressed to find the perfect gift; we forget the loaf of Italian bread that we wanted to serve with dinner, we are annoyed that the manicure we spent an hour  out of our busy day was ruined while we were making meatballs. We worry that we hadn’t bought enough for everyone. Really? But then I notice the negative emotion and I take a breath, and I re-focus. That is what it is all about….FOCUS. What am I focusing on? The good? The bad? The beautiful or the ugly? The blessings or the challenges? It is our choice….always. That is where our power is….in that choice. Let me not forget this simple fact.

Christmas day at my sisters’ house was a blessed day spent with all my siblings and my parents. (When I say that I am blessed, it is not because it is all Norman Rockwell worthy! We have our moments that are ugly. I just don’t post them on Facebook or write about them in my blog. But, it goes without saying. All families have their blemishes and mine is no different. But I have learned to take the good with the bad and embrace it all.) However, I am keenly aware how blessed I am to have reached this age with my family totally intact. I have high hopes that I, too, will live to see grandchildren and possibly great- grandchildren, like my parents have. But, tomorrow is not promised to me. So, there are some things I want to say just in case.  I truly believe that our life force is fueled by desires. I have some strong desires but try to live without strong expectations. That is where the balancing act comes in. I manage that balancing act by my faith that the Universe is always conspiring for my benefit. So that no matter what happens, and however blind I may be to the possible benefits an event could have, I manage to trust that the Universe (or God) knows better than me and that this event will serve my highest good and the evolution of humankind as a whole. For example, my youngest daughter recently went through something that rocked her world somewhat. I was in pain because she was in pain. However, since I believe that the Universe is always conspiring for our benefit, I trusted that what my daughter was going through, that one day we would look back at this circumstance and be grateful for it. So, I decided after meditating this morning, why not be grateful for it now. Why wait to understand it?  This thought was my main inspiration  for my intentions for the New Year……

My top five Intentions for 2016:

  1. Be Grateful for everything! I intend to trust the Universe with everything that comes my way. The gratitude may not be immediate. Let’s face it, I am human…..but gratitude is the goal. When we appreciate, we stay in the vibration that allows the manifestation of all our desires.
  2. Practice Kindness! Yes, like the Dalai Lama, Kindness is my religion.  It is not easy to practice this 100% of the time but when I keep it at the forefront of my mind daily, it is easier. It is a habit, like any other and with practice, gets easier and easier. One method that keeps me on the right track is the practice of Loving-kindness meditation which I do regularly.  I have learned that it is better to be kind than to be right. (And I love being right!) I am sharing a link to the meditation that helps me be kinder, in case anyone is interested the link to the meditation is on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/WellBeingLifeCoach/
  3. Practice Mindfulness each day and all day long! I have become a Mindfulness practitioner. Mindfulness, according to one definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.” I used to live my life pondering the past with regret or worrying about the future with anxiety. I can still go to those two places, but mindfulness directs me back to paying attention to the here and now and noticing that without judgment. It is the game-changer. It is the stress-buster. It is my life’s work.
  4. Look at the world through the filter of LOVE! I can see any situation  through one of 2 filters, the LOVE filter or the FEAR filter.  I was conditioned to look through the fear filter which tells us that there are only so many pieces of the pie, that you can’t trust people, and that money doesn’t grow on trees.  I was raised by Murphy’s Law:  “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Now I am a practitioner of a different Law, the Law of Attraction which basically says “I am the Creator of my own reality.” and “The more I love, the more love is returned to me.” If you are feeling unloved, start choosing the LOVE filter and start with yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have. My goal is that each and every person I encounter will feel the LOVE. That is what I want to be remembered for on this earth. That will be enough.
  5. STOP! Whenever a negative emotion has me in its grip, I intend to practice the mini-meditation of STOP: Stop, Take a breath, or two or three, Observe what is going on in my thoughts and in the present moment, and Proceed. Proceed with the above four intentions: gratitude, kindness, mindfulness and LOVE. There will be multiple opportunities each and every day for the rest of my life to practice this mini-meditation called STOP! This is the pause button when the Panic button is activated. This is where our power is….the power to pause and choose something other than our default mode which is driven by FEAR.

I am wishing each and every one of you a healthy, happy new year! May your desires be fueled with belief  that the outcome will always be in your favor. May you be happy, joyous and free! May there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me!

What are your intentions, dreams and goals for 2016?  Please share with us in the comment section below.

 

 

Heaven on Earth

The Holidays are in full swing. The dead of winter is upon us. The Holiday season tends to contain all that life has to offer…. celebration, family, friends, hope, joy and stress. For some, it is a time that highlights what we feel is missing in our life. We used to look at celebrities in magazines and thought they had it all. Now, we have social media and think our neighbors seem to have it all. But, in truth, life carries with it the good, the bad and the ugly, for EVERYONE! I try to live an authentic life, but I don’t post my darkest moments on Facebook! You all get to see the happy ones and yes, there are plenty of happy ones. But, the dark ones exist as well; they are just not eligible for publishing. LOL!

Looking back at the year that has gone by, this is what is true for me. I started out 2014 sadly mourning a cousin who died. We joyfully welcomed Conor Patrick into our family this summer. I started school which has been inspiring and literally has breathed new life into me. My sister Eileen and I held our first retreat…and felt the sweetness of success. I celebrated plenty of milestones: my husband and I are married 15 years. My children turned 10, 25, 27 and 31. My mother and father turned 80 and 81, respectively. I am somewhere in between… not telling! My age does not matter though; what matters is how awakened I am.

This was a year of great awakening for me. I am realizing that this life on earth that I am living right now is the BIG EVENT. It is not a test to show our worthiness for a happy everlasting life. I believe we are eternal beings, but I also believe Heaven is on Earth. The only hell I believe in is the one we create in our own minds. It’s called judgment and it is driven by fear. We are either judging ourselves or judging others. This prevents us from living an awakened life. Let this be the season of love, not judgment.

Here are some tips for creating Heaven on Earth during this Holiday Season:
• The most precious gift any day of the year is your presence, not your presents. Don’t go into debt just so that you look good! But if your budget can handle it, be as generous as the spirit inspires you to be!
• If you didn’t get around to your Holiday cards, send kind thoughts, beginning with yourself! Give someone you are thinking about a call. It may be just what they need and it will lift you up as well.
• Be Mindful of excessive eating and drinking. These are ways to numb out for some of us, not necessarily means of celebrating. Take notice when you are crossing that line!
• If you are alone: VOLUNTEER! There are so many opportunities to help those who are hungry, alone or sick and suffering. When we do for others, we remain connected to the ALL.
• Suit up and show up! When you isolate, you deprive others of your uniqueness, that space only you can fill.
• Connect with Mother Earth. Bundle up and go for a walk. Look at the naked trees, the winter sky, and the occasional squirrel scampering around with last minute treasures to hide away for the long winter ahead.
• Practice gratitude. Every moment appreciated is an awakened moment.
• Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! Take time to breathe. This may seem foolish, or obvious, or downright unnecessary. We all breathe until the time we die. Duh! But I am talking about taking time each day, even if it’s only 5 minutes at a time to just focus on your breathing. Let the thoughts go by like the clouds in the sky. Give your mind a vacation!
• Forgive yourself and others for not making the mark. Everyone is doing the best they can do, given the resources at their disposal.
• Love, LOVE, LOVE! All you need is Love. The Beatles had it right almost half a century ago!

Happy Holidays and May you experience Heaven on Earth in the New Year!

Conscious Creation

As a life coach, I start every session by asking my clients where they are emotionally on a scale from 0-10. I believe we are all meant to be Happy, Joyous and Free and my work is to help people live from that place as much as they can. But none of us can live there always. Before anyone gets the idea that people, like myself, who are on a journey to see the good in the world, who speak about what they are grateful for instead of what is irking them and post inspirational quotes every day on Facebook don’t have really sucky days, I want to share my story… of one day…today. The reason I have embraced meditation, prayer, gratitude journals, affirmations, exercise, and conscious creation is because without it, my life would be a nightmare. My natural tendency in life is to be Irritable, Judgmental and Discontent. When I hit the floor in the morning, I am not Miss Sunshine. If I don’t take some action to transform my natural tendencies like prayer, meditation, journaling, my morning goes like it did today: “Uggh! I have to get up. It’s 6:50.” “Damn, I overslept!” “OMG, we have no milk. OK, here is a granola bar for breakfast….it is NOT the end of the world! People are STARVING, for God’s sake. YOU have a granola bar!” When my daughter is having trouble finding her shoes, the next sentence that comes out “what do you mean you can’t find your shoes? If you put them where they belong, you would be able to find them!” Then my next thought is “Are these words coming out of my mouth or did my parents sneak in the house this morning to do some pinch-hitting parenting?”  Next, I interrupt my husband, who is seemingly unaware of all that needs to get done to successfully have our child out the door in the next 10 minutes, lowering my voice so that my daughter who is hunting for footwear cannot hear, “Honey, could you please pack a snack while I write a note to the teacher, fill out the permission slip for the class trip, write a check for the class dues, find an envelope for the class dues, and then slit my wrists!” My husband is happy to help out. Maybe he really doesn’t want me to slit my wrists! But while he starts the process of packing a snack, I do not miss a trick! (In case you didn’t know, my part-time job is “Family quality assurance director”, a nicer title than “control freak”.)  I informed him the snack was not healthy enough, he needed to get something else. He picked an apple and a pear and then proceeded to place them in a Ziploc bag which I did not see the necessity for since I have a reusable snack bag that will not wreak havoc with our environment. That was the last straw. The lines in the sand were drawn and a battle ensued about our differing views on packing snacks, health and the environment. In the midst of all this, my daughter could not wait to get to school, away from this madness. Boots on her feet, granola bar in hand, apple and pear packed in the Ziploc bag, permission slip signed, class dues in envelope, and off to school my wonderful and peaceful daughter went. I said my good-byes and watched as this precious child walked to the car with her father and immediately felt the pang of sorrow and regret of NOT being PEACE.

I took my dog to the car to set off on our morning hike. Her tail was wagging but mine was between my legs! Off I went to hike in the woods and do my walking meditation, concentrating on my breathing. Thoughts were swimming around, as they are always are, but I allowed them to float away, much like clouds in the sky. I was waiting for the sunshine, but the clouds kept coming. I was still not feeling as light as I usually do in the woods on a crisp September morning. I came home and spent some time journaling. When meditation does not relieve my angst, it is always time to take out the pen. There is something powerful about putting your thoughts on paper and getting them out of your head. Then I cried. I guess I was feeling sorry for myself. I just had surgery on Friday and although it was nothing major, 2 skin cancers were removed from my forehead, and I have been in pain. I have swelling around my eyes. My eyebrow looks disfigured. I have bandages across my forehead. I still have had deadlines to deal with; I have a daughter to care for and life goes on. I gave myself 5 minutes to cry. “I guess I have to accept my human-ness.” I wiped the tears and knew what I had to do next. Forgiveness was next on the agenda. I forgave myself for not having an award-winning parenting morning. Lastly, I asked the question, “How much should I battle to prevent one more Ziploc bag from entering a landfill?” I know that whenever I am disturbed, I only need to look inward for the source of the disturbance. It’s not really about the Ziploc bag. It is about my inner peace. It is about acceptance. It is about letting everyone else have their journey and not attempting to control them. I was able to reach a place of acceptance. I even managed to laugh at myself!  I said a prayer for peace, for inner peace. Then I took a hot shower, re-bandaged my forehead, put on make-up, styled my hair and started my day over.

It’s 10:30 a.m. I have a full day of work to do. I am starting anew. I pick up another journal, my gratitude journal. I write FIVE things that I am grateful for: hiking, meditation, my husband, my children, my dog. For the rest of the day, chances are the world is going to get a different person than the one that hit the floor at 6:50 a.m. I am a conscious creator. I decide to be HAPPY. I want to bring happiness to others. I decide to be LOVE. I want others to feel my love. I decide to be PEACE. I want to bring peace into others’ experiences.  Right this moment, I AM Happy, Love, and Peace. I don’t know how long it will last, but I have the tools to always return to this place, to return to who I truly AM.

Who do you want to BE today?

To Judge, or Not to Judge

To Judge, or Not to Judge? That is the question. The answer can be arrived at by asking another question: Do you want to be happy? Plain and simple, judging is not the source of happiness. It may temporarily–oh so temporarily–make us feel righteous and superior, but it is truly the source of unhappiness.  However, we erroneously THINK that our unhappiness stems from whatever we perceive as being WRONG and if that person, place or thing would just get it RIGHT, we could be happy. Instead, it is our own critical thinking that is making us unhappy. If we need others to act a certain way in order to be happy, oh well, unhappiness is the order of the day.

Sometimes we are the worst judges to ourselves. “I should have done this!” “I shouldn’t have done that!” “I am fat.” “I am wrinkled.” “I am such a bad speaker!” “I am a pessimistic person!”  The things we say to ourselves are horrible and sometimes downright mean and sadistic. And it is not a one-time slip of the tongue. For many of us, it is the ongoing story we tell ourselves. And then we wonder why we don’t gain others’ respect? Really? The way we treat ourselves is the model for how we expect others to treat us.

If judging is the problem, what is the solution? I am a lover of solutions. The problem is only good to toss around so that we can figure out what we don’t want. Once we know what we don’t want we can turn our focus onto what we DO WANT. Being critical, judging ourselves and others is an ingrained habit that is sometimes as challenging as a heroin addict getting off dope.  But it can be done, one situation at a time. It is impossible to monitor every thought we have, so let your emotions be your guide. When you are not feeling good, look at what thought is underlying that. Did you just get irritated because your husband threw the newspaper into the regular garbage and not into the recycling bin? So what are you thinking? He’s an idiot? Lazy? Careless? Inconsiderate? Oh, these thoughts can come oh so easily for some of us. Yep, I am talking about myself here. Unless we stop and realize our irritation is due to our own critical thinking–our own disallowing of others to have their own journey–stop and realize we have a choice on how to respond to this situation. I can be my true self (lover of Mother Earth) and take the paper out of the regular garbage and go place it in the paper bin. I can observe my critical mind and say something to myself like “Bless him, change me.”

Or, perhaps you just looked in the mirror and saw the cellulite in the thighs and felt disgust. What is that about? What is the underlying thought: “I am not perfect enough”? Notice the critical mind. Make a decision on changing your focus from criticism to love and appreciation. You can choose a new thought, a different focus: “My body has served me well;  I love the temple which is my body and because of that love, I AM going to head to the gym later today.”  Out of self-loathing, no positive change comes; it is only from a place of self-love that we can go in the direction of our dreams, our happiness.

You want to be happy? You want peace of mind? Isn’t that universally a desire of every human being? Here is a 3-step path to that happy place: 1) Make it your intention not to judge–others or yourself–one situation at a time;  2) Avoid gossiping about others; and 3) Love yourself as unconditionally as a dog loves his owner, with all your imperfections….just for today.

To Judge, or Not to Judge? That is the question.

Loving Thoughts on Mother’s Day

In thinking about my well-being and what makes me tick as a human being, it is hard not to talk about my kids. When my kids are happy it is easy for me to be happy. When one of my children is unhappy for any reason whatsoever, it is not so easy for me to be happy, but it is possible. For many years I carried the belief that mothers could only be as happy as their least happy child and since I have four children, there were many opportunities for unhappiness! Today, I do believe that I am a creator of my own reality. My happiness is my responsibility and does not depend on what is happening with any other human being, even the ones I gave birth to. So, why is it that when one of my children call and I see their number on my caller ID, in 2 seconds flat I have a mixed emotion of delight and “Oh My God, I hope everything is OK”? Can you relate?

This weekend I had the privilege of taking my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to an overnight trip to an aquarium where 10 girls and my co-leader and I slept overlooking seals in their tanks. As each mother dropped their daughter off for this overnight experience, I saw the mix of emotions. The moms were obviously happy and excited that their daughters were about to have this new adventure; however, I could not help but notice the hint of apprehension, the concern about whether or not their daughter would brave the aquarium in the night-time without them, the fear that sometimes accompanies letting go.

This morning before leaving the aquarium, we watched the movie “Born to be Wild” which is an amazing documentary about 2 women in Africa who have spent their life raising orphaned elephants and orangutans. The movie was about their quest in replacing the mother for these baby animals. How do you replace a mother? Not easily, as this documentary revealed. It took a team of people, dedication, love and resources. It was quite clear that without the love these creatures would not thrive and some would not survive. After years of having surrogate mothers and getting the animals to a place where they gained skills to live in the wild, they were released to live the life they were born to live. They showed one orangutan who came back to visit his surrogate mother from the wild. After the brief but heartwarming visit, the orangutan and the surrogate mother had to depart again….because the orangutan had to live his destiny. He was “born to be wild”. But really, isn’t that another way to say “born to be free”? And isn’t that what each of our destinies are….to be free? And to be really free is to be happy regardless of what is happening to anyone else, even our children.

Loving is sometimes the same as letting go. We are well-being at our core. We are also love at our core. When we love, our well-being shines through. True love has no judgment. True love is accepting. True love has no expectations. True love is letting go, letting go of others to let them have their own experience, even though it’s a jungle out there!

On this mother’s day, I am appreciating my mother who still prays for me daily, who still worries about me and who I know loves me more than anyone ever will. I appreciate all the mothers on this earth who show up for their children every day, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, whether with riches or in poverty, until their last breath do they love, and then some. Last but not least, I appreciate my four children, who have fulfilled my most important purpose of my life, to be a MOTHER. They have taught me what it feels like to love unconditionally, with all your heart….and then to let go.

Valentine’s Day

It’s a few weeks into the New Year with our New Year’s resolutions a distant memory. What was that we were going to start doing one day at a time, for 2013? If we forgot about the diet, and the exercise, and spending too much time on the computer, let us not forget about Love. Today, we celebrate Love. I really never liked this holiday we celebrate on February 14th. My life has been blessed with children, work, a dog, oh and yes, a husband. Just kidding! But really, who has time to plan for a babysitter, a romantic dinner, and a special something to make him feel like that special someone. Not me. It just doesn’t cross my mind as I am trying to get homework done, get my daughter to dance class, get a report out to a client and possibly do a load of laundry. So, I run out at the last-minute and get a box of sugar-free chocolates and a card and then feel inadequate. Wait, stop the train! Feeling inadequate is about our conditioning, the conditioning from the bombardment of advertisements about this holiday. We endlessly hear about getting that special someone a card, flowers, teddy bear; I was even listening to the radio yesterday when a commercial came on encouraging the listeners to get their sweetheart a car! COME ON PEOPLE! Really?

When closely examined, what is this holiday about?  Valentine’s Day is about Love. And Love is who we are at our core! So, for today, I am ditching the chocolates, the flowers, and the cards. Today, I am re-framing Valentine’s Day.  I celebrated it by chaperoning my daughter’s 3rd grade class to the Senior Center, where they sang old-time songs, ate lunch together and played bingo. I could see the delight in the senior citizens’ eyes as they watched the children’s excitement during a game of Bingo. I had the honor to sit next to a 93-year-old lady who told me with tears in her eyes “Thank you. You are doing good work. Just being here brought us joy.” Well, she hit the nail on the head and inspired me to rush home to my keyboard to share her sentiments. It is our “presence” in others’ lives, not the “presents” that make it memorable!

Lastly, you don’t have to have a “special someone” to celebrate this holiday. YOU are that special someone!!! LOVE yourself today and choose to be happy! HAPPY VALENTINE”S DAY EVERYONE!

P.S. Hubby, I do hope you enjoy the sugar-free chocolates. I love you!

After Thanksgiving-appreciation reigns!

As I ponder my vibration today, it is so elevated after a beautiful Thanksgiving Day. My sister Peggy has a home that is cozy, the kind that would be fitting for everyone sitting in her chairs to have a beautiful afghan over their lap and Peggy would be thrilled if everyone did! Her food rivals the best Inns in America, everything done to perfection with an extra dose of love. I have spent many Thanksgivings in her home but this one was very special for some reason. I have learned to focus on the positive in most situations and there were no negatives about this day, just some missing pieces. I can name the missing pieces: Kevin, Matt, Megan, Mae, Keri, Eileen, Peter, Danielle, Sean, Kelly and Lily. No, it was not the gravy that was missing or the homemade cranberry sauce, or the potpourri on the stove or the mulled apple cider (made especially for me). I have had Thanksgivings where these THINGS were missing and it was sad, yes sad, to not have gravy and mulled apple cider with my turkey but I recovered from those missing ITEMS pretty quickly. All this pondering, made me realize what matters most in my life and it is the relationships, hands down, that matter the most in my life.

 

On this Thanksgiving I felt such joy. My blessings are many: parents who are still enjoying holidays with us, a devoted husband, good friends, sisters who are best friends, and my 4 children, who are all thriving on their own journeys! Appreciation is the highest vibration there is. It is up there with unconditional love. It is a good thing that Abe Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official American holiday. And carrying this spirit into our lives on a daily basis will reap major rewards.

 

I have been thinking about life as the canvas to create. It is our playground. And just like children, many of us don’t want to leave the playground. Not because we will miss the swings, but we will miss our best friend who we were swinging with! Since I have been looking at life that way, I have been appreciating every hour on the swing set, hanging from the monkey bars and swishing down the slide. I have a new desire to not miss out on anything. I went rock climbing this month for the first time. It was pathetic. I got up about 10 feet off of the ground. But I laughed as I fell off the wall and was happy I tried. I don’t know if I will ever desire to jump out of a plane but I am thinking about my bucket list. What should I do today that I don’t want to miss out on? I think I will go see the Muppet movie. I love Amy Adams and I love the Muppets. Thanks Jim Henson! But what I will love the most at the movie theater is sitting next to my 7-year-old holding her hand and sharing a big bucket of popcorn!

 

It is all a decision how you are going to look at each day. I remember a time in my life when I dreaded getting out of bed. I thank God that has changed. I know that when I am viewing my life in a negative way and feeling sorry for me, that is a decision I am making. I am pinching myself off from the fullness of life. Today, repeat after me…. “I am worthy of all my desires to manifest in my life. In fact, all my desires are manifesting in my life as I allow them to”…..Good. Deep breath. Repeat as often as needed and bake with love and appreciation! So, if you are despairing or overwhelmed or angry, make a decision, that it is your dominant intent to feel good. It is just a decision. That is all it takes. Enjoy the playground. We won’t be here forever!