A little post I wrote a few weeks ago about how gratitude works when you are in the throws of misery.
Ok, listen up folks. I got hit. I got hit HARD.
I have been sick for the past week, nursing a cold/flu/bronchitis/sinus infection type illness that has left me with little energy, a hoarse voice, a stuffy nose and the worst of it is that I have no sense of taste or smell.
I find this last symptom particularly devastating. Has you ever lost your sense of taste and smell? It is AWFUL, right? And I wouldn’t wish it on my most disliked neighbour!
Alas, I have had a lot of time to lay around and think the last few days. (People, I have so many blog posts written in my head right now! Stay tuned for those.)
I have almost cried from misery, howled in achy pain, and even had some terrible night sweats over the last week. But what has struck me the most about my little lapse into illness, is how thankful I am to be able to taste and smell…when I am well. Because not being able to enjoy the aroma of my morning coffee or the smell of cooking onions or even the freshly blossomed lilacs in my neighbor’s yard…this is heartbreaking to me.
And my life is so much less interesting and delicious and exciting without any flavour in it. Or, to put a positive spin on it, my life is so much more interesting and delicious and exciting when it’s full of flavor!
So, what’s a girl to do when she can’t indulge in the sensual flavor of her life?
I chose gratitude. And thinking of these blessings instantly makes me feel better, even just a tiny bit. So here are some of my take-aways from this week, thanks to this sucky, muscus-filled monster inhabiting me right now:
- The way my body feels on a normal day is amazing. Who knew how GOOD I felt not having terrible aches and pains all over my joints, muscles and inside my head?
- Eating = SOOOO pleasurable. Appreciate the subtle flavors of every bite. Stop rushing. Care about what I eat. We are privileged to be able to eat they way we do. Care for it, care about it. Honor your food.
- Sleep. It is not over-rated. Sleep and rest are essential for healing, growing and being well. (I struggle with this one on a daily basis so this was a big one to learn!)
- Being able to breathe through my nose. Wow. So much appreciation for this one.
- Having the ability to be compassionate for others in various stages/states of pain, illness, and hurt. It is so easy to dismiss or minimize someone else’s pain. Once again, I am reminded how compassion = love and how we each have a responsibility to BE compassionate for ourselves and others.
So the next time you find yourself miserable, try flipping it into an exercise on gratitude. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.
I hate to admit it, but I judge people. I wish I could say I don’t and that I’m “better than that” (wait, is that a judgment too?), but the fact is that I do. There you have it.
I am not proud of this fact. I am working on it. Working on opening my heart everyday to being kind, compassionate, empathetic, and loving to any and all people I meet and know and even love. And the thing is, I know how to do it too. I know how to feel the love in my heart for others when I *see* them (in all their glorious imperfection) or as someone who is perhaps struggling, or doing the best they can, or just being who they are.
But sometimes, I’m not operating in my *evolved* state and I judge with nasty thoughts like, “What the hell is wrong with her?” or “I would never do that!” or “Why can’t she just get over it already?” And I start to think that I have it figured out better than that person.
HA! What bullshit.
But the impact of my judgments really hit me a few months ago as I started to think unkind thoughts about a person I had seen on the sidewalk.
It hit me that my negative thoughts had a double effect of negativity! First, on the person I was judging (even if they had no idea) and then, on myself as well. You see, when we think negatively of someone we are in fact denying ourselves the pleasure of positive thinking and ultimately, love.
This truth hit me hard and helped me realize that in offering kindness and compassion to others (which is, I would argue, the way we all aspire to be), we actually offer the same back to ourselves.
We are not loving toward ourselves while being in judgement of others.
And I know we all want to be kind (or least kinder) to ourselves. But what we often fail to realize is how negatively thinking about other people (and this can be applied to just about everything in life!) takes away from our contact with positivity. The more negative feelings, thoughts, judgements, beliefs, emotions we put out there into the world, the less room we have for the positive ones. The more space we give to judgement, the less we feel the power of loving kindness.
So the next time you catch yourself saying, believing, thinking, and feeling something unkind about another person (or even about yourself!), I invite you (and I include myself in this) to ask yourself “Why do I want to deny myself love?”
Isn’t LOVE what we all long for? Isn’t LOVE what makes the world go ’round? Isn’t LOVE why we are all here anyway?
Love yourselves. Wholly. Deeply. And let it start by being a loving presence for others.
I’ve been dedicated to doing a Kundalini yoga class every Friday morning since the New Year. And I am loving it! While I did Kundalini years ago, I took a very long hiatus once I had kids but am happy it’s back in my life again.
Except last Friday morning, I woke-up and instantly felt some dread around going.
“Why?”, I wondered. “I love this class.”
I immediately went into my default thought pattern trying to justify why I probably didn’t “feel like going”; namely, telling myself the following:
“It’s true, you have a lot of work to do, you should just skip it today”
“Your time would be better spent during those two hours working instead”
“It’s ok not to go every week and besides, you have a lot of stuff to do.”
You get my drift, right? Excuses, excuses, excuses.
Except, here’s the thing, all of them left me with a feeling of guilt. And GUILT sucks, right? I mean, who wants to feel guilty? It is THE key emotion to pointing out where we are”shoulding” ourselves in our lives. Clearly I had the underlying thought “I should go to yoga” and then tried to rationalize it away with my above thoughts about being more productive and working.
But you know what? I tried something new instead of relying on my usual coaching tools to help me let go of the guilty feelings I was having. And it was so effective and, dare I say it, magical! And easy to boot!
I asked myself this, “What do I really want to do?”
The answer came immediately. “I want to go for a walk in the sun! I want to breathe the fresh, cold winter air into my lungs and walk, walk, walk.”
The guilt lifted. The energy came pouring back into me (as we all know, feeling guilty completely drains your energy) and I got myself dressed to go.
And while I was walking that morning, all sorts of incredible inspiration came to me! A new coaching program, an idea for a retreat, website changes I want to make and lots of other cool stuff!
I cannot wait to try this question out again the next time I find myself in a situation of feeling guilty about not doing something I think I “have” to do. Giving myself permission last week to do what I really wanted to do actually resulted in more energy and inspiration which equals more productivity and clarity, in my life and in my work.
That is a win-win in my book. And, as an added bonus, I was able to sit in the sunshine for a few moments while feeling rather proud of myself for my decision to honour what I really wanted.
The next time you wake up feeling that sense of dread or guilt or find yourself “making excuses”, I invite you to ask yourself the magic question, “What do I really want to do?” And then, see if you can give yourself permission to do that thing. I promise good things will come your way if you do.
It’s officially Autumn! YAY! Me so happy!
Up in my neck of the woods, that means boots, sweaters and crisp, clean air. Fresh, delicious apples picked straight from the tree. Warm drinks, blankets and cozy nights cuddling!And as much as I adore me a nice, hot, sweaty and sandy summer, I have to admit I have really come to enjoy Fall. For the beautiful, colourful trees, crisp weather, incredible range of soups and even fall fashion, yes, for all those things!
But also for what it has to teach us about letting go.
I find the older I become, the more adept I am at letting go of certain things in my life (my need to please others, my desire to be the mom who cooks fabulous meals every single night, my rules about TV with my kids, having a spotless home…). You get my drift.However, let’s not kid ourselves, I also have a hell of a hard time letting go of other things, like:
going to bed late (even though it doesn’t serve anybody well, least of all ME), being hard on myself when I haven’t been active “enough”, being scared to organize a talk to promote my business, feeling guilty for “not doing enough” with my kids, husband, friends, business, for myself, etc. Ya feel me?
While the coach in me has tools to help me with these issues, I can still very much struggle to let go of these behaviours and thoughts, as I suppose many of you do as well.
So what the heck does Fall have to do with teaching about us about letting go? This:
“What if trees refused to let go of their dying leaves?”.
Letting go let’s us grow!
Trees need their leaves to die and fall off, so they can be replenished and come back with new life again in the Spring. If this natural process didn’t occur, the trees would slowly die, whither away in exhaustion from having had to “carry” the burden of dead leaves.i.e., something that no longer nourishes them.
How profound is that? Seriously, take a moment to consider this phenomenon. Trees would not be trees without their leaves. Right?
Yet, once a year, they release their leaves, like all of them, (and I imagine, thank them for their job well done!) so as to create the right environment to replenish themselves through the winter where they are nourished right down into their roots; and then, and only then, are these beautiful trees able to grow new leaves again.
(By the way, for a really wonderful explanation of how leaves actually “push” off their leaves as opposed to “fall”, click here: NPR leaves)
Now I am not suggesting you release absolutely everything in your life that currently sustains you or gives you life. That would be stupid. We are not trees, I get that.
But I am suggesting that there is a wonderful lesson here for us humans.
What can you let go of that would create the right environment for you to replenish yourself? For some, it may be letting go of a habit that no longer serves you (like me, it’s changing my bedtime!!).
For others, it may be letting go of a relationship, a job, or a difficult friend. Perhaps it’s the “rules” you keep for yourself or your children that feel more like a prison than joy?
Christina Feldman captures the essence of this so eloquently:
“We believe that it is difficult to let go, but in truth, it is much more difficult and painful to hold and protect. Reflect upon anything in your life that you grasp hold of–an opinion, a historical resentment, an ambition, or an unfulfilled fantasy. Sense the tightness, fear, and defensiveness that surrounds the grasping. It is a painful, anxious experience of unhappiness. We do not let go in order to make ourselves impoverished or bereft. We let go in order to discover happiness and peace.”
What are you carrying around with you, trying to control, not wanting to release because you’re scared of what may happen? What change do you secretly wish for? What do you wish you could let go of?
Name one thing you want to let go of.
What a gift you could give to yourself by honouring this desire to just let go.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And, as always, I am here to support you on your journey of change.
Sign up for a Complimentary Clarity Session to see how I may be able to help you.
Have you ever been so stuck in your head while walking somewhere, or eating, or “listening” to someone…doing anything for that matter… that you don’t even know how you managed to get to your destination, finish your plate, or hear what your friend was saying??
If you are anything like me, you have.
Ok, it just came to me! It’s kind of like having a blackout, except without the hangover. (There I said it! That’s for another post though!).
Sometimes I am A-MAZED at how in my freaking head I can be. Thoughts swirling around a million miles a minute. My face is all contorted. I’m nibbling on my lip or biting my nails or releasing these HUGE sighs that end up surprising anyone around me. My husband will ask with genuine concern, “Are you OK?”. People on the street may stop me to ask, “Are you OK?”.
I don’t have a fancy name for this “state of being”. But I know it by how it feels…I’m distracted yet concentrated. I’m searching yet hungry. I’m unsettled yet comfortable.
I’m thinking. THINKING, THINKING, THINKING!
But what I really am is STUCK…in a state of being that keeps me so far removed from the awareness of what is happening around me that I miss out on whole moments of my life because I am stuck inside, interacting with no one but my thoughts.
And, let’s be honest here. When I am stuck in my thoughts, my thoughts are not the pretty thoughts that make me feel like a freakin’ rock star! No no no. They are the thoughts that fester, pick, nag, scold, insult and berate me. Hence, the contorted face and biting of nails and lips. My icky thoughts actually do become a physical manifestation and you can see it. Eew!
Where am I going with this, you may be wondering?
One day not that long ago, I found myself at my daughter’s daycare which takes about 15 minutes to walk to from our home. It’s a lovely walk, one I have done hundreds of times over the last 8 years or so (my oldest also went there). Except on this particular day, I arrived without having ANY idea which way I chose to walk. Had I chosen to walk past our favorite pizza restaurant and then cross at the fruit store where we can stop and buy fresh dates on the way home? Or was it past the farmer’s market stands by the metro and the outdoor piano?
I was so in my head that I missed it. I was so in my head that I missed the chance to “be” in my walk, my world and enjoy my time.
And so it hit me. It hit me that when we are caught up in our crazy minds (during those icky thoughts times) and living on auto-pilot, we are not aware of what is happening around us. How could we be? We retreat into a different space, a space removed and alone. A space that can be hostile and cold.
We lose all sense of our environment and the beauty, love, and warmth that surrounds us.
Since that “wake-up” moment, I have come to understand at a much deeper level how much our intention can help us to live a beautiful life.
We are faced with choices every day, all day long. When you go into auto-pilot, you are humming along with no awareness. You are unconsciously “doing”. And that’s fine for certain things in life. We don’t have to think about how to drive a car. We just do it. Right?
But when we operate in auto-pilot mode most of the time, we become cut-off from LIFE. We are the opposite of awareness. We are the opposite of connected.
And that, my friends, is not the life I wish for you. Or me. Or my kids. Or any of us. By bringing your intention into what you do, how you choose, who you are, you are setting yourself up with a life that feels aware, connected, joyful, and empowered.
So how can you get out of your head and into your heart? How can you get out of the sticky thoughts and drop the contorted face so you can walk with peace and a smile?
By choosing to be aware. Aware of the thoughts (even if they are icky ones). Aware of the fact that you just scarfed down all that food and have no memory of enjoying it. Just start with being aware. Choose to be aware. Ask to be aware and slowly, you will be. Because all intentional and meaningful living starts with awareness.
Onwards Novel Lifers! xo