Monday, December 30, 2013

Writing rituals for New Years' Eve.....

Last week my son said to me: "Mommy when do we do our end of year writing piece.?" I was in shock-one he remembered - two he still wanted to write.  So today - I am going to list a couple of different exercises that you may choose to do on the eve before the New Year.  As a family, this is a ritual - at least between my husband and myself-and a new addition is our son.   I invite you to do this with your family or if you prefer with someone you can trust.  Write and read aloud- it will do you good!  Here are a couple of exercises:

1.  Imagine that it is December 31, 2014 and you are doing your year in review.  What would you say? How would you write it? What events would you like to highlight? Is there a practice you would like to begin? What are you most proud of at the end of the year?  List them even if it may appear trivial...Remember that that you are in the future.   Now when you are done writing the list...make that your commitment for January 2nd onwards.  Make it happen for yourself.  And record your journey into it.   Some prompts to help you get started.   You can begin with
" A year ago today......
" The things that I am grateful for this year....
" Some milestones that I want to highlight this year.....
"I am most proud of....

2.  Rachel Macy Stafford, Founder of Hands Free Mama had a wonderful post on her blog this week...about how so many of us can begin to look at the end of the year of the things that have been left undone - she quotes, " This is about the time your pants feel depressingly tight.  This is about the time all your bad habits come to the forefront.  This is about the time that every mistake is remembered with anguish....and you give permission to your inner critic to berate you."   I ask you to look at your thoughts very carefully around the end of the year it one of regret, critic, or is it one of positivity.   And that is exactly what she suggests- Instead of succumbing to our inner bully, begin to look for the positives and notice the small steps that you have made this year to make your life happier and list them.  After listing them, read it out loud and give yourself a pat on the back for that.  It is a wonderful exercise because it helps you approach the coming year with hope and positivity.

3. I have card decks all over my house - angel cards, zen cards, The Four Agreements Cards- basically affirmation cards that help you set an intention for the day.  If you have a card pack, I would recommend picking one and  recording it for 12/31/13 and on January 1, 2014, pick another. Keep those affirmations with you as a simple reminder of the intentions that you have set for yourself everytime your inner critic pops up.  And of course journal about it...

4.  If you want to do a family activity with your children such as myself - I have them list 5 things that they are grateful for this year, five things they learned this year, and five things they want to learn going forward.  They can list or write - whatever they choose.  And have them read it out loud.  It is very empowering for children to do that. 

5.  Last but not least, this is for those who want something a little bit more spiritual....A meditation to guide you followed by a journaling exercise:

-focus your breathing on your heart. If comfortable, put your hands to your heart and close your eyes. It is important that you are in a relaxed state, so breathing in and out is extremely important.  Set an intention for yourself as you begin your meditation.  It could be something as simple that "gratitude is my prayer."  "I honor my body" or "I choose to be in the now."  Whatever it is, keep that intention while still breathing.  Let your heart guide you in this meditation and let your heart speak to you.   You may choose to look at the year in review.  You may just choose to focus on your breath.  You may choose nothing.  When you are ready, come back to yourself----and begin to write.  

I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, love-filled, harmonious, beautiful, light-filled New Year!

And Don't forget to journal....

Happy Journaling!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Year End....

I read something that has stayed with me and is a reminder to me about this special time of the year - we make a consious effort during this time of the year to be nice to each othr, to love one another, to forgive, to think of peace rather than fighting - and why do we do that? Because of the message that the holiday season brings to us - which is "PEACE, LOVE, JOY, BELIEVE, FAITH, TRUST, HOPE"..and the list goes on - whatever your spiritual affiliation is -there is a special energy in the air that this season carries. And it stays till about the 1st week in January - and them boom- we go back to our old lives-old patterns, and old ways of doing things - boom -just like that-do you ever wonder why?

And then the author went on to say - what if we make a decision to make this season a permanent one- where the authentic self in us that emerged for a short period of time stretches itself a little bit more and instead of it dropping on January 6, let us make an attempt to continue in that spirit. 
The question that comes to my mind is why would we not want to?  Take a look at yourself when you are happy - when you are in joy- when you are sending love- you are at your full glorious best- and in turn it becomes a domino effect.  Your individual choice to choose harmony over discord becomes a ripple effect to those around you - it starts with yourself- and it gets passed on to your family, partners, friends, office mates, and eventually strangers.   What does this say to you? what does that say about the human spirit? It can potentially do anything it sets it mind to- IF it wants to----and that is what this is all about.  

So as we approach the end of 2013, take a look at the year in review- there were achievements, there were losses, there were gains, there was hope , there were fights, and there were reunions- and there was love...we start with love and we end with love.  For some of us, this could have been the worse year of our lives, while for others it could have been the best year of our lives- life throws things at us constantly and it is up to us to live up to our ideal of what we want to strive to me...A meditation that I heard some time back - was "I attract that which I essentially am."  We aren't conscious of what we essentially are -but our soul is - and our soul wants us to reach to that level.  Once we begin to identify what and who we are, living it out will cease to be a struggle because we are aligned with our true self.... And that is what this season says to us - to love ourselves first and be able to give that self of ours to the world -as you give-so you shall receive. 

 To those of you who read me and look forward to getting my posts - I say thank you for reading me - writing to me has become as essential as breathing and as meditating. And this blog has been a medium for me to get to that level. I only hope that 2014 is filled with love, light, magic and hope. In the end, it is not what happens to us that matters, it is what we become in the process that matters -and that is the meaning of this life. What and how we become depends on how much we are willing to look at ourselves in the mirror and face the truth. What and how we become starts with one simple step -as an avid journaler - which is write, write, write. Write about the weather, write about your mood, write about how much you can't stand those pair of shoes, write about your favorite color, write as if you are in the future, write a letter to your loved one, write a poem, write out lists, write out dreams, write out hopes -There can never be too much or too little....but the journey inside us through writing is one of transformation - and it is worth it all the day

Some Journal Prompts for you:
- What would I want to say to you at this moment....
-If i could only
-To  Love is
-This year....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mindful Gifting

Its a week before Christmas.  How many of you are done with your christmas shopping? How many of you feel overwhelmed just mentioning the thought "gifts/shopping?"  And yet another question - how many of you are making a conscious effort this year to be mindful about the gifts we buy for our friends and family?I will be the first to admit - that at this time of the year in the past i have tended to get a little tad excessive and crazy with gifting - which financially is not always a good thing  - and no one likes to start of the new year with regret.  So as the holiday season was approaching, I decided to practice mindfulness with gifting - and see if it does make a difference.  

What do I mean by mindfulness?  Very Simply - being present with everything that I do, rather than letting myself get swayed into the future or some other land.  And I found that Practicing mindfulness during this time of the year has been a great tool for making heart centered choices for our gifts this year. 

First and foremost, I made a myself a list- who am I buying gifts for? Who is on my list.  Then, next to each person on the list, I listed one word that made me think of them. The reason I did that was becauseit helped me gain insight into how and what I may want to purchase for them.  who are they? what do they like? what brings them joy? do they have everything they want -then maybe some quality time with them? Even if it is your mailman for example, you may not know them personally, but think of something that you think would bring them essence- asking my heart to guide me with the gifts.  

Then I had to come up with a budget, and make a resolution to stick to that budget.  This is where mindfulness is so important because it meant paying attention to my body as i make the budget - am i breathing faster, is  my head hurting, am i feeling tense - it is very important for me to pay attention to my body especially doing this exercise - because that helped me be aware of the emotions I was feeling, and down the road, helped me make conscious purchases, not frivalous ones.  The thing about mindfulness is that you are paying attention to what you are doing at that present moment - not about what you would like to be doing, or how you would like to be doing it - and the budget exercise was important because it helped me when i was out shopping.  

The next thing I did was not have a deadline by when I needed to finish my shopping by- so for example - as long as I have it by christmas day, I'm good.  So it meant that I was not going to go crazy with spending long hours at the mall shopping, or spending enormous amount of time surfing the internet.  This was so important because it saved me time and energy. It also made the shopping more fun - because each purchase I made was unique - it was focused on that one person at that particular time, and it made the process less chaotic.

I did one more think- have you thought of how the perfect gift sometimes miraculously just falls into your lap- there is someone guiding you - whatever you want to call it- use that - and you will see how much more fun the process is.   

Gifts are a wonderful way  of showing your friends, co-workers, family and that special someone how much you care about them.  With a week away before Christsmas, there is a certain energy in the air of the last minute Christmas shoppers and the to do lists that never seem to end.  If you haven't done your shopping yet, and are feeling frenzied, trying mindful gifting, it will do you wonders.  We forget about the real meaning of this holiday - and get carried away with the consumerism around us - or on some level a desire to please and thinking that pleasing is linked to materialism - but in essence, it is really about the person and sharing something wonderful with the person -sharing yourself, and what better gift can that be? Think of your favorite childhood Christmas memory - for me yes the gifts were fun to open - but it was that day - spending time with my parents - going for a movie on Christmas day - a good meal -those are the things that I remember - not so much the keep that in mind when shopping this year. 

Ah, and yes-during this time, it is very very important to BREATHE.  Our breathe brings you back to the present moment and by being in the present, our decisions are clearer.
Some examples of Mindful Gifting:
  • -giving an experience i.e. massage, painting class, an e-course, a walking tour - look at groupons/living social for great deals.
  • -a photobook with a story- My publisher has some great deals, as well as Shutterfly
  • -gift cards -they may seem impersonal, but believe me someone receiving a gift card is always appreciative...
  • -movie tickets 
  • -self-care products -
  • -lunch/dinner to their favorite restaurant
  • -a bottle of wine will never hurt:)
  • -donating for social cause - toy drive, coat drive, etc.
Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Calling...

"I have heard it all my life
A voice is calling a name I recognize as my own
Sometimes it comes as a soft bellied whisper
Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency 
But always it says "wake up my love, you are walking asleep."
-Oriah Mountain Dreamer-

Journal prompt: Take one line from the above, and write what comes from your heart...

A voice is calling a name
It is the sound of my soul 
Pounding away, asking me to hear the call of authenticity and begin the path of simplicity.
The call is a tough one because to live authentically means to live with courage 
It means being Willing to take the chance that others will abandon you while you walk the path of your own truth. 
Take time to discover your truth
Pay attention to the signs around you that will 
Guide you to your truth
Each day you must step further into discovering the path of your truth
Today I discovered the power of my voice 
I discovered that honesty and integrity combined touched the heart of one person
I trusted the call of my soul.
And as I awoke the next morning, 
I woke up to the sounds of drums
The drum was my heartbeat telling me to listen- to the patterns of my life and to respond to my calling… 

what do you awake to??????

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

“My Destiny is Joy.”  I recently completed a 21 day meditation challenge with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra in which for 21 days straight, I would receive a meditation on Desire and Destiny.  It was my time where I would allow myself to really delve into the power of meditation and set intentions for the day.   The experience was a transformative one on many levels because it made me stick to a routine of setting “me” time and silent time, but more than that, it gave me the power to really believe in the miracle of “joy.”  When I heard the affirmation, “My Destiny is Joy,” I questioned it –wondering what does that really mean?  Does that mean that I must not experience any pain? Does it mean that we can only be positive and negate the reality of our life?  No, it simply meant that – Joy is my birthright – but in order to do that, you must choose it.  Yes, there are going to be ups and downs, and yes there are going to be financial pressures, and yes there are going to be uncertainties in our lives, and yes, we are going to go through painful times, but amidst all this we must seek to reflect on what makes us “joyful” and remember that like children, no matter what we must choose joy. Someone wise told me “This too shall pass.”  Nothing is permanent -there are seasons to everything, the only thing that does not change is our soul-and our soul is joy.  So reminding ourselves that every now and again brings us back to that reality. 
Because in the midst of how I decide to view my situation –by living joyfully, the way I experience my situation also begins to change.  So yes, I may be very uncertain about my future because currently it looks bleak, but if I choose to be joyful and look at what brings me joy – I live in accordance to the law of the universe.  And while yes, our pain of a break up, or the loss of a loved one can be so devastating to us – but by choosing to be “JOYFUL”, I make each day count in accordance with what brings me joy.   If you have been recently hit with a medical condition, it can change your whole life- it can alter the course of your lifestyle, but despite that –aren’t you allowed to still be joy full?  By making a choice to believe that we deserve to be Joyful, our decisions and our outlook begins to change because we will settle for nothing less than what we feel we deserve.  “Joy” is a choice we make to experience under any circumstances.  It takes courage to allow yourself to really believe it and life will throw you several experiences to test that courage, but if you believe that you are meant to feel that joy –and that bliss- and share it on to others –then as the mediation says, “you will be like a big bright stardust.”  
The Holidays can be difficult for many of us.  Yet, a simple tip to remember is that of experiencing joy.   What is true joy to us?  Think of a moment in your life – it doesn’t have to be something miraculous or exciting, it could be something as small as getting a smile from someone you love – and how that particular moment made you feel “joy”.   .  

Make a list of things that give you joy – and for this month, practice it – give yourself that permission to feel that joy. 
Journal Prompt:

Make 30 Entries with the following Prompt:  How can I Choose to experience Joy in my life?
Write them in List form and label them 1-31 for the entire month of December. 
Under each Date i.e. lets say tomorrow is the 4th – Look at what makes you Joy and either use that as your intention/affirmation throughout the day, or find a way to make it happen.  Reflect on it in your journal.

This is my list, What is yours
  1. Paint
  2. Sing
  3. Walk
  4. Make cookies
  5. Help Someone in need…
  6. Read a book
  7. Meditate
  8. Do Yoga
  9. Have a Date Night
  10. Massage
  11. Dance
  12. Watch a Movie Marathon
  13. Wrap some gifts for the Toy Drive
  14. Write
  15. Paint some more
  16. Write, Write, Write
  17. Have a great Conversation
  18. Meet old friends
  19. Walking in the woods
  20. Walk in the city without a destination
  21. Simply Sitting
  22. Family Time
  23. Listen to Carols
  24. Enjoy the look of my son opening his gifts and really believing there is a SANTA. 26. Be Happy
  25. Remember to Choose Joy with a good MojitoJ
  26. Be Grateful for What I have
  27. Internal Checklist for myself
  28.  Quite Time
  29. More Quiet Time and Reflection…