Finding Joy, Feeling Centered

Finding Joy, Feeling Centered

It can be hard to maintain a joyful mindset. Even if you have the cheeriest disposition, are thankful and joyful in the grand scheme of things, and commit to taking steps to find joy as a matter of everyday habit, all you need to do is go online where gloom, doom and negativity will flood your screen. Current events are volatile.  Local communities are struggling. Global affairs are tenuous. At times, it’s hard to know what to believe or to be blunt: what the hell is going on.

Talk about a buzzkill for feeling joyful!

Unplugging helps. Another BIG PLUS is decluttering anything in your life that does not bring you joy. (That is another topic, entirely!) But recently, I personally wanted something to stretch me even more.  So, I had to ratchet up my mindful game with some new tools — ways to not only re-focus and maintain joy, but also to help keep me centered.

I have my habitual toolkit: using my go-to essential oils, such as Cedarwood, Sandalwood and Frankincense, surrounding myself in nature whenever possible, and of course, taking warm, salty baths to relax me and help me unwind.  But this time I wanted something old school to add to the mix. I like journaling, which packs many surprising benefits – it’s a great way to evoke mindfulness, it’s helpful to stay present and even helps in the healing process. But I wanted something a bit more specific, rather than blank pages for me to fill up.  Something that could function as a kind of “assistant” for my mindfulness journey.  And there it was, spotted on a shelf in a NYC store…

a mindfulness journal

This incredible journal is the perfect tool to extend the centering and mindful message of our our Salty Bath mantra cards. A nifty, digest-sized journal, “Do One Thing Every Day That Centers You” helps guide me on my path for creating a centered, joyful life. This dynamo is filled with inspiration from poets, writers, entrepreneurs, athletes, scientists, authors, philosophers, presidents, saints and gurus and coupled with loads of prompts and activities to “help you grow in heart, mind, body and spirit.” This felt like my partner in crime, and I was happy to read the following intro:

The word “centers” in its use today, and even in the title of this book, is a slippery one, often defined by other intangible terms — mindfulness, gratitude, wholeness, groundedness, focus, flow, serenity, self-knowledge, and self-acceptance. The best definition, however, comes not from the heady realm of ideas, but from the hands-on-world of craft. Every potter knows how difficult it is to learn how to center clay on wheel.  It takes hours and hours and days and days of dedication and practice, until your hands “know” the clay well enough to center it. If you move ahead too early, your pot will be unsteady, fragile, and unattractive. But once you find the center, your pot – whatever your personal desire for it – will be balanced, secure and beautiful.

The imagery this conjured up really resonated for me.

For most people, creating a centered life, like molding that pot, requires dedication and practice.

Indeed, this handy little book stated its goal:

You will be urged to expand your knowledge and to edge it toward wisdom. You will appreciate the places, people, and experiences that give peace to to your body and meaning to your life.

As someone who not only considers herself lucky, I am also deeply grateful for the life I have (and all the people and experiences it encompasses).  At the same time, the idea of taking this foundation and expanding it, deepening it, excites me. As the English poet, Walter de la Mare said “Go far; come near; You still must be the center of your own small mystery,” we can all use a bit of inspiration and prompting when we are dedicated to being mindful… or going inward. It’s so easy to fall off our center in that process.

I love that the pages in the journal are unnumbered, it’s fun to flip to a page and land on something meant to stretch you, calm you, focus you, etc. and then you can always refer back to them when you need to.  Like this little gem, pictured below.

a mindful prompt

Ever have a day where, despite best intentions and plans, you feel like you are just having to react to less than ideal situations, or stuff pops up where you feel like a ship lost at sea? This is especially true for working moms and entrepreneurs who struggle with work/life balance, and for whom finding your center can feel more challenging than not. Daily life is hectic, and it’s often hard to find little opportunities to catch our breath, slow down, and get more introspective. This mindful journal is one way to help solve for that.

I also think we are way more resilient and creative than we give ourselves credit for. Having a sound body, and serene mind takes effort, sure, but exercises like this remind us that it’s also ok to recognize — celebrate, even — those times when we defy “bad weather.” It also allows us to not only feel a sense of accomplishment – but let’s face it, gives us permission to let off some much-needed steam too. That’s just one page, the book is chock-full of awesome stuff that will expand your awareness.

If, like me, your life is full and busy, you know all too well how easy it is to lose your center. Sometimes I think to myself, “why do I take on so much…I must be crazy!” But when I think about what things I should cut back on — I have 2 businesses, I’m an actress, and Mom of 3, plus 2 furry pups — I don’t want to give up anything, and especially relish my time with my kids, husband, pets and home life.

Recently, I had a conversation with someone while attending Accepted Students Day at The New School / Parsons School of Design where my son will go this Fall.  Turns out, in fact, that my son is not only attending my alma mater, but has also chosen the same major I studied: Strategic Design and Management. Sitting there that day in one of the breakout sessions, I was overcome with the most surreal joy I have experienced — reminiscing about my student days there 28 years ago was pretty intense coupled with my son’s journey ahead of him. But the program director mentioned the word “multi-passionate” as a word to describe the students in the program. It was that moment that centered me in a profound way…when I realized – hey! that is me! – and also why being centered can also feel so fleeting when you are passionate about, and equally engaged in, so many things. Even with the love and support I have, there are days that make me want to pull my hair out.

As the mindful journal mentioned, it’s a slippery slope. Even the most positive, creative, successful people need guidance, tricks and tools to SLOW DOWN, and stay on the elusive path to a centered life. Getting grounded and being mindful in this crazy world is powerful and it’s healthy. So, take time to honor that. Take time (even 5 to 10 minutes will work wonders) to do one thing to center you today. If that seems like a confusing, but intriguing, concept and you don’t know where to start, use the example in the photo above… or pick up the same journal I did. This Ralph Waldo Emerson quote from the book may also help inspire you to tune in to that inner voice. “Trust to that prompting within you.” Here’s to defying bad weather … and finding joy…together!

How will you find the joy today? How will it center you?

February Is A Perfect Time To Fall In Love With Yourself

February Is A Perfect Time To Fall In Love With Yourself

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Do you ever forget to take care of yourself?

We have been talking to hundreds of women about self-care.  The good news is that more and more women are aware that they need to take better care of themselves, and getting better at it.  The not-so-good news is that many are still struggling with how to find a self-care routine.

One theme that comes up a lot is: guilt! Women still have issues with taking the time they need for themselves because they feel guilty or selfish for doing so.  But only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others, and caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Yet it is so easy to forget to do!

Women who neglect their own needs or forget to nurture themselves often become unhappy, have a low self-esteem, and feel resentment. They become completely worn out and run down. The stress can be overwhelming.  Simply put, self-care means that you value yourself, and that you are deserving of your own love.

But it’s not a one-time deal. It’s the way you approach balancing the ongoing stress of daily life, and develop habits that help to soothe you – emotionally, physically and mentally.  It’s any activity that nourishes you, and that is nothing to feel guilty about, because if you are a caretaker, then you will be in a much stronger position to take care of your spouse, kids, and all life’s obligations, when you are at your optimal health. That last point is important – soothing yourself with a pint of ice cream when the kids go to bed is not self care! Self care is about identifying your own needs and taking the steps to meet them – it’s about nurturing you, and being kind to yourself.

The key is to start to regularly include a little self care every day, and at very little to no cost, to affordable luxuries that nurture your body, mind and soul, for the longer term. Here’s a list of self-care ideas to get your juices flowing… Isn’t February a wonderful time to kick-start the new habit of loving yourself more?

  • Listen to music.
  • Take a nap.
  • Read a book.
  • Visit a museum or art gallery.
  • Talk with a friend.
  • Socialize with family.
  • Unplug for an hour; silence all your devices, and enjoy unstructured, uninterrupted time.
  • Breathe! Take a few minutes for some mindful, deep breathing exercising. Be aware of your thoughts, your feelings, and any sensations.
  • Declutter 5 things from your life that you no longer need.
  • Take a nature walk – look at the clouds, listen for sounds, birds, squirrels, running water.  Connect with the earth and the world around you.
  • Do something just for the pure pleasure of it. Be selfish – if it makes you happy, do it!
  • Take a warm bath. Warm water is very soothing and relaxing for tight muscles, tension, and for quieting the mind. Better yet, make it a spa at home experience, light a candle, drink some tea and lounge in your robe afterwards, reading a magazine or a book.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Inhale an upbeat smell.  Peppermint, Grapefruit and Lemon are all very uplifting scents.
  • Crank up the music and dance! Get your blood pumping.
  • Drink more water.
  • Commit to better eating – make one small change that you can handle for a week — eat more veggies or cut out processed foods, wherever you can add balance, add it.
  • Try a new class – cooking, yoga, pottery, or a new language. Anything to get you out of your comfort zone, or trying new things just for the fun of it.
  • Check in with your emotions. Whatever comes up, recognize it and honor it, without judging it.
  • Cook your favorite meal.
  • Connect with strangers, offer help.
  • Exercise – all it takes is as little as a 20 minute walk, 3 times a week.
  • Plant a garden, or buy yourself some flowers.

So, rejoice in the simple pleasures. Each day try a little something just for you, and when you can, schedule time with yourself on your calendar. The benefits of nurturing yourself are huge and deeply rewarding.  Which one will you do today?

 

 

Are You Always Running on Fumes?

Are You Always Running on Fumes?

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Sometimes we get so caught up in the whirlwind of life, it’s hard to catch our breath. If you feel like you are constantly running on fumes, the last thing you need is to head into the holidays completely depleted. The secret to getting control is actually easier than you think.

Want to be more confident and relaxed, yet still be a productive MOFO? The first step is to set intentions to help you steer your energy into a better place. Rather than a complete life overhaul, we’ve got a simple game plan that supports your vitality and growth. With just a few, easy tweaks, you will sleep like a baby, replenish vital minerals to your body so you feel more energized, and give your immune system a needed boost… starting now, just in time for the holiday season.  Here’s how:

GET BETTER SLEEP: A WARM BATH WITH A CHERRY ON TOP 

Need help quieting your mind, and drifting off into a deeper sleep? Studies show cherry juice helps you sleep better because the fruit is packed with melatonin. An hour before bedtime, drink an 8-ounce glass of tart cherry juice for the dreamiest ZZZs. Taking a warm salt bath is an ideal way to wash the energy off from the day, completely unwind, reduce stress, and soothe a tired, overworked, fatigued body. Combine these two and insomnia and stress have no chance!

Just relax. Content beautiful young woman listening to music and closing her eyes while taking a bath

STRUCTURE YOUR NIGHTTIME ROUTINE, AND… INCLUDE A WAKE-UP RITUAL

Turn off your devices, and make sure your bed and room are cozy. Check your thermostat. Best sleeping conditions are when the room is on the cool side, around 68 degrees. Also, most people have a better time getting proper rest when they stick to a schedule of 8 solid hours, such as 11pm to 7am. That way you can train your body’s internal clock. In the morning, wake up, stretch and drink a glass of water with lemon.

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Why lemon water? It energizes you, enhances your mood and boosts your immune system, which is a great way to start your day! Lemons have strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and considered to support weight loss because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain many substances–notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene–that promote immunity and fight infection.

So, there you have it. End 2016, your most rested, most confident, and most joyous and productive self, with this simple plan… and let me know how it goes! Let’s all help each other thrive, and live a good vibe life.

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Have An Essential Oil Diffuser

5 Reasons Why You Should Have An Essential Oil Diffuser

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Essential oils can have a healing effect on us mentally, physically, and emotionally. They are known to help you relax or sleep, or improve your skin or digestion, and even improve the way your brain cells function — their benefits go well beyond a pleasant smell. That is why having an essential oil diffuser in your home is one of the healthiest things you can do for your, and your family’s, well-being. Let’s look at our top 5 uses, and our recommendations for which oils to diffuse:

RELAXATION AND SLEEP

One of the most popular uses of essential oils is due to their ability to help you relax and unwind, particularly after a stressful or long day. Having a diffuser on your nightstand is a great way to help relax your body and mind so you can get a better night’s sleep. Our picks: Lavender, Clary Sage, Sandalwood

MOOD BOOSTER

This is one of our favorite uses for an essential oil diffuser! There are so many possibilities. Whether to energize you when you’re feeling low, or to infuse the atmosphere with festivity – think Autumn aroma of clove and cinnamon or wintry like Peppermint, White Fur and Spruce – diffusing essential oils will elevate your mood and inspire positive vibes, naturally! Our picks: Grapefruit, Jasmine, Rose, Peppermint, White Fur

IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION

Did you know that essential oils can super-charge your brain cells? Many essential oils have adaptogenic qualities – meaning that they are soothing when you’re stressed, but they can also give you a pick-me-up when you’re feeling down or sluggish. By leveling out your mood, the oils in the air will help you to focus. Also, there are several essential oils known for their powerful ability to balance the body’s hormones. These oils, with regular use, can actually help to heal the underlying causes responsible for hampering mental function. Our picks: Peppermint, Grapefruit, Eucalyptus, Pine, Lemon, Basil, Lavender, Bergamot

WARD OFF SICKNESS

Essential oils can be used to boost your immune system, and are effective for keeping cold, flu, and other nasty illnesses at bay. They are anti-microbial and when introduced into the air in vapor form, the organic compounds within the oils come into direct contact with airborne pathogens before they invade your body. Plus, some diffusers also double as humidifiers which will help to keep your airways moist and healthy so you are less susceptible to any microbes that do make it into your body. Our picks: Eucalyptus, Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cinnamon, Thyme

PAIN RELIEF

Headaches? Sore Muscles? Joint Pain? While, soaking in a warm salty bath with essential oils in the water will work wonders on pain, I extend the healing relief by diffusing oils when I’m not in my tub. Our picks: Ginger, Chamomile, Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Clary Sage, Rosemary, Bergamot

Once you get familiar with essential oils and their healing properties, you’ll find so many great uses and you will have fun taking more responsibility for your state of health and well-being. In fact, if I had to choose a basic self-care kit to keep on hand, here are the 10 Essential Oils I would stock (and do): Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Rosemary, Thyme, Lemon and Clove. Of course, I have so many more, but these are my constant go-to oils, plus Sandalwood, which is always my personal favorite for so many reasons beyond basic!

 

 

Meet Clear Quartz

Meet Clear Quartz

The Master Healer

Clear Crystal Is The Master Healer

Living more fully can often mean working to create positive change in our lives. Whether you’re working through a rocky relationship, changing jobs, dealing with grief, deepening gratitude or seeking peace, the vibrational powers of healing crystals have helped many people experience rejuvenation. Each month, we will feature a new stone and share it’s properties with you. For a holistic approach, if you decide to use crystals try incorporating mantras and meditations; we’ll be making some recommendations for those as well.

THIS MONTH’S CRYSTAL PROFILE

Clear Quartz is a power stone, the Master Healer. Key properties include:

  • Purification of spaces
  • Amplifies energy and thought; believed to increase spiritual wisdom
  • Aids in creativity
  • Promotes confidence and clarity
  • Provides protection
  • Works as a master healer with any type of healing/ conditions
  • Cleanses and charges other crystals

Clear Quartz is a high-vibration stone. You can place this stone anywhere on the body that needs healing, carry it in a pocket, keep it in a room or space where protection or cleansing is needed. It is particularly effective when placed on the crown chakra.  Adding Clear Quartz to your bath is a great way to help you tune in to your inner spirit and intuition.

Time Is A Precious Commodity

Time Is A Precious Commodity

Make Time For Yourself

Isn’t it funny that we fill up our time saying yes to things that often leave us depleted? It’s a trap that can falsely make you feel “productive.” And apparently a lot of us have fallen into it (I’m guilty of it, too).

Being “crazy-busy” or, having a “doing-it-all” mindset, has become the norm in our society.  It creates a vicious cycle where we end up putting ourselves at the bottom of our priority list because we have overcommitted our time.  Let’s face it, it just isn’t easy to take care of ourselves. Begrudgingly, I realized I needed to re-frame the concept of MY time. I could no longer rob myself of a good night’s rest because the wee hours gave me more time in my day. I promised myself to stop saying I was crazy-busy. My time on this planet is precious, so I wanted to be much smarter about it. I’m so glad I did, and there is no one happier than me that self-care has become a “national phenomenon.”

I recently heard Arianna Huffington talk about her New York Times bestseller, The Sleep Revolution, and how we spend more time re-charging our smartphones than we do our own bodies. That really struck a chord.

The first thing I committed to doing was scheduling time WITH MYSELF. Twenty minute chunks daily, without digital screens. Then, I took it a step further and created a sacred space for that special time, which completely transformed my life.  These moments were like mini-vacations in my day.  Time to be creative, relax, be still, write in a notebook, drink tea, listen to music, whatever fed my soul. Creating time and a special place for myself was empowering. At home, my tub became one of my favorite sacred spaces. Being able to lock the door meant it became my private sanctuary. Being able to spend a few moments in a meditative state, in the warm, salty, aromatic water is magical and centering. I could — and did — shift my energy and my mindset whenever I needed to. So if you lack space, but have a bathtub, you can easily escape to a private retreat without doing anything radical.  If you are inspired to create a space that helps you connect to your inner spirit, check out the tips in this great article.

The most fascinating part about being disciplined to schedule time to connect with yourself is it how it brings more energy, focus, and amazingly, more purpose-driven activity to the forefront.  For sure, I am more intentional about my calendar. I am still a person who enjoys a very full, family/work centered life. As a creative entrepreneur, I typically have a lot of big projects that I’m working on at once. But, I no longer say yes to pointless distractions, or anything that doesn’t align with my priorities. The best part about being more thoughtful about my self-care, and drilling down to what is essential in my life, is I’m more in the flow, and more present. Maybe it’s because I know when things get chaotic, I have my sacred space waiting for me. It’s not an external place I need to get to.

So, time is my friend. This moment is the best moment. Being present means never being crazy-busy again. For me, it means enjoying all the puzzle pieces that make up a life. And when you find something that brings you joy and connects you to your heart and soul, by all means — make time for it!