nighttime routine

The Necessity of Daily Habits

Throughout my book, From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It, I enforce again and again the importance of Daily Habits. “Because life changes, it is necessary to have Daily Habits to keep us centered and focused on the life we want. This is why they are Daily Habits, not one-time tools. The work in this book is not to be completed and then forgotten. It is one thing to know the road. It is something different to walk it.”

If you have read my blog for any time now, you must know that I am not perfect. Because of this, sometimes I forget to take my own advice. Recently, I fell off the Daily Habits bandwagon. “I got this,” I think. “I wrote the book, literally, on stress relief and living joyously. So now I don’t have to put any effort into it. I can just get on with living.” Wrong.

nighttime routineIt is ok to take a break from our Daily Habits. Maybe on vacation or during an emergency. A few days here or there. Or perhaps we take a bit of time off, so we can consider which Habits are helping us and which need to be revised. But taking off weeks or months at a time can be detrimental. After being away from my Daily Habits, I first notice that I reach for bandage solutions to handle difficult situations. Instead of being centered and having the ability to think clearly, I look to quick-fix pacifiers for issues. They make me feel better in the moment, but they don’t resolve the issue. Then, over time, I notice that I am not handling non-difficult situations well either. I am irritable, resentful, and triggered by the smallest things. I find myself having tantrums like a three-year-old who is not getting their way, feeling out of control and powerless. Then finally, I hit whatever bottom I need to in order to snap out of this phase and go back to my Daily Habits. Within a few days I am more centered, have clearer focus on issues, and just enjoy life better.

If you do not already have Daily Habits or if perhaps it is time to revised and reinvigorate your Daily Habits, let’s review the components of a Daily Habit routine. First, create your personal Daily Habits by what feels good to you. Absolute right and wrong don’t exist. Some things will work for you, and some won’t. Consider it okay. Create your habits from your center, your heart, and your core. Ensure your habits are in alignment with you. Here are some components you can choose from for your Daily Habits or create some of your own. Find two or three that resonate with you and that you can commit to doing daily.

  • Every morning read from the inspirational book of your choosing. What you read and even how much you read is not as important as the text being something that makes you feel calm and centered, and that it helps you see your life, your relationships, and the world more objectively.
  • Do something to feed your soul. Whether it is something creative, cooking a wonderful meal, or playing Sudoku, spend a little time doing something that stirs your soul.
  • Before getting out of bed think of five (5) things for which to be grateful. These gratitudes can be as simple as having a nice bed to wake up in and air to breathe.
  • At the beginning of the day write your intentions and goals to focus your efforts.
  • Spend at least fifteen (15) minutes in the State of Gray or meditation.
  • Move! Take a walk, practice yoga, or go for a swim. Whatever gets your blood pumping.
  • Google some different breathing techniques and find one that calms and centers you.
  • Take breaks throughout the day to check in with your mood, stress level, thoughts, and attitude. If you are headed down the wrong path, try to get back to center.
  • Take some time to write, say or listen to positive affirmations.
  • At the end of the day, journal about the good things that happened to you throughout the day. We tend to focus on the negative so purposefully calling out the good can shift our mindset.

Remember to use these Habits daily. They are not something to learn, have your life changed by, and then move on. The key to making permanent changes in your life is by using Daily Habits to help you through everyday stress. These habits also give you a solid foundation to manage when major stressful events occur.

Share with us here the Daily Habits you are going to commit to for the next thirty days.

avocado truffle mac and cheese

The Crisis of Comfort

Back in the early 1800’s, a French sociologist came to America and wrote a paper called, “Democracy in America,” where he contents American “minds are universally preoccupied with meeting the body’s every need and attending to life’s little comforts.”  I learned about this paper through a very interesting Boston Globe article which continues to explore the idea of American’s need for comfort. The article talks about how “The frontier spirit may be part of the national psyche, but Americans are still lounging in “athleisure” outfits and choosing vehicles for their cupholders.” This well-written article asks what the end game of the search for comfort is. What happens when we can’t handle a modicum of discomfort? When life happens, do we have the tools to handle adversity? And, as I have noticed, when we don’t first learn from a lesson, they become harder and hard. Therefore, as we cling to comfort, will life get harder and harder until we wake up?

In light of this article, my question is what is the price of comfort? What are we losing as individuals by not allowing ourselves to experience the difficult parts of life? Are losing the chance to grow because we never step outside our comfort zone? Are we losing our sense of self and personal power because we can’t handle a little adversity?

avocado truffle mac and cheese
https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/stovetop-avocado-mac-and-cheese/

I read this Boston Globe article months before my recent visit to the States. In the States, I was surrounded by comfort I have not experience in over a year, and I’m not going to lie, I really enjoyed taking a long hot shower without the worry of running out of water. But viewing all the advertisements about comfort and seeing those around me constantly obsessed with having zero discomfort was a bit unnerving. Is it really an inconvenience to drive one extra block to buy overpriced coffee? Can we not change our eating habits so we don’t need twenty medications to deal with an upset stomach? What does it solve to honk your horn when traffic is backed up for miles?

Mexico has been a great educator in dealing with discomfort. City water may not be delivered for weeks. Grocery stores often do not have the fresh vegetable for which I was looking. Brand-name products I have used for years can not be found. Mail arrives weekly and needs to be picked up elsewhere instead of being delivered daily to our home. These are not major things, except maybe the water, yet I notice a lot of sunbirds who find these inconveniences debilitating. To them it is a catastrophe. To Mexicans and those who have learned to accept, it is just a way of life.

What I notice most about those who can not handle discomfort is their anger, fear, and desire to blame. Whether they are living in the vacation paradise of Cabo San Lucas or the comfort at every corner convenience of the United States, so many people can’t enjoy any of it because they are consumed by dissatisfaction. I honestly worry about how many are headed toward heart attacks or are simply not enjoying life because their comfort is disrupted. The article also poses that those seeking comfort has led to loneliness, anxiety, and an inability to accept responsibility. As we become more comfortable, we become less accountable, less happy, less connected, and less empowered.

I recently wrote a post about choosing to get out of my comfort zone and how the act actually empowered me to do things I never would have believed possible. Getting out of my comfort zone in little ways helps me to face new fears with strength and courage. Outside my comfort zone I take responsibility for my life, my words, my actions, and my happiness. I don’t need a truffle and avocado mac ‘n cheese to make me feel good. I make myself feel good by not staying complacent.

What comfort are you clinging to? How do you face adversity? What is the price of being constantly comfortable? How are you stifling yourself by not facing what is hard? How is being too comfortable right now going to affect how you handle life’s challenges in the future?

macchu picchu

Enlightenment

Currently I am part of an amazing group of women focused on their growth. One day we talked about enlightenment. I said I felt I had a moment of it when I was in Peru. It is something I still get glimpses of, but not at the depth I had there. They asked me to describe what my experience of enlightenment was.

macchu picchuBelow are the elements I recognized as part of my enlightenment experience. What I notice is if I can regain one or more of these elements, I can return to that peace in my daily life. Each element addresses something that can cause us pain, and by removing it we can find peace.

No Judgments

Judging ourselves, others or circumstances causes us pain. When we give something meaning, good or bad, is when we get away from the truth and into our interpretation of the truth which creates pain. I wrote about the peace of releasing judgments in a recent post where I shared an old story about how releasing the self-created highs and lows of life, provides more peace and contentment.

No Labels

One step further than no judgments, is releasing labels and words. When we label something, we have created a judgment – young or old, boy or girl, happy or sad. To find the peace of enlightenment, release words themselves. Once you label or name something, you have categorized it in your mind and it is no longer a magical thing existing on its own. Also releasing words detaches us from our self-created world. When we just see and experience things without a label, we experience the peace of unconditional existence.

No Desire

Desiring something means we are not unconditionally accepting of the current moment. We are saying what we have and where we are is not good enough. True enlightenment is being at peace with the current circumstance whatever it is. It means pure acceptance of this moment and not feeling the pain of wanting something better or different.

No Time

When in a state of enlightenment, the past does not exist or influence our current experience. There is no worry or hope for the future. It means being completely present in the moment without ties to the past or expectations for the future. It is the ability to be fully present in this and only this moment.

No Self

As we release judgments, labels, desire, and time, we begin to let go of the meaning of the self. Enlightenment is releasing the ego and personality. When we are not judging or labeling ourselves, we are free to just exist. When we release desire and time, we are in the moment. Imagine if you could release all your baggage, all your judgments, and just experience the liberty of being. It is experiencing from outside your physical being and mind. It is allowing yourself to be separate and independent from the human experience.

At One

When we are no longer tied to the self, we become at one with all. We no longer feel the separation created by judgments. We lose our self and blend into the wonder of all.  Instead of feeling lost and insignificant when we release the ego, we instead gain all existence. We no longer become a single drop of water, but can experience what is means to be part of and wholly the ocean.

When you are having a challenging day, see if you can experiment with one or more of these concepts. Start by spend 10 minutes every day and try to remove your words, judgments and labels. Be at one with what is around you without interpretation.  See if this new way of being can bring you peace. Namaste.

self love

Defining Self-Love

On Facebook, I host a group call Living Type Me for those who have read my book From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It. Every day I post quotes, articles, and other tidbits to help grow awareness, inspire, and assist the participants in their personal growth.

In April I shared the Shakti Gawain quote, “You can love other people only to the degree that you’ve come to love and accept yourself.” Group member and founder of ARTemis, Sam Hull, had this question in response, “Love or acceptance? Self-love is immeasurable, but self-acceptance is easily documented and weighed against self-neglect. Yes? So what is the difference that would place love or acceptance?” Great question Sam!

To me, self-acceptance is only one part of self-love. Self-love is unconditional and is part self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and self-care. To fully experience self-love, all of these components must be present.

self loveUnconditional

To truly experience self-love, it must be unconditional. It is easy to love ourselves after we win an award, lose 10 lbs. or have some other tangible accomplishment. True self-love does not need a reason to love. The love exists through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. It neither needs a reason to love nor is deterred when we are not at our best. Self-love is constant.

Self-Awareness

Self-love comes from self-awareness, knowing who we are completely. If we are loving the mask we wear, it is not true self-love. To truly love ourselves, we can not hide who we are. We need the strength and vulnerability to see who we truly are, not who we want to be or believe we are supposed to be. Self-awareness is being courageous enough to see our truth.

Self-Acceptance

With this awareness, we then need to accept ourselves wholeheartedly, warts and all. We can be aware of our truth, but if we do not accept it, if we judge ourselves because of it, or we perceive it as unworthy, that is not self-love. Self-love is knowing ourselves intimately, the perceived good and bad, and still loving ourselves deeply.

Self-Appreciation

One step further than unconditional acceptance, is appreciating ourselves just the way we are. This is not about praising our accomplishments, but about seeing our true selves and appreciating how our uniqueness is a gift to the world. No one can be and do what we can. We are unique, with unique contributions to offer. Embracing and appreciating our inherent gifts is a key component of self-love.

Self-Care

Where the other components of self-love revolve around thought and belief, self-care is about action. You can say you unconditionally love yourself but if you are not eating right and providing the body, mind and spirit what it needs, you are not acting on your self-love. Self-care is the manifestation of our awareness, acceptance, and appreciation.

To Sam’s question, self-acceptance is not the opposite of self-neglect. Self-neglect may be a symptom of the lack of self-acceptance, but it is not the other end of the spectrum. Many people do not accept themselves and therefore shower themselves with self-care, but if they can not accept themselves, self-care may just be a Band-Aid and a weak attempt to fill the self-love void.

What does self-love mean to you? Are you truly loving yourself unconditionally with total awareness, acceptance, and appreciation? Are you gifting yourself with the care you inherently deserve?

Until you can love yourself with this unconditional love, you may find it difficult to truly, deeply love another.

Homer Simpson 300 game

Celebrate Every Day

This is my 300th blog post (or at least I think it is). Woohoo!  I never set out to write this many, but it is great to celebrate the accomplishment nonetheless. I may not have had the journalists and a single pathetic balloon to celebrate like Home Simpson had for his perfect 300 bowling game, but I will take some time today to really acknowledge the achievement, the persistence, and the positive responses I have received. Through these 300 posts, at least 150,000 words, I have sent messages meant to inspire, enlighten, and support. Hopefully affecting those that need it when they need it.

Homer Simpson 300 game
You can find Homer’s 300 game at www.simpsonsworld.com › Clips

In our fast-paced world, we don’t take enough time to celebrate big – and little – accomplishments. In a constant rush to the next event or next task, we don’t take time to celebrate what we have achieved. And because of this, we often feel not good enough, not loved. We feel less than because we don’t take the time to recognize the amazing things we do throughout the day. Don’t make that face. Really, each and every day you do something amazing. You are reading these words. You helped the elderly woman at the grocery store. You propelled a moving vehicle. You took care of your family. You landed that big deal at work, or at least managed not to kill your co-workers. Take some time today to notice all that you do and how it improves the quality of life for you and for those around you.

Now take your awareness out to a larger level and recognize all the miracles and blessings you experience. For instance, you are reading a post I wrote in Mexico which you found online or in your electronic mail inbox and can read it thousands of miles away. Amazing! Have you experienced the miracle of flight? Do you find fresh delicious foods in your refrigerator or the local market every day? Do you have food, shelter, and clothing? Are you able to listen to your favorite musical artist anytime, anywhere? Are friends and family a click, call, or short drive away?

I find that depression sets in when we look at our lack instead of all we have. Spend some time today acknowledging your accomplishments and recognizing all the miracles and blessings in your life. No matter the bad that we all experience, there is always a host of good happening at the same time. When you become obsessed with the bad, stop and refocus. Start listing off things to be grateful for; recount your achievements. By going through this exercise, you not only shift your focus to abundance, but give yourself the love and courage and strength you need to move forward.

Do not just focus on yourself, but be sure to take the time to tell others how much they mean to you. Talk about their achievements. Let them know why and how much you love them. All too often we can take those most important to us for granted. For yourself and them, take the time to recognize the blessing they are in your life.

As you approach this week, find a way to celebrate and appreciate every day. Big or small, what do you accomplish? Some days getting out of bed when we dread going to work is the biggest accomplishment we can have. That’s ok. Celebrate it. Every night make a list of everything you accomplished. Every morning think of five things for which you are grateful. Celebrating accomplishments, acknowledging achievements, and being grateful are the keys to making every day special.

yoga as a daily practice

The Necessity of Routine

After transitioning from Type A to Type Me, I found that practicing a regular routine helped me from sliding back into my Type-A ways. Originally, the practice was reading inspirational works daily, meditating, focusing on active gratitude, and walking. I diligently engaged in these things daily to lay a strong foundation and center myself.

Two and a half years ago, I arrived in paradise. Breaking out of the rat race, I landed in a beautiful location surrounded by calming water and a culture of loving caring individuals. Things were perfect. I let my daily practices slide. Why would I need to have a daily practice now that I had the sun and the surf every day?

Wrong.

yoga as a daily practiceI did not notice the impact right away. Things were good. I didn’t have to maintain my practice to feel centered. Life was amazing. But then it started. Little issues. Little conflicts. Small and big challenges. Without the foundation of my practice, I found myself unconsciously and negatively reacting to these trials. I did not approach them with calm centeredness, but with blinding emotion. The result was the same horrible feeling I had when I was in the deep despair of my Type-A days.

Thankfully things are on the mend. I have committed to creating a new Type-Me practice. And by practicing daily, I am slowing down and being more conscious of my thoughts, actions, and beliefs. I am not allowing my emotions to take a hold of my reactions. And I am finding more peace in my daily life.

Having a regular practice is very important. Times will be good. Times will be bad. The consistency of our practice is what bridges these hills and valleys. It gives us support during tough times and creates even more ease when things are good.

Doing a daily practice is more important than what the practice is. What is important is finding what you need to help keep you centered. Look into practices like meditation or yoga that clear your mind. Find the texts that feed your soul whether they are from religious books or your favorite blog. Engage your body in the movement it desires. Add in practices of gratitude, intentions, and affirmations. Maybe you want to have a bit of a creative outlet daily. Many different tools are available to you to create your own practice. Find the ones that best serve you.

You may also find that your daily practice changes over time. As your life changes, you may find that you need different types or means of support. Just like any diet, your personal practice may change overtime, and if you don’t change your diet you may find yourself stuck in a rut or not getting all the nutrition you need. Every so often look at your practice and evaluate what is working and what is not. As we grow, it makes sense that our practice grows with us.

Do you have a daily practice? Are you faithfully executing it? How do you feel when you practice a few days in a row? How do you feel when you skip your practice a few too many times? What would it take to gift yourself with a practice?