Monday, November 26, 2018

The Holidays are in FULL SWING...So is the STRESS!

The Thanksgiving turkey is now a faint memory which can only mean one thing…the holidays are ON!

What are you expecting this holiday season?
  • Frantic shopping and spending more than you planned?
  • Indulging in too much food and drink resulting in extra pounds and lots of guilt? 
  • Hectic schedules that only create more stress and feelings of overwhelm?
  • Waaay to much time with the friends and relatives who get on your last nerve?
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Of course not! These results usually occur when we forget to go within and ask Love (God, Universe, Spirit) for guidance. Make this year different.You could experience a truly divine holiday with just a little planning and intention. 

Here are a few tips on how to connect to your inner wisdom (divine voice of love) to enjoy the season:

Gift giving: think about the goal of the gift. Is it to reward or recognize an employee or coworker? Show your love to a child? Demonstrate your appreciation to a loved one? Participate in a gift giving party activity? Ask yourself, “what am I trying to show with this gift?” 

Next imagine the recipient, close your eyes, take a deep breath in, relax and simply ask, “show me the perfect gift for ___.” You may get an image, hear an ad for a specific product, get the idea to bake or make your gift, give a charitable donation in their name or offer an experience (dinner, concert, drive in the country) as your present. Take your time and allow the answer to come. This may even take a day or two. Remember you have a choice. You can be overrun by our consumer culture or be guided by love in your gift giving. 

Over indulging: what is it about the holidays that implies you must eat and drink yourself silly? Stop. Set a silent intention before the party or trip to the grocery store. The reminder here is to stay present with how your body feels. Stick to your drink limit and be aware when you feel full. If you’re going to be in a social situation for a few hours, simply pace yourself. Say no to offers of additional drinks and food that you know makes you feel uncomfortable afterwards. It’s OK to politely refuse to indulge when you know you’ve had enough. At the grocery store stick to your list and when that all too tempting goodie appears at the end of the aisle (like you know it will) ask yourself, “do I really want this or am I just responding to clever product placement?” Feel your answer. Act accordingly.

Hectic schedules leading to stress and overwhelm: here’s the BIG SECRET everyone forgets about holiday schedules. YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF YOUR SCHEDULE. Yes, I know you simply must make it to the neighbor’s party and it’s on the same day as that work thing which is right after the school play…guess what? The way to truly enjoy the holidays is to be more intentional about what you do and where you go. Period. Yes, that means you could SKIP some of those events! How do you decide? Tap into your inner wisdom and ask, “Which activities will bring me joy and allow me to bring joy to others?” It’s that easy. Of course, you want to attend a child’s play and see your beloved Aunt Elna and Uncle Bill for brunch but be more discerning about where and why you choose activities. Ask Love to help you! Think of it this way. Is it more important to attend more activities and feel resentful and stressed or fewer events that you truly enjoy? It’s an easy choice if you let it be.

Waaay too much time with friends and relatives who get on your last nerve: Love’s got you covered here as well! You probably know which people tend to trigger you. Before you interact with them, ask Love questions like, “How can I see ____ differently? Show me the lesson here? How can I be more at peace with this relationship?” A few days before that big, uncomfortable holiday family event you could sit quietly, go within and journal the responses you get to your questions. Above all, go into these situations with a loving attitude and intention to enjoy yourself.

Now this doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Just a few more tips to help this holiday be your best:
  • Remember to get enough rest, stay hydrated and eat your veggies! Yes, have some of the holiday stuff but don’t forget the basics of self care.
  • If you don’t think you have time to meditate, that’s a sure sign to double your efforts! This is a practice that will not only help you feel more connected to the divine within, but you’ll feel connected to the meaning of the season and to your loved ones even more.
  • Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself and others when things don’t go the way you planned. Allow the divine to come into to every situation and look for the love there.
Now go forth and enjoy the next few weeks! When you feel unsure, stuck or at a loss remember to go within and ask, “Love, what do you want me to know here?”

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What I’m Grateful for NOW

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite time of the year. No. Question. Some people think that’s kinda weird, since I’m a vegetarian, but it’s not about the food for me. 

It’s all about the gratitude. 

I love gratitude lists, gratitude journals, TV shows about gratitude, magazine articles, blogs…you get the idea. I even published an eBook earlier this year, “Living from a Grateful Heart: 10 Gratitude Practices for Individuals, Families and Groups,” to share some of my favorite ways to say “thank you.”

This year is no different. I feel blessed and full of gratitude. In the past 12 months I’ve made new friends, blossomed as a member of a spiritual mastermind group, watched my beautiful grandson grow, experienced spiritual growth when I least expected it, started new projects and continued to love and be loved by my family and friends.

To be honest, this year hasn’t all been easy.  Like many of you, it’s been a year of ups and downs. I have to admit the “downs” seemed more plentiful at times, especially when I worried about loved ones in the path of hurricanes or wild fires, supported others through unspeakable trauma, felt the all too familiar pain of mass shootings and lived through a particularly intense election cycle.

Through it all, I remembered one truth. Gratitude is the doorway to love. To my mind, no drama, trauma, challenge or chaos can triumph over love. When the world seems dark, I do my best to remember the light of love. 

When I sit down at our family Thanksgiving dinner this year, I’ll be grateful for these five truths:

1) No matter what happens in my family, community or the world at large, I know I’m in control of my thoughts and how I choose to react. I can choose love or fear. I choose love.

2) While I often see what’s wrong in the world, I know there’s more light than dark.  I see the legions of neighbors helping each other during natural disasters, organized meditation and prayer groups that have been scientifically proven to positively effect mass behavior and the kindness of strangers. I see love at work in the world. 

3) I am not my circumstances. I am, like you, the essence of the divine in human form.

4) The more I am grateful, the more I have to be grateful for. I absolutely know that sincere gratitude expands exponentially.

5) I am grateful to know that God, Universe, Source Energy – whatever you want to call it – is at work in my life and in the world calling us all to expand even more into the love we are at our core.

I’ll continue to practice gratitude and marvel in the many gifts that are constantly presented to me, even in the darkest times.

I’m grateful to each of you and wish you a most beautiful Thanksgiving. May the spirit of true gratitude live in our hearts throughout the year.