All work and no play…

How often do you hear, “There’s just not enough time in the day…” ? I’m slowly coming to the realization that there really isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that we think that we need to do (key word being think).  I used to believe that was just an excuse, but the reality is that we have created to-do lists that are unrealistic. It is as if there is some ongoing competition to see who can cross the most items off of their list. Once you cross them all off, you tell everyone that you completed your list, and then you start over again with a new list of tasks to complete. Is it really in our best interest to hit the ground running as soon as we open our eyes and stay moving at that pace until we shut our eyes at night? Ask yourself, why do I feel the need to be constantly on the go? Constantly moving? Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be done.  Everywhere that we look, we see how much other people are accomplishing, so it is only natural for our brains to start to think that we need to do that as well. So, how to we turn that urge to compete, into a drive to be productive in a healthy way?

The most important thing that we need to remember, is that we are all different, and our minds and bodies handle everything differently. It is extremely detrimental to compare yourself to someone else, the way that they do things, how much they get done, etc. With that being said, using other people as motivation and seeking accountability to accomplish your goals, is a great tool when done in a healthy way. There is a huge difference in comparing and admiring someone. Another great tool, is making a realistic list of what you want to accomplish. To-do lists are not bad, when they are made in a manageable way. Many times, a short and simple list allows for more to be accomplished, than a lengthy list. Being able to completely focus on one task at a time, while feeling confident that you are not only be able to complete the task, but complete it well, will create a healthy sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, it is equally important to put your list aside for a day and rest, move slowly and just enjoy some down time. Don’t worry, you can get back to your to-do list once you have given your body and mind a little reset time. Find your balance.

“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play, in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.”

-Brene Brown

 

Do you travel to explore or to escape?

You know that euphoric feeling that you have upon arriving at home after an amazing travel experience? That exhausted, yet rested, cheerful energy that you never want to go away? There are few feelings that I enjoy more, than the fulfillment of exploring a new place and then returning to your home base. So, why do we feel this way, and how to do we get that feeling to stay? Just like with anything else, the more you practice something, the easier it becomes. The more aware you become of how you feel, the more you will be able to observe what is making you feel that way.

After returning from my last trip, I had never been more fulfilled yet more excited to be home. I’ve noticed that after each travel experience, my feeling of extreme content stays longer and longer. I started to reflect on my feeling of contentment and where it was coming from. I realized that, the days of traveling to “get away” are long gone, and the days of traveling for sheer experience and enjoyment are here to stay. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy of break from my day to day life whenever I can, it means that I don’t feel the urge to run or escape like I once did.  We often use the term “escape” when we vacation and travel. Escape literally means to break free from confinement or control…do we really feel like we are in confinement in our daily life? If so, why? It took me quite a bit of time to find my “why”, but once I was able to pin point it, I was able to work on eliminating it.

Once I was able to eliminate my need to escape, I started to think about what I loved about traveling. Once you are able to identify what you love about your travel experiences, you can bring that into your day to day life. For example; I love flying, because I use it as mandatory time to unplug. I will occasionally watch a movie on the plane, but I usually read, listen to music and sleep. I don’t communicate with anyone, or check my phone. The fact that I look forward to my time on the plane, tells me that I love having true down time and that is definitely something that I can incorporate more of in my home life. There is the giddy excitement that you feel in the weeks before your trip because you are doing something new, the productive excitement that you get from booking excursions while you are on your trip and of course, the sheer thrill of just being on vacation in general. So, trying new things and being productive are something that I clearly enjoy and feel content when they are a part of my life. I tend to relax more while I am on vacation (I think we all do) which lowers stress, so I can add more relaxation to my life as well. Even as I type this, it all sounds so simple and silly but figuring all of this out was huge for me!

I’ve said it before, I will say it again… everyone is on a journey that is unique to them and there is no amount of advice that anyone can give a person that will change their path unless they take it to heart and that is why it is so important to get out there and learn for yourself. Being able to travel has been a huge blessing for me and a very significant part of my growth.

After a substantial amount of reflection, writing, then deleting and re-writing (multiple times) I realized that ultimately preparation, exploration and relaxation, have led to my renewed appreciation for life.

No matter what your story is, or how your journey is going, never stop exploring! You never know what important lesson awaits you on your next adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

Love thy neighbor.

Do unto others, as you would have them do to you.  I was raised on that principle, as many people are but we seem to have forgotten what it really means. Treating people with kindness, has become a bit of a rarity. We are too busy, stressed or overwhelmed to even think about anyone other than ourselves, let alone do something nice for them! What we fail to realize, is that giving of ourselves actually helps to reduce stress and it doesn’t take a grand gesture, to spread a little kindness.

Its funny how seemingly small things can make a person feel so amazing. I know that receiving compliments, kind words and little gifts always make me smile, and that makes the other person smile! Its a domino effect.

Here are a few things that I have been incorporating into my daily life, to show kindness to others:

  1. Give someone a compliment in PERSON. This is a struggle for introverted people (me), but it is truly worth it when you see how much it means to people.
  2. Leave (or send) someone a nice note! Notes have been replaced with texts, which are amazing but there is just something about getting a hand written note that brings a different kind of joy.
  3. Say ‘Hi’ to strangers. We spend an incredible amount of time looking down at our phones when we are out and about. Start looking up. Start saying hi when you walk by people. Start smiling when you make eye contact with other humans.

When you start making an effort to do this things, you will notice that they all take little to no energy or time. They will start to become second nature and you will notice that your spirits are lifted as well as those around you, and that’s what really makes a difference in this world, right?

 

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace at home.

If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart.

-Lao Tzu

Baby steps.

Around this time of year, everyone is reflecting on the past and planning for the future. That can be a very overwhelming task! We as a society, generally push ourselves too hard, too fast and miss out on our small victories. This year, when I am setting my intentions for 2018, I am trying something new (for me) and practical.

We have all heard the saying, “If you want to change your life, change something that you do daily..” (or something along those lines) Whenever I hear that, or see that somewhere I always think about how brilliant it is, but I have yet to implement it in my day to day life. Instead of setting intentions that intimidate me, I am going to start with setting things that I can do daily, and then build on.

Here are a few examples of how I am going to change my daily routine in 2018:

  1. Eat one plant based meal a day. It doesn’t have to be limited to just one meal, it can be a completely plant based day, but it has to be at least one. (I have been doing meatless Monday’s quite successfully but I want to integrate it into my daily routine)
  2. Nightly stretching. This is HUGE, especially when you sit all day at a desk job. I will stretch for a minimum of 10 minutes each night before bed.
  3. Bring reusable utensils to work for snacks and lunch breaks. There is so reason that I need to be using multiple plastic forks, spoons and knives each day, when I can bring silverware from home to use. No excuses.

Each of the above changes might seem small, but they will make a big impact on my life and that will in turn, impact the lives of others. I love setting intentions and goals, making plans, creating lists and maps for the future, but there is such amazing power in changing our daily routine. That is ultimately how we end up achieving what we want to achieve.

Side note- do not forget to acknowledge the good habits that you have formed and plan to continue those through the new year as well. I am going to make myself a list of all of the good habits that I have created over the past year, for motivation and encouragement and as a reminder of how far I have come in 2017!

Cheers to the end of an amazing year! Make this last month count 🙂

How to pull yourself out of a rut. 

I make a ton of excuses for why I don’t do certain things. I am too tired, too busy, I had a long day, life is stressing me out, etc. Admitting that you are making unnecessary excuses is never easy, because that means you are acknowledging your own personal negative behaviors. The more that I grow and mature, the more that I catch myself doing just enough to get by, instead of giving a task my full attention. I have never been one to just coast through life, so why am I starting to do that now? As I examined my behavior, I realized that my lack of ambition was due to the fact that I had gotten too comfortable with how my life was going. I had gotten comfortable with being “fine”. I had followed through with the intentions that I had set,  and I was failing to push myself to set new intentions, for this new season in my life. Honestly, I was mentally and emotionally tired of pushing myself to improve and to try new things. I needed to find some sort of middle ground to avoid burn out but still move forward.

Here are a few things that I do on a regular basis to quit coasting and pull myself out of a rut:

  1. Talk to someone that you trust. It is extremely important to have at least one person in your life, that you can go to with anything and they will listen and support you. That doesn’t mean that they always tell you what you want to hear, it means that they listen without judgment and offer advice when its appropriate. Sometimes you just need someone to listen.
  2. Give yourself a break. If you are like me, and love trying new things, here’s one: Go easy on yourself! Allow yourself to have a break! It’s ok if you didn’t go on a grand adventure this month, maybe being still and relaxing was the action that you actually needed to take. Realize that you do not need to be constantly checking things off of your list, in order to lead a fulfilling life.
  3. Re-evaluate why you set the intentions and goals that you do. Who are you setting them for? Are you setting them because you think that you should be setting certain types of goals? It is imperative that you identify ‘why’, in order to not only achieve what you desire but also to avoid burn out.

We will all experience our own personal ruts, they simply cannot be avoided. How you choose to handle them, is up to you! We are the writers of our own script, we have control over what we allow to control our minds. Choose wisely!

 

 

There is beauty in being transparent.  

I’ve been told that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. If I am feeling something, I don’t even have to say it, because you can see it on my face and see it in my body language. If you ask me a question, I will answer honestly and probably give you too much information. Perhaps I shouldn’t say ‘too much’, just more information than most people would give. I’m brutally honest, and not ashamed to be open. What you see, is what you get. This has allowed me to have some extremely close and successful connections with people that appreciate these qualities, but has also caused a lot pain. There have been many times when I have tried to reign in my transparent personality, and it just flat doesn’t work. What I have come to realize (finally) is that when you feel as though you need to reign in your authentic personality, you are in a situation that you are trying to force. When you try to force something to fit, it never works. Its silly to think about, how we try to force ourselves to fit in at work, in friendships, relationships, but if you can’t get your pants over your hips, what do you do? You simply move on to another pair! It doesn’t mean you are happy about it, but you don’t have a choice! Life is not always as cut and dry as not fitting into a pair of pants, but my point is that, the sooner that we allow ourselves to be transparent and really accept who we are as individuals, the easier our lives will become.

I think that people assume that to be transparent, you have to share every aspect of your life with the world. To me, being transparent means that you have nothing to hide, not that you openly share personal problems and events with everyone that comes your way. Determining what you share, is a personal decision. There are no rules, it has to be what works for you!

So, go with your gut, say what you mean, mean what you say.

At the risk of sounding cliché, DO YOU, BE YOU!

3 ways to help slow your mind down when you are on the verge of having a panic attack (cliff notes)

Our lives move at an incredibly fast pace. Even if you don’t struggle from an anxiety disorder, it is very possible for you to get overwhelmed just trying to keep up with your daily tasks. Here are a few things that I do, when I feel like I am going to lose control, and have a panic attack:

  1. Breathe! Yes, it sounds cliché and easy enough but when you feel a panic attack coming out of nowhere, you need to focus on your breathing. I cannot count how many times I have been sitting at my desk at work, and had to completely stop what I am doing, close my eyes, and only focus on deep inhales and long exhales. If you start to panic in a busy public place, finding a place to sit down and breathe works wonders, especially if you have no idea where the nearest restroom is and hiding in a stall is not an option. Just breathe.
  2. Go for a walk. This is my all time favorite. Something triggers me, I go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be far, but I just need to exit the area that I am currently in, and go somewhere else. I  might only do a lap around the building, but the simple action of getting up and removing myself, shifts my focus and allows me slowly stop spinning and return back to somewhat logical thoughts. Ideally, I am able to not only leave the area, but actually walk outside, in the fresh air. (also an ideal time for some breathing exercises) The movement alone helps, regardless of how far you walk or how much time you are gone.
  3. Listen to music. This one has proven to be a bit tricky for me. I have fine tuned it, so that I know exactly what type of music calms me down, but it is very different for each person. Music in general has healing powers, but if you are looking to distract yourself from a certain subject, don’t listen to something that reminds you of that subject (seems logical, but when you are already struggling it is very hard to think straight!) Lately, classical piano has been the winner to calm my mind and body down. It also helps me regain focus when my mind is all over the place and I am unable to fully complete one task.

Of course, the above are all things that work for me personally and each individual has their own way of coping and dealing with their panic attacks. I chose to list those three ways, because they are ideal for our on-the-go lifestyle. We might not always be able to stop what we are doing to sit down and meditate with no interruptions, or stop to read a book, do yoga etc. These are tricks that have helped me through many moments of panic and anxiety, and have been key to overcoming the fear of “What do I do when I panic and I am not at home” feeling. Try to remember, that you can breathe through anything!

“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

You have to start somewhere!

If there is anything that I have learned from having an addictive personality, its that idle hands do the devils work. That is why it is extremely important for me to have a passion project. I say passion project in lieu of a hobby because being passionate about something ignites your soul and occupies your mind. For me, writing is an outlet to clear my overactive brain.  Once the words are written, there is room in my mind to move forward, focus on something new. I write for myself, by myself. I have been told multiple times, that writing is worth it, even if no one ever reads it.

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