Saturday, January 28, 2012

oh so quiet.

image courtesy of RateTea.com
If you are anything like me, you enjoy those very quiet moments on a Saturday morning. You wake up next to your loved one who is deep in slumberworld and you immediately notice the lack of noise-there is less traffic, the boy next door isn't dribbling his basketball up to the bus stop, your alarm isn't piercing the delicate air, showers aren't turning on quite yet, and the hustle and bustle in the kitchen with fragmented communication about dinner, meetings, and who left dirty dishes in the living room is muted. 

I love these Saturday mornings. I breathe in the air as I walk on the deck to let the dog out to do her business. I feel the frigid cold wood under my feet and I smile. I smile because I ran the race and finished strong. The past week has been wrapped up nicely, a bow has been tied, and it has been shipped off to the land of the past. 

Growing up, Saturdays weren't necessarily the respite. I usually had basketball games on Friday night and I slept long and hard, woke up to my dad making omelets & hot chocolate, and usually went to my part-time job down at OfficeMax. Oh those were the days. Now, if you were to grab my planner, you will see white space on my Saturdays and Sundays. These are my sacred days; time with the man, the dog, the house, the puttering around, the phone calls to family, the cooking and baking, and the relaxation. And the writing. 

Saturday nights are typically "bliss nights," an early evening yoga class, a movie date in with myself and a simple dinner, then a cup of tea, and writing and reading, and bedtime. I laugh as I write this as I think about my college days when I used to be out until the wee hours of the morning, spending Sunday in sweats, drinking hot tea and dreading the fact that I would have to start my classwork at some point before Monday. I considered myself hardcore and would laugh at the folks taking the other route of relaxing, staying in, and just being content by themselves. Well, now the tables have in fact turned...for the better. 

I enjoy the quiet. I enjoy the space. I enjoy creating my own haven of relaxation. Is it hardcore? No. Is it anything special? No. Do I look forward to it every week and smile when I come home from yoga, draw the blinds, and cuddle up for the evening? Oh yes, oh yes I most certainly do.

on family

This morning, I Skyped with my almost 90 year old Italian Grandmother. It was magical. It brought tears to my eyes as it always does. There is something to be said about technology connecting people near and far. My homesickness comes in waves as it always has since I left home in 2003 to attend college in Colorado. My visits home were and still are infrequent, but staples to get me through the semesters, the summers, the vacation from work. I like to say and firmly believe that family is the superglue of life. They are your cheerleaders. Your mentors. Your teachers. Your mechanics. Your chick flick watching date. Your pizza go getter. Your cookie maker. Your chef. Your laundromat. Your chaffeur. We are these things to our own families too. We fill roles as they need filled. When it comes to family, nothing else matters. I look forward to my commutes as I put on my bluetooth and make a call to the East Coast. The voice of family combats the grey, rainy Seattle skies. 
It is these small moments of having my almost 90 year old grandmother Skype with me, which feels like we are sitting across from each other that make me stop, smile, pause, and appreciate the here and now.

Pinned Image

Saturday, January 21, 2012

the 8 powerful pillars: part 3: Supergoddess

It's quite timely that I am writing about the 2nd of the 8 pillars in my 8 powerful pillars project, Supergoddess. The Supergoddess Pillar is all about physical health & well-being. This includes everything from exercising, getting fresh air, drinking lots of water, getting the zzzzz's, and nourishing the body with good, dynamic nutrition.

Well, I have been sick for the past week. Yuck! I contracted "the crud," and it has been in my lungs, head, nose, and chest for the past 7 days and it is not fun. Getting sick is the absolute worst. It sucks because I try to do everything I possibly can in order to prevent sickness from taking over: getting sleep, washing my hands, eating my veggies, staying active...but sometimes, it just happens. I hate getting sick because it puts you behind. You feel blah and life is blah. You have no desire to do a damn thing and you feel like your pathetic.

Anyway, I am on the up and up and recovering and getting back into the groove of being a Supergoddess. The reason why Supergoddess is the 2nd of the 8 pillars, is that our body is the foundation of everything else. If we feel like shit, our output is shite. Plain and simple. We can't operate at our highest levels, do our best work, and interact in a kind and compassionate way with the people we love. Example: When I am not getting enough sleep and under a ton of stress and not taking time to sweat out the junk everyday, I turn into what The Man calls "Frankenbear." A hybrid of Frankenstein and a Grizzly Bear. Take a second and think of what you turn into. Go.

In terms of my actions for the month in the pillar of Supergoddess, I have 5 Key Actions that I am implementing:

1. Hit the gym on a regular schedule: Since I got sick, this has been on hold, but I did get a NEW 30# kettlebell for my crossfit workouts, compliments of my brotha. :)

2. Eat a good breakfast. Everyday. Plain and simple. (This prevents Frankenbear from showing up at work).

3. Schedule a massage. Get 1 a month. Plain and simple.

4. Get outside and plan some nature dates. Go hug a tree. Being in nature for me is like going to church for others: when I do it, I feel cleansed.

5. Research and book an appointment with a Naturopath in the area. The last Naturopath I saw was literally a miracle worker and she moved away. :( <---Sad Face. I love the model of Naturopathy and need to get in the groove again.

Some of my Fave Resources for living like a Supergoddess/Supergod:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

snowy wisdom



Day 2 of snowmaggedon here in Seattle. I am at home in comfy clothes, plugging away at some work I took home to keep me busy. I carved out 15 minutes this morning for a much needed meditation. Usually after I meditate, I read a passage from a book that Tricycle magazine published called : Everyday Wisdom: 366 Reflections on the Buddhist Path. Basically a passage for everyday of the year to contemplate.

Today, the passage is from one of my favorite buddhist practitioners, Pema Chodron and it hit home for me personally.

"The river flows rapidly down the mountain, and then all of a sudden it gets blocked with big boulders and a lot of trees. The water can't go any farther, even though it has tremendous force and forward energy. It just gets blocked there. That's what happens with us, too; we get blocked like that. Letting go at the end of the out-breath, letting the thoughts go, is like moving one of those boulders away so hat the water can keep flowing, so that our energy and our life force can keep evolving and going forward. We don't, out of fear of the unknown, have to put up these blocks, these dams, that basically say no to life and to feeling life."


Use this moment to breathe out and move the blocks to keep you from living your most powerful, present life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snowbound


One of my all time favorite memories growing up would have to be when all the meteorologists were predicting a ton of snow in Southern Maine. It was literally 99.999% guaranteed that the city would be shut down. There was a ton of hype and I remember my brother and me were banking on the fact that there would be no school; everybody was. We didn't pull out our homework, stayed up late, and counted on a blessed day off.

Ha! Nope. My mom woke us up the next morning telling us to get ready. With sleepy seeds in our eyes, we looked out the windows and the roads were clear and there was not a flake of snow on the ground. We were so angry. How could they be wrong? We stomped off to school extremely exhausted, incomplete homework in hand, and showed up with every other kid having grumpy faces. I believe even the teachers were a bit upset. We were victims of counting the chickens before they actually hatched.

I laugh now as I sit and write in my nook while a blanket of the white stuff covers the city of Seattle. Schools are closed, I am cuddled up in sweaters and socks, sipping a nice hot cuppa tea, and listening to some coffeehouse music. Some are calling it "Snomageddon," some are attempting to drive, while others are sledding on our street. I walked to the grocery store this morning kicking up the fluff with my L.L. Bean snow boots and came home with red cheeks. There is maybe 3", a typical dusting for someone who lives in snowcountry, but for this city, things come to a halt, which can be a good thing sometimes.

The snow reminds me to stop and enjoy. As the flakes come falling to the ground, we can observe this microcosm of mother nature, her innate ability to make us stop in our tracks, pause, enjoy, and slow down, and rest. Why push it? Why resist? I wouldn't call it being stranded, but I am staying home, working on some projects, and just resting. Not a bad thing at all. When we actually take the time to pause, rest, stop, something incredible happens-we get in touch with our most authentic self. Similar to meditation, it's in these quiet moments where we discover the most raw aspects of ourselves.

When I was little and used to play hours on end in the snow, I would lie on the ground, make a snow angel, and just close my eyes and be in stillness. It felt as though I could feel the earth moving. Where in your life are you making time for rest? For stopping? For the incredible pause between the stimulus-response?

Wishcasting Wednesday: What wish do you hear?


It's Wishcasting Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios. 
The prompt today: If you listen closely, what wish do you hear?

Today is a snow day in Seattle. A white blanket covers everything outside and I walked to the grocery store this morning to grab a few items to make a yummy breakfast casserole. As I was walking on the snow covered streets, there was a moment of complete silence, minus my own breath. When we move everything out of the way and listen, a funny thing happens. Things start to open up, settle, and make sense.

The wish I hear when I listen closely is to treat all aspects of my self (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social) with the utmost reverence possible which includes radical self-care, aligning my actions with my values, and letting go of the things that don't quite make the cut in nourishing me.

My 8 Pillars Project is a manifestation of this wish: coming into my own, and owning all aspects of my life.

Happy wishing!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Night Dance Party

It's Snowmageddon here in Seattle. Got to leave work early today. No school tomorrow. No volunteering. Maybe work from home, maybe walk to the library, hit up a yoga class. The beauty of working with tiny humans is that sometimes the snow gods and snow goddesses come and bless you with a magical day off here and there. It's rare, but it happens.

My neck and shoulders are creaky. Too much time at the computer getting stuff done like: reorganizing all my files on my external hard drive, writing curriculum for my afterschool program, and catching up on e-mail. And I have a cold. But I am listening to the Juno soundtrack which I love oh so much. And mindlessly surfing the web, jumping on the Facespace, and having mini-dance parties in the living room to Depeche Mode. Yep. Tuesday night dance party. Go celebrate something awesome like the snow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

maine revisited

When I moved out west after I graduated High School in 2003, it didn't take me long to miss the comforts of home; delicious Sunday dinners, time with family, space to spread out, and just the small morsels of home. On my recent trip back to Maine, I was intentionally enjoying the amazingness of being with family, friends, and enjoying those small morsels that go with the magic of being home. After being back now for almost 2 weeks, I started looking through my photos and chose to "revisit my visit" with a photo post.

I love this house. This is about a block from my front door and it yells, "Maine!" What a great way to display the culture of Maine. For those of you who may not know what this is, it is a pyramid of Lobster Traps decorated with lights. I heart anything Lobster.

One of the highlights of my trip home was that my parents surprised my brother and me with the announcement that they have purchased property up at Sugarloaf, a ski area in Maine. Our property is off the mountain and tucked away in a great area. We are very excited to be part of this project and work as a family to create a home away from home. Yay!


  Winter walks, cold weather, time spent in the woods, reflecting, and breathing space are just a few of the things that I enjoyed. Time spent away reflecting allows us to come back refreshed. 



Time spent in New England = Dunkin Donuts. Mmmm....Mint hot chocolate on my way down to Portland for a shopping trip with my Nana. 

Celebration. Lots of celebration. Between Christmas, New Year's and my Nana's Birthday, there was so much joy, laughing, and delicious sweets. When we celebrate, we come together. 

Oh, the food. Endless amounts of delicious food. Growing up with an Italian mother who can cook like nobody's business made me feel spoiled in that good way. A big Italian dinner of stuffed shells was exactly what time home is all about. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

the 8 powerful pillars: part 2: Jen Time

As some of you may know, I am embarking into the New Year with the framework of 8 pillars. A few posts ago, I wrote an overview & introduction of my 8 powerful pillars for 2012:


My 8 Powerful Pillars
1. Jen Love (Self Care, ME Time, Personal Check-Ins)
2. Super Goddess (Health & Well-Being)
3. My Tribe (Relationships, Family, Friends, Community)
4. Succulent Spirit (Spiritual Practice, Connecting with the Divine)
5. Amazing Abundance (Financial Health & Security)
6. Blissful Livelihood (Work/Life Balance, Professional Development)
7. Write On! (Writing & Creativity)
8. Sacred Space (Creating Peace & Beauty in Home & Garden)

Since I got back from vacation, I have been playing with some different strategies to incorporate living powerfully in each of the 8 pillars. These first 13 days of 2012, I have been focusing energy into Pillar #1, Jen Time. Obviously, the 8 pillars are a holistic model on living life to the fullest; playing big as we say. 

Here are some results & strategies that I have manifested out of the first pillar:

-Getting to bed by 11:00pm (8+ hours of sleep is my foundation for life.)

-15 minutes of daily personal reflection (journaling, meditation, reading spiritual texts, etc.)
-Planning out my day & 5 MIT's (Most important tasks)
-Being conscious of time on the computer & other time suckers
-Personal check-ins throughout the day: Body, Mind, Emotions, Thoughts
-Started reading & working with "The Way of the Happy Woman," by Sara Avant-Stover
-Engaging in a healthy morning routine (Ayurveda, Running, Meditation, Healthy Breakfasts)
-Time in Nature: Snowshoeing, walks, running.

Pillar #1; Jen Time: Where to go next...
-Daily workouts @ le gym
-More Yoga.
-More breathing & more smiling.
-Getting up earlier for morning time; spending time meditating, doing morning pages, etc.
-More writing in my journal; more writing period.

Great Resources
*Robin Sharma, world renowned author, life coach, and business guru put out an online video about "Winning in the New Year." Love these 8 strategies: http://www.robinsharma.com/winning-in-the-new-year/

*Action Planning: Plan your work, work your plan! http://simplemom.net/tools/downloads/

*For inspiration: http://www.rootsofshe.com/

*Book: http://www.thewayofthehappywoman.com/

*Where does your time go? http://lauravanderkam.com/books/168-hours/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wishcasting Wednesday: What Do You Wish To Reclaim?

On this fantastic Wednesday, Jamie asks, "What Do You Wish To Reclaim?"
When I think of the word "Reclaim," I was a bit puzzled. I actually had to google it. Reclaim: retrieve or recover (something previously lost, given, or paid). What comes to mind is the days of pioneering where folks "reclaimed their land." Take back what's yours! It sounds a bit selfish. But, I asked myself, is selfish always bad? I think not. 

For me personally, this is a perfect prompt for the New Year because we get that chance to start fresh and make a masterpiece out of a blank canvas. Reclaiming our health, our dreams, our goals, and our time becomes the focus and sits center stage for us to work with day in and day out.


What I wish to reclaim and what I am currently reclaiming as we speak...
...my daily meditation practice. Even 10 minutes in the morning is making a huge impact on my life.
...my self care strategies (creating Jen time, pockets of silence, journaling, and tea sipping)
...my time and where I spend it.
...healthy living (exercise and nutritious meals).
...my relationships with those near and far.
...my writing. Nurturing my creative spirit, honoring my craft, and developing my voice as a writer.
...my sense of adventure. Getting outside in nature, hiking, climbing, and playing.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

settling back in & making space for what matters

It's hard to believe that we are almost through the first week of 2012. 51 weeks left to go and we will be at the starting line again. I returned from my vacation renewed, refreshed, and rejuvenated. I won't lie, the first couple days back were rough in terms of the time change and the amount of stuff to do. Anytime we come back from solace/respite/vacation/retreat, it can definitely be shock to our system. We travel from one extreme to the other; easing through life, enjoying the small stuff, picking our feet up and then get thrown back into e-mail, traffic, calendar juggling, dinner to make, and feeling a bit ragged at the end of the day.

For Example: Today, I slept in, had breakfast, went and coached my girls 4-6th grade girls basketball team at their first game, came home, attacked the house, went and worked at the climbing wall, ran downtown and met up with The Man for a slice of pizza, came home attacked more of the house and reorganized my office nook (which looks awesome by the way), and now I am sitting down and settling in for the evening with a hot pot of tea (I love my new red ceramic teapot from The Man's sister), and am catching my breath.

This is what happens when we feel like we have to catch up. Lots to do. Lots to clean. Lots to process. I am really trying to be conscious of pulling back more and more and finding pockets of downtime and being careful not to push too hard. Today was my workday and tomorrow I will focus on me. Throughout my cleaning escapade and dust bunny war, I was thinking about how when we come back from taking any amount of time off, we have this tendency to jump back in and go into auto-pilot all over again, like our vacation never happened. How do we settle back in and make the space for what matters?



In my 8 pillars project, the first pillar is Jen Time. This includes self-care strategies, quiet, personal reflection, and checking in to see if I am in Alignment with what matters to me. The worst feeling to is to run ourselves absolutely ragged and then wonder what the hell did we get out of it anyway? THAT'S THE WORST! It all comes back to setting Intention and checking in to see if what we do produces a win-win for us and others involved. The win-win is key. Granted, paying back my student loans feels like a lose-win (lose for me, win for my bank), but the cool part is reworking our mentality. Take the student loan example; I actually win by paying my loans because I can work on getting out of debt faster, I am responsible for my finances, and I am reminded about the amazing education and experiences I received in college.

The questions to ask yourself: What's the win-win here? Am I making space for what matters? Am I in alignment with my values and intention?

Don't be intimidated with all there is to do after returning from vacation. There will always be a plentiful inbox, a phone call to return, a copy to make, a conversation to be had. Also, there always will be hugs to give, a laugh to be had, an "I Love You" to say, and that smile to offer.

Make the space for what really matters.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: the 8 powerful pillars: part 1


Happy New Year! Here we are at the beginning again. A blank canvas with the possibility of anything and everything. What better way to start than writing a post on the first day of the New Year? The day has been really good: We woke up early and drive down to the airport to drop my brother and his girlfriend off to fly back to North Carolina. Giving my brother that last hug and seeing him go made me sad, yet we enjoyed our time together in Maine. Lots of laughing, game playing, and relaxing with the folks. I am so grateful that we are so close.

My parents and I came back home, took a yummy nap, then went to breakfast at Silvas, a cute little joint in Auburn where hot coffee and delicious french toast warmed my soul. Then, I helped put away Christmas. Packing up the ornaments, wrapping up the lights, and taking down the garland was bittersweet. The holidays bring so much joy, company, hugs, and conversation. This time of year is magical because of miraculous celebration: there is so much to celebrate. The key is not to lose that sense of magic as we embark on our journey into the New Year.

In my last post, I talked about my 2011 goals and where I ended up. In the middle of playing a board game last night, somebody jokingly remarked that its "always about the journey, not the destination." Timeless advice, but it's good to have an idea of where you want to go, where you want to grow, where you want to transform, and make a difference in your own life as well as others. For 2011, my word of the year was Sparkle.

My theme for 2012: Alignment and Letting Go. With that said, those words came from a place of coming into my own with my personal values around Vitality, Intention, Growth, and Abundance. VIGA! The past year, I started to become more intentional about how I have chosen to live my life, what and who I engage with, and how to live powerfully in every area. On my trip out to Maine, I penned in my journal lots of ways to live powerfully and align my life to relevant areas. The byproduct: My 8 Powerful Pillars.


My 8 Powerful Pillars
1. Jen Love (Self Care, ME Time, Personal Check-Ins)
2. Super Goddess (Health & Well-Being)
3. My Tribe (Relationships, Family, Friends, Community)
4. Succulent Spirit (Spiritual Practice, Connecting with the Divine)
5. Amazing Abundance (Financial Health & Security)
6. Blissful Livelihood (Work/Life Balance, Professional Development)
7. Write On! (Writing & Creativity)
8. Sacred Space (Creating Peace & Beauty in Home & Garden)


The 8 Powerful Pillars are the 8 areas of my life that I engage with on a daily basis. It took lots of brainstorming, list making, doodling, reading, reworking, reforming, and re-visioning to finalize my 8 pillars.

What's cool about using this kind of structure for myself is that everything I encounter/do/create/have to deal with in my own life falls into one of these pillars. For the next 8 weeks, I will be doing a specific post about each of the pillars, including action planning, resources & tools that align with the pillar as well as talk about my own journey within the specific pillars.

This is something very new for me, but I AM SUPER EXCITED to share this journey with you. I hope you join me for what will be a wild ride in self-discovery and personal growth. Grab a hot cuppa tea, settle in, and start visioning for all the possibilities that lie ahead.

Happy New Year!