Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the 8 powerful pillars: part 5: My Tribe

Relationships are our best teachers. Every spiritual text will tell you that. It is beyond true, it is profoundly relevant to how we live our lives. We notice immediately when we don't nourish our relationships. The results are transparent and we feel like crap. I think it's quite easy to think of our relationships in terms of compartments: friends, family, our significant other, people we work with, our extended family, our college friends, the people we met when we traveled, etc. I am going out on a limb here to say that relationships don't function in compartments. Our relationships are holistic, meaning that they have and always will crossover.

In my 8 powerful pillars project, relationships fall in the 4th pillar. Relationships are essential to one's own success, no matter how driven one may be individually. Our tribe lifts us up when we are down, cheers us on when we race, and gives us hope, hugs, and hospitality. Nurture the relationships. Mend the fences.

Some of my actions in this pillar fall under one umbrella: staying connected despite the circumstances.
This is all about the little actions that add up:
-Skype a long distance relative.
-Call my parents when I get the chance.
-Text my brother to simply say hi.
-Talk to my friends regularly.
-Schedule time to hangout with good people.
-Maintain a date night once a week.
-Write and send birthday cards & thank you notes.
-Really enjoy time with family & friends.

It all sounds so simple but small bits of effort = lots and lots of joy. Nurturing relationships is a win-win for everyone.

Taking The Leap

I wish to take the leap in being more vulnerable. I wish to leap into the unknown and be okay with it. I wish to leap into abundance, health, integrity, and compassion. I wish to leap into pushing myself beyond my comfort zones. I wish to leap into breaking the damaging and destructive patterns. I wish to leap into love. I wish to leap into admitting when I am wrong. I wish to leap into taking fabulous care of myself. I wish to leap to bed when I'm tired and to the tasks that are waiting when I have the most energy. I wish to leap into creating healthy boundaries and time & space to breathe. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Losing the Groove...and Getting it back...slowly

If I had a theme chosen for February, at the beginning of the month, I would have said love. Now, coming up on the last few days of the shortest month of the year, my word has changed to Finish. Please god, let the month of February be over. I am done with it all. It was a month of too much. Too much of everything, especially the stress. I am sitting here in silence in my writing nook. It is beautiful. I just took a hot shower after a fantastic jaunt to the gym and I am cozy in my sweater wrap and Patagonia sweat pants. Sweetness.

But let me be clear-this is one of a few moments of sweetness I have had all month. I literally have lost my groove. I was doing so well. I was sleeping, taking care of myself, the month of January rocked. And then like a roller coaster at Six Flags, I plummeted. I stopped the practices that nourish me, simply because I wasn't taking the time for what mattered. The meditation, the yoga, the quiet walks with the dog, the time to cook healthy meals. The month felt more like an old war movie, where the audience looks at one another and mouths, "Is it over yet?" 

So I have been contemplating how I can get my groove back. For starters, just simply stopping in the tracks and evaluating what's working/what's not working can do wonders. Then, adjust, align, and take action. That's it. If you were to think of embarking on a road trip and taking a wrong turn, we simply pull over, look at the map, adjust our bearings, and keep on driving.

I only had this revelation when I came home tonight. Nothing crazy. Nothing esoteric. Just adjust, align, and take action.

Looking forward to the last few days of alignment. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Musings: The Happiness Commandments

If you haven't had a chance to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, you should request it from your local library, go buy it. or borrow it right now. Or, at least go an visit her blog over at Gretchen Rubin is one of those women is just real. Real about life, love, work, health, finances, housework, you name it. Her book is fabulous. She embarks on a journey to see if she can improve her overall happiness in a year.

"THE HAPPINESS PROJECT is the memoir of the year I spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier – happily, it was a #1 New York Times bestseller. -Gretchen Rubin"

Not only is Rubin a great writer, but the book gives folks practical applications on how to improve quality of life in simple ways-no backbending, standing on your head, drinking tonic advice here. :) Rubin uses 12 personal commandments in her happiness project to guide her through her year and her life. I have been playing around with developing some of my own happiness commandments and finally did it! These 13 commandments are my foundation and have been for quite some time. I have drawn on them from time to time, but have never compiled them in the same place. 

The process to generate my happiness commandments was simple and fast, yet effective and powerful. I first thought about advice I would give to those embarking on their own journey of happiness as well as mantras I live by. Also, using key word phrases helped. This was a beneficial process to me and I thought I would share them with the world. 

Jen’s Happiness Commandments:
1.               Follow My Bliss.
2.               Take the Time to Reflect.
3.               Nature is My Church.
4.               I am responsible for my own happiness.
5.               Speak Up & Ask for what I need.
6.               Say no.
7.               Be kind, Be Generous.
8.               Simplify.
9.               Make the time for what matters.
10.         Do what I resist the most.
11.         Nurture the Temple (Body)
12.         Open My Heart.
13.         Take the necessary action.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Love Story: The Man & Me

This post is late. I never got to it. But the more I thought about it, I decided to go back and write this post because I think it's a beautiful way to tell a story. This past week has been the traditional rollercoaster of life; up and down. Valentine's Day passed and life is still life. Love has it's challenges. In my own relationship, there has been lots of moments this past month that have required tenderness, trust, honesty, and just plain ol' hugs. The reflection piece is key, especially when times are trying and tough.

I saw this little blog challenge on the blog written by my brother's girlfriend. It's just what the doctor ordered in terms of reflecting on the foundation, the beginning.

1. How long have you and your significant other been together?
The Man and I have been together for almost 2 years officially dating but we have known each other going on 5 years this June. 

2. How did you meet? {What's your "love" story?}
When I was in my last semester of college, I secured an internship with a company in Seattle specializing in Corporate Recreation. After a very successful phone interview, they took a chance on a spunky little dirtbag excited about life in the big city. I showed up at the office on June 15th, 2007 and met Charlie, the Office Manager. Official title: Director of Organized Chaos. I also met his dog Ginger. I was extremely nervous, he had no idea I was showing up, but he immediately took me under his wing. He helped me with everything; learning the city, telling me where not to live, offering company when I didn;t know a soul. He also became my mentor at the company and coached me in my first job out of college. There were many late nights at the office and tears, laughter, and just a lot of fun. We became best friends over time and did a ton together; yoga, dog parks, eating at cool locations, hiking, you name it. He fell in love with me and I was already taken. I broke his heart. We had a falling out. I was devastated. And then shit hit the fan in my own life and he was there, like always, being supportive, loving, and amazing. He helped me move on from a painful event. Then, the universe had it's own plans and the cosmos aligned and we chose each other. Very Jerry Springer. Just kidding. :)

3. If married, how long have you been married? If not, is this the guy you hope to marry? {do tell} Marriage is a funny thing because I think a lot of people think it solves all the problems or makes things better. I have no doubt in my mind that I will spend the rest of my life with The Man, and whatever happens, marriage or not, just knowing I am spending quality time with the man who makes me a better woman is all I can ask for. 

4. If you are married, where did you get married at? Big or small wedding?  If not, where would you like to get married? And will it be big or small? 
Charlie and I like to think that we will get married on an island, outdoors, free spirited. He nurtures the hippie in me. :)

5. Do you have any nick-names that you call one another? Do share!
I enjoy all the nicknames Charlie has for me: Monkey, Monks, Shrimp, Woodland Elf.

6. Name 3 things you love most about your honey.
3 Things! Yikes! Well, his unconditional support, his sense of humor, his willingness to try new things.

7. Tell us how he proposed? Or your ideal proposal?
No ideal proposal, just authentic. :)

8. Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberrieschampagne, and rose petals?
More like a mutually agreed upon movie on the couch and a good pizza. :)

9. Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?
See above but I am the girl that won't complain about a little excess. You gotta keep it fresh for each other and not get too comfortable.

10. Tell us one thing you'd like to do with your significant one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?
I would like us to travel to Thailand, go snorkeling, visit Italy & Paris, and spend a year living in a yurt, farming, and doing yoga near the beach.

11. Tell us what you plan on doing on this Valentine's Day.
It was a rough day for the both of us this year, so we just took it easy. 

12. Are you asking for anything this Valentine's day?
Just time together.

13. Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love.
Be honest with each other, even if the roughest of times. 

14.  Show us a picture of what love means to you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

the love post: 100 ways to show you and your world some luv...right now

Hopefully love is still lingering in the air for you and your tribe. Valentine's Day is one of those holidays where if nothing else, we get to renew our commitment to loving ourselves and those who are close to us. I have been thinking a lot about acting within the context that it's more about the small things than the gradiose acts of romance. The Man brought up a great analogy this week to me, since I have been feeling a little depleted. "Jen, it's all about the piggy bank. Add a little everyday, and before you know it, you have lots." 

As a little love prezzy from me to readers, here are 100 of my favorite ways to bring some love into the world, no matter how grey or rainy it is. :)

1. Be gentle with yourself.

2. Go to the bathroom when you have to.

3. Get massages. Regularly.

4. Be silent for at least 15 minutes a day.

5. Take longer showers.

6. Buy the nice shower gel.

7. Always ask for pampering at Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and surprises.

8. Let yourself be hugged.

9. Ask for help.

10. Buy nice pens to write with.

11. Keep your desk clean.

12. Do the dishes before you go to bed.

13. Enjoy a hot drink in the mornings.

14. Enjoy a hot cuppa tea before bed.

15. Take that yoga class.

16. Go for that walk.

17. Light a candle or some incense.

18. Know the difference between venting and bitching.

19. Have at least 1 frozen pizza in your freezer for emergencies.

20. Own a dog. Or a cat.

21. Peruse your library.

22. Have that go to pair of sweats.

23. Sweat. Learn to like exercise.

24. Display family photos.

25. Call your mother.

26. Call your father.

27. Call your grandparents.

28. Skype with out of towners.

29. Travel when you get the chance.

30. Cry at weddings.

31. Just cry.

32. Laugh.

33. Enjoy a pastry from your favorite coffee shop.

34. Make a to do list. Give yourself gold stars.

35. Eat good chocolate.

36. Cook for yourself.

37. Hangout with children. Let them teach you.

38. Volunteer. Give back to your community.

39. Smile at the homeless.

40. Write out a birthday card.

41. Read every night.

42. Start a journal.

43. Bake a batch of cookies.

44. Make breakfast for your lover.

45. Watch Saturday Night Live.

46. Sleep in.

47. Take naps.

48. Blow bubbles.

49. Walk on the beach.

50. Find something to do that makes you breathe hard.

51. Have sex. Have more of it. It’s good for you.

52. Floss your teeth.

53. Escape.

54. Call in sick when you are sick.

55. Bring a plant into your office.

56. Keep snacks in your desk drawer.

57. Guzzle water.

58. Take a lunch break.

59. Stretch.

60. Thank the receptionist.

61. Give yourself a commute buffer.

62. Be on time.

63. Be prepared.

64. Limit your use of technology.

65. Turn off your phone.

66. Fess up and say sorry.

67. See it, Own it.

68. Find quotes you love. Hang them up.

69. Make a vision board.

70. Make time for creativity.

71. Meditate.

72. Do yoga. Even when you don’t feel like it.

73. Listen to music.

74. Make date night a priority.

75. Fail. Make mistakes. It builds character.

76. Stare into the eyes of someone you love.

77. Check your posture.

78. Check your ego.

79. Let your guard down.

80. Be vulnerable.

81. Take time on the weekends to clean your house.

82. Eat dinner at the table, especially on Mondays.

83. Set goals.

84. Create a breakthrough in your career.

85. Take risks.

86. Be the bigger person.

87. Don’t be afraid of innovation.

88. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

89. Be in control of your finances.

90. Take time to put yourself together.

91. Have stamps on hand.

92. Have an updated address book.

93. Make the bed.

94. Have a handle on your calendar.

95. Say yes more.

96. Say no more.

97. Give compliments.

98. Be sincere.

99. Embrace authenticity.

100. Know that love is the glue that holds together everything in the world.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

the 8 powerful pillars: part 4: succulent spirit

I really like the Yogi Tea. The Yogi Tea puts little quotes on their teabags and gives you a little spiritual juice whether you are starting your day in the rainy city of Seattle or cuddling up with your love in the evening. Those little quotes bring a smile to my face. About 2 weeks ago, I was making some tea and I looked at my little tag and it said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience." Huh. True dat. I am a firm believer in what I believe in, if that makes any sense. And honestly, I am not sure I can be super specific about what I believe in.

To write about the 3rd Pillar of Succulent Spirit has me a bit stumped. I meditate. I do yoga. I journal. I contemplate. I ask big questions to the divine. I pray for parking spots. I have come into contact with people with not so great ethics and morals. I think people are inherently good. I feel like we should make more love and less war. But to say that I have this profound connection with my own spirituality? I tend to not think so. Especially when I am standing in the middle of my kitchen in tears because I ran out of gas money again or am arguing about when I said I was going to be home. Hmmmm.

I do know that I live by a few simple precepts:

1. The golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated (Karma, Karma, Karma).
2. I feel and think that I am constantly evolving and changing, yet the core of who I am will remain the same.
3. What you put out there (hard work, love, abundance, gratitude) will always come back.
4. Spending time in nature, on my yoga mat, and in nature lets me sort my shit out. Period.

In my own spiritual goals for 2012, I do know that I wanted to tackle a few things:
-Meditate in the morning. 10 minutes. I am getting my ass on my meditation cushion about 3 times a week. It's hard. It's not fun. But it's the best teacher in the world. All the gurus are right in the fact that when you sit with your junk, it just becomes junk and you can let it go.

-My yoga is my savior. Sounds stupid, but so true. My body and brain have this crazy Luke Skywalker force when I am doing my yoga. The Man and I started taking yoga together again and that has been nice. I am getting to about 3 classes/week. My hips are opening up again and my lower back is pain free after months of repetitive stress.

-Be conscious of my own energy. Not woo woo energy, but the basics of energy. I have 24 hours each day. I sleep about 8-9 hours a night, work 40 hours/week, spend about 20 hours a week eating meals, blah, blah blah. I have to be conscious about where I put my time: spending mindless hours on the web or watching hulu or cooking a fabtastic meal for your partner...hmmm.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

media i'm in love with

I thought I would take a few minutes to review some media that I have been loving on for the past couple weeks. I am thinking this will become a regular post since I am always reading, watching good movies, and listening to fabtastic music.
On My Bookshelf...
"Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life," by Karen Maezen Miller
This is one of the most profound spiritual teaching books I have read in a long time. Within the 171 pages lies lots of great nuggets of spiritual teachings that are simple and can be related to, no matter who you are. Karen Maezen Miller uses the background of housework as she talks about life as a zen practitioner. There will always be the laundry, the dishes, the gardening. Each of these components of household life contain so many profound teachings and wisdom, that each page is rich and full.

Two of my favorite passages:
"At the end of the day, my counters cleared and dishes stacked, the big payoff appears. My sink gleams, empty, like a deep ocean pearl, and I am content. Look for more and be dissatisfied. Look elsewhere and be confused. The ingredients are always on hand, and it's impossible to run out. Having nothing to show is simply having enough."

"The view that there is higher ground apart from the place we occupy is based entirely on ignorance. It perpetuates fear and, worse, enlarges it. There is only one place. The one you're in. You can never leave, but you can turn it inside out. Do you want to live in friendship or fear? Paradise or paranoia? We are each citizens of the place we make, so make it a better place."

"168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think," by Laura Vanderkam
This is not your traditional, tired and true time management book. I have been reading this book for the past week and I can honestly say that my relationship with time is slowly stating to transform. Laura Vanderkam takes us inside the idea that we can live in the 168 hours model; 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. When we break that down and essentially start filling in our time into blocks within the week, we have a lot more time than we think. Check out the 168 hours site here:

In My Ears...

Alexi Murdoch, "Towards the Sun"

And In Memory of Whitney Houston...

At My Fingertips...
Looking for practical tips on living a great life? 
Embracing the feminine:
Succulent Spiritual Junkies:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wishcasting Wednesday: What do you wish to attract?

When February hits, I have a mixed bag of emotions. I am still riding the wave of the New Year, New Beginning high, I am feeling overwhelmed with lots to do, both professionally and personally, I am feeling a little down because of the winter blahs, and most of all, I am feeling the expansiveness of love. Love is in the air.

Today, Jamie Ridler asks over at her site for Wishcasting Wednesday, "What do you wish to attract?"

I wish to attract endless amounts of energy for the things I love to do: meditation, working out, carving time to be with my partner and our dog, keeping up the house, reading in bed, drinking tea, volunteering my time, writing, cooking delicious meals, and having lots of time in nature.

I wish to attract intentionality with my time and where goes and how to use it best.

I wish to attract peace and joy, amidst having feelings of blah  every so often. 

I wish to attract abundance and financial stability & security.

I wish to attract all the things in life, both big and small that make me happy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

hello snow moon!

The full moon is out. I have been enjoying the first days of February since there has been lots of sun and warm weather-warm enough to wear capri leggings under a skirt and not wear any socks with the Danskos. Oh yeah, it has been sunny enough on my commute to dust off the sunglasses and wear them. Needless to say, it has been a fabulous February so far.

February is one of those months that simply flies by. Because it's the short month, things creep up and then BAM! There you are, 3 weeks in and you realize that you have all this stuff to do. The school age kids go on yet another vacation, meaning lots of in ratio childcare time for me, and then there is Valentine's day, a leap year, and the big drive at the Y to raise a ton of money in our annual giving campaign. YIKES! It's a lot to juggle and on top of that, many folks feel the "February Blahs."

According to the Farmer's Almanac, since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult. I thought about reflecting on this moon, as it related to my February goals. "Full Hunger." I have used this prompt in the past in terms of what I am most hungry for, in life that is.

This month, I have some key goals and projects I am working on:
-Writing. Continue to write regularly. At least 12 posts by the end of the month.
-Meditation. Continuing my daily 10 minute meditation practice.
-Movement. Getting back to regular gym dates and crossfit workouts.
-Savoring rest. Enjoying downtime. Unplugging. Getting outside. 

On top of those 3 goals, I have designed some intentions for the month of February as well:
-Being intentional and in alignment with where my time goes. I am currently reading a fabulous book 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam. I will be reviewing this book in my next post with all sorts of nuggets of wisdom. The overarching lesson from this book is that we are not victims of time. We always have a choice. This freedom has opened up some incredible insights for me personally.

-The month of love. February being the pink/red/roses/chocolate holiday gives us the inkling to show our love more. I am taking on the challenge of just being loving in my interactions with not only others, but myself as well. Asking the questions, "Am I being the most loving?" is a theme I am using in my meditation practice this month. Also, just carving out time to be with loved ones is so important.

-Responding vs. reacting. This is also something I am working with in my meditation practice. How to play more of the observer role and less of the fish biting the hook. Being conscious of how my emotions play into my daily life, my relationships, my work, and my spiritual self, allows me to fully engage with the present. It's a constant work in progress. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012: Month In Review

Groundhog Day is upon us. In a few hours, we will know if spring is coming soon or if we should stay in and hibernate. I laugh when I think of the movie, Groundhog Day. Bill Murray living life day in and day out, not a thing changing. Hmmm. Does this sound familiar?
image credit: sitepoint.
I though about doing a month in review post. A good way to expand my writing and start articulating what I have been accomplishing, more specifically, in regards to the 8 pillars project.

-Got back from my vacation refreshed and ready to attack the new year with Alignment & Letting Go.
-Started going to bed earlier and clocking more hours on the pillow. It has been making a huge difference, especially when I was sick. 
-Ate breakfast every day. This also makes a huge difference.
-Started my morning meditation practice. 10 minutes. It's hard, but when I get on my butt and do it, I notice a huge difference.
-Started being intentional and conscious of my technology use, especially when I come home from work.
-Battled a 2 week head/chest cold.
-Snowshoeing adventure!
-Survived snowmageddon...the surprise week off was a blessing in disguise. 
-One of my huge themes for January was Getting and staying organized with everything from my calendar, monthly goals, paperwork, finances, etc. to getting some new storage solutions for our bathroom and my closet. Clothes and shower goodies all set to go! 
- Presented my grandmother with her legacy book via Skype. Huge success.
-The Man and I started doing yoga together again. 
-Hosted The Man's mum for dinner: homemade gnocchi, italian salad, and amaretto dessert.
-Date nights to some great Seattle spots: The Santa Fe Cafe & Post Restaurant in Pike Place
-Saw some fabulous movies: Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Larry Crowne, The King's Speech, Crazy, Stupid Love, and Dexter Season 5.
-Reading lots & writing more. 
-Keeping my kitchen clean.
-Spending time with friends.

So much to celebrate and what a way to kickoff the new year. I am excited to keep the momentum going in February. More on my February goals in my next post. :)

Wishcasting Wednesday: What Do You Wish People Knew About You?

It's Wishcasting Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios.  Yay! A time to cast a wish into the universe. I love Wishcasting. A simple practice, yet so profound. This week, Jamie Ridler asks, "What Do You Wish People Knew About You?" I find this prompt so timely as I recently was writing about my own personal quirkyness in a future post about "Sometimes..." What a perfect place to disclose my quirks and the fun little bits about my own personality.

Sometimes I...
...stay a little longer in the bathroom just to have some peace and quiet. It's so noisy out in that world! Can't a girl enjoy some silence?

...keep my car on in the driveway or parking lot just to hear the end of the song or the last little bit of the NPR story. I like completeness.

...go the library by myself and call that indulgence. raw cookie dough even though I know it's horribly bad for me and constantly hear my mom yelling at me on my shoulder "There's raw eggs in there Jennifer! You are going to get sick!"

...fake sleep so I don't have to be the first one to take a shower on Saturday mornings.

...fall asleep in the same clothes I wore all day and refuse to change into PJ's.

...stay in my sweatpants all day on Sundays and never leave the house.

...spend too much time on Facebook, Pintrest, and Blog reading.

...stay up way too late watching something ridiculous on TV (crime shows, Battlestar Gallactica, Real Housewives, Dexter)

...vent to the dog about relationship frustration and think she takes my side.

...fantasize about missing my work exit on the interstate and driving right up to the Canadian border.