Sunday, May 31, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 56: The Gift of Bread

Once a month, I travel downtown for a yoga study sangha. The word sangha means one's spiritual community. You come together with practitioners to study. The group I belong to gathers with our teacher and we study meditation, pranayama, interpersonal work, and the yoga sutras. It's like yoga church. I love sangha mornings because they are on Sundays. Driving downtown on Sunday mornings is lovely because the highway is empty. It's about 16 minutes door to door. It's usually quite chilly and I love having my breakfast in silence and then having my hot coffee in my travel mug. I gather up my meditation cushion and books and start to head south. The exit that I take lands me almost to the downtown core. It's typical to see homeless individuals sleeping in doorways, curled up like hibernating animals. Some have sleeping bags, some don't. It's one of the quietest times in the city. It serves as a reminder to be humble and grateful and more openhearted. 

Like any other Sunday, I arrived at the red light after my exit and I am grooving out to public radio. As I was waiting for the light to turn green, I looked across the street and saw an exchange between two individuals, a man and a woman. Both were young, probably in their late twenties. Both were bundled up with backpacks and the man had a skateboard. They were wearing hats and carrying sleeping bags. Clearly, they were both experiencing life on the streets. The man put down his backpack and pulled out a loaf of bread. It was wrapped in clear cellophane and was a good size loaf. With both hands, he handed it to the woman. She looked down at this loaf and then looked back at him. Put her arms around him and embraced him. The man hugged her back, they let go of each other, and went their separate ways. He jumped on his skateboard and rode East as she crossed the street and went North. A lump grew in my throat. 

This entire exchange was about 10 seconds, if that. In that moment, a common humanity was revealed. We are all hungry. We all have basic needs. This moment served me in so many ways; a reminder to be grateful, a reminder that there is suffering and love, a reminder that small acts do big things, all that generic stuff. But the real reminder for me was to wake up and look around. I only experienced that moment because I was awake and present in my own life and not fighting to get to the next thing or distracted by the shiny object or digital device. 

There are so many moments like the moment of the gift of bread and we are blind to them. Not because we don't want to see them, but because we create our own curtains and blinders. Stop, breathe, open up, allow it all in. You might be surprised and touched at what gifts you see being given. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 55: Home

As much as I love being away and exploring different parts of the world, seeing family and friends, celebrating new life adventures, and getting to experience new cultures, I absolutely love coming home. When I put the key in the lock of the front door and step over the threshold, set down my bags, I take a big exhale and sigh. I breathe deeply and enjoy the smell of my own natural habitat, feel the ground on my feet, and I relax. I am safe here. Supported and held.

Planting Wedding Dahlias in raised Bed 1 of 2
About a year ago, I got really clear that my physical space means so much to me. The furniture I have, the dishes I use, the little nooks and altars I create, as well as having a simple space, not too much clutter or unnecessary stuff. We live in a very small space, so we struggle with all of it all the time. Right now, things feel a little hectic as we are growing our own flowers for our wedding and receiving gifts for the wedding. Combine that with crazy work schedules and social commitments, things slide. I am learning how to surrender in my space. If I don't get to cleaning the bathroom every week or folding laundry the day I get it out of the dryer, I can be at peace, whereas six months ago I was so attached to getting it perfect all the time. It left me drained, depleted, and resentful.

No, I operate with a new decision making framework: how important is this to me on a scale of 1-10? Take the weekends for example:

Saturday and Sunday mornings are for sleeping in, cuddling, and a yummy brunch at the table where we solve the worlds problems and plan our weekend and week ahead. I slip out of bed, make coffee & tea, cut up fruit and put the bacon in the oven. I set the table and listen to morning jazz. I pour the coffee into one of my favorite mugs. I do all of this without thinking because I am in my own home. I slowly spin around, a dance of sorts, as I pull things from the drawers and cupboards, I am home, in my space. I can let my hair down and let my flaws show. There is nothing here but love and space and love. I play in my garden, hit up a yoga class, make time for meal prep, and catch up with friends and family. Maybe there are 3-5 house things I put on the list, but they don't take me more than 2-3 hours of time. We grocery shop on Sunday nights and do some wedding planning tasks, but that's it. I have packed away the compulsive need to get everything done in two days.

Sharing a small space with someone can be challenging. It takes love, compromise, love, and more compromise. And what I have found is that it is not just about delegating. It's about acts of service from the heart. Giving yourself over to your space and putting a magical touch on it allow a sense of sacred infuse every corner, as well as your heart.

It feels oh so good to be home.

Friday, May 29, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 54: Bridging the Present & Future

Friday mornings are juicy. I get to sleep in a little bit, have a leisurely breakfast and sip my tea on the deck, and then teach a morning yoga class. In today's class, I integrated some of the reading I have been doing from the book Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out. The book is fantastic and I am almost finished. I decided to incorporate some of the passages from the book into class, carrying the theme of mindfulness into asana practice. A lot of my students have been practicing with me for almost a year now and are noticing changes in their lives. I notice myself changing and evolving as a yoga teacher too. 

The readings today were about this whole realm of mindfulness and how when we carve out time to get into the present moment, usually through breath awareness, meditative states, and contemplative activities, we can access new realms of peace and contentment and actually change our brain. It used to be that many scientists thought our brain reached a point of maximum development, where gray matter could not be increased and that the brain had no plasticity. With lots of research and test subjects being looked at over and over, scientists are seeing that those who actively participate in meditation and contemplative work are changing their brains, increasing gray matter and developing more plasticity in the brain itself. 

When I think/read about all of this work being done, I can't help but have my mind blown a little bit. Simply by tuning into the present, we can start to mold our own brain organs.

Tonight, we went to see a movie with some friends and the premise of the movie was about changing our future. Although it wasn't the best plot structure, it did make me think about the paradox of how we can stay present in our daily lives and at the same time prepare for our future in an intentional way. Is there a way to bridge both? Does one prepare you for the other? 

Every now and then, I like to think about other realms, daydream about life forms outside of earth. It doesn't happen much, but when I do think about those things, it gives me perspective. It also reminds me that staying present is so important, no matter what. And if you can find some space between what happens and the reaction to what happens, that is the true lesson. Through our work on this planet we will continue to straddle the time realms of past, present, and future yet I am constantly reminded that we have choice in all of it. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 53: The Ring

This piece was born in the LAX airport in my journal on our way back to Seattle today. A short piece, yet it captured everything I was reflecting on. 

We just returned from a week on the East Coast celebrating our engagement & upcoming adventure of marriage with friends and family. I haven't seen anybody since I got engaged so there was a lot of grabbing of my left hand to see my ring. Of course, the "ooohing" and "ahhing" was super sweet and made me blush just a bit. In each of those little interactions with the people I love, I looked at my ring and was so full of delight and happiness, but beyond that, I was full of gratitude. Deep, heartfelt gratitude that poised itself as a huge tidal wave that overcame every cell in my own damn body.

Gratitude for the work of the universe, the divine, God, Goddess, whatever you want to call it. Grateful that all the moments I had lived up until the moment The Man put one knee on the earth and asked me to be his wife and spend the rest of my life with him. It was all perfectly designed and unfolded in the most whole and complete way possible.

This past week served as a reminder to me that our love for each other has no end, symbolizing the ring. It is a never ending journey, a path that we will both continue to explore and travel, full of reciprocity, support and strength, during the peaks, and especially during the valleys. The week allowed me to fall deeper in love with The Man, in a way that I had never been really able to articulate. It was as though the work of the divine was being mixed up in a cauldron of a special love potion of sorts.

Deeper, greater, open, and expansive. The love goes round and round.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 52: Everything Comes To An End

A week away from home goes by so fast.  I always pack way too much because I am rushing around like a crazy lady the day before I leave but heading home has a completely different energy to it. There are both feelings of relaxation and restoration as well as melancholy and irritability.  The thoughts about getting back into the swing of things brings with it anxiety and some stress but I realized tonight that for a few more hours, my spiritual practice is all about staying present and immersed in the moment. So challenging, right?

So I am here, my last night before heading home sweating profusely from the heat and the humidity in a total pool of bliss. Feeling so loved, honored and acknowledged. Held in the arms of family and friends as I embark on a new adventure called marriage. Filled with good food and drink, hugs and laughter, and overflowing with gratitude. 

When I used to work in youth development work, we always told staff to quit games at their highest point in the fun factor because then, kids had something to look forward to the next time. That's what coming gome feels like. Oh so good and fun. Always so much here to look forward to...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 51: Get Away

Get Away...even for a moment, an hour, a day.
If you can, escape your home, what you know. 
It's good for your health. 
The use it or lose it policy is good, even though people hate it. 

Feel your feet again and your breath.
Let yourself dive into your lungs and your heart. The space right behind it.

Picking your feet up is supposed to be good for every system in your body. 
Sip your tea or coffee early in the morning and let your mind be blank.
Breathe. Again.
Pick up that book, that creative project, that thank you note, that journal.

Pull on your grubby sneakers and walk. Walk for miles to the pond.
Then, come home and garden or stack wood.
Read in bed for hours at a time. Soak in an Epsom salt bath. 
Really enjoy a glass of wine. The red kind. Or white.

Let your brain take some time off. 
Did I say breathe?
Drive with the windows down and play rock music from the 1970's.
Eat an ice cream cone and let it drip down your chin. 
Sit in the sunshine with your face towards the sky and let the clouds hug you.
Magic in your soul, I tell you...Magic.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 49: Spice Up Your Life

I love spicy food. I really, really, really love it. Hot wings, five-star Thai food, Mexican salsa, bottled hot sauce, you name it. Tonight after our 12 hour drive up to Maine, we decided to have carry out Thai food. It was delicious and it was h-o-t! As I was sitting, eating, sweating, and chugging milk between bites, I was laughing because I was thinking to myself, "WTF?! Is this really fun or what?" and then I remembered a beautiful statement that Gretchen Rubin used in her first book, The Happiness Project around her happiness commandments and I adjusted to myself. Just Be Jen.

As you can imagine, it's not just about the spicy food. Instead, the spicy food is symbolic of all the little things I enjoy in life that literally and figuratively spice up my life; spicy food, fun scarves, good smelling lotion, splurging at the Half Price Books sale, dark chocolate sea salt caramels from Trader Joes, a massage on a Friday afternoon, sneaking to the spa on a Saturday night, Prosecco, having my sun roof open and windows down as I drive home at 10pm on a summer night from work as I sing my lungs out to some Pop 40 tune, etc. It's all about the little things because the little things add up to make a big thing or make a big impact.

I treat my birthdays as a little New Year. I adopt a couple new philosophies that I have embraced/learned/come to meet over the past year and create new ways of being. It's like changing out the wardrobe once in awhile; dump old stuff at the donation center and replace with some fun, key pieces that light you up. The spicy hot food reminded me that sometimes it is sooooo damn worth it to push yourself to the edge sometimes and get a little uncomfortable. It is in those places that we learn the most. So here are my "new wardrobe pieces" for my 31st year on this planet.

"Prioritize your life or someone else will," from Greg McKeown's book Essentialism. I absolutely love this lesson and philosophy and plan on posting it in lots of places. I am out to design, create, and have a spacious life. It's one of my big lessons from India. It's a gentle reminder (okay, not so gentle), to create the life I want. For me. Only.

We can learn just as much from joy and pleasure as we can from pain and sorrow. I've lived my own "work,' of sorts, investigating my dark shadow side, my three evil stepsisters I like to say; achieving to impress, needing to please, and put everyone else first to get love. I did that work. The ship has sailed. The dark shadow side is nurtured enough and is very tame. Now, I am out for more joy and pleasure and a lot of it. Especially as I propel myself head first into wedding shenanigans, I want to enjoy all the bits to the very last bit.

Right Speech. I had a brush with some not super great interpersonal interactions the past couple weeks and really did some reflecting on my own role in the matter. What I gained insight from is that I am not super mindful in my speech. Huh. Sometimes, my words sting and leave scrapes and bruises and scars. Coming to terms with the interactions helped me realize that there is so much more of an opportunity to develop my speech as a spiritual practice. Is it true? is it helpful? Is it kind? It's a lifelong practice of sorts and won't stop anytime soon, but I need to start somewhere and bringing awareness of it to the forefront is the first step.

So that's it. My three new pieces that I am integrating into my current wardrobe. It will take so many reminders and it will take practice and they all will push me. But like spicy food, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable sometimes. That's how we grow.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 48: My 31 One-Liner Lessons From This Year.

Today, I turned 31 years old. That's a good bit of time on the planet, or at least I think so. I thought it would be fitting to share some of my favorite life lessons. Instead of having elaborate paragraphs on these lessons, I am going to attempt to capture them in one-liners.

1. Everybody is on their own path, having their own experience.
2. Don't judge.
3. Be authentic.
4. Choose discomfort over resentment.
5. Listening is different than hearing.
6. We can learn just as much from pleasure and joy as we can from despair and suffering.
7. Celebrate with champagne.
8. Express gratitude.
9. Give good hugs.
10. Learn to receive and be taken care of.
11. Open, blank, white space is essential.
12. Say a blessing before a meal, even if it's a silent one.
13. Be kind as everyone is fighting a hard battle.
14. Follow your bliss.
15. Carpe diem.
16. In relation to your body, move it or lose it.
17, Put the past in the past.
18, Look beyond what's in front of you into what is possible,
19, Find things that light you up and do more of those things.
20, Compete once in awhile as competition can be good for the soul.
21. Never pass on an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
22. Share the messy stuff because people just want permission to do it themselves.
23. Get outside and take a bath with the trees.
24. Go barefoot more.
25. When you brush your teeth, just brush your teeth.
26. Be mindful.
27. Helmets, seat belts, and protective gear were made for a reason.
28. Chop vegetables in your kitchen often.
29. Be open to listening to jazz.
30. Sit in silence daily.
31. Celebrate the day you were born.

Friday, May 22, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 47: Party Time

It's my birthday and it's 1:00am. I enjoyed so much good time with family today and am getting a chance to do it again tomorrow. Laughing, hugs, delicious treats, more laughter, more hugs, more food. In my room, I am enjoying the silence before I transition to sleep land. I realize that it takes me a bit to wind down from the energy. As an introvert, it can be draining and I know really well when I git my limit and what makes me get there.

Partying is good for the soul...once in a while. It guides me to letting go, putting my Type A personality on the shelf, and really embrace flexibility, fun, laughter, and chatting about life, love, and the world. Partying is also good because it embraces a quality of celebration and acknowledgement, two things I totally think the world needs more of.

At work lately, we have been focusing on celebrating successes. I find this a practice in itself, especially for someone like me who struggles with my internal critical nature, which shows it's face quite often. Striving and pushing for good, better, and best is not always the best choice. Celebrating success, expressing gratitude, and showing up with lightheartedness are qualities I know I can bring more of into my life.

So despite the past few months feeling busy and full, I like to look on all the successes and celebrate those, because in the end, it's the good stuff that keeps you going:

...all the work going into the garden and dahlia planting
...juggling an intense workload and taking care of myself
...making time for people in my life who matter
...self-care strategies like spa nights and massages new meals and recipes
...making time for my writing and reading
...cutting out coffee for 5 weeks and really enjoying it on my vacation
...having some rich and intense conversations and clearing up inauthenticities

I type all of those things out and feel really happy where I am at. Things are good. So much to celebrate.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 46: Coming Together

Magic happens when people come together. There are opportunities upon opportunities where you can examine how you show up and be present. You have the opportunity to really listen from the place of "I totally get it. I know what you are going through," as well as the chance to open your heart to all of humanity.

As a natural introvert, I have experienced massive depletion in the past when I wasn't joining forces with magical people who came together with wholehearted compassion, vulnerability,  and listening.  For me, I had to really figure out who I wanted to run with.

Now, gatherings can totally nourish me and sooth me in new ways I had not experienced before. My heart gets a love superboost and it feels like only one thing exists. Magic. 

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 45: fly away

Heading out to the East Coast.  It was a whirlwind of a time packing. Always so much to do before leaving.  You do what you can, like anything, it's all you can do. Then, you just leave. You leave the bills, the mail, the cleaning, the to do lists, all the little unraveled bits.

You fly away. A surrendering of sorts. Goodbye life, for now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 44: It's Possible

I got really clear about the distinction of possibility when I participated in Landmark Education's The Landmark Forum. From that distinction and what stood out the most for me was living with the lens of what is possible. Looking at every interaction, conversation, incident, happening, and asking the question, "What is possible?" This transformed my perception on life ever since. That was 2008. Fast forward seven years later and here I am, still living it. Obviously some days are harder than others, but for the most part, I embrace this distinction at the core of my soul.

I have come off some pretty intense interpersonal work the past couple weeks. Conversations with a deep, passionate quality. Lots of stake in the matter at hand. Good, hard, emotional work and as I was driving home tonight, I was thinking about how weeks like this put the distinction into even more of a perspective. How to hold what's possible at the core foundation and be willing to surrender just a tad more in having to be right or good? 

So I thought more and more about possibility and how living this way takes something. It takes acknowledgement of the places where you have not been living in what is possible. Being aware of how fast and easy it is in life to shut down and play small. It takes being vulnerable and uncomfortable versus having resentment. It takes authentic conversations that are challenging yet they open up new worlds to step into.

The opportunity is there for all of us. Find what's possible and live in that. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 43: Nightfall

The nights I end up working late, there is a natural winding down process that happens. I usually get in my car and it's quiet. The surroundings are quiet. Very little traffic on the freeways and when it's nice out, I drive with the sunroof open and the windows down. I take full, deep breaths and look at the city lights and skyscrapers as I make my way north. I love this moment. Freedom runs through my veins, the fresh air is invigorating and all is well in my world.

The black night sky is speckled with stars, like silver glitter on black construction paper that kids create. A blanket is pulled over the world, except for those of us who work late nights, pounding through e-mails and to do's and then we escape. A huge, deep breath infuses our beings. We make our way home to quiet rooms and houses, dark living rooms and kitchens. Life is put away for the day.

Like a mouse, you gently put your things away or maybe they are dumped in the middle of the living room. The fridge opens- meats and cheeses and popcorn for a midnight snack, just to get you through breakfast. You strip off the clothes from the day, Being barefoot feels so nice...spread the toes, wiggle around outside the prison we call shoes. You look in the mirror, think about the late nights and how they are juice to your soul, an adrenaline rush of sorts. You remember the Buddhist who said, "When you brush your teeth, just brush your teeth," and remember that's all there is really. I mean, the present moment is it. It's all we got.

You slip into bed next to your loved one. A cuddle, a touch, a quick kiss goodnight. This is nightfall. This is how it is. But not forever.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 42: Hit the Brakes

I sit here and it's already 9:07pm on Sunday night. I ask myself over and over, where did the weekend go? Where did the time go? I had my sacred circle this afternoon over on Camano Island on a beautiful piece of property and the topic was integrity. I love attending monthly circle so for so many reasons, but my favorite reason is how everyone in the group provides such a beautiful mirror for your own stuff, whatever it may be.

Today, I talked about how I came back from India with this whole commitment to creating more spaciousness in my life, how I wanted to cut back on my commitments, to stop pushing so hard, get in touch with the things that matter, dump old, toxic relationships that weren't serving me, yada yada yada...I guess you could say that I had a little bit of "holier than thou," complex going on thinking that I would come back from my trip and POOF! all my patterns would magically go away, like I had just finished visiting a genie in a bottle of sorts. Well here I am, driving full force in my life, pushing, pushing, pushing. Long days, long nights, fast weekends, rushing here, rushing there, praying for green lights, impatient with my life, living by the to do list. I continue to tell myself, "Well, it's just the way things are, it will pass," and for some reason, I keep saying that over and over. Are things really going to shift?

So as we carpooled home, I was sitting in the back seat which was super luxurious as my best friend has a brand new Subaru Forrester and watched the cars and the wheels of the cars in the lane next to us. I could see the wheels spinning so fast, so fast they would go, around and around at that highway speed, which in reality, is quite fast if you are talking about breaking speed, following distance, etc. As I looked at the wheels spinning, I looked a little harder and could see the brake system within the wheels. The rotors and the calipers were there, ready to engage. You only needed to tap the brakes and they would do their job. Huh.

So of course, I take all of these little observations and see how I can apply them into my own life and to be honest, it's like everything else I have written about: there's the action right in front of you. Will you choose to take it or not? Will you hit the brakes? Yes, there is so much going on and there always will be, but I am left with not only choice, but an opportunity to create a new possibility by honoring my word as self. Spaciousness, Grace, and Ease. That's what I am out to create and I am the only one getting in my way.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 41: Taking Root

Saturdays are my days for a morning yoga class and then usually gardening in the afternoon, followed by cooking a meal for two and hitting the sheets early-ish. This morning, as I stepped on my yoga mat, I felt super rooted. I practice yoga most days, whether it's my personal home practice, taking a class, or teaching a class and today felt different. I felt as though my foundation was very strong, the strongest it has been in awhile. Then, as I played and worked in the dirt this afternoon, I was thrilled to be digging and moving dirt around, making space for my wedding flowers to take root.

So the idea of taking root is on my mind. Developing a strong foundation first before you can rise. It looks and feels different for all of us.

Take root in your life. From the moment your feet hit the ground in the morning. Spread your toes wide, ground down through your feet. You are stepping into the world again after being in your dream state. Move your body, simple stretches, a big morning stretch does the trick. Feel the feet. It always comes back to the feet. After your morning tea, sit down at your altar. Your heart is an altar, you know. Sit down and root down and feel your heart be the bridge between the earth and the air. Our heart can open more as we take root in our seat. Breathe and contemplate but mostly breathe.
Step into your day, your service, your work, your relationships. Is there an opportunity to show up differently? Is there? Look a little more deeply and you will see those fleeting moments that can make a difference. Root down into listening, because we know the power really is in the listening. 
Then, come back home to yourself. Pause, be alone. Root down to rise. You will expand beyond infinite worlds when you set the foundation for your heart, your spirit, your life.

Happy rooting!

Friday, May 15, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 40: It's Day 40!!

I sit down to write tonight and realized it's day #40. 40 days of writing daily! I have never done this in my life. As I sit here and think about what there is to write, I get stuck. Actually, I get stuck every night and that is what is so great about this project. In a way, it forces me to create...rather than force, which has such a negative connotation, it creates a great structure for me to get my stuff out there, to make something, to go beyond fear of rejection, judgement, criticism, etc.

I was having my morning tea and thinking of my #100dayproject and how the project has rippled out into my own life. What has come to mind is this whole idea of "just do it," the infamous Nike tag line. Be in action. Stop being in your head. Take the next move. Deal with what is in front of you.

To be in action and to take action serves us way more than being in our head. We start to play these little games with ourselves, mind tricks and then the great debate on why something shouldn't happen ensues. We get caught up in our own net. The only way to escape is to just do it.

I have been reading some good stuff lately; out on the web, some blog posts, some great books and what I am constantly left with is this whole paradigm of action. Take the next action, whether you think it's small or insignificant or if it is huge and life changing.

So, how has the project spilled over into my life?
  • Focus. Extreme focus. I have to write every. damn. day. No matter what. If I put it off until bedtime, well, guess what? I don't get to crawl between the sheets until that publish button is pushed. I have to focus on making something. Every day. 
  • Take the next action. Answer the e-mail, make the call, get my ass to the gym, get my ass on my meditation cushion. Pack the lunch. Clean the dirty dish. Plant the plants. I have really cut out the chatter in my head, the great debates, and it feels so much more spacious in that headspace of mine. 
  • "Prioritize your life, or someone else will." This is a quote by Greg McKeown, author of the book Essentialism. I have really paired down and identified my own essentials. Day 38 was all about that. Making the space and time to write reminds me that it is a huge part of who I am and what I desire. Carving out the time and having structure for the things that matter, that really truly, deeply matter, is keeping my energy contained and high.
  • I succeed with structure. I have to say that I am a pretty self-structured person, but sometimes I flail and was doing so with my writing. What better way to engage with the writing then to do the #100dayproject? For example, I have been implementing two days per week of small group personal training. I go Mondays and Thursdays and by signing up, I get my ass there. Also, I have been implementing a small practice called self-care Fridays. By the end of the week, the introverted nature in me needs some TLC. Spa visit, massage, journal in bed, cafe, wine, chocolate, reading time, you name it. By building it in, it's there for me. 
So with all of that said, the project has acted like a superbooster to my video game called life. I have so enjoyed the writing process and yes, it's still scary as hell, but I love it. I am so looking forward to the next 60 days. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 39: Can You Find the Joy?

In Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she talks about the joy method: evaluating every piece of stuff in your space based on if it brings you joy or not. Lately, joy has been on my mind. I never used to get behind the word joy. I guess maybe I had this connotation that is was related to Christmas and belonged in church songs, but either way the word just bugged me. Until about two years ago when I was at meditation retreat. We were having our closing circle and the word joy just kept coming up over and over again. Maybe it was because my heart was cracked open after being in silence for a few days or maybe it was the quiet or being in such a beautiful space. Whatever it was, in that moment, I felt joy. Real, true, bold joy.
Joy expands. Subscribe: #Truthbomb #Words #Quotes
For me, joy is similar to liquid as a state of matter: it takes the shape of it's container/space. Like water, joy can come in small bits or big hunks. It can weasel it's way into tough situations or amplify the good stuff.

The past couple weeks have been pretty busy at work with some late nights teaching and coaching clients and for most of my day, I have to be in extroverted mode. For a natural introvert, this can be draining and exhausting, but I have implemented so many practices and self-care checks in my own routine where it doesn't do it as much anymore. One of my most favorite things in the whole wide world is getting in my car after a long day and sitting in the quiet. I then turn on my car, turn the radio to the public Jazz station, KPLU to be exact, and drive on north to home. When I work late, driving home is super fast and lovely. I love being on the freeway and seeing the lights of the downtown core and the sky. It brings me so much joy.

I have ditched coffee for over a month now and feel totally great. I never have been a coffee drinker by nature, always herbal tea, until about two years ago when I started drinking it more regularly. I would go a few days on and a few days off, but a couple months ago, I was starting to get that nagging feeling in my soul that I should take a break. Give it up for a bit. Take a break. So now, my herbal tea collection is getting it's use and my new joy is my hot cup of tea when I read my work e-mail in the morning at my office. It has become a practice and this thing I look forward to in the morning. It brings me so much joy.

These are just two very small examples of my joy and I know that I could list hundreds. Joy opens our hearts up and it forms to the container it's in. Can you find it? It's there. I promise.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 38: When We Take Care of Essentials

The Man and I are embarking on some lifestyle changes- diet, sleep, stress reduction, exercise- all the good, yummy stuff. It's been really great to get back on the saddle with foundational self-care practices. At my appointment with my naturopath this morning, I was telling her how good it felt to take care...take care of my health, myself, my life. In my chatting with her, I realized that my small actions make way more of a difference over time than big, huge, radical changes all at once. I also realized that my biggest fear is always about maintaining my self-care, especially when there is a shitstorm around me; stress, long days at work, life stuff, love stuff. Whatever it is, I can get thrown off so easily.

My naturopath suggested I do two things:

1. Write a letter to my future, stressed out self. In this letter, write about how things are probably exhausting, tiring, stressful, whatever and how no matter what, stay the course. Put your stake in the sand for what is essential for you to feel the best you can feel, despite external circumstances. You can miss a day here and there, but don't let that make you miss all the days.

2. Make a list of my foundational practices. Keep that list visible in many places. Those are the "My Essentials." I shared with her what I thought my own essentials are:

1. Sleep
2. Physical Activity (the heart pumping kind)
3. Eating well
4. Yoga & Meditation & Spiritual Practices
5. Writing
6. Relationships
7. Being outside

Then comes all the other, finances, housecleaning, gardening, errands, etc.

When we take care of ourselves, our spaces and places, our relationships, what's right in front of us for work or caretaking, we get this magical urge to continually take care. Maybe we dive into that land of over-caring. It's always good to come back to our essentials and see where we can pare down and what we can say no to, so there is room for other things. Find the essentials and ditch everything else.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 37: Living in a 'Both-And' World

My best friend introduced me to this whole idea of living a "both-and" life. I love her for that, among many things of course, but she reignited in me a new way of looking through my life lens. I love how she always says, "I'm a both-and girl! I don't live in either/or!" Amen sister!

In so many areas of our life, we default to either/or/but.

"I can either be loving or I can set boundaries."
"I want to be in a relationship but I want to be independent."
"I want a fun wedding but it needs to be classy."
"I want to have open white space in my calendar/life, but I want to do so many things."
"I can either do chores or read my book in bed all day."
"It's either a vacation this month or not at all."

These are all traps. Traps to living boxed in, constricted, and playing small.
I have really used the 'both-and' philosophy as a practice. It's a daily thing and a mantra that I share so much with people. What do you get?
-Wholehearted living
-Compassion for self & others

There is always a cost to living in 'either/or,' and when we live like this, something must die off. There remains limited or no possibility for creating something extraordinary, like a new way of being or a new way of being with people. When I practice my 'both-and' living, you kind of get to play a wizard; inventing, creating, innovating from the cauldron of all possibilities.

"I can be loving and set boundaries in my life."
"In relationship, I am a partner and an independent woman."
"My wedding will be fun and classy."
"I want to do a little work and also have time for self-care."
"I want spaciousness in my calendar for all the things that are important to me."
"I will take a vacation and my schedule will accommodate accordingly."

Whoa...after reading those revised statements, there is so much more space around them and light. There are so many opportunities to invent again and again new opportunities for living and playing big. We can all take the opportunity to look at our own language and words and see how there may be choice points to adjust and rework and maybe, just maybe, you will find a little more freedom.

Monday, May 11, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 36: Want What You Want

I always see lots of posts around social media and in my inbox with the theme of "If  you could tell your younger self one piece of wisdom, what would you share?" As my birthday gets closer, I can't help but reflect on the years past, of all the experiences, lessons, and learnings I have had in my 31 years of living. One lesson that has been popping up more and more lately is this idea of wanting what you want. There is no feeling that compares to true, pure desire. To want something with all your heart. If I had to write a letter to my younger self of this lesson, here is what I would say:

Dear Lovely,
Want what you want. Sit down in a quiet place and tune in deeply to that space between your heart and your spine. There is softness there, close your eyes and hear the rhythm of your heartbeat. That space between beats is where desire lives. It lives in the deepest parts of our soul. In the yoga system, they say that the heart is where the earth element meets the air element, the ethereal. 

The world needs your desires. Every one of them, down to the type of chocolate you like or how you like your eggs cooked or the brand of coffee that makes you smile ear to ear. If you want ice cream instead of cake at your wedding, want that. Want your morning meditation practice. Want your gym visits and indie films. Want time to be alone and want your goals, even if they sound silly, like reading 52 books in a year. Want your creative outlets and time with your friends and time in your garden. Want the trip to India and the meditation retreat and tea dates with good people. Want the opportunity to make mistakes and want the job that gives you more flexibility than money. Want the nice shower head and the cute scarf. Want the man who makes you feel like a queen, even on work nights. Want to be married and at the same time, want independence. Want your feelings, every one of them, even the messy ones. Want a clean house and no tv, because both things will make life simpler. Want simplicity and ease and grace. Those three qualities are gold. Want beautiful notebooks and a writing nook. Want happy hours and visits to bookstores. Want vulnerability and rage, they both are valuable. Want to write your stories. Who cares who reads them. Writing is for you. Want fresh vegetables and time in the sunshine. Want whatever is in your heart.

Want what you want because life is oh so precious. Want it dear...want it. 

With Deepest Love,
Your Older, Wiser Self

Sunday, May 10, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 35: To the Mamas

I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that said, "We are all mothers." 

I wholeheartedly believe this to be true. Whether we have biological children or not, we are all bringing something or someone into being. We take care and nurture, take a stand for what is possible, make things work, make things easy, and try to live and love with a more open, kind, and compassionate heart. Isn't that what mothers are out to do? We birth things with our creativity and infuse life into the world. We show up 1000% for what we are passionate about and we never stop showing up for the people we love. 

To say I am grateful for my mom is an understatement. I am so beyond blessed to have her in my life...the good parts, the messy parts, and the parts that want to make me scream. We have had our trials and tribulations as a mother-daughter pair, and at the end of the day, I know I can call on her any hour of the day or night. When I got engaged, there was no doubt in my mind that she would be my matron of honor. Hands down. No argument. Nothing was up for discussion. 

Up until now, I have always heard that your relationship with your own mother transforms when you get married. Like anything, you can hear it a bunch, but to know something at its core is completely different. Since getting engaged and diving headfirst into planning what is shaping up to be a fabulous party, I have been the most vulnerable with my mom these past few months than I have my entire life. She has seen me cry on Skype, heard me breakdown on the phone, tell her my fears and my joys, what I love most about the man I am marrying and what drives me crazy. She has been there every step of the way. She knows more about me than anybody on the planet.

I look back on my childhood and because my dad traveled a lot for work, I think about all the ways my mom made things work for my brother and me. The carpooling, the dinners on the table, the helping us with our homework, laying down the law when it came to tv and computer time, the screaming fights when I was in my teenage years, helping me learn to drive, all of it. Her selflessness and commitment to raising us is beyond something that be thanked or acknowledged. I hold deep love for her, the deepest kind. 

I may not ever  know what it would be like to have a child, but if I can be half the mother to my children that she is to me, I know they will be so lucky.

Thank you mom and thank you to all the mamas. You bring so much light into the world. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 34: May Poem

Can the color green be so green?
Can the smiles of children be any bigger?
Bubbles fly into the air, unabashed with joy in each and every one of them.
Barefeet and open shoulders.
Let the sun kiss you and the sand run through your hands.

It won't last. It never does.
The smell of lilacs make me drunk.
As I kneel and dig in the dirt, after work.
My hands stretching and building muscles after a dormant winter.

My hot tea tastes like liquid gold,
in the cool mornings and at night.
Get in early to leave early-
happy hour calls your name.

Friends and family, laughter and firepits.
Cake and ice cream.
A big birthday month, my own in fact.
Find time to expand, yet it is imperative to contract.
Find time for inward reflection on all the good, the sun, the flowers and blooms.
Things grow. Life is infused with joy beyond joy.

It's not summer quite yet, but it's warming up to be.
Sleep naked, sleep in. Rest and relax.
Open your heart.
It's May.

Friday, May 8, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 33: For the Weekend

I remember when Friday's meant dancing, drinking, staying up way too late, and laughing until my abdominals hurt so bad, it felt as though I had been doing crunches for an indefinite period of time. Oh my, how things have changed. These day's, my Friday's consist of teaching yoga, working from home, enjoying a lazy meal and a cold beer, preferably on my deck, doing a quick tidy around the house so I don't have so many chores on Saturday, and then it's lazy time. I like to putter around on the web, catch up with e-mails and blogs, and then retreat in for the night. I have learned to honor my rhythm and take the time to nurture my naturally introverted nature.

I wanted to share a few things that I have been loving on the web and in life. It's my small offering to you for your weekend.

I am loving Gretchen Rubin's new book, Better Than Before, which is all about habits.

These blogs: ZenHabits - Rowdy Kittens - Be More With Less

I love Susannah Conway . Her site is inspiring and I love her free photo challenges.

I have been integrating smoothies into my morning routine and am really enjoying different combinations.

Time Makeovers have been on my mind: Margin & 168 Hours Facebook Page

Simplifying is one of my goals this year.

And a great read.

Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 32: Savor the Pause

Thursday is one of my favorite days. I love it because the office has some buzz, we usually all eat together, outside if it's sunny, and we have our staff meetings, which for the past couple weeks, has involved some type of yummy treat for all kinds of good stuff happening and the celebrating of success. Today, at the beginning of our meeting, I loved what our director said. "Let's take a moment and pause. Reflect on the last 11 months and think about where we have come from."

I melted. 

I melted in so many ways because so many things came to mind. I thought back on the last year and all the good things that have happened not only at work, but in my own life. I feel like I have found my groove, claimed my sense of place in Seattle, found my tribe to run with, and am flooded with deep contentment and bliss, knowing there are still those days that you'd rather have a re-do. 

When I was working in the corporate development and team building industry, I remember my first introduction to the Stimulus--> Response theory. My dear friend and mentor introduced it at an event we were running and I fell in love with the concept. The whole idea is that we live our lives in "stimulus-response," mode most of our days and our lives. What if, the theory suggests, we incorporate a "pause" between stimulus-response? What would that looks like? 

The pause helps us get grounded. It helps us respond versus react. It helps us think critically and creatively. It helps us be thoughtful and mindful. It helps us stay present and in the moment without going down the infamous rabbit hole. 

On my way home from work, I was thinking more and more about how I could integrate more pause into my life. To be honest with you, I like quick, fast, easy, and accessible ways to implement practices. There are so many opportunities for pause in my own life and I have been passing them up.

> Upon waking, as my feet hit the carpe
> After brushing my teeth and putting my toothbrush back in the medicine cabinet
> Arriving at work and turning my car off
> Sitting down at my computer desk after lunch
> Pulling into the driveway after coming home
> Pouring the hot water for my evening tea
> Turning the light off after I finish reading at night

As you can see, all so simple. The pause is the juice or the juice is in the pause...whatever it is, the pause serves us and our lives. Take a moment. Take a few moments. Pause. Savor. Deep breath. Then proceed. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 31: A Letter To Young Lovers

Dear Young Lovers,
I see you everywhere. On my way to work, while I am driving and listening to NPR, while I push my cart around at the grocery store or am putting gas in my car, or as I return my library books in the little metal deposit box on the sidewalk. You make me smile. Your innocence combined with the passion you have for each other makes me a little jealous. I chuckle internally and think back to when I was young, unabashed in my passion for my heartthrob at the time. You have no sense of time and probably sleep very little. There is no such thing as a personal space bubble for you. Enjoy that. It's fresh and young and the world needs more of that openheartedness.

To be young and in love is like combining the two best things in the world: cookies and milk, ice cream and root beer, pizza and cold microbrews. I see you engrossed in the present moment. Don't forget how the present moment feels.

Do I tell you that the passion morphs into something different? That it goes deeper than physical embrace? Do I tell you that other aspects of life start to creep in, like jobs, money, family, and stuff, and that you will have to schedule intentional time to be together? Do I tell you that one of you may experience a life event, like an illness or job loss, and that it tests every part of yourself and your relationship? Do I tell you that you will crave independence and want time alone and at the same time, you miss the hell out of your partner and can't wait to get home from work to kiss them and be in their arms? Do I tell you that a few days may go by without getting naked? Do I tell you that you will fight and exchange words that you may feel yucky about the next day? Do I tell you that success looks like getting dinner on the table and sitting together one out of seven days may be the highlight of the week because you are on a work deadline? Do I tell you that some nights you just want to read your book in your yoga pants and go to bed and not talk to your partner because you're just tired and need time to decompress? Do I tell you that you will be scared shitless when they ask you to spend the rest of your life with you? Do I tell you that marriage is not about a wedding at all?

I have decided I won't tell you any of these things. You know why? Nobody told me and if they did, I would have laughed in their face.

Dear Young Lovers,
Love. Keep loving. Love hard. Love like there is no tomorrow.

Yours Truly,