Being Thankful – not just on Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!
Being Thankful though, is not just a one day celebration. Although showing appreciation and gratitude on Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition, the feeling of being thankful can happen every day. True, the holiday does bring family and friends together to share in the bounty of food, fun, and festivity.  However for many, it signifies the start of the buying frenzy.  For others, it creates feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hardship.  So many different stories.  So many different experiences. 

Since 2015, REI, the outdoor coop that offers top-quality gear, apparel, expert advice, and rental equipment chooses to close all their stores on Black Friday. They give all their employees a day off to #OptOutside with family and friends on the busiest retail day of the year. They believe in putting purpose before profits. They encourage their employees and all of us to get outside, get active, take actions to reduce their impact on the environment, and leave the world better than they found it.

I love that!  Having been a retailer for almost my entire career, I know how important this time of year is.  I also know the stress it can create.  The shoulds take over. The guilt comes into play.  The desire to out do others is at an all time high. The pace, the commitments, the spending, the parties, the not enough time feelings cause burnout, fatigue, illness and frustration.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Remember, you get to choose.  You get to set your boundaries.  You decide what is important to you, what you want to commit to doing.  

So let’s kick off this season by continuing to feel thankful and appreciative. However let’s do it everyday.  Step back from the frenzy and enjoy the moments of silence. Take a walk and enjoy nature whether it is cold and snowy, rainy, or sunny and warm.  Whether you are at the mountains, in the city, country, or by the ocean, enjoy being one with the world.  Volunteer, help others, donate items for the needy, smile and say hello to those you see.  Make a difference. Be grateful. Life is truly a gift. 

I continue to give thanks each and every day for being alive, being healthy, being happy, being at peace with where I am at this stage of my life.  Sure I have moments of doubt, however I have learned to challenge those thoughts and quickly override them with an affirmative and more positive statement. And to reconfirm how blessed I am. How thankful I am. How appreciative I am for this, My Life! I never want to take it for granted. You may want to consider starting each day, or during the day, or at night to end the day, acknowledging what you are thankful for. What you are grateful for. For in each moment of our lives, there is something that is worthy of giving our thanks.

With Light and Love and Thankfulness every day,
Karen

 

Traditions – Have to or Want to?

 

Traditions play an important part during the holiday season that is upon us.  However I recommend we all take time to review our existing list of traditions. Let us ensure they are relevant to who we are today.  And most importantly, do you really want to continue them?

How often do we do things just because we have in the past? Are the traditions a have to? A should do? or a want to?

Change is the only constant in our lives. It is okay to make modifications to what and how we do things.  It is okay to discuss with family and friends your feelings and your desires.  Why do we hesitate?  Are we afraid of what others will say? Will we upset someone? The most important person to consider is yourself!  Be true to you. Be honest in evaluating what works and what doesn’t. Make your traditions this year more meaningful to who you are today.  

1 –  list out the current traditions.
2 –  prioritize them from the most meaningful and worth doing to the least favored.
3 –  identify some new traditions that you would like to begin.
4 –  create your new list of want to do holiday traditions.
5 –  schedule a get together to share your ideas with family and friends.
6 –  Agree on what traditions go forward, what gets added, and what no longer serves you. And remember that some of what you want to do others may not agree to. And that is okay.  Do those then by yourself. If it is important and meaningful to you – then definitely enjoy them and make them your very own.

I wish you and yours a Wonderfilled Holiday Season, making new memories and enjoying the old and new traditions.

With Light and Love and Memorable Traditions,
Karen 

 

Pressing Pause

 

We live in a super charged, fast paced world today.  Even when we simplify our lives and seek calm and quiet and harmony, the energy around us can easily disturb our peace. So what is one to do?

Press Pause! Hit the snooze alarm for another 10 minutes! Take 5!

“I can’t” you say! So much to do and not enough hours to do it all in.  Really? Or is that just what your mind is telling you or what you keep hearing from everyone else?

We are all connected.  On a subconscious level we internalize not only what we are going through, but also what others are experiencing.  And on some level, that impacts our thinking and our decisions on how we view life and how we live life,.

We get to choose.  It is okay to press Pause and take time for you to Reflect, Renew and Refresh. In fact it is a critical component of well being.  First,  know that it is okay to take a time out.  Second, actually take it.  What works for you may be different than what works for me.  However the result we are seeking is the same.

In a Thrive Global article today,  Arianna Huffington commended Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce for incorporating mindfulness zones on every floor of their new SF Tower. To quote Marc, “employees can retreat to the mindfulness zone any time they need to press Pause.” He is a firm believer of the positive impact mindfullness and meditation have; how they can inspire and rejuvenate you.

I encourage you to press Pause! Take a moment for you! Recharge your being!
You will invigorate and nourish yourself to easily navigate through all the twists, turns, detours, noise, pace, and craziness around.

With Light and Love and a Moment for you!
Karen

 

 

 

 

Figuring it out

Do you enjoy figuring out how things work?  Or, do you become frustrated? I am very curious by nature.  When something breaks or malfunctions – I immediately go into fix it mode.  I read the instructions if available and then Google it to begin the repair process.  Sure, I get frustrated when it does not work out according to what seemed to be the solution. However I try and be patient while the process unfolds. Not easy at times. 

On Friday, our landscape outdoor lighting was coming on at 4:30 in the afternoon.  A little too early.  My husband had recently adjusted for the time change, however now we needed to tweak it a bit more.  So what happens? He makes the adjustment as he has done before, and then they would not turn on!!!!! We decided to put it aside as we were going out to dinner with dear friends. Then to my surprise, when I got up in the middle of the night, the lights were on at 3:45 am!!!!! Definitely not working the way we planned.

On Saturday morning, I reread the manufacturer info and followed the steps again.  But it still did not work.  I then found a youtube video that matched the dial of our timer.  I set them to go off within the next hour as a test, and then reprogrammed for the evening cycle.  If it worked great, if it didn’t, then back to research until solved. We even thought buying a new timer may be the solution.

Right before we left for our run, the lights came on! The test apparently worked.  The  evening cycle should then also work. And they did!  Mission accomplished!

My husband and I make a good team when it comes to figuring things out.  We look at things from different perspectives and that helps to look at all options.  We may not always agree on the process, however we agree on the objective and keep the goal in focus.

The next time you are faced with an obstacle, a problem, something that appears broken, commit to figuring it out.  Have patience, be patient, and remember to breathe. And if you need help, ask for it. Of course, Google and youtube are just a click away!

With Light and Love and Solutions in sight!
Karen

The Countdown has begun!

As of today, there are approximately 50 shopping days till Christmas. Hard to believe I know!  I just read the Sunday paper and the hype is on with increased advertising. Not only in the newspapers, but on line, via emails, texts, and social media blitzes.  And the physical stores are already having sales on holiday decorations and gifts. They are in full holiday mode. 

How do you feel?  
Are you anxious, happy, excited, nervous, worried that you do not have enough time or money to get it all done? Is your calendar full of holiday things to do? Or all of these?

I encourage you to step back and Breathe.  With the momentum picking up, create an invisible bubble around you to protect you from the craziness.  Think back to when you were young and got to enjoy the true spirit of the holiday season.  A time for family and friends to be together, sharing, caring, enjoying quality time and participating in whatever traditions you have made.  From decorating the tree, to baking, caroling, arts and crafts, boat parades, seeing the Nutcracker, donating gifts to those in need, or just sitting by the fire with a glass of cheer and watching the snow fall outside. It is not all about the presents and outdoing each other!

Living in Southern California for most of my life, running on the beach on Christmas day is a very special day to give thanks.  Though I must admit, I still miss  a white Xmas (just a little). However we can plan a get away and go to the snow capped mountains to experience a refreshing winter wonderland and then come back to the beach.

Promise yourself that you will focus more on the peace, joy, tranquility and true meaning of the holidays versus the chaotic, shop, shop, shop mentality that is so prevalent.  True, I was a retailer! I get it! My shopping list was long, my to do list was overwhelming.  Just remember, it does not have to be that way.  You get to choose. You get to have the Christmas that is right for you.  Do not allow the “shoulds” to take over. Be true to yourself. Find the balance and what works best for you.

So let the countdown begin! Share in the joy, happiness and wonderment of the season. For it truly is the “Most Wonderful time of the year!”

Happy Holidays,
With Love and Light,
Karen

 

Celebrating my Birthday and my Life

Recently I celebrated my 66th Birthday!  I admit that I do not feel 66, and as others have told me, I do not look 66. True, I have some wrinkles and age spots that give me character. My hair is 99% totally grey, of which I am proud to have never ever colored. Except for using the purple Dior wash out hair mascara once! 

I want to stay healthy for all my years. Without good health, one can be limited in what they can do and experience. Health is a key foundation for one to truly Live and Be. Longevity does run in my family.  My grandmother lived to 101, my Dad to 95, my Mom to her late 80’s, and I vaguely recall my great grandfather being over 110. I make staying healthy a priority. I eat a mostly plant based diet, incorporating fish and eggs. I continue to be an avid runner averaging 35+ miles a week. (It’s okay if my pace is slower as long as I can still do it without injury). I lift weights and do yoga.  We even went bike riding a week ago and wondered why we had not done so for a while.  It felt great though I did feel like Gumby when I got off! I try to be mindful of what I read, listen to and watch.  I spend time in nature, walking, running, gardening and just being in the moment. I love spending quality time with my husband and am thankful that at this phase of life we can and do.

I am truly grateful for being alive, healthy, happy and cancer free for 14.5 years.  Everyday is really a celebration of Life and Love for me. Why is it that it takes a life threatening experience for us to appreciate and not take anything for granted?

Live your life to the fullest.  Whatever stage you are in, be intentional with what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and question if you even should do it. We get to choose.  Every thought we have creates our world.  By default, negative thoughts and feelings easily come through, if you let them.  Do not let them.  Change your attitude.  Change your inner conversation.  Choose positivity. Choose Love. Choose kindness. Choose empathy. Choose peace.  Choose to see the good. Choose to be your most authentic self.

Happy Birthday to all my Libra friends and family. I hope you enjoyed your celebration..

Here’s to my being 66, and as my husband says, Learning new Tricks!

With Light and Love,
Karen

 

 

It’s okay to need a trellis!

Yesterday, while working in the garden, I realized that not only do growing vines need support (trellises), so do we sometimes. And that is perfectly okay and necessary. However we pretend that we can do it all alone. 

Over a year ago, we planted bougainvillea along a side fence in the backyard and removed the bird of paradise and other trees. I love the colors and the flowers. I chose an assortment of varying pink, fuchsia, white and purple.  Even though I chose what appeared to be healthy plants, a heat wave and some insects impacted their growth.  The sprinkler system also needed some tweaking. So here we are today, still nursing the vines and making adjustments.  I now even sing to them every morning!

Over the last few weeks I realized that they needed some additional support to better grow and flourish.  I found some trellises that would be perfect. I carefully positioned them and made sure I had gloves on up to my elbows to prevent the thorns from biting me. I tied some vine sections to the trellises, but not too many to constrict their freedom.

That is when I realized how important help and support is to everything and everyone. However we tend to discount wanting or needing help.  Why is that? Is it so wrong to need assistance?  Does it make us any less of a person? The answer is “No”. I do realize though that I have not always been okay with help.  I have been an independent, self sufficient individual for a very long time.  Could be a result of being 4 weeks premature.  I have a survival instinct that has given me strength, courage, persistence and determination.  I value that in me and in others.

However I also now accept that it’s okay to need some help.  Like……….

I wear reading glasses.
I roll out of bed supporting myself as I make my way to standing.
I ask for help in getting my suitcase in the overhead bin on airplanes.
My husband and I flip the mattress together.
I have the gardener do the heavy lifting and digging.
I use an allergy spray for occasional sneezes.
I take vitamins and herbs to support health and well being.
I am careful (picky) in my food choices and focus on plant based ingredients.
I believe in the power of thinking positively, affirmations and doing what is right.

These are a few of my “Trellises”.  They support me and encourage my growth. I do not view them as crutches or anything negative. They help me be stronger and allow me to flourish. That help me be the best me possible. I give thanks! 

Take a few minutes to identify your trellises. They play a key role in keeping you safe and healthy. The list will be different for all of us. For some, it will be mental and spiritual support, like prayer, affirmations, seminars, podcasts, music. For some, it will be more about healthy food choices. For others,  it will include more physical support, like walkers, canes, medication. Whatever your trellises are, give thanks for them and for your willingness to have them support and help you be your best self.

With Light and Love,
Karen

 

 

 

Improving your Mental Health

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. Each October, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. The day celebrates awareness for the global community in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping people feel hopeful by empowering them to take action and create lasting change.

As I reflect on this, I immediately go to my thinking, my mental health.  I realize that it all starts within me. I make it a practice to self talk in a way that is encouraging, uplifting and motivating.  I am usually optimistic, positive and happy because I do things that build me up – right thinking, proper exercise, healthy nutrition. I read and listen to articles, books, music and talks that increase my confidence, nourish me,  inspire me, strengthen and improve my overall well being (body/mind/spirit).  Yes it takes commitment of time, energy, consistence, and persistence. If it is important to you, you find a way to make it happen. However, I know that not everyone thinks they can do this alone. Know that there is help available when you need it.

The below information is from an article in Psychology Today that I believe you will find helpful.
Mental health is not just a diagnosis. It’s your overall psychological well-being – the way you feel about yourself and others and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with everyday difficulties. And while taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional health on your own. Making these changes will pay off in all aspects of your life. It can boost your mood, build resilience, and add to your overall enjoyment of life:

9 Ways You Can Improve your Mental Health Today

  1. Tell yourself something positive.
    Research shows that how you think about yourself can have a powerful effect on how you feel. Practice using words that promote feelings of self-worth and personal power.
  2. Write down something you are grateful for.
    Gratitude has been clearly linked with improved well-being and mental health, as well as happiness. The best-researched method to increase feelings of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or write a daily gratitude list. Find something to be grateful for, let it fill your heart, and bask in that feeling.
  3. Focus on one thing (in the moment).
    Being mindful of the present moment allows us to let go of negative or difficult emotions from past experiences that weigh us down.  When your mind wanders, just bring it back to what you are doing.
  4. Exercise.
    Your body releases stress-relieving and mood-boosting endorphins before and after you work out, which is why exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, and try to do it outdoors. Time in nature is a proven stress reducer.
  5. Eat a good meal.
    What you eat nourishes your whole body, including your brain. Carbohydrates (in moderation) increase serotonin, which has a calming effect on your mood. Protein-rich foods increase norepinephrine, dopamine, and tyrosine, which help keep you alert. Vegetables and fruits are loaded with nutrients that feed every cell. Include foods with Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fish, nuts, and flaxseed.) Research shows that these nutrients can improve mood and restore structural integrity to the brain cells.
  6. Open up to someone.
    Knowing you are valued by others is important for helping you think more positively. Plus, being more trusting increases your emotional well-being. As you learn about the positive aspects in other people, you become better at recognizing your own. 
  7. Do something for someone else.
    Research shows that being helpful to others has a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself. Being helpful and kind—and valued for what you do—is a great way to build self-esteem.
  8. Take a break.
    In those moments when it all seems like too much, step away. Sometimes the best thing to do is a simple breathing exercise: Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. For each one, count to four as you inhale, hold it for a count of four, and then exhale for another four. This works wonders almost immediately.
  9. Go to bed on time.
    Research has shown that sleep deprivation has a significant negative effect on your mood. Try to go to bed at a regular time each day, and practice good habits to get better sleep. These include shutting down screens for at least an hour before bed, using your bed only for sleep or relaxing activities, and restricting caffeinated drinks for the morning.

Start today.
You have the power to take positive steps right now to improve your resilience and emotional health. Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis to make your mental health a priority. It is easier to form new habits when you are feeling strong. You can then implement those habits when you need them most. Pick something from this article that resonates with you and try it. Then, try something else. Slowly putting in place routines, habits, and regular patterns will help you feel better through gradual change.

To your Improved Mental Health and Well Being!

With Light and Love,
Karen

 

Storytelling

We are all storytellers.  We share our thoughts, our experiences, our vision, our feelings not only with ourselves, but with others.
Do you enjoy listening to your stories? Do others?
Are your stories uplifting?
Do you and others feel good after your sharing?

Our written as well as our verbal words have an incredible impact on us. How many times do you read or hear something and you just smile!  How many times do you read or hear something and you are brought to tears! Our emotions are moved by the words we use and the pictures we create.  Storytelling helps us and others understand. Others are more likely to remember a great story that moved them than just a bulleted, non emotional, even though informative, presentation.

Having been in business for so many years, I used to pride myself on being clear and concise in my presentations.  I was specific with just enough details.  I loved a one pager!!!!! (We may have had to use a magnifying glass to read through everything, but to get all the information on one page was the ultimate!).

However I have come to realize that in order to rally others around my vision, I needed to elaborate more.  Make the presentation more relatable. I then learned the art and importance of storytelling. I tapped into my personal experiences as well as those from current events, news, books, music, movies, insights, travel and more. I took my audience on a journey through storytelling. They could visualize it, feel it, and sometimes taste it.  Establishing an emotional connection through storytelling made all the difference. It allows others to open their hearts and their minds and become more receptive to new ideas, thoughts, proposals.

We are social beings.  We need engagement with others. Of course, we all like to be alone at times.  Being quiet and going within and listening helps us remain calm and balanced. It allows us to hear our innermost thoughts and provides intuition the space to speak to us. However connecting with others is key to a rich and rewarding life. How are you connecting with others? What stories are you telling? Are you more of a one word response speaker or are you really sharing?

We have the choice of how we communicate and how we tell our stories. We can rewrite the script at any time.  Erase what is not serving you or others.

This is our life and our story.
Make it meaningful, make it important, make it the way you want it to be.

With Light and Love and Inspiring Storytelling!
Karen

 

What’s the Conversation?

We have a choice every time we talk to ourselves and to others.  Will we be loving, kind, understanding and inspiring? Or will we be angry, rude, indifferent, and judgmental?

I choose Loving, Kind, Understanding and Inspiring!  I have noticed through the years though, that since so much conversation is done via the internet (emails, twitter, facebook, etc), people have the tendency to be more critical and harsh in their use of words. I guess they feel safe since it is not a face to face interaction, that the behaviour is okay.  However not in my world!

I intentionally watch how I say things to myself and then to others.  Do I always get it right? No!  I could be juggling more than one project, I can be laser focused on something else and not really paying attention. It happens.  However it is important to realize when that happens and what triggered it.

We all interpret things differently based on our experiences, our age, our gender, our backgrounds.  Being open and receptive to hear what others are saying is key to better understanding and finding common ground. It starts with the words and inflections we use. 

I start my day, even before I get out of bed, with my daily affirmations and gratefulness to be alive and well. I do not take my health lightly having overcome cancer 14.7 years ago.  I give thanks for those that have helped me, supported me, encouraged me, and continued to love me.  I especially give thanks for my husband and love of my life for our almost 38 years together. I set the tone for my day and realize I have the power to impact it.  My conversation with myself lifts me and motivates me to begin a new day.  I then roll out of bed, do my yoga malasana deep squat stretch, put music on, open the shades and stare out to the world.  On clear days (and when the sun is up), the ocean is beautifully glistening and welcoming me. I feel so appreciative that I get to start the day this way. I then head downstairs where my husband has turned on the coffee and the music. Our day begins!

Our conversations set the tone for the day to unfold.  We are thankful that we can choose our projects and set our pace.  Not everyone can.  We realize that.  We think back to all those years of commuting to the office, being in rush hour traffic, running when it was still dark in the morning in order to get our exercise in, getting home when it was dark at night, feeling at times stressed and overwhelmed, rushing to catch planes, lugging suitcases and briefcases, being away on business trips and sleeping not as much as needed.  Reflecting back we did what we had to do in order to be here now.  The conversations we had with ourselves and with others impacted everything. One phrase I used a lot ( and still do sometimes) was from the children’s book “The Little Engine that Could”. “I think I can”, became “I thought I could,” to finally “Yes I can!”. 

So, What is the Conversation you are having?  

With Light and Love and Healthy Conversations,
Karen