A challenge to put mindfulness to work: Quit complaining

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You might have heard, at one time, that you can do anything—for 60 seconds, 10 minutes, a half hour a day. It’s also said you can create or break a habit in just 21 days. In my recent posts, “A month of mindfulness…” and “7 tips to incorporate mindfulness…,” I suggest myriad ways to daily practice a deeper awareness within each moment—which could seem overwhelming. However, I’d like to propose a challenge. For the next 24 hours, choose one area of focus in which to incorporate mindfulness: quit complaining. As I write about in “Complaints don’t change a thing,” we can get caught up in negativity and miss out on the positive, the good that surrounds us. Even seemingly harmless comments like, I’m so tired, or the weather, traffic or XYZ sucks… can quickly turn our thoughts inward and escalate a pessimistic mentality. Just for today, let’s create a complaint-free zone and watch the life-changing magic unfold.

How hard is it for you to quit complaining?

Embrace the struggle: every good story contains conflict

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We must let go of the life we have planned,
so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
~ Joseph Campbell

Nearly 18 months ago, I embarked on a rite of passage: the admittance into “Club 50“—a new season I embraced with enthusiasm, positivity and sparkles. Oh, the places I’ll go, to coin a favorite Dr. Seuss book title. I began to plan this next half century, my hopes and dreams—my bucket list—with gusto and determination. Yet, here I am, a year and a half later, my bucket filled with these same goals, along with a few plot twists along the way: loss, disappointment, unrequited dreams. But, if we release our plans—or, at the very least, loosen the reins—perhaps, in turn, we invite opportunities to build character and deepen relationships through our struggles. In the process, we might even create space to dream a new dream. And to share that dream with others.

What plan(s) do you need to release?

Hang in there: finding solace amidst the fallout

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It’s okay if you fall down and lose your spark.
Just make sure that when you get back up,
you rise as the whole damn fire. ~ Colette Werden

The physiological responses that accompany love and heartache can be similar. For example, a new relationship often triggers the pulse to race, or butterflies to replace hunger pangs. Heartache, too, can cause the heartbeat to fluctuate, or a loss of appetite. I find myself seized by the latter illustration—tears swift to dampen my lashes, my belly hollow. During a recent trip, I picked up a silver kitty pendant that hangs onto the delicate chain by its front legs—a twofold reminder: that life is fragile, and to ‘hang in there.’ On the heels of my post, ‘Letting go…,’ I wear this talisman for solace, of sorts, amidst the fallout of a severed friendship. My spark(le) may have dimmed, but soon I will fan the flames and ignite my passion ablaze.

Where do you find solace within the heartache?

Photo source: sanctuaryspring.com.

Mixed messages: how to make sense of it all

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Mixed messages play havoc with logic. Just when you think you understand a simple concept, doubt creeps in and you begin to question your sanity, your ability to reason—everything you thought to be true. In the publishing world, there is frequent interaction between publisher and advertisers, authors, sales reps, subscribers and so on. As concise as one can be through email, there is often room for interpretation on both sides, which may lead to miscommunication, lost time and, not uncommon, bruised feelings. With the majority of business and social communique handled via digital means, it might require an old-fashioned phone call to right a wrong or lend clarity to a situation in order to move forward. It isn’t necessarily about the mistake or misunderstanding, because we are human and they happen. It’s how we react in the moment, mindful that relationships—business or otherwise—are always hanging in the balance. And that pride goes before a fall every time.

How do you make sense of mixed messages?

Photo courtesy of Pansa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Letting go doesn’t mean loving less

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At times, it feels like our journey through this one life is fraught with trials and setbacks more so than smooth sailing. Times when we could use an encouraging word, a hug or a shoulder on which to cry. A friend of mine is going through such a time and, earlier this week—despite my attempt to practice mindfulness (see ‘A month of mindfulness…’)—I allowed frustration over a situation out of my control to instead control my tongue. Unfortunately, this resulted in words spouted off between us, words that stung, words that could not be retracted. And, ultimately, a falling out. Although I tried to right it, the damage had been done and I realized the only thing I could do was to let go. To give my friend space. It doesn’t mean I love any less; it means I love enough to allow someone else to take my place. To pick up where I left off.

How do you know when it’s time to let go?

Photo courtesy of usamedeniz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A lesson in irony: in memory of Rob

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Life can prove ironic in the simple, the mundane. And in the crushing blows, the fracture between hope and fate. This week, I discovered that Marlene, a cashier at my neighborhood grocery store, had been writing letters to Rob—a cashier who was diagnosed in 2015 with stage 3 lung cancer. I haven’t seen Rob since we spoke in August 2016, right before his birthday trip to Hawaii, and then, upon his return from the tropical getaway, he took an extended leave from his job to tackle one of more significance: the fight for his life. Just the other day, I wrote a letter and brought it to the market the next morning for Marlene to include in her envelope. As I concluded my shopping, another cashier greeted me and I knew, without words, that Rob’s fight was over. Read more about Rob:  ‘Slow down, listen more…,’ ‘How (not) to be miserable…’ and ‘Borrowed time…’ And don’t wait for Someday.

How is irony at work in your life?

7 tips to incorporate mindfulness into your day

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If you want to conquer the anxiety of life,
live in the moment, live in the breath. ~ Amit Ray

In my post, “A month of mindfulness…,” I share how I’ve begun to practice mindfulness—the act of consciously directing my awareness, without judgment—moment by moment. I also include a few examples of where I’ve begun to pay attention on purpose. Here are seven tips on how you might incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine: 1) Choose a better-for-you beverage or snack option. 2) Focus on your breath when you’re uncomfortable, scared or upset. 3) Give other speakers 100 percent of your attention. 4) Notice if you exhibit behaviors like jumping to conclusions or overreacting, interrupting or responding with rudeness. 5) Look for ways to extend compassion and kindness to those around you. 6) Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations—before you “think aloud.” 7) Pause before you speak/email/text. Bonus: Always remember it’s a practice. Then watch the changes start to unfold.

How do you practice mindfulness?

Photo courtesy of David Castillo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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