A new way of thinking: what I learned on ‘sabbatical’

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After my last post, penned two months ago, the mojo I’d regained (see Change up the rules…) suddenly vanished without warning. I felt uninspired. Specifically: unmotivated to read or write. Worse yet: I feared I’d lost my love of the written word; hence, my sabbatical of sorts. But I never strayed far. I attended a writing workshop for six weeks to keep my finger on the pulse of creative plotting strategies. I also wrote an article for an online trade magazine. And, during it all, I picked the artistic minds of several writers and learned a new way to approach my writing: with permission to play. Not only does this concept eliminate the pressure to “get it right the first time” (be honest, does that ever happen, anyway?), but it also inspired a vision for one, three, five plus years down the road. Most importantly: I’m reading and writing again. As a wise yogi once said: Whatever we practice becomes greater.

What do you need to practice more?

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No wrapping necessary: the gift of grace

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With the holidays in full swing (wasn’t it just Christmas?), I’ve noticed tempers are quick(er) to flare, smiles are less forthcoming and a pall of malaise feels all too real. In addition, the hours in our days are set to fast forward. I read an article recently about patience suggesting: instead of praying for it, try practicing it. With Christmas and the new year making appearances in a mere few weeks, I have no doubt there will be opportunities galore to practice patience, to extend grace. For example, choose the longest checkout line at the grocery store. Pick the slowest lane of traffic. Yield to other drivers. The more we mindfully practice patience, the more it will become second nature when we don’t have a choice about which line, lane or crisis we’re muddling through. What about the harried pharmacist, receptionist or caller, colleague or spouse, child or stranger? Practice patience, and give the gift of grace this holiday season. No wrapping necessary.

How do you practice patience?

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Time-saving tips for the Type A in you

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I am always looking for ways to maximize my time each day. Here are four suggestions that work for me—perhaps give one or more a whirl.

  • Prepare vitamins/supplements weekly. On Sunday evenings, I count out and organize my vitamins and supplements into the “grandma and grandpa” container with compartments (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.) I swore I’d never use but makes life a lot simpler. Then, each morning, I pop the pills from the appropriate day into a single pill bottle that easily fits into my purse.
  • Lay out clothes for the next day. Okay, this doesn’t always work if you don’t “feel” what you picked out. Have a backup plan.
  • Make meals ahead of time. On weekends, I fix 2-3 lunches/dinners that serve as leftovers. Repeat for breakfasts. Depending on your family size, adjust (and freeze) accordingly.
  • Deep clean cabinets and drawers (monthly). I love this idea because everything is uber painless to find when you prepare for the day.

What time savers do you regularly practice?

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10 ways you’re making your life harder than it has to be: reposted (+ 10 ways to turn it around)

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This is it in a nutshell: https://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/. Plus 10 quick tips on how to make life easier (repeat after me):

  • When we continue to rehash (supposed) offenses: Let it go.
  • When we look for affirmation from others: I’m enough.
  • When our worries escalate to panic-attack proportions: It’s temporary.
  • If unrealistic/uncommunicated expectations eclipse our blessings: Be grateful.
  • Sometimes we pray, sometimes we wait but we must always do our homework: Be wise.
  • It’s okay to be picky and/or less bold when taking risks: Failure is better than not trying at all.
  • The truth on comparison shopping: The grass is not greener.
  • We cannot retrieve time we’ve lost or fast forward to the future: Practice mindfulness daily.
  • Let go of [fill in the blank]: Focus on what we can control.
  • About giving back: In the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years. ~ Abraham Lincoln.

How do you make life easier?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Falling into place: when the pieces of your life come together

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It’s been two months since I embarked on my mindfulness journey (see “A month of mindfulness…”). While some days—moments even—prove easier than others, there are the days you return home from work and devour a half bag of sweet potato chips without a second thought. And you know what? That’s okay. Because part of practicing mindfulness means you recognize a behavior or emotion but, instead of obsessing over it, you accept it for what it is and then let it go. My recent post, “The secret to letting go…,” focuses on what you can change or control. Based on this premise, I have since discovered a newfound freedom: When I let go, other pieces of my life begin to fall into place. From renewed relationships to a healthier self-image to hope for the future, I’m reaping the fruits of right choices. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be happy regardless of my circumstances, because I choose to be. Every day.

When will you take the mindfulness challenge?

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From the ground up: a foundation built to last

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Guilty of sabotaging progress you’re making in life? Maybe you’ve ditched the prose you’re halfway through writing, the deadline only days away, because binge-watching Netflix appeals more. Or you wish every day was Friday pizza, wine and movie night instead of the yoga, ab or glute challenge you committed to last week. Once we fall from our carefully crafted plans, it’s challenging to get back on track. After a few of those days, however, I showed up for Bikram yoga practice but, instead of ditching my glasses, I donned them to better analyze my postures. Surprising (to me), I noticed toned muscles and, any “damage” I thought I’d done by eating poorly, was negated by a foundation of regular exercise and healthy eating I began building years ago. Same idea with my writing: a lifetime of dreaming, preparing for, educating myself and practicing the craft allows me to pick up where I leave off. A solid foundation is key to lasting success.

Where can you build a (better) foundation?

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A year in review: in only 168 words

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It’s my thing: there are 168 hours in a week and 168 words in a blog just ‘feel’ right. So here goes: With 2016 almost a wrap, let’s talk about the past. Wait, what? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Because a few weeks ago, miles of hiking trail behind me I, too, thought about those well-meaning peeps who suggest you leave the past in the past. After all, that’s not where you’re headed, right? But, how will you know what to bring with you into the new year if you don’t take stock of what transpired? Where did you grow? Where did you trip? Who helped you along the way? What seeds of kindness did you sow? What bad behaviors did you shed? What new habits served you well? It’s about leaving behind whatever holds you back and putting into practice what you’ve learned as you look ahead. Lay the foundation: now you’re ready to begin building a brand new year. Cheers!

What’s your plan for 2017?

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The Power of P

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If the number of visitors who read my recent post, ‘A simple(r) life…,’ is any indication of what much of society pursues, then this topic ranks up there with all things happiness-related. I believe that’s because a happy, simple life is a basic necessity many of us seek. However, we often get in our own way and make it complicated, instead. For example, if you’ve searched for happiness your entire life—in relationships, material goods, addictions, net worth—you’ve discovered it’s an illusion, a temporary fix. Why? Because true happiness manifests itself when we sow into others’ lives something of value, something that will last: our time. A simplicity known as kindness. It’s only then that we find fulfillment—contentment that arises from a humble heart. Good news: it’s an ongoing practice, not perfect. With that said, my pursuits for 2017 revolve around keeping it simple with the power of P: peace, patience, purpose and a more passionate prayer life.

What is your No. 1 goal for 2017?

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A simple(r) life: the ins and outs

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My goal for 2016 has revolved around discovering a life of simplicity. What I’ve learned is that a simple(r) life doesn’t just happen. For me, it includes a heightened awareness: recognizing daily pleasures and meting out kindness in large doses. I believe kindness is a requirement for a simple(r) life for the simple reason that it takes little time and resources to be kind—and kindness begets kindness. I’ve also learned a simple life can be full, but requires an evaluation of where we spend our time—if we need to say no to the things that complicate our journey, or yes to the things that improve the lives around us. For Thanksgiving this year, I opted for a meal plan that allowed me to spread my time between an early-morning yoga practice to hanging up a few pictures to tidying up my home before sitting down to enjoy a simple, yet filling dinner and games with family. Three words: awareness, then practice.

Where can you simplify life?

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Discovering your life’s purpose

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For the past several weeks, I’ve spent a good portion of each day conducting my version of soul searching: journaling my frustrations (see ‘How to excel…‘), practicing mindfulness (e.g., moving meditation in the hot room, on the mountainside, in the gym) and asking myself what’s next on the other side of the half-century mark? Although I’ve discovered true happiness (focusing on others rather than myself), have a general idea of how to achieve the simple life (say ‘no’ when necessary, pitch the clutter, etc.), now I need to take a look at what I’m doing with this one life (see ‘Wasting time or living life…’). In other words: What’s my purpose? For me, it’s not found in the 8-5 routine. And it goes beyond the simple acts of kindness I try to impart as a daily habit. I might have uncovered the solution recently during my morning prayers and devotions, however, an ‘ah ha’ moment of sorts. But more on that later.

Are you living your life’s purpose?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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