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Adventure, Balance, Celebration, Curiosity, Embodiment, Emotions, Experimentation, Inner Guidance, Joy, Life Coaching, Personal Growth, Play, Psychology

Wellness is swell ish Part 2

In my last blog post, I introduced the concept of the Indivisible Self, and focused in on the coping self. Now I want to dive into the creative self, to encourage each and every one of you to cultivate that natural curiosity and aliveness that we all possess when we drop in and reconnect to our childlike wonder and willingness to risk and play.

First, a quick refresher on what the Indivisible Self is—it’s a wellness model widely used in counseling because it is back by research on how living in wholeness means that we are integrating body, mind, spirit through attending to these intersecting and overlapping components of the social self (family, friendship, and romantic love), the essential self (your spirituality, cultural identity, and self-care), the physical self (exercise and eating well), the coping self (what you do in your leisure time, your stress management, and your self-worth), and the creative self (your thoughts, your emotions, what you do for work/study, and your sense of humor), which is what we will now explore, in depth.

Not everyone will be a painter or professional dancer, but we all have an innate creativity that comes through in our ability to learn, laugh, think outside of the box, and express our authentic selves and natural talents. Tapping into the creative self means realizing how unique we are and recognizing the strengths and gifts we bring to the world just by being ourselves. Nurturing this aspect means attending to our thinking—being mentally active and open-minded, willing to learn and bring curiosity to our lives and interactions—and our emotions—knowing how we are feeling, and expressing those feelings appropriately. The creative self also includes our satisfaction in a job or vocation that we feel uses our skills, a feeling of mastery and competence and a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at our mistakes. There is a lot of research that supports the benefits of positive thinking, emotional regulation, and laughter—reducing depression and anxiety, while strengthening the immune system.

This list, I hope, will spark some ideas of how to connect to your creative self.

Engage in life-long learning. Take advantage of events and programming at your local public library, universities, or museums. Watch the 25 Most Popular TED talks of all time. Enroll in a free online class through Coursera, whether it is how to speak Korean, intro to philosophy, or how to do web design, there are so many fascinating topics to dive into and learn.

Understand the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Sometimes we believe that our goals cannot be reached or feel discouraged at a new challenge. Our thoughts are powerful and if we approach life with the idea that our abilities and knowledge are limited or “fixed,” then we are less likely to succeed or even risk the challenge of new opportunities. In a growth mindset, we know that with practice and effort we can learn new skills, adapt, and succeed. Catch yourself when you have thoughts like “I will fail,” or “I don’t have talent,” and turn it into: “Before people succeed, they often experience some failures along the way,” and “I may not be able to do it now, but with practice and effort, in time I can probably learn.”

Know your strengths and celebrate them. Take this free survey from the VIA Institute on character strengths. Read up on your gifts and take some time to appreciate what makes you unique. I’d love to see your results! Take a screenshot and send it to me, letting me know what top strengths most resonated or surprised you!

Pick up one of these books and open your mind! (have any other book suggestions for our readers? comment below!)

Thought experiments and whimsical, mind-bending instructions from artist Yoko Ono in her book, Acorn 

Inspiration and practical advice on getting to the work of being creative in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a classic that can get you living your life more creatively right way through its many exercises

 

 

 

Check in with and validate your emotions. When we are very busy and have a lot on our plate, it’s easy to rush through our days without noticing how we are feeling. Get into a habit of stopping to sense what you are feeling, scan your body and notice any tension or stress and take some deep breaths as you visualize that tension leaving your body. Ask yourself: what are some deeper needs that I can give some attention to before returning to my to-do list? You might set an alarm or bell on your phone as a reminder to pause and check in with yourself. Use these helpful handouts to identify your emotions and needs.

Laugh every day. Even when times are tough or we face serious situations, it is important to remember to laugh. Comedy can provide relief and release tension, as well as increase blood flow, boost our immunity, and improve our emotional health. Spend time around friends or family who bring out your silly side, watch one of these funny movies, find hilarious clips on youtube, or take a laughter yoga class, where you can get an endorphin high without needing any real reason to laugh and instead treat laughter as a healthy exercise.

Share in the comments some of your own go-tos for getting creative and playful when life needs some lightness.

Celebration, Emotions, Gratitude, grounding, Healing, Intention, Joy, Life Path, Love, Relationship

the quiet power of being truly you

I cried when I learned that my downstairs neighbor is moving out later this summer. Yes, I cry at puppy and panda videos, so maybe it seems like that isn’t saying much, but, when my landlady told me the news, I felt a strong wave of sadness and loss come over me that surprised even me.

My neighbor and I aren’t besties. Save for a couple tarot readings she gifted me, we’ve barely spent time together. I’ve watched her affectionate cat during her trips away, we’ve exchanged updates on barred owl sightings, I’ve drunk in boisterous laughter traveling upstairs from rooms below, and we’ve met on her stoop for a few 5 minute conversations in passing. All of this, and more–something intangible and sweet in how she makes this brick fourplex her home–has helped to make it feel like my home, as well, these past 2 years.maria1

This is just to say that we don’t know how our presence affects another. Even if we are not having much interaction, how we show up and who we are being in the world, can truly make someone else’s life better, or in this case, make a space feel comforting, warm, like hearth and home.

Don’t underestimate the power of being a caring, authentic, and passionate person in your daily life. You might never learn how your presence is influencing the world of people, creatures, and things around you, but trust that it does. Living a heartfelt & genuine life matters in more ways than you can know. Cherish those around you who uplift your day to day. And be generous by living your best and most true to you, as others will benefit from your life-affirming energy and love.

Balance, Celebration, Embodiment, Experimentation, Freedom, Intention, Joy, Life Coaching, Movement, Open, Play, Whole Body

Taking a page from a 12 year old’s playbook

I’ve been spending lots of time with a young girl.

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She is bursting with fun, creative energy. She shrieks and laughs and announces her visions out loud. She has an endless stream of ideas for things to make and do, and a curiosity and bubbly excitement over an array of interests. Her favorites: imagining her dolls’ lives and relationships and designing new props for them, watching and bopping along to music videos, discussing characters from movies she loves, taking interest in her family history, playing board games, drawing and coloring, and jumping rope.

On top of all of the wonderment and play, girl’s got homework, too, though–reading, writing, and arithmetic. While she may not be as in love with these, she always gets ’em done…and without complaint. I’ve noticed a couple ways that she approaches things she has to do and balances them with what she wants to do. While our adult schedules may not allow for as much leisure time, I think we can still adopt some of her strategies for success!

 

 

  •  Treat the “work” a bit more like play. How? Can you turn a chore into something a little more fun, light, and engaging? This could be something simple like making housework and cleaning into a game with uplifting music and dancing around with a vacuum, rag, or broom. Or, paying bills could be something you can do with a timer on to see how quickly you can get ‘er done. Dress up in a zany outfit while writing a report or paper and use colorful markers for taking notes at work. Get creative and silly when there’s not too much at stake.
  • Break your activities up into small manageable chunks, rewarding the to-dos with little prizes of want-to-dos. You could set a timer and make an agreement with yourself to work on a less fun task for, say,  20 minutes, after which you can celebrate by eating a square of chocolate, dancing to your favorite song of the moment, looking at Pinterest for 5 minutes, etc. Mix the day up into work and play and reward yourself when you meet your goals!
  • Let’s get physical! I love that this girl throws in even 2 minutes of jump rope between some of her other activities, because this feels like a do-able way to sneak in movement and exercise without having to make a big deal of it. When getting up to grab something from the printer or another room, when transitioning between different work tasks, when returning from a restroom break, take a minute or two to walk fast, jog, stretch, shake out your arms, hands, legs, feet, and do some neck rolls. It’s easy to get trapped up in the small space that your brain occupies, forgetting about the wild animal body that wants your attention, from the neck down. Remember to check in with the senses and skin and muscle and lungs that moves and breathes you all day.

Brainstorm with me! What are some fun and accessible activities you can reward yourself with during a long day of commitments and errands? What is something that will make you smile, stimulate you, bring you pleasure or relief, that can be done in the moment? Comment below with a list of some of your ideas!

 

 

Celebration, Emotions, Gratitude, grounding, Joy, Power Within, Soul, Winter

Skip the Eggnog. Drink in the Gratitude.

(okay, you can have eggnog, too)

For those of you who don’t know, I collaborate on a project with a community of fabulous ladies called The Coaches Table. Each month we tackle a topic and invite you to share your thoughts and reflections, as well, to create connection and meaningful conversation. The holiday season has been quiet over on our Facebook page, but hopefully this video will start a bit of end-of-year discussion.

The topic for December: Gratitude.

When remembrance of loved ones who have passed, family stress, holiday expectations, or sugar crashes get you down, call in gratitude! What are you grateful for?

 

Celebration, Gratitude, Joy, Life Coaching, Life Path, Personal Growth, Self-love

Your Year of Being Awesomely You

Yeah, yeah…we might could stand to exercise more, eat less sugar, and live more in the present. I am all for setting intentions and creating more time to honor our soul’s priorities. This is why I am gathering a group of brilliant women-identified women to come together and support one another around body, mind, spirit wellness. We start with the new year–there will be daily offerings and encouragement on your journey–whatever your goals may be! You can join us by sending your email address to me. Message me at lionessasoleil at gmail dot com. I will send an invite when our Google + group opens at the end of December.

That being said, I am officially encouraging you to stop with the list making and resolutions for now. Take some time and look back–not on what needs to change for the new year, but what went well and how much you rocked in 2o15. And, I have some fun exercises to get you started. My gift to you.

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Let me know how it goes! Send a snap shot of your completed certificate and I’ll celebrate with you!

Compassion, Gratitude, Intention, Joy, Life Coaching, Love, Mindfulness, Soul

Happy Lovegiving

Maybe it was the fraught family gatherings. Or perhaps the shady origins of a holiday that perpetuates a myth of white settlers living in harmony with the indigenous and glosses over the violence of colonization. Oh, there was also the elevation of indulgence and gluttony in a culture that worships consumerism. Some or all of this led me, in college, to adopt a tradition of fasting and solitude on Thanksgiving. I’ve since softened my stance on the yearly tradition of pigging out and convening with family and friends. Even though there is a bit of mourning and solemnity in the day for me still, I am more open to joining in on a day that is about gratitude and the abundance of the earth.

But why reserve such appreciation for 1 day out of the year? As we return to the generous and thankful spirit of the season, we can remember how life is enhanced when we live from the heart year-round.

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I am calling it Happy Lovegiving, not only for November, but a way of being each day. To kick it off, here is a practice I invite you to try out:

For the next 2 weeks, call, email, or write  someone every day to appreciate and thank them and send some love. See how you feel when you give gratitude, compliment, and shower with people with love. Brainstorm some people now who’ve impacted you in ways, big and small. 2nd grade teacher? Someone who introduced you to great music? A constant and consistent friend? A mentor? Someone who smiles at you and takes the time to listen to your answer to the question, “How are you?” If there is someone you need to thank who is not with you today, consider finding a photo and saying your thanks in its presence, while lighting a candle. Or, pass on your message to someone they were close to.

And in honor of this Lovegiving, I am announcing my coaching will be offered by donation for the time being. My normal rate has been $50 for an hour of focused coaching with practices tailored to your goals and contact between sessions. Now, I’d like to invite anyone who is interested in receiving emotional and spiritual guidance into their own wisdom to schedule a session at no charge. After we meet, over phone or in person, you can make a donation. In the Buddhist tradition this is called dana, giving freely from the heart. I will give freely from my heart–my time, attention, and coaching process –and if you feel moved, you may give a donation from your heart. Create the year you want in 2016. Book a session now.

I am thankful to all of you for believing in the power of Lovingkindness, reading my blog, & supporting my work! Happy Lovegiving today, tomorrow, and every day.

Balance, Curiosity, Discernment, Dreams, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Intention, Joy, Life Coaching, Mindfulness, Open, Self-love

Logging out and tuning In

goldToday is a day of firsts.

The first day of being fully self-employed after leaving my 8 to 5. First post out to you from this sense of freedom. The first day of creating the life I want to live.

It is also the first day of a month-long fast from social media. That’s right–I won’t be going online to update my status, check trending topics, or even follow marketing strategies for my coaching practice on Facebook, because I would rather focus my time on connecting with myself in meditation, with nature on walks in the woods, with my dreams by accomplishing my goals, and with friends and loved ones through voice to voice, face to face, heart to heart connection.

I remember a time before the web, when my attention felt longer, more open, and my curiosity guided me to more creative endeavors and outings. When I felt calmer, more centered, and more connected to those around me. I am not one to dismiss technology altogether and I am grateful for all the ways social media has brought me and my coaching practice in contact with new people around the world as well as giving me a glimpse into the lives of old friends and family who are far away. This is all meaningful and I do not fault social media for making it anything other than satisfying and enhancing everyday life. If it has the power to pull me in and change my brain and my life, it is because I allow it to.

And so, I do value a good Facebreak now and then, a hiatus from social media, to get the sense of life slowed down back into my bones, to open up more space in my field of awareness, to remember the richness of being tuned in to my inside and the bigger and bolder outside…outside of screens and memes. I go offline to reconnect to the vast array of potential for connection, wildness, and love that lives beyond the internet.

When I return, I carry with me more balance and boundaries around how I spend my time online. It tends to erode–the busier and more chaotic things feel, the more I seem to scramble for false refuge in uncalming diversions. And so, I catch myself and press pause, yet again.

Can today be a day of firsts for you? What would you like to start doing today? You could start with setting an intention or take a 5 minute break to sit mindfully and listen to your breath. Can you schedule your first coaching session to unleash your inner power and creative energy? What can you do today to feed your soul?

Or perhaps you want to consider your own relationship to social media. What are you not doing with the time you spend on social media? What are you keeping yourself from doing or feeling when you fall into Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest for hours? When are these social media sites bringing you joy and connection? When are they improving your life? When are you using these to distract yourself, procrastinate, numb out, avoid, or compare and judge yourself?

Maybe it’s time for your first break from social media. You can begin with a baby break of a day or 2, and just see…what do you notice? I’d love to hear your thoughts and discoveries!

Adventure, Curiosity, Dancing is Healing, Experimentation, Freedom, Joy, Life Coaching, Play

8 Ways to Play

I–along with 50 lovely folks from the US and abroad–just wrapped up a week long online retreat. In our 7 days of self-connection, we took the time each day to be with ourselves in meditation, movement, exploration, creativity, and self-compassion. Each day offered a new theme and one of those themes was PLAY!

During our retreat, I shared some ideas for adding fun and whimsy into our days and thought I’d share some of those here…and a few others that didn’t make it into my retreat practices.

What are your favorite ways to play? Comment below to add to the list!

SILLY DANCE

Find a song that makes you feel good. Make up your own silly dance to go along with it…try to make it as goofy as possible. Invite friends and family to invent ridiculous choreography together.

CREATIVE NATURE WALK

Take a walk in the woods or garden. Find 3-5 nonliving things to bring back home with you. Keep your eyes open while walking for anything of beauty or unusual on your trail. Dead leaf with an interesting color or shape, a stick that speaks to you, rocks or pebbles, pine cones or acorns, berries, mushrooms. In a sacred or private space for reflection, place the objects from your walk as if you were presenting a work of art.

HULA HOOPING

This toy has been reinvented and redesigned to be an ideal fitness activity that is loads of fun! If your town doesn’t offer classes, you can find tutorials for hip, waist, chest hooping and more online or order instructional DVDs. 

WEAR A COSTUME TO THE GROCERY STORE

Dress up is not just for Halloween. Just doing your normal everyday errands in wigs, capes, and bunny ears can inspire laughs.

MANDALA COLORING

Get yourself some markers, colored pencils, or crayons and print free mandalas from here or here. Get coloring!

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NIGHT SKY WATCH

Go out and observe the stars. Find constellations. Make up your own constellations–see a shape and give it a name. 

GIBBERISH

Get together with a friend and have a conversation in made up language, each of you speaking in your own gibberish as if having an everyday interaction. Use your invented language to complain and vent when you’ve had a rough day.

GO ONO

Check out Yoko Ono’s creative and mind-bending prompts in her books Acorn + Grapefruit.

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Compassion, Curiosity, Experimentation, Freedom, Healing, Joy, Love, Power Within, Relationship, Self-love, Soul, Wisdom

the best medicine for jealous thoughts

I admit it. I feel jealous at times. No big deal…it is part of being human. i can usually recognize it “Oh, that’s jealousy.” and let it go. But sometimes, when feeling vulnerable, seeing someone rock out in life starts a downward spiral of thoughts about all my disappointments, supposed shortcomings, and heightens a feeling of lack.

There is so much advice out there for bolstering our self-esteem, reminding us that social media shows us the “best” or an incomplete view of others, and that tells us not to compare our insides with someone’s outsides.

This is all great advice. For me, though, the most powerful antidote to jealousy i have found is this: to wish success for those who succeed. Even if I am feeling small and mean and envious, I choose to “act as if” until I genuinely feel that joy and that desire for the fruition of all their deepest wishes, hopes, and dreams.

No one’s life is devoid of pain or fear or disappointments…when we are jealous we seem to forget this and covet a fantasy of a perfect life. Instead, I like to focus on giving this person even more doses of relief and happiness, because chances are they need it more than we think…and when we send wishes of generous spirit outward, that ripples inward in our own hearts, as well.

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So, here’s a quick cure for comparison:

Step 1: When you find yourself feeling envious or even just less-than when you see someone else succeeding, looking attractive, getting something you want–whether a relationship, an outfit, a job, acclaim or attention, STOP those thoughts in their tracks.

Step 2: Move your focus to their well-being and celebrate their achievements, accomplishments and admirable traits. Deliberately turn your mind to wishing the absolute best for them and generating happiness over their situation. See them happy and think “I am glad they are happy and I wish more and more joy for them and greatness in their life.”

That’s it.

When we delight in someone else’s accomplishments, the mind is released from the grip of jealousy and we feel more peace. In this space of calm and generosity, we are then more likely to find happiness, as well. Try it and see what happens.