Are You Sowing Seeds Of Resentment?

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~ Carrie Fisher

“The worst resentment that anybody can have is one you feel justified to keep.” ~ Louis Gossett, Jr.

“When you blame, you open up a world of excuses, because as long as you’re looking outside, you miss the opportunity to look inside, and you continue to suffer.” ~ Donna Quesada

How much of your life’s garden is taken up by the thorny presence of resentment? Are you so overgrown that it’s painful for anyone to get close to you? Is it painful for you to even be with yourself?

Resentments are often expressed as gripes. You know those little snide remarks, the eye roll, the gossip, and the unexplained outburst at what seems like a small offence.

Gripes are a passive-aggressive way of communication. It’s a behind the back, negative pattern that leaks out sideways. What is the reason we sow these seeds? We martyr ourselves at the altar of victimhood. We get so wrapped up in being a victim we convince ourselves that our resentments justify our bad behavior.

How do you get released from this cycle and start sowing seeds of love and connection? By cultivatating clear, loving communication.

  1. Intentionally Catalogue Your Gripes

Becoming aware of your gripes allows you to effectively release them. So get a pen and paper and write them all down. All of them. Start writing and don’t stop until you are completely out of complaints.

Start in an easy place like your boss or your spouse and get all the way down to that teacher in college who gave you a bad grade that messed up your GPA. Record every annoying habit and every slight. Get it all out.

  1. Intentionally Connect With Your Underlying Feelings

Look over your list and one by one identify the feeling that sprouted that gripe. Usually it’s a version of fear, anger, or sadness. Uncovering your underlining feelings does two important things; it shows you that your gripes have 100% to do with you, it’s not the action but your perception of the action that spawned the resentment, and it helps clear those underlying feeling by acknowledging them.

  1. Intentionally Communicate

Once you are clear you can communicate in a way that connects and creates change. For example, if your husband has put on a few pounds recently and he plops down next to you on the couch to watch some TV and he has a bowl of Haagen Daz ice cream and you turn to him and say, “Really!?”, that is communicating from a place of resentment and judgment. Now I ask you, is there any good that will come of this exchange? Doesn’t it just create more hurt and resentment and probably make the initial situation worse?

Now if instead you were clear about your feelings and you responded with, “Honey, it makes me sad that you are not taking good care of your health”, how much different would that conversation be? How would that type of conversation shift the outcome?

When you clean up your inner landscape, clear out your judgments, and get to a place of openness then you can create the possibility for change. Without that you will continue to spin in place, letting resentment create more and more of what you don’t want.

And as always, if you want an extra pair of clippers to help you prune away all these thorns, I’m here to help.

Abundant Blessings from your Master Gardener,

Donna

 

 

 

 

 

Top Photo Credit: Thorns by Daniel R. Blume

 

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Developing Your Mental Zen Garden

“When a garden is used as a place to pause for thought, that is when a Zen garden comes to life.  When you contemplate a garden like this it will form as lasting impression on your heart.” ~ Muso Soseki

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ~ Bruce Lee

Your mind is a wild, overgrown patch. By taming this land you can strip away all the clutter and create a space of beauty and serenity. A Zen garden is a wonderful example of mindfulness that you can cultivate to bring more joy and freedom into your daily life.

“A well-constructed Zen garden is an evocative work of art that draws the viewer into a state of contemplation…and the viewer’s mind eventually comes to rest in a state of emptiness, which is the goal of Zen practice.” ~ Chris Deziel

The best way to construct your mental Zen garden is meditation. Meditation is as simple as setting aside twenty minutes each day to relax, close your eyes, and quiet your mind. It is an act of acceptance and stillness. You will have thoughts, and that’s ok. Just allow those thoughts to float into your awareness and float away. Keep coming back to a space that is uncluttered and serene, just like a Zen garden.

The most important aspect of this practice is repetitiveness. The more you do it the greater the benefits. For example, imagine your mind as a plot of land with large boulders. These boulders are anger, resentment, judgment, and past pain. Without meditation your mind is full of thick vines that are interwoven with these boulders, using them to prop themselves up. When you have a situation arise your mind reacts from this overgrown, entwined place. Meditation goes in and clears away the vines of your busy “monkey mind” and creates rivulets so when a situation arises your mind can bump up against these boulders and effortlessly go around them, like the flow of water. You now react from this open, flowing space to the events in your daily life.

What does that look like on a day-to-day basis? Here are three benefits for cultivating a mental Zen garden through meditation.

  1. You Glean The Gifts Before You Right Now

“Zen lives in the present. The Whole teaching is: how to be in the present; how to get out of the past which is no more and how not to get involved in the future which is not yet, and just to be rooted, centered, in that which is.” ~ OSHO

A Zen garden is fully formed right now. Since there is nothing planted, there is no waiting for growth. Why is that important? Because it is perfect in the present moment. There is no need to travel to the future to imagine growth, or cast back into the past to remember it’s full glory after everything has died. Right now is all there is. Right now everything is perfect.

Often when you experience any feeling that limits your freedom, constricts your body or mind, or causes you anxiety you are not in the present moment. By being here now and you are able to experience the perfection before you. Meditation helps retrain your mind to be present instead of wandering all over the place.

  1. You Radiate & Reap Stillness

An outside enemy exists only if there is anger inside.” ~ Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Have you ever experienced someone who was angry when they entered a room and then got everyone else in the room angry? That’s because we are vibratory beings and the vibration we send out affects others. You can have that kind of power, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. As you cultivate a mental space that is uncluttered, serene, and quiet, you radiate stillness. When you walk into a room you will elevate the energy with your energetic transmissions of peace and serenity. Practicing meditation allows you to be in this still place for longer and longer periods of time, until it becomes your default.

  1. You Harvest A Sense Of Serene Detachment

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.” ~ ECKHART TOLLE

Cats are wonderful role models of detachment. They just watch what goes on around them with an amused coolness. They don’t take on what they see, they just observe. You too can go through your day without taking everything personally by landscaping in some space between what you see and how you interpret it. By putting in a gap between action and reaction you create a pocket of serenity.

What does it take to be good at this practice? Concentration. The act of raking the gravel in a Zen garden is an act of concentration for the monk. It is not easy to get clean, straight lines out of rocks. So the monk must really concentrate on the task in order to have a great outcome.

In the same way, if you concentrate on taking a breath before launching a reaction based on the knee-jerk assessment of your monkey mind, the more beautiful your outcome will be.

Meditation helps slow down your racing mind so you are able to pause for a breath before reacting. It is the rake you use to tend your Zen garden.

Meditation is simple but often not easy. However the benefits of a consistent meditation practice are worth any initial discomfort you bump up against. If you’d like an experienced Master Gardener to help you weed out your vines and clear your space, please let me know.

Abundant Blessings,

Donna

 

 

 

 

Top Photo Credit: Zen Garden by Nina

 

 

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Is Your To-Do List Overgrown?

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” ~ Mason Cooley

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

This month we are going to prune back our to-do lists by addressing the issue of procrastination. Let me start by saying everything you’ve been taught about procrastination has been proven to be incorrect. Procrastination has always been considered a time management issue when in fact it’s purely emotional.

So, if you’ve spent years trying to manage your time more efficiently by using the latest planner or system, then this is good news for you. Consider yourself officially off that hamster wheel! Instead, let’s examine what’s really causing procrastination to sprout up in your life.

Studies show you procrastinate in order to feel better now. When a task presents discomfort at the outset, you shy away from it by turning your attention to something that feels better in the moment. Ironically, this short-term fix has greater long-term detrimental effects.

Procrastination increases your stress level, lowers your self-esteem, and decreases the quality of your finished product. There is no upside to procrastination yet we all do it. Why? Because we have been looking in the wrong place for the solution.

If you are determined to lop procrastination out of your life stop managing your time and start acknowledging your feelings. By turning your attention to your feelings you are getting to the root of the problem.

How can you put this into practice in your daily life? Well, here are 4 steps to overcome overwhelm and put off procrastination:

  1. Take a deep breath.

There are lots of breathing techniques that reduce stress but here’s a quick one. When you begin to get stressed, relax and let go. Lift your shoulders, let them drop, and take a big breath. This will bring you back to the present moment. Then recognize your urge to put off the task ahead because you feel some discomfort around it. Does it seem overwhelming? Do you have some negative emotion attached to it?

For example, you know you needed to do your taxes last month but filed for an extension because last year you tried to start a business and it just never got off the ground. You are embarrassed and uncomfortable when you think about seeing all the money you spent on that venture, so Facebook seems like a better use of your time. After all it’ll only take a second to update your status and see what’s going on with your friends. You avoid the unpleasant feeling by focusing on something you like to cheer you up and distract.

  1. Focus on right now.

How can you face those unpleasant feelings so you don’t have to distract yourself? First, notice where you are in the room; feel your feet touching the ground, notice where the top of your head is, and feel your fingertips. These steps will bring you back into your body and ground you.

Then acknowledge what you are feeling. If you need to take a quiet moment to ask what you are feeling, do that. Sometimes we feel discomfort but don’t stay with it long enough to really identify it. Say what you feel out loud. Say, “I’m embarrassed about my business failure and now I don’t want to look at my expenses.” Or, “I’m overwhelmed by my mound of receipts and bills so I don’t want to face the task of doing my taxes.” By stating our loud what you are feeling you are shining light on a dark spot, thus brightening it up so it is less scary.

  1. Take one baby step at a time.

Break down the first thing you can do to get started into a small baby step. Feelings are like clouds, they drift in and out. By beginning a task, no matter how small the step, you give your uncomfortable feeling the room to float away because the feeling is anchored to the thought of facing the task, not completing it.

Remind yourself that even though you are uncomfortable, this feeling will subside. Your urge to distract is just a knee-jerk reaction that will make you feel even worse in the long run. If your receipts overwhelm you, then begin by organizing them into piles. That way you are beginning the task without having to get emotionally involved in the actual numbers. If you’re overwhelmed about cleaning your house, then just clean one small room.

  1. After finishing one micro task take a moment, breath deeply, and appreciate the completeness.

For example, when you’ve sorted your receipts in into piles, take a breath, and say to yourself, “Wow – it feels great to have all these receipts organized!” or maybe, “Wow if feels great to have my hall bathroom clean and ready for guests.” This reinforces your willingness to keep going. Plus it ups your enthusiasm for the tasks because you are feeling good about them instead of wanting to avoid them.

Remember, procrastination is a sign you’re feeling stressed out by a negative emotion. When you feel an urge to avoid a task, go back to these 4-steps to center yourself and move forward. Trying less and feeling more is the way to eliminate procrastination from crowding out good feelings from blooming in your life’s garden.

Abundant Blessings from your Master Gardener,

Donna

 

 

 

 

 

Top Photo Credit: ivy cycle by Erich Ferdinand

 

 

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Cultivating Your Heart of Courage

“Only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart” ~ Anonymous

April is the month we are cultivating your “courageous heart”. In this month’s training on leaning into your courageous heart, I will incorporate some of the teachings of Brene Brown, who is thought leader in this realm.

What is courage? According to Brene Brown,

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”

It takes courage to leave your busy mind and move into your heart, where your innate wisdom thrives and grace resides. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to stand up and to express our authentic self. Life invites us every moment of every day to be aware of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors so that we can face and weed out any fears that show up. We often tend to be rooted in the negative stories from our past, making it impossible to bear the fruit of our joyful courageous being.

It takes practice to be willing to be vulnerable, to be willing to make a change, to be willing to speak your truth and to walk your talk even when you’re scared~ this is courage of the heart.

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” ~ Brene Brown

In moving through major changes throughout my life, I have always chosen to practice courage by speaking from my heart. When I was 23 years old, I opened and solely operated, “A Pinch of Thyme Catering”. I created my company out of my passion to serve and nurture others through custom designed events with delicious food. What I loved most about my catering business was the cherished relationships with my clients and employees.

My company grew to employ 80 amazing people. Because of this tremendous growth I had to move from the one-on-one client relationships that I so enjoyed into a higher-level position of management. My emotional and physical health was compromised due to the everyday managerial stress. My health showed my discontent; I was stressed to the max, infertile, diagnosed with IBS and multiple allergies. I felt like a failure, even though my business was thriving.

In 1995, I made a decision to listen to my heart. I realized that my heart and health were crying for a change. I was ready to make a commitment to heal. I knew that this meant selling my company despite the fact that my family, friends, and clients would be upset with this decision.

This leap was extremely scary for me. I had the limiting belief that in order for me to be valued, loved, successful, and important to others, I needed to work hard and long hours. Also, my identity was wrapped up in my business. If I no longer were the owner of “A Pinch of Thyme”, who would I be? Yet I knew I couldn’t continue down this path; I had to make the jump and trust the Universe would catch me.

In order to get to a place of readiness, I took inspired action by seeking guidance, healing and support in the holistic world of Energy work, Qigong, Meditation and Life Coaching. I went from a person who was spinning through life to one who was more centered, calm, and clear. From this space I sold my business and stepped into the unknown.

A miracle happened, after 14 years of infertility I became pregnant and had my first child. I reversed my IBS and my allergies went away. Plus, working one-on-one with clients as a Holistic Life Coach/ Energy Therapist renewed my passion.

“Heart of Courage ~ If you make a decision from your heart, you will benefit as well as everyone around you even if they don’t see it right away”. ~ Rose Sloan

What part of your life is crying out for you to take action from your courageous heart? What plunge are you willing to take to make your life better?

Here are 3 steps you can take to tap into the courage of your heart.

  1. Connect Your Mind & Body

Find a peaceful spot, close your eyes, quiet your mind, relax, and settle in to your chair. Take 5-7 deep breaths. Then bring an issue in your life you’d like to shift to mind. See it in 3-D in your mind’s eye. Then scan your body and notice where you feel the most tension and focus your energy there. If there is no clear spot, focus on your heart center. Just rest there, connected to those feelings, taking deep breaths. The purpose of this step is to redirect your focus from outside of you to becoming connected and centered in your body. Your body is a great storehouse of wisdom and guidance so I want you to reconnect with it and allow it to direct you.

  1. Connect to Your Courageous Heart

From this centered place, ask yourself if you are ready to take inspired action to move forward with the changes you are being so clearly shown you need to make. Remember, you are only asking if you are ready to take inspired action, you are not asking if you feel like you know what the next step is or know what outcome you want. The purpose of this step is to just get to a place of acceptance and willingness to take inspired action.

  1. Connect to Your Loving Support System

If you don’t know what your inspired actions should be, get help. You might have some blocks or fears that are preventing you from moving forward. These are keeping you stuck in a misdirected effort to keep you safe, when in fact they are creating more pressure and anxiety.

This is where Energy Therapy helped me the most. I was able to work with someone who helped move me through these blocks without having to dig up old dramas or rehash old wounds. My Energy Therapist gently and easily guided me past my rocky points to the fertile ground of possibility and choice. From there I was able to make the hard decisions and take the actions I’d been avoiding for some time without the angst that was paralyzing me.

If you do know what inspired actions you want to take, awesome, but I would still advise you to get help. Big changes are more successful when done as a team effort. Too often we get started with great intentions only to be thrown off course by the first obstacle we encounter. A coach in your corner can guide and encourage you when you need it the most.

Your beautiful Self is ready to blossom as your heart leads the way.” ~ Kathy Grace

April is a fantastic month to shower your life with one baby step at a time. Step by step you will prepare the way for beautiful blooms of change to spring up in your life. May, June, and July will show up, the only question for you is whom do you want to be when they do?

As your Master Gardener if there is anything I can do to help tap into your “heart of courage” please give me a call.

Abundant Blessings,

Donna

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Is Your Life Garden Full Of Weeds Or Clover?

“Obstacles, of course, are developmentally necessary: they teach kids strategy, patience, critical thinking, resilience, and resourcefulness.” ~ Naomi Wolf

“We have to embrace obstacles to reach the next stage of joy.” ~ Goldie Hawn

As this is the month we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I thought we’d look at how we view the shamrocks in our life’s garden.

Did you know that prior to WWII clover was a much-desired part of every lawn? It was purposely mixed into lawn seed because clover does such a great job repairing the soil and thriving under poor conditions. So what happened? Herbicide companies, whose goal was to kill weeds, also killed clover, thus leaving large unsightly brown spots in lawns. So what was the solution? Add clover to the “weed” list to literally weed it out of lawn seed.

From that time on, clover has been looked upon as a problem to eradicate. Why? Marketing! So how does that show up in your daily life?

Clover was sprinkled into seed bags to be an integral part of the whole system of growing a lush lawn. You know what else is an integral part of growing a lush life? Obstacles. We actually fail forward. Failures, obstacles, and problems are just part of the process, yet we view them as something that shouldn’t be there – as something to eradicate.

Why? Marketing! We have sold ourselves on the idea of how things “should” be and when that expectation isn’t met we struggle, not because of what’s in front of us but because of our resistance to it.

“It is clear to me that one of the biggest obstacles we face as human beings is the pain we put ourselves through when we resist and wrestle with our emotions.” ~ Debbie Ford

Shamrocks have been revered since ancient Celtic times because of their beneficial properties. They provide essential nutrients to the soil, helping things grow more; they are great sources of food for livestock, helping increase one’s abundance; and they are tenacious, as they keep coming back even after being cut down.

How are these good things for you when applied to problems?

Problems provide essential nutrients. It’s from the rich soil of problems and obstacles that we grow the most. Think about every point in your life there was a major shift – didn’t it come from some uncomfortable spot? Without occasional discomfort our lives would feel flat and meaningless.

Problems up level your abundance. Abundance comes in many different forms: compassion, health, wealth, love, understanding, and creativity. When you are on the other side of a problem you have expanded one or all of these in your life. The rubs of life are where you wear away your limits and hone your ability to expand.

Problems keep coming back, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. The lessons problems bring are gifts; problems, like clover, are tenacious in their commitment to bring you these offerings, even when you run, avoid, ignore, or attack.

“The gateways to wisdom and learning are always open, and more and more I am choosing to walk through them. Barriers, blocks, obstacles, and problems are personal teachers giving me the opportunity to move out of the past and into the Totality of Possibilities.” ~ Louise Hay

So this month rebrand your problems as essential steps toward an end. By eliminating your expectation of a smooth ride you are more open to recognize and accept the gifts presented as problems.

“It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting. Are they fun when they happen? No. But they are what make us unique. And that’s what I know for sure…I think.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

Shamrocks are a symbol of the magnitude of love and support available to you, if you’ll just open up to it. The Universe is always seeding your garden with supportive ground cover; yet if you see them as weeds you miss the guidance they offer.

Carry a Shamrock around this month to remind you to shift your perspective from resistance to openness, curiosity, and expectance. Look at the presence of clover in your garden as a pathway instead of an obstacle.

And may the luck of the Irish always be with you!

“You have to think lucky. If you fall into a mudhole, check your back pocket – you might have caught a fish.” ~ Darrell Royal

Abundant Blessings from your Master Gardener,

Donna

 

 

 

 

 

Top Photo Credit: 4-leaf clover by Jay Sturner

 

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Cultivating a Boundless Open Heart

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” ~Charles Dickens

February is the month of cultivating and growing our heart energy! How do we stay heart connected in our “Garden of Life” amongst the day-to-day stressors and the uncertainty of our present day world? We can start by being centered, balanced and Self-Loving. This will require us to “mindfully tend” to how we are feeling emotionally. Remember that what is going on in our inner world is creating our destiny in the outer world. Cultivating bountiful heart energy means planting seeds of heart-centered thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is where we feel compassion for the world, for the people we know, for the people we don’t know, and for our beautiful Self.

What can we do to open up our hearts so we can be there for others?

I am so inspired by a dear friend of mine, Ted Falcon, a Rabbi from Seattle, WA, is on a passionate heart mission. He has a foundation called “The Inner Faith Amigos” and he, a Christian leader, and a Muslim leader have joined up and travel all over the world connecting peoples’ hearts. They go all over the world presenting heart-centered seminars. In these seminars they pick one person from every background, race, religion, socioeconomic statuses, etc. They all sit around a table and one person at a time is asked a different heart-based open-ended question. Everyone else sits quietly and listens with an open heart, as the person shares their point of view. They each become beautiful witnesses to one another’s truth. By the end of this amazing seminar everyone in the room has fallen in love with one another because they realize that they all want the same thing in life: to love and to be loved.

Love does not obey our expectations, it obeys our intentions. ~Lloyd Strom

What are things we can do to cultivate the opening up our hearts and grow bountiful heart energy?

Self Care:

Having a good night’s sleep, eating foods that are good for us, staying hydrated with clean water. When we think about our life as a garden, we think about the loving tending that goes into a garden so that what we produce is healthy, vibrant, and abundant. Tend well.

Cultivate your own garden and let go of your tendency to examine and judge how others cultivate theirs…Stay busy and involved in your own life projects and pursuits and you will be far too busy to care, much less compel others to believe and live as you do.

~Dr. Wayne Dyer

Daily Mediation Practice

We share many words but the silence we share is One. The ancient psalmist said be still, be quite and remember the deeper wisdom that arises from within you. ~Ted Falcon

Meditating every day helps us to quiet our busy minds so we can hear our heart speak its wisdom. Meditation allows the left, analytical, brain to turn off and the right, creative, brain to turn on. When we listen and speak from our hearts, our voices sound different. We are able to convey words, wrapped elegantly in our heart-centered feelings. When we get out of our heads and into our hearts, things become easier, lighter, and more possible.

Here is a simple yet very effective meditation: Breathing through your nose, focus on inhaling from your navel up into your heart while thinking the word “peace” then pause for 4 seconds. Exhale from your heart back to your navel and hold for 4 seconds while thinking the word, “calm”. Repeat this cycle 9 times. In doing so, you will end up with 18 moments of beautiful stillness. This can be done with your eyes closed in a relaxed position or while walking.

Heart Journal

Each day, go on a scavenger hunt to find five things for which you are grateful or something that touches your heart and write them down, making sure they are different each day. As we practice gratitude and realize how very blessed we are, it is very easy to turn around and do a random, loving act of kindness to someone we know or even someone we don’t know.

When we are cultivating anything in life, we have to mindfully tend and consciously take action to achieve a bountiful harvest. In the month of February, I ask you to tend well to the garden of your life in the cultivating of your boundless open heart. I am here as your Master Gardener to coach you every step of the way in reaping the harvest of your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

Abundant Blessings,

Donna

 

 

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.” ~Abram L. Urban

Happy New Year and Welcome 2017! During this year, we will be exploring our “garden of life” and examining ways we can plant seeds of change now in order to reap a great harvest by the year’s end.

Many of us make New Year resolutions in January, only to find them waylaid by February. Why is this? We join gyms, begin diets, quit smoking, and attempt to reduce stress in our lives. Yet, these resolutions fall quickly by the wayside and we get discouraged and quit. What if, this year your New Year resolution came to “forwishen” (fulfillment, achievement, completion, perfection, and results).

 Planting Seeds of Change:

Before change can happen, it’s important for us to realize that our outer life is reflection of our inner life….meaning that the harvest we reap in our outer life is a reflection of the seeds that have been consciously and most often subconsciously planted and cultivated in our inner life throughout a lifetime of seasons.

Are your ready to create a new garden of life?

Here are 3 steps to start reaping your great harvest of desired resolutions this year:

 1.Set Clear Intentions and Then Create Your Plan

Just in the same way that you would not plant cucumber seeds to grow tomatoes, you have to have a clear intention and plant the seeds of your desired results to achieve the outcome you intended. For example, if your resolution is to lose weight, set your intention by knowing why you want to lose weight and what it would feel like to be at a healthier weight. From that feeling create your plan. This could include cutting out sugar, reducing simple carbohydrates, and adding more nutritional dense foods into your daily diet. The mere resolution of losing weight is not enough to bring about a change.

2.Take Action and Implement Your Plan

Take action and do it repeatedly so your new seeds of change take root. Be creative and plant “outside the box”. For example, if you want to get into better shape, find a fitness facility that offers a variety of activities, walk and skip each day, take dance lessons, or take up a fun community sport like Pickleball. Will you dare to take action and do it repeatedly to create your new life garden.

3.Consciously and Consistently Cultivate

Planting seeds isn’t enough. They must also be cultivated and tended. This can translate into being mindful. Being mindful allows you to bring your attention to your internal and external experiences happening in the present moment. By coming from a place of mindfulness you will find that a valued action will come with ease.

Is it your intention to plant seeds of change in order to reap more peace, more kindness and more love this year? Are you wondering how to bring about this great harvest of change?

Here are some examples of how to reap such a harvest:

To obtain more peace in your life, you must cultivate peace within yourself. How? First make peace with where you are right now. Take time to meditate. Practice yoga, Qigong or attend your place of worship. Spending time in nature is a great way to cultivate the peace that exists in all of us. And be sure to share your seeds of peace with others.

To obtain more kindness in your life, you must cultivate kindness in yourself. How? Be kinder to others. Just begin by smiling at others whether you know them or not. Be mindful of your reactions towards others, and purposely respond with gentleness in your tone.

When a difficult situation arises, we can ask ourselves: Is this kind? Is this true? Is this necessary? If the answer to all 3 is yes then go for it. If less then 3, then reconsider.

Using this process cultivates clarity in order to make the right valued action for your intended results.

Words we say to ourselves and others are like planting seeds. They are powerful and can hurt or heal. If our intention is to heal, being mindful of our words is paramount.

To obtain more love in your life, you must cultivate love for yourself. Sometimes, we can barely like ourselves, much less love ourselves. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with valued actions, this can be achieved. How? Weed out negative belief systems. Give more love to others, volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter; give what you can to help those less fortunate. In time, this cultivating of your loving spirit will pay off, and you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say “I love you”… “Thank you”.

 Your Great Harvest

Whatever you are seeking to create and weed out from your life this year it must be tended like a garden. A clear intention and plan (Seeds) must be planted then implemented (Action) and a conscious effort (Cultivation) must be brought forth daily. By year’s end, progress will be seen (your great harvest).

As your master gardener, I look forward to mentoring your life garden over the next 12 months and bringing your New Year’s resolutions to full “forwishen”-(fulfillment, achievement, completion, perfection, and results.)

Abundant blessings in 2017,

Donna

 “Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers” ~May Sarton

 

 

 

 

 

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Give Yourself the Gift of Peace

“Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality. It is a state of mind. If your mind is at peace, you are happy. If your mind is at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy. If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.” ~ Dada Vaswani 

“I’m concentrating on staying healthy, having peace, being happy, remembering what is important, taking in nature and animals, spending time reading, trying to understand the universe, where science and the spiritual meet.” ~ Joan Jett

I committed to making 2016 a year of joy-full lessons in order to help you expand you life.

As we enter December, I want to close with how you can give yourself the gift of peace. This is the greatest gift because it is in this space that joy, love, happiness, and heart-connection can take place. You can’t be very loving or joyful when you are harried, stressed out, overwhelmed, or at the end of your rope.

So here are three ways to give yourself a big gift this month. And as with all the gifts you give yourself, this one also positively affects everyone in your life.

Notice This Moment

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

This moment is the only time you actually have. No other time exists. Right now is all you have. So if you are not feeling peaceful, scan your thoughts and see if you are in the past or the future. The past evokes feeling of pain and the future evokes feelings of anxiety.

When you are feeling these things that’s your signal you’ve stepped away from the present moment. When that happens ask yourself, “Right now, am I ok?” The answer will almost always be yes. In this moment you have everything you need. Everything is ok. Take a few minutes to pause and let that sink in. When you do, notice the sense of peace that encompasses you.

Notice Your Story

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” ~ Buddha

One of the quickest ways to avoid the gift of peace is to listen to your story about what things mean. You can have peace of mind or your story, so you need to decide which is most important to you. You can’t feel peaceful and listen to the story in your head of why Janice got that big project and you didn’t. In fact, you have no idea why, but that doesn’t stop you from thinking that you were passed over for something you should have gotten, or feeling slighted, or being miffed at Janice and your boss.

All these things rob you of peace, and they are all illusions. So the quickest road to peace is paved with trust that all things are working toward your good. The more you lean into the idea that the universe is on your side, always and in all ways, the less you need to create mind chatter to explain why each and every thing is happening to you.

Notice Your Awareness

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ~ Buddha

Are you trying to make other things stand in for peace? Are you numbing out to gain peace? Are you hoping that that vacation will bring you peace? Are you masquerading happiness as peace? Finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk will make you happy, temporarily. Happiness comes and goes. Hoping things will bring you peace always disappoints. Looking for peace in too much TV, or that glass of wine, or those pain pills will not deliver what you seek. Peace is only able to exist in an alive awareness of this moment, your thoughts, and your natural defenses. Allow peace a foothold in your life.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” ~ John Lennon

December’s joy-full lesson is peace like a river flows, but only if you don’t dam it up. If you do not have the gift of peace right now, pause and scan yourself. Which one of these things are you not doing? What can you do in the next moment that would break the logjam and create a rush of peace into your life? Do you have an idea? Great, now go do that, right now. You deserve to give yourself the greatest gift of all this holiday season.

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Create A Curious Thanksgiving This Year

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” ~Johannes A. Gaertner

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest family gathering days we have, so while the intention is closeness and love, the reality is often stress and upset. So what can you do differently this year? Add a little curiosity to the Thanksgiving menu.

The stress of Thanksgiving stems from built up hurts, from miscommunications, and past resentments. The way out of conflict is curiosity. Like light and dark, conflict and curiosity cannot occupy the same space at once. So this year uninvited conflict and invite curiosity.

Here are three steps to transforming your Thanksgiving celebration:

  1. Get Curious

The way to add curiosity to your holiday ritual is to ask questions. There are things that gripe you every year. You know what they are. So take a moment and make a list of them. Really write them out. If there is a boatload of them write down the top ten things that cause you holiday heartburn.

Ask questions about the things on your list. Act as if they used to upset you; like they are in the past. Today you just want to know more about them so you have a richer understanding.

So if your husband is from another culture and his parents always eat from the serving utensils, find out why instead of silently fuming each year. Ask about their celebration traditions, how they serve party food, and what customs they consider to be complementary.

In addition to asking everyone about their family traditions, ask what part of the holiday is most sacred to them. Are there special dishes that mean Thanksgiving to them? Are there rituals that are important to them? Dig deep and you might be amazed at the treasure you might find.

  1. Get Composed

Curiosity cannot flourish in a sea of judgment so slip into neutral gear. Suspend your ideas of “right” and “wrong” and just accept “what is”. If your brother is chronically late, accept that’s just who he is. Instead of getting upset or trying to accommodate, set a plan and go with it. If dinner is a 4pm then sit down at 4pm. If he arrives at 5:30pm he can eat then. It gives you all an excuse to linger at the table longer, which is where all the good conversation happens, so it’s really a gift!

  1. Get Crafty

Examine your set rituals. Do they all still feel right or is there room for improvement? Are there some you do just out of habit? Can they be tossed so new ones can be incorporated?

Especially after asking others what they do, are there some fresh ways you’d like to approach the holidays? Is there something you can do to help someone else feel welcomed and appreciated?

Ask yourself and see what comes up for you. Let go of your fear of change and really be open to the possibility of something better coming into your life.

“My favorite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities.” ~ Mario Testino

November’s joy-full lesson is find joy in crafting your holiday any way you like. Too often we just do what we’ve always done and that leads to a rut. So shake something up this year. Allow curiosity to guide you in creating a Thanksgiving worthy of celebration.

 

 

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3 Words That Will Change Your Life

“A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.”     Gilbert K. Chesterton

“I have always believed that life is too short for rows and disagreements. Even if I think I’m right, I would prefer to apologize and remain friends rather than win and be an enemy.” ~ Maeve Binchy

Forgiveness has been a hot topic for a while now but not much is said about apologies. Learning to properly say, “I am sorry” will create tremendous positive change in your life and the lives of those around you. Here is a 3-step practice for effective apologies:

  1. Be Accountable for Your Actions

When you have hurt someone take 100% responsibility for your actions. Basically, woman up! This is the first place your apologies go off the rails. You say your sorry quickly followed by your reasons or intentions. You try to apologize by justifying or getting yourself off the hook. OK you had reasons for what you did: so what? Did those reasons stop the hurt from happening in the first place? No? Then they don’t belong in this conversation. Oh, and that explanation of why you had good intentions but things just feel apart? Yeah, that only serves to try and get you off the emotional hook because you feel uncomfortable owning 100% of the fallout.

So your first step is to just say, “I’m sorry for {the thing you did that hurt this person}”. Nothing more. Nothing less. This first step is crucial to making the whole process work because if you gunk it up, them everything that follows falls apart.

  1. Recognize and Validate the Other Person’s Feelings

The thing I notice with people who have trouble apologizing effectively is they don’t seem to understand the purpose of their apology. So here it is, please pay attention this might clear some things up for you: the purpose of your apology is to say you are sorry for hurting someone. Did you get that? That’s all there is; too many people think apologies are for getting to who’s right and who’s wrong. Or maybe they are a process of discovering right or wrong. None of that is accurate. You are only apologizing for the hurt you caused. Right and wrong do not belong here.

So step two is to validate the other person’s feelings. Say, “I can imagine my actions made you feel {put in how you imagine they feel by your actions}.” Then most important – ask if that’s how they felt! Say, “Did I get that correct?” If you did then great, if not then restate it with the correct emotions. Then finish this step by asking, “Is there more?” You want to cover all the hurt your actions caused. Might as well clean up the whole mess at once.

  1. Have a Plan so the Same Problem Won’t Happen Again

Step three is the kicker because you have to take that 100% responsibility thing all the way here. After you’ve said you were sorry and after you acknowledged the hurt you caused, now you must end with a sincere plan for not going down that road again.

This is where it can get tricky; saying, “If you didn’t give me that look then I wouldn’t have reacted that way” is not a sincere plan. Remember you are taking 100% of responsibility for your actions, which means even if the other person gave you a look that triggered you.

So the way to wrap up an effective apology is to say, “Next time I will take a breath when I feel my blood pressure rising and calm down a bit before speaking”. That’s a statement that will lead you toward more connection, and that’s the result you want from your apology.

“I’m an honorable human being. I know what to do and what not to do, and if I’m wrong, I always apologize. I’m a big enough man to do that.” ~ Action Bronson

October’s joy-full lesson is no one is perfect. Mistakes happen. You say or do something that hurts another. The way back to connection is through an effective apology. One that honor’s their feelings and allows you to sincerely take responsibility for your part. Discover the joy that is concealed in “I am sorry”.

 

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How Cultivating Your Compassion Sprouts Love

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~ Rumi

Suffering is hard. It’s hard when we experience it and it’s hard when people we love experience it. But suffering give us all the ability to practice compassion so it’s a wonderful gift just on that merit. We would not be as rich or complex without this opportunity so embrace it when it comes into your life. Practicing compassion always has the side effect of connection and love. It’s an inherent by product you get as a bonus so spread as much compassion around as possible and watch your life bloom.

Here are 5 ways you can cultivate compassion in your life.

  1. Deeply Listen

One radical act of compassion is to deeply listen to the person talking to you. Really hear what they say. Turn off that tendency to run your own mental discourse while they are talking. Stop planning what you’re going to say, stop judging or analyzing every word, just listen.

Be as curios as possible. Act as if what they are saying is golden and you want to hear every word. Ask them to tell you more when they pause. Disengage your ego and show up with your heart.

  1. Hear What’s Not Being Said

OK so compassion can’t happen when everything is rosy. So sometimes you need to hear what’s not being said. Look behind the yelling tone, the harsh words, and the angry look; ask yourself, “What could all this be masking?” Maybe it’s hurt feelings, self-judgment, or embarrassment. Show compassion by bypassing the surface and dive into understanding the feelings.

  1. Put Yourself in Another’s Shoes

Whenever you are irritated or upset by another’s actions, remember you have no idea what is going on for them. So when that clerk is short tempered with you, or your boss ignores you in the hall when you say hello, send them compassion instead of spinning out into anger.

Reader’s Digest once ran this story that illustrates this point beautifully:

A father and his three children got on a bus in central London. The father was lost in his own thoughts, and the kids, being unsupervised, were loud and disruptive to the other passengers.

Finally, a lady in a nearby seat leaned over to the father and said, “You really need to parent your children better. They are so unruly.” The father, shaken from his reverie, says, “I’m so sorry. Their mother, my wife, just died and we are returning from her funeral. I think we are all a little overwhelmed. I apologize.”

Remember you can never know what’s really going on with someone at that particular moment so make compassion your default.

  1. Remember We Are All One

It helps me to remember we are all one. We all have suffering, we all want love and acceptance, and we all drop the ball sometimes. By remembering our shared humanity I can shift from taking things personally into a place of love and compassion for someone who is struggling.

This exercise comes from Ode Magazine and it gives you a framework to mentally rehearse when you are faced with a situation that calls forth your compassion. Focus on the person and tell yourself: 

“Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”

“Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”

“Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”

“Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.” 

“Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

  1. Give Yourself A Break

Self-compassion is just as important as regular compassion. You will not be able to give what you do not have, so this practice is vital to your success in cultivating compassion. You are just as human as everyone else so when you fall down be gentle with yourself. If there is some aspect of your life you are not happy with, treat it with compassion as you are changing it. Give yourself the same consideration you would a child or a stranger.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” ~ Lao Tzu

September’s joy-full lesson is cultivating compassion grows the love you have in your life. Your love extends to the entire world when you approach life with compassion.

 

Here is a morning ritual practiced by the Dalai Lama to cultivate compassion. Plant this seed in your daily life and watch what wondrous beauty grows from it.

 

“Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

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Want to Win the Game of Life?

“It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave.” ~ Tupac Shakur

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” ~ Sai Baba

Who doesn’t love a good game? There is something that gets sparked in us when we play. We open up to fun, adventure, laughter, and flow when we engage in a game we love.

So why not create a life like that? One that filled with that spark of fun, adventure, laughter and flow? Well for one we take life very seriously and that sternness shuts off our ability to get in that zone. So how can you shift from life being a serious endeavor to life being a fun game? Here are three steps to transition you.

Decide to Play

Your first step is to decide to see life as a game. The reality is life happens every day. We get up, we go through our day, we have good things happen, we face challenges, we deal with the same irritation for the ten thousandth time, we feel a wide range of emotions, we judge whether or not the day was good or bad, and we go to bed so we can do it all over again tomorrow.

Those things are going to happen every day we wake up. But what we can control is how we approach life. It’s easy to get all wrapped up in the seriousness of life. The bills, the pressures, the daily irritations; these things tend to draw our attention to a dark place. Especially when they build up over time. We forget we have a choice about how we see life, but you do and I’m here to remind you to make a different choice today and give yourself a gift.

Decide to approach life as a game. You can still be serious about it, but with a sense of playfulness thrown in. Take for example those Green Bay fans, they take wearing those cheese hats very seriously, yet there is something very playful about their convictions! That’s what deciding to play the game of life will feel like for you.

Design the Game

Every good game first starts as a design in someone’s mind. You are your game master so it’s up to you to design your game. Pick an outcome you want in your life. Is it a better job? Or maybe a better relationship with your kids? Whatever it is decide on a topic.

Take out a really big sheet of paper or get a sheet of poster board. Make it a fun color. Now work backwards. Design it like The Game of Life or Candyland. Put on the end point you want to arrive at and draw a game board that gets you from where you are now to where you want to be. Include along the way the steps you need to get there and the obstacles that might pop up to get you off track. Make up some cards to help you out, maybe your version of a Get Out of Jail Free Card would be Give Myself a Pass for Making a Mistake Today. Get creative and create a small deck of reward cards and help cards.

By designing a game board you are infusing your process with the lightness of play.

Get in the Game

In order to play you must actually get in the game. This sounds obvious but many times my clients think they are playing their game but they are just watching from the sidelines. To get in the game you must take the actions needed to move you along. You must roll the dice, which looks like taking risks and making choices so your game piece can advance. Then you must take action and actually move forward. And then you must play the hand you get dealt. If you get stuck, pull a card. If you need help, phone a friend. If you lose a turn, take that time to rethink your strategy and look for the road that has the most fun and head that way.

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

July’s joy-full lesson is life happens. You will have to deal with the same stuff whether or not you feel burdened or you feel playful. You can’t control what happens out there but you can control how you react inside and that determines how much you enjoy your game of life. So please play. Please design a life filled with that spark of joy that comes from seeing life as an adventure instead of a burden.

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Make Your Best Possible Mistakes

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” ~ Kevyn Aucoin

“I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

First of all I’d like to say thank you for even reading this article. With a title like that I commend you for raising your hand and saying, “I want to know how to make better mistakes”. Kudos to you right from the start. You already have set yourself apart from the masses and I’m proud of you.

Secondly, I want to say mistakes are part of life. They happen. You drop the ball, you break a commitment, you hurt someone, you lose something valuable to you, or you fall flat on your face in front of a crowd. Ouch! We’ve all been there. These things will happen to you so the most important skill is how you handle them when they do.

Here are 5-steps for making the best possible mistakes.

  1. Be Courageous

Have the courage to make really big mistakes. The bigger the mistake the better the lesson. Small mistakes give you small information so go for it 100%! You are not helping yourself by always pulling on the reins of life because you are afraid something won’t work out. Give it all you have so life can return the favor.

  1. Trust Yourself

Too often we interpret mistakes as “wrong”. You doubt your ability to make the right choice, to hear your inner guidance, to trust you have what it takes when mistakes happen. Stop it! Mistakes are part of the process. The Native Americans had a saying about rain – they say the raindrops look random from our point of view but with enough distance the pattern would be apparent.

Trust yourself, trust your process, and trust the universe. With distance the pattern will become visible. Perhaps that “mistake” was the only way to get you to a point of transformation that eventually delivered the outcome you wanted. There might have been no other way to get there from where you started.

  1. Accept Your Mistakes

Embrace your mistakes. Take responsibility for them. They are yours: not someone else’s, not the result of a bad economy, and not the fault of outside influences. Mistakes are just information. By the way, “successes” are also just information. The only difference is you like one set of information and the other one you don’t.

The funny thing about acceptance is it frees you to move on. As long as you are dodging responsibility you cannot help but be chased by it. Turn around and embrace your mistakes. Thank them for the wisdom they shared with you, take responsibility for your portion, and move on free from the burden of dragging them around.

  1. Clean Up Your Mess

When a mistake hurts someone else or causes any kind of destruction, clean it up. Take responsibility and apologize. Sincerely communicate that you are sorry for the mess, the hurt, or the disappointment caused by your mistake.

Facing your responsibilities and apologizing frees not only you but the other party. Release any shame, hurt, or avoidance that your mistakes have generated. You will feel lighter.

  1. Laugh at Yourself

One of the best ways to not take mistakes so seriously is to laugh at yourself. Mistakes are universal – we all have those oops moments so lighten up and laugh.

Allow others to laugh with you too. If you can take things lightly you will have much more fun along your journey.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” ~ Buddha

July’s joy-full lesson is to find joy in the process. The outcome will be what it is, but the process is directly under your control. Mistakes happen, successes happen, and both are essential to your overall life path. Embrace and enjoy.

 

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The Joy of Making Lemonade from Life’s Lemons

“If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade – make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” ~ Ron White

Clichés are a way for us to turn big things into small, manageable bites. They help us make sense of our world even though they offer only a surface view. Such is the case with the cliché, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. That sounds nice but what does it actually mean?

I understand it’s saying make the best of every situation, but how? Just saying that we should do that doesn’t make it any easier. There are times in your life when things fall apart, you get sick, you lose your job, someone close to you dies, or you get a divorce. These things are the lemons life gives you. So how do you add the sweetness to these events to transform them from something bitter into something as sweet and refreshing as lemonade?

Here are three steps to help you find the sweetness when you go through hard times.

  1. Remember You Are Not Alone

Isolation keeps you trapped in tragedy. You are not alone. You are not the only person who has ever felt this way, has ever had to go through this, or has had this particular struggle. The thing about life is its lessons are universal.

So reach out for support. Allow others to help heal your wounds and support you through these hard times. Even if all they can offer is a shoulder to cry on and an attentive ear, you will feel better from reaching out and connecting with someone.

  1. Search For Your Silver Lining

When bad things happen it is human nature to get very caught up in the drama of it all. Bad feelings are very intense and they tend to expand with constant focus. It’s very easy to get mesmerized by them, much like the flute player mesmerizes the cobra.

So you must look away, even if for only a moment. Looking away will break the hold these feelings have on you and allow you to look for what else is available to you in this scenario. Even if a blessing or lesson is not readily apparent the fact that you expect it to show up and are actively looking for it will make it appear.

So open yourself up to the possibility of this event being the turn in the road that will lead to your greater good. Maybe you are sick because you are going to meet a doctor you will eventually fall in love with and marry. Maybe you lost your job because you were supposed to take a year off and help an orphanage in Africa, which is an opportunity you would have never considered because of your “responsibilities”.

I don’t know what lessons or gifts will emerge for you, but I do know you will find them if you look. They are there waiting for you to embrace them.

  1. You Have Power Over Your Story

How often have you retold the story of something bad that has happened to you? Do you fall into the trap of retelling your wrongs: recounting what bad things happened and who did you wrong?

I call this retelling photo talk. You take a moment in time and retell it like it was captured in a photograph. You have frozen it just as it was in the past, and as such you have frozen yourself in the past, unable to extract anything more from that picture than the details of the scene.

I suggest you free yourself from the pain of keeping that moment locked up and Photoshop your story. Ask yourself questions that tell the rest of the story and integrate the answers. Questions like, “What good came of this event?”, or “What did I learn?”, or “What about that lead me to be here right now?” or even, “What part of that am I grateful for?”. When you expend your version of the story you bring in the sweetness that transforms everything.

“In all my work, I try to say – ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?’” ~ Maya Angelou

June’s joy-full lesson is discovering the sweetness that is available in every situation, event, or person. Add it to your story and discover the joy of making lemonade from your life’s lemons.

 

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The Joy of Authenticity

“Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.” ~ Brene Brown

Authenticity seems to be a double edged sword – on the one hand we strive to be authentic, yet on the other it sometimes comes back to bite us. So what’s a girl to do?

Authenticity is defined as being real, not false, or copied. But what about those times being real is inappropriate? Imagine you are in the grocery store and you have just had the most frustrating phone conversation in a decade. The real thing to do would be to run up and down the aisles, screaming and tearing at your hair. After all, that’s what you really feel, right? But that would be one of those times being authentic in that moment would be a bad thing.

However, stuffing your feelings and just moving on through your day is also a bad thing. So where’s the sweet spot?

I believe that authenticity needs to be nurtured. You may have to be come back to it in a more appropriate moment, but it should be a priority. So in this grocery store example, while it might get you in hot water if you acted authentically right then that doesn’t mean you can’t do some screaming on the way home alone in your car. The important thing is not to get so invested in your polite mask that you forget to take it off and show how you really feel. This only makes things in your life worse because those feeling don’t go away they just seep out of small cracks in your veneer and do much more damage. An adage I’ve always loved is, “What gets buried alive, stays alive”.

Besides you are shortchanging the world by not being more fully you. You have a unique set of experiences, gifts, and ideas and the world needs you to play all out so we all can benefit from you walking the planet.

Marianne Williamson best described the calling we all have to be our most authentic self in her poem, Our Deepest Fear and it goes like this:

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

So how do you peel back your masks and more authentic in a productive, affirming way? Let’s begin by asking yourself some questions to help uncover your authenticity.

Who is the most authentic person you know?

Write down the name of someone you consider to be very authentic. You may know them personally or not.

What qualities do they have that ring true to you?

What aspects or qualities do they display that, for you, make their essence ring true?

When are you your most authentic self?

In what situations or with what people are you your truest self?

What qualities do you display when you are being your most authentic self?

When you are in the above situations or with the above people, who are you? What qualities or aspects of you shine?

Where are you not your most authentic self?

When are the times you hide those above qualities? What situations cause you to be most guarded?

What is it about the times you are most guarded that cause you to hide?

What is it about these situations or people that cause you to hide your authenticity? Is it something you fear? Is it something about the environment that holds you back?

Can you bring yourself to be more authentic in more of your life?

Everything is a continuum. You are at your most authentic at your best and most guarded when you feel not safe. So what qualities do you posses at your best times that can be brought into other aspects of your life? This does not have to be a total overhaul but perhaps are there are ways you could be 10% more authentic, or maybe 50% more authentic? Sometimes seeing how you are leaving yourself out of situations is enough for you to commit to the call Marianne Williamson has for all of us to step into the light and shine.

“I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

May’s joy-full lesson is to find the joy of being fully you in as many aspects of your life as possible. You are a gift and we are all diminished when you don’t give us the pleasure of your greatness.

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