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Monday, December 30, 2013

Writing rituals for New Years' Eve.....

Last week my son said to me: "Mommy when do we do our end of year writing piece.?" I was in shock-one he remembered - two he still wanted to write.  So today - I am going to list a couple of different exercises that you may choose to do on the eve before the New Year.  As a family, this is a ritual - at least between my husband and myself-and a new addition is our son.   I invite you to do this with your family or if you prefer with someone you can trust.  Write and read aloud- it will do you good!  Here are a couple of exercises:

1.  Imagine that it is December 31, 2014 and you are doing your year in review.  What would you say? How would you write it? What events would you like to highlight? Is there a practice you would like to begin? What are you most proud of at the end of the year?  List them even if it may appear trivial...Remember that that you are in the future.   Now when you are done writing the list...make that your commitment for January 2nd onwards.  Make it happen for yourself.  And record your journey into it.   Some prompts to help you get started.   You can begin with
" A year ago today......
" The things that I am grateful for this year....
" Some milestones that I want to highlight this year.....
"I am most proud of....

2.  Rachel Macy Stafford, Founder of Hands Free Mama had a wonderful post on her blog this week...about how so many of us can begin to look at the end of the year of the things that have been left undone - she quotes, " This is about the time your pants feel depressingly tight.  This is about the time all your bad habits come to the forefront.  This is about the time that every mistake is remembered with anguish....and you give permission to your inner critic to berate you."   I ask you to look at your thoughts very carefully around the end of the year ..is it one of regret, critic, or is it one of positivity.   And that is exactly what she suggests- Instead of succumbing to our inner bully, begin to look for the positives and notice the small steps that you have made this year to make your life happier and list them.  After listing them, read it out loud and give yourself a pat on the back for that.  It is a wonderful exercise because it helps you approach the coming year with hope and positivity.

3. I have card decks all over my house - angel cards, zen cards, The Four Agreements Cards- basically affirmation cards that help you set an intention for the day.  If you have a card pack, I would recommend picking one and  recording it for 12/31/13 and on January 1, 2014, pick another. Keep those affirmations with you as a simple reminder of the intentions that you have set for yourself everytime your inner critic pops up.  And of course journal about it...

4.  If you want to do a family activity with your children such as myself - I have them list 5 things that they are grateful for this year, five things they learned this year, and five things they want to learn going forward.  They can list or write - whatever they choose.  And have them read it out loud.  It is very empowering for children to do that. 

5.  Last but not least, this is for those who want something a little bit more spiritual....A meditation to guide you followed by a journaling exercise:

-focus your breathing on your heart. If comfortable, put your hands to your heart and close your eyes. It is important that you are in a relaxed state, so breathing in and out is extremely important.  Set an intention for yourself as you begin your meditation.  It could be something as simple that "gratitude is my prayer."  "I honor my body" or "I choose to be in the now."  Whatever it is, keep that intention while still breathing.  Let your heart guide you in this meditation and let your heart speak to you.   You may choose to look at the year in review.  You may just choose to focus on your breath.  You may choose nothing.  When you are ready, come back to yourself----and begin to write.  

I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, love-filled, harmonious, beautiful, light-filled New Year!

And Don't forget to journal....

Happy Journaling!

 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Year End....




I read something that has stayed with me and is a reminder to me about this special time of the year - we make a consious effort during this time of the year to be nice to each othr, to love one another, to forgive, to think of peace rather than fighting - and why do we do that? Because of the message that the holiday season brings to us - which is "PEACE, LOVE, JOY, BELIEVE, FAITH, TRUST, HOPE"..and the list goes on - whatever your spiritual affiliation is -there is a special energy in the air that this season carries. And it stays till about the 1st week in January - and them boom- we go back to our old lives-old patterns, and old ways of doing things - boom -just like that-do you ever wonder why?


And then the author went on to say - what if we make a decision to make this season a permanent one- where the authentic self in us that emerged for a short period of time stretches itself a little bit more and instead of it dropping on January 6, let us make an attempt to continue in that spirit. 
The question that comes to my mind is why would we not want to?  Take a look at yourself when you are happy - when you are in joy- when you are sending love- you are at your full glorious best- and in turn it becomes a domino effect.  Your individual choice to choose harmony over discord becomes a ripple effect to those around you - it starts with yourself- and it gets passed on to your family, partners, friends, office mates, and eventually strangers.   What does this say to you? what does that say about the human spirit? It can potentially do anything it sets it mind to- IF it wants to----and that is what this is all about.  

So as we approach the end of 2013, take a look at the year in review- there were achievements, there were losses, there were gains, there was hope , there were fights, and there were reunions- and there was love...we start with love and we end with love.  For some of us, this could have been the worse year of our lives, while for others it could have been the best year of our lives- life throws things at us constantly and it is up to us to live up to our ideal of what we want to strive to me...A meditation that I heard some time back - was "I attract that which I essentially am."  We aren't conscious of what we essentially are -but our soul is - and our soul wants us to reach to that level.  Once we begin to identify what and who we are, living it out will cease to be a struggle because we are aligned with our true self.... And that is what this season says to us - to love ourselves first and be able to give that self of ours to the world -as you give-so you shall receive. 

 To those of you who read me and look forward to getting my posts - I say thank you for reading me - writing to me has become as essential as breathing and as meditating. And this blog has been a medium for me to get to that level. I only hope that 2014 is filled with love, light, magic and hope. In the end, it is not what happens to us that matters, it is what we become in the process that matters -and that is the meaning of this life. What and how we become depends on how much we are willing to look at ourselves in the mirror and face the truth. What and how we become starts with one simple step -as an avid journaler - which is write, write, write. Write about the weather, write about your mood, write about how much you can't stand those pair of shoes, write about your favorite color, write as if you are in the future, write a letter to your loved one, write a poem, write out lists, write out dreams, write out hopes -There can never be too much or too little....but the journey inside us through writing is one of transformation - and it is worth it all the day

Some Journal Prompts for you:
- What would I want to say to you at this moment....
-If i could only
-To  Love is
-This year....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mindful Gifting










Its a week before Christmas.  How many of you are done with your christmas shopping? How many of you feel overwhelmed just mentioning the thought "gifts/shopping?"  And yet another question - how many of you are making a conscious effort this year to be mindful about the gifts we buy for our friends and family?I will be the first to admit - that at this time of the year in the past i have tended to get a little tad excessive and crazy with gifting - which financially is not always a good thing  - and no one likes to start of the new year with regret.  So as the holiday season was approaching, I decided to practice mindfulness with gifting - and see if it does make a difference.  


What do I mean by mindfulness?  Very Simply - being present with everything that I do, rather than letting myself get swayed into the future or some other land.  And I found that Practicing mindfulness during this time of the year has been a great tool for making heart centered choices for our gifts this year. 


First and foremost, I made a myself a list- who am I buying gifts for? Who is on my list.  Then, next to each person on the list, I listed one word that made me think of them. The reason I did that was becauseit helped me gain insight into how and what I may want to purchase for them.  who are they? what do they like? what brings them joy? do they have everything they want -then maybe some quality time with them? Even if it is your mailman for example, you may not know them personally, but think of something that you think would bring them joy...in essence- asking my heart to guide me with the gifts.  

Then I had to come up with a budget, and make a resolution to stick to that budget.  This is where mindfulness is so important because it meant paying attention to my body as i make the budget - am i breathing faster, is  my head hurting, am i feeling tense - it is very important for me to pay attention to my body especially doing this exercise - because that helped me be aware of the emotions I was feeling, and down the road, helped me make conscious purchases, not frivalous ones.  The thing about mindfulness is that you are paying attention to what you are doing at that present moment - not about what you would like to be doing, or how you would like to be doing it - and the budget exercise was important because it helped me when i was out shopping.  

The next thing I did was not have a deadline by when I needed to finish my shopping by- so for example - as long as I have it by christmas day, I'm good.  So it meant that I was not going to go crazy with spending long hours at the mall shopping, or spending enormous amount of time surfing the internet.  This was so important because it saved me time and energy. It also made the shopping more fun - because each purchase I made was unique - it was focused on that one person at that particular time, and it made the process less chaotic.

I did one more think- have you thought of how the perfect gift sometimes miraculously just falls into your lap- there is someone guiding you - whatever you want to call it- use that - and you will see how much more fun the process is.   

Gifts are a wonderful way  of showing your friends, co-workers, family and that special someone how much you care about them.  With a week away before Christsmas, there is a certain energy in the air of the last minute Christmas shoppers and the to do lists that never seem to end.  If you haven't done your shopping yet, and are feeling frenzied, trying mindful gifting, it will do you wonders.  We forget about the real meaning of this holiday - and get carried away with the consumerism around us - or on some level a desire to please and thinking that pleasing is linked to materialism - but in essence, it is really about the person and sharing something wonderful with the person -sharing yourself, and what better gift can that be? Think of your favorite childhood Christmas memory - for me yes the gifts were fun to open - but it was that day - spending time with my parents - going for a movie on Christmas day - a good meal -those are the things that I remember - not so much the gifts....so keep that in mind when shopping this year. 

Ah, and yes-during this time, it is very very important to BREATHE.  Our breathe brings you back to the present moment and by being in the present, our decisions are clearer.
Some examples of Mindful Gifting:
  • -giving an experience i.e. massage, painting class, an e-course, a walking tour - look at groupons/living social for great deals.
  • -a photobook with a story- My publisher has some great deals, as well as Shutterfly
  • -gift cards -they may seem impersonal, but believe me someone receiving a gift card is always appreciative...
  • -movie tickets 
  • -self-care products -
  • -lunch/dinner to their favorite restaurant
  • -a bottle of wine will never hurt:)
  • -donating for social cause - toy drive, coat drive, etc.
Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Calling...

"I have heard it all my life
A voice is calling a name I recognize as my own
Sometimes it comes as a soft bellied whisper
Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency 
But always it says "wake up my love, you are walking asleep."
-Oriah Mountain Dreamer-

Journal prompt: Take one line from the above, and write what comes from your heart...


A voice is calling a name
It is the sound of my soul 
Pounding away, asking me to hear the call of authenticity and begin the path of simplicity.
The call is a tough one because to live authentically means to live with courage 
It means being Willing to take the chance that others will abandon you while you walk the path of your own truth. 
Take time to discover your truth
Pay attention to the signs around you that will 
Guide you to your truth
Each day you must step further into discovering the path of your truth
Today I discovered the power of my voice 
I discovered that honesty and integrity combined touched the heart of one person
I trusted the call of my soul.
And as I awoke the next morning, 
I woke up to the sounds of drums
The drum was my heartbeat telling me to listen- to the patterns of my life and to respond to my calling… 


what do you awake to??????


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


“My Destiny is Joy.”  I recently completed a 21 day meditation challenge with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra in which for 21 days straight, I would receive a meditation on Desire and Destiny.  It was my time where I would allow myself to really delve into the power of meditation and set intentions for the day.   The experience was a transformative one on many levels because it made me stick to a routine of setting “me” time and silent time, but more than that, it gave me the power to really believe in the miracle of “joy.”  When I heard the affirmation, “My Destiny is Joy,” I questioned it –wondering what does that really mean?  Does that mean that I must not experience any pain? Does it mean that we can only be positive and negate the reality of our life?  No, it simply meant that – Joy is my birthright – but in order to do that, you must choose it.  Yes, there are going to be ups and downs, and yes there are going to be financial pressures, and yes there are going to be uncertainties in our lives, and yes, we are going to go through painful times, but amidst all this we must seek to reflect on what makes us “joyful” and remember that like children, no matter what we must choose joy. Someone wise told me “This too shall pass.”  Nothing is permanent -there are seasons to everything, the only thing that does not change is our soul-and our soul is joy.  So reminding ourselves that every now and again brings us back to that reality. 
Because in the midst of how I decide to view my situation –by living joyfully, the way I experience my situation also begins to change.  So yes, I may be very uncertain about my future because currently it looks bleak, but if I choose to be joyful and look at what brings me joy – I live in accordance to the law of the universe.  And while yes, our pain of a break up, or the loss of a loved one can be so devastating to us – but by choosing to be “JOYFUL”, I make each day count in accordance with what brings me joy.   If you have been recently hit with a medical condition, it can change your whole life- it can alter the course of your lifestyle, but despite that –aren’t you allowed to still be joy full?  By making a choice to believe that we deserve to be Joyful, our decisions and our outlook begins to change because we will settle for nothing less than what we feel we deserve.  “Joy” is a choice we make to experience under any circumstances.  It takes courage to allow yourself to really believe it and life will throw you several experiences to test that courage, but if you believe that you are meant to feel that joy –and that bliss- and share it on to others –then as the mediation says, “you will be like a big bright stardust.”  
 
The Holidays can be difficult for many of us.  Yet, a simple tip to remember is that of experiencing joy.   What is true joy to us?  Think of a moment in your life – it doesn’t have to be something miraculous or exciting, it could be something as small as getting a smile from someone you love – and how that particular moment made you feel “joy”.   .  

Make a list of things that give you joy – and for this month, practice it – give yourself that permission to feel that joy. 
 
Journal Prompt:

Make 30 Entries with the following Prompt:  How can I Choose to experience Joy in my life?
Write them in List form and label them 1-31 for the entire month of December. 
Under each Date i.e. lets say tomorrow is the 4th – Look at what makes you Joy and either use that as your intention/affirmation throughout the day, or find a way to make it happen.  Reflect on it in your journal.
 

This is my list, What is yours
  1. Paint
  2. Sing
  3. Walk
  4. Make cookies
  5. Help Someone in need…
  6. Read a book
  7. Meditate
  8. Do Yoga
  9. Have a Date Night
  10. Massage
  11. Dance
  12. Watch a Movie Marathon
  13. Wrap some gifts for the Toy Drive
  14. Write
  15. Paint some more
  16. Write, Write, Write
  17. Have a great Conversation
  18. Meet old friends
  19. Walking in the woods
  20. Walk in the city without a destination
  21. Simply Sitting
  22. Family Time
  23. Listen to Carols
  24. Enjoy the look of my son opening his gifts and really believing there is a SANTA. 26. Be Happy
  25. Remember to Choose Joy with a good MojitoJ
  26. Be Grateful for What I have
  27. Internal Checklist for myself
  28.  Quite Time
  29. More Quiet Time and Reflection…
 
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FEELING GRATEFUL!!!!!!!!!!


On November 7, 2013, I joined Kindspring.org as it began a 21 day Gratitude Challenge in honor of Thanksgiving. Gratitude has its ways of opening up energy centers in us that are blocked.  Gratitude helps us look at the bigger picture, and removes us from our so called “tunnel vision.”  Gratitude allows our compassionate self to become more dominant, but most of all Gratitude is another gateway to “happiness.”   Journaling about Gratitude and having daily journal entries can allow us to be more mindful about how we experience Gratitude on a daily basis.  So when I came across the challenge, I was so exhilarated, because it gave me an opportunity to experience this while journaling.  Today, marks the end of the 21 day challenge, and all I can say is this will push me to be more grateful on a daily basis.   I involved my son who is six (almost 7), and his version was a modified version, but it was a beautiful experience as we both journaled our thoughts on the various ways of feeling grateful.  And that’s what it is in essence – BEING, FEELING AND LIVING GRATEFULNESS IN THOUGHT, WORD & DEED.

 

The Power Of Gratitude Will Unleash Your Ability To AttractFor those of you who are interested in keeping a journal on Gratitude, I will list the questions that we received each day as journal entry prompts – There was a community of participants whom we could share our thoughts with, there was support in our joint mission on feeling grateful.  I ask you to pick one of these questions, and reflect on it – and throughout the day be mindful of that particular question – notice how it manifests itself in your daily life – be mindful of it.!  And more than anything, a big Thank you to Kindspring.org - an amazing idea...

 

1.      What do you have enough of?  Write it down.  What is that you have, focus on what you have, not on what you do not have.  Write about it, Draw it, or make a collage of words on the word SUFFICIENCY!
 
2.      Who do you know that you can never repay?
 
3.      What inconvenience are you grateful for? LIST IT ALL and see how you can be grateful for this inconvenience!
 
4.      What is your most precious memory?
 
5.      Which Artist Lights up your world? Take a moment to reflect on it and how they played an impact on you.
 
6.      How has your life changed for the better?
 
7.      What is that you know that you never want to forget – what wisdom that you always hope to have in your heart?
 
8.      What is the greatest compliment you have received or given?
 
9.      What is the best advice you have ever received?
 
10.  What made you smile today?
 
11.  What is the best mistake you ever made?
 
12.  Who inspires you to be your best self?
 
13.  When has nature taken your breath away ? (My personal favorite)
 
14.  What has shaped your inner compass?
 
15.  What is most cherished gift you have ever received?
 
16.  Who in your life are you underappreciating?
 
17.  What skill do you value most in yourself?
 
18.  Who can you say THANK YOU in this very moment?
 
19.  What have you lost and learned from? List them, each of them – it is important to take the time to acknowledge all that you have lost in order to move forward.
 
20.  If this were your last day how would you spend it?

And last but not least – below is a link to a warm video called “GRATEFUL.” 


 

Happy Thanksgiving all & Happy Journaling!

 

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Imprint in our Hearts!

It is a week before Thanksgiving.   Today, I choose to reflect on the ones who have made an imprint in your life - whether they are alive or deceased.  Often the ones that are closest to us, are also the ones who are no longer physically with us.  And this time of the year, can be particularly difficult especially because Thanksgiving marks the union of family - far and near.  For me, specially although time has passed, not a day goes by without me thinking of my father, whom I lost 12 years ago, around this time of the year.   Although the memories are not painful anymore, I usually take this time to reflect on his life -his imprint on me and being grateful for being his daughter.

Last week, I decided to take a walk in the woods at the nature center -we have a bench that we have dedicated in his memory -with a quote by his favorite Poet, Rabindranath Tagore.  Mind you, I seldom go there, but this time I was determined to find my path on my own.  I started walking thinking i would find it - but i found myself lost in the woods.  Usually I would have become panicky, upset, because I had set out on an intention and it did not appear instantly - but this time, I decided to do otherwise - let my heart guide me because I knew I would find the bench - and I did in due timing.   I love to write after walking in nature.  And so, below is what came out of my time in the woods on the bench that gave me closeness and proximity to my dad.   Yes, it is personal - and I choose to share this more so for those who may have a loved one who is no longer with them and want to pay tribute to them - do this for you, do this for yourself. 

My father, My friend
From a very young age, I took to you,
Your way of speaking,
Your view of the world,
Compassionate, gentle, idealistic, and yet practical
In your world, I was introduced to Literature, Books, Music & Film!
I allowed myself to dive into it, and continue that eternal search of "Who Am I?"
The idea of always wanting to better myself and at times to perfection was instilled in me from a young age.
You taught us to love all, to treat all as equal.
Each of us come with gifts on this earth and we need to treasure them. 
I learned to laugh at myself, and more I learned to love food like you did....
For the many road trips and plane trips that we went on I am eternally grateful. 
Exposing me to another world, another way of life, a different culture. 
Your hard work, strong ethic, I saw it come to the forefront in your sweat.
Your love for education & sacrifices for us, I will never forget
When you left, I was prepared, yet a hole in my heart remained. 
Trying to remember everyday your words that you are never away, and always with us...
Difficult to do, but it pushed me to believe it. 
When I want to find you, all I have to do is go within, and a strength emerges. 
When I want to be inspired by you, all I have to do is go to nature and feel the beauty of the world around us.
When I have to be practical, all I have to do is go back to the words you left me. 
They are always with me. 
I give thanks to you for bringing me in this world.
I give thanks to you for being able to always see past the surface and hold my head up high and walk. 
I give thanks to you for your wisdom that still lives on in the lives of those you touched.
And I give thanks to you for letting me see the beauty in death. 
For when you were gone, You showed me the true meaning of life - which is to Love!
And Give Love~
Let me always remember this message on this journey of Life!

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You are never Alone!

I read something the other day that keeps following me wherever I go : "Never doubt for a moment that you are ever alone. There is a universal force, God, guides, angels, invisible helpers and visible helpers that make themselves available to you during your moment of need - and even in non-needy moments."  The trick is to believe and allow that help to come your way - because they are there with you all the time. 


Whatever your belief system is , I ask you to drop all judgement at this time and preconceived notions of what you think is right or wrong - and think of times when unexpectedly help has come your way - or you feel surrounded by protection -or a kind stranger has given you something to ponder about,  or you just truly feel blessed.  Think of the feeling you had at that moment - whether it be shock, in awe, dumbstruck - whatever it was - go back to that feeling not so that try to gain understanding of why or how it happened, but moreso to remember that "you are never really alone."   Hold onto that feeling and let it become larger and larger until you breath it.  

That feeling of aloneness can make you numb - can paralyze you and create such boundaries around you that in the long run can have devastating effects on you emotionally.  But if we shift that perspective and truly begin to feel that there is a protective cloud around us - that our needs are always provided at the right moment - that everyone in some way or the other that has been in our life has helped us move forward in life - then that loneliness feeling will slowly fade.  There is an inner strength that emerges from our soul that allows us to walk with our head up high and feel secure.  Then the questions of survival and security - our basic living needs are satiated because we have our roots firmly planted in that.

And if it is difficult for you to inculcate that feeling of an invisible helper, then think of all the people that have helped you become the person you are today - Have you changed in some way or the other for the better? Make a note of who they are and note down what they have thought you.   Take this a step further - note down even the ones whom you consider have been destructive to you - that have triggered things in you - whether they are in your life now or not - think of the impact and how their presence in your life has helped you for the better.  All these individuals that appear in your life are visible helpers - are there to mold you, make you like gold - and help you become the person you are supposed to be. 
Dreamstime_10786726

And if that isn't enough - then I ask you turn to nature - and that will always remind you that you are never alone.  The sun rise - with its scorching rays- giving light to us when we are about to go forth through our day - take a look at the sun rise - and see the beauty in which it rises.  Take a look at the sun set - and just bask in awe at the beauty of the various color combinations that make the sky look so perfect - Take a look at the moon - in the night surrounded by stars-so clear, so calm, so still - a beautiful blanket for our eyes to see.  And for those that live in the U.S. - the folliage this year has been absolutely breathtaking - that is nature asking us to spend a moment with it and appreciate the beauty it is sharing with us for our eyes.  Everytime you feel alone, I ask you to look at the sun setting, I ask you to go by the water/beach, I ask you to just spend some time with nature - and you will feel complete.  

Journal Prompt:
Take a couple of deep breaths.  Feel Relaxed, and Go back to a moment in your life where you truly felt helped by an invisible helper or visible helper.  Now I want you to describe that moment- think of the time, the day. Think of the feelings, think of what you were wearing, if you were eating or in your car, or at home.  Feel the moment and relive the feelings of that moment and then write about it.   Your entry is a detailed entry of that moment !

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Light Light Every Where!

2013-11-02-Diwali_Diya.jpgThis Past weekend, I celebrated the Hindu New Year, called Diwali, or Deepavali!  Which in sanskrit translates to "Row of Lights."   So as much as lighting candles can be a fire hazard, it is taken to its maximum level on this day.  Houses are filled with tealights or earthen clay pots called "diyas" and on the night of Diwali, you will see rows of lit candles.   There is a famous Hindu prayer, that translates "From Darkness lead me into light" -and in many essence that is what Diwali is.  It is our way of saying good bye to whatever darkness that may have happened in our lives during the past year, and welcome it with light, light, light everywhere.   Symbolic in its meaning, but rituals are played to display the symbolic meanings.   The rituals of lighting the candle for peace, for love, for wisdom, for unity - the rituals of wearing new clothes, of cleaning our house and get rid of all the clutter, the ritual of visiting /calling/wishing loved ones and family so that the light can be spread to them too.  
It is my favorite festival because it gives me a new chance with a new beginning.  It allows me to let go of the past without any regret, resentment and blame - and look forward to a new year filled with positive resolutions, and filled with love.    It is also the day where we are reminded that the lamps of light we burn in our homes, is also the light of god that we need to light in our heart.  However you may consider God, and the relationship you have with God - the light is symbolic of the qualities you believe are characteristic of God.  And for me - Diwali is about living up to that ideal.  Whatever the case may be - even if you feel you may have failed in one way or the other, even if you may have caused someone pain in one way or the other, even if you have been wronged more than one way or the other - And that's what Diwali is - an opportunity and the chance to change - to be new again.  We are given that chance again and again every year - and when the new year comes, we need to remind ourselves of that goal. 

Serene Tea Light Candles Stock Images - Image: 343114What does "light" mean to you?  When you light a candle, think of the feelings that are associated with that- do you feel happy, warm, peaceful, romantic? Those are all positive feelings -and if you think about it, a candle has that ability to make you feel that way.  Nowadays, you have scented candles and with the aromatherapy, it gives you a deeper sense of upliftment.   Think of how you feel when you enter a spa - that is lit with candles - allow yourself to be aware of those feelings/sensation in your body.   That is the power of LIGHT!!!!!!! It can lead you to a brighter side of you.  

Journal Prompt for you today:
Close your eyes,  Imagine there is a flame burning in the center of your heart.   Allow that flame to grow larger and larger - Begin to feel the warmth of the flame.   That flame is you .  That flame is Love multiplied 10 times and more.  
1.  Now open your eyes and for five minutes write:
The light in me  ______________________


Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Great Article worth sharing......

http://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us-healthier-ocean-robbins/

A Great Article on Gratitutude- it highlights Journaling as a good tool!
and sites a 21 Day gratitude Challenge Beginning on November 7th!

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Family dynamics and you....

There is an old indian saying that translates into "We choose the family we are born into."...and then there is the scientific theory - which is that you are linked biologically to someone and that is why they are called family. The two perspectives are quite contradictory - the former- puts the onus on you to examine your individual and communal relationships with your family and the role you play in it. And the latter absolves you of any responsibility - it allows you to look at it in the context of biology and gives you the option of cutting yourself of from them should you choose especially if the relationship is toxic.




Yet if you think about it, the family is one's first contact with developing social relationships. The family gives you stability or instability, structure or lack of structure, trust vs. mistrust. The family is also where we first learn how to love, how to share - we learn about obligations, we learn about duty and responsibility. We learn how to interact with one another, how to communicate, how to love/hate one another through our day to day interaction with our immediate family and extended family. And over time, the definition of family gets extended - because it is not only just your own nuclear family- children are born, more members are added into the family by way of matrimony, etc...



The family is probably the first contact where you experienced feelings of jealousy, feelings of rivalry, feelings of unconditional love, feelings of guilt, feelings of pure joy, feelings of over protection, feelings of restentment, and feelings of lack of control/ and power struggles. Yet despite all this - we manage to work through these feelings because of the term "family" and because we want to make it work. No matter how dysfunctional a family is, because often they are the only people that really "get" you, you work through your differences so that you can be together. If there are children involved, then the desire to work through all these emotions is even more.



Yet everyone knows that because a family is a collective unit of individuals -kind of like a group- the dynamics in the group is not always going to be perfect. There is always going to be "the star", there is always going to be the "scapegoat", and there is always going to be " the troublemaker." We all have personalities we come with, we all have issues we struggle with - and imagine a home filled with loads of these personalities. What would the outcome be? especially if we all lived together?



The answer is clear -We make choices within the family structure as to whether we want the family to thrive or dissolve by our reaction to one another. It is not so much about the individual personalities at a certain point - it is about how we respond to them and what we choose to make out of that situation. Do we communicate effectively with one another and choose to really discuss our point of view?. Or do we avoid, internalize and/or express it violently/aggressively because we don't know how to effectively communicate. And most of all, how much of it is a sincere longing to have a belonging to someone that you call your own. We all want to belong somewhere and be part of something that defines who we are. It is a human condition and a family unit gives us that. But it also teaches us alot of lessons about living.



Sometimes it is about learning a lesson of "standing our ground." Sometimes it is a lesson for us to "not take on as much as we always do." Sometimes it is a lesson in 'learning to listen." Sometimes it is a lesson in " learning to forgive." Sometimes it is a lesson in "learning to develop empathy and compassion." Sometimes it is a lesson in "learning to be humble." Sometimes it is a lesson in "learning to hold onto to our beliefs when all others abandon it." And last but not least, " it is a lesson in learning to be patient."



Think of your own family dynamics - and think of the lessons you have gained, the struggles you have had to face, and think of the role you play in your family. What would you do differently? what would you change? Do you see patterns repeating themselves in various ways?



We are heading into November by the end of this week. The leaves are changing colors, and fall is definitely in full swing. With fall, comes holiday seasons - and not that i want to begin thinking of that, but I write this piece about family more so to begin a reflection of family and what it means to you. We go through life often like a bull running after a target - and if we stop and take a breath, we will begin to see patterns, ideas, thoughts within our family structure that will help us to either make a decision to heal/mend it or remove ourselves from it should it be toxic.

Sometimes it is worth it to go all the way to save the family - because in your heart you know it is the right thing to do. At other times, it is about letting things be as they are - and making a conscious decision of not allowing your self to go there.

Whatever the choice is, do it wisely and calmly.



Journal Prompt:

1. Do a five minute writing sprint on FAMILY.

2. Complete the following sentence - I want my family to _______________

3. For fun, have each member of the family do a poem with the words Vertically Written and write something. You can make a collage with it, or a photobook with it.



Fulfilling my needs, wants and desire

Amidst times of struggles and despair

Moving me in a direction of possibilities

Inspiring me to do more

Loving me unconditionally

You bring me closer and closer to you!



Happy Journaling!



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The other side of the coin...

 "If the only prayer you ever said was thank you, that would be
enough," said Master Eckhart - an so true it is.  This is a prayer
that has stuck with me since childhood - my aunt would remind me over
and over again that no matter what happens to you in life - be
thankful for what you have, because there are those around you that
are in worse situations than you.  As a child, i may not have fully
grasped the meaning in its totality, and maybe on some level just
began saying this prayer on automatic pilot because it stuck with me,
however as i grew and went into adulthood and all the different
changes/stages that we go through, saying thankyou was very helpful.


It has helped me shift perspective, and has helped me look at things
beyond what meets the eye.   It has pushed me to not get stuck in my
emotions which can be very draining, but more so it has allowed me to
live life - we often just let the whole day pass before us without
doing anything - and sometimes doing nothing is necessary, but i am
talking about it within a different context.   Living is not simply
just waiting for life to happen - it is actually making life happen -
and by saying thank you - we allow things to happen.   We are humbly
acknowledging that a greater power has provided us with so much and
more - we are humbly acknowledging that yes, our life could be a mess
right now, but there are other things that are also worth living for,
we are humbly acknowledging that we may have made a mistake, but that
there is also a second chance to do it over again and perhaps even a
third.  So there can never be enough of thank yous - and i think as a
society, we don't say it enough.
Everytime, i am at a restaurant and someone serves me my meal, i say
thank you - because it reminds me of how grateful i am that i can get
to out and have a meal, while there are so many out there that can't.
Everytime, i pay for a service, i say thank you -because even though
they are being paid to do it, there is still work involved on their
part and it take effort.    Thank you is an essential part of our
vocabulary and saying thank you also reminds us of those invisible
helpers that are there along the way (or even visible helpers) that
have helped make our life alot easier.
I do this practice with my son, and for those of you that have
children, i ask you to do that with them - because it teaches them to
look beyond what meets the eye- it helps them face the ups and downs
of life with courage, with optimism and with a humility that "yes,
this too shall pass."  But more than anything, it helps us get unstuck
- when we are stuck in our emotions, in our ways, in our thoughts
-there is no room for change.  Change can only happen if we allow our
perspective to change and allow our view to shift and change - and
then we will see daily things happening in our lives that we are so
grateful for.
I was struggling with an issue the last week or so - which i know has
no resolution  - but i revisit it every time and everytime my mind
gets stuck and my emotions get stuck - and this time i got tired of
feeling and thinking that way - so i decided to shift perspective - if
i shift my persepctive, then maybe my stuckness may get entangled and
i will be free - and as difficult as it is to do it - i had to push
myself to do so - Saying Thank you and listing out what I am thankful
for -making a list for myself of specific things that i am thankful
for helped me shift perspective.   THe message I got which I would
want to leave you with is " What happens to you does not matter - what
you become through the process is what matters and that is the meaning
of life."  It is understanding that all that is happening will happen,
but it is how i respond to it, how i become in the process that will
change my attitude - and i will say that sometimes one may feel like
you are walking through a fire when faced with struggles - but how you
come out of it, is so important  in the long run - so hold on tight.

Journal Prompt:
1. Do a five minute sprint beginning the sentence: "The worse thing
that could happen to me is
2. At the end of the day, make a list of all the things that happened
during that day and be specific - that you are thankful for - do it
for 2 days, then extend it to 3 days, and then make it 5 days, and
then make it a week.   See the change/shift if any and note it.
3.  Say Thank you GOD! Say THANK YOU! - people often feel unloved and
taken for granted - extend your thankfulness to those whom have helped
you along the way on your path - don't forget them.

Happy Journaling!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Power

When someone holds a position of authority, it gives them a sense of power over other people.  The more power someone has the more power he/she wants.   As the saying goes, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Power can be of different natures - an employer versus employee, power control between intimate partners, power of that of parent/child - the list can go on in terms of power differences can play out in various relationships.   What does it mean when the person in the position of power utilizes it unethically? Where, the goal is power and control over the other person, and taking pleasure in seeing the other person be subjected to humiliated, violated and weakened.  I have often said this and I will always say this - "no one should have that kind of power over you, where you feel you have to answer to their beck and call because they are in a position of authority."  But when fear kicks in and you feel that you are nothing without them - financially, emotionally, physically - then at that point what are you supposed to do? 
I write about this today because I have seen several individuals in situations where their behaviors are determined according to when they feel out of control of our lives and dependent on the other.   And the day that we realize that, is the day we need to wake ourselves up from this delusion. 

Fear is a paralyzing factor - and paralysis numbs you - it numbs your speech, it numbs your actions, it numbs your thoughts - at times it also may begin to delude you into believing that "YOU ARE THE PROBLEM." 
We all have something that is called Personal Power - and because of the fear we have forgotten our personal power.  

How would you define Personal Power - That within myself, I possess all the wisdom, the love, and the strength I need to operate in this world.  Personal Power is something that in innate within us.
If we stand up for what we believe in, and refuse to let another person/organization/group dictate our behavior and even our thoughts, we reclaim our personal power.   If we continue to live in fear and believe for example that our livelihood, our partner, our relationships will be lost, we have lost ourselves in the process.  We have given into the power play and lost.  

In order for that to happen, we must find a way to reclaim our personal power - and the qualities that are associated with that - if we discover that the qualities that are associated with personal power are things such as ego, anger, resentment, then we are in the wrong direction.   But if we begin to find qualities in ourselves that show understanding, that show honesty, that show compassion - we are heading in the right direction.  

What can we do to reclaim it? Here are some journaling tips that one can utilize for this context:

1.  Make a list of all the reasons we believe we are being victimized?  This is being honest with yourself to let u know that yes - your personal power is being taken away.
2.  Make a list of things you think you would lose if you begin to say "no."  And next to each item, answer the question " What is the worse thing that could happen?"  
3.  Out of that list, look at see what you can realistically do without?  The things that stand out to you that you need for survival - then put an "x" next to it.  Putting an "x" next to that does not mean you have to tolerate the power and control, but more so, determining how are you going to respond to it?  What Tools do you need? 
4.  Define what Personal Power means to you.   
5.  Write out a picture of how you would like the situation to be in your world?   What would you change? More specifically about yourself.
6.  Pick 3 things about yourself that you want to work for yourself - and for one week, keep a log of tracking your behaviors.   Notice if these behaviors are either sabotaging you to lose yourself or if you are beginning to change your thought process because you are more mindful of it.
7.  Be mindful of how you communicate - because that is key to reclaiming your personal power - are you quick to jump to defense mode, are you quick to resign yourself that "no one is going to listen", do you often throw a tantrum so you can be heard,  or  are you critical in your communication style.

Happy Journaling!
  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Patterns....

When is it okay to say "enough is enough."   What if you feel like you have reached your limits and can't handle anything else that life throws at you - and don't know if you can take it - what do you do then?  They say before the calm, comes the storm - and life is alot like that - it throws things at us, one after the other  -often without a particular time frame.  What if you feel you have hit rock bottom and don't know where else to go? Where else to turn?  When I mean "rock bottom" i am not referring to suicidal ideations - but more so you emotionally don't know how much more you can handle - then what do you do?  How many of us have been in that situation.   I know for one - i have on more than one occasion.  

But I also know that having been there before, what I will say to those who are going through it is - that your mind is stronger than you think.  And it is in times like these that it is so necessary to clear the clutter in our heads and begin looking at the situation with clarity rather than emotionally. 

I have been having conversations with my husband about life and the direction it steers us in - oftentimes we are in situations that when we are in it, we may be upset about it, we may be fighting ourselves through it, we may be questioning why - we may be wondering why we are struggling so much - and we may want justice - But during that time, do we ever stop and ask the question "What do I have to learn from this."   "What am I not seeing that I need to see."  "Am I reacting to a situation based on need versus a situation based on what I think I am entitled to have."   It is so important during turbulent times to have discussions like these with someone you trust, someone to confide in, and more than anything someone who will be able to see things objectively rather than sympathize with you - you want someone who can empathize, not sympathize!

Think of a time in your life - or lets say job - where you feel there is no way out - you feel trapped - you feel stuck - you wonder if you are going to ever see the light.   Or think of being in a job search and it not paying you the results and the effort you justifyingly feel you have put into it.   Think of the emotions that come up when u are trying to have clarity -but all you feel is doom, frustration, resentment. Then what do you do? Do you begin feeding yourself the same emotions or do you begin to say to yourself - i need to find a way to snap out of this - Think of other areas in your life where you have felt that you can't go beyond this.
The question has to be asked - "What do I have to learn from this? "

There is a meaning behind everything that happens to us - whatever happens to us, understanding that it is ultimately for our own higher good - and learning to keep that balance is so importnat in situations like that.   but it does not mean we fall into a victim mode and just accept the situation - we have to move beyond that light and try to understand the reasons.   Sometimes, and often times - the reason is not going to be visible immediately - in fact it may be several years down the road or it may take several months before we make sense of things, but when we begin to recognize the patterns in our lives, when we begin to see our reactions to things in our lives, when we begin to utilize a higher power as a means of acceptance - then the process becomes easier. 

Reading this, one might say - it is very easy to say these things, but it is so difficult to practice.  I agree - we will repeatedly make the same mistake in a different way over and over again just like a child learning to ride a bike, until we get it right one day.   But we need to be aware of what the lesson is.  The child riding the bike needs balance to ride - similarly, we need balance in our lives - and in order to gain that balance must practice over and over again, till we gain that balance.   Practically speaking -taking an internal inventory - and being open to seeing the truth about ourselves - good and bad.   Looking at ways to improve versus being victim blaming.   Beginning to change a perspective on things rather than just say "that's what's its like."  And last but not least - realizing that everything that comes our way - we alway are given a choice. 

I can't stress how journaling has helped me shift perspectives in my life, accept certain situations and relationships I cannot change, and yet allow myself to still feel in control of the situation.   More than anything Journaling has allowed me to have a deeper connection to my higher self - and to a higher power - who helps us make sense of things. 

Prompt for today:  The next step for me is to ......

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Triggers...


Think of some event in your life, something, someone, an issue that keep popping up.  Think of the hard work that you have made to move on with the issue.   Maybe you have spent time in therapy talking about the need to let go of the issue, maybe you have written in detail about it, maybe you have worked your way through prayer and meditation to put it past you, and last but not least, maybe you have engaged in a creative outlet to process this.  You feel like you are doing really well, and then BAM - something, someone triggers something in you and the same emotions of anger, resentment, hurt, anxiety all start resurfacing and you just don't know what to do with yourself.  

You begin to question yourself - and perhaps the way in which you let yourself heal.  You feel consumed with these emotions and you need to find another outlet or possibly the same outlet- to process it all over again.  And then the eternal burning question that you would not dare ask aloud is "WHY?" "WHY?" .....the answers are not there initially.  You begin to put the blame on the one you think is hurting you, or on society, or on an organization, or on circumstances - but do you question your role in this? Do you ask yourself - what about me - am i simply a victim in this or do i have a choice? The answer is - "YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE."   And that's true, you always have a choice but do you exercise that choice, or do you go back to your old patterns and old ways. 

We may ask 'WHY" and if we stop and listen to our higher self, we will find the answer - we may not like the answer, and so we may doubt the answer and question the answer - but the truth will not change.   "IT is WHAT IT IS." And we have to come to terms with it.   And then we realize - that the reason we get triggered, is because we have not truly let go of the person, the issue, the emotion, the event, -whatever it is that we feel in our mind that has done us harm.   

Letting go is a continous process - it is not a one stop shop -life constantly throws us in directions where we may be faced with a different situation but same emotions/same issue to confront - to see how we will deal with it.  Will we run or will we face it? Will be take a stand or be in the dark? Will we recognize our triggers without judgement and be willing to face this issue from scratch again - and accept the fact that this is just another lesson.  

What is your choice? How do you respond to the concept of Letting go?  What is your idea of letting go?

I ask you to do the following:
1.  List 5 things you need to let go right now ...and do it quickly without thinking.  START NOW!
2.  Now pick one of the items on that list and write about that for five minutes.  

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Energies.....

How does one not get affected or reactive to other people's energies?  For the last couple of weeks, I have been surrounded by some pretty anxious and angry individuals in my work environment, and it has been very tempting to fall into that trap of anxiety, to fall into that trap of reactiveness.  I work in an agency where everything is dominated by fear - people react to things and everything becomes a drama and as a result their behaviors, their actions, their words are based on fear and anger.  
As much as I try to keep my distance, I have found that it takes an awful lot of internal energy within me to keep me grounded and not fall into that energy and not to take it personally.      Yet can one realistically become that energy if that is the surrounding environment that you are in.  The image of a lotus comes to me - pure, stainfree, beautiful, full of fragrance yet, it is surrounded by muddy water.  And that is what I keep reminding myself that I have to strive to be - like a lotus -remain unaffected by the surrounding and keep focusing on my goal and my duty.   How do i not take someone's negative energy towards me not personal? 

Different people respond to these situations differently.  For so many exercise and having an outlet to let out that excess energy is an option.   And it works wonders for those.   For me, it is writing, but writing in a structured format that allows me to look at the situation from a hawks' eye view, not free writing.   There is something that Kathleen Adams (The Therapeutic Writing Institute) refers to as "Springboards."  They are simple statements or questions that help you focus and clarify an issue.   Some examples of Spring Boards are:
"What is the most important thing to do?"
"What I really want."
"If I could pinpoint one thing."
"The Thing that speaks to me"
"What do I fear most now?"
"I intend on doing...."

Make a list of Statements that you can use when you are on the go and just need that clarity.   You can either time yourself for five minutes or you can either write for a couple of sentences.   It does wonders to you.  

The other thing that has sustained me is my 15-20 minutes of silence during the morning.  It gives me the focus for the day, the stamina to face the day regardless of what comes up, and the energy to keep going so that I can be there for myself and for those that need me.   If i don't have that time in the morning, I find myself unbalanced and a "hot mess."   So it gets me to thinking - what is it about those minutes of silence that gives me the energy and what is it about those minutes that makes me grounded.   Going within there is a power house in you.  I find a strength that is beyond description.  A strength that can help you look fear, anxiety, doubt in the face and smile.   It can face all the demons and say - You are here, I know you are here, but you are just an image, you are not me - you are my thoughts.  And when you begin the practice of observing the thoughts, of observing your feelings - it gets you to be more grounded and more focused on your task at hand.   It puts things for you in perspective- so rather than being  "in it", we can look at the issue from afar. 

And that is how journaling and silence can be used together.   The silence helps you go within and find that powerhouse, but it also helps you make friends with your greatest enemy -which is your mind.  It silences your judgment, it provides loving compassion, it gives you thoughts/ideas to spark your creativity.  And by writing, you bring your ideas into fruition.  Writing helps you keep track of your thought process, it helps you become more focused and aware of your issues, and allows you to stay grounded. 

As my zen card said to me this morning: "Tranquility is achieved when you are in harmony with all beings and all situations, knowing that everything is precisely the way it is meant to be."  So people will always be people - their ways may be crazy, their ways may be manic, mean, abusive at times - but you have to stay yourself in all situations - and not allow them to change you.   By allowing them to change you, you are giving into their madness, and their craziness and your role is to understand how this particular experience will shape or break you.  

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11

9/11 is a day of loss for many Americans.  On this day, the nation watched in shock, terror as the twin towers came crumbling down and the lives of those near and dear, far and away were lost instantly.  It is a day that can bring back memories where each one of us were during that specific time.  It is a day where we may begin to experience a myriad of various emotions - and may say to ourselves - why am I feeling this way - only to remind ourselves of what we saw/heard and processed on that day.   I am not going to talk about the injustices of this event.   But more so what this day meant for me and lessons learned from it...

For me, this day brings back many memories - it reaffirmed to me the nothing is permanent - and that at any moment, at any time, someone dear/close to us -or even our own self can be snatched away instantly without warning.  It talked to me about the impermanence of life and how important it is for us remind ourselves of that truth.  Nothing is permanent, and because nothing is permanent, we must make the most of our life - whether it be with our near ones, whether it be with ourselves.  Sometimes it seems redundant to repeat these truths, but when someone dear and near is nowhere near you - one begins to treasure life even more rather than get involved in the pettiness of life.

The idea of impermanence may looked at morbidly or may looked at with wonder - so each day brings something new to us - and what we can learn from this.  For me to meditate on that truth can help and has helped me heal many of my relationships because you begin to look at things from a higher perspective. 

This day also taught me a topic that repeats itself over and over again and that is of kindness - kindess to strangers and reaching out and helping those that are suffering.      When something catastrophic occurs, we have two choices - to sit isolated or to reach out and help.  I choose the latter - because it talks to me of community and in order to build more violence free societies - we need to show and bring kindness to our communities.  Anger feeds anger - but kindness feeds kindness and rather than fill ourselves with the anger, the resentment of this event - feed it with being kind to those who need it - to those who have lost someone in this event - to a community that still is recovering from the financial losses of the event - to the parents of those who will always remember how so many of their children were heroes during that day - it is a day to pay homage and extend that kindness in whatever way you can.   It doesn't have to be big - it can be as simple as a prayer of peace to attending a march, to a local memorial service in your town, to visiting someone.  

And as we begin to extend our kindness, we begin to be more tolerant of differences within us.  Tolerance do differences is so important to survival of communities and relationships.  We may not understand, we may not agree, we may not believe -but if we take out that lense of difference, we will be able to see a human being for who they are and see the good in them.   Events like this bring back painful memories -yet in order to move forward we need to remember what has happened, acknowledge what has happened and honor that what has happened.   As we do that, we begin to process our feelings and begin to react differently to these events.   I will never forget where I was on that day.  I will never forget my feelings, my reaction, my fear on that day.  But I do not dwell on that anymore - instead I choose to move forward by learning what this event taught me. 

Journaling is a great way to remember.  Reading a poem is another form.   Prayer/Meditation/ritual is another way to honor.   A journaling prompt for you :
Today I am ___________________  (write for five minutes).

Happy Journaling!