A missed opportunity

Today, I was watching my two dogs, after I gave them dental bones.  These two dogs love one another and will cuddle all the time.  But when food is involved, it seems their personalities shift to “to each their own.”  These dental bones can take a long time to chew and are weekly rewards.  But each time I give them to the dogs, they approach the situation differently.

Puzo, the English Bulldog, is in his own world.  His focus solely is on the bone entering his mouth and nothing else.  Bella , the pug chihuahua mix, simply watches him and growls.  She is focused on the future, knows he will finish his first, and then go for hers.  Her preoccupation on him taking her bone, keeps her from enjoying the moment.  Puzo finishes his bone, and I am the one who then takes away Bella’s, as a fight will inevitably ensue.  

It led me to ponder, who are we when pleasure enters our lives?

Are we like Puzo, who lives in the moment and enjoys it for what it is? 

Or are we like Bella, limiting our pleasure, because we know the moment will end? 

How have you responded but also how do you want to respond?  You have a choice on how you want to enjoy your own metaphorical dental bone!

Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.- Seneca

Small Home Treasures

         “Tiny houses empower you to more specifically choose how you want to live.”-Ethan Waldman

         Anyone close to me could tell you, I am not much of a detail-oriented person.  I see the big picture, but not all the little pieces.  Yet with living in a small home, there is not much space to roam.  One cannot help but see the nuances that arise. 

         I can notice when new dust settles into a certain area, and for some reason I take more pride in ridding that dust.  Even though I have no current visitors to my 290 square foot apartment, it’s important that it stays as clean as possible.  There is not much space for excess food, toiletries, or clothes.  All that is within these four walls must have a purpose.  I do not buy more than I need, because there is nowhere to store this.  This must be a combination of tiny home living and not living in America, where I can feel compelled to buy all shiny objects that are within my sight.  

         I’m learning the difference of want and need.

I also have been home more to recognize how the atmosphere of the room shifts throughout a twenty-four hour period.  When I first moved here, it was dark until 800 am, but now the sun seems to rise closer to 700.  My two dogs and I notice how the minutes of daylight have extended.  Puzo and Bella shift their bodies with the sunlight, almost as if their torsos are hands of a sundial.  I have made makeshift dog beds for them to pivot towards the rays, tanning as tourists do on a summer holiday.

Could I use more space? Oui.

Do I need more space to make me more happy? Not necessarily.  

There is a sense of contentedness here.  I have time.  I have all that I need.  I take pride in what I do own.  And I can simply be, as I also shift my body towards the sun with my dogs.

Fondue Etiquette

I was in a fondue pop up Swiss Restaurant in a French Agriculture Exposition.  And I felt judged.  My French friend watched me as I dipped my bread into the fondue pot.  I knew there was a comment to be made.  Portions of bread were provided to be dipped in the cheese, and so I did.  After some time, he said “no, cut it into small pieces, like this.  That way you could cover every spot of the bread and have even more cheese with more little pieces of bread.”  Ahh.  This made more sense.  I thought dipping the big piece of bread with the skewer looked awkward.  I had only frequented The Melting Pot once, an American high end chain fondue restaurant.  It actually is the only fondue restaurant I had ever visited.  I was no pro at this, I admit.

But he kept watching me.  I knew what it was.  When I rolled my cheese in the fondue, there was so much excess string I pulled the string piece out of the pot with my fingers.  I made sure it didn’t touch the pot.  Was he worried about my germs?  “See I’m not touching the other cheese, I’m pulling it out,” I said to his perplexed face.  “No, like this,” he said.   “You must be patient, as you roll it. Just wait.” I had noted my poor fondue skills, as I had been pulling the cheesy bread out of the pot too quickly.  The string would then come with it, versus letting it linger and eventually harden to the bread before bringing it to my plate.  I realized I would have to learn to soften my American ways during this year in Paris, in more areas than just fondue etiquette.  Most likely this virtue would serve as my mantra for the months to come: patience. 

I had quit my job two months prior, and felt I needed to already be a success in this new world I was venturing into of being an entrepreneur and author.  I wanted to see results fast and damn was I struggling, like that piece of melted cheese. I seemed to forget why I had moved here.  I moved here to write my book, spend more time with my aging dogs, learn French, and make new friends.  In my previous job, the last several years my life consisted solely of work, and a minimal social life.   Here, I had the opposite schedule.  My days were filled with French classes, trips to art museums, and friendship outings, but I feel I am not being productive enough.  I was judging myself because I had yet to be a signed author.   

But everything takes time.  And who is to say I am not successful in living the life I am living right now?  It is a dream for many Americans to vacation here, let alone live here.  Wasn’t the life I am living successful because I am doing what I set out to and enjoying it along the way?  Tim Ferriss encourages us to have multiple mini retirements throughout our life, not just one big retirement.  Perhaps I can learn to live into this during the year, minus the guilt of productivity. 

So this year, as I learn the practice of undoing the busy, I will also begin to embrace the acts of pleasure and patience.  Maybe this is what Paris is meant to teach me, and to eat from a fondue properly.

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris.”-Oscar Wilde

Vision Board Parties

         This past week my friends and I hosted our own vision board party.  The last time we did this together as a group, with the exact same attendees was nine years ago.  Vision boarding is an annual event for me, whether I am teaching a class on it, or completing it solo.  There’s magic to setting our goals for the year with communal intention.

         I knew this would be an all day event.  When I teach workshops for this purpose, they generally lasts 90 minutes.  It’s never enough time.  When you do this project with loved ones, time is lost.  For us, we wanted to make it extra festive.  We added yoga and delicious takeout cuisine.  Therefore our vision board event turned into a 11 hour event. 

         Verbalizing our goals aloud in a group is a form of accountability.  We are not just vowing to ourselves what we want to achieve, we are sharing it in a group.  When we do this, search for images that symbolize our desires, and note to others what it is we are seeking, others in the group offer ways they can assist in finding you what you need.   The universe can assist us in manifesting what we want.  But we must be intentional and focused.  

         The other thing with vision boards is it isn’t magic.  Yes, what we put on these poster boards can come true, but there’s a missing component.  We need to take action.  Each day we need to narrow our eyes to what it is that we desire and work towards inching closer to it.  Our friends can continue to serve as accountability partners after the vision board is completed.  We can continue to check in on each other’s progress, and steps that need to be taken for this to manifest in our lives.  If we do not achieve what is on board, we must also wonder is it something we actually wanted in the first place?  Or is it simply a carry over from last year’s goals?  Goals need to be refreshed and decluttered annually.  If not, they will remain take away leftovers forgotten about and tucked away in the back of your refrigerator.  Is it still okay to eat?  Are they moldy and need to be thrown away?  Ask yourself this each year as you revisit this vision board process.

What Are You Going To Do?

I’ve been in Southern California for nearly three weeks, a place I have lived for seven years of my adult life.  My purpose here hasn’t been to site see but to help a person post surgery recover.  Many friends have been asking the following: 

How have you been spending your time?  

Where have you been going? 

What have you been eating?  

What have you been doing?  

And I think my answer surprises them.

I haven’t been doing much, except being available for this person.  I walk the dog twice a day, up and down the hilly streets of Los Angeles.  I do my morning spiritual practice of meditation, writing, breathing exercises and yoga.  I sit in the sun.  I read a little, write a little, play my new monochord a little.  We’ve been catching up on Netflix shows.  I’ve been meeting with friends I haven’t seen for years for coffee or meals.  But that is it.  And I’m satisfied.  I don’t actually have to “do anything.”  I’m content. 

Many people have said I should go to this restaurant, or this store, or that area of Los Angeles.  But I’ve lived here before, have lived in England for the past 8 ½ years, and now I live in Paris.  What I need most in the winter is the sun and simplicity.  I have mostly been limiting myself to the confines of where I am residing.  This includes the exciting festivities of walking to a local café, farmer’s market, and 99 cent store.  It surprisingly is enough.  I do not need more of anything to fill my days.  I’ve been grateful for my friends who have met me where I am staying, as I’ve been minimizing my drive as much as possible.

I have been finding pleasure in the simplicity of routine, the sun, my practices, and the strolls each day. In one of my virtual yoga classes this past week on the app Glo, a teacher Stephanie Snyder shared some bits of wisdom: “Remember you are here to influence the world, not to be influenced by it.” I do not need to find entertainment.   Each moment has been entertaining enough.  Being alive, having sun, my daily discipline, and loved ones have been enough.  And I feel satisfied.  

The Importance of Routine

Officially it’s been nearly two months since I have had a proper job.  During these past eight weeks, I have moved to a new country with my two dogs, began taking French classes, and am currently helping an individual close to me post surgery in my home state of California.  With all this reflection time and life as a nomad, it’s been essential to have some type of routine.  For me this has been my daily spiritual practice of meditation, gratitude, morning pages, yoga, and breathwork. 

 Although the rest of my day may fluctuate, having this be the ground underneath me, regardless where I lay my head, has been essential.  Another component of routine is having a similar daily diet.  This may sound bland: morning tea, breakfast consisting of gluten free toast with butter and a cup of coffee and a salad for one meal.  But my body seems to thrive on having some monotony.  It doesn’t have to think or work hard of what it’s digesting.   My body can spend it’s energy focusing on other things.   The rest of my day can include spontaneity and variety, but the foundation is there to build upon.  It’s easy to get pulled by the influences of everyday life, if we lack a solid base.  Our modern day lives are filled with distractions: whether this is social media, the latest Netflix binge worthy show, a recent work dilemma, or friend/family member problem that arose.  Our attention is being pulled in numerous directions.  

It is essential to have some type of daily discipline, whether this is in the morning or evening for you.  I am biased to my morning daily practice, as I agree with author and entrepreneur Louise Hay when she said, “how you start your day is how you live your day, how you live your day is how you live your life.”  Yet, it doesn’t matter if your discipline is in the morning or evening.  Be intentional.  Set sacred space for you and that which you value, the rest of life will fill in the empty spaces.  

For more information about some of my daily routines.  Check out this article below, where I talk about the importance of journaling:

https://medium.com/authority-magazine/dr-tricia-wolanin-how-journaling-helped-me-be-more-calm-mindful-and-resilient-90de3bbd837e

Happy Galentine’s Day

These past two days connotate numerous celebrations: The Superbowl, Self-Love Day, International Sound Healing Day, Valentine’s Day, and Galentine’s Day.  Sure Galentine’s Day was simply created on a Parks And Recreation Episode as a way to commemorate the love we share with our friends. Yet a lot of women have come to embrace this day in real life, a decade after the episode aired on tv.  

         I’m still currently in California, but had plans to spend the day with a friend weeks ago in Paris.  We weren’t able to meet up because my trip was extended.  She messaged me today with “Happy Galentine’s Day!”  To receive this message from a new gal pal brought me a sense of happiness.  It was contagious and I chose to share this declaration with multiple other female friends. Why isn’t this a real day in the calendar?

         We have Valentine’s Day to outwardly display our love for our romantic partner through buying gifts, flowers, or going out to an expensive dinner.  But so much weight is emphasized on this one individual, what about all the other types of love that exist in our lives?  What about the friends that have been there on the journey to meet this special one, or help us get through the breakups, or the rest of the sorrows and joys of our lives? 

          I cheers to you the gal pals of my life: past, present, and future.  We deserve to celebrate each other more often.  Know that you are loved, enough, and have impacted my world. 

Me and the Sun

“Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”-Nelson Mandela

I love the sun. When I was a child, my mother would always say “the sun loves you.”  I am half Filipino, and generally have tanned skin that rarely burns.   The sun is my life force, particularly in the dreary months of January and February in cold parts of the world.  I’ve been living in the UK for 8 ½ years, and now Paris.  On the shortest day of the year, the sun seems to set nearly close to 330 pm!  There is little day, and along with that it can feel as if there is little hope. I long for every moment with the sun, when she peaks out from hiding.  

Me playing my new monochord in the sun

But currently I am in California, a place I used to live.  There is a heat wave where it is near 30 degrees Celsius (practically 90 degrees Fahrenheit).  Although I love the sun, it’s almost too much for me at the moment.  I didn’t pack properly and my unexposed skin seems to burn slightly easier having lived in Northern Europe a bit too long. 

Despite this I am navigating my moments with the sun. I wake up with her as she stretches over the downtown Los Angeles horizon and slowly brightens the light in my bedroom.  She seems to wake up earlier here than in Paris.  I have crept down outside after my morning daily discipline routines are done, and spend time with her before she gets to her peak.  

It’s interesting, although the sun traditionally has been known to have more of a masculine energy, and the moon feminine, I still call the sun “her.”  In the English language, we don’t use these masculine and feminine articles, but in the romance languages it’s necessary.  Everything is categorized as masculine or feminine, for example:

                                     Sun                               Moon

Spanish               el sol (masc)                          la luna (fem)

French                le soleil (masc)                      la lune (fem)

For some reason, in my heart, I seem to view the Sun and the Moon both as feminine entities.  This may be due to their life giving energies, which are the foundation of our days.  Yet even in yoga, the Sun is seen as more of a masculine yang energy: doing, active, busy, productive.  The Moon is more feminine yin energy: reflective, slower pace, and intuitive.  But when I lay in the sun after long periods without her, I am not busy.  I am interacting with the sun in a feminine way.  I am taking her in, simply being versus doing.  I am receptive to what she wants to give me.  Perhaps this is why I tend to idealize the sun as her, especially when there have been long moments without her.  

It’s easy to forget how much I appreciate the sun, when I’ve lived in places like Hawaii and California.  The sun is a constant that is taken for granted, and is only missed during a period of endless cloudy days.  But when you reside in a dreary city or country, the sun does become an old friend that you are catching up with.  You don’t want the day to end.  

And so today I sit in the sun, take her in, and embrace our sacred moments together (before she reaches her peak).  

I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days.
Henry David Thoreau

Life As A Musical

“Legacy. What is a Legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see” /Lin-Manuel Miranda

On my long expedition this past week from Paris to Los Angeles, I was able to catch a film I have been longing to see on the plane: In the Heights.  This was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first musical which he wrote as a college student, but only recently was released on film.  As I watched this, I couldn’t help but be pulled into the emotions, drive, and motivation of the characters.  

There is something spectacular about almost every musical I have come in contact with, ever since I watched Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in Grease.  In junior high, my friends and I wanted to emulate the Pink Ladies, and nicknamed ourselves with their names.  We found joy in being silly, learning how to hand jive, outburst into song, or recite the lines from memory.

Although I love books and film, there is something different with musical theater.  My connection is heightened when their lines are sung, versus simply read.  It’s pure brilliance: storylines, dance, sound, emotions, desire, conflict, and drive all contained into words that rhyme.  How I used to long for the world to exist as a musical!  As I’m watching this magic being performed, I can feel everything the actors are feeling.  The inspiration is contagious.  I’ve caught what they have been trying to convey.   And my motivation to live a fuller life exists for days or even weeks after the show is complete. 

I have never been an actress, and was only in one high school musical as a background singer.  I do not yearn to be on the stage.  But I do want to embrace the drive and zest for life these performers exude.  There will always be a special place in my heart for musicals, and I’m so grateful for the brilliance that playwrights and lyricists have shared with the world.  

Merci To My Travel Guides

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” -Meister Eckhart

When things go smoothly when I travel, I can’t help but think “Merci” to the travel guides, gods, and angels that are there assisting me.  This is particularly the case, with the ease of travel during a pandemic.  I’m en route last minute to assist a family member who is having surgery in his aftercare.  The original caregiver got Covid, and voile c’est moi!  It is fine, since I do not have a regular job to attend to. But the universe is definitely assisting with ease to ensure I get there safely, promptly, and with limited stress. 

My uber driver got me to the airport promptly in a BMW.  As I arrived, I received assistance from multiple staff members who directly guided me from one station to another.  One staff member began asking if I had a heavier coat because I may get cold at the next airport.  She even inquired about my world: where I’m from, my profession, and future endeavors.  I was curious about this.  Was it the positive energy I was vibrating that was attracting these helpful friendly guides or maybe she was an angel in disguise reminding me of my larger purpose?  It didn’t matter, either way I was appreciative of this.  I handed out my Puzo/Bella gratitude cards to most of these people.  I can’t help but feel extra appreciation when I travel.  It’s a brief period of stress for voyagers.  There’s a precise timeline that must be met and numerous steps that must be met: packing, ensuring one’s pets are taken care of, transportation, passport, covid tests, additional paperwork, tickets.  All must be followed in a timely manner to ensure the journey occurs, oftentimes it isn’t pleasant.  Therefore, when it is, I’m full of gratitude.

I encourage you to witness the helpful people that assist you next time you travel.  The universe is assisting you, and all that’s necessary for you is to accept this and say merci!

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