Even Cloudy Days

                   

Today I chose to walk my dogs to the park.  It was a Sunday morning the sun was shining.   We wanted to take advantage of the park being ours in those quiet early moments.  As we arrived in the park, my English Bulldog Puzo found a perfect spot to pause in the grass.  The sun shone in his face, there was a light breeze.  He was content, no need to walk further.  And then the clouds came in.  I looked up at the sky, thinking this would be momentary.  Minutes went by, and the clouds continued.  There were tiny breaks for the sun to shine in, but overall the clouds shifted the temperature from warm to cool.  Perhaps this wasn’t the greatest idea.  Bella, my 12 year old chihuahua pug mix, was content regardless of the weather.  But my bulldog who is nearly 14 years old, he was temperamental.   A walk to the park was not always on his agenda. He would put on his paw breaks and refuse to walk further than beyond our doorstep if he didn’t feel like it.  But he was here now, and surprisingly he wanted to stay.  

And so we lingered in the park, we shifted to an open area surrounded by park benches.  We all looked up at the sky, hoping for the clouds to clear.  Nope.  It was just one of those days.  I regretted not going to the park the day prior, which was warmer and sunnier.  I scolded myself for not taking advantage of the sun.  I internally talked to the sun saying, “I know you are there sun.  I see you, if only those clouds could just move a bit.”  My wishes to move the clouds was not successful.   Time passed.  We lingered more.

We then walked towards a gated area, which was surrounded by a tiny fountain and garden.  This generally was our shortcut to the rest of the grounds, which were filled with ruins of an abbey that was hundreds of years old.  

Yet as we walked in, Puzo looked at the bench.  

He wanted to take a seat and stare at the scenery.  

And so we did.

My thoughts shifted from disappointment to gratitude.

He reminded me that despite the clouds, we could still appreciate the day.  There was still beauty beholden in front of us.   We could sit and hear the soothing sounds of the water and take in the greenery that framed the pond.    

We can find joy and beauty, even in a cloudy day.  

A Shift

            There was a moment that arose where I realized I was satisfied with life this week.  I didn’t need to fill my life with things to do, busy-ness to distract me.  It is mid-April, one week post the lift of the UK lockdown.  We have been locked down since Christmas Day, with no interacting with others socially in person, no shops, no sit down dining, and definitely no travel.  In the past 12 months, 7 of them have been in lockdown.  It’s no wonder that people want to dip outside into the stores or explore activities in the local area.  

This weekend was the first time in months that colleagues asked about my plans for the weekend.   I didn’t have any outside of writing and shopping at my local outdoor market.  Yet these are my same plans every weekend, and this was okay.  In the past, I may have felt a need to compare the excitement of my weekend (or lack thereof) to others.  Now I don’t have the urge.  I am satisfied, full.  There’s no need for more.  There will be moments of more in the future, but it’s not necessary for now.  

Now that I am back at the office five days a week, I actually prefer weekends at home, or in the local park in the sun with my dogs.  I realize how precious my time is, and through the act of being at home, I can stretch it versus trying to squeeze in every ounce of activity into it.

Have you made a shift post lockdown? 

Energy of Money

Currently I am re-reading the book The Energy of Money by Maria
Newmenth, PhD.  It’s been years since I have read this book, and I am
savouring it.  It’s filled with self help reflective homework
exercises which I love.  I want to share one with you:

Write out a bucket list.

Everything you want to do in this lifetime.  This include things like
places you vow to travel to, degrees or certificates you want to earn,
dream jobs you want to attain, or creativity bench marks.  After you
have created this list, write out the reasons why you want to attain
these goals.  For example “Write a best selling novel”, the reason
behind this may be “to be recognized as an author.”  Or “travel to the
pyramids of Egypt,” the essence behind this is “to be an adventurer.”

Next, imagine it is your 85th birthday.  Everyone you love is there
honoring you.  What are the accolades you want to hear about yourself?
 What have you accomplished?  Who were you as a person?

Now look at both of these lists, are there themes that are repeated?

What does this say about you?  Are you living your life by these
principles?  If yes, how so?  If not, why not?

It was interesting doing this exercise, I have previously created a
bucket list (and actually laminated it on index cards), but this time
doing a bucket list, it was different.  I realized my goals were my
simple and day to day.  I have achieved many of my far off dreams.
There was a recognition of the everyday life I want to live versus the
one off things to check off a list.  In addition, there was a
realization of how I need to continue to check in if I am living an
intentional life based on my current values.

This was an incredible exercise, and I encourage you to challenge
yourself and write out your future !

A Chicken Soup Full Circle

When I was in junior high, I was overjoyed with The Chicken Soup For The Soul book series. I think I knew in my early teens that self-help books were going to be my favorite genre. I was even able to meet author Jack Canfield when he did a signing in my Ohio town. Twenty plus years later my first story finally made it into a Chicken Soup For The Soul series: Be You.

For those who have never read a book from this series, each one contains 100 stories or poems that help inspire and uplift us. Just as chicken soup mends us during the times we have the flu, these stories help warm our hearts. I am so grateful to be part of the chicken soup family.

I encourage us all to find comfort during these difficult days, whether through our pets, loved ones, inspirational zoom classes, and of course a powerful book.

“Reading Is To The Mind, As Exercise Is To The Body.” – Brian Tracy

My Input is Carefully Curated

This is a topic that came up in several conversations this past week.  I watch minimal television these days, but it was not always the case.  Eight years ago when I lived in America, the television would have celebrity gossip shows in the background.  I would watch these as I either did homework or prepared dinners, not noticing how I absorbed all this excess useless knowledge and how it impacted my mental space.  Yet two weeks ago, a friend sent a twenty minute video to me about gossip extrordinaire Perez Hilton.  I could not even get past several minutes of this.  The video seemed so loud, annoying, and pointless.  How was this always part of my life?  We do not always recognize the impact something has on us until that thing is removed.  I recognized the reason this was so shocking to my nervous system is it’s no longer part of my life.  I do not watch much television or even listen to the radio anymore.  It’s solely podcasts and books, which are carefully curated to inspire and motivate me.

My body and mind seems to yearn for this quiet space.  For many people initially the silence is deafening.  Their problems may begin to bubble up and the inevitable feelings of loneliness.  It’s easier to drown it out with noise.  But what kind of life is that?  What kind of life do you want to live?  How can you carefully curate your input?

How do you want to live your days?  If you are to have media be part of your life, what influence do you want it to have on you?  Perhaps you can choose your media instead of it blindly choosing you.

Make Your Morning Intentional

“How you start your day is how you live your day.  How you live your day is how you live your life.”-Louise Hay

            What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

            Perhaps you hit snooze.  Or scroll on your phone, searching social media or the latest news updates.  Maybe your simple words on waking are, “Meh. Another day.”

            There is power in developing a daily discipline practice, and this begins with making our mornings intentional.  Louise Hay’s words quoted above have truth to them, but so often we forget this.  We know that we want to have an intentional year with the goals we set in January, but so often we forget that we can be intentional with each day.  

            In preparing how to start this practice, think of what the day is asking of you.  Although life may sometimes appear to be very Groundhog Day (particularly during this pandemic), there is variety to what the day calls for. Therefore, our intentions may be different each day and for each person.  If we have to lead a meeting or upload a podcast we have been working on, the intention for the day may be “wisdom.”  If it’s a total day off of work or job hunting, our intention for the day may be “relaxed” or “peaceful.  If you are having a date with your partner indoors or even connecting with old friends over zoom for a monthly catchup the word may be “present.” 

            This small additional practice in choosing a one word intention for each morning encourages us to live into that mantra. We are reminded for our attention to live into our intention.  At the end of the day, note how you were true to that intention.  This is a practice we must nurture, so if it is difficult in the beginning, don’t give up.  There is always tomorrow.

            For a short meditation on this topic, check out my Make Your Morning Intentional meditation available for free on the Insight Timer app or from this link below:

Extra Boosts of Vitamin D

Recently I had a high school friend say to me that she felt like I was born with an extra boost of Vitamin D, her euphemism for optimism. I took it at as a compliment, as she has known me for over twenty years. Yet although my tendencies may veer towards optimism, or being the perpetual care bear, it’s a trait I practice. Below are some ways that are known to boost our mood, many of which may pump up your Vitamin D dosage as well.

  1. Daily Gratitude Lists
  2. Reframe
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Squeeze in even the smallest amounts of sun you can get a day
  5. Have an uplifting playlist
  6. Dance
  7. Take a walk in your neighborhood
  8. Keep company who inspire and uplift you
  9. Be present with anyone in your presence: loved ones, children, pets, strangers
  10. Read inspirational books

I’ve spent years studying psychology and being a psychologist, and the list seems so simple. Yet the point is to make it an everyday practice. In some ways it’s a spiritual practice. How can you love the life you have today? Part of the reason I started my podcast and blog is I want to share this extra boost of vitamin d. It is difficult to see others struggle around me, and I can only shine my care bear light on them so long. It’s up to the individual to take action. Take one simple step in shifting your life by choosing one of these practices, and keep it as part of your daily life. The change comes in the discipline.

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”-Joseph Campbell

My Podcast Golden Mirror is One Year Old

Where were you January 2020? What were your goals and aspirations for the year? Were you able to achieve them? One year ago I chose to start a tiny podcast to boost inspiration to anyone who would listen. I noticed there were weekly themes that came up in conversations and reflections, I wanted to share this with others. An old friend recently said to me that I was built with extra Vitamin D. My optimism could get me through anything, and I think she is right. Therefore I want to share my extra boosts of positivity with you via the podcast, these inspirational cards (which may be why you are on this site), or this blog.

I started the podcast before we were deep in the pandemic. Hosting the podcast was one avenue of creativity for me, in addition to writing, Tik Tok dance videos, collages, yoga, and picking up the ukulele. I am curious what has kept you inspired for the year?

Check out weekly bite sized wisdom via I Tunes or the link below.

Hope

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, which is celebrated as the official marking of winter and a pagan holiday. Yet December 21st is also the shortest day of the year. We receive the least amount of daylight annually on this day. This sounds grim, but there is a sacredness to it. I look forward to this day each year, because what comes after is a blessing. Everyday from here till the summer solstice we will gain 2 minutes and 8 seconds of sunlight a day. This may seem minimal, but it adds up. This day for me symbolizes hope.

I watch my dog Bella in our library this afternoon, and she has been pivoting positions on the couch to follow the sun’s rays. She knows how medicinal the sun is, even if it is felt through a window pane. I watch how the sun sets on her body, before she changes locations on the couch and does this all over again. Feeling the sun for a few hours, there is warmth and hope. This is particularly true in the dreary British months.

In the midst of a pandemic and the craziness of 2020, feeling momentary sunlight on one’s face is so refreshing. Knowing that we will get a little more each day reminds me the worst is behind. There is something to look forward to. More sun.

We go through this process each year of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. The cycles of life are packed into these twelve months. Intellectually we know what to expect next, but each season still seems to surprise us. We may have experienced 40 winters, but for some reason, this is one is unique. This may be said with each passing season, but there is truth to it. Each season, each moment should be embraced for it’s unique nature. As we officially transition from fall to winter tomorrow, and enter into the holiday season (quarantines and all), may we find the smallest bits of joy that arise in our days. My wish is for you to connect to a thread of hope that will carry you through towards a sunnier tomorrow.

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” — Henry David Thoreau

My 12 Commandments

I am in the process of re-reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  In the book for one year, she tackles a different theme each month as a way to improve her happiness.  Yet in the beginning of the book, she wrote a list of 12 Commandments to live by and a list of the Secrets of Adulthood, from her perspective.  As I continue to dip into her world, I can’t help but recreate my own list of the 12 Commandments.  What are the lessons that I want to keep in my life daily? 

            As I wrote these, the first commandment written admittedly was a complete copy of hers, although this is paradoxical.  Hers was Be Gretchen, mine therefore was Be Tricia.  Essentially what this boils down to is be authentic. This lesson seems quite simple, yet how often do we live by this principle?  To be true to ourselves, we must first question our behaviors and values that we currently hold.  Are they truly ours, or an inherited value from our families or society.  It is easy to live up to the principles that are set before us, but how often do we reflect on creating our own commandments? How have you been choosing to live your life?  Has this changed over the years?

            What is required of us after questioning our values and principles, is to query if they are outdated, and if they need to be decluttered and either simplified or replaced?  Hand me down values do not always seem to fit in the right way. They are either too loose fitting, tight in the wrong places, or simply out of style.  What holds true for you at this phase of your life? 

            2020 has probably been a deep time of reflection for most of us.  The world as we know it was paused and shaken up.  It took us out of our routine, out of our busy lives.   As we sat at home, without the regular escape to the local pub, getaway weekend, or store, we began to challenge how we have been living our lives. Going forward into 2021, I challenge you to create your own list of commandments and opt to live by them wholeheartedly. 

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