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“…The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”

The title is an excerpt from a quote by Benjamin Mays I posted yesterday that got me thinking about goals.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, a goal is, “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”.  Right now my main goal is to do well in school and obtain my Landscape Design certificate.  Why?  Because through careful thought over a period of time I realized that at this point in my life, my place is in nature, not behind a desk.  It is a journey of personal growth that brings me great joy.  I love going to school and learning and I look forward to bringing nature to others and literally getting my hands dirty.

I wondered why this all felt so right.  Turns out, studies show the way I set up my goal contributes to feeling good about it.  Things like picking your own goal (as opposed to having someone choose it for you), focusing on growth and contribution vs. beauty or wealth, enjoying the process and choosing a goal that brings purpose to your life can lead to choosing the right goal.  You may want to reflect on your current goals and see if they fit this criteria.  Did you choose the goal or did someone suggest it for you?  What outcome do you envision?  Are you enjoying the journey?  Does the goal bring meaning to your life?

I know, it can be overwhelming.  Lucky for us, happify.com has an infographic that can help.  And those studies I mentioned?  They are just a small part of the excellent information that is included.

Are you ready to discover what your goals are?  Or evaluate your current ones? And how to work towards them?  Read on.

What the World needs now is a Harvest Moon

Tragedy.  It seems like something we can’t escape it lately.  If it isn’t acts of nature it’s acts of a madman.  How do we process what is happening and how do we recover and move on?  Reducing our anxiety is a start.  According to an article in Psychology Today, here are five ways to do just that:

Get in touch with reality. Intense fear and horror make us lose perspective, and suddenly we expect disaster at every turn. Taking a step back from our fear and trying to think about what we know (what therapists call “cognitive reframing”) can help ease our fears, at least a little bit.

For example, in spite of terrible events—such as those in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012—schools are actually among the safest places for children to be, and the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent. After Newtown, one expert recommended balancing each “worried thought” with a “brave thought” to manage anxiety…

Find safety in numbers. Results from decades of experimental research reveal that as social creatures, the more alone we feel the more afraid we are. Reminding yourself of the people you can trust will help you feel safer in your community.

Help others. Events are traumatic because they destroy our social fabric and disorder our expectations of the world. Giving to others helps strengthen the order in the world through good acts. As Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi recognized, altruism is a kind of antidote to hatred and evil.

Manage your exposure exposure to the media so that you can stay as informed as you want without becoming overwhelmed with anxiety and stress…

Learn to live with fearful events and not in spite of them. This final recommendation to feeling safer is perhaps the hardest to achieve. As we work to understand tragic events, eventually we may be able to accept that terrible, unpredictable, and unpreventable things do occur and could happen to any of us. And despite that dreadful knowledge, we must make every effort to live our lives better, to love better, and to cherish every day we are given. There is great comfort in that.

Excellent advice, in my opinion.  And let’s not forget all the stories of heroism and quick thinking during some of the recent tragedies.  During and after the hurricanes there were daring water rescues, companies welcoming displaced people into their businesses, and people rescuing pets and animals and finding them homes.  During the shooting in Las Vegas, there were people taking off their own clothes to apply pressure to wounds, others helping people over barriers so they could get to safety, and people comforting the wounded and staying with them until help arrived.  So while Mother Nature and one crazed individual instigated tragic events, MANY people came together for their fellow men and women (and pets).

So what does the Harvest Moon have to do with all this?  First, it reminds us that Mother Nature can be gentle.  She can be beautiful.  And she can be beneficial, as the moonlight provided by this moon in the past was used to gather crops back before tractors had lights (and probably before tractors).

Secondly, let’s look at how the planets are lining up during this Harvest moon.  The information below is from Chani Nicholas, one of my favorite astrologers:

Thursday’s full moon asks us to harvest the wealth that comes from being aligned with the processes of release and regeneration.

On the same day as the full moon, Venus and Mars come together in Virgo. Together these two are a potent mix of erotic and creative energy. Venus magnetizes. Mars seeks out what it desires. Together in Virgo, their passion is put to good use. This combination is driven to perform a task and to do so with incredible urgency. Both planets are on their way to squaring Saturn, however, so the work needs to be done well as it will be tested. Thoroughly.

What could the above mean?  Perhaps swift aid for Puerto Rico?  Perhaps a serious discussion about assault rifles in the hands of civilians and gun laws?  What does it mean to you?  Is there something you need to release so you can start again? Is there a task that you have been putting off that has returned to you at this time, asking that it be done now, and done well?  I think it merits some reflection, and I intend to spend some time ruminating.

Lastly, and on a lighter note, the Harvest moon reminds me of the song Neil Young sings of the same name.  It is a beautiful song, and the video is filled with joy, dancing, and that unmistakable moon.  I believe we could use a respite from the negative news, and listening to the loving words of this song and maybe even swaying to the lilting melody are a great way to find refuge.  Take five minutes, watch the video, feel uplifted.  We need as many people as possible to be living their true, thriving selves right now–our families, friends, communities, nation and world need us.

 

Happiness vs Purpose

I write a lot about happiness.  Why?  Because there are a lot of unhappy people out there and a lot of bad things going on in our nation and world right now.  If we get too caught up in it we can find ourselves sad, angry, and depressed.  When we are experiencing emotions like that we can’t be our true, thriving selves.  And when you aren’t your true, thriving self, your ability to impact the world and others is diminished, if not completely absent.  And the world desperately needs more people to impact others and the world in a positive, collaborative and compassionate way.

But happiness isn’t the only thing.  There is also the meaning, or purpose of our lives.  I spent five years with a life coach to discover and craft a life intention, a calling and a healing intention.  It was a LOT of work, but I loved every minute of it.  I recite my intentions every night before I fall asleep, thanking the universe for guiding me to live a life that serve those intentions.  Those intentions guide me daily and when I need to make major decisions.  The purpose to my life they bring help me to live a true, thriving life so I can impact others and the world.  And that makes me very happy!

No life coach?  Don’t have five years to find meaning?  No problem!  I came upon this incredible Ted talk by Emily Esfahani Smith entitled, “There’s more to life than being happy”.  She relays her four pillars of meaning, and I have to say, they ALL resonated with me, and I was in 100% agreement.  I believe this 12 minute talk will inspire you to spend some time reflecting on the four pillars and perhaps even lead to discovering your own purpose.

The benefits of having meaning are many,  “Along with promoting a sense of well-being,  having set goals can make it easier to cope with unexpected stress and develop new ways to cope with age-related changes.  A sense of purpose also encourages us to handle the natural roadblocks that will arise with time and devise alternative approaches to achieving those goals which are most important to us.” Source: Psychology Today

You need to put in the time and effort, but having meaning in your life will not only enrich your life, it will ripple through your family, friends, community, nation and the world in the most amazing ways.

Related blogs:

Steps to take to live a meaningful life

What is the meaning of your life?

Is your Story Holding you Back?

Is Your Story Holding you Back?

In my Horticulture Occupations class, the instructor was discussing extending our education beyond a certificate or two year degree.  She gave all the usual reasons, like better jobs, more pay, etc. but she also included how learning keeps you young.  By that I mean that studies have shown that learning new things keeps the brain firing on all cylinders and can stave off things like Alzheimers and dementia.  I agreed wholeheartedly, and have written blogs about the benefits of learning new things.  She continued by asking if we could think of anything that held us back from pursuing our learning, which evolved into stories we tell ourselves that keep us in our comfort zone.

Stories such as “I’m not smart enough”, “I don’t have enough money”, and “I don’t have the time” can pervade our lives and prevent us from pursuing things that may be scary, such as higher education, a new job or a new partner.  We become stuck, with one day after another unfolding the same way.  It may be comfortable to stay in our current job or relationship.  But one of my favorite sayings lately is something like “You can be comfortable or courageous–you can’t be both”.  What could you achieve if you rewrote your story?

Here is my own example – my story was that I was not a morning person so I could not go to the gym in the morning.  For years I went to the gym after work, got home around 6:30 and finally was able to relax after about 8:00 when dinner and cleanup was finished.  This left me precious little time for other things, especially spending time with my husband.  I reflected on my story and decided to rewrite it.  I declared that I WAS a morning person, and it would be a JOY to go to the gym in the a.m.  I started going to the gym in the morning, and guess what?  It reaped HUGE benefits:

  1. The gym was less crowded so I didn’t have to wait for equipment so my workouts took less time.
  2. I met several new gym goers that seemed more “morning” than me, who greeted me by name with a smile–who doesn’t want to start the day like that?  I responded in kind which switched me into a good mood immediately.
  3. My trainer had more time for me because he wasn’t splitting his time between a bunch of people.
  4. I checked off exercise from my to do list by 8 am
  5. My day ended at 5 pm and I had a lot more time on my hands to spend with my husband, work on hobbies, or just plain relax.

All that from rewriting a story I had told myself for a long time.  Does my story resonate with you?  Does it bring to mind any stories you have been telling about yourself?  Do you want to make a change?  Here are four questions to ask yourself:

Ask Yourself: What’s Making Me Unhappy?

The first step is to sit back and take stock. What is the area in your life that you are unhappy with? Is it your relationship with your spouse or a colleague? Is it your passionless job or your self-doubts towards an activity you would like to pursue? Is it your helplessness in taking charge of your health or the insecurity you feel about your appearance? It may be more area than one, because stories have a way of spilling over into all aspects of our lives. Tackle the one that is affecting you the most—and some of the others may start falling into place, too.

Ask Yourself: What’s My Story?

Now listen to the story that you are telling yourself with regards to this aspect of your life. What is the basis for this story? What are the experiences that form the building blocks of your narrative? Extreme stories that have “shoulds”, “always” and “nevers” embedded in them are based on extreme beliefs that are biased. Reflect on how this “story” helped you cope or advance at a certain point in your life. Notice how it is now making you unhappy and holding you back. Now, be prepared to alter it dramatically or simply let it go and start from scratch.

Ask Yourself: What Is My Intention?

Feeling stuck or unhappy is a result of misalignment with what we want in life. However, up to 90% of us don’t even know what we want, except that it’s not what we have. Gaining clarity on our goals and purpose is key to developing powerful stories that align the past, present and future. Whatever your goal, write it down and connect with it. How do you envision your life to be when you achieve your goal? What mental hurdles will you have to overcome to get there? What aspects of your story will you have to change?

Ask Yourself: What’s My New Story?

Since experiences are the raw materials with which we spin stories in our minds, it’s important to maintain a balanced and flexible outlook on life and not allow the negative—or the obsolete—to influence our way forward. Look back over your life and choose a period or an experience that will help you advance in your goals. For example, your goal of looking after your health will benefit from memories of a time when you took on a project and excelled at it rather than a self-defeating narrative of how little self-control you have. Write out your new story and replay it in your mind until it forms the neural pathways that will move you towards your goals.

As you begin to own your new story, it will become integrated with your sense of self. After all, identity is nothing but an evolving story that finds coherence with the past, present and future. Find the flexibility in your story that allows you to adapt to changing circumstances, and you’ll be able to stand up as authentically “you” through the ups and downs of life.

Rewriting your stories can be a first step to attaining the things in life that are meaningful to you and contribute to your life’s purpose.  Give up “comfortable” for a bit and embrace “courageous”–now that’s a story worth telling.

Source:  happify.com

Social Media getting you down?

I admit it – I am on social media a lot.  Part of the reason is that I have my own business and social media is a great place to connect and advertise.  But I also like to scroll social media to connect with friends and family and find out about social events in my area.  I have strategically “liked” only sites that are uplifting, and I have been known to stop following people who are negative.  I want my social media experience to be positive.

That said, I also like to take a break from social media.  I won’t look at my phone after 9pm.  I don’t take my phone into the gym with me – that is “my” time and I don’t want distractions (having an old school iPod still allows me to listen to music).  I get frustrated when I am out with friends and we are all on our phones instead of chatting.  I get really frustrated when I see a family out together and they are all on their phones, especially in restaurants.  Dinner-if you can round up everyone together-is a great time to connect and discuss timely topics or what is going on in each other’s lives.

I believe we have enough adversity in our everyday lives and social media should be a respite from that world and inspire us to overcome that adversity.  That is what motivates me to write my blogs – I want to provide positive, useful contributions that inspire people to live their life to its fullest.

How are you feeling when you scroll through social media?  Are you uplifted or are you angry?  At peace or at war with someone/something?  Below is a great infographic from happify.com that illustrates “How to Stay Happy on Social Media”.  As you reflect on your emotions while using social media, maybe you will find that you want to implement some of the ideas.  Stay connected but stay happy too!

U2 and Gratitude

This weekend I had the great fortune to visit one of my dearest friends, Renu.  U2 and Beck were playing a concert in Detroit, and she lived nearby, so we thought it would be a great reason to get together (the show was amazing-highly recommend!)  We have been friends since we were in first grade, and she was my college roommate for four years. After college we went our separate ways as friends often do to get jobs, get married, etc.  I arrived at the airport to see her waiting for me and I could not have been happier to see her–it has probably been at least six years since we were in the same room together.  We headed off to her car to grab some dinner.

We exchanged pleasantries and caught up a little bit on what we were doing, and intermingled with the conversation were several apologies.  Apologizing to the airport ticket taker that she only had a 20 dollar bill, apologizing to no one in particular that we were walking across an aisle in the parking lot.  It caught me a bit off guard as this woman has an advanced degree, has been married for 15 years with two beautiful children, and writes a blog about tax policy.  She is simply amazing, and to hear these words continuously tumble out concerned me.  So when we got into the car, I relayed an article I had read on changing the apologizing into gratitude.

It works like this – instead of apologizing for only having a 20 dollar bill, you thank the attendant for taking it.  Instead of apologizing for walking in front of a stopped car, you thank them for waiting.  I find just writing about it changes the tone of the situation  True to her nature she listened to my story and said she would give it a try.

You may have already identified yourself as a chronic apologizer just from my examples. If you do, I hope you will give gratitude a try.  I think you will discover that not only do you feel better, but the person you are thanking feels better too.  It strengthens the relationship and portrays the “thank-er” as confident and empowered.

I was looking for more information on turning apologies into gratitude, and several times I came across a series of cartoons by artist Yao Xiao.  I think they perfectly illustrate how showing gratitude is so much more rewarding than apologizing.  Of course there are times when an apology is necessary, so don’t totally throw the concept out the window!

As you read the examples below, notice how you feel, and keep in mind that you are worthy, you are important, and you matter.  Moving from apologies to gratitude is truly transformative.

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Source of drawings:  www.boredpanda.com

Yao Xiao’s website:  http://www.yaoxiaoart.com/

Want to Read More? Read on!

I survived my first day of school for Landscape Design.  And I learned more about dirt in one day than I have ever known in my life!  I am an avid reader so I was happy when the professor for the Soil class suggested supplementary reading that was not a textbook.  If you are interested at all in how our nation has wrecked havoc with modern day farming and the new discoveries being made, I highly recommend “The Soil Will Save Us” by Kristin Ohlson.  She describes the new discoveries through stories about her visits to various parts of the world and her meetings with top farmers and scientists in the area of bettering the soil of Mother Earth.

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How much do you read?  You may be thinking that because I am assigned to read, I really don’t have a choice.  But as I mentioned I chose to read the supplementary reading, which was not required.  I just enjoy reading and I LOVE learning.  But I get it–our time is limited, and it can be hard to find a quiet place to crack a book.  I personally like a physical book over electronic, but the important part is to read something.  I discovered this article by Elle Kaplan on Thrive Global about how to incorporate more reading into your life, and I wanted to share.  So start by reading this article, then go grab yourself a book!

How to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year, According to Harvard Research

Reading is a huge key to success and wealth, but how can you actually benefit from this habit as a busy adult?

I’ve said it many times: reading books is a major key to success. The mega-rich and successful like Bill Gates and Elon Musk devote extraordinary amounts of their time to reading. Musk even attributes his knowledge of how to build rockets to his reading repertoire, and studies have proven that reading can reduce stress, increase focus, and improve long- and short-term memory.

The benefits of flexing your reading muscles are clear. But reading is time-consuming — and as a busy professional, it’s almost impossible to both find the time to read and actually stay focused enough to reap the benefits when deadlines start piling up.

Thankfully, experts at Harvard Business Review (along with a few others) have discovered some tips and tricks to ensure that you not only make reading a daily habit, but that you‘re able to radically increase the amount you read and the benefits you reap.

Read on for seven practical ways to continue to improve your reading habits as time goes on:

1. Accept that it’s okay to quit.

Sometimes I’ll start a book, only to find that I’m not really enjoying it or finding much meaning in it — but I’ll “power through” anyway, because I don’t want to be a quitter.

Gretchen Rubin, author of bestselling book The Happiness Project and habit expert at Harvard Business Review, found that this “winners don’t quit” mentality probably won’t work for your reading habit.

As Rubin put it, quitting early gives you “More time for reading good books! Less time reading books out of a sense of obligation.” Think of it this way — about 50,000 books are published every year. Why spend time with books you don’t really enjoy?

If you ultimately don’t enjoy a novel, free yourself from guilt and put it down.

2. There are hidden minutes everywhere.

Stephen King, who attributes reading to much of his incredible success as an author, reportedly told people to read about 5 hours a day if they want to follow in his footsteps.

As a time-strapped entrepreneur, I first laughed at that notion. That is until HBR pointed out how often King actually reads on the go, or outside of his house. Take all the times he’s been spotted reading at Red Sox games, for instance.

To the average passerby, it might seem insane to whip out a book at Fenway Park. But if they knew that very same habit helped King sell over 350 million books, they might be inclined to bring a paperback next time.

As Parisha put it, “There are minutes hidden in all the corners of the day, and they add up to a lot of minutes.” I’m not saying you should whip out a novel at your sister’s wedding ceremony, but there are small opportunities to read nearly everywhere.

3. Keep it quiet.

Science shows that sharing your intentions with others when you’re working toward a task or goal can backfire, and make you less likely to succeed.

A 2009 study found that when students who wanted to become psychologists wrote down activities that would help them achieve that goal and shared them with the experimenter, they were less likely to actually perform those activities. The control group who did not share their list of intended activities with the experimenter spent much more time pursuing those activities.

When people share their goal, they feel less motivation to work hard. So if you’re committing to reading more books, express your goal and your steps to get there — even write it down — but keep it to yourself.

4. Limit distractions.

Neil Pasricha made this happen in his home by banishing the TV to the basement, and placing the bookshelf front and center. According to HBR, Pasricha drew inspiration from the famous “chocolate chip cookie and radish” experiment by psychologist Roy Baumeister.

Hungry test subjects were asked to complete a lengthy puzzle, and some were given no food, while others were given cookies (and told not to eat them). Unsurprisingly, the cookie group caved the soonest — they were the group that had spent all their willpower staying away from the cookies.

5. Read physical books.

The same advice about limiting distractions can be applied in a big way to favoring physical books over e-readers. Having a tangible piece of reading material in your hand — instead of an internet-connected device where you can also check your email or look up recipes on Pinterest — can limit distraction and necessary willpower.

But limiting distractions is just one of the reasons to favor physical books over e-novels. In an era where all our entertainment and professional channels are moving to the screen, it’s a good brain refresh to hold a physical book in your hand.

6. Change your mindset.

Media strategist and author Ryan Holiday stresses that changing how you think about reading is the key to reading more. “You need to stop thinking of it as ‘some activity that you do… [it] must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default,” he says.

To the successful, a dream isn’t achieved by deliberating how to reach it, but rather it’s a specific, well-conceived desire that always happens. You can do this today by turning your reading habits into specific, time-sensitive goals, and placing them on the top of your priority list every day.

7. Find curated lists.

Decision fatigue is a very real thing, and it can eat away at your willpower when trying to adopt new habits like reading.

The overwhelming effort to sift through thousands of new books each year can eat away at your mental power before you actually read a page – and that’s why HBR recommends you find curated book lists.

Luckily mega-moguls like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg aren’t shy about sharing their reading lists. With a few minutes of Google sleuthing, you can follow in the reading habits of the greats.

Maybe we can’t all read 500 pages a day like Warren Buffet, or finish 50 books a year like Bill Gates. But you can commit to using these tips to read more books this year, improve your ability to absorb information, and benefit from scientific advantages that reading can bring.

Source:  Thrive Global

 

The Importance of Your Tribe

Well, friends, did you survive the eclipse?  Did you notice how weird the lighting was when the moon started to come into alignment with the sun?  Did you use an approved device to view it?  I thought it was truly a sight to behold.  I especially like the memes that came after saying for just one day, maybe a moment in time, everyone was united in one goal, actually looked up from their phones, and engaged with others face to face.  Hopefully we see more of that post-eclipse.

I wanted to give a little recap of my 6 week hiatus from blogging.  I have to be honest and say it was kind of nice not having any deadlines.  I have written for over 2 years, and chose to share some timely older blogs instead, which gave me a sense of continuing to contribute.  Now I have decided to go to one a week instead of two, and it feels right.  I can’t believe there was a time I was writing 4-5 times a week!  I spent my down time reading some amazing books on shamanism, herbal medicine and the power of our imaginations.  And I went on a week long vacation to Wisconsin.

My trip to Wisconsin is an annual one, as we have a family reunion at the beginning of the vacation, and then the Wisconsin State Fair to enjoy.  Of course the reunion was amazing, as it is the only time of the year I get to see almost all my extended family in one place.  Everyone pitched in to get everything set up and cleaned up, and of course there was way too much food (which I think is a Midwest thing) and we all enjoyed ourselves.  I hope if you have extended family that you make time to be with them as well as stay in touch.

One thing I noticed during vacation was that my parents are definitely getting older.  My parents each have several medical conditions that make it necessary to spend time resting and that was something new to me, even though I had experienced it on their visits to Cincinnati.  Where I used to plan new adventures for all of us, now they are happy to go out to eat and spend time visiting.  It is all good, but also makes it even more necessary to spend as much time as possible with them.  Just like extended family, I hope if your parents are still around you treasure your time with them.

We went to the State Fair three times, saw amazing bands and spent time with life-long friends.  In between times at the Fair we helped my parents clean out parts of their house, which my mom insisted on paying us for, even though I told her that is NOT why we were doing it.  My folks have a hard time asking for and receiving help, and my mom said they just weren’t used to doing it.  Do you know anyone like that?  Someone you do things for “just because” and they insist on paying you back somehow?  Studies show that people who help others are happiest when there is NO payback, or expectation of reward.  That is how I operate and I think they are just now getting to understand that.

So my time away was spent with my extended family, parents, newer friends and long-time friends, and of course my husband.  My tribe.  I am so grateful that I have this very precious week each year.  I hope this may inspire you to contact members of your tribe-whatever that means to you-and either spend some time chatting or plan to get together.  You can’t put a price on it.

So where I am at now?  I have very exciting news!  I have just enrolled at Cincinnati State to study and receive my certification in Landscape Design.  I have been considering getting way more in depth with nature and this seemed a great way to do it.  It also affords me the opportunity to share my love with nature with others in a lasting way.  I have not been to school for over 25 years, so it is scary for sure!  But I will rely on my love of learning and passion for the subject matter to get me through.  My tribe has been very supportive which I am so grateful for.  And guess what?  I intend to expand my tribe as I meet fellow students, teachers, and lovers of nature.  I am always happier in community, and I can’t wait for this adventure to begin!

I believe one of the keys to thriving on this planet is to feel a part of a community.   My wish for you is that you identify your tribe, and make a point of connecting with them often.  And if you feel so inclined, expand your tribe!  The more the merrier!

I’m Back in Time for the Solar Eclipse!

After a six week hiatus, I am happy to be back blogging.  I will have insight into my time away, as well as what I learned on vacation and where I am headed for the rest of this year in future blogs.  But first I have to discuss the eclipse.

I’m sure you have heard all about it by now, but the solar eclipse provides us a wonderful time to close the book on things that no longer serve us, and bring forth a new self full of purpose and inspiration.  In the midst of getting your eclipse glasses and perhaps planning a trip to witness the eclipse, I have a few recommendations for preparing your spirit for the eclipse:

  1. Spend some time in silence – quieting the mind allows you to be more receptive to the energy around you at this time, and allows you to hear any important messages that may be given to you.
  2. Create a simple ritual to honor the eclipse and nature in general – the sun and moon are obviously part of nature, but they have power over our Mother Earth that we cannot live without.  We need the sun to warm the dirt for our food to grow and the moon to affect the tides, just to name a few.  The ritual could include gathering natural things from your own backyard and arranging them in a way that resonates with you.  Or you could visit a park or water feature and bless all that is around you with gratitude.  Or buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers to remind you of the earth’s gifts.  The sky is the limit!
  3. Set an intention – the eclipse is a powerful time to set intentions for yourself.  For me, intentions need to be positive, with results that go beyond just me and posed as a question.  For example, I may set an intention such as “How can I bring more harmony to my community?”  There are many ways to answer it, and the community in question could be your literal neighborhood or town, or it could be your family or group of friends.  Do whatever feels right for you in this moment and time.
  4. Create a memento of the occasion – not only is it fun to be creative, but each time you look upon your creation you will be reminded of the eclipse, your connection to nature, and your intentions.  Place your creation where you can see it daily, such as next to your bed or on your desk.  A beautiful reminder of an important time in our lives.

So there you have it–four simple ways to prepare your spirit for the solar eclipse.  If you need more inspiration to prepare for the eclipse, check out NASA’s website for some great facts about this particular eclipse, the history of eclipses and common misconceptions.

If you would like a real treat, check out this video from The Shift Network featuring don Oscar Miro-Quesada, “a Peruvian curandero (healer) and world-renowned shamanism teacher.”  He provides some insight from a shamanic perspective as well as provides an Alignment practice that gave me goosebumps!

It is good to be back.  To be honest, I was waffling about continuing my blog, but I think the solar eclipse energy has answered my questions about it with a resounding YES.

Spend some time in ceremony with the eclipse, and let the magic happen!

Six Week Plan to Re-Setting Your Foundation

It’s 4th of July weekend, and most of us looking forward to cook outs, time with friends and family and fireworks.   The Fourth of July celebrates our country’s independence and established the foundation of the United States we know today.

So how established is your personal foundation?  Are you feeling a little unbalanced, overwhelmed, or have too much on your mind?  Here are my six steps to re-establishing your foundation:

  1. Connect with Nature:  Whether it is visiting a park or sitting in your backyard, getting close to Mother Earth will reinvigorate your spirit.  Take your shoes off and stand on the grass or earth and imagine roots being planted from your feet down through the soil as deep as possible.  Remember when you were a kid and shoes were an afterthought?  Yeah, you want those tootsies touching the ground.
  2. Rediscover your passion:  What do you do that brings you immense joy, where you lose track of time and wish you could do more often?  For me it is yard work.  I dig, plant, and weed until my legs shake and I can barely lift the wheelbarrow–all with a smile on my face.   Pursuing your passion can ground you in your being and help firm up your foundation.
  3. Keep a steady sleep schedule:  With the longer hours of daylight you may be tempted to stay up later, and with all the family and friend gatherings you may find yourself not getting as much sleep as you are used to.  Being in a steady state of fatigue can put major cracks in your foundation.  Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.  I am not opposed to the occasional nap though.
  4. Move your body:  Sitting around a campfire, sitting on the deck, sitting at your desk at work all lead to a shaky foundation.  Get up, take a walk around the block, dance to your favorite tune, walk the neighbor’s dog.  Of course one of my personal favorites is to walk on the gorge trail at our local park, which also helps me connect with nature.  Move your body in a way that moves you and your foundation will firm up in no time.
  5. Spend time in silence and solitude:  The constant noise that surrounds us can shake our foundation to its core.  You don’t have to sit cross-legged on a pillow and say Om in order to do this.  Take a walk without your iPod.  Read a book without the TV on.  Drive without the radio on.  Silence around us helps to quiet our mind, and drain some of that energy from around our head to settle in our foundation.  Solid!
  6. Put your phones/tablets/computers away:  In my Intuitive Plant Medicine class part of our homework was to create a nighttime routine.  We all have seen the studies that show staring at our electronics before bed can interfere with our sleep (See #3). I started putting my phone away at least an hour before I go to bed.  I have to say, it has been quite freeing.  It also critical to put them down in the presence of other people.  If you need to check your phone for something important, let your compatriots know, but otherwise put them down.  Make those around you feel important by giving them your full attention.  Your foundation will thank you.

Are you more overwhelmed now than at the beginning of the blog?  No fear!  I recommend focusing on just one item a week.  Notice how you feel at the beginning of the week compared to the end.  Perhaps spend some time journaling about the experience.  Was it easy or hard?  How did you feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?  I like to have at least one word in each of those categories to fully realize the experience.

Example:  Putting my phone away an hour before I go to bed.  Was it easy or hard?  At first it was hard because my friends and I have a chat going and I was probably missing out on some conversation.  I turned that around by looking forward to a surprise conversation the next morning.

How do I feel?
Physically:  Relaxed
Mentally:  Clear
Emotionally:  Happy
Spiritually:  Connected to spirit

Reflect and jot down a few words, that’s it!  Now it is no accident that I chose six items over six weeks.  I have decided to take a little vacation from blogging, and plan to return to it sometime in the middle of August.  I felt it was a good time to take a little time off to recharge and restore.  You have been given your homework assignment, so I expect your foundations to be strong when we reunite!

Please stay connected with me through social media–all of my links are after “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of the page.  I will be posting short items, pictures and quotes to guide and support you on your healing journey to wholeness.

Have a great and safe Fourth of July, and I will be back to blogging in the middle of August!