Instead of Following Traditional New Year’s Customs, Celebrate Life

Being conscious and mindful means we live differently. It means we don’t follow the mainstream ways of life or “join the crowd”. We are the quiet leaders of a new and improved way of being. Why not choose a unique way to observe and honor “a new year” rather than drinking parties or boring television celebrations, why not celebrate our humanity and the beauty of the natural world?

It is western culture that created celebrating the New Year on December 31st with customs that are group/party focused. Did you know that the year 2000 bce in Mesopotamia was when the first celebration of the “new year” happened? It took place when there was a new moon and when the sun is exactly above the equator and day and night are of equal length in March. So, why not choose to celebrate in our own way, commemorating our connectedness to each other and nature? Instead of unobservable resolutions, why not create ways to be more in tune with nature and the Universe?

Humanity has only been around for about 200,000 years in a Universe that has been around for 13.8 billion years, so humans are really quite new. Did you know that every day around 100 tons of stardust falls to earth on everyone and all of nature? That is where our sameness comes from, a great way to acknowledge that is to celebrate it.

“We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out—and we have only just begun.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

If you were given an opportunity to make a global difference, what would you do? Create your own customs to celebrate life and raise a glass to more connectedness, new practices that benefit humanity and nature and to celebrating the joy of life on our unique and wondrous planet.

The Ultimate Serenity; Unconditional Self-Love

Self-love isn’t arrogant, selfish or egotistical, it is complete acceptance, caring about and believing in yourself. Laura Putman

Your Key to Joy

Beginning a life of authenticity is a journey to true happiness. Whether there are “others” in your life that expect conformity lovingly or unlovingly, no one’s opinion of you but yours matters. Unconditional love of self is about liberating your individuality with joy and acceptance from head to toe, inside to outside. Unconditional self-love is believing you’re worthy of love and accepting your uniqueness. There is no one like you, so it’s incumbent upon us to bravely and boldly peel away the false front to allow ourselves to be just as we are, that is unconditional self-love. That is the foundation for happy and healthy relationships with yourself and others and that truly transforms your life.

Oh, to love myself

I’m finally completely at peace with who I am, at long last I have confidence with my uniqueness. Even though feeling this way could have happened at any time in my life, I didn’t believe in myself enough to allow it to be. One example of a memorable life experience happened years ago when I took myself out to dinner one evening. I love Irish food and music, so one evening I decided to go to my favorite Irish pub. I was enjoying a delicious meal when things unexpectedly changed. The pub owner (who was from Ireland) pulled up a chair in a corner not far from where I was sitting to sing and entertain the diners with some of his favorite Irish tunes. For some reason he looked directly at me and asked across the room if was dining alone, I felt awkward but I answered yes. He said so you’re having dinner with your best friend. I should have been flattered, but the restaurant was full of diners and I was humiliated that my being alone was pointed out. I was so uncomfortable that as soon as I finished eating I left the restaurant. While that might not seem like much, to me it was devastating and a glaring example of a complete inability to love myself. That was one of the many experiences I had to bring me to where I am now.

Choosing to nurture your well-being

Did you know that when a caterpillar enters the chrysalis stage, their DNA completely transforms as they become a beautiful, amazing butterfly. Your DNA completely changes with self-love reversing the effects of stress, anxiety, self-deprecation and the lack of self-respect. Your brain and DNA are completely transformed with healthy thoughts, shifting from toxic/[prone to disease to healthy/prone to a life of well-being.

“You’re speaking to your genes with every thought you have. The fast growing field of epigenetics is showing that who you are is the product of the things that happen to you in your life, which change the way your genes operate. Genes are actually switched on or off depending on your life experiences, and your genes and lifestyle form a feedback loop. Your life doesn’t alter the genes you were born with. What changes is your genetic activity, meaning the hundreds of proteins, enzymes, and other chemicals that regulate your cells.” Huffpost

How your brain appears with toxic thoughts and with healthy thoughts.
How your DNA appears (LEFT) when you’re stressed and unhappy and when your DNA has recovered when you change your self-perception and ways of thinking (RIGHT).

Build your path to self-love (From Wanderlust.com)

1. Identify Your Why

If you want to make the shift from desiring self-love to embodying self-love, you must be emotionally connected to that journey. Why is self-love important to you? The answer to that question strengthens your ability to seeing it through.

2. Commit

Be 150 percent committed to your journey to self-love. No excuses. Make self-love a major priority in your life and treat it as such. Don’t let anything get in the way of you and your relationship with self.

3. Forgive

How can you expect to move forward in your life if you’re being weighed down by anger and resentment? It’s simple. You can’t. It’s time to forgive. Forgive yourself, and forgive others. You’re not condoning their behavior when you forgive other people for their wrongdoings, you’re simply giving yourself permission to let go and move on. This is a tough step, but a very mandatory one.

4. Take Back Your Power

Drop the victim mentality and take ownership of your life. No more pointing the finger at others or blaming your circumstances. It’s time to own up and take control. The moment you take ownership is the moment you gain back the power to create change.

5. Let go

Let go of anything that is not serving you in the highest good. This includes relationships, friendships, habits… Get rid of all that is holding you back. This step can ignite feelings of loneliness, but that will pass. Replace toxic people with good people; replace destructive habits with good habits.

6. Surround Yourself With Good

Immerse yourself within the company of uplifting people; people who serve you in the highest good. Surround yourself with people who truly love you, support you, and respect you. If you don’t have those people around you, find them. Seek them out and don’t stop until you do.

7. Practice Self-Compassion

Go easy on yourself. Instead of being your toughest critic, be your own best friend. Talk to yourself the way you want to be talked to. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. And continue to forgive yourself along the way.

8. Take Care of Your Needs

Do what you need to do to take care of your needs yourself. No more waiting for others to fulfill those needs—you can do this. Honor your needs as they arise and don’t push them aside for any excuse.

9. Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are incredibly good for you. They protect your needs and honor your worth. Never hesitate to set healthy boundaries. A tip to help you recognize when a boundary needs to be set is to listen to your intuition. If an interaction feels icky, a line has been crossed. Take that as a sign that you need to set a boundary.

10. Commit to Daily “LoveHabits”

Daily acts of self-love (“LoveHabits”) are a beautiful way to show yourself the love, respect, and level of care that you truly desire. Plus, they make you feel really good. Select LoveHabits that work well for you—habits that feel uplifting, regenerative, and/or energizing. The key is to unapologetically commit to daily LoveHabits.

Self-love is your divine responsibility. When you commit to a deep, loving relationship with self, your entire life will positively shift in the most incredible ways. Follow these 10 steps to cultivate self-love and live a life that truly honors your highest good.

Real life experience

Finally, most people don’t have the capacity to love themselves because they create their lives based on what someone else perceives them to be. This TedX talk is confirmation that self-love and living authentically are creating the best life ever for yourself.

On January 22nd of this year Thich Nhat Hahn left his earthly body, leaving a hole where his spiritual teachings filled many with love, joy and hope. These are his rules for life.

Our Legacy, How Many Hearts Will We Touch?

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and forget about the memories we will leave behind, The sudden death of a photographer who recently shared his wisdom with me gave me pause to reflect on the fragility of life. Even though I didn’t know the man personally, my memories of him are of a magnificent photographer, a kind person who enjoyed what he did; and that he loved and appreciated his life. His passing triggered a journey into reflecting on my legacy and reminded me of how essential it is to be more mindful of the way we live, no matter the circumstances we are faced with. When we do depart this earthly life, it will not be the material possessions or money we leave but how we were as a person that will be etched in the minds of anyone we engaged with forever.

Reflecting upon the upending events of this year, I believe we’ve been given an opportunity or a silver lining in the midst of all of this to transition to a simpler, less frantic life and given more time to take stock of who we are and if we’re living as authentically as we can.

Consider setting some time aside to think about the legacy you want to leave behind: explore the recollections, narratives and reminiscences that will remain in the minds and hearts of those lives you touched and your contribution to future generations.

Will You Join Me – Home Cooking, a Benefit of Pandemic Coping

“At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.” Hans Taparia/New York Times

The kitchen is my second favorite room in the house. I consider it a place where my creativity and love of delicious food unite to create a combination of ingredients to nourish myself and share great tasting food. Cooking and being in the kitchen gives me comfort and peace in such a strange and difficult time. My mother who created wonderful meals led the way for me, she was my teacher in the process of making food with love. While my mom passed away in 2013 she’s never left my side, whenever I cook she’s right there with me. I cannot imagine a more soul satisfying way to spend days at home then enjoying the process of making delicious, healthy meals that satisfy my intention to eat mindfully.

While there have been many negatives with COVID-19, there are a few benefits, one most prominent is the return to the core of family and cooking and serving real meals at home. Cooking at home isn’t only a means of satisfying our appetites, it is a cultural pillar of socialization that stems from the love of family, friends and the essential human bond of togetherness. This terrible situation has forced people to return to family closeness and better health.

When I was growing up, going out to eat was uncommon, our togetherness and the terrific food were matchless. Did you know that since the inception of the pandemic over 100,000 restaurants have closed, not just independently owned, but many major chains have had to close either some or all of their restaurants? My personal opinion is that eating out has become too common, as ordinary as filling a car with fuel. I see this pandemic as an opportunity for people who treat food as necessary to discover homemade food as a personal link to the care of their body as well as a fun and creative way to enjoy food.

A simple but lovely prayer that I found:

May this food that you provide
and that I prepare
bring nourishment to our bodies
and renewal to our souls.
Amen (Simon Carey Holt)

Cooking at home is a primary element to good health. A few people who have tried to promote the benefits of cooking at home made far less impact then COVID-19. A turn of events that has the potential to improve the overall health of many Americans who had previously relied on take out and restaurants in place of cooking at home. Around 30.3 million people in the US have type 2 diabetes and 84.1 million are prediabetic. making this pandemic a perfect storm to take the time to learn to cook and find ways to improve our health through fresh and healthy ingredients.

The need to home cook has never been higher, since the coronavirus has been most threatening to people with food-related chronic diseases. About 90 percent of those who become seriously ill due to the virus have an underlying condition — hypertension and diabetes being the most common. New York Times

Above and beyond the nutritional and health benefits is the connection with the ingredients that feed your body. We are evolving away from institutional, commercial food to fresh food. A better environment is created when meals are made and enjoyed at home and mental health benefits are considerable. We pay more attention to what goes in our meals and the way we feel when we eat. For instance, I’ve been slowly reducing the amount of sodium in my food to adding no salt recently. So, I’m ramping up the herbs and spices to make healthier food that is full of flavor and it’s a big success. I consider myself a home chef because I am able to create many meals without the use of a recipe, so I followed the chef standard of adding salt to everything, even sweets so this was a big change for me, but one that is driving a new creative path and a new relationship with the ingredients.

I recently watched a show where a group of people, a historian and archaeologists left the 21st century to immerse themselves in the simple and hard life on a farm in the Victorian era for a year. If you think cooking is a challenge now, just consider the life of someone who cooked using a charcoal fueled stove and oven, preparing food from scratch that they gathered from their garden where animals were butchered that they’d hand raised. That is the true spirit of home cooking embodied in a life lived naturally and self-sufficiently.

The act of cooking should be a spiritual practice that fuels the soul. Create a kitchen that is not only peaceful and beautiful but a sacred space. Here are some methods to connect the kitchen and preparation of food to the earth and all of life.

  • Declutter your kitchen, keep it clean
  • Keep in mind that this is a space where everyone will participate in the important rituals of treating their body and heart with special care
  • Make the meal cooking process an event, whether you’re cooking with someone or you’re on your own
  • Turn off and remove any electronic communication devices to increase your consciousness around the food you’re preparing
  • Be respectful of the room, of the food that is created and what the room represents, your loving care will be predominate
  • Organize the counters and cupboards for beauty and ease of use. What I had duplicates of or didn’t need, I donated. Whatever changes you make do it so you feel inspired such as adding candles, pots of herbs or flowers
  • Cook mindfully and with love paying attention to all of the dishes that you’re making. Always keep in mind that your energy effects everything around you including meal preparation

Finally, think about how you show up in the kitchen, just as you do in your relationships with people, be thoughtful and mindful of your relationship with the room and the process of preparing food. Fall into step with nature and the beauty of creating meals whether simple or complex. Enjoy and celebrate the food that you make. Let your imagination soar, with access to millions of recipes on the internet, anything is possible in the kitchen.

What the World Needs Now is the Power of Optimism

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (in reference to Covid-19), “There must be room for faith and optimism at this time…the kind of faith that believes, as Moses commands in the Book of Deuteronomy, that “God will bless you in all that you do.” We must do. We must act. We must fight…”fear will weaken, rather than embolden, our resolve. It will undermine our health. Depression will sap our energy and make us partially give up. But faith, optimism and hope will compel us to do the right thing in a time when exercising wise judgment is the difference between life and death.

My fundamental character has always favored optimism over hopelessness so I concentrate on the good in my life. It isn’t always easy, but it feels better than hopelessness so whenever I’ve faced difficulties, catch myself complaining or focusing on the negative, I stop and reflect on all of the luxuries that I am surrounded by. No matter what the circumstances, optimism, faith and belief are the catalysts that have kept me strong knowing to keep going forward and that something will change.

Having a positive attitude isn’t and has never been about ignoring what someone is living through, it is about finding the light and remembering that this too shall pass as everything does. Not everyone around you will agree or may think you’re not seeing the world as you should, but if you think about it that, like everything else, is their perception of the world based on their experiences and how they feel.

It’s been eleven years since I stopped living a conventional, expected life and began the daily practice of living mindfully, intending to make the world a better place. Somewhere along the way I was introduced to the Optimist’s Creed. The words may seem “pollyanaish” but I believe that aligning with the author’s intent are a way to encourage positivity and raise my level of happiness.

I’ve discovered that being optimistic lifts the spirit, eliminates stress and worry that anyone’s health surely does not need. Being optimistic takes determination, grit and an attitude of faith, even if it is only the size of a mustard seed, it will make a difference in your daily life.

About the author of the Optimists Creed: Christian Larson was an American new thought leader and teacher (1874 – 1954), who changed the way people thought; this was his belief:

That all people have a tremendous latent power within them, which could be harnessed for success with the right mind and proper attitude.

To support his beliefs, in 1912 he wrote the following creed, something I thought I would share. I’ve observed this to a fashion, but now I intend to include these ideals in my daily practices, especially with all of the negativity and challenges surrounding us all.

 Sir Ernest Shackleton (an Irish Antarctic explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic) said: ‘Optimism is true moral courage’. 

In an article about optimism, Dr. Jon Blakey, a coaching expert wrote that he believesit takes courage to be an optimist because it takes courage to fail. It takes courage to be wrong. It takes courage to be unlucky. It takes courage to have a go. Much easier to drift into the background and shelter in cynicism, negativity and despair.”

Bring Good Vibes with the Ancient Practice of Feng Shui

Whenever there are challenges I have no control of, I turn inward and to my surroundings. It lifts my soul and it changes the direction of my focus. My surroundings parallel how I want to feel using the practice of Feng Shui. Because I am naturally inclined to maintain an open flow, it makes sense for me.

I grew up in a clean clutter free home, so it was natural for me to apply the practices of Feng Shui, in fact I was quite excited when I discovered it. Over the years, I’ve learned to use Feng Shui no matter what the circumstances to echo the way I feel and how I want to experience the world around me.

Feng Shui is a simple common sense way to improve your environment, it’s not about decorating but is focused on natural energy flow and a clean, clutter-free home. It’s simple, fun and there’s a feeling of fresh energy everywhere once you’ve begun the transformation. The life-giving joy of Feng Shui is a great way to create an environment that has a favorable impact on you and your everyday life.

Feng Shui is a combination of an ancient art and science that goes back thousands of years. I know from first-hand experience that there is a significant change in the feeling and flow of energy when it is applied.

The philosophy of Feng Shui is a practice of looking at our living spaces and working environment and striking a balance with the natural world. The Chinese words “feng” and “shui” translate to mean “wind” and “water,” respectively. This concept derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it. Anjie Cho

How to apply Feng Shui to any room

Step 1 – Commanding Positions That means the direction of the important furniture in each room. While your kitchen appliances have to remain where they are, you can rearrange other rooms to create a better flow. Never line anything up with a door or put your back to the door, simple and practical advice as you begin to choose new locations for your furniture. I suggest imagining it first before you move anything, consider the function and the outcome so you don’t have to move something heavy more than once.

Step 2 – Keep the house free of clutter – “Clutter is an energetic anchor that impedes the best things from unfolding in our lives,” Laura Benko Keeping a space devoid of clutter makes it feel light and easy , Feng Shui is not about a perfectly decorated home, but creating a happy, healthy space to enjoy your life.

Step 3 – Remove negative symbolism – Evaluate your space for any symbolic representation of anything showing up in your space that reflects any challenges and difficulties you’re been faced with, replace them with items of what you want to attract.

Step 4 – Maximize natural light – Natural light makes us happy and more positive, so the more of it the better. For this step, adding mirrors in room to reflect it will add light where it may not be as bright as you’d like it, the reflected light will lift the feeling of the room.

Step 5- Balance your work areas in the kitchen – While certain areas of the kitchen are unchangeable, organizing the work areas and other areas in the kitchen will make a big difference in the feeling of your space. As well you can change the color, any decor and improve the light. The time and effort to get that feeling are well worth it. I am just finishing making several major changes in the kitchen/dining space and it feels much better.

The experts in these videos on Feng Shui share other ideas and how to use the five elements in your space. Remember you can also use Feng Shui concepts outdoors as well, giving you a world of peace, joy and harmony.

To better understand and apply the elements by Ivy Marie Lim

For the right feng shui color palette for your home, Rodika Tchi

Furniture rearrangement and placement tips by Carol Hyder

Enjoy your journey and the increased energy flow for a happier, healthier life.

Being a Mother; Sharing the Benefits of Mindful Parenting

Becoming a Mother/Parent: I’ve heard parenthood referred to as a job, I’ve never seen it that way,  Being a mother is a gift, a chance to  create a loving relationship and develop into a self-less, more compassionate and caring person. When my son was born, it was just two days after my 23rd birthday, he was the most joyful and memorable birthday gift I’ve ever gotten. I hadn’t planned on becoming a parent, but I felt comfortable with the idea and knew it was part of my destiny. My son was and is the best and most profound friend and life education I could have asked for. I grew up with him; I became a better person because of him and have developed a strength I never knew I had.

Unintentional Parenthood: Like millions worldwide, I saw my role in my son’s life by the way my parents had been with me. I saw myself as the decision maker, creator of specific guidelines and ideals that I believed were expected of a child.  From the time my son was born through his formative years being a single mom was new and trying but not so difficult. However as time went on, parenthood became a formidable process, my parents were old-fashioned and I had my own challenges with parenting that were compounded by my beliefs that I had to direct my son’s life, which caused stress and strain between my son and I. I didn’t catch on to what was really going on until later in our lives. When my son was well into adulthood, I realized how I was with him and adjusted my role from a one=sided and overseeing parent to a supportive, loving friend.

Mindful Parenting: A modern and successful method is mindful parenting. In a state of consciousness, the parent(s) strives toward open dialogue, complete acceptance and understanding; most importantly treats a child as separate person rather than a possession. It isn’t easy, but this allows our children to be who they truly are and proud of their uniqueness and a healthy relationship to develop. Adults aren’t only teaching, we are learning how to be more conscious with young people. The best approach, in my opinion, is to develop mutual respect, trust and empathy. When both the child and parent can completely trust, there is nothing that will divide the relationship, even when there are challenges. This relieves both the parent and child of the burden of performance based life and it opens the door for a purpose driven life for both parent(s) and children.

Conscious parenting that begins when the child is born becomes a way of life so that by the time they are teens, the chaos and stress that goes on around them loses its importance because they’re grounded and more inwardly connected.  It helps if parents remember that all relationships including those with ourselves are based on our unique perception of what we are seeking. It is the same for a child, they are seeing the world from a very different “pair of eyes” than an adult. That means parents ease-off, listen with an open mind with the intention of reaching a viable solution. Holding on to old habits will cause the parent and child to collide especially if the adult believes their opinion is the only answer. That way of thinking and being will only drive a wedge in the relationship, causing grief and stress.

While my journey into being a conscious parent happened later than I would have liked, our relationship has certainly benefited and become better. Being a conscious parent for me now is being aware that my son is his own person and will make choices from his perception based on his individual needs. And it is up to me to remember to mind my business, no matter how hard my ego is working to push me into old habits, I leave my selfish desires for him where they belong, in my head.

How can we realize a symbiotic, harmonious relationship with our  children starting now?  This can be the bumpiest road of growth for both the parent and the child. I’ve listed some suggestions for your consideration.

Some excerpts below are from Huffpost Online, Lisa Kring, Contributor

  • The intention must be relinquishment of control by the parent(s) to being an environment of fair agreement, this is vital in building a harmonious relationship.
  • Be present in the moment without wanting what is to be different. The more discontent parents show during this crucial period of a young person’s personal growth, the more strained the relationship will be.
  • Mindful parenting also involves decoding and addressing deeper needs of our children, rather than getting mindlessly caught up in and reactive to surface behaviors
  • Let trust lead the way is another successful way to transform a relationship and will definitely ease the stress between the parent and child.
  • Through daily practice, mindful parenting focuses on managing strong emotions, reactivity and stress, improving mindful communication, honoring sovereignty, recognizing and actively reshaping one’s mal-adaptive mental patterns, as well as cultivating compassion, loving, kindness and self-care.
  • Listen with your heart instead of with your head, refrain from judging and criticizing. Never allow external distractions to interfere with conversations, be focused and present.
  • Rather than striving for perfection as a parent, it’s easier to just be the “good enough” parent, trust me it will work out in the end. We have to remember we are all human, we make mistakes and we falter, but with mutual understanding and acceptance, the relationship will be just fine.

My son and I are as different as day and night, however I honor his differences and beliefs because they are his.  My late mother and I had many challenges and difficulties because she adhered to what she imagined I would do and be even though I strived for an open relationship with her, I failed miserably.  So, I never offer advice unless I”m asked and no matter what my son does, says or wants, it is his life, only he knows what will be best for him. This way of being has been the key to how well we get along and makes it easier to resolve any challenges we are faced with.

Thank you for reading my post, I appreciate your time.

Letting your little light shine, shine, shine

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. Marianne Williamson

Do you play small or do you let your light shine for all the world to see?  While it’s easier to play small, from my experience, letting your light shine is leading the way for others to let theirs shine too. Remember those of us who’ve learned to rely on our inner wisdom are role models to help break the patterns of relying on old ways and our logical minds.  This is especially important for today’s world because we can take an active role in transforming into light humanity’s mis-creations.

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou

Our inner light, depending on where we are spiritually, is either the size of a candle flame or a beacon of light.  A way to expand it is to invest ourselves in mindfully choosing to stop complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves and finding ways to light the way for others.

Using our inner light is a vital part of fulfilling our purpose. Remember that some days will be harder than others, but as we choose to work from the inside out when we come to an obstacle, we will do whatever is necessary to find ways to move forward.

When we are focused on shining our light, keep in mind that no endeavor is too small. An effortless and basic practice that I’ve used for years is to offer a sincere, silent intention that only love and kindness enter a space or someone’s life, a simple way to bring love into the world.

Other ways that we can connect with our inner light:

  • be of service to others
  • acts of kindness
  • being joyful
  • living more purposefully
  • being a loving presence
  • and/or sharing our gifts

I’d been letting my light shine for years, but it was limited to what I allowed my time to be invested in.  Once I stopped doing what was expected by others and doing what I knew was right for me,  I became more aware of being a part of the change in a bigger way. No matter how I choose to shine my light, I know it is radiating out into the world as a part of global change. Just imagine how someone who needs that light feels?

To make this transformation, start small, be gentle with yourself, remember there are no rules, and that this is a very personal journey of taking conscious, deliberate steps toward allowing your light to shine to bring positive change into your life and the lives of others.

Thank you for reading my post, I appreciate your time.