On Saturday mornings, I host a room on Clubhouse, Coffee and Kids, where we talk about parenting (join my Clubhouse here). In our latest chat, we talked about celebrating parenthood. We can sometimes get bogged down by focusing on the negative aspects of parenting. We complain when our kids won’t do their homework, aren’t getting good grades, or don’t clean up their room. We grumble that they don’t listen to us EVER. I would be willing to bet you have thought and even said those things yourself. But in our last Coffee and Kids chat, we decided to shift our perspective to focus on celebrating being a parent and talking about our parenting wins.
We discussed how much of a blessing it is to actually have a child. We also acknowledged that there were times when we didn't realize that having a child is a blessing and that there are so many women who struggle with infertility and challenging pregnancies. The conversation just kept returning to the fact that human life itself is such a gift. When you start focusing on basic gratitude and love for human life, you feel a very powerful and overwhelming emotion. It is certainly something for which to be grateful.
One call participant, who lives in the Caribbean, talked about being frustrated with her daughter for not cleaning up her room. She shared that she really wanted to raise her voice and get angry with her daughter but instead decided to just hug her. Her daughter was about 14 years old at the time. In the moment, she made the decision to show love and gratitude for her daughter rather than starting a fight over a messy room. She shared that she hugged her daughter and said, “You know what, let's not argue. Let's talk about what you want to do today and what we are going to do together.” She was grateful for the mere presence of her daughter. That acceptance was her way of honoring human life. They decided to let the room be for the weekend and instead enjoy spending time together. The room could wait another day.
Then, our conversation shifted to parenting wins. I shared the story of when my ten-year-old daughter came to me with some friends who couldn't quite get their plans together. She said, “Let's go talk to my mom. She's great about making Plan B.” As a mom, I was really excited that my daughter had been listening to the words I’d said for so many years. She always knew that I would be able to make a backup plan, so she didn't have to worry about derailed schedules or routines. There was always another way around a failed plan. In that moment, she was coming to me for advice, and I considered that a parenting win.
Another participant chimed in and shared a similar story, and I loved how she phrased it. She said, “If the mountains are in the way, are we going to dig a hole, or are we going to go around them? We are going to find another way. We don't let the mountain stop us.” That is a GREAT parenting win - showing your kids how to plan for and get around obstacles in life.
One other person, who was raised in Cuba by her father, shared that she spent a lot of time sheltering her son early in his life. She found out later in her parenting years that she needed to “remove the umbrella and let the rain fall on him.” She meant that she could not protect him from everything, but she could be there for him when he needed her. She stated that she wished she had closed the umbrella earlier than she did because sheltering him from too many life experiences was not as helpful as she had anticipated.
It is so amazing to meet these women from around the world and to hear their parenting experiences. We all have one thing in common: We are all parents who love our children.
What I have learned: Look deeply at the gifts of being a parent and celebrate your wins.
Catch us on Clubhouse, Coffee and Kids, on Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. CST.
Do you ever find yourself focusing on the things that went wrong in a day? Do you have trouble letting things go? Maybe you had a difficult day at work, made a few mistakes, and carried those with you for the rest of the day. Focusing on the negatives can really put you in a bad mood, so I encourage you to shift your focus, change your perspective, and acknowledge the positives.
Yesterday my brain seemed to be stuck. In my mind, I kept replaying the one thing that did not go well at work. I was struggling with the fact that I interviewed a candidate who did not have the proper certification, so the interview was a waste of our time and theirs. That mess up seemed to bother me for most of the day. Why did I let that one little thing cause me such turmoil?
Take a moment to think about the good things you did today. Then, make a list. I bet you can’t even write them all down. Maybe the only positive thing that happened today was that you got out of bed. Maybe you made yourself get dressed and leave the house. Even if much of your day didn’t go as planned, I’m sure you could find some positives if you tried. Maybe you were in total survival mode, but you still fed the dog, fed the kids, got the groceries, cleaned up the house, and did 10 loads of laundry. Maybe you ate healthier today, made better food choices, exercised, and got your steps in. Those are WINS! There are so many things that you do right every day. Focus on them.
When I left the gym today, I started thinking about this blog and wondered what my day would look like. I decided to make my own “Things I Did Right” list.
That was all before 8:00 am. By taking a closer look, it was easy to see I was off to a pretty good start for the day. And just thinking about this list made me walk a little lighter. I had already felt accomplished for the day.
I encourage you to ask yourself what you have done right today. Instead of focusing on the tasks you did not get done or the things that went wrong, how many little things did you do right? How many little things went well today? How many little things did you orchestrate today to make the rest of the world go round?
I bet you have a list going in your mind right now. I imagine you will probably run out of paper writing them all down. Go ahead and make that list and focus on the positives in your life.
I often write down my positivity lists in Kickstarting Wellness. It’s also a great place to write down goals, keep track of your moods, and focus on bettering your life.
What I have learned: Flip your brain and focus on the things you did right today!
Never depend on others to supply your joy. If you’re waiting for your partner to bring you flowers, you’ll end up disappointed every time they come home empty-handed. But, what’s stopping you from buying yourself those flowers you love so much? You are worthy of loving yourself. You deserve to treat yourself to that beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers or whatever else brings you joy.
I have never understood why some women get upset when their partners don’t bring them flowers. To me, that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. I see it as either being not that important to them or not how they express their love for you. It’s likely they have other ways of showing their love. Whether you’re a flower-lover or not, don’t start relying on someone else to supply your happiness.
While special gifts and surprises are nice, don’t expect them because you may be let down. If you want jewelry, then save your money and buy yourself jewelry. You don’t have to wait for another person to give you the things you want in life. Don’t get me wrong - Staying within your budget and not going overboard are great tips to keep in mind. However, don’t wait on someone to surprise you with that necklace you’ve always wanted. You may be surprised at how good it feels to give yourself something that you have been wanting.
You are in charge of your own happiness. Be good to yourself because, not in spite of, what your partner didn’t do. ALWAYS be good to yourself. There isn’t anyone you should love more than you.
Doing things for yourself does not mean that others don’t love you or that you don’t love and need others. We all do. But, do not wait for people to make you happy. Take charge of your joy. You are responsible for bringing yourself happiness.
What I have learned: You are in charge of your own happiness. Do things that bring you joy.
We are now six months into 2022…Where are you with your New Year’s resolutions or goals? Take a minute to review and reflect on how you are doing. Did you stay on track? Did you stay on the right course? A couple of things to think about:
1. If you fell off the wagon and have lost sight of your goal, this is the perfect time to get back at it. Perhaps your goal was centered on weight loss. Because the weather is warming up, it’s the perfect time to get up and move your body. It is also a great time to focus on good eating habits. If your goal was career-oriented, take a minute to reflect. Ask yourself, “Is it time to update my resume?” Or maybe you should create an account on LinkedIn to begin networking. This time of year, people are moving and shaking while companies are settling down, so it might be a good time to review your goals.
If your goal was to look after your own mental health, it is time you review that goal too. Have you given up on setting boundaries? Have you stopped taking care of yourself? It's not too late to jump back on the wagon, start taking care of yourself, and setting firm boundaries. A great way to get started is by using Kickstarting Wellness. This journal is filled with prompts to guide your personal wellness journey by providing space for journaling and creating healthy habits.
2. The second tip I would suggest is a mid-course correction. A mid-course correction is when you review the progress of your goal and make changes that will help you reach that goal. Perhaps you're on the right track, but things just aren't going the way you would like. If your goal is weight loss and the weight isn't coming off the way you want, maybe it's time to change it up by adding some weight to your workouts or modifying your diet. I've had to do that myself with weight loss goals by adding more carrots and less chips. Your mid-course correction may not be as much fun, but I think the results will be better. Less wine and more water probably would be helpful too…
If you are looking at your career and needing to make a mid-course correction on that goal, think about marketing yourself a little differently. Perhaps you modify your resume by reviewing your skills to see where you could be more marketable. Perhaps reaching out and networking with different people or looking into a completely different field might widen your opportunities.
If you have been working on your mental health and wellness, take a minute to think about what needs to be changed or modified. How are the boundaries you set up for yourself working? If they're working well, then keep them where they are. If they are not, then make some changes to the boundaries. Take a look and see if there are other areas that could help enhance the already great strategies you have been using. For example, you might already be working out and eating well, but you've been staying up too late working. It might be a good idea to turn your cellphone off by 9 pm or stop working late in the evenings to promote better sleep and further improve your mental health and well-being. Maybe you need to incorporate more meditation and deep breathing in your day.
Whatever your journey, take a moment to check your progress on your goals. Reflection is a large part of growth, but using what we have learned from our reflection and acting upon that is a huge win too.
What I have learned: Take a moment to reflect on your own progress. You may need to restart a goal or make mid-course corrections. Either way, you're headed in the right direction.
I was recently getting ready for a gala to benefit St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness. I’d bought a cute black cocktail dress and chunky black heels for the occasion, and I was now debating on what jewelry to wear to enhance my dress. Then, I looked at my Apple Watch (which I wear religiously and am pretty much tied to). I decided it wasn’t going to look good with my outfit. This thought sent a bit of panic through me. What if I’m at the event, my phone is silenced, and I receive an important text? I then thought, “Everybody that’s important will be with me, so what does it matter?” My internal voice shot back, “Well, how will you track your steps tonight? You’re at 7,000, but don’t you want to make sure you get to 10,000?” I paused and thought to myself, “Hm…maybe I’ll just put my Apple Watch in my purse in case I need it.” Finally, I scrunched up my face, shook my head, and decidedly put the watch down. “Need it?” For what? What would I really need my Apple Watch for in my handbag? When I paused and processed, I realized how ridiculous it was to think my Apple Watch was a necessity for the evening.
At that point, I decided that I’m going to live in the moment! I’ll have my cell phone in my purse and will check it periodically, but an Apple Watch on my wrist at all times is not needed. Continuous updates about text messages, emails, or a plethora of other notifications just aren’t necessary.
Living in the moment can be really challenging in our lives today. Honestly, the concept has sent a bit of panic through me with thoughts of: How will I survive? What will I do? Then I remind myself that back in 1985 I didn't have an Apple Watch or a cell phone, and I was able to live in the moment without worry by simply enjoying the people around me. The decision was made. Tonight at the gala, I was going to listen to the speakers intently and observe my surroundings closely. I would focus on watching the sights and sounds of the silent auction and the live action. I would wholeheartedly listen to the survivor stories and enjoy being there alongside my mother and my children.
Just so you know, I did survive the evening without my Apple Watch. Once parted from the device, I was quickly at ease. The evening was a blast, and I was able to engage with others at the event, all the while, not checking my watch a hundred times. I was able to enjoy living in the moment by laughing with others and meeting new people. And not to worry, my feet hurt so bad at the end of the night that I’m sure I reached 10,000 steps.
When was the last time you lived in the moment? How hard would it be for you to detach right now, leave your cell phone at home, and go to the store? While I love my Apple Watch and iPhone, I am also learning to love leaving those things behind. These products provide immediate responses and supply constant information, so we’re never completely focused on the task at hand and we’re constantly distracted by notifications. We are tied to technology and are drawn to the immediacy and availability of getting information.
I encourage you to take on this challenge and live in the moment today. I bet you’ll love it. I imagine it will be difficult at first, but I think you can work through the roller coaster of emotions and feel much more relaxed in the end.
What I have learned: Live in the moment. You will make it through and be much happier for it.
When I was a child, I remember asking my grandmother why she didn't have a pet. I thought it would be perfect for her to have a dog because she loved visiting our dog and it would be great company for her. She responded by telling me that she was never going to let another dog break her heart and was never going to shed another tear over a dog. I remember wondering, “Well, that's just silly. Why would you do that? It’s way more fun to have a dog.” I also remember thinking how much joy and laughter our dog brought to the family. With their snuggles, their soft and warm fur, and their loud barks, they made us feel comforted, secure, and protected. I just couldn’t understand why my grandmother wouldn't want that too.
As an adult, we had a dog named Tippy. She was a beautiful mutt, a mixed breed of Collie and Chow. She was sassy and had a mind of her own. After living with us for 13 years, she passed away from cancer. Our children were young when she passed, and we were at a very busy time in our lives. It was an incredibly devastating and difficult decision to put her to sleep and let her go, but we could see how much pain she was in and knew it was the right thing to do. We cried and said our goodbyes as best we could. We created a small shrine that included pictures of her, a piece of her hair, and her collar. We've kept it up for years. Some dear friends of ours painted a beautiful watercolor painting of her too, which is also still displayed in our home. Much like my grandmother had said all those years ago, my husband told me he didn't want a dog ever again after Tippy passed. I promptly shot him down and reminded him our kids were little and they would want another dog.
My husband quickly had a change of heart about getting another dog. About eight months after the passing of Tippy, he was on a job site and saw a black labrador-shepherd mix running around. They were building a church in the middle of nowhere. It was a very rural area, and there were just a few houses around. The dog was about eight months old, so we assumed that someone had him as a puppy and then dropped him off in the middle of nowhere.
The dog would wander around the job site, eating the construction workers’ leftover lunches. He quickly fell in love with my husband, following him around and jumping into his truck when he opened the door. At this time, the holidays came and went which meant that my husband was not on the job site for about two weeks. When he returned in January, he called and told me that the stray dog was still there, but that he was getting really thin and probably wouldn’t make it through the coldest part of the winter. He then asked how I felt about him bringing the dog home. I told him we would first have to take him to the vet, and I reminded how I felt about animals. I made sure he remembered I believed if you bring an animal home, they’re yours forever. I reiterated that he had better make sure he was making a good decision.
Of course, my husband ended up bringing the dog home. We named him Rocko. Let me tell you - this dog was a wild animal. He had no manners, no spatial boundaries, and had obviously never been on a leash. Luckily, he was a quick study. He was ever so grateful for the fact that we took him in. Every morning, he would wake me up by jumping up onto our bed. He was so excited you could see it in his eyes. It was like he was trying to tell us, “You’re still here! I’m still here! This is awesome! I love being with you!” He was always so excited when we came home, and he loved to go anywhere with us.
He was loving and gentle to our children and to anyone that came into our home. When I would set out the Christmas decorations during the holidays, you would often find him snoozing under the tree at night. Present opening on Christmas day was pure joy for him, as he loved tearing up the tissue paper and acting like he was destroying the enemy! Rocko loved a party and would stay up with us until the wee hours of the morning if the evening went long. He loved sleeping outside on the patio when my husband was watching ball games on TV. He was just plain cool!
I think he was one of the most loyal dogs I've ever had. His loyalty to us was shown in so many ways. He would sleep at the end of the hallway by the girls' bedrooms for most of the evening. Then, he would join us in our bedroom at about 3:00 a.m. for the rest of the night. Whenever my husband was out in the yard working, he had to be with him. He did his nightly patrols of our backyard by roaming the perimeter and looking for anything out of place as if he was the king of the jungle. He barked at anything that moved outside. He was our protector, always watching out the back windows, the front windows, and paying attention to everything. He lived with us for 14 amazing years.
At 14 years old, he passed away peacefully at home. Rocko picked a day that everyone was available to spend time with him before he passed. He always was a bit of an attention-seeker.
The previous evening he had a sleepover with one of our daughters and her dog Luci, who was his best bud. In the morning, of course, he had mom snuggles over coffee. Then, he went over to our other daughter's house and played with her dog Nelly in the backyard. After a great day together on December 23rd 2021, he took his last ride in the truck with my husband. Before he passed, he was able to say goodbye to everyone. He was a great dog, and he is truly missed.
Our hearts are broken, and we are really struggling with healing. His bed is still in our bedroom. I can't bring myself to wipe his snot marks off the back windows yet. Our daughter had a friend paint a beautiful picture of him, which we put alongside our dear Tippy’s picture. We still look for him sometimes when we come home. We still find ourselves waiting for him to greet us at the door.
My husband and I were just recently talking and trying to figure out why this loss has been so hard for us. I think it's because we don't have little ones at home to distract us, so it's far too quiet. I'm not sure whether or not we will ever get another dog. I think we both are starting to feel a little bit like my grandmother. I’m definitely not ready for another pet to break my heart. I don't really know that I want to willingly go through that pain again.
The day after Rocko passed away I met a very good friend for breakfast. I was really struggling. I was trying to hold back tears while also trying to rationalize why I was crying over a dog. She listened, understood, and said something so profound. She told me, “You had 14 great years with him and just one really bad day…the day when he passed away.” She was right - 14 years of love certainly outweighed that one bad day. That comment has stayed with me every day since then. Our family, Rocko included, had 14 years full of great memories together that I don’t regret one bit!
What I have learned: The joy of loving a pet outweighs the pain of losing a pet. I am working on opening my heart up again.
If you missed last week’s Clubhouse chat, we had a great discussion about connecting with our kids. We shared ways we care and express love for our children. There were ways in which we were similar and ways in which we were very different.
Grab your coffee, set your kiddos up with an activity, and join us on Saturday mornings on Clubhouse at 8 a.m. CST. We have some great conversations. The guests bring a lot of really great ideas. You’ll learn so much, meet a lot of neat people, and have a great time!
Here is a bit of our Coffee and Kids conversation about Making Connections. Below is my contribution to the conversation:
The way I showed my children I cared for them when they were younger was different from the way my husband did. We both provided food and a stable home for them. I showed my kids love and compassion by telling them how much I loved them and by talking to them, being there and present for them, and being honest with them.
But there were times when I raised my voice or flew off the handle. I’m not a perfect parent, and it was definitely difficult to be a working mom. When I say the word “working,” I’m not just talking about the nine-to-five jobs outside the home. Stay-at-home moms are working moms too. So how do you balance working and giving your kids the care, time, and attention they deserve? I would encourage you to put your phone down, turn off the TV, and listen to your children. I would take the time to listen to my daughters’ needs and respond the best I could. I would show them that I was paying attention with nonverbal and verbal feedback. As my girls have grown up, I’ve continued to use these parenting skills.
Make sure you emphasize that the things they’re saying to you are important because they ARE. I really didn't use material items to show my kids I cared about them (not that they wanted for much of anything). I took the time to show my kids I cared about them by spending time with them and giving them my full attention. It can be difficult to carve out this time, especially with everything else going on in our lives. When my daughters were young, Saturdays consisted of grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning and organizing the house. Throughout the day, I would always find moments to stop and pay attention to my kids. It was a challenge with everything going on, but we were able to carve out precious moments together.
As adults, my daughters and I still spend a lot of time together, giving each other time and attention. Hugs and encouragement are still needed into adulthood.
You can read more about connections and nurturing in my book Raising the Well-Adjusted Child: A Parent’s Manual.
What I have learned: Giving people your time and attention is healthy for everyone involved. Stop what you’re doing, put down your phone, and listen to the person talking to you.
One of our Coffee and Kids Clubhouse topics was Modeling for Our Kids. I started off the conversation by sharing the poem below. When I was a child, this poem hung on the wall in our home. It has always been ingrained in my brain and has guided my decision-making more than once. Even when I was going to school to become a teacher, I know I drew from this poem numerous times. The poem is timeless, and it bears repeating.
Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
We are not perfect parents, and I have made my fair share of mistakes. Over the years, I've learned that words are important. The analogy, “You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube,” demonstrates how hurtful words can be. In education, we tell our teachers that for every negative comment, a student needs four positive comments to overcome it. It also takes one hundred verbal repetitions to reverse a negative emotion or feeling. Similarly, when modeling behavior, it takes just one example of a negative behavior to stick with your kiddos.
Kids are watching us. They're watching our reactions and our behaviors. For example, think about your typical day. How did you approach the morning? Were you grumpy? Your kids are going to learn from your approach, and they may follow your lead by being grumpy in the mornings. Are you complaining about the chores you have to do today? Again, they're going to follow your lead and complain when you ask them to clean their room. Are you grumbling about having to go to work, or are you complaining about the bills? They're watching, listening, paying attention, and learning from you.
Now let's reverse these examples. If you greet the morning with a smile, it’s ok to still be sleepy. Your response to the day may be something like this, “It's okay that I'm just not really feeling it this morning, but I'm going to push through today.” Now you’re teaching your children to persevere! You’re teaching them to push forward and work through tough days. For chores, maybe you say, “I'm not really looking forward to doing these chores, but I'm really thankful that I have a roof over my head.” You are teaching them how to appreciate what they have. Another reframe might be, “I really need to clean up the house. I don't want to, but I worked really hard to get these things and I appreciate them.” Once again, you are teaching them about gratitude and positivity. Your reactions and responses are critical to your children’s development. They are watching you, so what kind of role model will you be?
What I have learned: There are so many pieces to modeling behaviors for our children. I know one thing for sure - they are watching and learning from us each and every day.
Showing Up for Your Kids
On Saturday mornings, I host a room called, “Coffee and Kids,” on the social networking app Clubhouse, where we talk about all things parenting. A few Saturdays ago, I raised the topic of supporting our kids and posed the question, “How do you show up for your kids every day?” While the guests were processing and preparing to respond, I shared a big way in which we recently showed up for our daughter.
March 26th is Epilepsy Awareness Day. Those of you who know me know that I have a 22-year-old daughter who is diagnosed with epilepsy. The diagnosis came when she was 10 years old, so she has struggled with this illness for 12 years of her young life. She has had to manage her medications, making sure she takes them on a timely and regular schedule. She has had to significantly alter her lifestyle, ensuring she gets plenty of sleep and devotes sufficient time to stress management (as lack of sleep and stress are triggers to her seizures). She has had to learn to regulate her emotions and handle difficult situations, oftentimes by talking with friends and family or journaling (CLI created a wellness journal, Kickstarting Wellness, to help people manage stressors in their lives). She has had to learn and DO all of these things to take care of herself. As she has grown with this illness, she has also worked to educate others about epilepsy. To start, she would educate her friends and family about what they needed to do in the event that she had a seizure. Her advocacy surrounding epilepsy awareness and education steadily grew from there.
On March 26th, 2022, we showed up for our daughter in a big way. It was a Saturday, so my husband and oldest daughter were coaching their 18U softball team in a tournament. We decided to use this platform to shine a light on Epilepsy Awareness Day. We wanted to bring awareness to the players and their families, as well as to honor my youngest daughter’s strength in the face of this illness.
The color purple represents epilepsy. For the softball game on Epilepsy Awareness Day 2022, we wore our epilepsy awareness t-shirts, made cupcakes with purple icing, and painted our nails purple. The team wore purple ribbons in their hair. My daughter brought purple wristbands that said “Hope” and “Love,” which were worn by the players, coaches, and fans. We educated the girls on epilepsy, including how people are diagnosed and what they can do to help a person who is having a seizure.
It was a memorable day of awareness and advocacy. On top of that, we showed our daughter a great deal of support. We showed her how much we love her. It's incredibly important to show up for your kids - advocate for them, have their backs, cheer for them, stand up for them, support them. I encourage you to show up for your kids.
In honor of Epilepsy Awareness Day, here are some helpful tips for helping a person who is having a seizure:
What I have learned: Showing up for your kids is critical to their development. It shows them how much you love them.
The first time I tried to meditate…I had no idea what to do. As I sat on the floor in my bedroom, I couldn't figure out what to do about all the thoughts racing through my mind. I couldn’t sit cross-legged because it hurt my hips. I didn’t know what, if anything, to focus on. I sat there for a few minutes and, unsurprisingly, didn’t feel any benefit from it.
After that experience, I was determined to try meditation again, so I actually looked up how to meditate. I want to share what I have learned and how I practice meditation.
It’s really pretty simple. Meditation can be done anywhere. In fact, let’s try some right now. Stop reading, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Focus on breathing in and out slowly. Continue this practice for one to five minutes. It's okay to let thoughts and ideas in your mind come and go. Bring yourself back to focusing on your breath each time you notice your mind wandering, breathing in and out. Be still and breathe. Absorb the sounds around you and the way your body feels against the seat in which you sit. Keep breathing until you feel relaxed.
I think many times we think that we have to be in this Zen-like state to meditate. We think we have to be in our yoga clothes, at a yoga studio, or in a picturesque natural environment. But really, at any point during your day you can stop, pause, close your eyes, and focus on your breath for a few minutes.
You can even take a break and mentally transport yourself to one of your favorite places. For example, maybe your favorite place to meditate is in nature. Close your eyes and picture yourself in this cherished spot. You may be sitting on a rock in the middle of a forest along the bank of a creek, or you may be sitting on a sandy beach feeling the sea breeze against your skin and hearing the waves crash along the shore. Revel in what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Take a few minutes here. Then, inhale a very deep breath and exhale it out, pushing away all of the stress and worry from the day.
When I am sitting on the beach (literally this time), I spend a few minutes and take it all in. The picturesque blue-green of the ocean, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the smell of the salty water, the feel of the breeze on my skin. I make a mental note to store that beautiful, serene spot in my brain. I also remember how relaxed I felt in that place. Having those mental notes allows me to tap back into that relaxation wherever I am.
Experiencing stillness is one of the most important elements of meditation. It allows your mind to calm. When I am in a state of frustration, I will stop, pause, and close my eyes. I will take a few deep breaths and bring something joyful to mind. It might be reflecting on last week’s date night with my husband. It might be anticipating an upcoming vacation with loved ones. It might be a visit to the serene spot I cherish.
I have a feeling that while you’re pausing and practicing these techniques a smile is going to come across your face. You're going to start to feel the muscles in your neck and back relax as your breathing begins to deepen. Exhale out the worries and blow them away. Take good care of you.
What I have learned: Meditation can happen anywhere. Make an effort to be still each day.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.