Soooo, how was your New Years? Was it everything you thought it would be?
Mine was great - playing trivial pursuit (my Canadian friend won with a Canadian flag question .... it should not have been allowed, lol), counting in the new year, and then retiring to bed to get up the next morning to do a walk.
On the Dales Way, the part between Bolton Bridge and the Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey. All up it was 4.2miles long (the longest distance I have ever walked - in relatively one go of course, not like, in my entire life!!)
it was WET
OH SO MUCH FUN!!!!
There I am, nearly soaked through, my hair frizzed into a curly mess, sweat and water on my deepest layer of clothing, but you know what - I didn't care!
This walk, ALL the walking I am doing, is opening my eyes to the actual simplicity of being human - without all the ancillary attachments that we gift our lives with. Walking, especially in the miserable weather like I did, took away any concerns about how I looked, what I was wearing, removed the fear of decision making, doubts, and fears, bought me immediately into the present and firmly held me there.
It levels you - this walking - the camaraderie you have with fellow walkers, who are also, cold, wet, and muddy, becomes a defining feature. I didn't know any of the people I passed on the walk, but everyone, no matter how cold and desperate they looked, had a smile for you and a 'hello, happy new year.' We were all out, in the middle of no-where, no running away, no hiding, just being open to the experience and knowledge that you can enjoy the walk, the cold, the mud, because in the end, we are all in the same situation, AND this situation (as with any other) will not last.
it did not last - before I knew it, I was in a pub having a delicious hot chocolate to warm up!
But the day made me think that just as I am pushing myself and growing my strength physically, I can also transmute this to all other aspects of my life - and by other aspects, I refer specifically to business, and education. To grow, to move forward, we all need to be aware of our boundaries, but be fearless to push past them, to know that in being fearless we are creating conditions of change, and that through change, not all states of being last forever. Are you going to be fearless this year?
How did you start your new years?
Wow, Christmas is well and truly over now ... sort of, I still have chocolate, crackers, and cheese taking over my kitchen, but I am determined to get through as much of it as I can, cue feeling possibly ill from sugar overload! But I also have a few new years resolutions in mind that could make my life healthier, happier, and much more fulfilling ....
(love this old Victorian Photo or lightness and levity; they look like they are having so much fun and living life to the max - perhaps something we should all consider doing this coming year! Image from pinterest)
When I was younger I used to make resolutions all the time, and then the past few years I have switched making resolutions to making yearly goals, but I can feel myself switching back again to the idea of resolutions. I think I am doing this because I have clarified for myself exactly what each one is and how they can both be useful in ones life.
So, what are goals?
In the Business Dictionary, goals are defined as - 'An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe'.
Goals are those dreams that you want to make reality through the intention of steps and time. There is a beginning to them and an end, and usually at the completion of one goal another is then started. They can impact on your life for a set duration, and then, depending on the goal, lapse, or morph into another goal. It is something that you don't necessarily have to work on every day or even every week - in fact, most goals are set out time wise, with a set end date, with the intent to simply finish the goal at that end date.
Goals are good because they enable you have a focus, a drive to reach a conclusion - they help you to push yourself forward and keep life moving forward., Goals can, however, also cause stress and disappointment ... have you ever mentally beat yourself up when you haven't achieved your goal by the set date?
What are resolutions?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a resolution as - 'a firm decision to do or not do something'.
I was reading a blog post on Lifehacker about the difference between goals and resolutions and I really liked what David Galloway quoted from Gretchen Ruben of "The Happiness Project" - 'With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day, I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don't get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do.'
So resolutions are not goals, they are habits, intentions, lived day by day, things that can and will change your life for the better. Resolutions are not set in stone (like goals can seem to be), they are not defined by a particular set of steps or time scale, they are just what they are, day-to-day changes that we can all do. And as Gretchen Ruben from The Happiness Project states in the quote above, 'Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but everyday is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity.' Resolutions seem kinder, somehow, then goals.
Just because I said resolutions seem kinder doesn't mean I'll be giving up goals ... but I do want to do more resolutions, to make incremental improvements to my life through subtle habit changes. So to do this I am going to commit to 12 New Years Resolutions. These resolutions will be played out over the twelve months of 2014 - they are personal resolutions (as opposed to business ones I will be making - more on that later), and I vow to try my absolute best to enact them (but I will not beat myself up if I have a little slip up now and then). The aim is to keep each resolution turning over to each month, slowly building up good habits to make my life the way I want it to be, healthy, fun, creative, and full of love.
My twelve resolutions for 2014 are as follows -
Jan - A Green Smoothie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away (quite literally, I aim to have a smoothie a day to kick start a healthy a mindful practice of eating - and drinking?)
Feb - Yoga Yoga Everyday (as I am sure you have noticed I am a yoga addict, and as much as I am developing a yoga practice I would still like to make sure I at least to a Sun Salutation everyday, if not a full class or program)
March - Spring Clean Time (I do try and keep up with the basics of general cleanliness .... but it has been awhile since I have cleaned thoroughly the entire flat, soooooo, breaking the month into segments, the first week will focus on the kitchen, second week the lounge room, third week the bathroom, and finally, the fourth week - my bedroom. Boyeah!! And through this practice set up a schedule that ensures the flat stays healthy and allergy free - for my sometimes horrendous hayfever)
April - Say NO to Facebook and Twitter (I do admit to a slight addiction to ye ol' Facebook and Twitter. I can get right suckered in and waste a lot of time on them, so to combat this, I will be making the weekend a facebook and twitter free time-zone, a BIG chillo from techno!)
May - Shop Locally-Dokalee (I do most of my food shopping at a supermarket, even though I have a perfectly good green grocer, butcher, and health food shop not a five minute walk from my flat. SO, instead of using the car twice a week to go get groceries (I have a teeny fridge, so can't really stock up on food), I will walk up to the grocers/butchers/health food shop, and purchase what I need for that day and the day after. It has the added bonus that the food is cheaper at these local places, AND I won't use any petrol to get there)
June - Get Creative and Make a Summer Dress (I have been wanting to have a go at making my own clothes for years, so this month will be about having a go at growing a new skill of clothes making. I have a few summer dresses in mind I would like to have a go at, will post more info closer to the month)
July - Explore and have Adventures in the Beautiful UK (You know all that money I saved with buying locally and saving petrol on not using my car as much? Well, I want to use that money to explore the UK more, so my aim will be, every weekend I go on an adventure, whether it's a day trip or a stay-overnight type of trip, exploration will be had! Any suggestions for places to put on my list?)
Aug - Get Earth Responsible (I am ashamed to say that I don't recycle at the moment, but I really wish to change this, and therefore August will be all about recycling, as much as I can; paper, bottles, food scraps, whatever I can do to cut down on my rubbish will be done)
Sep - Meditate : Ommmmm (To put me in good stead for the coming winter I want to do something I have been wanting to do for years, so I will go on a meditation/Buddhist retreat/course. Whether I have to travel and stay at a retreat or can do a course closer to home, it will be done - and then the techniques enacted at home on a daily basis!)
Oct - Be Mucho More Organised (I always, ALWAYS run out of time to make my own Christmas Presents for people, and I love to make presents, so October will be about thinking of others and what they would like and ACTUALLY getting off my butt and making, making, making)
Nov - Read ONE FICTION Book a Week (I used to be the craziest little bookworm when I was a kid, even to the point where I would be sitting down to eat dinner with the family WITH a trusty book in my hand to read whilst eating. I want to get that excitement and wonder back with reading, so this month is about reading more fiction. I haven't decided on the books yet, but will let you know soon)
Dec - Get into the SPIRIT (December is all about Christmas for me, so I am going to volunteer for a local charity or group, preferably working with children or disabled people. Though Doing Good Leeds I should be able to find an opportunity to volunteer that will suit me AND, hopefully, the group I work with)
Whew, made it to the end. I am quite proud of these resolutions (and occasional goal thrown in there), I have constructed them to expand my creativity, my focus, self discipline, and happiness. Each month I will write about how it is all going; but what about you?
WHAT ARE YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS?
DO YOU WANT TO DO A TWELVE MONTHS RESOLUTION EXPERIENCE LIKE ME?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS OR EMAIL ME AT - email@example.com AND LET ME KNOW!
(my business resolutions will be up soon)
(image via pinterest)
I haven't had an epiphany for awhile (a few weeks at least!! LOL). However, the practice of yoga, I have noticed, is helping me notice my thoughts and really pay attention to what they are saying, allowing me time to let go of the "rot" and really listen to the 'gems.' AND these 'gems' are proving to be quite revelatory, or epiphany like.
On of these revelations was about the thoughts that create anxiety/stress/worry, and how these thoughts truly stop you from expanding into life, living the life of your dreams, from really being YOU! I also saw where these thoughts are coming from - they are coming from the past and the future (not literally, of course!!).
When you look at your life outside of the present (you know, this moment right now, this moment as I am typing or you are reading this post), your thoughts turn either to the past or to the future. What do you see in that past? What do you see in the future?
Negative crap? Long held issues and disaster movie scenarios? Anger? Sadness? Frustration?
about things that have happened and you can't change or things that may or may not happen.
This, quite obviously, is not a path to happiness, acceptance, and gratitude.
Being in the present? Inhaling Prana? (Prana = life force or breath) Going inside to see what's going on . . . how you feel in that moment, what you are thinking, seeing, tasting, hearing? Noticing and accepting change? (because frankly change is the only thing you can be sure of). Exhaling that which is mad, bad, and sad?
(image via pinterest)
This was my epiphany the other day - an epiphany I have had a few times in life, but one, it seems, I have to have over and over again . . . hopefully this time it will stick. Our stress and worry is all a construct of the mind - what causes us stress are moments from the past and thinking about the future in negative terms. Our minds create stories that are designed to leave us in a heightened state of awareness, that leaves our bodies on alert to potential danger, that drags our adrenal glands through the wringer (adrenals - controller of all icky stress hormones).
But how to release ourselves from this self perpetuating stress? One thing yoga has been teaching me is that our bodies and minds are as they are, no fiction or fakery about it! Well, what if we approached our thoughts with this idea of our thoughts being fiction; that we should step back and look at the fact before buying into the tragic disaster our minds are telling us has happened or is going to happen?
when we step back and allow our minds to take account of the here and now, we can see that the stories we have told ourselves, especially about the future, are in all likely hood a good trick from the brain trying to control the hype that is reality - when in actual fact, reality cannot be controlled.
So, how I am trying to combat the storyteller that is residing in my head? I am practicing and practicing and practicing focusing on the moment, being present, living in the here and now. Of course its not an easy, quick fix, the process of awareness, breathing, meditation, and yoga is an ongoing process - hence why it is called a practice and not a goal (or solid concrete ball of unchangeable limits). When I find my mind wandering to the past or the future in a non-nostalgic/optimism kind of way I gently remind myself that this is the storyteller that is trying to make drama and I bring my thoughts softly back to my breath, bring my awareness back to what I am going in that moment - I take note of how my body is feeling, what I am smelling, hearing, and seeing. You see, we cannot change the past, we cannot control the future, and we certainly can't control other people, but we can control how we respond to the current moment and if we respond to the current moment with a positive light that can only step us into the next moment and the next moment with a peaceful calm and a smile on our faces.
IMAGINE NOW, when you let go of your fears, your worries, and your stress, HOW MUCH MORE OPEN LIFE IS TO YOU NOW - THERE ARE NO LIMITS, JUST YOU IN THE MOMENT!
. . . and changing that which can.
(image via pinterest)
There is a HUGE thing in my life that cannot be changed, and it is a thing that many people, if they had it, would want to change - but I don't. Want to change it that is. My disability is with me for life, and the quicker that I accepted that the better, and I accepted it at a pretty young age. SO I can't change my missing limbs, I can't change growing old, and I can't change change my sex (well I can, if I wanted too, with surgery and all that, but I feel very much like a woman, so no enchilada - literally!) but I can change other things. I can change my mind, I can change my health, I can change my career, I can change my response, I can change my heart, I can change my strength, I can change my breathe, I can change how I see things, I can change, just purely and simply change. AND the magic of this change is that it can do something marvelous to the unchangeable . . . read on.
In the process of change comes the process of acceptance, acceptance of the unchangeable.
What do you find unchangeable in your own life? Or, what can you change?
(image via pinterest)
Change, essentially, is an evolutionary process, we are in constant shifts, at no point are we ever exactly the same as we ever have been. But to have a certain level of openness to change means that you can direct it towards passion, towards peace, towards life party time!!
Tara Gentile, entrepreneur extraordinary, say, "We are always rejecting and reclaiming, in what is often both a beautiful and ugly cycle. We resist change and then embrace it. We are open to possibility and then make up our minds."
Change becomes the unchangeable, to only change again, it is only through static positions that we fail to see the beautiful possibilities.
I see possibilities, even with my disability. Through caring for my body, strengthening it, I can achieve what would have been physical impossibilities - I shift what is essentially unchangeable. I say I shift the unchangeable, because my limbs aren't going to grow back, but I can shift my energy and strength to open up more physical possibilities.
But, to shift the body, is to change the mind, to let go so that you can be open. In the process of letting go of drama, angst, and confrontation, you are embracing the present and you are embracing your future, imperfect, self . . . you know, your 'warts and all!!' Cause guess what, acceptance and letting go are actually the same thing.
Accepting that my limbs won't grow back is not being defeatist . . . cause honestly, they ain't coming back!! Accepting my missing limbs as missing is strength and knowledge of myself . . . and your own inherently unchangeable factor can also make you strong and knowledgeable, cause that strength is already there, deep deep down, it can just take a little digging to find it.
The best changes come about without criticism, without condemnation, without regret. Our lives are our lives are our lives, and they have made us who we are, and each changeable step forward takes us even further into ourselves. Hence, change is not scary, it is an intrinsic part of you, and that which cannot be changed can be shifted, shifted to empower you even more.
Change while you can, whilst you are aware, embrace it, love it, see life as the journey that it is, cause quite frankly it can be wonderful if you want it to be . . .
(image via pinterest)
Ahhh Danielle . . . this is a lesson toughly learnt, but one that I believe that we all have to learn. "Expect to Offend People" is such a blunt truth, a truth that made me feel uncomfortable, does it make you feel uncomfortable?
I have discovered that in learning to accept people for who they are there comes a certain expectation that you cannot disagree with anything that they believe or do or say; that you must dampen your own self to accommodate this other. I believe that many of you will agree when I say (and see) that this is not healthy. Cause when you stomp down on your own self, squish it to fit in the tiniest part of your soul you are doing a disservice, not only to yourself but to the world in general.
Okay, here's a scenario for you -
Everyday, every single day, you wake up determined to not rock the boat. You eat breakfast, have a shower, get dressed, grab your bag, and head out into the wide, wild, world. Out in that wide, wild, world, you encounter many, many people. Each person is a miracle, an endless soul, a person on their own life journey . . . but quite often, on this journey, they are stuck in places that hold them back and cause them to form beliefs and opinions that you like and some you don't. You are the same as them, you are on your journey and you have places where you are jammed up and stickety-stuck, but perhaps you are trying to grow and change, to become more YOU! Yet, in this wordly interaction you feel that part of trying to be peaceful is being afraid - afraid to voice your self, afraid to stand up and be heard amongst the never-ending background noise. AND because you are afraid of standing up, you are pushed down by others who are standing up and whilst this keeps the peace for others, it doesn't keep the peace in you. Your thoughts stew, they twist and sometimes become ugly, but they also can become beautiful and/or truthful; and yet you suppress them, hide them, for fear of causing offence.
(Image via pinterest)
Now of course we do not desire to cause offence, that is never anyones intention (unless it is - but boo on you folk!), but when to stand up and be you, be strong, and be an opinion, causes some people to cough and splutter, to be up in arms, to take offence, there is something not so ugly about it. In fact it can be a chance for something beautiful, something within which all can learn and grow.
to be Offended.
To the point where you are not smothered, you are not suppressed, you are not being chipped away at or ripped in two; but to where, ultimately, you are being truth, and light, and growth, and spirit, and heart, and strength, and you.
It is a-okay to be non-judgmental, to be at peace, to be accepting of others . . . but it is equally a-okay to be non-judgmental, to be at peace, to be accepting of you. So, as Danielle (life-change guru extraordinaire) states, "Expect to Offend People," cause we are all different, we are all on different points of our journey, we are all reactionaries, learners, and teachers - don't be afraid.
"Face Fear and Thereby Master it; Repress Fear and be Mastered by it" - Martin Luther King