The Gifts of Imperfection

brene

It’s been quite a while since I’ve reviewed a book, so I thought I would get to it!

I am an avid reader, and I like to read everything from sci-fi to chic lit to paranormal to self help.  Sometimes I like to escape into a book, and sometimes I want to learn something.  This book definitely falls in to the category of “learning something” or more accurately “discovery”.

I am on a journey of self discovery in order to live the best life I can for me.  That would include happiness, meaning and connection with work and with people.  I want to be engaged and use my unique skills.  I like to talk about following intuition and being true to your essential self.  This often means not following trends or “fitting in” with society and culture.  Not the easiest things to pull off when “everybody” out there is telling you what you should do for work, parenting, making money, etc.!

Now, let me turn to this easy to read book by Brene Brown.  This is the first thing I’ve read by her, but her work has been recommended to me many times by kindred spirits.  I ran across this book in the library quite by accident, and was amused to find that its paperback cover was totally beat up.  When I tried to check it out, the scanner wouldn’t work because the whole cover had been “weathered” by so many hands.  I giggled to myself about how many people must have checked this book out of the library before me!

Brene Brown is  a researcher and often studies things like shame. (Sounds like a barrel of laughs, right?)  She’s earned her Ph.D. and is a legitimate academic. I love that fact that her type A personality and serious academic chops led her to the subtle but powerful themes of gratitude, play, and creativity.  She explains that her own research knocked her off balance and sent her into a spiritual breakdown/awakening!

I feel a kinship with her.  We both were brought up to achieve and to strive and to work our butts off.  We both value reason and research and feel insecure when we have to buck the trends of culture.  In short, we both feel compelled to compete in the rat race and have it all, and we have both been bewildered when that constant striving to achieve more and more did not lead to happiness or joy.

Weren’t we following the rules of success?  Doing what we were supposed to do to get ahead?  Well, a lot of the times we did.  The problem is that the “rules of success” perhaps weren’t meant for us after all.  I think you get the idea.

This book talks about ways for people to embrace themselves as individuals and build authentic, meaningful and joyful lives.  There is more than one way up the mountain, so to speak, and we should find that path that works best for us.

Chapters include: Authenticity, Self-Compassion, Resilience, Gratitude and Joy, Intuition and Faith, Creativity, Play and Rest, Calm and Stillness, Meaningful Work, Laughter, Song and Dance.

I found these chapters to be funny, I recognized myself in Brene’s own struggles, and ultimately found inspiration or food for thought.  I would recommend reading one subject chapter at a time, and then giving it some time to sink in.  Let your brain and heart mull it over a bit and see what sticks out as meaningful for you.  When you’re ready, read on to the next.

I love this book because it is so simple, easy to read, and so so real.  Life is hard, peer pressure is real, being unique or different can be a struggle.  I think the take away here is that if we figure out how to fine tune our lives in ways that are meaningful for us as individuals, it will lead to greater joy and happiness.  I’m all about that!

Find the book here on Amazon or hit the library.  If you are looking for ways to make your life richer, this is a great place to start.

Happy reading my friends!

 

 

 

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The only constant is change…

delta

That symbol you see there is the Greek Delta, often used in mathematical expressions to symbolize change.

Evidently, the idea “change is the only constant” was first introduced by Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. (Who knew?)

So I wanted to announce that I’m closing my coaching business.

I have loved coaching and through it, I’ve met many awesome people.  However, I’m being pulled in other directions for now.

That being said, I will be continuing to blog, and I’m available for any burning questions you may have via email!

Yes, change, what do we know about it?  Most people dislike change because we seem to be creatures of habit. (I know I am.)  When there is no schedule, or the schedule keeps changing, it kind of stresses me out.  What day is it and where am I supposed to be?!

I cope by obsessively putting everything in my calendar and assume that soon the rhythm will return so that I don’t feel so adrift.  Often, the schedule does settle down into a normal pattern and stays that way for a month or a season, but change will inevitably creep in again.

I used to really fear change, but now I’m starting to make peace with it.  Navigating change can be a challenge, but in those challenges we grow, learn new things, and meet new people.  It’s not easy, and it can be upsetting, but I realized that if we don’t keep growing, changing, and evolving we’re gonna die.  Plain and simple, we have to keep going with the flow so we don’t shrivel up and get mistakenly placed in a time capsule!

A side benefit for me, dealing with change, is that as time rolls along, I know myself better.  That, in turn, makes it easier to figure out what to do in times of upheaval.  There are simply options that are possible, and ones that aren’t.  Will I have to move? Change jobs or go back to school?  Those things are fine with me.  Will I let myself be distanced from my family?  No way, no how.  We’re a package deal, and whatever is happening, we are all in it together.

Think back to some really big changes that have occurred in your life.  Did you sink or swim?  Did you follow your instincts to help make decisions?  Did something good or meaningful come from an unexpected event?

The biggest thing I can think of is having children!  It was a ROUGH transition for me, and for a while I was drowning.  I mean, it was really ugly.  One day, when my daughter was about 4 months old, a light bulb moment occurred. I said to myself, “I hate my life!” Saying those words out loud shocked me so much that I knew I had to get help.  Depression and anxiety were ruining my life and depriving me of enjoying my perfectly pleasant baby, not to mention my marriage.  Talk about a disaster.

That day started me down a path to get better.  It took a long time, I tried talk therapy, medications, acupuncture, and just eating pounds of dark chocolate!  It took about two years, but I eventually felt like myself again.  When I looked back, I saw that these problems had been hanging over my head much longer than I’d realized.  It just took the shock and awe of becoming a parent to send me over the edge.

What I’m trying to say, is that something wonderful came out of this terrible experience.  I hit bottom and began to search for answers, and though it was slow going, I was able to find myself again and become so much happier for the journey.

I sincerely hope that you never hit bottom, and that moving a house full of IKEA furniture is the toughest thing that comes your way.  I just want you to know that it’s possible to navigate crazy change and come out stronger on the other side.  So who coined the phrase, “life is never boring?”  That should be the corollary to change is the only constant!

Wishing you fair weather and calm seas!

 

 

La Vita Dolce

sweet-life-star-2

The sweet life, the good life, it seems like we are all after it one way or another.

Did you ever notice that ‘the good life’ conjures up different things for different people?  Some might immediately think of luxury and wealth, while others might think of comfort and happiness.  What about a peaceful life or some kind of passion that lights you up?

What is it you really want?

And why do you really want it?

Do you crave wealth for the security or the freedom it can bring?  Would you rather have love in your life even at the expense of money?  What about health?  Would a luxurious life still feel good if you were sick?

All these ideas are offered for you to give it some thought.

The more you can explore your thoughts and desires and why lies beneath them, the closer you will be to finding what really makes your life sweet.

For example, I crave comfort more than anything else.  I want my cozy clothes and comfort food and there is never enough really good coffee or chocolate.  However, when I’ve had my comfort quotient met, I take my soft sweaters and travel mug of Kenya roast out into the world.  I need people and activity to be happy, too.  And, sometimes, I have to push the limits of my comfort “envelope” to keep growing.

So, now, it’s your turn!

  1. What do you think constitutes the sweet life?
  2. Why?
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have a full life picture

Now that you have created your own recipe, you can be on the look-out for the ingredients and gradually pull them into the mix.

Remember the why not just the what!  Your ingredients may come in forms that surprise you, so make sure you keep an open mind.  Like I said in my last post, sometimes you get what you need more than what you want, and find it was a better fit after all!

With this post, I wish you a happy, sweet, and healthy new year!

 

Better late than never

zen

Happy Holidays to all of you out there.  I’m sorry it’s been a while since I wrote anything other than a Christmas card or email!

Funny story, last year (2016) I turned 40.  I know, I can’t believe it either!  I asked my husband for a deluxe spa day, he said “yes”, and that was pretty much it.  It never got planned, and before we knew it, my 41st birthday rolled around. He said, hey, I owe you a spa day.  And I said, what I really want is to go on retreat.  He said he could watch the kids for a weekend in December, so I booked a stay at Kripalu in western Massachusetts.

Why did I want to go on retreat?  I was hoping for some divine inspiration on what to do with the rest of my life.  I mean, I have a plan, but is it the right one?  I felt like I needed some quiet time without any attachments.  I wanted to give myself some space to think outside the box and maybe have some new ideas.  And, frankly, that’s just what I got!

Things never unfold the way you think they will.  Did you ever notice that?  A lot of time you get what you need, but not what you expected or even asked for.  This is totally true for me in this case.

I drove myself 4 hours north into the Berkshires, expecting zen bliss.  What did I find?  A zen retreat center that felt a little stark, and dare I say, boring?  I had a shared room and bath – like going back to my college dorm days only way cleaner and nicer.  I had a nice roommate, and after each class session (we both signed up for different programs) we’d compare notes on the cool and wacky things we learned.

My first day there I was exhausted, probably because it’s the first chance I’d had to relax in a while, and when I regained my energy the next day, I actually felt a little bored.  I had so much free time!  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I roamed the halls in between classes and just tried to take it all in.

And, before I knew it, I was having original thoughts and receiving positive insights about my life.  All of a sudden, ideas and thoughts started popping into my head…I guess they came in when I left an opening in my mind.

I felt these insights were a gift, as they reminded me I had much to be thankful for.  I also felt absolutely no stress, b/c all I had to do for 48 hrs was visit class and roam around.  It was a nice break from my usual routine.  I must say, though, one of the most amazing things was that I forgot it was the Christmas season!  As a mom who creates the “magic” of Christmas for two kids, I usually plan and plot and shop and wrap and hope I got all the ingredients right for my girls to have a wonderful Christmas.  It can be all encompassing, and I forgot about it all!  Now, I did most of my prep before leaving on retreat, but really, I’m still shocked how much I tuned it out.

In addition to the great insights that came to mind, I also enjoyed a workshop on holistic health which was not at all what I expected, but completely useful. (yay!)  I also did a wild and daring thing (by my standards), I had my tarot cards read.  People, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience.  It was powerful, emotional, moving and inspirational.  In short, after one weekend on retreat, I came home relaxed, grateful and inspired.  And I mean that in the best way possible – not like Hallmark greeting happy – like my soul is singing happy.  Frankly, it was a little freaky, but I’m going with it.

You are probably thinking, wow, snore, that was a great story (not).  What’s in this for me?

I’ll tell you what’s in it for you.  Do you want some insights?  Do you want to feel grounded and like your best self? I urge you to carve out some time for meditation or yoga or reflection or prayer (all forms of self care, by the way).  Put it at the top of your list and give it 5 minutes a day, say instead of checking FB.  Ask for inspiration or whatever it is you feel you need.  If you make a little space for it, it will come.  It may not take the form you expect, but the ideas will come, and when they do, trust them.  When we give our minds a break from the daily rat race, they can show us amazing things.

I think this may be an important thought to take with us into the new year.  Let’s leave some space for rest and self care, so that the inspiration can sneak in!

 

 

 

Eat for the sun!

sun

Do I have your attention?

I hope you’re wondering, what the bleep does “eat for the sun” mean?!

I was trying to think of a catchy title to talk about seasonal affective disorder, aka SAD, and other things!

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ve heard me talk about SAD before, as well as healthy ways of eating.  I usually suffer each fall from SAD.  It’s my favorite season, but the decreasing sunlight wreaks havoc with my mood.  I get depressed, and I want to eat and sleep, basically going into hibernation.  I struggle to enjoy getting ready for the holidays and to not break down and cry for no reason while driving by myself.  It’s insanity!

Most folks benefit from using a light box that helps them experience more light each day, and some people report relief from taking vitamin D supplements (since we get D from sunlight.)

Just as I was bracing for my annual wave of depression, and hearing my friends acknowledge that it has begun to hit them…well…nothing happened!  I stopped and thought about it.  Yes, I can say I’m a bit tired and crave a cat nap in the afternoon, but that’s it.  No crying, no wondering why I feel like crap for no reason, no mad rush to buy myself a light box.  I’m just carrying on as usual and being surprised for the first time about how pumpkin carving can be fun!

I have never liked Halloween – the candy, the scary stuff, the effort required to buy those costumes on Amazon and carve those damn pumpkins!  I’m not kidding, I can’t stand it, well, usually.  This year wasn’t so bad and I even bought non-dollar store candy for the first time.  What the bleep is going on?!

We’ve had a Indian Summer kind of fall – more sunlight (A)?  I’m back in graduate school with it’s challenging brain food and sense of purpose (B).  And, I’m on a strict no-gluten diet (C).

It’s probably a little bit from column A, B and C, but I am feeling much better than I have in a long time!

I’d like to make the case that it’s mostly column C.  Not everyone is, but I am sensitive to gluten, and I’ve know it pretty much forever.  Too much pasta = fever blisters and a bad mood.  Since I put new effort into avoiding it as much as I can, I have noticed a few things.  I immediately lost the belly bloat.  You know, when some mothers look first trimester pregnant even though their kids are out of diapers?  That was me.  Now my stomach looks pretty normal again!

So that’s nice, but the really amazing part is that my PMS, which was really bad, has subsided so much that sometimes I forget when that time of the month is coming.  (Unheard of for me- usually I’m trying not to spit fire at anyone in range,!)  I’ve also noticed my usual depression and anxiety is less.  I still take medication every day, but I’m no longer experiencing symptoms!  WHAT?!

And, to test this theory, I ate pasta and a slice of pizza last week at a party.  Wanna guess what happened?  The next morning I woke up feeling like hell and wanting to yell at everyone.  Yup, it was like flipping a switch.

I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but giving up gluten has done wonders for me: better moods, less PMS, and weight loss.  And with better moods comes clearer thinking and more calm in general.  I think it’s worth a try if you have any of these same problems.  Supposedly researchers are starting to link depression to inflammation, which begs the question – what should you not be eating?!

Send me your questions, comments, and share what has worked for you in the SAD season in the Northern Hemisphere!  Devine.coaching1@gmail.com

 

 

 

Reclaiming your time (and sanity)

maxine

You’re probably familiar with Maxine’s Waters’ famous clip where she shuts down political rambling by chanting “reclaiming my time.” See it here.

Who among us, doesn’t want to reclaim some time?  We know how fast it goes, and how it can be easily wasted.  There are some great articles and tips in this month’s Oprah magazine.  Here’s the cliff’s notes version of my favorite part…

  1. make a list of all the things you have on your agenda today
  2. mark which ones you look forward to (!)
  3. mark the ones you feel like avoiding (x)
  4. decide if all the Xs are actually important enough to do (cross out a few if possible)
  5. see time open up for the better stuff !!!

It’s simple to explain, but not so simple to actually do.  If you have a lot of Xs on the list and can’t see a way to get out of them, then maybe it’s time to revisit priorities.  Yes, there is always going to be laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen.  (which you could outsource, but that’s a topic for another time.)

How about those things on your to-do list you dread like going to a networking meeting you know will be boring, or attending your kid’s school’s PTA meeting because it seems like something you should do?  Basically, I’m talking about all those things you say “yes” to because you feel you should, but you’re not actually all that interested.  These are the X events you need to bail on, and not look back.

What do I avoid like the plague? PTA meetings, for one, let’s talk about a snore session, shall we? I also toss half read books if they can’t hook me in the first few chapters.  Same thing with TV shows, I mean, why sit there if it’s not keeping your attention?

It’s not always easy to say “no” to people who want you to serve on committees, volunteer for events, or even ask for advice and sympathy (when you know they won’t listen anyway or return the favor.)

Let’s listen to our guts the next time a request comes your way.

Gut check:

  1. does this sound like fun?
  2. will I learn something useful?
  3. do I want to spend time with these people?

There may actually be times when you just aren’t sure if an opportunity is right for you.  Maybe it’s something that needs exploration, or there is something there that’s attractive to you.  It’s OK to try something new out, but we all owe it to ourselves to be honest if that new thing becomes an annoying time suck.

Stick up for yourself, your time, and your emotional well-being…say yes to what you love!  (The rest can wait till tomorrow, or never.)

I’d love to hear how you prioritize your calendar!!!

 

New, custom, ways of eating

veggies

Hey, everyone, hope your August is off to a good start!

I wanted to write today about food.  Like many people, I’ve battled with food and weight gain and fluctuations in my health for as long as I can remember.  I learned at an early age that eating too much wheat made me break out in fever blisters, and in my 20’s I realized that excess sugar was not meant for me!  (And boy do I have a sweet tooth!)

I’m 40 now and see that my metabolism is slowing and that fatigue is my nearly constant companion.  This is no good, considering I’ve got decades to go, and my kids are still pretty young.  I simply have to figure this out and get healthier to have more energy and not be a total bitch!

I’ve been following the blood type diet on and off for years.  My blood type is O, which recommends a paleo type diet…meats, veggies and little grain.  There are parts I can stick to easily and parts that are tough.  However, if I follow it, I generally feel better, so there is some truth to it.  I also appreciate the fact that it’s by blood type, so there are 4 distinct diets, not just one for the whole population.  Let’s face it, our bodies are different, so not everyone should be eating the same thing – duh!

Find the book here.

My recent addition to the blood type diet is the Wahls Protocol.  Dr. Wahls became famous when she gave a TED talk about beating her MS (multiple sclerosis) with a specific diet. (Which is pretty darn amazing).  I sent this info to my mom, who has MS, and she’s had good results following Dr. Wahls’ diet.

I decided to start following the Wahls Protocol recently, too.  Why?  Well, MS, an autoimmune disease, obviously runs in the family.  Also, Dr. Wahls’ research suggests that many autoimmune and other common chronic diseases like diabetes and depression may be caused by inflammation.  The diet is designed to fight inflammation with lots of natural antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, while cutting out gluten and dairy.

Find the book here.

Since I like both of these approaches to eating healthy, I try to eat where my blood type O diet overlaps with the Wahls Protocol.  So far so good.

Don’t get me wrong, these diets are not easy to stick to in our modern world.  I mean, I really miss eating cheese and bread, for the love of ….well, you know.  There are days I fall off the wagon and eat chocolate and pizza.  But, I always dust myself off and get back to work the next day, trying to be careful.

My results?  In a week and a half I’ve lost 3 pounds.  I’m guessing it was bloat from eating the wrong stuff.  Even more telling, though, is that I don’t feel as bad as I usually do during PMS time.  My typical is feeling like I want to yell at everyone and shove food in my face 24/7.  This month, however, the symptoms were much weaker, which I find amazing!

And what do I want from you?  Do some research and see what kind of diet seems right for you.  You might like these diets I mentioned, or you might prefer something else.  Our bodies are unique and will not operate well under all eating plans.  Find what’s right for you, and know that there is an answer out there, it just might take some digging.

Let me know if you find some good stuff!