February 27, 2017

Meditations and Affirmations with Danette May

I've shared with you my overall experience with Danette May's 30 Day Challenge. I've shared with you a more detailed look at both the clean eating and the exercise involved in the program. The last key component to the 30 Day Challenge is meditation. So that's what we're talking about today!

The meditations included in Danette May's program are short, guided meditations that focus on positive affirmations with a little visualization. (Think: listening to a relaxing, 5 minute audio recording and repeating positive statements like "I am enough" and "I love my body as it is today and will be tomorrow.")

If you've read my post on Danette's workouts, you know that she incorporates affirmations and intentions into many of her workouts as well, and it's one of my favorite things about how she works.

Here's what I think...

We spend WAY too much time saying negative things to ourselves and absorbing negative messages from the world outside of us (TV, magazines, advertisements, internet trolls, etc.--they all seem to be telling us that we're not good enough.). We need more positive, affirming messages in our lives. And we need to be the harbingers of those positive messages. We need to rewire our brains from negative self-talk to positive. And positive affirmations through meditation are a great way to start that rewiring. Do these and, over time, you'll find that your responses to the bumps in your day-to-day life will slowly change. You'll be calmer and sunnier, even when the going gets tough. And, even more importantly, your attitude toward yourself will change.

There is A TON of research out there about the positive effects of meditation. We should all be meditating. Everyday. (I personally think that it should be a part of our nationwide school curriculum K-12, so that kids can develop this super-healthy life habit early. But that's a different blog post! 😉) Anyway, Google benefits of meditation and you'll see what I mean. There are a ton of articles!

Here are some of the benefits of meditation: Reduces stress, Slows aging, Improves sleep, Helps you feel more connected, Helps you appreciate life more, Improves brain function, Makes you happier, Increases immunity, Improves attention span, Aids in weight loss...the list goes on and on. (Seriously, one article I read listed 76 benefits of meditation. 76!)

So I started doing Danette's I AM meditation on day one of the challenge. Now, 40-some days later, I do at least one of her meditations at least once a day...but I'd say that I average 2-3 of her meditations each day. I usually do one right after I workout, while I'm cooling down. Then I listen to one or two more while I'm driving the car or getting ready after my shower or walking the dog.

I like the way they make me feel. And I am really focused right now on rewiring my brain. I am dumping negativity and judgment. Trading it in for positivity, love, and grace. This is a big task. (I've had a lot of years with those negative, judgmental thoughts!) But I'm loving the work...and my progress.

I'm loving Danette's meditations so much that I've added other meditations to my days/weeks too--including meditations with my kids. (I'll share more about some of those in a post in the near future.) And I truly believe that these meditations are a game changer. I believe that it is the combination of the meal plan + the workouts + the meditations that make this plan so effective. And the meditations are the easiest part to incorporate into your life--a small change that has huge impact.

Give it a try.

If you're not going to try out Danette's 30 Day New You Challenge, at least try this--go over to Youtube, find a short meditation that looks appealing and try adding it to your daily life. Because here's the thing, folks, this stuff isn't just about losing weight. It's about living your best life in your healthiest body. It's about feeling good--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I feel so good. And I want you to, too. Whether you try this program or you piece together your own version. Eat clean, healthy, unprocessed, organic foods. Exercise and meditate daily. Fill your head...fill your life...with positive thoughts. You CAN have the life you've always dreamed of. It's in your power to make it so. You just have to get up everyday and make the choices that move you in the right direction.

I believe in this so much. Though this is my last post, for now, that's specifically about Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge, I will continue to post about the things that I'm doing that are making a difference in my life. I feel so good and I want everyone to feel this way.

Okay, I'm done. Off my soapbox.

Here are the links to my previous posts about the 30 Day Challenge, if you haven't already read them:
http://mamamanagement.blogspot.com/2017/02/30-days-to-new-me-danette-mays-30-day.html
http://mamamanagement.blogspot.com/2017/02/a-typical-clean-eating-food-day-danette.html
http://mamamanagement.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-difference-in-danette-mays-workouts.html

And here's the link to sign up for the next 30 Day New You Challenge--it starts next Monday, March 6th! http://59894eyms6z7rh6pp2w509aobx.hop.clickbank.net/?pid=265&tid=amylorbach2017

Have a great day, friends.

Until next time, take a few minutes each day to meditate and say nice things to yourself. Try this:

I am beautiful. I am perfect just as I am. I love my body for all that it is and all that it's done for me. I radiate joy into the world. And I give love to everyone around me. I am enough.

Namaste.






February 24, 2017

The Difference in Danette May's Workouts (and Why They Work So Well For Me)

What do I love about Danette May's workouts for the 30 Day New You Challenge and Forever Fit Programs?

Here's the short version:
- They are fast.
- They are easy to do every day.
- They are effective.
- They are positive and uplifting.
- They make me feel good.

Before I break it down in a little more detail for you, you might be wondering what her workouts are like. Well, I'll tell you this...they keep you on your toes! Each workout is different. Some are very pilates-focused and some are more burpee-bootcamp. Some feel gentle and all about peace. And others leave you lying on the floor sweaty and panting for breath. It's a little bit of everything. Each workout is defined by a mantra (think: I am strong or I can do hard things or I am peace), which I love. Some of them are 18 minutes straight through, but many of them consist of a 6-8 minute workout set that you repeat three times. And each day, each week, she keeps you mixing it all up. And I can tell you, this has been great for my body.

Now, let's revisit what I love most about these workouts.

I love Danette's workouts because they are fast. 15-20 minutes and I'm done. I LOVE THAT! As my dad would say: You can do anything for 20 minutes. Even if it's really hard (and some of them are), it's only 20 minutes. And I'm not joking when I say-- they go by really fast. Seriously. They do.

Next! Because the workouts take 20 minutes or less, I have no problem getting them in every day. Just 20 minutes. That means you can get up just 20 minutes earlier than normal and squeeze it in. That means that even when you've had a super crazy day and you finally get the kids to bed, you can still fit in a quick workout before you collapse on the couch for a little zone-out time. You can always find a way to work it in. I know this because I have done it for 45 days straight. I have not missed a Danette workout since I started this program-- despite busy days, despite being sick for a week, despite my husband traveling for work...despite, well, life. I always get it in. And you can too. Because it's only 20 minutes!

And these suckers are effective. Turns out you don't need to spend 40-60 minutes working out to see results. Even with only 20 minutes, I still end up sore the next day after a new workout. I still end up huffing and puffing by the third set. And I'm still seeing the results. Things are trimmer, firmer, more tone. My clothes lay better on my body. It's a good thing.

The next reason on my list is the thing I think I love the best about her workouts: They are positive and uplifting. Though there is a little, there is far less of this: "Keep doing those squats so your butt will looks good in your jeans" or "Give me ten more seconds in that plank if you want your abs ready for that bikini." And there is a lot more of this: "Send love to your body," and "Our mantra today is I am strong," and "Tap those ab muscles and tell them to wake up and work for you."

This is important to me for two reasons.

1) Me. I've had enough of being told that I need to be skinny, that I need to be sexy, that I need to live up to some social standard of beauty. At 42 years old, I've had enough of it. Stop it. Turn it off. No more. I want to be strong. I want to be healthy. I want to feel good in my skin. I want my body to feel good. I want to be a good role model for my kids. I do not want to look hot in a bikini. Seriously. That's not what I care about anymore and I don't want to pollute my psyche with that kind of talk.

2) My daughter. I hate nothing more than having my 8 year old daughter walk in while I'm working out and hear the workout instructor on my dvd telling me to work harder so I can fit into my jeans or wear a bikini or look sexy for my man. Ugh! I am doing everything in my power to counteract the soon-to-come inundation of social pressure and body shaming for my girl. I want her to know that I work out to keep my body healthy and strong and to take care of myself, mentally and physically. I do not want her internalizing the message that we workout to be skinny or sexy for men. Danette's workouts are far more focused on positive messages than negative. I feel they are uplifting, so I don't mind my daughter hearing what Danette has to say. It's about self care and self love and nothing more.

And lastly, I just like the way these workouts make me feel. I feel good when I'm done. I feel healthy and I feel good about myself. And those are some really good feelings, my friend. They just are.

So there you have it. A little more in-depth look at Danette May's workouts and why I love them.

If you haven't already read my post about my experience with Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge, you can read that here: http://mamamanagement.blogspot.com/2017/02/30-days-to-new-me-danette-mays-30-day.html.

If you'd like to learn more about what you'll be eating on the 30 Day New You Challenge, you can read my post on that here: http://mamamanagement.blogspot.com/2017/02/a-typical-clean-eating-food-day-danette.html.

If you're interested in signing up for the next 30 Day Challenge (which starts March 6), click here to learn more about the program and sign up: http://59894eyms6z7rh6pp2w509aobx.hop.clickbank.net/?pid=265&tid=amylorbach2017.

Until next time, keep moving your body and sending it love.

Namaste.



February 21, 2017

A Typical Clean Eating Food Day (the Danette May way)

Hi everyone!

After my last post about my experience with Danette May's 30 Day Challenge, I thought I'd share with you all what a typical day of clean eating on Danette's program looks like for me, and a little about some of the biggest changes I've made in how I eat. I have been amazed by how much less I'm eating and that I'm not starving all the time-- you'll be amazed too!

One of the biggest changes in the way I eat is that I no longer graze on random food throughout the day. I am much more conscious about what I'm eating and when I'm eating it. And that makes a big difference. I have set meals and snacks that I plan out in advance and that's what I eat. I used to plan family dinners for every night each week...now I also plan my breakfast, lunch and snacks in advance.

Big change.

During the 30 Day Challenge, Danette does all that menu planning for you. All you have to do is shop, prep and eat. So, how do I handle the planning now that the 30 Day program is done? Well, I sit down on Sunday morning, with my cup of Superfood Coffee and I pull out a one week menu planning worksheet along with my complete 30 Day Challenge Recipe Packet and my Forever Fit website recipe section. I look at my calendar for the week, so I can base my selections on what will be going on in my world. And then I select my meals and snacks accordingly (i.e. smoothies for breakfast on crazy mornings). I write my choices in the corresponding boxes on my worksheet and I note any ingredients I need to make each recipe on my grocery list. Then I shop.

The next biggest change is the addition of A LOT of superfoods to my diet. I'm purposely adding things like Maca Powder, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Hemp Seeds and Chia Seeds to all sorts of stuff. The organic coffee that I'm drinking right now has maca powder, cinnamon, raw cacao powder, turmeric, and nutmeg blended into it. That gives me added health benefits and it's freakin' delicious!

Another big change is the almost complete omission of processed foods. I still consume some minimally processed stuff, like the occasional Lara Bar, but most of my foods are made by me from single ingredients bought at the store (and mostly from the perimeter of the store). I already bought primarily organic foods before the challenge, so that wasn't a big change for me, but now I've cut out the stuff with added white sugar and white flour too-- apparently it's not great for you, even if it's organic 😉!

Lastly, I'm trying lots of new foods and new ingredients, and new combinations of foods and ingredients. I already mentioned Maca Powder and Hemp Seeds--neither of which I'd had before beginning this program. But I'm also eating raw beets (What?!? Yes, they're delicious when you shred them and add them to a hummus and feta wrap!) and drinking Kombucha (this is a seriously weird little health drink that I've developed a strange love-obsession with). I'm buying Baby Bok Choy (which is both delicious and super easy to prepare) and lots and lots of Quinoa. (Did you know you can make it with coconut milk, add some nuts and bananas and maple syrup, and have a delicious, healthy breakfast...I didn't either, before this program!)

Other things I did not know: You can make muffins without any regular flour or sugar and they can be decadently delicious! You can make a pancake with just eggs and mashed banana--and then even add in other stuff like oats or shredded carrots--and it's awesome! And plain full-fat, organic Greek Yogurt makes a superb dessert when mixed with a little raw honey and some fresh berries.

I could go on and on...

So, here's an example of what I ate yesterday-- I made this day's menu myself, but it uses all recipes from the 30 day program. (And by the way, as Danette recommends, I eat every 2-3 hours...)




Breakfast: Open-Faced Egg Sandwich: 1 slice toasted Ezekiel 4:9 bread topped with 1 tbsp Greek yogurt mixed with a few shakes of Italian seasoning, 1 layer of spinach leaves, 1 sliced tomato, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, 1 egg fried in a spray of coconut oil, sprinkled with black pepper.





Morning Snack: Berry Milkshake Smoothie: almond milk + kefir + water + ice + blueberries + banana + spinach + blend in blender = delicious!



Lunch: Creative Pizza: Gluten-free wrap topped with tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms, green peppers, hemp seeds and a light sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses


Afternoon Snack: Cottage cheese and cucumber

Dinner: Turkey-Bacon and Bok Choy Salad: Steamed bok choy and carrots, white beans, and turkey bacon, sprinkled with shaved Parmesan cheese and dressed with homemade balsamic dressing

Evening Snack: Key Lime Yogurt: Organic Greek yogurt mixed with raw honey and lime juice and topped with a few raspberries

I drink one cup of organic coffee in the morning and then lots of water and herbal tea throughout the day.

And that's pretty much it!

So that gives you an idea of what it's like to eat clean and healthy for a day...the Danette May way.

If you'd like to read my original post about my experience on Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge, you can find that here: http://mamamanagement.blogspot.com/2017/02/30-days-to-new-me-danette-mays-30-day.html

If you're interested in learning more about Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge, click this link and it'll take you to her website where you can learn more about the program and sign up for the next challenge (starting March 6): http://59894eyms6z7rh6pp2w509aobx.hop.clickbank.net/?pid=265&tid=amylorbach2017.

Until next time, eat well and love your body (inside and out)!

Namaste.


P.S. I almost forgot to mention that eating clean also means feeling great. I have more energy when I wake up--no more stumbling to the coffee maker. And more energy all throughout the day-- no more afternoon slump. And I'm free of all that random stomach distress and general ick feelings. It's truly a wonderful thing. 😊




February 17, 2017

30 Days to a New Me: Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge Review

 A little more than 30 days ago I was in despair. If you read my last post, you already know that I found myself in a post holiday/start of a new year funk. And I knew that a big part of that funk had to do with how I was (or in this case, wasn't) taking care of myself.

I had let the holiday season take over my life and my better judgment. I had given up good eating and exercise habits. I had stopped writing. I hadn't had a moment to myself.

It was not good.

But one part of where I was mentally, emotionally and physically wasn't just holiday backlash. It was part of a bigger problem.

Since we moved to our current home over three years ago, I had gained weight. A lot of weight, for me. (As of January 1, I weighed the most I had ever weighed outside of pregnancy.) I had tried many, many times to lose that weight, as I was gaining it, over the last few years. I used the same methods I had always successfully used to lose/maintain weight or increase fitness--stepping up my workouts and making mostly healthier choices with food. But suddenly it stopped working for me. I'd work really hard and not lose a pound. Then I'd get discouraged, give up and slowly gain even more.

Vicious cycle, as they say.

So, three and a half years and almost twenty pounds later, I found myself scrolling through my Facebook feed in early January when I happened upon a page someone I knew had "liked." It was for Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge. In a moment of kismet, I clicked on the link, read through everything, and, rather impulsively, signed up. (It was only $47, so I figured it wasn't a huge amount to lose if it was a flop.) A few days later, on January 9, I began the 30 day challenge.

I finished that challenge last week and that morning I took my measurements. I lost 9 lbs and 9 inches in those 30 days. I look and feel better and I know I'm healthier for it.
This transformation far exceeded my expectations the day I clicked that link. I've had such success that I am continuing on the program for the foreseeable future. While I do hope to lose another 5-10 lbs, that's not the entire reason I'll keep going. It's not even really about the weight. It's about how I feel mentally, emotionally and physically. I haven't felt this good in a long while. And I now believe that this is a way of life for me...and I hope it stays that way.


I feel so passionately about this experience--not only because it worked, but because it's a very sane, healthy approach to weight loss; no drugs and nothing crazy-- that I felt I had to share it with all of you.

So what's this program all about? Here are the basics:

It's called Danette May's 30 Day New You Challenge. It lasts 30 days and costs $47. For that you get weekly clean-eating meal plans, including recipes for 3 meals and 3 snacks each day (the plan tells you exactly what to eat and when to eat it); weekly mindset meditations to listen to each day to help get your mind right for getting healthy; weekly workout plans complete with workout videos (most weeks you do a 12-18 minute workout with Danette on four of the days and then walk for 15 minutes or do some other light exercise the other 3 days); and access to an online Facebook support group of other people going through the challenge with you, as well as mentors who have been through it and are there to answer your questions. The meals, snacks and drinks are all clean--no processed foods, no white sugar or white flour. And you give up caffeine and alcohol for the first ten days. (After that, one cup of coffee per day and 1-2 glasses of wine per week are permitted.)

What about my take on things? Here it is:

The first 3 days of the challenge include a detox. This is the hardest part of the challenge. You will be hungry. It's definitely a willpower thing, especially that first day. Have some support at the ready for the start. (I'd be happy to be your support. :-) And the whole first week you'll get your own personalized set of detoxifying symptoms. For me, I had some headaches and lethargy and skin breakouts. The other thing you need to know is that there is a fair amount of food shopping and prep involved. And you kind of have to commit to not eating out much during the 30 days--it'll just make it easier on you not to eat out. You really have to commit to the whole thing overall. But, if you do, if you really commit and follow the plan, I think you'll be really happy with the results. I know I have been. (And I'll keep you posted on my own progress.)

**Note: I have never been able to stick to a prescriptive eating plan for more than a few days--ever--before this one. But on this one, I felt good; it made sense to me; I had support; and it was the right time--I was ready. Plus, with the meals and snacks (most of which are really good), I really wasn't hungry after the detox days.

Other thoughts:

The program introduced me to foods and meals that I hadn't had before and discovered that I really liked. And other than still craving tortilla chips...which I will have for a cheat meal one of these days ;-)...eating like this had killed most of my cravings for unhealthy foods and my desire to randomly snack.

I also really love the meditations--so much of this is mental, and I think they helped. I liked them so much that I'm adding other meditations to my daily life too. (I'll share more on that in another post.)

The Facebook support group and mentors were really helpful--but it was also kind of addictive. I spent a lot of time reading through everything each day. The whole program was a bit addictive--but I think maybe it needed to be. I was super focused on it the entire 30 days.

The workouts were great--challenging but short. I like getting my workout in in about 20 minutes! Before this, I always devoted 30-45 minutes to my workouts. I also like that Danette's workouts are very mentally positive and up-lifting. It's not all "look great in your bikini" but more "feel great in your body." As she says, "Love the body you live in!"

Interested in giving it go? The next challenge starts in early March. Click this link to learn more:

http://59894eyms6z7rh6pp2w509aobx.hop.clickbank.net/?pid=265&tid=amylorbach2017

Do I get anything for you using my link? Yep. A t-shirt. I moved from the 30 Day Challenge group to Danette's Forever Fit group so I could continue on the plan with more support. She offers us "alumni" the chance to refer people if we liked the program and win a cute t-shirt. That's it. You can also just go to her website to find out more. I can live without the t-shirt. It's more important to me that you join if you think it's right for you. Like I said, it has really helped me.

If you'd like to learn more about Danette May and what she does, you can check out her website here:  www.danettemay.com. She also has lots of Youtube videos and is on Pinterest and Instagram, so check her out there for more information. I find her relatable, believable, supportive and helpful.

So, that's all I have to say about that. Oh, wait, one more thing-- my husband did the eating part of the program with me and lost 10 lbs too. So it works for women and men! I highly recommend getting your spouse on board too, if you can. Having my husband's support and doing it together helped A LOT! And I think it was good for our relationship, too!

Until next time, go get your healthy on!







February 13, 2017

2017: The Year of Health and Well-Being



Go big or go home.

When I launch into something new, that tends to be my mantra. Go big or go home. I'm not much of a half-asser.

So when I decided, after my annual January soul-searching extravaganza, to make 2017

The Year of Health and Wellbeing,

I went after it with gusto!

Here's how it all started...

When 2017 began (and when 2016 ended) I found myself buried beneath a big ol' pile of funk. 2016 had been a pretty great year--as most of the years of my life have been. But something about that run from Thanksgiving to New Years had left me drained and lifeless. So, as I do at the start of ever new year, I began to assess. I sat down with my "Life Notebook" (the same one I brainstorm in every January) and started capturing ideas--what was I unhappy with, what were my goals, where did I want to place my focus and attention (and intention) as this new year dawned? (I really do love-me a clean slate.)


Well, I generated a pretty lengthy list. And when I looked over the list, I found that a lot of my goals and issues centered around a broader theme, one I named Health and Wellbeing. There were a few outliers, but I found that even with those, if I thought about them creatively, I could make them fit beneath my health and wellbeing umbrella.

So, I decided that that would be my overriding goal for 2017--to focus on, put intention behind and attention to, dramatically improving my health and wellbeing.

And I named 2017: The Year of Health and Wellbeing.

What does that mean, exactly?

For me, it ranges from something as seemingly simple as Floss Every Day to something as seemingly complex as Learning to Practice Mindful Meditation.

Here are the things that were on my brainstormed list:

- Reinstitute a regular yoga practice
- Walk the dog daily
- Drink more water
- Take supplements for health
- Develop regular meditation practice
- Focus on all-natural and organic solutions for everything (get rid of chemicals)
- Try to actually lose the weight/inches gained in last few years
- Exercise daily
- Get more, high-quality sleep
- Floss daily
- Schedule regular Me time
- Start journaling again
- Learn about and practice mindfulness and mindful mediation
- Share healthful practices with my family (and friends)
- Integrate essential oils into life for emotional and physical wellbeing
- Write daily
- Eat cleaner, healthier foods
- Give focused, daily attention to each family member
- Call friends more
- Blog more
- Read lots
- Travel more
- Do art more
- More family fun--outings, games, arts and crafts, movies, playtime, trips
- More decluttering and unsubscribing--cull down to what matters most
- Up my relationship game
- Let days be driven by values not to-do lists

Okay, so that's a pretty big list, right? And so many of those things are on my list in some variation or another every year. No joke. I think it shows a lot about what's important to me. But the fact that I keep having to reset the same goals shows that I'm letting other, less important but seemingly more urgent, things get in my way.

Well, not anymore.

At least not for all of these. I may not bring every one of the things on this list to life this year, but I certainly will bring some of them. And I'm certainly gonna try.

Actually, I've already begun.

Today is February 13. And so far, I have flossed my teeth every single day since January 1.


This may not seem like a big deal, but I have never in my life been able to establish a regular flossing habit. I tended to floss when I thought about it...once or twice a week, maybe. And I always got an earful about it when I went to the dentist. Well, I have high hopes for my March cleaning appointment as I will have flossed everyday for two and half months prior-- a definite step in the right direction.

Other goals I am on-top of so far this year-- drinking more water, taking supplements, losing weight and inches, learning mindful meditation, exercising daily, meditating daily, doing yoga, eating clean, using essential oils...

I plan to blog more about a lot of the new things I'm doing and sharing what's working for me. But for now, I just wanted to share that I'm doing it. And in doing it, I'm pulling out of my funk. The simple act of taking action and working toward my goals is making me feel better emotionally and physically.

I don't want to lose my momentum either. So, I plan to make a 2017 Mood Board to help keep me focused and motivated. I want to pick out a new journal for the year. I want to establish monthly challenges, like I did in January, to keep me actively working toward other goals on my list. And I plan to blog about it a lot to keep me honest.

In addition to 2017 being The Year of Health and Wellbeing for me. I want it also to be the year of Mindfulness, Joy and Gratitude. Those are the words and feelings that I want to drive my Health and Wellbeing. I have no intention of going after any of these goals in self-destructive or unhealthy ways.

All of my choices will be Mindful and driven by Joy and Gratitude and the things I really Value.

So be on the lookout for more about all of these topics. I will also be sharing more delicious, healthy recipes this year...and whatever else crops up on my path to wellness. I hope you'll be willing to join me on this journey. Follow along...and maybe join in. What are your goals for this year? What are you hoping to more of, or less of, or start anew? Do any of the things on my list resonate with you? Generate your own list. And then pick at least one thing off that list and make a plan. Go after it...with gusto. Try a little Go Big or Go Home. New and wonderful things don't need to start on January 1. They can start today. Right now.

Until next time... Be healthful. Be well. Be mindful. Be joyful. Be grateful. And let your days be led by what you value most, not what needs to get done.

Namaste.






January 16, 2017

Giving Grace


GRACE.

It's possible that I need to tattoo this word on my wrist, or the back on my hand. Some place I can see it all the time. I feel I need a near-constant reminder these days to give myself, and others, Grace.

I've been going through a rough patch. Which is why you haven't seen my typical new year's post about resolutions and goals yet. I have several ideas and have started writing, but I'm in such a...I can't even think of the right word...blue period?...that I can't bring any of those ideas to fruition. Yet. Those posts will come. Just later. So instead of staying silent and, well, kind of suffering on the inside, I decided to write a post about Grace.

Grace isn't a word I've used often in my life. For me it always meant 'something you say before you eat dinner'. But a friend used the word with me a while back, using a different meaning, and it kinda stuck with me. Of course, I looked it up to see what exactly Grace means. Grace has more than one meaning, but here's the one I'm talking about:

Gracea :  approval,  favor <stayed in his good graces>b archaic  :  mercy,  pardonc :  a special favor :  privilege <each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling>d :  disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemencye :  a temporary exemption :  reprieve
See that one I highlighted for you? We're talking here about granting kindness and clemency to ourselves and others. Giving ourselves (and others) a reprieve, a pardon, if you will. But there's a little something more to the word Grace than just that. Because I could use the word kindness or mercy or clemency. But none of those words capture what I'm talking about in the same way as Grace.
Grace is a different color. Grace is the color of a brilliant sunset on a warm summer's night just after a heavy, quenching rain. It is somehow both brilliant and soft. It is reds and oranges and pinks and purples. It is an easy watercolor swath. It is gentle and elegant.
Mercy is harder, colder, more icy greys and blues. Clemency might be brown. And kindness is lighter, maybe a buttery yellow. But Grace, Grace is different. 
I imagine Grace being granted with a gentle touch to the top of my head by Ghandi or Mother Teresa or some mystical medicine man. But in fact it is something that we need to give ourselves, and each other, all day, every day. I think maybe Grace is always the answer. No matter what the question is. What do you give yourself...
When you make a mistake? Grace.When you forget to do something? Grace.When you break something? Grace.When you yell at your kids? Grace.When you eat the cookie instead of the apple? Grace.When you binge watch Downton Abbey instead of cleaning the house? Grace.When you don't get everything done on your to do list? Grace.When you're not perfect? Grace.
And when your kids don't pick up their toys or when they talk back to you? When the driver in front of you doesn't know how to drive? When your spouse comes home from work in a bad mood? When your friend doesn't ask about the big thing in your life? When the waiter is terrible? When the checkout clerk can't work the register?
Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace.
Another way to better understand the idea of Grace, is to understand that it is the opposite of judgment. And when you're just starting out, if you've been in the habit of judging yourself and others at every turn, it can be a hard habit to break. But it is just that: a habit. It is not truth. It's just another bad habit, like snacking whenever you sit on the couch and watch tv. It is nothing but a habitual recording in your mind. And you have the power to turn that recording off, to record something new.
Whenever you find yourself jumping to judgment, catch yourself, just as you feel that frustration rise in your chest. Step back from the moment. Take a deep breath. And challenge that thinking. Is this really a big deal? Will it help anything for me to get mad at myself or another person? What if, instead, I give myself (or the other person) a gift of Grace?
Usually you'll find that if you challenge the thought that's leading to judgment, you'll find that it's really not that big of a deal. So I dropped a dish and it broke. Is it really that big of a deal? Is anyone severely hurt? Will the world come to an end without this dish? Or can I show myself a bit of kindness, the way I would a friend. Hey, no big deal. Don't worry about it. I can buy another one. It's okay.
Because it is okay. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to not be happy all the time. It's okay to not be perfect. You're human. Mistakes and changing emotions and imperfection is kind of the whole point.
It's okay. You're okay. Just as you are. Imperfections and all.
Until next time, bestow the gift of Grace on yourself and those around you. You'll be glad you did.
Namaste. 


December 29, 2016

The Weight of Love

There is this sensation that is one of my most favorite things to feel. I call it the weight of love. It is the feeling of the weight of someone's body pressed gently against yours. Not the suffocating kind of full body weight on your lungs. Not a stranger bumping into you in a crowded space. But the gentle pressure of someone you love's body touching yours.

It is your dog asleep against your side.

It is your baby asleep on your chest.

It is your spouse's hand on your shoulder or back or hand.

It is the extended hug of a dear, dear friend--the kind where you lean into one another and hold each other up.

It is your child's embrace, their head on your shoulder, their body leaned into your's.

It is your spouse's leg or arm touching your's in bed at night.

It is the weight of love.

And sometimes I feel it simply as the lovely, warm contact that it is on the surface. But other times I feel it as the deeper connections of life. For it is as simple and as profound as anything there ever was, this weight of love. It is so basic and so very, very big. It speaks of responsibility. It reminds us that we are caretakers of others' hearts. It whispers of the connection of souls...to those we love, and to the world at large. It tells us to honor and respect those souls. It ties us together, and yet frees us to relax and let go.

It is a beautiful thing, this weight of love.

Until next time...


My sweet Cooper-dog resting against my legs not long before he passed away