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A New Year Doesn’t Have To Mean A New You.

Are you tired of resolutions? Me too. Don't reinvent a new you this year--learn to love yourself + others deeper for real fulfillment.

Last year, I took a week to unwind and relax during the holidays.  It was an amazing time to recharge and it reminded  me how much I have to be thankful for.  I had a lot of time to reflect on my past year: I got engaged, moved to a new home and started my art business.  It was exciting, to say the least.

During my down time, I loved to see how others reflect on their past and how they’re viewing their future, too.  As I read a lot of blogs and posts on the web, I saw the usual common theme: how to be better for next year.  There’s always the thought about the new year that we need to constantly improve + keep expanding ourselves in order to be good enough.  Create the new you. But for some reason this year, that thought hit me differently.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m really trying to cultivate more compassion for myself and others, or if it was simply a growth moment, but I felt a little sad about making changes for the new year.  I realized I don’t want to change myself so much this coming year; I kind of like who I am right now.  Because it’s all about being comfortable + trusting our choices, right?  And loving who we are in any given moment.

I’m learning to ride the waves of my life + accepting that there are always going to be challenges.   And I’m enjoying learning more about who I am becoming, without beating myself up about it along the way, especially when things don’t go to plan.

So this year I’m going to work on focusing more on the wonderful qualities of who I am, and how they help me get to where I want to go.  I’m going to love myself deeper.  I’m going to zone in on what is working, because I know that what I focus on, will grow.  And that change to be better everyone talks about?  It will happen naturally.

Because I don’t want to live that shame-based existence that come with failed new year’s resolutions.  I want to let go of that ever-looming pressure to always be more, do more + try harder; it ruins a lot of fun along the way. Things don’t always have to change to be good, I can just appreciate how my life is right now.  And  if I don’t ‘get it all done’, I’m not a failure.

Do you want to join me on this self-kindness march?  Tell me what action you’re going to take to be more accepting of yourself here. Can you extend this compassion + kindness to others as well?  That means letting people off the hook and accepting them for how they are.  Because we’re all ok as is, even when we don’t believe it ourselves.

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A New Year Doesn’t Have To Mean A New You.2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

My Day With The Dalai Lama

You guys!  The Dalai Lama came to Princeton a few weeks ago and I got to see him speak.  I like to think of myself as a buddho-christian so this was an exciting opportunity for me–only 4ooo tickets were available for the event and his last speaking engagement was to over 100,000 people.  Whoa.  Luckily, my sister worked a little magic and…voila!  We were in.  I was beyond excited.

Me and liv

I have always been intrigued by Buddhism; something about this religion’s message always resonated in a deep part of me.  I’ve dabbled in meditation + chanting, and I’m a big fan of Pema Chodron, but I was raised Catholic.  And, well,  sometimes I feel conflict about connecting with the ideas and a leader of a different religion, even as an adult.  Almost like I’m cheating on my religion?  Anyway, I’m getting over it; I just can’t ignore the peace + clarity that the Buddhist beliefs bring me.

And it was even more so after visiting India and Nepal seven years ago.  It’s a long story, but I pretty much ended up on my death bed in the middle of a Nepalese village.  It was a medically freak occurrence that brought me to a precarious state, but the kind people I encountered there saved my life.  Their way of life makes so much sense to me–they believe in compassion, forgiveness and tolerance; they value human lives over things.  I’m convinced their practice of these beliefs is how I made it back home in one piece.

dalai lama signSo when I got home from that trip, I started digging around about Buddhism–I wanted to understand it better.  And the more I dug, the more I liked it.

For example: the Dalai Lama believes that despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings.  That really resonates with me because, isn’t that what it’s all about?  Individual choice to believe our own way of becoming a better version of ourselves?

We all want to be ‘good human beings’.  And the ability to practice religion is such a precious and necessary component of any culture–multiple and different religions offer a range of perspectives–that’s how we learn and grow.  It’s how we become tolerant, how we learn acceptance.

Suppporters of the Dalai Lama

So armed with this information I’ve gathered over the years, I understandably felt a little buzzed on the day of the Dalai Lama talk.  I was going to see THE man.

The amazing energy of all of the kind, compassionate + devoted people that gathered for the day brought a peaceful, but  intense feeling to the campus.  There were groups from communities all over, showing support and respect for their holy leader.  They sang and danced and dressed in their beautiful robes–I literally got choked up a few times watching them!

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Even though we were in the upper level for the talk, it still felt like a small gathering–you could literally hear a pin drop.  Everyone was in awe of him; I think it was because we all felt like we were in the presence of a living legend.  Regardless of your religion, it’s hard to dispute the fact that the Dalai Lama has had a major impact on humanity + the world as a whole with his teachings.

View of talk

Throughout the talk, he was happy + childlike, which was an amazing surprise; he giggled a lot and was playful.  He got a Princeton baseball hat as a gift when he was introduced, and  he popped it on + wore it for most of the talk.  Such a cool dude.

DL in baseball cap

There were even peaceful protestors outside before and after the event!  They were able to share their truth, too. (SO important.)

Protestors

 So here are a few basic ideas I took away from his talk:

  • Affection and kindness are the answer; no amount of money can create true happiness and inner peace.
  • Compassion and kindness expand the human nervous system.  Anger and hatred shrinks the brain in development. (I’m pretty sure he cited some studies of this)
  • We need more education about inner values–how to develop them within ourselves–and create this secular education of whole heartedness in schools.
  • Trust and fear cannot go together.
  • The real meaning of forgiveness is reacting without anger.
  • Read different views of topics that come up in your life and use critical thinking to come to your own conclusions.  Don’t accept things at face value or how they are presented.
  • Our life depends on hope and the belief that it exists; when you don’t have hope, there is no purpose and it’s easy to give up + believe in the bad.
  • We are closest as a society when we feel we are all the same and are connected.

The levity of his talk stayed with me for days and made me feel really, really good. It was a confirmation that even though it’s not the religion I was born into, I can explore other ideologies when they ring true with me (and not be afraid).  Trusting the path of growing and learning new things can be a wonderful, enlightening experience–peace + joy come in many forms.  And I feel like challenging myself occasionally about what I believe + stand for, helps me grow.

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My Day With The Dalai Lama2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

How To Get Out Of A Funk.

4 Ways to get out of a funk. Click through for some simple tips on how to get yourself out of a slump and get back to being yourself!

Sometimes Summer brings on the funk for me and it can make me feel a little out of it/unmotivated/lazy.   Does that happen to you, too?  I think it’s a combination of the weather (it’s so nice!) and it being the ‘vacation time’ part of the year that throws me into a sort of haze.

The other day I was a total sloth. I ate my weight in coconut milk ice cream, vegged on the couch watching a Say Yes To The Dress Marathon for 3 hours and took a nap that would rival Rip Van Wickle himself.  I just couldn’t seem to snap out of that lazy feeling.

I have tried to accept that funks are just a part of the waves of my life.  I can go through some periods of super productivity and clarity, and then others of total idleness.  

I can be super-assertive and be totally on top of things.  Bulleted list? Check.  Timeline? Check.  Feeling amazingly organized?  Check, check, check.

Then on the other hand, I can also be the best couch potato in the world (see above).   Who needs lists when you have movie marathons, takeout and a cozy blankie?  Pure heaven.  But too many hours clocked into the couch can feel like it’s swallowing me and my motivation whole.

So instead of beating myself up when I get like this, I’ve figured out a few simple steps to help me get out of a funk and maybe they’ll help you, too:

  1. Acknowledge the reason for the funk.  Am I eating right/getting enough sleep?  Am I working through a personal issue?  Do I feel nervous about the next step (whatever it is)?  Imbalance of any one of these things can drive me right into funk-ville, but acknowledging the cause can often alleviate some of the burden.  Once I address the culprit, I can get working on the solution.
  2. The only way out is through.  When I’m feeling funky, I just want to instantly snap out of it and get back to normal; but it’s not always that easy, is it?  Saying to myself, “I’m going through a weird phase and it will pass” lets me off the hook and gives me the room to be a little off without feeling like an odd-ball.  When I’m honest with myself and admit I’m less than my best, I bounce back to being me, quicker.
  3. Make small changes.  The most valuable lesson I have learned from my off times is: the secret of my success is found in my daily routine.  So instead of a total routine re-vamp, I try to make small moves everyday to get me closer to where I want to go.  Just putting one foot in front of the other–small movements aren’t overwhelming and I can stick to them.  And these small, consistent actions usually create big, awesome results.
  4. Reflect on the funk from the other side.  Once I get through my off kilter moment, I like to look back at how I handled it.  Was I patient and kind to myself?  Or was I a nervous wreck, fighting the process?  Looking back not only helps me develop compassion for myself (and others who are going through the same thing) but it shows me that nothing is permanent.

Life is always changing, and part of that is trusting that I can work through whatever comes my way.  You can do it, too!

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How To Get Out Of A Funk.2018-03-29T20:23:15-04:00

5 Ways to stress less when the universe is messing with your mojo

Stress is such a buzz kill!  Click through to learn a few tips on how to stress less and get more out of life.
It started out as a relaxing morning; I was driving to the gym and wanted to make a quick stop to put some air in a suspiciously low tire.  I jumped out of the driver’s seat and the door clicked shut.  Like a pro, I filled the tire lickety split, grabbed the handle of the door to get back in… and the car was locked.

It wouldn’t have been such a big deal but, the car was still running.  Not to mention my money, ID and phone were hanging out on the seat.  And no, I didn’t accidentally lock the car, it locked on it’s own. (I swear!)  So much for shortcuts.

What was meant to be a happy productive day of exercise!  working on my blog! lunch with a friend! quickly turned into a stressful pain in the ass.  It was a total buzzkill.

It got me thinking–how can we prevent everyday stress from killing our mojo?  Daily stress  will always be there, it’s a part of life.  And sometimes stress is good, because it motivates us and keeps us moving.  But in this case?  It was a total bummer to get locked out! #nothelpful

So what should we do when over the top stress just plain sucks the life out of us? Here are some ideas on how to stress less:

  • Short of death and dismemberment, there are few things that can’t be fixed/undone/changed.  When in a stressful moment, taking a deep breath will help get things in perspective.   OR, do a jumping jack to get out of that crazed feeling in your head and get back to being present in your body.  Afterall, attitude determines altitude.  Using these tricks changed my thought to: “At least this happened when I have a flexible day so I don’t have to stress about screwing up a rigid schedule.”
  • Give in to the moment.  When we stress about things, it’s often a projection of what might happen in the future as a result of one bad occurrence.  Stay in the now so you don’t get all crazy about the future.
  • Ask for help.  God knows we’ve all had our share of stressful moments!  Asking for help always seems to take a little pressure off and it gives others a chance to feel good too.  Given the opportunity, I’ve found most people like to be helpful (and thanked!)
  • Loosen the grip.  Instead of waiting on line and being royally irked by the loud talker in front of me, I try to imagine her having a hearing problem (so she needs to talk louder) or I imagine her as a little girl that was bullied (she just wants to be heard).  A little compassion can go a long way.
  • Give in to the actual moment so it can pass.  Stress isn’t always bad–it can help get things done and keep life moving along.    But stress can make even the most chill of people, flip out.  So when a situation starts to feel like a tight noose around my neck, sometimes I just throw my hands up and say mercy.  It helps me to see the situation for what it is, and move on.

Two hours later, multiple phone calls and failed attempts to locate my spare key, a kind soul finally opened my car door with a jimmy-thing (proving me right about people just wanting to be helpful).  I thanked the gas station attendants and the various people that tried to help along the way and I hopped in my car, grateful to be back in action.  Let’s just say now when I leave my car, so do my keys.

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5 Ways to stress less when the universe is messing with your mojo2018-03-29T20:23:29-04:00
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