Don’t rush the moments

What do we want? When we get still enough what are our true heart desires?

My son and husband are asleep, it’s 8:40 pm. Tears are streaming down my face as I sit in the silence meditating/contemplating and feeling into my life before I go to bed. I believe we all want to feel alive, like really alive Joseph Campbell style:

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

When I can touch the tenderness of this desire the tears steam so easily. This joyful aliveness is in the moments, in our connections, in the small acts of kindness. If we can slow down enough we can feel our innermost being vibrating with aliveness.

I sometimes notice as a culture we are looking for the big. If this BIG thing happens then everything will be OK. I will be OK. So…we strive and we look forward. We quickly move from one thing to the next so that we can hurry up and get there.

What if by all of this rushing to the “next thing” we missed some of the most loving moments? What if the biggest wins were the times we found the gold shimmering in the slivers of time as we pursued our goals? What if we really did enjoy the journey instead of rushed? This sounds cliche and easy but as a real life practice it can challenging.

I wonder why…it seems like it would be easy right? Savor, soften, open, love and enjoy! Easy enough. Yet, I notice the holding back, the protecting, the restriction of my natural flow. Sometimes I wonder if it’s easier for others? But, then think: I’m pretty sure this is something we all work with. If you don’t please share your sage wisdom!:)

I relish the moments like tonight where I intentionally slow down, pause and feel my heart in such a big and powerful way. It’s like a veil lifts and I want to forever open up my heart big and wide. Knowing this is where the magic resides.

I think it’s important to do things we are proud of, and cross the finish line and feel accomplished. This helps increase our sense of aliveness, but there is more. What about resting for awhile where we are — playing, meandering, looking for the simple beauty, relishing in the appreciation of all that is good now. What’s the rush?

My life isn’t perfect. I am not floating on some cloud with complete peace and joy. But, it’s mine. All mine to create as I choose. The sacredness of our unique lives is astonishing and yet so ordinary. I felt this tonight as I was enjoying some time with my son before he went to sleep. Something pretty much all Moms do…we support our children in getting to bed. But, I was touched by the holy honor it is to be a mother.

After we read our 4 books he said: “Cuddle Mommy.” I cuddled in and he snuggled up next to me holding his green “blankie”; which is one of my dresses that he turned into a blanket because it “smells like Mommy.”

As we lay there in the amber glow from the nightlight he is shining like the angel he is. I softly stroke his hair and face doing my best to enjoy this moment. I feel the pull to go and get ready for bed and I breathe. I don’t want to rush this moment. Not tonight.

I listen to him breathing. I’m acutely aware that one day he will no longer want his blankie or me to cuddle him to sleep. I soften. These are the moments where the divine lives. This is heaven on earth. I watch him slowly close his eyes. I stay awhile longer reveling in his perfection and then, gently get up and walk out the door with a heart full of love.

Tonight as the tears drop down on my journal I write: Open sweet one. Open. It’s really ok to feel this much! I pray to stay open to the wonder of now. Help me see the world through my heart. May I stand in all that is real, true and beautiful in my life. Help me stay connected even when I want to close. Help me love and play even more. Allow my tenderness to heal my soul.  May I feel the presence of grace everywhere, even if I don’t want to and sometimes feel scared. Let me surrender to the LOVE! I breathe in the joy and gratitude for this day. Thank you!

I know there is no getting to a perfect state of grace all the time. I know there will be days and moments the urge to rush will win. And, yet, I hold the intention to continue to remember. Remember to pause and not hurry the moments. This simple practice guides me to more fulfillment. I celebrate these moments like tonight where my heart feels like it grew. I also know I will get triggered and close. Then, I will open. Then, close. And play somewhere in between…thus, is the dance of life.
alex_signature_pink

Zen to Done – 10 Productivity Habits

05c2e4c2d3ef971c336d1c1bb66c355eThe other day I read (for the second time) Zen to Done by Leo Babauta . It’s a super quick read and I love the simplicity of it.

I’ve read Getting Things Done and a variety of other organizational books but I often felt like there was too much to implement and I, ironically, never really got to far in the process.

I thrive when I get *really* clear on what’s essential and do that. I ask myself a lot: What is most important? And, then I give all of my time, energy, and attention to the answer to that question. Which means saying “no” to a lot in order to honor my values for this phase of my life.

This can be challenging sometimes because I have so many creative dreams and ideas. Creativity is one of my top strengths, therefore, it’s crucial to exercise discipline and focus to make sure I get my projects across the finish line. This helps me zone in on what I want to do most and be more efficient and productive.

Below is a snapshot of Leo’s 10 Habits for implementing his Zen To Done (ZTD) system. I am sharing these in hopes they might help you and also as a reference and reminder of what I am committed to. 🙂

1. Collect — Get everything out of your head and onto a paper or an app so don’t forget things and also, so your to-dos aren’t just swirling around taking up energy that could be directed somewhere else. I use OmniFocus (1st version) and a notebook for this. This habit has been HUGE in helping me become more organized. Life changing huge!

2. Process — This means taking the time to process your list of things to do. Make quick decisions on what needs to be. Delete, delegate, do it immediately, defer for later, file it and repeat this process until your inboxes are empty. Soon as something comes into your mind, mailbox, phone, inbox, etc. decide what you need to do to be complete with it. Don’t just let it sit there (I’m telling myself this:)!

3. Plan — What are you going to do today? He recommends having 1-3 MIT’s (most important tasks) or Big Rocks. What will you feel happy you accomplished? Plan your day around these goals/tasks. Ideally do these in the morning with a block of time. I’ve found with my mothering schedule I have less big chunks of uninterpreted time but I can easily create little pockets of time. It’s amazing what you can get done in 5-15 minute time slots.

4. Do“The habit of “do” is the key to the ZTD system. It’s the habit that’s missing from many other productivity systems, and yet it’s the most important. All the rest is just busy work if you don’t actually do the things on your to-do list.”  The key is to create the time, limit all distractions, completely focus, and then…get excited, commit and GET IT DONE! Finish is my mantra! 🙂

5. Simple trusted system — Create a system so that you can have everything you need/want to get done in one place. Then, when you have the time and space to get things done you will be ready and you won’t waste time preparing. You can just get to work and master the habit of “Do”.

The basic idea is to categorize the things that need to get done in your system like: work, personal, errands, calls waiting for someday/maybe lists, etc. So, for example, when you have 15 minutes you can go to your phone category and complete a bunch of phone calls, or maybe batch a bunch of errands/emails, etc.

Like I said above, my meta system is OmniFocus for this. I’ve used it for the last 3.5 years and I love it. David Allen’s GTD system inspired me to get more organized on this and it made life so much easier! I not a tech queen and only use a handful of apps so there might be a bunch of newer apps you can use now. You don’t need anything fancy, in fact a notebook can easily get the job done. I also use a journal where I can jot things down because sometimes I like to turn my phone off.

6. Organize “One of the oldest organizing truisms around, but perhaps the most important of all: a place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Do you know, at this moment, where everything single thing in your life is? HA! Nope! Where do the papers go? Bills? The toys? The keys? Clothes? Once we have found a home for everything then, accordingly to Leo we want to…put it away immediately, make it a habit, pay attention to transitions, keep flat surfaces clear, label, evaluate. Yep, I would benefit from all of these suggestions. 

I especially like the  transitions one…”The time between when you’re doing one thing and when you’re doing the next thing is a transition. This is the time when you should put stuff away where it belongs and clean up your mess, but it’s also the time when we’re not thinking about that stuff and only thinking about we’re going to do next.

If I took a few minutes to put everything in it’s place before moving on to the next thing there would be a sense of accomplishment and flow. The kitchen would be cleaned after a meal, the toys/books picked up from the floor, and my desk clear when I was done. Ah! That sounds like heaven. 🙂 These mini habits probably take 5-10 minutes and could probably revolutionize my life!

I sometimes make excuses having a toddler, because their creativity (well, at least for my son) is to dump a lot of stuff on the floor. Think: 100’s of legos everywhere! The thing is it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we created the habit to put everything back in it’s place before moving onto something else.  Reminder: This habit starts with me and he will learn from me. What do I want to model for my child?

7. Review — “Let’s face it: even the best of us loses track of things over time, and loses focus on our goals, and let’s the best-planned system fall apart a little. With a busy workweek, a busy life outside of work, the best systems tend to gravitate towards chaos. That’s where the Weekly Review comes in — it gives you a chance to get things together and refocus yourself on what’s important.”

The gist of this habit: review your single long-term goals and short term goals, review your notes, review your calendar, review your lists, set your short-term goal for the week and plan your Big Rocks (MIT). This can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

8. Simplify — If you’re like me, you have a long list of tasks to do, perhaps broken down by different contexts (work, personal, errands, calls, etc.). Your list of tasks is so long that it’s overwhelming. You can never completely wipe out your list because it’s growing every day. Simplify your list down to the barest of essentials, and you can eliminate the need for complex planning systems.” YES!

What I do most days is get out a piece of paper and write:

1. My 3 biggest Creative Process Goals (same as MIT)
2. Blissiplines (exercise, meditation, nutrition, etc.)
3. 3-5 little tasks I’d like to accomplish for the day

“You don’t need a huge to-do list to be productive — just do the stuff that matters.” This has been vital for me in the last 3 years as I integrate my new role as a creative mother!

9. Routine — Routines can also greatly simplify your work day and personal life, as your day won’t be overly chaotic and complicated, you can group similar tasks together and batch process them, and you can be sure of doing the things you really need to do. Most importantly, it puts you in control of your day, instead of putting you at the mercy of the ebb and flow of all incoming requests. Without a routine, we have no way of saying “no” to requests as they come in, and we are at the beck and call of every person who wants our time and every website that wants our attention. That’s not a good thing, not if you want to get the important things done.”

I like routine and I also like spontaneity. I’ve found that regular routines help me to happily get the important things done. And, then my mind is less cluttered and more spaciousness which allows me to enjoy the adventure and unstructured time even more. I didn’t used to believe this but experience has shown me differently.;) I have an awesome morning and evening routine but I want to create more routines for meals and cleaning.

10. Find your passion– Some ideas from Leo: Is there something you already love doing? What do you spend hours reading about? Brainstorm. Ask around and surf for possibilities. Give it a try first. Never quit trying.

Other wise words: Don’t quit your job just yet. Do some research. What are your obstacles? Make a plan. Take action. Practice and practice, and practice some more. Be persistent. 

*I intend to share a video soon on some misconceptions I believed about following your passion for years that I think limited my results, successes and creativity.

Talk doesn’t cook rice. —  Chinese Proverb

Now, the action part! Leo doesn’t recommend doing all these habits at once. Look at where you might need some extra attention and start there. Implementing 1-4 habits at a time until they become routine.

The habits I’m starting with are: Process, Do, Organize, & Review.

Yahooo!! I’ve completed my #1 Creative Process Goal with this blog post. Now, I’m gonna go do a 15 min workout (5o burpees, 50 squats, 50 pushups, 50 lunges and 50 mountain climbers) and then do my #2, which is doing a bunch of online tests for my appointment with Dr. Daniel Amen next week. I am excited to learn how to supercharge my brain even more and hopefully his wisdom will help me with my organizational skills. 😉

alex_signature_pink

P.S. If you want to do a quick Amen Brain Checklist you can find a PDF HERE.

Meditation + Dance Party (w/ my son) = Joyful Momma

be-still-in-the-now-picture-quoteMy son said he wanted to make me feel better today. He got out his healing glove and told me to come into his hospital and lie down on the bed so he could help me. He’s really into firetrucks, hospitals, doctors and caring for me these days. So sweet!

He “buckled” me in and then got some legos along with a few other toys and put them on my belly and touched my head with his glove. I laid there for a few minutes and then said I was going to get up. He said: No Mommy don’t get up. I’m not done yet. Be still. Don’t move. 

I laughed and said: Yes, good advice. Be still. I took a deep breath, laid back down and smiled. Who says you can’t meditate with a child? I had a whole 5 minutes of deep breathing plus a “healing” session. How does it get any better
than that? 🙂

In the last few months I’ve occasionally awoken before E (we co-sleep) and I’ll be meditating in bed when he wakes up. I tell him I’m meditating and he can sit with me if he’d like. Most of the time he comes in and cuddles up in my lap and patiently waits while I “practice.” Sometimes he’s ready to get up and I flow with that too.:) The more I slow down, listen and be still the easier life becomes. In the stillness I can hear the voice of silence gently guiding me towards peace, love and freedom.

After our healing meditation he wanted to listen to some music. So we turned on the “Let it go” Pandora station and rocked out to: Part of your world + Uptown Funk. Love me some dancin’ and singin’! (You can find a 5 minute video on how I make dancing a workout HERE).

The lesson I am remembering today is there is always time and space to do whatever nourishes our soul. We just have to keep our intention at the forefront so we can see the opportunities when they arise. Otherwise we miss the joy hidden in the mundane because we are off to the next thing.

So…my fun challenge for you, SuperBetter style, is to take a minute or five to be still, breathe and tune into your innate awesomeness and pick one of your favorite songs and dance and sing your heart out. Dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth. — William W. Purkey

Now, I’m off to make dinner!

Dance on Goddess,

alex_signature_pink

P.S. I’m always on the look out for new songs to rock out to. If you feel inspired share some of your favorite tunes in the comments below.

Bliss Diary – July 18, 2015

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.
Pema Chödrön

Nutrition:
7:00 morning delight tea
8:30 3 scrambled eggs + mashed cauliflower
1:45 small handful of olives
3:30 salmon w/primal mayo + nori sheets w/ 1/2 of blueberry “jello”
5:30 1/4 c. blueberries + fresh coconut meat + little bit of coconut water

Movement:
5 minute walk
10 minute vibratrim

Meditation: 15 minutes + 30 minute guided meditation (mini nap)

Sleep: I was in bed at 9:15 and up at 4:45 (that’s when the little guy woke up) ~7.5 hours

Body Goodness: I was really craving chocolate today. This happens as I move into the pre-menstrual phase. I wondered if I was needing extra magnesium so I rubbed some ancient minerals gel on my body hoping that would help. It didn’t. 🙂 I chose not to have some but I did have the thought that this might be a good time to enjoy some in moderation. I haven’t wanted it all for almost two weeks. It hasn’t been challenging to give it up until today.

Mind/Heart Goodness: We all have these voices. I am intrigued by them. Where the heck do they come from? Why do they have such strong opinions? Why can they be so critical sometimes? I know a lot of these voices are passed down to us from family and society. I think they are trying to protect us, keep us in line so we won’t be judged, bullied, or criticized. Their intention (although not a very empowering one) is to keep us safe. Do we really want to live a comfortable and “safe” life?

Every once in awhile I notice thoughts wanting things to be easier. This voice thinks that one day I will figure it all out and everything will be easy and comfortable. I will hit a point where the whole following my bliss thing won’t feel like such a heroine’s journey. I won’t make any mistakes. I will always feel super empowered and move through fears and doubts. I won’t ever get hurt nor will the people I love. I realize this is ridiculous but this doesn’t stop this voice from trying to persuade me that if I work a little bit harder I will find the smooth sailing path.

The other night the hubby and I were listening to Alison Armstrong. It’s our habit to listen for at least 1 minute every night. She was saying that women have a “better woman” in their head judging her every move. This “better woman” says things like: A better woman would have already done that, or wouldn’t have that issue, or if you really had it together that would never happen to you, etc.

My best way to work with this “better woman” voice is to listen to it and say silently or out loud: I get that you think there everything should have it’s designated place, and I should wear my hair down more…be more fashionable, and get more of “everything” done, not need to take naps, and rock a weekly meal plan, etc. Then, inquire: Is it true that I should do all of these things? What will happen if I don’t do them? What am I scared people will say or think about me?

There is usually some level of fear that I am not doing it right or good enough or there is something wrong. When I see this I can shine some light and then rise up and move from heart and authenticity rather than the “better woman’s” commands and criticisms. I can move from love rather than fear. It takes some work but it is well worth it. 🙂

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for rain. We’ve really needed it so it I enjoyed the rainy day. I had flashbacks of when we lived in Bali. The rain there was magical. am grateful for my awesome colonic. I am grateful for a super chill day. I am grateful for my body and health. I am grateful for naps and guided meditations. I am grateful for all the women who push through their fears to create a life they love. I am continually inspired by the power of women. I am grateful for the new novel I am reading: Sara by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I am grateful for all the functional doctors who are paving the way and changing the world. #thankyou

alex_signature_pink

Power of Passionate Presence – Interview with Catherine Ingram

Catherine Ingram is an author and international dharma teacher. She is a mentor and dear friend, whom I cherish deeply. Her love, presence and wisdom has been such a gift in my life.

These are some of the topics we covered in this interview:

  • How to know when you are out of alignment with with your true self
  • How to create the habit of silence
  • How death can be our alley and inspire us to savor our lives more
  • How to cultivate passionate presence
  • How to create a truly nourishing and authentic life

Hope you enjoy!

alex_signature_pink

Bliss Diary – July 11, 2015

By being true to all sides of your nature, you acknowledge that you can be self-confident, active and strong, that you can nurture without being weak, that you can be wild and instinctual, as well as calm and reasoning, and that you have a beautiful darkness within, a depth beyond the mundane world. — Miranda Gray, “Red Moon”

Nutrition:
morning delight (coconut milk, tsp of ghee, tsp mct oil, tsp of maca, turmeric, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, collagen, stevia, longevity tea)
16 oz green juice
3 scrambled eggs w/kale + 1 carrot ginger muffin
big green goddess salad + yummy fresh salmon w/olives, nori and a 1/2 raw wrap

Movement:
* 10 minute walk
* 10 minute walk + 60 minute high intensity training class (metabolic madness) + * 10 minute walk
* 10 minute vibratrim
* 10 minute walk

Meditation: 15 minutes + 30 minute napitation

Body Goodness:  I loved going to the workout class this morning. So much fun! My inner athlete was in bliss. I’ve been wanting to go for awhile and since I’m in the communication/ collaboration part of my menstrual cycle it’s the perfect time to try something new. 🙂 I feel like my energy is getting better and better too, which is exciting. I also got a colonic.

Mind/Heart/Spirit Goodness: Being true to all sides of our nature…this was in my heart and mind today. Seeing all the thoughts that float through my mind about everything. Not all of them are nice and “spiritual.” But, I’ve found that part of honoring myself is to let them be there without shame/guilt or thinking I shouldn’t even be having them.

We all have judgements, it’s part of being human. But, we don’t have to believe them or even repress them. Just notice. A lot of our thoughts are just the conditioning we’ve all had, not who we are. To quote Allan Lokos: Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts. Letting thoughts just be thoughts. Yes! I’m in! 🙂

Someone who truly inspires this way of living is my dear friend and mentor, Catherine Ingram. Dwelling in this place I felt moved to listen to some of her audios. I am so thankful to have her in my life. She is the embodiment of presence and her wisdom has been a gift. Every time I talk with her or listen to her I feel a softening…a relaxing into an ease of being. I know she has diligently practiced over the years and it shows in who she is and how she lives. Basking in her essence/beingness inspires me to be more gentle, kind and tender on this journey. There is always a jewel in whatever moment we are in.

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for our neighbor. Our dog got out and was running in the street and he saved him. So so so grateful!!  I am grateful for colonics and Lissa, my awesome therapist. I am grateful for the sweet park right by our house. I am grateful for Emerson and Brian, they make my life so much richer. I am grateful for my B’s support with E so I could have a mini self-care morning. #godads! I am grateful for all the laughter I experienced today (+ every day). I am grateful for all the people I continuously learn from. #thankyou

alex_signature_pink

Bliss Diary – July 8, 2015

The only gift is a portion of thyself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nutrition:
7:00 longevity tea w/few tb coconut cream + tsp mct oil + 2 scoops collagen
10:00 16 oz green juice
10:30 bowl of coconut chips (chose this instead of making food so I could write this blog ;))
1:00 goddess green salad w/ salmon on a raw asian wrap
3:00 25 oz lemon, ginger, few drops of stevia
6:15 bowl of cauliflower rice/nori/bone broth/spinach/coconut oil/sea salt + ground beef + 5 olives

Movement:
10 minute walk + park time w/ little E
20 minute rebounding
60 minute adventure at the meadow walking, lunging, climbing trees, + a 30 lb toddler carry 😉

Meditation: 15 minutes + 25 minute napitation (with this little guy on my lap) FullSizeRender.jpg

Body Goodness: I am feeling sooo much better! Woot! Woot! I woke up feeling so grateful for this amazing body I have. I’m also feeling tight in my head and shoulders. I did more body scans today and noticed I unconsciously tense my body. Every time I noticed this I did some light bouncing and shook out my body combined with a few deep breaths to release the tension.

Mind/Heart Goodness: Lately, I’ve  been exploring what it means to be a creative woman and honor my choice to be at home with my son and future children. I love solitude. I’m an introvert with a splash of extrovert. I come home  when I have space to be with myself, alone. As mothers know, this isn’t something we have in abundance (especially with the little ones). Yet, it’s vital.

To quote Anne Morrow Lindbergh from her book Gift From The Sea:

The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as “stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still.”

Yes, how do we carry that stillness within us throughout our days even in the midst of the divine chaos called motherhood? How do we honor our creative spirits while being a powerful center for our families? How do we get our needs met so we can thrive not just survive?

I’ve been looking at motherhood as an art. The becoming a mother part is actually pretty easy. But, mothering with intention and purpose is an art. It is a creative expression…a craft to be practiced. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give to the world. I feel this. And, sometimes, I notice that I can make everything hard. The passage below is from Karen Maezen Miller’s book: Momma Zen. She’s talking with her teacher at the end of a retreat and he says:

“You seem to have a little problem with your work ethic,” he said. I didn’t follow, since I judged myself to be the hardest worker there ever was.

“You make everything work,” he said.

I do. Do you?

When you are scraping the crusted cereal from the wall with a chipped fingernail, do not think: For this I gave up a vice presidency. When you are folding a stack of late-night laundry, do not think: This is my sixth load this week and it’s only Monday. When you stand over the sink of three-day old dishes, do not think: When, oh when, will I ever catch up? And while you’re at it, please don’t complain about the mindless nature of a mother’s work. The great transformative potential of a mother’s work is that it is mindless. No thinking of any kind required.

Ah, yes and I come back to being in the moment (no thinking required.) I come back to my chosen art: FullSizeRendermotherhood. I come back to my intention to be the love, joy, stillness no matter where I am or what I am doing. Reminding myself, I get to choose how I experience my days.

What if my biggest creation was my child and who I became during the years of mothering? I smile as I look to the left of my desk at my toddler’s creation. Breathing in and breathing out. This is it. This is where the magic of transformation happens.

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for our adventure at the meadow. It’s so beautiful and fun to see my little guy explore the open land. I am grateful for music that moves me. My singing mantra today was: I am bountiful, blissful and beautiful. Totally elevated my energy. I am grateful for all of my books, yes, the ones that are still all over the floor. I am grateful for our local health food store. I am grateful for my quick chat with a fellow Momma Goddess (+ her kiddos) on our walk today. I am blessed. Thank you for another day.

alex_signature_pink

P.S. I was writing some of this while my son was playing in my office and he came up and hit my keyboard and somehow deleted a good portion of the post.

I said Argh out loud. He said: Mommy upset? A small smile breaks through the frustration. How can I be that upset when he asks me so sweetly? I said: Yes, I’m a little upset. Then, explained to him what happened requesting 5 more minutes to write. He got it and began playing again.

And then, I began again…and again…and again. This is the path of the Mother. How do we patiently, persistently, diligently, lovingly show up for ourselves and our families?