Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Kick Starts and New Eyes

The cover of my PaPaYa! "Voyage" journal
The past month had felt funky with a capital "F."  One daughter came down with a really bad flu that had her down for a week.  Then her twin sister came down with the same flu and was also sick for a week.  I ran out of sick time and had to start chipping away at vacation time which is near and dear to my heart.  Wah!  My hubby had a short out of town trip camping with his students.  My 6 year old daughters had their 6th birthday and there was the party to plan for and a house and yard to prepare for guests.  The day after their successful party was Mother's Day, but my hubby pinched a nerve in his back and a build up of stress found my own neck tweaked with strain and pain and a severe lack of energy.  My day job that I have been with for 8 years has grown more boring and unfulfilling, and while I still love the purpose of the work, I am weary of working in a cavernous lobby with no windows.  In the midst of all of this I had bone weary days.  Days where I felt so completely physically exhausted.  I also found myself not interested in writing or painting and when I arrived home all I wanted to do was veg out.  Then there were the old photos of myself and friends through the years I found myself flipping through the evening before the solar solstice, and I became sad and wistful when I viewed them because they seemed like they were from another lifetime.  I have been blessed in this life with an inordinate amount of vitality and energy, so it was the feeling so tired though that truly led me to realize that something had to change.  It all began by writing these words in my journal:

Changes need to take place.
Too tired.
Out of shape.
Not often happy.
43 years old.
Looked through old photos last night and saw a version of myself that was smiling a lot more.  Saw a happier version of me.  
Hard truths.
Brainstorm - what do I really want?  What do I want to do?  

Three Columns for Dreams and Goals
Health/Vitality: Food cleanse, Yoga/Pilates, Walking, Swimming (when pool reopens), Sleep/Rest, Hiking, Lighter, Greater Mobility/Flexibility, Less Screen Time
Life Plan: Writing, Art, Family, Community, Friendship
Happiness: Quality Family Time, Quality Hubby Time, Quality Me Time, Gardening, Creating, Painting, Writing, Reading, Community, Friendship, Women circle time, Swimming, Relaxation, Peaceful, Photography, More Outdoor/Nature Time

On the day of the eclipse I kicked started a shift.  I have been eating a plant based (vegan) diet already for 4 years, yet it is easy to slip into patterns of eating too many bread and cracker type food products.  I also live with a thin vegan hubby, who can eat anything he wants, including nightly treats and maintain his same weight, and my 6 year old twin daughters, who also seem to be able to eat the way he does and are doing just great.  I have suspected that my body was needing more nutrition, more real and hearty food, and much less of the empty fillers like crackers and bread that have infiltrated my regular diet.  I searched for some new vegan salad and smoothie recipes, adding detox to some of the searches and went shopping.  I also cleaned out the pantry and labeled anything not already labeled.  The extra treat was to lay down some new contact paper too.  

The goal is more positive physical energy.  Basically more "get up and go!"  This piece of the puzzle became more clear as I wrote these words about my new goals:

Focus on feeding yourself.  Focus on giving your body every good thing.  Focus on knowing that you deserve it. 
When we approach eating with a mentality of deprivation it not only feels punitive, it actually becomes a form of punishment.  It sets you up for a situation where if you eat something you have deemed forbidden you feel bad and guilty.  We focus on what we shouldn't be eating. We may also be focusing on how we aren't exercising.  If you are instead coming from a mind set that you want your body, mind and spirit to feel good and you know feeding it healthy and nutrition packed meals is what makes it feel good, then it comes from a positive place.
What else can you do to make your mind, body and spirit feel good? Consider all the pleasure possibilities.  How about giving yourself pedicures?  What about lying in the sun and stretching?  What about listening to your favorite music and moving your body to the rhythms? 
This is about feeling good.  It is about how you feel, not how you look.  There is an important distinction, because I am here to tell you that it is too easy to be dissatisfied with appearance.  We have to find the other ways to love ourselves.  

For over a week now I have been feeding myself nutritious packed meals called The Detox Salad, The Lightened Up Protein Goddess Bowl, The Back On Track Wheat Berry and Bean Salad, The High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad, The Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Warm Salad, The Spring Detox Smoothie and a few other smoothie concoctions that utilize frozen fruit, soy vanilla protein powder and kale or spinach.  We have an amazing library of vegan cookbooks yet I did find many of these new and fabulous recipes on a web site called Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon.

As my lists for increased vitality included kicking up the physical movement up a few notches I have successfully been doing more stretching and have added in simple weight lifting and then some pilates videos.  I'll also be adding in some "turbo jam" workouts for fun.  For a number of years I was a serious gym rat and worked out six to seven days a week with my daily workouts sometimes lasting two to three hours doing a combo cardio/weight lifting regime.  I remember everything I learned from the various trainers who coached me over years.  I just haven't been putting my knowledge into practice for a great while.  

After a week of increased activity and eating nutritionally packed meals I am feeling less tired.  I am feeling less anxiety and less stress.  My screen time has been cut back some as well.  My goal is to spend more time in nature and also more time enjoying in person connections.  Here is a sweet little slide show of our family enjoying a picnic outdoors and the creatures we met on our walk afterwards.

This food cleanse has somehow also inspired me to do a sweep through the house to get rid of other unnecessary fluff, so to speak.  Some closets have been purged and the give-away pile is growing. Kitchen items like food processors, blenders and juicers have been moved to more easily accessible locations.  Things just seem to be getting more organized over all.  Think it might also have to do with some increased energy.

Is there anything in your life that you would like to kick start?

Is there anything you would like to change right now?

What in your life might need you to just look at it with new eyes?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Harvey Milk Day

In honor of Harvey Milk Day - May 22nd

Harvey Milk was born on May 22, 1930. He was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US, when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.   Sadly, Harvey Milk and the San Francisco mayor, George Moscone, were shot and killed by Dan White, a disgruntled former supervisor, at city hall in November 1978. 

Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama.   Following that honor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as governor of California, signed a law setting aside May 22nd as Harvey Milk day in California.  May 22nd coincided with Milk's birthday.   Milk is only the second Californian, after naturalist John Muir, to receive the honor. 

While it will not be a state holiday, schools will be encouraged to hold lessons "remembering the life of Harvey Milk, recognizing his accomplishments and familiarizing pupils with the contributions he made to this state".

This video features a wonderful speech known as The Hope speech that he made after being elected into office in 1977.

Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy Mural
Harvey Milk's legacy continues on in many ways.  One example is a school called the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in San Francisco.  It is a small alternative school in the Castro.  The school's mission is to empower student learning by teaching tolerance and non-violence, celebrating our diversity, achieving academic excellence and fostering strong family-school-community connections. The original campus housed Douglass Elementary school until the early 1950's.  On June 25, 1996, San Francisco Unified School District's Board of Education voted to rename Douglass School to Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.  

Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy Mural

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Age Is A State Of Mind...and Body

Tao Porchon-Lynch as photographed by Robert Sturman

On Sunday, May 13, 2012 a woman by the name of Tao Porchon-Lynch was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the Oldest Living Yoga Instructor.  Tao is currently 93 years old and will turn 94 in August.  She was born in 1918 in a French territory in India called Pondicherry.  Her mother died in childbirth and her heartbroken father immigrated to Canada and left her with his brother and sister-in-law.  Her uncle and aunt raised her and his work in helping to create railroad systems throughout Africa and Asia offered her early cultural experiences with meeting Masai tribesmen, Singapore merchants and even Mahatma Gandhi, who became a great friend of her uncles.
At age 8 Tao wanted to learn yoga. At that time in India girls did not study yoga and when she was told it was unladylike, her response was that if boys could do it she could too, and so she did. Writer Dr. Terry Kennedy shares this about Tao in an article entitled 7 Steps to Crafting An Amazing Life "She went on to study with Indra Devi, and became one of the first women to study under yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. She gave informal classes to friends and associates for free throughout the 1950s and early 60s. Her first paying job teaching yoga was in 1968 when fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne hired her to teach in his Hollywood studio. In 1982, Tao founded the Westchester Institute of Yoga, and has since trained and certified hundreds of yoga instructors. She has also made over 20 pilgrimages to India with her students because she believes that such visits offer enlightenment about the true spirit of yoga."
Her life journey included marching with Gandhi, working in the French Resistance under Charles de Gaulle and even marching with Martin Luther King Jr.  She also did some modeling and acting in Europe and eventually moved to the United States where she also worked as a contracted actress with MGM in Hollywood during the 1940's and 1950's. 
In 1995, she was one of the invited teachers to participate in Yoga for Peace in Israel. In 2011, she shared the stage with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at the Newark Peace Education Summit.  
In 2002 she took up ballroom dancing and has won more than 300 first-place trophies in national and international Fred Astaire competitions.
What does Tao share about living such a healthy and vibrant life into her 90's?  According to Porchon-Lynch, the first step to harnessing one’s optimal energy is learning to breathe properly. “I show my students that breathing deeply is not just a physical act but a tuning into the power behind all things which can renew and recycle our bodies.  She also shares in various interviews that she does not procrastinate and that if there is something she wants to do she does it.  She stays positive and begins and ends each day with positive thoughts.  She recommends that we all rid ourselves of fear. She has been a vegetarian all her life, eats a very simple diet and credits her years of yoga practice at keeping her strong and healthy.

Writer Dr. Terry Kennedy shares what she has learned personally from Tao and breaks it down into these 7 Steps:
1) Play Your Cards Right ~ Tao is a living example of how to tap into our human potential. We each have the ability to craft an amazing life. As Tao says, "Smile. Don't look down. Don't look backwards. Don't procrastinate. Do it today!"
2) Follow Your Heart ~ Follow your dreams as did Tao in learning yoga even if it was unladylike when she was 8 years old.
3) Find Someone Who Inspires You ~ The insuppressible spirit of Gandhi is felt in Tao's own work. One of Tao's favorite sayings is: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness of ignorance. If you light just one, you're already on an enlightened path."
4) Take Care of Your Body ~ Tao believes we all can overcome the effects of aging and control our bodies and minds through yoga and diet.
5) Stay Positive ~ Tao is very adamant about controlling her mental atmosphere. It is one of her secrets to staying young. She believes that whatever you put in your mind starts to decay in the body. She says, "Don't let fear enter your mind. When someone starts to talk negative, I switch it right around."
6) Be the Change ~ Tao cares deeply for others and the world. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, she gets involved.
7) Do it today! ~ Tao believes that time is a jewel for us to use and not waste.

Does reading about Tao inspire you?
Is there anything you might do differently in your own life?  Something you might adopt from what she shares about living a vibrant and healthy life?
Here is a wonderful video of Tao speaking about living a vibrant life:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ I Am Not Enough

I have spent a great deal of time with women friends and a fair amount of time at women gatherings and it is surprising, and also sadly not surprising, to hear women of all ages and sizes express "I am not enough." I have at times found myself surprised and mystified that a woman I know, who I find to be attractive, intelligent, creative, interesting and successful can still feel that she is not enough.

This has led me to ponder more deeply why so many of us feel this way. What creates this pervasive feeling that we are lacking? Why do we feel we aren't enough? Is it something we have learned and absorbed from the outside world? Do the images of physical perfection that fill magazines and movie screens chip away at our own sense of self worth? What can we do differently and how can we think differently, so that we really see ourselves and value ourselves?

Suggested Reading ~ You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

The Real Problem

"So here is a client who has just looked in the harmless little mirror, and he or she is all upset. I smile with delight and say, 'Good, now we are looking at the real problem; now we can begin to clear out what is really standing in your way.' I talk more about loving the self, about how, for me, loving the self begins with never, ever criticizing ourselves for anything.

I watch their faces as I ask them if they criticize themselves. Their reactions tell me so much:

  • Well, of course I do.
  • All the time.
  • Not as much as I used to.
  • Well, how am I going to change if I don't criticize myself?
  • Doesn't everyone?

To the latter, I answer, 'We are not talking about everyone we are talking about you. Why do you criticize yourself? What is wrong with you?'

As they talk, I make a list. What they say often coincided with their 'should list.' They feel they are too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too dumb, too old, too young, too ugly. (The most beautiful or handsome will often say this.) Or they're too late, too early, too lazy, and on and on. Notice how it is almost always 'too' something. Finally, we get down to the bottom line, and they say, 'I am not good enough.'

Hurrah, hurrah! We have finally found the central issue. They criticize themselves because they have learned to believe they 'are not good enough.' Clients are always amazed at how fast we have gotten to this point. Now we do not have to bother with any of the side effects such as body problems, relationship problems, money problems, or lack of creative expressions. We can put all our energy into dissolving the cause of the whole thing: 'NOT LOVING THE SELF.'"