Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mix it up to beat the winter blahs

Yesterday I was hit with the winter blues.  The days are so short right now that it's dark when I go to work, and it's dark when I get home.  It's easy to feel depressed when each day is cut short, and it seems like there's not enough light to live your life.

So I decided to change it up and give my day a blast of energy.  I went for a run with my dog in the dark drizzle anyway.  It felt so good to get sweaty underneath my 4 layers even though it's freezing outside.  Little changes go a long way to enhance mood and vitality.  This morning I did yoga in a different place in the house- by the fireplace.  My body is craving heat and warmth.  My next stop... my local sauna.  It's common to get physically stiff and emotionally stuck during the holidays when we naturally move less, eat more and stress is at an all time high.  Here are some tips to help you boost happiness and energy during this crazy season:

1. Amp up your self-love.  We can only give our best to others when we have tended to ourselves first.  Carve out a little time for a luxurious bath, a yoga class or a massage.  You're worth it!

2.  Breathe.  When we're stressed, we have a tendency to hold our breath, clench our shoulders and brace for impact.  Instead roll your shoulders back and take 3 slow breaths, extending the exhale.  Imagine that you can clean and clear your mind with each breath.

3. Exercise.  This is the number one way to beat depression during the dark months.  Whether it's a walk outside, yoga class, spin class or even a solo dance party at home, just getting your heart rate up with do wonders for your mood, focus and confidence.

4. Meditate.  When there is no light outside, it's the best time to tap into the light within you.  Take 5-15 minutes to close your eyes, breathe and visualize.  Imagine a light inside your heart that expands with each breath.  Let it grow and surround you like a warm halo.  Feel insolated and protected by your own inner light.  Sit in this light as you breathe and feel comforted and connected.

Use these tips to beat to winter blahs.  They will ensure a happy and calm you in the New Year!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surrounded by gratitude

This week I can't turn around without receiving more messages about gratitude.  To tell you the truth, I'm loving it.  Might as well jump on the bandwagon and express a little thanks.  Today my lesson in A Course in Miracles reminded me, "Love is the way I walk in gratitude."  Making a daily or weekly gratitude list helps me slow down and appreciate the life around me and within me.  As the seasons change, my list contains things like, the beautiful orange leaves or falling asleep to the sound of rain.  If I don't take stock of these little moments, the seasons and years have a way of just passing by.  I WANT to feel grateful.  It feels so darn good.  Plus sometimes I get so lost in my own thoughts that I forget where I am or what I'm doing.  I'm sure you've been there...you just checked your phone, saw an email and forgot what you were trying to do it the first place.  There are so many distractions.  Taking 5 or 10 minutes to physically write down a gratitude list has huge benefits.  Today on Marie TV I learned that writing a gratitude list for 21 days creates 25% more life satisfaction.  The participants in this UC Davis study ended up exercising more and drinking less alcohol.  Friends and family even reported that they were more pleasant to be around.  Sounds pretty great, right?  Do it for your friends, do it for your family, do it for your waistline!  If you want to hear more from Marie, check out her video below.

The challenging part is being grateful even when things don't go your way.  For example, today an important meeting was postponed.  I had been thinking about this meeting for a few weeks and had been preparing myself.  Instead of getting all pissed off, I decided to turn up the gratitude.  I see that this unexpected change affords me more time to research the foundation and prepare my cover letter.  I do believe that the Universe is conspiring in my best interest.  I don't know yet exactly where I'm headed, but I have faith that it's somewhere good.  The next time you're in a traffic jam, remember that you're supposed to be there.  Why?  Who knows?  Just turn up the gratitude, put on a podcast or call an old friend (hands free, of course).  Use that time to enhance your life instead of getting all upset and miserable.  Trust me, you'll be happier for it! 

Thanks for reading and taking time out of your day.  I'm grateful for you!  Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Reflecting Back

One of the best things about having a blog is being able to look back at your journey.  This morning I was reading one of my all time favorite posts called Transformation and realized how far I've come.  At that time in my life (February 2011) I so inspired and lit up with possibility.  I was working on my National Boards and preparing for Seagal tryouts, both scary and overwhelming endeavors. Reflecting back, most of my best experiences in life have been the ones that scared me the most.  I had considered leaving teaching because I was so intimidated by National Boards.  Seagal tryouts were so far outside my comfort zone that I felt like I was tapping into a new side of my personality.  By allowing myself to chase scary dreams, I was able to expand and learn so much about myself.  A year and a half later, I sit here with a beautiful National Board Teaching Certificate.  I didn't make the Seagals that year, but I would not take back the experience for anything.  I was definitely guided in the right direction.  Shortly after, Kevin came into my life.  With his support, I entered the Ayurveda Wellness Counselor program.  Each goal that feels massive in the moment has been a stepping stone showing me the way.  Going to teach in Colombia lead me back home and into a career I love.  Going to Bali lead me to deeper meditation and Ayurveda.  Now I'm reconnecting with my inspired dreamer mindset.  I want to continuously live in that enchanted place of wonder.  There is so much life to live, and I refuse to limit myself in my own mind.  After finishing Half the Sky, I'm feeling called to explore other ways to serve women.  It doesn't seem like a coincidence that the Bill and Mary Gates Foundation is in my backyard.  It is time to play big and co-create with the Universe!

"We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?... Your playing small does not serve the world."  -Marianne Williamson

Friday, October 26, 2012

Half the Sky

I'm watching a powerful movie that speaks to my heart and inspires reflection.  It's called Half the Sky.  This documentary is based on the book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  Through story telling, it sheds light on issues of sex trafficking, education for girls, genital mutilation and rape in countries all over the world.  It's shocking and difficult to imagine living through the challenges that these girls face.

My initial reaction is to get on a plane and volunteer for one of these incredible organizations.  I also know that I can make a difference here at home in my daily life.  As a teacher, it makes me want to further empower the girls in my class.  Perhaps a lunch book club with stories of women leaders.  My students are in an important position with so many advantages to make positive change in the world, but first we need to build their confidence, ease their anxiety and tap into the power inside of them.  I can see the nervousness on their faces as they look up to me for approval.  My role is to teach content, but I know that I can help them find strength on the inside.

I want to live through example.  I am the product of a strong education for women.  This movie makes me extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I've had in my life.  It also makes me wonder, "Am I doing everything I can to make the most of this gift?  Am I contributing to my community?  If not, what's holding me back?"  I have no excuses.

Here are 3 small things I can recommit to right now:
1. Speak positively about myself and other women.  No gossip.
2. Be nice to my mom even when I'm feeling impatient or grumpy.
3. Take care of myself and be thankful so that I can be of service to others.

When you educate a girl, she tends to take better care of her herself and her kids, create a business, get married later and invest in her community.  When you educate a girl, you educate a village.  To care about a girl, is an enormously powerful thing.  Girls education is transformative.

Please watch this movie or read the book.  Join the conversation that impacts everyone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Transition into fall the Ayurvedic way!

Cozy blankets, colorful leaves, walking in the brisk sunny air....  Fall can be a beautiful time of year when we follow the Vedic recommendations for how to transition our mind and body.  Here are a 5 easy steps to make this the best fall of your life.

1.  Begin your day with meditation.  Even 10 quiet minutes will create a calm tone for your day.  For amazing guided meditations visit:  http://www.chopra.com/library/guidedmeditations

2. Start transitioning away from cold, raw salads and towards warming stews and soups with vegetables, beans and your favorite spices.  For soup inspiration, check out: http://www.101cookbooks.com/soups/

3.  Obviously wearing warmer clothes is a smart idea as the seasons change.  It's especially important to keep your neck and throat covered during this blustery and chilly season.  In additions to jackets and scarves, add orange, yellow or red colors to harmonize with the shift.

4.  Fall is dominated by VATA, a mobile, dry, cold force.  It's easy to feel trapped in cyclical thoughts and worries.  Therefore, we have to add the opposite qualities in order to create balance and stabilize our mind.  Give yourself permission to rest, take a warm bath, slather on nourishing oil and wrap up with a blanket and some relaxing tea.  Avoid loud music, driving too fast and violent shows that will further aggravate Vata.

5.  If you have trouble sleeping, indulge in a sesame oil foot massage.  Sesame oil is warming, and this self-massage will relax your nervous system before bed.  Pull on some socks so that your sheets stay nice and clean.

Enjoy this beautiful season!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Slowing down for gratitude

The manifestation is complete.  I handed the keys to my ideal renter this week.  Kaley appeared a few weeks ago and fell in love with the place.  She is excited about the area and appreciates the old building charm.  It is the perfect fit.  This entire process has been incredible practice for me to let go, release my attachments and welcome the inevitable change that life brings.

As I adjust to living at home, I am committing to enjoyment.  I vow to cherish each day at home with my parents.  As we all get older, I realize that my time with them isn't infinite.  I promise to savor cooking with my dad, having coffee with my mom and snuggling with my dog.  As I relaxed with a magazine in the hammock today, I exhaled and felt complete relief.  Instead of rushing forward to the next goal, I'm going to slow down and feel thankful.  Thankful for yoga in the morning with my mom.  Thankful for good water pressure in the shower.  Thankful for delicious coffee, a lawn and a wonderful family.  These are my four precious months to take it easy and soak up this time.  Are you willing to slow down today for gratitude?  What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dating and Renting: The Parallels

"Hi Nicole!  I got your message.  I'm sorry but we've decided to look elsewhere."  The gasp that came out of my mouth showed me how invested I am in this rental process.  The wave of rejection that washed over me in that first instant was undeniable.  As silly as it seems, this process of renting my condo feels a lot like dating.

Excitement, connection and hope filled me this weekend as I showed Sara and John* my condo.  They loved the his-and-hers closets and extra storage unit for their snowboarding gear.  She loved the chandelier and wood floors.  She confessed to walking by the building the other day to daydream and get to know the neighborhood.  These comments felt like sweet nothings being whispered into my ear from a lover, promising devotion and security.  I felt like this couple would take good care of my place.  Plus two jobs can pay the rent easier than one!  It felt like the perfect match. 

"Did the dentist call?" my mom asks tentatively.  "No, mom."  After 4 showings on Saturday and multiple email threads with various prospects, I expected to be running credit checks on Monday.  Instead I sat contemplating a price reduction and checking my phone every 15 minutes.  Is the price too high?  Should I rename it a studio with sleeping alcove instead of a one bedroom?  Did I sound too eager?  Was it something I said?  Uggghhh...these feelings of doubt and frustration are enough to drive a girl crazy. 

Then I decided to reframe my perception.  This rental process is new for me and a huge growth opportunity.  Just last week I became landlord-certified and passed a site inspection with endless paperwork, copies and signatures.  We cleaned, decluttered and strategized.  It's going to take some time for my perfect renter to find me.  She is already on her way.  I just have to stay optimistic and cultivate patience.  Of course there are tasks I can do in the meantime to prepare (make copies of the keys, get rid of old paint cans, donate more unneeded things, etc).  This first round taught me (again) the importance on non-attachment to the outcome.

A miracle also happened last week.  I bit the bullet and paid $115 to join the Rental Housing Association.  This gave me access to all the rental paperwork I need to stay legal and protected.  It was an investment that I knew would benefit me and my renter.  As I shuffled through all of my condo papers, I found a check.  It was from 2009.  For $117.  I take this as a sign from the Universe.  Invest in the right things and the money will appear.  What you need will always find you.  I deposited the check, and it went through.  Thank you, Universe!

Just like in dating, the Universe has my best interest in mind.  I can sit back and relax knowing and trusting that divine timing is at work.  Breathe, meditate, take one step forward.  I'm going to keep showing my place, giving love away, and it will find its way back somehow.  It always works out.  I'm eager to see what miracle will happen today.  Universe, show me what you've got!

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One action today

Inspiration.  Excitement.  Possibility.  Aren't these the feelings that we all want?  Lately I've experienced a shift in my perception around a big life change.  I have decided to ditch the doubt, fear and insecurity and infuse my experience with creativity and learning.  This is my decision to make, and I choose happiness.

This month I am becoming a landlord.  I am renting my beautiful condo, my baby.  I see this opportunity as a financial reset that will help me achieve my goals, bring freedom into my loving relationship and secure my dreams of travel.  On August 1st, I started to stress because that was the internal deadline I'd set for posting my ad on Craigslist.  I had to recalibrate through meditation and realize that I can extend my personal deadlines to best suit my needs.  Once I took the pressure off myself, things began to flow.  I met with a friend that showed me leasing agreements, addendums, insurance information and an amazing shutterfly site for displaying additional pictures.  This one hour of discussing and note-taking blasted me with new confidence and excitement.  Just as the fear of the unknown brings anxiety, the fresh infusion of information brought me positive inspiration.

I have decided to take one step each day.  Whether it's clearing clutter and donating clothes, building my picture site, talking to my Home Owners Association or writing my Craiglist ad, making one small move daily brings me closer to my goal.  I plan to take this attitude with me whenever tackling a new project.  Giving myself some credit and congratulating myself for accomplishing something new (regardless how small) motivates me to keep going.  I also use my emotional gauge as a signal of when to stop.  When I'm having fun and taking inspired action, I keep going.  When I feel hot, irritated or tired, I take a break (possibly until the next day).  Respecting my limits and bringing self-love to any project allows me to flow effortlessly.

To see how far I've come so far, check out my shutterfly site.  http://charmingcapitolhillrental.shutterfly.com/

Join me and take one inspired action today!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Basil tastes like summer

It's basil season, and I can't get enough.  This fragrant and delicious herb makes any meal feel alive and fresh.  This week I made a Spinach and Basil Pesto using produce from my Tiny's Organic CSA bag.  The recipe is so easy and goes with everything.  One meal I put the pesto over quinoa pasta.  Then I put it over mayacoba beans and broiled asparagus.  I'm excited to try it on pizza and other grilled veggies.  The major hit of nutrients (calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, lutein, vitamins A & C) explains the happy glow after eating.  For a fun, fresh dose of summer, just add ingredients and blend.

Spinach and Basil Pesto
2 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled/quartered
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.  Makes enough pesto for 1-2 people.

For another fun dose of basil, try Chaco Canyon's chilled Avocado and Basil soup.  It comes with toast, rice or quinoa.  Perfect for a summer day.

Photo credit: Shoot to Cook

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ayurveda and Miracles

Why do you believe in miracles?

Gabrielle Bernstein posed this question to her readers.  She's picking a few people to be in a commercial for her next book, May Cause Miracles.  It's a beautiful question that helped me reflect and verbalize a piece of my path to healing.  Enjoy!

""Healing begins in the mind." Check out this amazing Spirit Junkie Nicole... You too can send me a video like this and be part of my May Cause Miracles book commercial! Thank you Nicole!"
-Gabrielle Bernstein

"Another guru to add to my ever increasing list of amazing women. Love you blogs, keep 'em coming :-) xx"  -Dawn Barrington

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Listen to this little nugget!

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  Do you wish you could mute the traffic, construction workers or negative people in you life?  In this week's vlog, I share some strategies for tapping into the healing power of sound.  By using mantras and positive thinking, we can clear the chaos in our mind.  We correct and align our vibrations thus attracting other positive, loving people and experiences into our life. 

My favorite mantra is the Gayatri mantra.  This powerful healing mantra helped me cure my own thyroid disease, eliminating my need for medication.  Using this mantra, we call upon the divine radiance of the sun to heal the body.  If you would like additional resources about primordial sound therapy or healing mantras, I recommend Deepak Chopra's book, Perfect Health.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Interdependence Day

This week I'm dedicating my blog post to my boyfriend, Kevin.  We're celebrating our one-year anniversary, and I couldn't be more thrilled, thankful and happy about it.  My heart and these feelings of connectedness and inspiration show me that I'm in the right place.  I truly believe that relationships are assignments, opportunities to love, grow and learn.  They bring all of our issues right up to the surface so we can look at them honestly.  Kevin is often my mirror, showing me parts of myself that I didn't see before.  I love him so much for engaging me in a loving, accepting and open way.

This week our country also celebrates Independence Day, the 4th of July.  There is definitely a way to merge love, unity and independence.  If I had to graph a healthy relationship with together time, social time and independent time, it might look like this:

Integrating independent time into my relationship has proven to be very important.  Time to sleep, meditate, cook the foods I like, journal and see friends keeps me sane and balanced.  I know that his alone time allows Kevin to do Crossfit, video games, watch sports and read.  I don't need to be there for all those things.  We each get to fuel ourselves independently so we can be present when we are together.  It is a rich blend that allows us to give and receive love.

In Ayurveda, nourishment of the mind is equally as important as nourishment of the body.  It is ideal to be surrounded by positive people and be at the Buddhi level of the mind, which helps us focus inward towards the truth rather than outward in search of momentary pleasures and happiness.  Instead of needing Kevin to present me happiness on a platter, I know that I will find my happiness inside and then be able to share it with him.  Instead of focusing on what I'm getting or not getting within the context of my relationship, I focus on ways to love, give, support and accept.  Never before have I felt this happy, this calm and this sure of myself in a relationship. 

As Donna Henes writes, "All borders and boundaries and separations are pure illusion. Each time we touch someone we leave some of our skin atoms behind and pick up a parcel of new ones in an intimate epidermal exchange. Thus we merge, quite literally becoming part of each other. I am you and you are me and we are we. We are all in this together, inextricably bound, riding on our beautiful blue planet through space and time. We are one team, one community, one world, one living, breathing entity. And the sooner we realize it, the happier, safer and saner we will be."

By celebrating my anniversary, honoring our country and engaging in loving friendships, I feel so connected to the people around me.  May we celebrate Independence day as Interdependence day, honoring the loving bonds that unite and nourish us all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big taste in a Tiny's bag

"Hey Stace!  It's Nic.  I just got my produce bag from Tiny's Organic and am loving all the good stuff.  I want to cook this chard, but it's connected to the beets.  I'm a little confused over here, so will you give me a call so I can run some ideas by you?  Thanks!"

I left this message for my gardening guru friend after picking up my first 12 pound bag of local, organic produce from Tiny's Organic.  Chard connected to the beets?  Why don't they just call it "beet greens?"  These questions run through my head as I scan the amazing recipes and information on the Tiny's newletter.  The fresh chard tastes even better once I've learned that it contains phytonutrients that have disease prevention properties.  Chard leaves are also an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps maintain normal connective tissue, prevent iron deficiency and also helps the body develop resistant to infectious agents by boosting immunity.  It ALSO contains vitamin K which has an important role in strengthening bone health and formation.  Regular inclusion of chard in the diet is found to prevent osteoporosis and anemia and is believed to help protect the body from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers.  Forget vitamin supplements.  Hit me with the chard, beets and leeks.

I combined the Tiny's chard recipe with some advice from Stacy.  I wanted to eat the stems because their bursting red color signaled my vitamin radar.  It would be a waste to toss those nutrient-rich stems in the compost.  So I first sauteed the stems with chopped onion in olive oil to soften them up first.  After about 3 minutes I added the chard leaves and 2 cloves of chopped garlic.  I sauteed for about 4 more minutes.  The result was a quick, delicious and healthy dish.

The health benefits of eating local and organic food can not be ignored.  Food that is fresh and recently picked contains more nutrients and enzymes that have been proven to prevent disease.  Many Americans, myself included, have never lived on a farm or grown their own food. Supermarkets allow us to enjoy all food at all times of the year, so many of us are disconnected from the natural harvesting seasons. Ordering a local, organic produce bag educates you on what actually grows in your area and when.  Summer in Seattle is bursting with Farmers Markets and friendly ways to incorporate all this yumminess into your diet.  Tiny's Organic also now offers a mini-sized bag, delivery and weekly payment options.  So get out there, keep it fresh, keep it organic and enjoy the summer abundance! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When money runs low, turn your gratitude up high.

Everyone has been there.  Your bank account is looking a little sad, and the anxiety sets in.  Money is linked to so many emotions like shame, embarrassment and worry.  However, money can also be empowering, especially if you learn to cultivate feelings of abundance REGARDLESS of your financial situation.  This spiritual wealth can support and sustain you.  You will remember that you're safe and provided for by the Universe.

Here are examples of how to cultivate gratitude even when funds are low.
Meditate and breathe.  Enjoy the feeling of a full breath.  Watch your body inhale and exhale this sweet air that is always available to you.  As you slow down and look around, think, "Wow.  What a beautiful candle.  What a soft rug.  What a beautiful tree outside.  Look around with the eyes of a stranger, observing and appreciating the beauty that surrounds you.

As you move to the shower, don't judge your body.  Instead say an affirmation like, "Thank you, body, for supporting me every day.  Thank you for your strength, for digesting my food, for carrying me through the world."  Feel the warm water in the shower.  You do not need to buy more things.  Celebrate your soap that you already own.  Celebrate the smell of a clean towel.  Celebrate that you get to be clean.

Move to your closet.  Dress up today.  Wear a bright color that brightens your face.  Or a dress.  Thank yourself for taking good care of this item.  Put on pretty underwear.  Admire yourself in the mirror and remember that you already own cute clothes.  You do not need more in order to be happy right now.  You are enough and you have enough.

As you head to the kitchen, remember that you are an intelligent, creative and happy person.  You get to make the rules for your life, and you choose to feel the abundance.  Look around at what you have.  Even if you have very little, you have more than many people in the world.  Make the best of whatever you have.  Why not eat rice for breakfast?  Add a little cinnamon and viola! breakfast of champions.  Congratulate yourself for your creativity and resourcefulness.  You will find ways to nourish yourself and sustain yourself through breath, patience and smart decisions.

Money will come.  You have so much to offer and so much to give.  Focus on the ways you can give today.  If you are ready to educate yourself on smart investing and money management, watch this incredible video by Marie Forleo, Secrets for Building Serious Wealth.  She addresses the feelings that surface as women become primary breadwinners in many homes.  She also debunks the fantasy that a man is going to swoop in and save us financially.

As you educate yourself, make smart decisions and cultivate gratitude, you will begin to experience the richness of life.  You are of the highest worth right now, regardless of your financial situation.  Enjoy the abundance!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Agni, the energy of transformation

Digestive fire or agni, is the energy of transformation that governs our life, strength, health, energy and luster.  By balancing agni, we can properly break down food to nourish healthy tissues.  These easy tips help us digest our food properly, release wastes and prevent disease.

1. Follow a consistent eating routine.  Have breakfast between 6-8am, lunch between 12-1pm and dinner between 6-7pm.

2. Make lunch your biggest meal of the day.

3. Sip warm water (preferably with lemon and ginger) about 30 minutes before meals.  This prepares your system for excellent digestion.

4. Drink about one cup of room temperature water every hour.  Food in the stomach should be in a semi-solid or semi-liquid form for optimal digestion.

5. Eat with a calm mind and a calm environment.  Conscious eating is vital for smooth digestion and waste removal.

At a subtle level, agni clears the mind, thoughts and ideas.  It transforms raw material.  It activates creativity, energy, strength and radiance.  By taking care of your body, you mind also receives the benefits.  Enjoy these tips and video to balance your agni and enjoy digestive health!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Confronting change

Change is hard and often stressful.  I'm making some big decisions in my life right now and staring change straight in the face.  My current experience is teaching me about how to welcome and gracefully handle change.  Here's my current situation...I'm considering moving home to my parents' house for 4 months before moving in with my boyfriend in January.  Here are two VERY different scenarios that have passed through my head:
1. OH MY GOD, no one will ever rent my condo.  It's the size of a shoebox with no washer/dryer/dishwasher/parking.  If I ever do get a renter, they'll probably trash the place and destroy my beautiful floors.  I'll be stuck paying my mortgage while my boyfriend pays all the bills, resents me and breaks up with me in a ball of flames.  By moving home, I'll have to sell my stuff, give up my life and admit complete failure at everything.


2.  I am so happy the day I pay off my credit card and dance around the living room with extra money in the bank.  My parents love seeing me more and our relationship has never been better.  I'm feeling fit and healthy from all the runs with the dog and less late nights out partying.  My friends love our weekend sleepovers.  My renter is awesome and pays on time every month.  My boyfriend is thrilled that I've spent more time at his place the last few months and is stoked to move in together in the city.  We have first-and-last-month's rent saved with extra money for decorating.  We are so blissfully happy, the move goes smoothly, and we fall even more in love.

These exaggerated scenarios keep swirling around in my head.  Here is my first learning about change.  Have faith.  I've conquered every other life challenge up to this point, so I know I can make it through this one.  My mentor, Mastin Kipp, inspires me through many life experiences.  Here's what he wrote about change in the Daily Love.

“We have faith the MOMENT we take a step out into the unknown – even if – and especially if – we are terrified to do it. That is what faith is all about. And consider, that the crazy and unforeseen things that happen in your life are preceding something amazing. Maybe this is exactly how it had to be, so that your prayer COULD be answered. Maybe this thing that seems like a disaster, or not fair or something totally scary IS the answer to your prayer. And instead of asking for a lighter load, perhaps it’s time we have more emotional muscle.

It takes balls, guts and total belief to walk on the Path. Because the further along you go, the bigger the test is. Remember this: wherever you doubt – THERE is the edge and limit of your faith. Maybe you trust The Uni-verse to help you find a parking lot, yet you fret about the rent. Perhaps you trust The Uni-verse to provide a moment of synchronicity when a friend calls you right as you are thinking about them, but you don’t trust The Uni-verse to deliver to you the perfect romance at the perfect time.

The goal is to surrender it ALL! To let it ALL GO and detach from the outcome and step into the unknown, knowing that you are guided and you are safe. And that even in the middle of the crazy shit that goes down sometimes, it’s all a divine soup that is creating the perfect outcome for you right now, even if you can’t see that in this moment."

Now I am ready to answer the call, seize this opportunity and detach from the outcome.  I trust the Universe to find me a renter, infuse my relationship with even more love and take care of me every step of the way.  It's a fresh time in my life with newness and possibility.  I welcome change with open arms.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Add some Ki to your life

This week I'm dedicating my blog post to my friend and mentor, Ki McGraw.  An amazing and caring yoga teacher, Ki incorporates her dance and psychotherapy backgrounds into her dynamic yoga practice and instruction.  She has guided me through yoga teacher training, retreat in Bali, kirtan performances and the spectrum of life experiences. 

Ki lives and teaches with her husband, Bob, at the Hatha Yoga Center in the University District.  After 32 years in their beautiful old church building, the property is being destroyed and transformed into condos.  Luckily, they found a new space just 3 blocks away.  The Hatha Yoga Center opens its new doors this Friday, June 1st, at 4556 University Way NE Suites 203/204 Seattle, WA 98105.  Join the movement and add some Ki to your life.  Check out the video below to see why her offerings are so valuable and healing.  Namaste!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free Give Away

My 2012 New Year's resolution is to give.  It probably seems weird to be writing about resolutions in May, but a 5-month check-in will help keep me on track.  I'm tapping into that part of myself that gives freely and openly without expecting anything in return.  Not an easy feat.  My ego usually wants people to notice my good deeds and acknowledge them with praise and compliments.  Shower me, shower me!  Of course everyone loves to be recognized, but my spiritual practice is asking me to give just for the sake of giving.  I love to talk and usually want to tell people about what I'm up to (like I'm doing right now).  So for the next few weeks, I'm going to offer up my time, services, food, money, etc., and NOT tell anyone about it.  I'm practicing how to validate myself, lift myself up and serve the world through the 3 guidelines of giving.

The first guideline of giving is that you must give to yourself first.  I can not offer anything of value if I'm exhausted, anxious or worried.  I have to give myself time to sleep, eat healthy foods, meditate, enjoy social time with friends and drink plenty of water in order to then be ready to give some energy to anyone else.  Therefore, my first step in the year of giving is to fill myself up with positivity and healthy habits.  Once my cup is full, I can share the abundant overflow.

The second guideline is to show up with a mentality of service.  For example, I show up at a party with the intention of giving and serving.  Most of the time, the best gift I can give is active listening and engagement in a personal conversation.  Asking questions and truly listening is an invaluable service that people often overlook.  When I'm ready to serve and support a friend, I put my cell phone away, angle my chair and look them in the eye.  Sometimes I have to consciously say to myself silently, "Listen."  I do this with my students in my classroom and in my personal life.  As humans, we crave personal connections.  The best way to ignite the connection and share the love is to listen.

My mentor, Gabrielle Bernstein, shares a funny acronym: WAIT.  It stands for Why Am I Talking?  This acronym is going to come in very handy when I'm trying to listen and serve.  Sometimes I get carried away and just go on and on.  When I catch myself, I'm just going to say to myself silently, "WAIT," followed by, "Listen."  This idea applies at work, at home, in social situations, anywhere.

The third guidline of giving is to cultivate gratitude.  By giving thanks daily, we learn to see our lives as full of abundance.  It's easy to get brainwashed and think we need to constantly buy more, do more, work more, more, more, more.  If we're always striving and never appreciating, we miss the beauty of today and the chance to give.  When I count my blessings during morning meditation or write a gratitude list in my journal, I feel so full and relaxed and abundant that I realize how much I have to offer and how much I can afford to give away.

Life is unpredictable.  I'm learning to set down my plans and my self-interest in order to open up to new opportunities to help others.  How do you like to give?  Share your story and post a comment below.  Give, baby, GIVE!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm a junkie!

Yes, I have an addiction.  It feels so good that I indulge everyday and just want to get home and get back to it.  It really takes the edge off, really brings me to a new level.  Yes, I admit it.  I'm a junkie... a spirit junkie.  Meditation is my drug and yoga preps my body.  Gabrielle Bernstein is hooked, too.  This week I'm reviewing her book, Spirit Junkie.  Enjoy!

"For those ready to give up their addiction to suffering or who simply need to release the general malaise of a too-busy, too-shallow way of life, Spirit Junkie is a soothing balm for the soul.  Gabrielle Bernstein is a brilliant shining guide for all who seek to have more love, more light, and more miracles in their lives." -Arielle Ford, author of The Soulmate Secret

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Calling myself OUT!

This week I received some really important feedback.  I want and welcome honest reactions to my blogs and vlogs so that I can grow and get better.  The hardest part about hearing a less-than-optimal opinion is NOT TAKING IT PERSONALLY.  After investing time and energy into a project, I often feel intimately connected to the results.  But here's the thing...defending my current position only keeps me stuck there.

So here's what happened.  I posted my first vlog last week about sleep.  On the intro page, I wrote my name and "Ayurveda Wellness Counselor."  Well, the honest truth is that I'm currently studying to become an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor.  I don't actually graduate until March 2013.  I am officially calling myself out, slowing myself down and recommitting to transparent and authentic posts.  In my mind, I was creating an archive of awesome wellness resources, but the reality is that I'm not quite there yet.  Of course I have a lot to offer and a unique way of doing it.  But sometimes I get ahead of myself and need to refocus.  Until I heard this feedback from a close family member, I didn't even consider this perspective.  He respects Ayurveda and didn't like me jumping the gun and declaring myself some type of expert before receiving all the training.  This point of view makes perfect sense, and he's probably not the only one to feel this way.  Of course in the moment I felt defensive, but I just tried to listen through it.  This feedback was a mirror showing me to myself.

I watched myself and my own thought process that day.  I felt guilty and embarrassed about the title page and changed it that night.  That feeling of shame was like a little red flag showing me the way to right action.  It doesn't always happen the same way, but those reminders pop up to guide us if we let them.  If I had attacked and defended my position, I would have missed the gift, the miracle, of new perception.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sweet Dreams

Time spent sleeping is time spent healing, restoring vitality and rejuvinating the body.  Check out my first ever video blog (vlog!) about the beauty of sleep.  Share your tips, thoughts or comments below!  Sweet dreams!

Friday, April 27, 2012


I'm feeling overwhelmed.  After an incredible massage last night, my body feels sore and tired.  She worked out a lot of the tension I was feeling in my back, but also shined a bright light on the parts of my body that need more attention.  For me, that's my feet.  When I was younger I had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  I know I'm very lucky to have outgrown this disease, and subtle reminders still linger in my body.  My arches are collapsing, my toes are spreading and I'm bearing weight in the wrong places.  This created some knee problems, inflamation, pain and ultimately I had to get my knee drained.  This issue hasn't been at the forefront of my mind lately because I haven't been experiencing pain.  But the truth is that if I'm going to walk my talk and prevent future health problems, I need to be proactive now about supporting my feet and adjusting the way I walk.  I know that it's possible, and I know that I can do it, but facing these issues again makes me feel really tired and overwhelmed.  So here is my plan.

I can't do everything all at once, but I can do one thing. 

Today my one thing is awareness.  As I walk around and feel sore, I'm going to pay attention to my feet.  That's it.  Remembering and practicing good posture with a focus on my feet is the step I am able to take today.  Down the road I will make an appointment with the podiatrist, get new orthodics and start taking some joint-support supplements.  I will also wear high heels less and practice leg strengtheners that don't require my feet (swimming, yoga, weight lifting machines).  Finally, and probably most importantly, I will have faith.  Faith in my body's natural ability to heal itself.  My body had done it before (remember that thyroid issue?) and it will do it again.  Meditation, faith, rest and self-love are my best remedies.  Today I ask the Universe to remind me again that I have all that I need and that my healing is on the way.  Thank you, Universe!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

perfect health = the medium path

You do not have to be a perfect person to achieve perfect health. During these first few weeks of my Ayurveda study, that one message has really hit home.  Follow the medium path in life in all things that you do in order to be happy and healthy.  Extremes and rigid rules throw the body out of control.  The imbalance creates stress and negative symptoms in the body.  My teacher, Dr. Jayarajan, has shown me a more relaxed attitude about health.  We definitely want to treat our bodies well with proper nutrition, daily routines, rest, meditation and gentle exercise, but there is no one right way.  Nothing is off limits and nothing is all good or all bad.  He explains that even poison can be used as medicine in the right circumstance.
This attitude resonates with me because I can be an extreme person.  I find people, ideas or activities that I like and dive in 100%.  My recent cleanse is a perfect example.  By confining myself to a very narrow and extreme set of rules, I set myself up for failure.  A better approach would be to add a few more cleansing foods, drinks, routines and eliminate a few harmful habits.  The all-or-nothing mentality does not allow us to find the sweet spot, the medium path.

Instead of seeing perfect health as a perfect body, a perfect diet, a perfect level of fitness or a perfectly enlightened state, I now see that the whole point is to balance our bodies in order to match the vibration of nature.  I know that this sounds a little out there.  Let me explain.  Nature is not perfect nor predictable, but it is beautiful and organized and rich.  Since we are part of nature, we need to view ourselves with the same outlook.  We are not machines.  We are beautiful, original and perfectly imperfect works of art.  By treating my body with love, I can harmonize with the rest of nature.  Ayurveda is a comprehensive health care system that directs us back to balance and therefore perfect health.  By following daily routines (meditation, sleep, hydration, nasal irrigation, body brushing, etc.) I support this balanced state in my body.  Positive thinking, awareness and consciously choosing loving compassion, I am able to maintain a balanced state of mind.  Since my mind, body and nature are intimately connected, I am doing myself and my community a huge service.  What ways have helped you maintain a balanced mind and body?  Comment below to share your way on the medium path.  Namaste!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


This year I tried my first gentle Ayurvedic cleanse. It calls for stewed fruit in the morning with cinnamon and nutmeg. Then kitchari (basmati rice with mung beans and spices) and vegetables for lunch and dinner. Adding some fish or chicken with dinner is suggested. The general idea is that eating simple, cooked foods promotes smooth digestion and allows the body time to heal and detoxify. I loved the sound of this healthy, moderate cleanse.

To say I failed would be both true and false. I failed to stick to the guidelines because they didn't fit my body. I was starving, anxious and constantly preoccupied with food. I'm used to eating small meals and snacks every few hours. To change my diet to 3 meals while simultaneously eliminating coffee and chocolate was just too much for me to take! I was trying and resisting and determined to make this work, but my gurgling stomach, emotional outbursts and uncharacteristic behavior demanded a change.

On day two my boyfriend asked me, "What's your motivation? What are you hoping to get out of this?" I guess some part of me believed that in order to be a healthy and spiritual person, things have to be hard and sacrifice has to be involved. This cleanse taught me that's not the case. My regular eating habits are very healthy and many people in the world would consider me to have "optimal health." I'm living in my ideal weight range, with high energy and good digestion. I do not struggle with illnesses nor body aches. I'm active and able to do the things I want. I had to stop and ask myself, "What more to do you need to finally feel at peace and be happy?" The answer: nothing. I just had to make the conscious choice to feel satisfied and appreciate all of the abundance and goodness already in my life. That's it. This theme keeps popping for me. The more I focus on (and talk about) the positive aspects of my job, health, relationships and life, the more calm and happy I feel. It sounds obvious, but my thoughts and words have a way of running away with me. So today, now, in this moment, I declare a renewed commitment to gratitude. I'm loving and appreciating the many gifts already within me and around me. In the end, this experience turned out to be more of a mind-cleanse than a body-cleanse. And THAT was just what the doctor ordered!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor.

I made a big decision this week.  After years of thinking and learning and exploring my options, I enrolled in the Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor program at the Kerala Ayurvedic Academy.  This year-long, 500 hour program will teach me all about Ayurveda, the Science of Life.  Ayurvedic science is aimed at the preservation of health and prevention of disease by establishing balance and harmony through nutrition, herbs, meditation, and daily routines. The course catalog details amazing classes like Nutrition and Cooking, Physiology, Herbology, Yoga Therapy, Prevention Science, Disease Pathology, Ayurvedic bodywork and more.  It's a big commitment of time, money and energy, but when I really think about it, this is how I want to spend my time, energy and money.  This program is not connected to my day job or how I make money, but I know it will add so much value to my life.  I see this program as another way for me to give.  When I learn and get inspired, I can support people on their own paths to healing.  This is what I'm meant to do.  Whether it leads to a career change, side business or simply a passionate personal hobby, I know it will be great.

Immediately after enrolling, the waves of doubt started to creep in.  The financial commitment can be scary.  But like all the other incredible experiences in my life, I just have to dive in and go for it.  There will always be a million reason why NOT to do something.  But I choose to live my life with a yes mentality.  I can make it work.  I know I'm still processing this big change.  I'm using my meditation practice to let it sink in and feel all the awesome emotions that come up.  I love new chances to grow and learn and challenge myself.  So here we go...bring it on!

P.S. If you want to read more about my one-month Ayurveda experiment, scan to December 2010 in my blog archive.