Laugh

There’s nothing quite like a good belly laugh to get your heart pumping and your happy juices flowing.   Next time you’re feeling stressed, anxious or blue, tickle your funny bone with a favorite show or, better yet, swap silly stories with a close friend.  Your heart and mind will thank you.

Stress Less: Sleep More

There is nothing, no thing, quite like a good night’s sleep.  It’s natures way of hitting “reset.”  And who couldn’t use a daily reset?  I know I sure can.  But we, the big collective “we” seem to have this notion that getting enough shut-eye is next to impossible.  There’s just too much to do…

Huh?  What is more important than your health?  What could be better than handling your to-do list with a calm mood and clear focus?

Sleep (or rather the lack of it) has been implicated in many many disease processes including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension as well as anxiety and depression.  It simply makes sense to make sleep a priority.

How?  It does take commitment, a willingness to listen to your body as opposed to overriding your physical needs in order to watch that late night program, get one more thing done, etc.

Remember when you were a kid and you could fall asleep just about anywhere?  You still could if you let yourself.  While literally falling asleep in a meeting isn’t cool, learning to once again tune in to the feeling of sleepiness washing over yourself can kick start your ability to get the rest you need.  So take time each evening to tune in to yourself, sit quietly and notice.  Do you feel the tug of the Sandman?

Just taking those moments to simply sit quietly gives your sleep rhythms a boost.  Once you do, you’re on your way to unwinding enough to get the rest you want.  A few other tips (there will be more on these later) that support getting restful sleep.

1. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before you go to bed.  (a half-hour is the bare minimum)

2. Turn down the temperature.

3. Create a bed-time ritual that relaxes your body and your mind.  Do it consciously and religiously.

4. Make sure you have at least 8-hours of in-bed time.  A REM cycle is approximately 90 minutes.  Eight hours give you time to settle, get seven full REM cycles and wake up refreshed BEFORE your alarm goes off.  Your brain needs to complete an entire cycle to optimize alertness.  So, on those days when you can’t get your full seven (or eight) cycles, get up at the end of a REM cycle rather than hitting snooze for 15 or 20 minutes.

 

For more on the link between sleep and anxiety check out:http://neurosciencenews.com/people-sleep-less-8-hours-night-likely-suffer-anxiety-depression/

 

 

Breathe Through Your Heart

 

 

While it may not be anatomically correct, there’s something wonderfully soothing about imagining your heart as the center of every breath.  Here’s how:

Rest both hands over your heart.

Imagine breathing in and out through your heart.

Feel your body relax and your mind quiet. 

Continue until you feel calm returning to your entire system.

I once tried this with my daughter while she was recovery from surgery.  Still in the hospital and having a very difficult time with pain management, her heart monitor registered dangerously high.  I placed my hand over her heart and asked her to breathe into my hand.  Very soon the monitor was quiet and ease began to spread through her body.  We stuck with it until she was able to maintain that sense of calm all on her own.

Heart breathing isn’t something I invented.  This simplified version is a derivative of HeartMath, an intriguing, science-based, approach to relieving anxiety and fear.  For more on HeartMath, check out their website: https://www.heartmath.com.

 

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

What do you crave?

I crave order.

Disarray makes me edgy.  I like simplicity, cleanliness, balance.

So…

Action: What one thing can I do – right now – to bring a bit of order to the chaos I call my life?

Answer: Dust the bookcase in my bedroom and re-order the books so I can find what I want when I want it.

The Aspired Life

Did you ever have an idea popped into your head and then hang on for dear life?  Kinda like a song that plays and replays until your brain begins screaming, “Shut that off!

It happened to me today.  I was reading my Facebook feed and noticed a quote…

The space in which we live
should be for the person we are becoming now.
Not for the person we were in the past.”
– Marie Kondo

 

My gut reaction:

Who do you wish to become? 
Decorate accordingly.

Flippant?  Perhaps.  But the quote and my response spoke to me on the deepest level.

I’m all about simplicity and ease.  I thrive in the presence of beauty.  I love to create, to combine the beautiful in ways that bring to life an elegant simplicity.  Oh, how I aspire to actually live in the way I desire, surrounded by the objects of my desire.  Simply.  Elegantly.

Life, at least mine, is far from the simple, elegant, graceful orchestration I imagine… and which my heart cries out for.  My space is too full (by my personal standards not by the standards of most people) of things and doings that do not support or nurture me.  My life too void of those things and people which do.

The Kondo quote kept tracking, it’s groove running deeper until I realized:  I can.  I CAN live an aspired life – my aspired life – the life I aspire to.  Perhaps not in one fell swoop but in time.  All it takes is to begin…

A series of questions arose.  The path out of the maze of discontent and into my aspired life.  I invite you to join me as I ask these questions of myself and answer with simple actions that in their simplicity (and ease) are at once integral to and necessary to attaining – scratch that – living (l-i-v-i-n-g) the life I aspire to.

Pay Attention

“…attention is what confers interest and vitality upon life…” – Marion Milner

Marion Milner spent seven years (though one could reasonably argue it turned into a lifetime) chronicling what it meant to live her own life.  In the process she discovered this simple truth – letting go of what we think we should be and do, surrendering to what is with our eyes ever open to our internal conversation, yields an understanding of what truly makes us happy.

Milner invites us all to simply observe our actions, our world, whatever draws our attention, to acknowledge all the thoughts that pass through without judgment, to see and admit whatever shows up.  Happiness and its companions less stress and struggle are not found in fighting the complexities of life but rather in embracing them.  When we resist by rejecting or turning a blind eye, we allow tension to build within us.  By keeping our eyes open and attending to what is right in front of us, by listening to our heart’s reaction, our path forward becomes clear.  Sometimes we change direction, sometimes we simply sit with the “this is”, sometimes we stay the course.  Regardless whatever shows up, by accepting we blunt the anxiety, fear and tension our denial builds within us.

This new year simply pay attention.  Notice what arises within you.  Embrace it all.  Live joyously.

For more insights by Marion Milner, I recommend reading:

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1851/a-life-of-one-s-own-maria-popova/

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

On Cleaning

More and more the things we do to nurture and sustain ourselves get relegated to others, or given short shrift. How fast we can get something done takes precedence over doing that thing well and fully. Generations of women who didn’t “work” outside the home, knew and appreciated the godliness of cleanliness. I remember my grandmother and the pride she took in the whiteness of her sheets blowing on the line in her back yard, my aunt talking about cleaning her kitchen as a spiritual practice, the zen of twice-yearly cupboard cleaning…. To this day, I shake the blues, agitations and angst by clearing a closet, scrubbing a pot, deep cleaning the fridge… The world becomes a little clearer, a little shinier when even one thing is well cleaned.

For more on the beauty and benefits of cleaning…

Cleaning and doing chores aren’t activities that our culture appreciates much these days, yet Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee understands housework as being essential for a healthy spiritual life. “As…
  from dailygood.org

Gratitude

It’s Turkey day and I’m holed up at home with a runny nose, watery eyes and a deep cough.  After the 2-week bronchial jag I mumbled through in September/October, I’m not taking any chances with this one.  Pulled out all the stops and even tried that crazy rub Vicks Vapo-Rub on your feet, don socks and climb into bed approach to soothing a nighttime cough (incredibly, it worked!)  So no parties or gatherings for me.  Plague dogs stay home!

And yet, I’m eternally grateful to have a quiet day to putter.  I’m grateful for the puddle of sun warming my feet.  I’m grateful for the stack of unread housing magazines and the time to peruse them unfettered by obligations.  I’m grateful I’ve got everything I need to pull together a wonderful turkey dinner for myself.  And, I’m eternally grateful that Chicken Little’s dad is a hands on dad and, as luck would have it, on parent rotation this holiday.  I’m so happy not to expose her to my germs and grateful for the luxury of time to rest.

Speaking of Chicken Little.  She’s a little gratitude generator all by herself.  No one can match her wicked sense of humor.  She’s a model of acceptance and unconditional love.  How can I not be grateful for her?

I’m also grateful for all the wonderful people in my life – family, friends, clients and all the folks who help me get by and do what I do.  I don’t say it enough but THANK YOU!

Wherever you are, however you’re celebrating, I wish you a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

High Gloss

Door – London, England photo courtesy Ari He

If you’ve ever lusted after those gorgeous European doors featured on posters and highlighted in decor mags everywhere, you’ll be thrilled to know I’ve discovered their secret!

While on a busman’s holiday helping my dearest friend manage the design and decor decisions for her new house, we stumbled into an amazing paint store – Ricciardi Brothers in Morristown, NJ.  And what should they have on display but one of said doors, painted (with brush mind you) a deep glossy black.  I couldn’t help but pet it.  Smooth as silk and gleaming.  I was in color heaven.  The brush strokes were almost invisible and I could only imagine how magnificent the finish would be had it been sprayed.

The secret – an oil-based enamel from Fine Paints of Europe.  Unlike their American counterparts, the base for FPoE colors is clear.  Here in the USA paint base is generally opaque – think white or grey resulting in less vivid and often grayed colors.  Using a clear base allows for the deep rich and true colors associated with European doors.  An enamel finish results in the incredible gloss.  Colors can be matched to just about anything.  The company offers oodles of color decks — my Christmas wish list runneth over — including one to match the Pantone color spectrum.

So if you’re in the market for a truly spectacular color check out Fine Paints of Europe.  BTW – they aren’t limited to enamels.  The company also offers a line of interior acrylics.  Personally, I can’t wait to start painting!

Confusion

“Suffice to think what God, truth, justice, honesty, communism, fascism, and so on mean in different human societies to see that much of our trouble lies in the fact that we confuse speaking with thinking.” – Moshe Feldenkrais