The Gift of Connection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 2019 word of the year is Connection.

Which reminds me of a story about the incredible power of connection.

A few weeks after my first book, Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood was released, I was traveling to speak at an event in front of a large crowd in Forth Worth, Texas.

The airport parking garage was full, which meant a satellite lot and a shuttle bus to the airport. I was already nervous about my talk, so this just made me more stressed.

On the bus, the only seat left was next to an older gentleman in a navy sport coat. The gentleman whose name I later learned was Jim, asked where I was headed. We chatted about my book, and then about his daughters.

Just as we were about to get off the bus, a little voice in my head suggested I give him a copy of my book. I was reluctant, because all my other copies had been shipped to the event, and it was the only copy I had with me – but I honored the voice, and put the book in his hand.

Six months later, I received a two-page handwritten letter. “I’m not sure if you’ll remember me, but a while back we rode a bus together, and you gave me a copy of your book.” I smiled, remembering Jim. Then I read on: “Your beautiful story and positive outcome were, for me, the encouragement and validation I needed to help my wife and me through the deep grief of losing our daughter last January.”

I keep that letter in the top drawer of my desk, and often think about the circumstances that had to occur that day in order for our paths to cross.

I can’t help but wonder if we’re always being guided toward those with whom we are meant to connect.

That moment continues to inspire me to stay open, to listen, and to act upon that quiet voice from within. I hope it does for you, too.

Feed Your Body and Soul

Do you ever have those days where you’ve got tons to do and feeding yourself ends up at the bottom of the list?

Or the better question may be – do you ever NOT have those days?

To show up as my best self and take care of everyone else, I know I have to make sure I’m eating, and often when I’m on the run, there are not a lot of great choices.

That’s why, when my nutritionist introduced me to these amazing no-bake protein bites, I was so excited!

The recipe is super easy, gluten-free, and packed with protein. I took a batch to my daughter’s ski race last weekend and they were gobbled right up!

Here’s a video I made a while back to show how I make them –

Don’t mind me licking my fingers as I cook!!!!

If you have a favorite go-to healthy recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comment section below!

Setting the Tone

photo credit – David Mao on unsplash

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Do you grab your phone and see what text messages and emails arrived overnight?

Do you flip on the tv and start your day with a dose of morning news?

Do you jump out of bed and go from 0-60 to start the daily race of taking care of everyone else?

No judgement, truly. Just asking you to invite in some awareness.

One of my coaching clients shared the most beautiful moments with me the other day. She recognized that she had fallen in the habit of waking each day and immediately grabbing her phone, followed by turning on the tv and dosing herself with the morning news. Looking to create new habits that set a more positive tone for the day, she began waking a little earlier and beginning each day with a quiet meditation. She reports that it has totally changed how she feels throughout the rest of her day. And here’s the ever so beautiful part. She noticed that her pre-teen daughter was waking up crabby and out of sorts nearly every day, so rather than playing her meditation alone in her bedroom, my ever-so-wise client, now goes into her daughter’s room every morning and lies on her floor and plays her meditation there. She says that it has completely changed the tone of their mornings and her daughter leaves for school happy and centered. How gorgeous is that?

Now I know many of you say, but I don’t even know how to meditate. Really? Do you know how to sit on a chair? Or lie on the bed or the floor? Of course you do! Really, that’s it. Just give yourself a few moments of stillness. And if you like, play a piece of music that soothes your soul, or choose one of the many amazing free meditations from this great app – Insight Timer

Remember, you get to choose how you begin each and every day. Start to notice your habitual behaviors and decide whether those habits are serving you. And if not, make a shift. You may be amazed to find that these simple change can have profound effects on your life.

Music as Self-Care

How do you define self-care?

Many of us seem to think that self-care involves white terry-cloth robes, spa appointments, and day-long commitments.

But I believe true and deep self-care is made up of moments – simple, magical moments we give to ourselves throughout our days.

This past weekend my self-care practice was blasting soul-nourishing songs as I brought order to the house.

I must have played this one I Won’t Give Up six or seven times, singing at the top of my lungs.

The line… I see that you’ve come so far, to be right where you are, how old is your soul… brought tears and chills each and every time. God knows we’re worth it.

I invite you to put on a favorite piece of music and let it move you, in whatever way that may be…

…lying down and letting the music wash over you and tears flow out

…dancing in gorgeous circles around your living room

…moving to yoga

…sitting quietly

there is no right or wrong way.

It’s simply all about what feels right and true to you and your soul.

(Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash)

 

Holiday Perfection

 

The December issue of Country Living Magazine is sitting on my kitchen counter.

On the cover, there’s a pretty white farmhouse.

In front of the house sits an old mint-green truck with a freshly cut Christmas tree on top. Every window on the house has a wreath with red bows and garland hangs from the porch rails.

I wonder what it must feel like to live in a house decorated like that.

I imagine how special it must feel to celebrate the holidays in a house like that.

I look around my house.

The tree is up, but there are no light or ornaments yet.

I bought two wreaths but they’re sitting on the front porch floor.

My dining room table is covered with boxes of decorations and ornaments.

I look again at the magazine and wonder how other people do it.

How do they get their houses to look so perfect?

And I don’t mean just the houses in the magazines.

I mean all the houses I pass in my neighborhood and surrounding towns.

Where do they find the time to create such perfection?

It seems I go through this every year.

These feelings of being not good enough.

Of feeling overwhelmed.

Feeling exhausted before it’s all even started.

And then that voice in my head asks me, What is perfect?

Wasn’t it perfect last week getting to sit with my parents for all those uninterrupted hours after my Dad’s surgery?
(He’s home and doing really well)

Wasn’t it perfect driving to Vermont to meet my sister for a pre-holiday lunch and walk our dogs along the river?

Wasn’t it perfect sitting next to my girl at the latest Mother-Daughter flick at our local cinema?

Or even writing this email and sharing these thoughts with you?

I could have been hanging wreaths and putting up decorations, but look what I would have missed!

So instead of beating myself up, I’ll remind myself, and you, that what’s really perfect is slowing down, loving life exactly as it is, showing up exactly as we are and being present to yourself and those you love.

That, as far as I’m concerned, is Perfect.

Ask Yourself: What Do You Need

When our daughter was little, there were times when she was so out of sorts, I felt helpless in helping her.

One day, I opened up to a friend and shared this with her. In return, she offered the suggestion of asking our girl the simple question – What do you need?

That question became my magical go-to.

I remember the numerous times I knelt down, put my hands on her bony shoulders, and asked her, What do you need?

Often, she didn’t know, but the fact that I cared to ask and listen, seem to be exactly what she needed.

I offer this to you today, because so often, many of us find ourselves in times of uncertainty and feeling out of sorts.

This is an opportunity to ask ourselves this very question– What do I need?

And in response, just listen.

Let your voice from within tell you what you need.

Maybe you’ll hear:

Rest.

A bath.

A good cry.

A long walk.

The cup of tea with a friend.

A turkey sandwich with lots of cranberry.

A romantic comedy.

A night out belly up to the bar with with a salted margarita.

A pillow to punch and get all my anger out.

What do you need?

Your turn.

Ask yourself – What do I need?

Write down the first things you just heard.

And let the Magic begin!

How to Respond with Gratitude

How to respond with gratitude

Last week, my life was full of Magical Moments – but probably not the kind you’re imagining.

On Monday, we discovered that we’d accidentally cut the gas line to the stove while doing some DYI landscaping (no explosions or injuries, thank God!)

Tuesday, the septic backed up and had to be pumped.

Wednesday, the plumbers arrived to repair the first-floor bathroom emergency and were back on Thursday when the problem reemerged.

Friday, the 12 yards of landscape stone arrived from an hour away and turned out to be the wrong stone.

You can’t make this stuff up, right?

So why in the world would I say I had a week full of Magical Moments?

Here’s how. I applied the Magic Formula that I learned years ago from Jack Canfield.

E + R + O
Event + Response + Outcome

Here how it works.

You can’t really control the events that happen in your life, right? i.e. cut gas line, septic backing up…

But what you can control is your Response to the Event, which in turn, controls/determines the Outcome.

That is where the Magic happens.

Last week I could have responded to the chaotic events by feeling all poor me. Instead, I put the Magic E + R = O formula to work and quickly changed to a response of gratitude. Gratitude that folks were able to respond so quickly, I got to meet so many helpful and friendly people, and our problems were solved.

Now it’s your turn!

Put this Magic Formula in your back pocket and carry it with you, so whenever an unexpected Event arises. You get to choose your Response and see how that affects the Outcome.

Here’s to hoping your days are full of even more Magical Moments as a result!

What is yoga to you?

What does yoga mean to you? A question to meditate on.

I was recently thinking about a yoga class where my teacher posed the question, “What is yoga to you?”  She wasn’t looking for any raised hands. The question was more of an offering; something to meditate upon throughout our practice.

As I began bending and twisting, I thought that yoga was just simply moving my body. Keeping it limber and flexible – stretching in response to all the driving and sitting I do.

As I kept moving, more bends and twists, my breaths grew deeper and fuller, and I could feel myself letting go of everything I’d carried in with me to class.

As I continued to bend and twist and breathe even more deeply, I felt me return to me. I felt myself remember who I was.  I felt the real me, deep inside of myself, awaken and smile up at me.

Because a lot of the time I forget. I forget the deep me hidden away inside. I’m just a busy body doing whatever it is I do.  Too busy to stop and say hello to that inner me.

I had found my answer. For me, yoga is simply… returning to me.

I didn’t raise my hand or share my answer with anyone else. I just tucked that knowledge in my pocket to know I can pull it out whenever I need a friendly nudge to get my body moving.

What about you? What is the movement that brings you back home to you? Is it a walk in nature? A run on a treadmill? Gentle movements on a mat? Maybe you’re not sure. Only one way to find out – start moving.

Because moving your body is one of the key elements in Igniting Your Magic!

The Power of Writing Down Your Dreams

The power of writing down your dreams

Last week, I was talking to a dear friend about all the changes he really wanted to make in his life.

“Write them down,” I told him.

In my coaching sessions, when my clients describe their dream life, I say to them, “Write it down.”

There is something so powerful about writing words on the page. It begins with the seeds of a wish; a thought you may dare to dream. But if you really want to make that wish a realization, I can’t urge you enough, Write it Down.

I know first-hand that this practice really works.

Eleven years ago, when we had to move from the 200-year-old home we so adored in Massachusetts to New Hampshire for a job change, I had the entire family, including six-year-old, Andie and eight-year-old, Tucker, write down exactly what they wanted in our new house.

We all wanted another old house. Andie wanted a bigger bedroom (hers was a closet in Mass), Tuck wanted a sledding hill, I asked for apple trees, stone walls and fireplaces and Lee wished for garages (he’s an old car nut), 25 acres, and ceilings that he wouldn’t bump his head on. And most importantly, we needed to be able to afford this dream house!

Writing down your wishes, goals and plans for the future can be a powerful way to set your intentions. Get your kids involved in intention setting when it effects the whole family! #intentions #goals #family

It’s was tempting for the “yeah, buts” to sneak in and list all the reasons why it would never happen, but after I wrote it down, I practiced saying the simple motto, Ask, Believe and Receive.

And no joke, the very first house we went to look at in NH, was 200 years old, had a sledding hill, big bedrooms, tall ceilings, garages, fireplaces, stonewalls, all on 25 acres and, best of all it had been sitting empty for over two years and the owners were looking to unload it!

I must admit, even I was surprised by this incredible manifestation, but since then, I’ve never doubted the power of asking for what you desire, by writing it down.

And when the “yeah buts” try to creep in, simply remind them that anything is possible and keep believing in your dream.
Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash

3 Simple Tools to Help You Stay Balanced and Present

Stay balanced and present this summer

I don’t know about you, but Summer is my season.

The long, light-filled days nourish my soul and replenish my well.

I love the lack of structure and ease that comes with the more relaxed days.

And, yet, without the usual rhythm and routine of my days, I have to be even more deliberate about practicing the habits that keep me balanced, or I can easily become overwhelmed.

I have a super simple solution, which I call my 3 keys, that I utilize to bring just enough consistency, structure and self-care to my days.

So, whether you’re traveling, have a house full of guests, or a new puppy, like me, you’re able to stay grounded and present.

new puppy in our family

My 3 Keys to Creating a Magical Summer:

Movement – This is a must!!! 

It’s so easy to fall into the rhythm of hanging out on a beach towel with the kids, or spending lots of hours in the car driving to various activities – but your body needs to move, not only for the physical benefits but the mental clarity that movement brings as well.

Many of the folks I work with use the old, “Idon’thaveenoughtime” excuse, but inevitably, when we look more closely at their schedules, we’re always able to find at least 20 minutes for a walk or a quick yoga video, even if it means getting up a little earlier in the morning.

Meditation – Or sitting still time

If you already have a meditation practice, great. Stick with it.

If you do not, summer is a perfect time to get started.

Again, keep it simple. Set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes, put on a piece of relaxing music, plop down on a comfy chair, put both feet on the floor, take a few deep breaths and just be.

That’s it. So simple, yet the results can be profound. And if you want something a little more structured, I use this free meditation app Insight Timer and these are a couple of my favorite meditations: 

These three simple tips help me to stay balanced, even through the busy summer and back to school season. #selfcare #momlife #lifetips

Nourishment –

Summer days tend to be long and full of activity, so it’s a perfect time to nourish your body with fresh fruits and veggies from local farm stands and markets.

And be sure you’re keeping yourself well hydrated.

Remember, our bodies are made up of mostly water and energy flows freely through water. So drink up!

I always keep a big jug of water in my car and on the counter to fill my water bottle throughout the day. You may want to do the same.

That’s it!

3 simple tools to ensure you stay balanced and present throughout your summer days!

I always try to do my 3 keys as early as possible in the day, but have fun and do what works best for you!

 

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash