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The Spirit of Giving

For 11 months out of the year, we focus our energy on working, raising the kids, maintaining our relationships – both romantic and platonic, and trying to live as balanced a life as possible.

In the midst of juggling all of these responsibilities, we go through periods of neglecting and/or feeling neglected by our significant others; feeling under-appreciated by our immediate family; emotionally and physically distanced from our closest friends; disappointed with what’s going on at work; and disconnected with the most important person of all: ourselves.


Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we find ourselves adding time, energy and money exponentially to all the people we didn’t get to spend as much time with as well as the ones who are the most important. We celebrate the season with countless holiday parties, grab bags and Secret Santa gifts. Ugly sweater parties and “catch up” drinks with friends we rarely get to see.

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Honoring A Life Well-Lived

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” — Ernest Hemingway


There are some weeks when I wait until the very end to write my “I’ve Been Thinking…” essay for The Sunday Paper. That’s because I like to have time to really reflect upon what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt, and what has stayed with me over the past week.

There is so much coming at us these days that it is often helpful to pause, catch your breath and ask yourself, “What really mattered to me this week? What will I remember most? What was most meaningful to me, and why?”

This week, one thing that was really meaningful to me was that I got to attend the World Dementia Council Summit in London. This was a gathering of world leaders who came together to discuss what we can do to wipe out Alzheimer’s in our lifetime.

I attended the event so that I could speak about the global impact of Alzheimer’s on women. As I’ve said before, women are at an increased risk for this disease and they are also the ones who do most of the caregiving around the world. I see this as the ultimate women’s empowerment issue, and I’m glad I got to bring this important message to the global stage.

I was so inspired by all the scientists, researchers, politicians and advocates who gathered to discuss how we can better collaborate, innovate and speed up our goal of finding a treatment or a cure. I’m grateful and humbled that our work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement was included in this important discussion and that it was recognized for its game-changing work on behalf of women.

While I was honored to be a part of this global gathering in London this week, I also know that back home our nation was mourning the loss of former President George H.W. Bush and remembering his legacy. As I flew home on Thursday, I found myself returning over and over to former President George W. Bush’s poignant speech about his father at the funeral.

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Open the Window to Kindness

One of my friends posted on social media a fantastic advent calendar. Do you know what they are?

I’m not sure if it was just a German tradition but my mom would buy us a big beautiful one at the “German store” (that’s what she called it although I’m sure it had a name) where they sold products and specialty items imported from Germany. It’s also where she got her special DR. Oetker powdered sugar and pudding powders to make her special cakes you could not buy in a Canadian store.

I used to love my advent calendar growing up. Every year my mom would take me to the “German store” and show me the ones I could pick from. I always got the one with the most glitter on it and when I got home we had a little ceremony to tape this special magical calendar into my window on Dec 1st. Every day I would find the little number of the day and I would get to open up a “window” that revealed a tiny gift. I can even still smell the store we got them from.

Then, of course, we celebrated St. Nicholas day too on Dec7th. That was when (I know I wrote about this before but its timely!) on Dec 6th we would put our shoes outside our bedroom door and find them stuffed with chocolate and marzipan and chocolate marzipan and little marzipan pigs, and some marzipan fruit um did I say marzipan?? Oh and an orange. meh.

So Dec 7th (which was this year’s new moon) became an interesting day as my blood sugar would rise and fall with each piggy and chocolate Santa and it would be a day of dramatic highs and lows and a need for water.

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Experiencing Protection

I stepped into the shower, noticing a glass bottle of vinegar that someone had used on their hair. Once again I made a mental note to not leave glass in our stone shower.  

 
While enjoying the warm water I was thinking about my day. I put conditioner on my hair enjoying the luscious smell. An ominous sound entered my awareness. I then began to feel the shower move underneath my feet. We were experiencing an earthquake, a big earthquake. 

 
No time to turn off the water, I grabbed a towel and bolted. My son, the dogs and I ran down the stairs and out the door. Before the power went out I noticed art work on the ground or hanging precariously on the walls. It was like looking at everything in slow motion. I could hear the sounds of shaking and falling. I could see the destruction. Time stopped.

 
Once outside I stood barefoot in the snow hugging our son. Our dogs were completely confused, one ran away. I don’t remember even feeling cold. I had practically nothing on, wet, in 20 degree temperatures. I regrouped and took a deep breath. 

 
As I hugged Finn, I reminded him we are always protected. We will be OK. As the Earth beneath our feet calmed down, we went back inside. There was no power and the sun was not up yet. I returned to the shower to rinse my hair. The after-shocks continued. 

 
Finn looked for the run-away dog. I walked through our home. It could have been much worse. Only glass objects were broken, no structural damage was apparent. I touched base with my husband and other family members. We were all in semi shock, but doing fine. 

 
As I cleaned up pieces of glass I thought about protection. What is this protection I promise myself and our children? Today called for me to dig deeper into my spiritual beliefs and reckoning on protection.  


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How Small Steps Make Big Changes

There’s a well-known Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Yet far too many people never even get started on that journey and make big changes to reach their destination.

They are afraid to take that first step. Why? Maybe it’s because the journey seems too overwhelming, the goal is too far away, there’s too much that needs to be done, and the exact path isn’t clear.

Or maybe it’s because they get caught up in wanting immediate results in other areas of their life and are distracted from their long-term goals.

But the thing about long-term goals is that they aren’t accomplished in a single day!

It’s not like they require one huge, monumental effort to be achieved.

The only way you’re going to accomplish something really big and ambitious – the kind of goal that will transform your life forever – is by consistently taking one small step at a time in the direction of your dreams.

So today I’d like to share three powerful strategies to help you get started.

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Make Good Agreements

Life is full of trade offs between benefits and costs.

Is it worth it?

The Practice:
Make good bargains.

Why?

Life is full of trade-offs between benefits and costs.

Sometimes, the benefits are worth the costs. For example, the rewards of going for a run—getting out in fresh air, improving health, etc.—are, for me at least, worth the costs of losing half an hour of work time while gaining a pair of achy legs. Similarly, it could well be that: getting a raise is worth the awkwardness of asking for one; teaching a child good lessons is worth the stress of correcting her; deepening intimacy is worth the vulnerability of saying "I love you."

But other times, the benefits are not worth the costs. For example, it might feel good to yell at someone who makes you mad—but at a big price, including making you look bad and triggering others to act even worse. There are indeed rewards in that third beer or third cookie—but also significant costs, including how you'll feel about yourself the next day.

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Rejuvenate tips to get your life back on track and out of the nitty gritty of life's activities

We seem to realize over time that, every few days we need to rejuvenate in order to keep our lives on track. The environment, our lifestyles, our relationships, our day to day nitty gritty activity, they all seem to take a toll on us. We need to re assess everything that is going on within us and around us.

Once we have done this initial assessment, then we need to plan on how we spend our time. The key factor here is, how we commit our time so that nothing is wasteful. We are intrinsically being true to ourselves and to the world around us.

COMMITMENT WITHIN

Stress only accumulates when we are giving too much of ourselves to the world around us. We need to know how to balance ourselves. Our commitments should be within the boundaries of our own inherent temperaments.

Each one of us is born with a certain nature which is inherent within us. We need to constantly keep in touch with ourselves, to be aware of our own inner level of awareness.

INTRINSIC SELF AWARENESS

This will control the unnecessary use of our mind stuff on petty tasks that did not require our attention, and give us unnecessary uncalled for stress. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Each Time We Grieve

I’ve lived long enough to know that every

sigh opens a story, the way a mouthful of

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5 Healthy Financial Habits That Foster Wealth

“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.” 

~William A. Ward

Many women that I’ve met in my life seem very afraid of money and wealth. It’s as if they’d rather do anything (ANYTHING!) than check their bank balance. They seem to fly by the seat of their proverbial pants letting either emotion or circumstances take control of their finances until it’s too late and they find themselves suffering the consequences.

Hopefully, that’s not you. But if it is, know that you’re certainly not alone! Take a moment to ask yourself why is that? Why are women typically less able to effectively manage their finances and accept the abundance and wealth that is their inherent right?

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Multisensory Thanks Giving

Multisensory Thanks Giving is a celebration of the loving parts of our personalities. They are the parts that are grateful and content and caring and in awe of the Universe. They are the parts that distinguishing between love and fear within ourselves reveal, and as we recognize them, we use them to create and cocreate with love rather than collaborate in fear.

Multisensory Thanks Giving is giving thanks for being a part of the transformation of human consciousness that is occurring for the first time. It is giving thanks for the ability to create futures of contribution and care. Thanks and Giving go together. As our lives become lives of Thanks and Giving, they become unified expressions of love, because gratitude and contribution without attachment to the outcome are expressions of love.

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My Favorite Things

I just got my December issue of O magazine featuring Oprah’s favorite things….that got me thinking about MY favorite things…the things I use nearly every day.

While many of Oprah’s are quite pricey, mine are mostly in the $20-$30 range and they are what I consider “small luxuries.”
These items bring me joy, beauty, comfort, and ease.
Get some for yourself (and they make great stocking stuffers!)

Sol De Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

I LOVE this delicious smelling and creamy moisturizer that always puts a smile on my face. And, it’s a good solution to dry, winter skin!

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5 Holiday Survival Tips For Sensitives

Here we are! The “almost” end of the calendar year, stepping into the last month of 2018 and winding down to regroup again for 2019. This is holiday party- gift-giving- peppermint schnapps snorting- eggnog and cookies snuffling- too much of everything time etc. etc. And, even if you are all gung-ho for the festivities, if you are a highly sensitive person, or an empath this is not the easiest energy for you to manage.

What? You don’t like to be at the mall surrounded by crowds of people grabbing for sale mittens and toaster ovens and that wrong cologne you thought your other half liked? It’s true some people can handle the holiday rush but others- not so much!

If you are like many sensitive people, going shopping amongst a throng of busy frantic people might be emotionally and energetically debilitating. And, because sensitive people have porous boundaries, turning into sponges and soaking up the energy of the world whether you can see it or not could make even going to the grocery store a huge anxiety event. Ever walked out of a store because you got too overwhelmed by all the stuff? I have to say even at the quietest times of the year I still can’t handle the big home specialty store (starts with an “I” and ends with “kea” hint hint) well. I always have to have a nap after the hours of hypnotic Swedish named gadgets turn my brain to mush and because I need to clear off the energy of the shoppers that feel like invisible invaders creeping under my skin with feelings that are unlikely mine own. What on earth? Whose yucky energy did I pick up in the sofa section? OMG, I got lost following the floor arrows.

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A Moment of Decision

“The unending paradox is that we do learn through pain.” — Madeleine L’Engle


There I was last Sunday, sitting on my porch reading, when I came across a fascinating and inspiring article in the newspaper. (My porch is my favorite spot to sit, think, read, reflect, dream and write.)

The article, which appeared in the LA Times, was about Madeleine L’Engle, author of the wildly successful children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time.”

As a married mother of three, L’Engle spent years pursuing her passion for writing on the side. But, as the article states, she felt “spasms of guilt” for trying to write and never having much success. At age 40, L’Engle reportedly almost gave up writing altogether. But then, she had what she called her “moment of decision.”

That moment, according to the article, was when L’Engle realized that she had to keep writing for herself, even if she never successfully published another book again. And so, she began anew.

L’Engle got the idea for “A Wrinkle in Time” while on a family camping trip. She wrote the book, submitted to her editor, and then the rejections started to pour in. “A Wrinkle in Time” received “forty-odd rejections,” according to the article. L’Engle called each one “a wound.”

Nevertheless, she persisted, and “A Wrinkle in Time” went on to become the bestselling phenomenon that it is today.

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Do You Need Inspiration?

I firmly believe there are two things that motivate people, one being inspiration and the other being desperation. I full appreciate there are times when people are in pain or they’re hurting so much that they’re forced to do something out of desperation. By the same token, there are people who realize that change is often instigated by inspiration.

If you’re struggling to find inspiration in your life, then I urge you not to give up. Seize the moment and go out and find it. I often find the smallest thing can give me inspiration in the strangest of places. For example, I might see a child playing, or overhear a conversation in the supermarket, or it can be as simple as a line from a movie or TV show, which resonates and acts as a catalyst to inspire me to take action. For me, this often happens when I’m just day dreaming! You know … those times when you’re not really paying attention to anything in particular. You never know when inspiration is going to come knocking at your door!

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A Brain Theory That Work - If You Turn It Upside Down

Neuroscience is based on the assumption that the brain produces the mind. After all, without a brain, most of us would be much poorer thinkers. If the brain produces the mind, then it’s important to know how it does it. A team at the University of California Santa Barbara has come up with a new theory—actually, an ancient theory now couched in modern scientific terms—basing mental activity on vibrations.

For a long time it’s been known that various waves of electrical activity are present, and these waves are independent in how they relate to having a mind. As explained by one of the team members from UC Santa Barbara, “Gamma waves are associated with large-scale coordinated activities like perception, meditation or focused consciousness; beta with maximum brain activity or arousal; and theta with relaxation or daydreaming. These three wave types work together to produce, or at least facilitate, various types of human consciousness…”

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How to Pack for Travel Bliss: A Guide to Worry-Free Travel Through Packing Versatile Essentials.

That’s it. You’ve finally booked that relaxing vacation and now it’s just a week away. The question of what to pack makes you a bit nervous and you’re wondering what to do. How will you pack for the possible weather changes and all the activities you may want to do when you’re there? What if you pack too much and you’re lugging around all these extra items? Fear not, this article will teach you what to do to achieve that feeling of bliss before you even arrive at your destination. 

Yes, you can travel with just a carry-on. This requires a little extra planning but it can be a true luxury if you’re traveling to more than one destination. A sturdy and comfortable backpack isn’t just for jumping from hostel to hostel. It is easier on your back and often has more space than a typical carry on suitcase. There are lots of second-hand options that will serve just as well as getting a brand new one. This all depends on where you want to allocate your travel budget. Find a thin, small day bag to use when you’re out exploring during the day so you can leave that backpack where ever you’re staying.

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Welcome Faces

What do their faces say to you?

The Practice:
Welcome faces.

Why?

As our ancestors evolved over millions of years in small bands, continually interacting and working with each other, it was vitally important to communicate in hundreds of ways each day. They shared information about external "carrots" and "sticks," and about their internal experience (e.g., intentions, sexual interest, inclination toward aggression) through gestures, vocalizations - and facial expressions. Much as we developed uniquely complex language, we also evolved the most expressive face in the entire animal kingdom.

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Stress Relievers for the introvert

Am I shy of being myself or am I wary of projecting who I am truly from within?

Is social acceptance such a huge issue with me that it makes me wear a mask all the time?

Keeping up appearances does inevitably take a toll on us. These are questions we need to constantly keep asking ourselves. There are answers we are constantly seeking. We need to first and foremost accept our ourselves, if we are seeking true happiness. We need to not be embarrassed about feeling differently from the crowd.

SOCIAL CONFORMITY

We normally just remain in an agreeable mode, just going along with the tide.
We can sense an inner sense of rebellion but we tend to quieten that voice as a sense of social conformity exists at a very high level within us.

ASSERTIVENESS

This can actually be explained as an ability to express oneself, to not allow our inner selves to be inhibited. To be appropriately open and honest. To project one's own persona objectively.

This feeling also comes to us with an increased feeling of self awareness, due to honest self acceptance.
To some people assertiveness comes naturally, but with some, those who are more shy and inhibited, it can be a learned skill.

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How Much Courage Does It Take to Live Your Dreams? (Plus: Coconut Fudgy Oat Squares recipe)

I asked my Facebook community when in their life they’d been the most courageous. I was delighted and overwhelmed by the response this question elicited. What was surprising to me was that with the exception of just a few who wrote about physical feats, most people described pushing through emotional challenges, such as walking away from bad relationships, letting go of people and places, or jumping into the unknown to follow one’s heart. For many, it seems, this is far scarier and more rewarding than any other act of bravery.

A couple people turned the question around and asked me when I’d been the most courageous. As it turns out, I’m much better at asking questions than I am at answering them, which is probably a skill I cultivated as a schoolteacher. I was stumped. When had I been the most courageous?

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December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

There is no doubt about it. December is the time of year that is synonymous with giving. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, charitable organizations, or the people who make our lives better, we all have our lists and are checking them twice! Most of us love to give – and when we do so, we feel good about ourselves, abundant, and alive.

But what about receiving? Most people feel very uncomfortable about receiving! Whether it is a lavish gift, an act of kindness, generosity from a friend, or even a compliment, we have a difficult time receiving. For many, our awkwardness around receiving started at an early age. We were brought up hearing messages like, "Tis better to give than to receive" or "Give more than you get." We decided consciously or unconsciously that people who receive are greedy, selfish, weak, or needy – and since we didn't want to be any of those things, we made receiving wrong. When I first looked at my inability to receive, I realized that I had a belief that if I received something from someone, then I would owe them something in return. For me, being beholden to anyone was a loss of control and a very scary place, so receiving became taboo.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind