Yoga and Emotions - Four Directions Wellness

Yoga and Emotions

Twist. Inhale. Stretch. Exhale. Contort. Sweat. Inhale. Stretch deeper. Exhale.

For many people who come to yoga, they come because they want a workout. They want to be more physically fit. Perhaps they were recommended to take yoga by their child, or a friend. Maybe they might even find a cute yoga partner, who may ask him or her on a date? The reasons are endless why yoga brings people to its ancient asanas.

International Day of Yoga LogoIn honor of International Day of Yoga (or, World Yoga Day, June 21st), a proclamation of the United Nations to “raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga,” I want to focus on strongest among the benefits from yoga–the effects on our emotional well-being. By deepening your understanding of the mechanisms in place, you will hopefully gain a greater appreciation for the boundless ability to strengthen the body and mind, together.



Yoga and Emotions: Body and Emotions Are Connected

As you are likely aware, your body’s and emotional well-beings are connected. If you hurt yourself physically, you will feel a flood of negative emotions. If you heal and engage your body, you will have a surge of positive emotions. In this way, yoga is for the body and through the body, yoga affects emotions. This is the case with almost any physical exercise routine, since the body floods the brain with all kinds of chemicals to trigger these responses.

However, it is with the yoga that body toning, prayanama (or breathing techniques), and mindfulness training come together. You manage not only what the body is doing, but what the mind and emotions are thinking and feeling along the way.

Yoga and Emotions: Building Emotional Resilience

As your body stretches and you breathe, you’re training yourself for resilience. Have you ever been in a yoga class and your yoga instructor calls out the next pose? You bend into position, and you struggle to maintain it. A question pops into your mind: when will she end this position so I can relax? And, yet, nothing. She continues to leave you in that pose. It feels like an eternity. (It was only 30 seconds.) She directs you to inhale and exhale once more. And, finally, she calls the next pose, you release into the next pose, and sigh from relief.

That was an exercise in building resilience. Each time you’re putting into a micro-stress moment and you endure and then triumph, you’re teaching your emotions that you’re in command. Over time, this breaks its way into parts of your life in remarkable ways. When your boss yells, when the kids cry from being denied candy, or when that cab driver cuts you off on the road, you turn to your yoga training. You take a pause, breathe in deeply, exhale deeply, and weather the emotional storm. You stay in control.

Yoga and Emotions: Emotions Talking to the Body

This brings us to a greater point about yoga, emotions, and the body. In essence, you teach yourself through yoga to feel the emotions that arise in your body. And, by doing so, your awareness grows to learn what emotions feel like. Every emotion has a physical response. We are so frequently rapt in day-to-day activities, that we rarely know what we’re feeling more than a vague sense of good, or not.

For instance, right now, is your stomach tight? How are your shoulders? If you tense them and then relax them at this moment, do you feel a sense of change in yourself? There was an emotion there. What emotion was that? Do you know how you were feeling, be it anxious, excited, upset, or another emotion?

Through yoga, we start to overhear the conversation our body is having with our emotions. With that dialog, we can then identify what those emotions are and be present with them. Many times, simply acknowledging an emotion allows us to enjoy it if it’s positive more deeply, or let the emotion go if it’s negative.

If you haven’t experienced this level of emotional connection with your body, that’s quite alright. You’re not alone. And, even at the start, every little bit can make a profound effect on your overall well-being. All it takes is starting!

If you think you might enjoy having greater connectedness with your emotions and body, I invite you to take the next week as an opportunity and a challenge to take a yoga class at one of many area events. And, if you do, let me know how the experience was; I’d enjoy hearing from you about your experiences with yoga!

Getting Out Into the Great Outdoors - Four Directions Wellness

Getting out Into the Great Outdoors

Just last week on June 5th, nations around the globe joined together to recognize “World Environment Day.” A day dedicated to encouraging each person to get “with nature,” recognizing the interconnectedness between humans, plants, animals and the environment. And an opportunity to reconnect with the healing aspects of our world.  And the concept is not new.  Many ancient healing arts have a connection to getting out into the Great Outdoors and with Nature. If it’s not the direct link with herbal medicines that are sourced from Nature, it’s the connection with the flow of the seasons, or the innate relationship between the Divine and our own life force in maintaining and healing the body. But somehow, in the Digital Age, we can get disconnected from getting out into the Great Outdoors. In doing so, we lose the number one self-care technique people talk about, and it turns out that science supports, in being able to make our lives better in many ways. The good news is that we can reconnect with getting out into the Great Outdoors with relative ease! And, by doing so, we reduce distress, increase resilience, and widen our positive capacities of the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

Getting Out Into the Great Outdoors: Commuting to Work, and Socially

Living in the greater Washington DC region, it can seem tough in the city environment but we are blessed with many parks small and large available to us, including the National Mall. Here, Google Maps or Apple Maps on your smartphone can come in very handy. Simply search for “parks” in the app and it will surface the nearest parks to you at home or at the office.

If you’re able to, walk, bike, or take public transit to work and pick a path that meanders slightly through the greenest areas along your path to the office. On the other hand, if driving is necessary to get to work, you can choose a coffee break to take a brisk stroll through a park near your office, or take your lunch out to a bench in a nearby park.

Further, you can invite coworkers to walk with you and join you for a picnic in the park once in a while. Especially in the summer months, the sun stays late enough into the afternoon that you can invite friends (or make new friends on Meetup) for coffee or tea from your local café to carry to a public garden or park. Getting out socially is as important to our well-being as being alone with Nature, and research states it will improve your outlook too as it’ll make you nicer.

For greatest effect, make sure to take notice of the greenery that surrounds you.  Or better yet, take a moment to place your back up against a tree, pausing to feel the tree’s bark.  Then feel yourself sitting on the ground, connected with nature.  Go ahead and take a few deep cleansing breaths in and out.  Feeling the sun on your face and appreciating all that our environment has to offer, even if it is for a few minutes.

Getting Out Into the Great Outdoors: Day Trip, or a Weekend With Nature

If you have more than an hour, then take advantage of some of the amazing day trips in our region.  The National Parks Service is over 100 years old, having been established in 1916 as an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. Here in the Metro DC area, we have over a dozen national parks, state parks, and even more memorials, to take a day trip any fair weather weekend day. (In Virginia, take note of the fee-free days for the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive in your calendar.) If you do take a trip out to a national park, remember to read up on the National Park Service’s guides on being prepared. If you decide to take a night under the stars in any of the national parks, also be sure to check out their handy guide for camping.

As an interesting footnote to history, Stephen Mather was a borax magnate, the instigating force behind the National Park Service, and its first director (serving three presidents until suffering a stroke in 1929). In 1903, Mather was ousted from the borax company he helped make great because of struggles with a bipolar disorder episode. It’s with a fortuitous twist that his wife Jane took him on a trip through Europe to see Nature, and it’s with this trip that his renewed connection to it became a lifelong pursuit of protecting and preserving it. In a way, Nature helped Mather and in turn, his stewardship has provided to everyone the great national parks, monuments, and other historic places for so many present and future generations to enjoy!


While getting out into the Great Outdoors may at first seem time-consuming, it’s actually quite simple with a little forethought, and it benefits you enough to make it worth the effort! Then we would love to hear from you.  How did you spend your time with Nature?  How did you connect with the Great Outdoors?

healthy eating outdoors

Want to Eat Healthy? Go Outdoors!

Nutrition is a cornerstone of our health. In many ways it determines how much energy we have, how well (or not) we engage socially with others around us [at home and at work], and how our bodies moderate stress and our immune functions. And, we also know that there’s nothing more nutritious than fresh fruits and vegetables that have been locally grown. Thankfully, and in honor of June being National Great Outdoors Month, here in the Washington DC Metro area we have ample opportunities to access locally grown foods and engage in the Great Outdoors.

Healthy Eating Outdoors: Grow at Home

One of the first ways that you can kick-start the season with some healthy eating outdoors is to start the process of growing your own fruits and vegetables at home. You can do this in a variety of ways. If you have the space available (and it doesn’t take much), you are able to grow your own fruits and vegetables in a garden farm by yourself, or to make it more communal and fun, with your spouse/partner, friends,or your children (if they are interested). Other small-space farming opportunities for urban dwellings abound–even porches and balconies can produce fairly good yields. And, if you’re looking for a good book on the topic of balcony farming, check out The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell.

Healthy Eating Outdoors: Fruit and Vegetable Picking at Nearby Farms.

If growing your own fruits and vegetables isn’t quite your cup of tea, then you can always make a day of it and take a trip to a local farm in northern Virginia and Maryland. The Washington DC Metro area hosts dozens of farming communities that are as little as a 30-minutes drive from the Washington DC border. You can get outside for not only apple-, strawberry-, pumpkin- and tomato-picking (seasonally available), but raspberries, cucumbers, peppers, peaches, eggplant, and more. Many of these local farms offer pick-your-own and already-picked options, in case time is limited for your trip and you only want to pick a few fruits and vegetables yourself while still getting a variety. There are also plenty on the lists linked above to get locally grown and harvested honey, eggs, dairy, and meats!

Healthy Eating Outdoors: CSAs and Farmer’s Markets

If you desire to get outdoors more on the regular and have more consistent produce, there are many benefits for purchasing your fruits and vegetables from farmer’s markets, Also, if want something to do on the weekends, many local communities throughout the area offer farmer’s markets and CSA (or, community-supported agriculture) programs.

The Washington Post has put together this beautiful, interactive farmer’s markets map, showing the 169 available farmer’s markets near you with their schedules and locations, and this equally lovely CSA map, showing the 62 CSA programs available with their locations. The best part about all the CSA program varieties is that you have many choices in the vegetables and fruits you can subscribe to through membership in a CSA. Another worthwhile resource on farmer’s markets if you’re in or near to Washington DC, is Curbed’s Your guide to the best farmers markets in Washington, D.C., and for those in northern Virginia, check out Smart Markets.

You can undoubtedly fit in a little time in your busy schedules to get in some healthy eating outdoors in June. From purchasing your own fruits and vegetable plants to grow at home (or even in your home), to picking your own at any of the many local farms, to buying into a CSA membership or attending one of several farmer’s markets open in a neighborhood near you, you can do it. Let me know your favorite ways to get outdoors by yourself, or with others, and eating healthy!

Reiki – Just For Today…

Reiki – Just for Today…
The doctors had done all of their homework.  They had tried every approach known to traditional medicine but the young twenty-something male was not expected to live.  The doctors informed his mother that there was simply nothing more to be done.  An overdose of drugs had turned unfortunately fatal for a young aspiring person with so much more to offer this world.

His mother, however, was undeterred.  A Reiki Master, she asked the doctors to continue their course of action while she orchestrated almost around the clock Reiki sessions for her son in the hospital.   Days went by with little indication that anything significant would change the current course.  Days fell into a couple of weeks until one day I heard that he had awakened from his coma.  To the relief of his family and friends, he recuperated fully and astonished the medical community with his significant turnaround.  Maybe it was only his mother that knew the power of this ancient Japanese healing method known as Reiki.

Reiki Just for Today

Offering Reiki at Four Directions Wellness

I was amazed too.  His Mom was part of a healing community and I along with several others had traveled for a visit and to participate in a Komyo Reiki Okuden training.   She had asked us if we would offer Reiki to her son and it was an honor to join with others in the offering.  On that particular evening, he was still in his coma.  There were no certainties of what might happen as the hours unfolded.  And I think it would be fair to state that those of us in attendance left with a mixture of feelings – sadness, despair, disbelief but also a good amount of his mother’s hope and faith.

His Mom lived, walked and espoused the very teachings of Reiki. She had unwavering faith that Reiki would provide a positive change in her son’s circumstances.  And she was ultimately correct.  So what are the key Reiki principles first developed by its founder, Dr. Mikao Usui?

Just For Today…
Do not get angry
Do not worry
Show appreciation (or be thankful)
Work hard (or with diligence)
Be kind to yourself and others
A fairly simple, back-to-basics set of principles.  These key undertakings though can be difficult to live on a daily basis, especially in our hectic lives.  Yet, these principles have changed the dynamics of so many who have trained and incorporated Reiki into their lives.  Reiki is about integrity, constant learning and evaluating your life and most importantly, intention.  And then, Reiki teachings help individuals learn about healing and energy.

Give it a try.  Just for today…

Mind-Body Connection

Mind-Body Connection

He walked into my office and immediately I could tell.  He was holding his whole week’s worth of issues and challenges all over his body.  He was running late for our session.  Work was crazy, the traffic was horrendous and his youngest child did not want him to leave the house where he had been working.  Yet, I am fairly certain that he was unaware of exactly how much his hectic life was showing up in more than his head.  This is the mind-body connection.

We took a moment to do a simple meditation.  At first, his body did not want to let it go.  The tension remained.  And it almost seemed as if his mind was still seeking to find all of the answers or maybe it’s one cure-all to life’s hectic pace.  Soon though, he settled and listened to my voice guiding him through the meditation.  Like clock work, he transpires.  I can see his shoulders released, his jaw dropped, the wrinkled forehead softened, the hands and fists loosen, and the breath becomes deeper, more relaxed.  He slowly let go.

Mind-Body Connection: Releasing Your Stress

It’s true for almost every client that I have.  They look forward to  the scheduled appointment, one dedicated hour, to release, let go, and have opportunities to gain new body-mind-spirit perspectives.  Each time together offers learning techniques to trust the “whole” of you, that part that wants to be heard through the hustle and bustle of life.  It is a true honor for me to collaborate with others on this important healing journey.   A simple meditation can begin an incredible journey to the vast world located behind your eyes.

So what exactly is stress?  Merriam-Webster defines “stress” as:
“constraining force or influence such as:.. a) the deformation caused in a body by such a force; b) a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation; and c) a state results from a stress; especially:  one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.”

As a society, it seems we have largely forgotten how all aspects of our person are working together.  When we are experiencing tension in the shoulders, or clenching our jaws, or other physical symptoms, we often assume it is just physical.  We do not pause to reflect if it is related to something else happening in our lives.  The same tension being held over long periods of time may also show up as an illness or disease.  More and more our healthcare system is also recognizing the connection between the “whole” of us, and understanding how people can reduce stress through tools such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, qigong, Reiki and other techniques.

Even our federal government has begun a campaign.  For instance, April has been designated as “National Stress Awareness Month.” I congratulate this initiative and its efforts to begin an important dialog on the body-mind implications.  To support the month, the Department of Health and Human Services’s Federal Occupational Health has offered tips and techniques to begin a personal stress reduction plan.

I too want to support individuals connecting the dots on their personal body-mind messaging.  If you follow us on Facebook, you know that I re-posted the Autumn 30-day challenge on the Four Directions Wellness Facebook page.  Quick, simple daily techniques to begin to bring mindfulness and meditation into our lives, helping to begin the process of reducing stress and bringing awareness back to each person.

Take time today to learn more about the mind-body techniques and which you would like to incorporate into your life.  Here’s to your health and wholeness!

Follow Your Passion: My First Year Reflection

Follow Your Passion:  My First Year Reflection

“Do what you love,” was the simple message of USA Today’s Heidi Przybyia.  She was presenting at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Forum, an opportunity for women entrepreneurs to hear from others and become re-energized with their passions.  Her message kept repeating in my head.

Last year, as I turned 50 years old, I decided to try something new – start my own small business.  The decision to start something new was its own challenge.  Yet, here I was a year later, having learned so much.  Heidi’s message had me reflecting on the past year and its challenges but also the twists and turns of living your passion.

Two years previously, I had worked my way up the business ladder with over 30 years in healthcare by working on the Hill; running state and national associations, and finally landing as a VP to a national home health and hospice company.  For the first 25 years, I loved it all but it was the last 5 years that got me.  I didn’t realize the passion was gone or at least, not at first.

One day I walked into a Congressional office for a meeting to see an energetic 23-year old smiling from ear to ear because he had landed a job with the Congressman. I remembered that feeling of being a new Congressional staffer – young, ambition and ready for the world. That’s when I realized it.  For the first time in my life, I had no excitement.  It had completely alluded me.  All I felt was a pit in my stomach as he continued to grin broadly.  Here I was at the top of my game.  I had gotten to a position that had a great title, great paycheck, amazing benefits but I was no longer passionate about what I did.

It took awhile but in January 2016, I began the process of figuring out how to start a business.  I jumped in without a paycheck, benefits or the title and without completely knowing what I was doing.  I learned about QuickBooks, business licenses, social media, marketing and luckily found the Alexandria Small Business Development Center for the go-to resource on anything for new businesses.

I slowly saw that passion return to my life.  What I noticed was that I would wake up excited to start my day and I enjoyed working the long hours once again!  I loved meeting new people and am so grateful to many for their support.  Two people, in particular, were Pat Miller and Gayle Reuter with the Del Ray Business Association.  One of the first things they suggested was that I have a ribbon cutting ceremony.  To think, the ceremony was almost year ago!

Four DIrections Wellness Ribbon Cutting Ceremony - Follow Your Passion

There were certainly your usual ups and downs of any new business.  It didn’t take me long though to realize that I was back “loving what I do.”  In the process, I learned a few lessons that might be of benefit to anyone thinking about pursuing their passion.  Here’s what I have learned:

1)  Learn & Explore:  Life is about constantly learning and challenging yourself with new ideas or explorations.  When you don’t know where to start, begin with those subjects that bring a smile to your face or get your heart pumping.

2) Midlife Nonsense:  Simply put, you are never too old to do anything!  I was amazed at how many people warned me that I was getting to an age where I needed to stay with the safe job/position. That’s complete nonsense!  Go for your passion, at any age.

3)  Take the Plunge:  You have learned, explored and researched, now take the plunge. As my mentor, Luann Jacobs with the GW Center for Integrative Medicine, said to me, “Just go for it, Mara. What are you waiting for?”

4)  Let Go of Perfection:  This was a hard lesson for me but one that the Universe continues to provide on a daily basis.  It’s not going to be perfect and who really cares? Seriously.  Mistakes will be made.  Some will be small while others will be bigger.  It’s a certainty.  It’s going to happen.  For instance, just last month, I realized that I had never received any messages from people who had written to me via my website.  Oops!  Somewhere in the website analysis, it shows that people were reaching out to me but I was not responding.  (It’s fixed!  You can now contact me by the website — just FYI.)

5) Panic Attacks Welcome:  Needless to say, I have had a few panic attacks.  For instance, when I opened my doors on April 1, I was surprised that I had no clients.  (Go figure!)  I panicked.  There were many, many other times and usually my panic attacks happened at 3 am when I would wake my husband up to say, “What the hell am I doing?!?!”  After getting that off of my chest, I would go back to sleep….he though would often remain wide awake.  (I would not be where I am today without him.  Thank you, honey!)

6) My Favorite Lesson Learned – Coincidences:  When I look back now, there were so many coincidences that happened that I never expected but that led me in a wonderful direction.  So many!  One was when I realized that my rented office space was not sound proof for clients to have confidential discussions — a big problem.  My wonderful landlord, Dennis Reeder, just happened to be fixing the heating and cooling system and turned on the fan. Bingo!  I had white noise that worked perfectly.  Bottom line:  the Universe conspires to make your dream come true so pay attention.

7)  Stick with It:  Every month, I have a wonderful spiritual counselor, Rev. Joseph Hambor with One Spirit Learning Alliance, who helps guide and support me.  One of his many offerings of wisdom to me was simply to “stick with it.”  It’s so true.  One day will be good, the next day not-so-good but those that succeed, stick with it.

Disclosure:  Joseph has to say that to me every month but the good news is I am still here and happy to be celebrating my first year anniversary!

Hope you are or will be taking the plunge too — it’s totally worth it.

The Autonomic Nervous System - Parent and Kid Stress

Let’s Talk Stress: On You and On Kids

Let’s Talk Stress:  On You and On Kids

When you hear the word “stress,” what impact does it have on you? Do you notice your nerves begin to feel frazzled? Does your heart begin to beat faster? Or maybe it has little to no impact on you.  Yet most of us are experiencing various levels of stress throughout our day that can often go unnoticed.

Stress can show up in our lives as tension held in our body, anxiety, depression, anger, headaches, back pain, a feeling of electrical currents running through us – there are numerous ways that it can impact our physical, mental and emotional states.

The American Psychological Association (APA) states that acute stress can manifest physically with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Emotional distress — some combination of anger or irritability, anxiety and depression, the three stress emotions.
  • Muscular problems including tension headache, back pain, jaw pain and the muscular tensions that lead to pulled muscles and tendon and ligament problems.
  • Stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Transient overarousal leads to elevation in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, heart palpitations, dizziness, migraine headaches, cold hands or feet, shortness of breath and chest pain.

Therefore, when you are stressed about the traffic, deadlines, relationship issues, or even world events, it is important to note that it impacts your physical health and wellness. More and more research is supporting the notion that the stress in our lives has physical implications. So why is this?

Think back about when you were in school and learned about the Autonomic Nervous Sytem (ANS). If you recall, the ANS includes the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. For most of us, we seem to get stuck in the parasympathetic or “fight or flight” mode. Yet, it is just as important to allow the body to connect with the sympathetic or “rest and digest.” This Biological Sciences graphic is excellent at showing the exact impact of both the parasympathetic and the sympathetic on our physical body. And for further clarity, tap here for a video explanation!

The Autonomic Nervous System

The Autonomic Nervous System - Let's talk stress on you and on kids

Stress and Our Kids:

Recent studies by the APA also indicate that our kids are experiencing more stress too. The APA found that each generation is experiencing more stress than the one before it. Therefore, the Millenials are experiencing more stress than that experienced by either the Xers or the Baby Boomer generations.

And from a recent APA survey, kids are reporting more stress than what is perceived by their parents. In one finding, the APA survey found that “nearly half (45 percent) of teens ages 13-17 said that they worried more this year, but only 28 percent of parents think their teen’s stress increased.” The kids reported that their stress appeared as headaches, difficulty sleeping or too much/too little eating.

Stress Reduction Recommendations:

As a parent, you can incorporate stress reduction techniques for you and your kids. For instance, you might wish to make it a family activity. The activities might include: 1) taking a class together on meditation, yoga or Qigong; 2) meditating together at home through an Itunes meditation; and/or 3) checking in with your child to gauge their stress level. If your child continues to express signs or symptoms of stress, you may wish to consider seeking professional help.

Learn more at the upcoming Four Directions Wellness week-long series on parent-child mindfulness and meditation techniques.  “Like” Four Directions Wellness Facebook for the March 3 start of the parent-child videos.

Groundhog Day: Are You Repeating the Same Patterns?

Groundhog Day: Are You Repeating the Same Patterns?

Remember the 1960’s Sonny and Cher song “I Got You, Babe?” In the wonderful movie “Groundhog Day,” that song is the one that Bill Murray’s character, Phil, wakes up to every morning. The first time it happens, he continues on with his day, not sensing any oddities with how his day will unfold. Each subsequent day, however, the song is his indicator that he will be repeating the same day over again. Throughout the movie, Phil runs through an array of emotions. His first is becoming aware that it is happening. He then enters into disbelief, then dread and despair and ultimately he learns from the repetitiveness. He transforms his life in the process.

“Groundhog Day” is the perfect movie to support our own review of cyclical patterns that we repeat in our lives. What then is your Sonny and Cher song? What keeps popping up in your life asking to be noticed?


If you think you know, but still want to understand where to begin. The first step is similar to Phil when he noticed he was repeating the same day — it is awareness. You can begin by considering the big themes in your life. For instance, do you:

Date or marry the same type of person?
Find the same controlling boss shows up in every job?
Feel high expectations are required of you by family or friends?
Feel like an outsider at home, work or community?
Recognize an addiction to work, alcohol, drugs, food, sex, exercise, etc?
Lose your job over and over again?
Find you are in frequent accidents?

Sometimes the easiest way to begin to consider your patterns is by looking at “triggering” issues. What situations do you find trigger a strong emotional response from you?

Don’t forget the beneficial patterns too! Maybe you have a knack for starting new projects that are successful. Or maybe you are the family and friend social planner. What and how have your positive patterns influenced your life too?

Patterns are of course a combination of those cyclical experiences that have been beneficial to our lives and those experiences that are worth reducing or eliminating from our lives. In “Groundhog Day,” Phil has the wonderful opportunity to learn and transform his experience – and so do you.

By taking a look at the patterns that we have in our lives, we have an opportunity like Bill Murray’s character to remake, to re-do to rearrange our lives. In investigating those patterns, being aware of them and seeking to change those that block us from greater success, we have an opportunity to change the dynamics in our lives.

Happy Groundhog Day!  Read more articles at

New Year, New Beginnings

New Year, New Beginnings

It’s still the holiday season with the hustle and bustle as people scurry around for work events, personal engagements and the typical holiday “to-do” list. Soon, however, the holiday season will come to its end as we say good-bye to 2016 and welcome in 2017.On New Year’s Day, we wake to all of the possibilities of a new year. One of our first objectives is likely to seek a rebalancing of our physical body from the holiday overexersions.  So on January 1, we will state our resolution to loss 10 pounds or quit smoking or get more sleep or exercise. And as we all know, our resolution is usually forgotten by February.  That’s what happens on a typical change from one year to the next.

But did you notice?  There is something much more subtle happening with this New Year’s celebration. This New Year’s Day is different.  2017 is a year of new ideas, new beginnings, new leaders and new paradigms.  Each of us is being called to grab hold of the future and do our part to influence and support positive changes.

This is BIG stuff.

Sun peaking out from behind Earth - new year, new beginnings

Take a moment to think about the implications.  Seriously.  Really take a moment to think about the year ahead.  More importantly, think about YOUR engagement going forward.It all begins with us.  Hope.  Contentment.  Happiness.  Unity.  It is all possible with each of us taking a moment every day in 2017 to do our part.  As a society, we can no longer feel it is at the discreation of someone else to fix the “wrongs.”  It calls on each of us to take responsibility for our own actions, to take positive steps forward (including our own internal personal journey) and to make BIG changes through our own “small” actions.  It’s the ripple effect.  One small ripple grows larger and larger, having a profound impact for all.

So before the New Year begins, take a moment now to decide how you wish 2017 to unfold.  What do you want to see in the world?  What do you want to see for the next generation – your kids?  Your grandkids?  Remember it does not have to be grandiose.  Rather, start small.  Here are just a few examples to get you started but the list is endless.
  • Open a door for someone;
  • Pay for the person’s coffee who is standing behind you in line;
  • Volunteer for your favorite charity, school, hospice, etc;
  • Smile at a stranger;
  • Let someone else “in” while driving;
  • Forgive a past transgression;
  • Seek out help or support if depressed, anxious or sad;
  • Call someone you haven’t spoken to for awhile and say “hello”;
  • Take your neighbor’s mail to them or put their garbage can near their house:
  • Take a few deep breaths prior to entering into a disagreement;
  • Listen, rather than talking, to another’s perspective;
  • Step in with resilence and compassion if someone is being bullied or harrassed;
  • Let go of your perfectionism, fear, judgements and other feelings that do not serve you;
  • Begin the hard work of your own personal journey through joining a spiritual community, practicing meditation or yoga or seeking spiritual coaching;
  • Determine your own act of kindness; and
  • Seek every opportunity to make this world a better place.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
Malala Yousafzai           
It all begins with YOU.  What will you do in 2017?

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Sabbatical Time

Sabbatical Time

The other day my husband, Steve, declared that he was officially taking a break from TV reports, radio news and social media platforms.  He needed a break, an opportunity to tune it all out for a while. He officially declared a sabbatical from all news outlets.

I liked his approach to a sabbatical.  For centuries people and religions have encouraged a day of rest, an opportunity to stop working and reconnect with our higher purpose or spiritual belief.  More recently, we know that people have utilized sabbaticals to take a break from years of employment.  Their sabbaticals might be to travel the world, undergo new educational opportunities or to reinvent themselves.

You might take a sabbatical to go explore the world.

It always strikes me that when a person has taken that leap, they seem to have gained a broader perspective and renewed energy for their lives.  I know that I personally was able to enjoy a nine month sabbatical last year.  I enjoyed delving very deeply into various healing modalities and took the leap to change my career.  The whole experience was simply amazing!

Having said that, we also know that many people do not have the luxury to leave their jobs or take an extended sabbatical from family, loved ones and commitments.  Yet there is wisdom in recognizing and incorporating “sabbaticals” into our lives.  Maybe like my husband it is a sabbatical defined as eliminating news outlets.  Or maybe instead it is a sabbatical from our outer world to explore our inner world through meditation, guided imagery or other relaxation technique.  There are so many approaches to incorporating a sabbatical into your life.

Sabbatical Challenge:

So, I challenge you.  How would you like to take a sabbatical?  What would you eliminate?  What would you include and for what timeframe?

Here are a few suggestions to help get you started:

  • Eliminate TV, social media and/or technology for a period of time (a week, a month, etc);
  • Recognize an hour every morning for your personal centering by meditating, practicing Yoga or reading;
  • Dedicate a day to refrain from work and focus on yourself, and/or
  • Take a week off from your usual day-to-day life to explore a new hobby, go on an adventure or spend quality time with a loved one.

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