We live in an impatient culture, known for promoting ease and nearly instant access to what we want - whether that be food, information, transportation or hot water. Even though many of us might say that patience is a virtue, we may roll our eyes (at least internally) at the prospect of having to wait in line for anything.
Right now, those of us that celebrate Christmas are in the midst of a countdown of days until that holiday arrives. Many of us are also waiting for the dawn of a new year and all the possibilities that will bring.
There is no doubt that language is a powerful tool. It can alter perceptions, affect relationships, and determine the limits of what we understand or consider possible. So, it behooves us to pay attention to how we speak - in public, in private, and especially within our own minds.
There are several four-letter words considered off-limits in polite company. Using them in the wrong setting might negatively impact your relationships. So, avoiding those is wise and even admirable.
The road to greater well-being is rarely a straight path. Often our journeys take us up, down, and around. Sometimes it may even feel like we are going backwards! Parts of this last week felt like that for me.
No matter how much we plan, we don't know what Life has in store for us. While that can be unsettling, the good news is that there are lots of tools and practices that can help us weather the stress of unpredictability.
Ever since my recent health challenge (aka "Perfect Storm/Paradigm Shift") and my challenging encounters with the healthcare system, I've been thinking a lot about personal power and how to help myself and others to hang on to it.
It is really easy to forget sometimes that we are the stewards of our own lives. We know ourselves better than anyone else on earth. We are the ones that are responsible for getting what we need so that we can live according to our purpose. We are also the only ones who are response-able for our lives — that is, able to respond to life challenges in ways that align with our vision and values (as opposed to reacting out of fear, anger, shame or other strong emotions).
We live in a culture that often equates our success and value with appearances and achievements. In such a context, we may find ourselves striving for perfection and judging ourselves (and others) harshly when we fall short. Our self-esteem becomes dependent on impossible standards and we may feel shame that we are "not enough". Even when we realize that relating to ourselves this way is toxic, such patterns can be hard to break. How can we develop new attitudes and habits that honor and nurture our best selves?
In her TED talk exploring differences between self-esteem and self-compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff shares three key approaches to building a healthy relationship with yourself:
It's February, and here in the U.S. we're celebrating hearts, love, and relationships. Although Valentine's Day tends to focus on romantic relationships, it also provides a great opportunity to acknowledge all of the relationships that make our lives rich. As you celebrate all your relationships, I invite you to to remember one that is near and dear to your heart — your relationship with yourself! After all, THAT relationship affects every other relationship that you have. So, I hope that you nurture it well!
Here are nine different ways that you can love yourself well that are based on the Wheel of Health model created by Duke Integrative Medicine:
I'll let you in on a secret. There are some folks out there (maybe you're even one of them) with a persistent notion that good self-care is....indulgent. They might hesitate to say it outright, but secretly they feel a little guilty about really taking care of themselves.
They feel like they have to earn self-care — or that they'll eventually get around to taking care of themselves once everything else is done and everyone else's needs are handled.
This season is a great time to celebrate all that is good in our lives, and all that we've accomplished over the last year. It is also a time to dream of new beginnings. What are you dreaming of? Whatever you are thinking of taking on in the new year, I offer you twenty of my favorite quotes about new beginnings. I hope that they will inspire you to continue to move in the direction of your dreams!
"And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?" ~ Rumi
This time of year, folks in our part of the world are mesmerized by college basketball. To admit that one does not share this passion is something akin to heresy. In all honesty, though, that is the case for me. I realize that I am risking my credibility to acknowledge this fact (particularly as a UNC grad), but even though I don't really follow the game, I do understand the appeal.
There is something else that I have been following closely, though. There is another drama that is unfolding this month in North Carolina, and I have been enthusiastically watching and cheering from the sidelines as I hope for a big "win" for a cause that is dear to me.
Last week, as the weather became unseasonably warm, I found myself in a conversation with some plant-loving friends. Was it too late to prune? When was the best time? The answer, by a knowledgeable master gardener, was not simple – in short, "it depends."
As my friend shared some of his knowledge about appropriate pruning of different plant species, I was reminded about my experiences watching people pruning trees in northeastern Brazil.
It is early January and after a busy holiday season, a winter stillness is in the air. I just brought in a box of fresh produce, kindly delivered by a business that supports local farmers, and I am feeling grateful for anything fresh that can be grown in these shorter, colder days. If you ride around the North Carolina countryside this time of year, many fields are lying fallow – resting and waiting for spring.
Just two years ago, my family was in a very different situation. Living near the equator in northeastern Brazil, the days were always warm and long enough to grow an abundance of produce, as long as enough water was available. In fact, farmers there had to be careful not to wear out their soil. They constantly had to add rich compost back to their gardens so that they could continue to produce, day-in and day-out.
It's December and at our house that means that we're celebrating the Advent and Christmas season. Our daughters, Kristin and Kyra, have been very persistent about urging us to get all of our decorations up. Every evening since Thanksgiving, they asked us when we could get started. Finally, the lights are up, our tree is decorated, and we've brought out the candles, towels, and tablecloths that bear those familiar hues of red and green.
If you looked at the usual state of my daughters' bedroom, you might be surprised that they have been paying such attention to creating this "holiday feeling". They aren't normally so tuned in to their surroundings! These rituals and the feelings that they produce obviously mean something special to them.
Today was Science Spectacular Day at my daughters' elementary school and I had the privilege of volunteering at one of the presentations. Two scientists from NC State University did a great job involving third graders in explorations about the properties of soil. As the students at my table sifted through a sample of the dark, rich-looking material, they exclaimed over their findings: rocks, twigs, leaves, roots, pine needles. I couldn't help but notice, though, that their biggest excitement was reserved for the living treasures that they encountered – worms, ants, beetles, and "roly-polys".
As I watched their enthusiasm, I was taken back to memories of the school garden project that I created while I was a volunteer service worker in a semi-arid region of Brazil. Although I had dabbled in gardening for years, I didn't really realize how much I loved it until I shared that joy with the middle and high school students who were a part of the project. It was hard work, but the harshness of the landscape, and the challenges we faced seemed to make the beauty of the garden all the more vivid and precious.
This weekend, our family enjoyed a visit to the beach with my parents. It was a short trip, but the weather was glorious, and we packed some of our favorite beach activities into the time that we had together.
We spent a good bit of the day on Saturday engaged in a big sandcastle project. My younger daughter, Kyra, got us started, and before long we were all engaged in some aspect of its construction. As we worked, it was evident that we were all cognizant that, sooner or later, the tide would rise and our work would be undone. Nonetheless, we undertook the project with great gusto. As we worked, I couldn't help but notice where each of us chose to apply our energies.
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