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  • Metta Meditation + Things I'm Grateful For

    Metta Meditation + Things I'm Grateful For

    In yoga class last night, 
    The flow was good. Very good.
    But the message was even better.
    And the timing was perfect.
    Brittni led us through a loving-kindness meditation.
    Metta meditation.

    Not familiar?

    The Greater Good Science Center, out of the University of California Berkeley, describes loving-kindess (or "metta") meditation as the simple practice of directing well-wishes towards other people

    And also yourself.

    It's a simple, yet powerful way to feel happier, pump up the positivity, get yourself on a trajectory of growth, feel more connected, and even change the way you approach life! 

    Pretty awesome, eh? 

    How does it work? You simply direct kind, loving feelings to yourself, others (those you love, as well as those you've been feeling tension/negativity towards), and finally, all beings everywhere. It only take a few minutes to do, and it's something anyone can do - including the little ones!

    Check out this awesome video to get a better feel for how this works!

    I'd gone into class feeling some tension about something (doesn't matter what) someone (doesn't matter who) had said earlier this week. And the metta meditation was exactly what I'd needed.

    It left me feeling peace, ease, perspective, compassion, and love for the person who'd been weighing on my mind. It felt like a weight had been lifted: Free from the negativity and the tension. Ready and able to move on. 

    And that's where the gratitude comes in.

    To me, gratitude is like a reality check.
    Yeah, things may be crazy at times.
    Life may feel really hard.
    And it may seem silly to stop and think about what you're grateful for. 

    But I've found that, especially in those most challenging moments, when we take the time to focus on what's good in our lives (love, friendship, being brave, overcoming fear, telling your story, time to listen, being heard, sitting in the sunshine, making a big change, a hug, a hand, doing what's right), something incredible happens.

    A shift.
    And a lightness. 
    And over time, it grows. 


    So I invite you to pause for a moment today.
    Or even a few times today!
    To direct some metta at yourself, the people in your life, and the world. 
    Lord knows we can (all) always use more loving-kindness.

    Maybe even start a list!

    I'll kick things off with 5 big things I'm feeling especially grateful for this morning:

    • Love in my life.
      From family and friends.
      People who lift me up, cheer me on, and genuinely care.
      I am so grateful for you.
    • Community.
      My tribe.
      And there are many, actually.
      This one is forever shifting and expanding.
      But the magic that happens when you connect with people who "get" you is hard to describe. 
      And I am so grateful for this.
    • Meaningful work.
      The opporunity to do soemthing that lights me up and makes me feel alive.
      With food, natural health, self-care, supporting, educating, empowering.
      But most of all: People
      For this I am massively grateful.
    • My Health.
      The ability to breathe clearly, move freely, dance, stretch, run, relax, travel, and snuggle.
      These were not always things I could easily do.
      And I cherish them now more than ever.
    • And even: The Hard Stuff
      Because it's shaped and molded me into who I am today.
      It's an excellent teacher.
      I am stronger, clearer, and more confident in who I am and what I'm capable of because of the challenges.

    And you? What are you thankful for right now?


    Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

    Wherever you may find yourselves today,

    May you be happy,
    May you be healthy,
    May you be safe,
    May you be peaceful,
    And may you be at ease.

    Katie
    XO

  • Here's to the simple things + Acorn Squash

    Here's to the simple things + Acorn Squash

    Autumn. 

    The sweet spot between Summer and Fall.
    And my most favorite time of year. 

    Open the windows, build a fire, breathe in those gorgeous turning leaves.
    Before they've fallen to the ground, all brown and lifeless and gone.
    Until the Spring. 

    A time for getting grounded. For introspection. 
    For checking in.
    And seeing how you're doing.

    How's it going these days?

    Are you feeling more up than down? I hope!
    Comfortable in your skin? More so every day? 
    Or are you itching, stretching, can't stand it anymore, ready for a change?

    What change?
    What do you want more of?
    How do you want to feel? Who do you want to be? 
    And how thrilling to be on the verge of a shift!

    As much as I know there's a whole season between now and the new year, I can't help but feel like I've already begun to reflect on 2015. And it's been quite a year. (Too much to process just now. But that's coming.) Another post. Another day.



    For now, I'm content to pause.
    And appreciate the still-mostly-green leaves on the trees in the backyard.
    To slow down when my body says it needs to.
    To not push, even when my head says don't stop.
    To reflect on all the goodness. All the joy. All the love in my life. 

    I've got my head in the clouds.

    Still dreaming, believing, creating, achieving, and growing.
    Into the person I am.
    And the person I'm always becoming.
     
    Sometimes I stumble. 
    Sometimes I screw up. 
    Sometimes I fall.
    Or overdue it.

    But I can come back from that.
    Can right my ship and adjust the course. 

    And my feet on the ground.

    Grounded.
    Not always, but as often as possible.
    I'm reconnecting. 
    Appreciating.
    Offering up gratitude.
    For all that I have and all that I'm able to do.
    Even when it's small.

    Especially then.



    Here's to the simple things.

    Like acorn squash at the market!

    The smallest of pleasures. 
    The changing of the seasons.
    The going on of life.
    And taking the time to notice. 
    And celebrate.
    Even if you do it quietly. 

    Even if you do it by yourself.

    Especially then.

    Sending you LOVE, my friends.
    And squash. :)





    ACORN SQUASH, SUPER SIMPLY:

    1. Wash it.
    2. Halve it.
    3. Drizzle it with oil.
    4. Bake, flesh sides down, for 45 minutes at 385F.
    5. Sea salt, pepper, and good maple syrup. Ahhhhmaaazinggg.

  • Today I Choose Awareness

    Today I Choose Awareness

    Today, I choose awareness. I choose to be aware of the beauty of life and living. I choose to be aware of the simple pleasures in life. I choose awareness of joy, awareness of peace, and awareness of love.

    Good Saturday Morning, Loves.

    Today's message is a simple one. Awareness.

    It's been a long week for me. A long few days, really. Lots of emotions and questions and tension and analysis. Lots of sleepless nights and stressful days. 

    I woke up feeling like I needed to connect with you - and also with myself. 

    I needed to simplify. Let go. Shift into more peaceful thinking. Un-complicate, decompress, and slow down.

    Ever feel this way? 

    If you have, or you do, and you're aching to return to a place of calm and ease, then I offer this invitation. 

    Ask yourself what you need in this moment?

    This is powerful.

    Let the answer come freely. No judgement. No over-analyzing. Just truth. 

    It might be small. Like mine today: Be aware. Appreciate the beauty of life and living. Gratitude for the simplicity.

    A few minutes to yourself.
    An hour of time in nature.
    Making art.
    Planting seeds.
    Skyping with your husband who's far away.
    A picnic with your love.
    A date with your best friend.
    Yoga.
    Rollerblading.
    A drive through the woods, windows down.
    Farmers markets.
    Sunshine on your face.
    Flowers in the window.
    A chapter from a book you love.
    A verse from a favorite poem.
    A jam session in the car. Or anywhere, really.
    Banana soup with your best bud.
    Floating in the ocean.
    Swinging on a swing.
    Watching the people you love and loving them even more.

    Or it could be major. Huge. If you could do one thing, change one thing, think one thing, choose one thing that would make a massive difference in your life - for the positive, what would that be?

    You might surprise yourself at how easily the answer comes.

    At how obvious the solution is.

    And how simple.

    Whatever it is you need, right now, ask yourself:

    What do you most need in order to feel more peaceful, more in tune with yourself, and more free? 

    It's up to you. And it's already inside of you. Go within. 

    And feel free to share below. 

    So much love to you today - and always. XO

  • Choose Gratitude

    Choose Gratitude


    Choose calm today. 

    This beautiful Christmas cactus reminds me of my Nanny. 
    As I write this, I can feel her here with me, squeezing my hand and sending me love. She pushed me. Challenged me. Celebrated me. She played the piano so beautifully - and the organ. She was a teacher, raised a family, and loved to read. She was a constant in my life for many many years. Until, one day, she was gone. I don't think it was until the end of her life that I really appreciated her as I should have. And even then there was so much more I could've done.

    I miss her. And others, too, who are no longer here. Celebrating Christmas without them is painful. Their bodies, their faces - are like shadows in the room. There's a kind of emptiness, now, at the dinner table, and in other spaces they once occupied.

    This Christmas, I find myself paying attention to the loss and the pain of the season. The sacrifices. The pressing on. New beginnings. Fighting spirits.
     And the massive love all around us.


    On Sunday, driving home from dinner with friends, we were met with the blaring alarms of sirens. Fire trucks and ambulances, rushing to the scene of a horrific house fire. Police had blocked off the road, but we could see, as we passed, that the house was hopelessly enveloped. Lost to the ravages of a hungry fire. And just before Christmas. It left us speechless. A pause in our conversation, a heaviness in our hearts. And we sat in stillness for a moment, offering up a silent prayer that no one had been harmed.

    It's the natural time for gratitude. It flows immediately, almost painfully, at moments like these. For a home and a wonderful family. Beautiful friendships. A body that does great things for me every day.

    Working in healthcare can be challenging, to say the least. There's a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, a lot of long hours on our feet. Lifting, turning, pulling, cleaning, comforting. Giving. Documenting... And a lot of people who just don't seem to appreciate you. But that's not all there is - and not always the case. 

    The Emergency Room is the kind of place that brings out the best and the worst in folks. And it's because of this that I enjoy the privilege of a tiny little window into the massive love in people's lives. 

    Like the couple, in their eighties, I cared for yesterday. She was the patient and he her husband of forty-nine years. Overcome by a rapid progression of neurological decline, she was tired and weak, listless and helpless. With my wonderful coworker, I spent a full hour cleaning her up and getting her comfortable, while her husband hovered around us, longing to help, wishing he could. But the disease, whatever it was, had been just as hard on him. His eyes were tired. And worried. But full of love. He'd been caring for her himself since the Summer, when the whole thing started.

    Many times I went in and out of that room, before the end of my shift. And each time, as I left, I'd see him stand, come in close, smooth back her hair, and kiss her, gently, on her forehead.

    Choose love.

    And in that moment a tiny curl of the corners of her mouth - a smile - would appear, ever so sweetly and briefly, and then fade away. In July they'd been going to the gym together. And now? 

    It was so sad, but so beautiful - something I had very little time to process in the midst of providing care and comfort. But as I sat at the kitchen table last night, sharing this story with my husband, I was overcome by the painful beauty of the experience - a witness to such devotion and love. Such pain. A husband savoring every precious moment with his wife. His companion, his friend, his love. His life.

    These are the moments I cherish - moments of overwhelming love and gratitude. 

    Sometimes they come out of pain or loss, struggle or frustration. Sometimes they come after mistakes I've made. Or satisfaction from things I've achieved. Many times, they come out of nowhere - unexpected reminders to live and love and give thanks.

    Choose gratitude.

    What are you grateful for today? Tell me here.
    Sending you so much love this holiday season.
    XO

  • RADICAL SELF-CARE

    RADICAL SELF-CARE

    Radical Self-Care

    Too often, taking really good care of ourselves (in the same way we would lovingly take care of a newborn, a child, an aging parent, or a loved one fallen ill) is pushed aside with excuses of time, money, or the crazy idea that taking time for self-care is selfish.

    Develop easy self-care habits: People get so wrapped up in their busy lives that they forget to take care of themselves. This can be something as simple as a relaxing bath and as nice as a day at the spa. ― Joshua Rosenthal

    We put our own health at the bottom of our long list of priorities: raising a family, planning events, pursuing a career. Or we're too tired - and we spend our downtime on social media or in front of the television.

    This is all fine and good for a little while. Our bodies are powerful, miraculous machines that work tirelessly to keep us in balance. But eventually, our late nights, endless stress, and general self-abuse catch up with us. We feel like crap. Depressed and unable to keep up, our energy and enthusiasm drained.  

    The result? We can't enjoy the things we love, appreciate the things we have, or pursue our dreams.

    Something must be done.
    And that thing is called radical self-care.

    Self-care is just what you think it is: taking care of one's self. We do it every day: shower, brush our teeth, put food in our bellies. 

    But radical self-care is taking basic self-care a giant leap further. It is the quietly bold act of putting your health and your quality of life first. And it is in doing so that we are able to face (and overcome) the major challenges and stressors of life - and to live with greater balance and resilience.

    [Radical self care is...] acting on the premise that your need for sleep, time out, socializing with your friends, and exercising is JUST as important as getting the kids to soccer practice, doing laundry, and going to work. ― Aimee Gallo

    Here are some of my (easy, reliable, and) favorite ways to practice radical self care all day long:

    Start the day off right. Treat your body to cleansing, calming, energizing foods in the morning. A breakfast of fresh fruit and tea. Warm lemon water with cayenne. Maybe a green juice. And a little bit (even five or ten minutes) of you-time: to sit and calmly enjoy your meal. Take some slow, deep breaths, in your nose and out your mouth. Maybe swap the talk radio station for some soothing Pandora music on your way to work. (Often my ride to work is my morning me-time, and I treat it as such.) Consider starting your day with meditation. There's still time to start this one.

    Food as self care. What you choose to eat is a form of self-care. Choose foods that contribute to health - not disease. Whole, plant-based foods are the superheroes of nutrition, and summer is an easy time to eat this way. Experiment with new recipes and ingredients. Use spices to season and add flavor. Ditch the junk food, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods. Eat less meat, dairy, and sugar, and consume less coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Pay attention to your body. How do you feel when you eat more of the good and less of the bad?

    Get it all out. When your mind is clogged with things to do and you feel like you're going a little cray-cray, it might be time for a mental purge. The good folks at zenhabits have put together an excellent list of 15 Can't-Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind. Pick one and try it today.

    Throughout the day. Check in with yourself throughout the day. How's your breathing? When was the last time you took a deep breath, fully filling your chest and body with oxygen? If work is driving you mad, take a mini-break. Get outside - or at least out of the immediate environment. A change of scenery helps you focus on other things. Listen to your favorite song on your phone. Or take a quiet walk. It helps to break up the day with something more peaceful and positive. Another trick I use at work is humming. It brings me back to calm and helps me stay focused. GPS for the Soul, Insight Timer, and Relax Life are all great {free!} apps that help me through the overwhelm.

                     

    Disconnect. And reconnect. Take time to disconnect from the phone, computer, or television - and reconnect with family and friends. When my husband and I eat dinner, we put our iPhones out of reach. It's impossible to build meaningful relationships with people if you're constantly looking at your phone instead of actually looking at them and paying attention to the words coming out of their mouths. Be present and engaged. Your relationships will improve dramatically. 

    Evening self-care. A shower is an excellent opportunity for self care. Try a delicious-smelling body scrub. Dry skin brushing. Experiment with essential oils. Light a candle. After, while your muscles are still warm, treat yourself to an ayurvedic self massage. Check out this link for a how-to demonstration. On cold nights - or for sore muscles - fill a hot water bottle with hot water and take it to bed with you. It's comforting, warming, and healing. Old school - but super cool.

    Gratitude. Start a gratitude practice. (A good excuse to buy an awesome new journal!) Not buying it? Check out all these reasons why it's good to live gratefully. Starting a nightly gratitude practice is also comforting, and therefore a great exercise in self care. Instead of letting the worries and stress of the day (or day to come) cloud your minds - and keep you from a peaceful slumber - try writing down three things for which your grateful every night before bed. 

    How do you practice radical self-care?
    Which idea are you most excited to try?
    Leave a note in the comments below and let me know what you think.