Tag Archives: Always dazzle

Contentment – it really is close at hand………

 

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“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature” Socrates

Contentment, yeah a wonderful way to feel, contented. The word even sounds good, I tend to say it softly with reverence.  Last night after I did my yoga flow, I thought about today.  A day of rest. I get wrapped up in my practice in good way.  I feel the balance it provides me. I like when I feel like I am on track. I take pride in it. Life seems good. Some times my practice feels annoying,  I run negative tapes like, “why do I need to dedicate so much time to my practice?”.  The old poor me, “what’s wrong with me, is there so much wrong with me that I am straddled with dedicating so much time to working on things?” Wait a moment, let’s reframe that.  Try a different approach.  Where does content live?  What makes me feel contentment? This is the fork in the road I talk about, the choice we have.  We can decide to think of anything from a different angle.  I heard a great line in a movie we watched yesterday,  This is where I Leave You, think about this, “anything can happen all the time”. Love that!  Think about taking stock about what has been accomplished, what has been sorted out, along with just living through our days and finding the joy where it is, this is worth reflection.  What makes us feel contentment?  I am pretty sure it is right up there with gratitude, we have many sources of contentment, just as we discovered there are so many things we are grateful for, everything that brings us contentment are many more than we ever imagine.

I am going to free associate here, let my mind float and make a list of the things that give me a sense of contentment presently.  Remember just like your gratitude list, list the smallest and silliest things that contribute to your contentment, they all count. Close your eyes and begin, once you have a few, you will feel the flow……I am writing, John is here watching football, companionship, nice toasty fire, great holiday weekend, my good friends grandson is coming for a visit, soup month is here, spending time with a 7-year-old, taking one week off from therapy, good sales in my shop, my daughter is well, my daughter is in love with a good man, my muscles are stronger, I am able to make this list, Jamaica is on the radar, we have dear friends, my siblings are thriving, I sleep in a comfortable bed, I feel inspired, I have a new bracelet design, I work in my studio at home,  prayer comes easily to me, I am in the mood to do the work…….writing these here I clearly see how gratitude and contentment are the same thing, many things we are grateful for bring us a contented feeling. I drove in the driveway recently and noticed the kitchen light was on, it gets dark early now, I was grateful to see it.  That light meant John was home before me. I felt my body get warm, not because it is wonderful to be married to him, or that I love him, or that he is my lover, it was the “hi honey, I’m home”, and the gratitude I feel for his companionship, and this quite simply makes me feel very content.

Wow, this was interesting.  I have never specifically made a list of things that provide a sense of contentment. I can see and feel how much contentment and gratitude overlap. It makes sense, things we feel grateful for provide us with that sense of contentment. This focus – exercise is a great idea.  It opened me up to the reality that there are more things that make me feel content than I imagined. Try it, remind yourself what brings you contentment.  It is always good to remind ourselves what is positive and what works for us. It is a great approach.  I have discovered my contentment is everywhere.

I had an amazing visit with my dear friends grandson, Cody. She was off to see friends and hear some music. Cody would have my undivided attention., another way to put that, he would keep me completely entertained for the entire time I am with him. He did not disappoint.  He brought over so many goodies.  He gave me a deck of cards he got on his recent trip to Disney World, and mom brought me new pictures, great gifts! We have an ongoing card tournament, Fish, I have never been in the lead I am always catching up, and I am trying to win!  We built Mixels, they are Lego creations, we studied the Muppet Identification Book, he led me through the coffee table book, The History of Homer Simpson, we played United States Scramble, a fun learning game, we drew and colored, and it was all fun.  I adore the company of children.  They are a blessing.  I adore how clear he is, full of energy and excitement.  We have such a good time. I do not have any grandchildren.  He is all the evidence I need to see how fantastic it really is.  I also watched my friend bloom since the day he was born.  We had planned to make dinner together, but when it came time I was genuinely tired, we ordered pizza and later heard from mom that pizza is his dream dinner. I know he has fun too!  It is a very special relationship I have with Cody, and I treasure it. Talk about content, just spend some time engaging with a child, they will bless you and you will feel totally content. And like I heard from so many grandparents, “the grandchildren are wonderful, and then they go home”. I understand that so much more than I did before. I can be the heroine, I am not the mom. Now that’s a cat-bird seat, a fabulous place to land, feeling completely content and in the moment, only to feel a great sadness, because yes it is true, they do go home.  Yes, his Nana came to pick him up I could see he was onto the next part of his day, a place he adores, being with his Nana. The more you think about something you will think bout it more and more. Think about your contentment and where it dwells. Do this mindfully. Invite contentment in, welcome it. Offer this up to the universe.  See that contentment is all around you.  Relax, take a seat, sit down into your contented place. Know that your contentment is there for you.  Be mindful, life just got better…………..

“When you get to the fork in the road, take it” Yogi Berra

Always dazzle, Karen

 

-SOUP- sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice……

 

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 This post is dedicated to my daughter, Blake………..

January is upon us. I am thinking of the promises I have made to myself, I am working on them, keeping my promises to myself……What I am thinking about is soup. Soup, soup and more soup. Soup is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. It is my favorite thing to cook. It is my favorite thing to make for others. Soup recipes are my favorite ones to share. Teaching people to make soup is one of my favorite things to do. I have a connection to my daughter with soup.  She is making it professionally as I once did, I enjoy nothing more than hearing what kind of soup she is making and how she is making it. My hat is off to the chef! Soup, certainly one of life’s greatest meals. It is meant for sharing. It is meant to comfort, it is a culinary healer.  I see January as a vast sea of calm. It is a quiet month. It is the month I re-group.  It is the month I read new books.  I save books to begin reading in January.  The read always seem better in January.  It is the month I dream of spring. It is the month I make soup, a lot of soup. I collect recipes all year.  I make soup all year-long.  I discover new recipes and I set them aside for The January Soup Festival.  You know, there’s Woman’s History Month and Black History Month, well in our house, we have Soup Month.  I love to cook. I did it for a long time professionally, I worked as a chef. I am a good cook. I enjoy it, I am completely passionate about it.  My great cooking skills have enhanced my marriage.  I have a great guy to cook for.  He is grateful for my cooking, he loves my cooking. There is only one thing I have made for John that he did not care for, Cuban Pork Roast.  Let’s just say I have a captive audience.

Soup is my greatest culinary pleasure. If you make a great soup, chances are you are a great cook.  I have gotten my recipes out in preparation for Soup Month.  We will take down the Christmas tree and Soup Month will commence.  We look forward to it. I love the process, the recipes, the grocery lists, the marketing, making the stock, prepping the soup, making the soup, and drum roll, eating the soup.  Soup is mom and apple pie to me, it is comfort, it is home and it feeds my soul.

During my illustrious career as a cook, I was the head chef at a small eat-in, take-out shop in Vermont. I am very proud of my work there, I learned many of things there that fine turned my skills.  We procured delicious fresh raw ingredients to prepare amazing, delicious fresh food. We had a wonderful lunch crowd, a line out the door crowd. We were steadily busy usually for two hours. This is where my love affair with soup began, I had some incredible teachers.  We offered three soups each day. We had a chowder, a vegetarian soup and one other like Beef Barley. We sold 1/2 pints and pints. Our baker made delicious fresh rolls, sourdough, rye, and whole wheat. Folks ordered soup with a roll. We spilt the rolls and slathered them with butter. Off the folks would go, certain to be delighted.  We had big soup fan club, it was a delight to me. We had an open kitchen, long before it was hip. I could see the front door. I loved the open kitchen. I would spend the lunch rush out working the counter, I enjoyed the contact with the customers.  I took their words seriously.

One day a regular customer, a man, a quiet man, he came in alone, after the rush. He never said much. He always took his food to go. There was an old mill near-by that had been renovated in to artist studios.  I knew he was a sculptor, his studio was in that building. He came in every day during the week for lunch.  He always had a pint of soup and a roll.  This particular day, he gently waved me out front. I naturally assumed something was wrong.  I had no idea I was about to receive my favorite (to this day) compliment ever. I greeted him, his name was Bill. He said, “you can go anywhere in the world and all you would ever need to do is make soup”. Whoa! I thanked him profusely, and he was gone.  It was like a dream.  I have had the best visual fantasies about traveling the globe and making soup.  I have thought about different cultures and countries and the cuisines of those people and places.  I would travel place to place, making soup, and soup and more soup. It sounds like the perfect journey to me. I offer my thanks to Bill, this man, the soup loving sculptor for his compliment he uttered so long ago.

Each January when I launch soup month, it actually began early this year. We had ham for Christmas dinner. Timing is everything, I had the ham, split pea soup it was and it was Yumbo (delicious).  I will keep you in the loop as we move through the wonderful month of January.  I will let you know every time I make soup.  It’s Soup Month, we are off and ready to create.

What do you have planned to launch in the new year.  January – full of possibilities.  How will you use your talents in January?  How will you sashay into your new year? I always sashay in, as I always wrap up the year with a flourish, whether I am in my favorite flannel pajamas or a ball gown. It does not matter what you wear, what is key is that you show up.  A very wise woman told me a long time ago, “God doesn’t care what you wear to church, he only cares that you show up”.  I have believed it ever since across the board.  I believe that God cares that you show up in your life.  Show up in your life, see yourself in your life.  We can design the set, we can’t stop there, we must show up and “get on set”.  So all I have to say is, What is your “soup”?

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: Maurice Sendak – Chicken Soup with Rice

RESOLUTIONS – What are YOU making – PROMISES

 

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“God did not promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but he did promise the strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way” …..unknown

How do you celebrate your New Year? Do you have any traditions you hold true? Do you make resolutions? Do you make them religiously at the beginning of the New Year? I am always curious about this. We all know the story, we all know that resolutions ultimately fail.  We also know ourselves or others have experienced success making these resolutions. I think the outcome is connected to how we frame the resolutions. Are we reasonable when we make out our lists. Do we set ourselves up to win?  Perhaps your resolutions have failure painted all over them from the moment you make them. Do you set yourself up to fail? I think in the past, I have put too many resolutions down on the list, I overwhelmed myself with too many resolutions, I set myself up to fail.  Do not misunderstand, plain and simple, too many,  yet each one made the list with good intention. The idea of making the list and putting it down on paper is a good thing, it opens one up to the possibilities of those said resolutions.  Those resolutions were good thoughts, forces of growth, and the world of endless possibilities. Let’s be realistic about this.  We all have room for improvement, but does the resolution list have to be all about improvement and “fixing” things?  Perhaps we could frame our resolutions in a different way.  I will be making promises to myself. I know it is just a word, a word I like and feel more comfortable with. Promises vs. resolutions. I think I have a better shot at keeping promises to myself rather than succeeding at a resolution.  A new way to frame It differently, a way to garner a successful outcome.  The promises I am making to myself are an extension of the path that has manifested itself from my experiences over the past year. It is an ongoing process, the journey. I am nowhere near accomplishing what I have set out to do.  I will share them here with you as to inspire you to reexamine your resolutions/promises and how you will frame them to enable yourself for success.  Consider this long list of resolutions you are planning, are they a stretch?  Will they overwhelm you?  Are you setting yourself up to fail?  What would be the point?  I want to clarify here. I am not saying that your resolutions shouldn’t be a stretch, or that that feeling of being overwhelmed is a terrible thing, and certainly I am not saying that you would intentionally set yourself up to fail.  I believe that anything worth accomplishing is worth working very hard to achieve.  What I am asking you to do is to carefully decide on what you put on your resolution list, how important it is to you, and are you willing to do the work required to succeed?  I believe how we frame the process is the start of a wonderful new adventure, Another piece of the puzzle, a continuation of the journey you are already on.  Please examine where you are, where you think you are going, and what you need to get there.  We travel down the paths of our journeys we are building our lives, learning and enriching ourselves with new ways and rhythms to our music.  The point is setting ourselves up to accomplish our resolutions. This is why deciding on what our resolutions are is critical to the process.  Firstly we will have to decide that we will take the process seriously and make the necessary  commitment to your resolutions or plan on adhering to the promises we make to ourselves.  This is a question that begs an answer.  Anything can be accomplished if the commitment is there. We must commit to our success, not just make a list of what we would like to accomplish. Decide on what I it is that you want for yourself.  What is important for you to be working on.  I think a short list of resolutions is what works, whittling down your list down to the essential things you desire to accomplish may spell success.

Here is my essential list of promises I am making to myself:

1.) Work on my practice. What I eat, how I move, what I drink, how I rest and what I think.

2.) Meditate more effectively. Make time to sit and breathe at the same time each day.

3.) Focus on building my business. Set aside a set time each day to grow my business.

See what I mean? Three small promises, they are huge. They are all things I am currently engaged with. My desire is to make the time and the room to grow and improve.  Try it – set yourself up to win. Make your resolutions, or your promises to yourself.  Get up in your new year and begin, each and every day. Your commitment as you move forward into your new year will energize you as you peruse what is important and precious to you.

Oh, one more thing: Love Yourself. No one lifts you up better than you. Loving yourself simply make your life better, it fosters all positive things. It makes you easy to love. It says I am worth it. It says I consider myself as valuable.  The very best part of loving yourself, once you hold that as a truth is is absolutely impossible to hate yourself.  Loving myself has fostered growth.  I love my life and the people in it more fully and completely. Loving myself is a blessing. Loving myself makes the path (journey) less of a struggle, and more like a joy.  It puts me in a wonderful place to to keep my promises to myself. Living in my own skin is pleasurable.  It fits! Be sure to take a peek in the mirror and tell yourself how grateful you are for just who you are. Now for those resolutions/promises………….

“Resolve to never criticize or downgrade yourself, but instead rejoice that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Elizabeth George

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: ConsciousLivingSoul.com

The Art of Being Present & Making Authentic Connections

 

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29 December 2014

“…..it was a changing period of time that took everything away, turned it around and returned growing like a glorious garden full of color light and magical energy and most importantly possibilities…”

Life as I knew it was over. I looked around and realized this is not what I thought I though I would be doing. This realization was eye-opening. It was the confirmation of my control issues. If I could judge the situation as not what I anticipated, this lead me to believe I was certainly lost in the past (ruminating) and investing in over planning the future (fearful). What does this mean? Simply put not spending enough of time of my time being present. Funny, not haha, but ironically the present is where I want to dwell. I want to be in the moment. I want to enjoy what is happening when it is happening. The benefit to bringing yourself to the present is pleasure. Worrying about the past and anticipation of the future is a waste. Time just passes and it belongs to none of us. It is precious, it marches in, with or without you. Consider this when you are not operating in the present moment. You miss what is happening in real-time, wasting time thinking about what is now the past or anticipating what hasn’t yet occurred, the future. All we have is the present moment. The past, yes it is the past, it does not belong to us. We only have the promise of a future, there is no guarantee. We all have things to look at in hind-site, enabling us to move forward and be more productive and thrive. That is fine.  You are in the moment reviewing your take away from a learning moment. That is prudent and useful.  Obsessing about what has happened is unhealthy and dangerous. You can easily get stuck in the past. This is regret and it will prevent you from growing. What good comes of that? It will hold you back and likely depress you. Obsessing about what may happen is just as destructive to your well-being. The bottom line, the past and the future will rip you off. They both can suck the life out of you. People close to you will tire of your obsession with the past or the future, as it will overtake you, unhealthy and unattractive. It is so sad to be wasting time. Remember the truth, time is precious. You can not buy it you can’t recoup it, it is fleeting. Be mindful and make a commitment to being present. It is like any habit, good habit, it takes time to establish it. You will quickly discover how often you are not present. I think it may surprise you.  The practice coming to the present moment is very similar to taking a breath and coming to center, a calming moment. You can work toward being present more of the time employing the same methods. Pay attention, take the breath and bring yourself to the present moment. We can all benefit from this work. Modern life can be very distracting.  You can decide to set aside these distractions, just decide.  I find I am becoming more present the more time I dedicate to my meditation practice. It calms me down and clears my head.  Meditation creates space. Makes room and helps me use my precious time in ways that benefits my well-being.

Think of someone you know or someone you met who seemed very attractive.  I am not talking about physically beautiful or handsome.  I am talking about their essence.  It is something you can’t put your finger on. It is a combination of elements.  It is their personality, sense of humor, intellect, body language, tone, engagement, and the stories they tell.  Any attractive quality adds to the overall feeling you get from someone. When you experience this feeling from someone your takeaway is positive.  You would love to get this person better. You would love to know their secret.  The next time you come across one of these individuals, evaluate your experience.  What is there to learn?  Well they don’t have a secret, they are simply present.  Being present fosters their ability to employ powerful tools that opens them up to every possibility.  They have the skills to meet and greet people, they open themselves to you, this is an attractive quality. They are engaging, they look you in the eye, they “see” you, their body is supple, their body language says I am open, they may rest their hand on your arm while making a point, they are genuinely interested and they are very good listeners.

The practice of becoming more mindful is just that, the more you think about it the more you will do it.  You will become more and more present.  Everything worth having is worth working on.  Practice, practice, and practice.  The present is an amazing place to be. You will feel energized.  The way people respond to you will be all the evidence you need, you will find it refreshing.

I recall my experiences when I began my focus on being present.  It was during the same period of time where I had begun a meditation practice.  The method was mentioned by a yoga teacher after a class.  When you encounter anyone, your best friend, the gentleman who holds the door open for you at the post office, or the clerk at the market, make a connection.  Here is what I would like you to try. You encounter someone, take a breath, look them in the eye, and quietly say to yourself, Namaste (that is my choice, you may use your own centering word). This may seem awkward at first, but as you practice it you we see that it takes mere seconds and no one even realizes you are doing it.  This simple act will delight you. You will feel people’s energy change as they open up to the possibilities of your time together. It feels genuine, authentic and real, we all crave it. I believe this practice has helped me be more present and has enriched my experiences with others tremendously.  I do this every day. I am not too busy or in too much of a hurry to do this. Try it, you may find it as addictive as I did when I began. You will feel awkward at first, keep trying, you will develop your own style and you will love the results. They are evident. People’s body language changes, they sense a warm engaging feeling, and they open up. What transpires is fantastic, you will see and feel it, it is palatable.  It becomes an exchange of energy, with possibilities that would not have existed had you not engaged on this level.  Imagine enjoying your connections with other much more.  This practice can be the beginning of a collaboration, cooperation, a new friendship, even a romance. Trust me you will love it, please give it a try. This practice always brings me to center, and into the present moment.  Get out of your own way, stay in the present moment and enjoy the experience.

Talk about “you never know”.  I have discovered incredible things about people through this level of engagement. It is a game changer.  You will be astounded by what is revealed, what comes to light and the energy that is created with this connection.  You will be most delighted by what you learn about yourself. Yes, open up, connect while being present and feel yourself grow, fantastic!

“tragedy stays alive by feeling what’s been done to us, while peace comes by living the result” Mark Nepo