Tag Archives: comfort

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

 

The Smile Game

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“The ability to be in the present moment is the main component of mental wellness” Abraham Maslow

I am having some afterthoughts regarding my last post, The Art of Being Present and Making Authentic Connections.  I was thinking about being present and connecting with people and getting ready to write this post. What I am feeling mostly is gratitude.  I am grateful that this important to me.  Employing these practices has enriched my life. I have learned that I like people more than I thought I did, I am a people person. People have so much to offer, so do I. The previous post addressed being present and sharing my simple practice of connection. I had a fantastic flashback after I published that post and I want to share it here.

I was a teenager. My best friend and I rode the train into New York City. We were passionate about these regular adventures in to town. Gosh, we had so much fun. It is so wonderful to have a memory such as this bubble up from a place so long ago. I don’t think this memory is one I have consciously remembered before. Every trip into the city was an adventure.  We were in high school. Our plans always revolved around going to a museum, it was all about seeing art. It wasn’t just museums, it was galleries, shops, stopping to sketch architectural elements, it was people watching and walking the city streets. It was about lunch too, seeking out food that was new and different to us. We were fearless and brave. We ate hot dogs from street vendors, Italian ices in Central Park, Chinese food in small family owned restaurants, we adored deli, and occasionally we would dine at Horn & Hardart, an automat, just to sit there and patiently wait for that empty spot to be filled with another sandwich.  NYC was our oyster, we had not a care in the world. Looking back I sense that we felt completely present. We would head to the city early in the morning to arrive as the city was waking up.  It was always Saturday, a different kind of day in NYC, not the hustle and bustle of a work weekday. We lingered over our time, we drank the day in. We savored all that we experienced.  We enjoyed all the activities we planned, but we remained open to some of the spontaneous things that happen because we were open to that. We would head home in the late afternoon getting the 4 o’clock train. Our parents were picking us up and we usually were having a slumber party at one of our homes.  We never missed our train. We always arrived at Grand Central an hour or so early.  We had a game we played, it was truly a highlight of our day, we called it The Smile Game. We adored Grand Central, we could have spent the entire day there.  There was a large receiving room from the street as you entered.  You could walk straight ahead in to the main room where the ticket windows and the gates to the trains were. There were rows and rows of hard high-backed wooden benches to the sides of that center aisle. The men and ladies room were at opposite ends, with an aisle through the benches.  We would grab seats in the first row so we could see the men or women headed to the bathrooms. We needed those front row seats so people could see us. The smile game was just that – make eye contact smile and see if we could get a smile in return.  There were many people we never made contact with.  They were lost in thought, hurrying along completely unaware that we existed. Some stared blankly, some scowled, and some pretended that they did not see us.  Then it would happen, someone would smile, we were thrilled. There were days that we thought no one would smile.  That never happened. Others made eye contact, smiled and said hello.  We would return their hello, but never start a conversation. The woman’s side always had more responses than the men’s side.  We made up stories about the people as they walked by, oh the things we did not know. These people were older than us dealing with everything life was dishing out, they were experiencing things we knew nothing about. We were so young, 14 a and 15, and so innocent, clueless. This was pure friendship before life was dishing anything up to us.  We were free to be present, our minds and spirits were not cluttered with the business of life yet.  Right now, I am wondering if we were to go to Grand Central what would happen nearly 50 years later?  Sadly, I do know, it simply would not be the same.  I learned years ago you can’t go home again, the same applies to playing The Smile Game. Those are moments in time, in the past. I lost track of my best friend as my family moved to California at the end of that school year. We kept in touch for a while, not long.  Today I feel as though I have had a visit with her, the memory so vivid and so real. Yes, it is okay to be present in a memory, but it is not where I want to dwell. The memory was clear as a bell. I think this bubbled up out of long ago because The Smile Game is an early version of my practice today.  The visit to the past was a pleasure. I am back, delightfully and gratefully so…..

This trip down memory lane and the joy I felt getting those smiles validates why I enjoy a real connection with others today.  The practice is simple. When you interact with anyone, make eye contact, take your breath and quietly say your word (I use Namaste), centering yourself, opening up the possibility of a real connection.  You can practice in the mirror.  Look at yourself, take the breath, say the word you have chosen.  Feel the connection and the energy it generates. Looking in the mirror allows us to use the practice to connect with ourselves, nothing wrong with that. Any moment we are present is a wonderful thing. These moments add up to spending most of our time being present, being present is what opens us up to every possibility. Today I celebrate The Smile Game I played so long ago, my take away is all the joy I remember I felt making those innocent connections, a memory of moments spent in the present.  I am grateful this memory came to me, I enjoyed it, it was a great comfort to me.

Always dazzle, Karen

Photo credit: www.hudsonfineart.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

I am Surrounded By Light…….

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Christmas 2014…….

We must let go of the life we planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell 

Oh, what a year it has been. It was a new experience. I can say unequivocally that I am not anywhere near where I thought I would be. I have worked for years to be in the present moment. I read Richard Alpert’s book, Be Here Now, published in 1971. It just appealed to me, it made sense. You might say Baba Ram Das was my first self-appointed guru…..Be Here Now…..HA! I am certain I had some clue as to where I would be so many years later. Whoa, not so fast. Life stepped in and had different ideas. Call it fate, call it kismet, call it karma, call it what you may, what it comes down to is you never really know. Sure we make plans and setting goals are healthy pursuits, we have no control over any of it.  I have experienced a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions and my reactions to all that I have experienced this past year.  That statement alone speaks volumes of how far I have come in what seems like forever but in reality just the past six months.  Everything has changed, changed for the better. Ironically, it has been an organic process. Just few months ago, I would have said, “what happened to me the past year” not “what I experienced this past year”. I now say, “experienced”. A blade of fate cut through life and knocked me completely off track. I feel as though I am back on track, just not the old track. Gratefully so…..

I was unaware of how far I had fallen. Recently I wrote a post, Worst Summer of My Life. That was true then, what has changed is my perspective. What is true now is that I am very grateful for each and every one of those difficult days. The events have allowed me to awaken to a new day, every day. I continue to struggle with the physical limitations, yet my mind is open, I have set myself free. There is growth each day. Elements that I have desired have magically manifested. I recognize how totally absurd the control was. It was ridiculous and unimportant. Letting go of imagined control frees up an amazing amount of space and time.

I never have fallen out of love with my husband, but I am falling in love with him all over again. The nature of this beast is a simple matter of perspective. My self-care requires much of my real-time and a great deal of thought. My mindfulness practice has saved my life. Ironically as my  focus shifted to dedication to my wellness and self-care I became more mindful naturally. I did not have the time to micro manage his life. I think it was a brand of love, I wanted the best for him – so I was always at the ready with advice and input. I was my way of loving him. He is still himself, surviving just fine. He hasn’t mentioned it, but I know he feels it. It is a relief. He is the man I fell in love with and he is thriving. Funny true story. I can’t even remember what had happen, but I was gearing up and he sensed it. He turned to me and very calmly said, “Are you planning a fly over?” It took me a moment to comprehend what he had said and we laughed and laughed. We would be lost without our laughter. He had such a sweet way of reminding me I was having control issues. He had accepted this about me and loved me regardless. The nature of my self-care and mindfulness has moved me away from the control I never had to begin with. Gratefully so…….

It is Christmas, we made it.  I had made the decision to take a step back – take the breath – and put my practice first, I needed to give myself permission not to try to be everything to everyone this holiday season, which is my usual holiday routine. I made the decision to set myself up to win.  I will do what I can, be happy about that and celebrate just that. I will focus on the people I love.  It turns out people who you love, who love you are the most understanding bunch. They understand that taking care of myself is more important than whatever holiday it may be. The only person that drives us crazy is ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves……no one has even noticed except for me and life goes on and on and on……

it is a low-key Christmas this year. My daughter and her boyfriend are not traveling, they have work commitments. My husband and I are on our own. We are celebrating quietly, hanging out and feeling grateful to be right where we are. We will get our Christmas present in March. We are returning to Treasure Beach Jamaica with our dear friends we traveled with last year.  The gifts I received were lovely.  I don’t need any “thing” . The gifts do not matter, it is not what this is about. This year for me it is about the gifts I am willing to give myself. The holiday season this year is about gratitude and the promise of all the glorious days ahead. Moving on, forward motion, being mindful, acting with compassion and counting our blessings.

I feel so blessed. I have an amazing, loving daughter. I miss her today, of course, but I am happy she is right where she is today. I celebrate the smart, savvy,  and compassionate woman she has grown to be.  I am proud of her work which she is passionate about. I love that she is in love with her amazing boyfriend. Mostly I feel so fortunate to call her my daughter.

I am blessed with the presence of an amazing man in my life, my husband, John. It took me a long time to find him. I was 46 when our paths crossed, and we married when I was 50, my first marriage, my last marriage…..he is loving, passionate, adoring, and he takes very good care of me. I am proud to say my husband is a good man. A loyal man, a true blue man. I am grateful for the eyes I have today, I see the incredible man who I married. Heart of my heart…….gratefully so…..

I am blessed with incredible siblings. They are unique and loving individuals. They bring their love, laughter and light into my life. I am the oldest, I have learned many things from these smart individuals. I stand in their light. It is a fine bright light. I admire them and I love them. My daughter is the oldest grandchild. I have three nephews and three nieces. They are stars in my sky. I see the future in them, it is where hope lies.  Their light is precious and pure.

My friends are my great joy. They have been my lifeline thought the rough waters of 2014. These friends are like a dream come true. I came home from the hospital this group of women were here for me day in day out. I have had the other experience. You have a hospital stay, you get cards some flowers arrive and you come home, people move on and you are on your own.  Like after the funeral when everyone goes home and it gets very quiet. Not these friends. I spent four months on the second level of my home, cooped up.  They showed up day after day. They brought me food, they made food for my husband, they brought flowers, magazines, books and lotion. They gave me massages, foot rubs, and manicures. They changed my sheets, they fluffed the pillows, they reminded me to keep my foot up and to take my medication. They did my laundry, they vacuumed the house, and they picked up the mail at the post office. We watched movies, we talked, we laughed, we solved the problems of the world and we had lunch.  They listened to me, they helped me shower, they hugged me, we cried. I felt the love. They were there through the darkest days, when I was unaware of how dark they were. They lifted me up and told me to snap out of it. They never left my side. They endlessly helped me on so many levels, in so many ways. They are still here. They worked tirelessly to make my situation easier.  I can’t imagine my healing and recovery process without them. We will never know, they made sure of that. Thank God these women are my friends, they are heaven-sent!  The light these women shine into my life is so bright and infinite….a pleasure and an honor to call these women…..friends…..

I see clearly where I am today and how I got here. Blessings. I imagine it depends on what you choose to take away (the stories we tell ourselves). We have the choice everyday. You swing those legs out of the bed…(“no matter how big and comfortable your bed is, you have to get out of it eventually” Grace Slick) and you say, “this is going to be a good day”.  This is the ‘oh yeah’ moment. I know that some days the cow pies fly in and jam the old fan early in the day.  Regroup, breathe and begin again, anew, work that practice. Each moment is a learning moment. So get going and discover what you have to contribute to yourself and those you love.

Something about Christmas…my mom would ask, “You know why you are ready? Because the day comes” Trust me on this, let it go, call it and enjoy your Christmas evening. Take stock, feel the love and be grateful.

I will say it again, feel the love. The light continues to grow, it is brighter than the light at the end of the tunnel. I am awash in it and I feel loved, comforted, and extremely grateful .

I hope this finds you feeling well and in the best of spirits.  Stand in your own light……………Always dazzle, Karen

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Practice note* I love to stretch out in bed before I get up. The stretching helps to get your circulation going. One of the best remedies for pain or discomfort  – stimulate your circulation which in turn reduces inflammation, which causes your discomfort. Take a few deep breaths and begin. Do your day – breath, center, choose – Do your day – breath, center, choose – repeat, repeat, repeat……..you are bound to get better at it, practice, practice, practice……XO