Tag Archives: deep breath

Simple Pleasures

 

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“The real things haven’t changed, it is still best to be truthful and honest, to make the most of what you have, be happy with simple pleasures, and have courage when things go wrong”

Think simple pleasures. I have discovered they save me every time.  Simple pleasures of your own making.  Simple pleasures that you make me feel good.  Simple pleasures that comfort you.  Simple pleasures that inspire you. Are you thinking you can’t think of any?  Think again.  The list is endless, finding your simple pleasures is a key to your happiness.  Simple little activities that you string together like rare beads, creating a strand of precious baubles that represent all your simple pleasures.  Grow to rely on your simple pleasures. Keep them close, use them regularly, they are designed to delight and balance you.  Here are a few of my favorite simple pleasures I’d like to share with you.  I would love to hear about your simple pleasures or what has come to mind, future simple pleasures….

Good Tea – Do you like tea?  Yes, good. Let’s make ourselves some good tea. You can make a cup of tea with a tea bag right in the cup, but making a pot of tea is a pleasure.  A simple pleasure, one of mine.  Buy a teapot, you will never regret it.  I like my hot drinks in a mug.  Many of my tea drinking friends love their tea cups.  Perhaps you already have one you would like to use, if not, and this is how you would like to sip your tea, buy one.  I see awesome tea cups for sale at thrift shops, flea markets and yard sales. Pick one up.  Fill your kettle up with water and set it to boil.  Fill your teapot up with hot tap water.  This allows your tea to stay hotter longer in your tea-pot. There are so many varieties of tea to choose from.  Check out the teas in stores you frequent.  Do some research on-line to discover tea you like you would like to try.  There are many brews that are good for you.  There are medicinal teas to uplift, cure and care for you.  I occasionally select a tea because I am attracted to the scent. Have fun and experiment.  There are so many choices.  Pour out the tap water out of your teapot and add your bags or loose tea.  Some pots have strainers that sit at the top, where the loose tea sits, and is lifted out prior to pouring.  Loose tea placed in a pot will need to be strained while pouring, or you may choose to use a tea ball which works like a tea bag.  Tea bags are a good option for quick and easy tea making.  I enjoy the ritual of the loose tea.  There are caffeinated and decaffeinated tea.  Please be aware of this. There is a wonderful world of herbal teas available.  There are teas to soothe, teas to aid sleep, and teas to settle your stomach.  Look to these to cure what ails you.  Pour your boiling water into your teapot and let stand to brew. If there is any boiling water left pour it into your tea-cup or mug to warm it.  Many teas are delicious just as they are. You may want to “garnish” your tea. You may sweeten it with different sugars, brown rice syrup or honey. You can brighten the flavor with a slice of lemon. Use a cinnamon stick to stir your tea and add flavor, or toss in a few cloves, if you care for that flavor.  Empty the hot water from your vessel, pour yourself a cup and garnish your tea as desired. Sip your tea as it slowly cools, have a second cup or pour it up and drink it later, room temperature or iced.  Experiment and enjoy this ritual, it is a simple pleasure, certain to be enjoyed.

Letter Writing – I get snail mail, letters and cards. The reason I get snail mail is because I send snail mail.  I enjoy it, always have, always will.  This may or may not appeal to you.  If it does, give it a try. It is never to late to start a correspondence.  Letter writing for me has been a valuable experience. I text, I email and I love technology. I love a hand written letter too.  I love when I open my box and see that personal piece of snail mail sitting there. I anticipate the moment I will open it.  I like looking at the envelope, my address, the return address, the stamp, and the stamp cancellation. I love opening up the envelope, but I never rush that.  I don’t tear it open at the post office or read it in the car.  I want to open it at home, perhaps with a cup of tea. I open it slowly, like a gift. I read it carefully, I savor and treasure the words.  I hold a piece of time in my hand from a dear friend. I sit quietly thinking about my reply.  What stationary or card I will use,  I will look in my letter writing box.  It is a magical box filled with paper, stationary, cards, stickers, a wax sealer, and things like gold stars I occasionally place inside that tumble out as opened.  I am always am on the hunt for items for my letter writing box. The simple pleasure of writing something from my heart to someone I care deeply about Is a great joy to me. I recommend this.  Delightful and virtually free, the cost of a first class stamp. It is an investment in your well-being.  The simple pleasure of letter writing is so much more, it is making connections with people who are special to us. It just doesn’t get better that.

Study – Is there something you have always wanted to learn, or a skill you wish to master?  We live in an Information Age – most things are right at our, as I like to say, our google finger.  I say go for it, for example, learning a second language, that seems to be on many bucket lists. It is never to late to learn something you have always wanted to learn, there is satisfaction in it.  American History – ride a skateboard – knit a sweater – build a boat – learn how to cook, you see the possibilities are endless. Honestly it won’t take but a moment to come up with something, it lives right beneath your skin, you have wanted to do it forever.  You can take it, run with it and before you know it will be your passion.  Next week you could be setting up that train set you always wanted. Direction and resources are at our finger tips.  Yeah, go for it.  Surprise yourself and find out that you are a natural at something. There is a reason you are attracted to studying and learning, it is pleasurable. Imagine next Christmas you are playing those carols you always wanted to play on the piano.  Do you see the joy in this?  Studying will make your heart smile, learning something will lift your spirits, and mastering something will fill you with joy.  My incredible mother always said, “if you can read, you can do anything…”. Think about that, not to mention you and I have YouTube.  Your dedication to a focus, studying is right in your pad or phone, that we all walk around with clenched in our hands.  Yes, we walk around with the world in the palm of our hands. Take pleasure in all that information.  I think if you were to check your bookcase you would find more than one book on something you are interested in, meant to get to, perhaps have gone unread. Take these books out, put them where you will look at them, read them and see if this is so thing you wish to dive into. Get a notebook and begin to study, it will expand the horizon and you may find great pleasure in it.  Learning, studying and exploring these are sure simple pleasures for me.

Yoga Stretch – I have been doing a simple yoga stretch twice a day for about three years.  Once I learned it, it takes about 10-15 minutes tops.  I do it in the morning and in the evening.  I learned this yoga flow as part of a mindfulness training.  I was told it would balance my chi and that my energy would travel along my meridians clearly and cleanly. It is designed to energize you. I began to do it.  It is very easy to do, not threatening at all. Most everyone can do it, the entire flow happens while standing. There is no yoga bendy bunny required. It is simple and straightforward.  I had done it for five days and I remained skeptical.  It was designed to energize me, I hadn’t felt a thing but I did my morning flow the next day.  An hour or so later I did feel something, my body felt electric, with a pulsing in my torso and upper legs. It felt fantastic.  I have been doing it ever since.  I so it soon after I wake up and again as I move toward bedtime. I have shared this with everyone who is interested, the feedback is very positive.  This is a simple pleasure of mine, simple self-care, an honor to do, with great benefits.

Foot Care – Ah yes, the feet. My experiences this year have changed my foot care which previously had been a couple of pedicures a month and moisturizer.  I have been unable to have pedicures as I have surgical edema and I had a bout of cellulitis.  I am sure the salon I go to is clean, I have been going there for 16 years with no problems. I just can’t risk an infection at this time.  I have had to take care of my feet and I have gotten pretty good at it, they feel great.  Investing in a simple foot bath is a wonderful thing.  Mine has plenty of room for my feet, the bottom surface is covered with small ‘nobs’ for stimulation and an area to place your feet for heat.  There is also a vibrate setting which I enjoy. I begin my foot therapy by rolling my feet on a wooden foot roller which has raised ridges.  We store toxins in our feet and they become crystallized there. The foot roller breaks these up, you can feel and ‘hear’ this as you roll.  Foot rolling stimulates your Venus return – your blood returning to your heart and carrying those toxins to be cleansed. It is important to stimulate your Venus return and getting your blood back up to your heart.  I use warm-hot water the foot bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil.  It is very calming and soothing.  Once the water cools I dry my feet.  I am not polishing my toenails as I am perfectly awful at it.  I keep my toenails clean and cut fairly short.  I do a long thorough foot massage with plenty of moisturizer. I massage my feet and my calves in the direction of my heart, more circulation stimulation. Tending your feet is very relaxing, it will keep them soft and supple. Dry and cracked feet are unattractive but unhealthy as well. Your feet work very hard for you, they hold you up and get you around, show them some love and gratitude by keeping them well.  They will continue to work well.  Happy feet, happy person.  Your footwear will feel better too.  It is a great routine, twice a week works for me.  This is a simple pleasure, really worth the time investment. I am looking forward to having some color on my tootsies again, but my foot care routine will remain.

What are your simple pleasures.  Thinking on this will lift you up, and as you begin to incorporate these pleasures into your everyday routine you will certainly see and feel the benefits of your simple pleasures.

“Simple pleasures – all the pleasures I knew as a child” Willie Stargill

Always dazzle, Karen

 

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