Tag Archives: live fully

Kick Tush Tuesday: Weight Loss Through Creativity

sunskayThis morning, while taking a long walk through the desert (yes, this is the desert; no, I wasn’t walking the Sahara) with Our Lady of Weight Loss by my side (always), she and I were (once gain) discussing the difference between trying to control the day, control our lives, control what we eat and creating a kick tush day. That’s right–the difference between control and create–and it became abundantly clear that the answer to our struggles is to not struggle.

Ohhhh…I like that: The Answer to Our Struggles is to NOT Struggle! Simple enough. How to do that? How to put a new spin on the topic, create a fresh take? Explore the words “control” and “create”! Ready? Okay!

The word: Control

According to Webster’s dictionary control means to exercise restraint; to hold in check; curb; to eliminate or present the flourishing or spread of.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at those words, especially “exercise constraint” – I’m like ‘get me outta’ here.  It sounds restrictive and feels exhausting. My world view starts to close in on me. Did you have a similar visceral reaction to the word ‘control?’

The words we use are important and if one doesn’t ‘fit’ our psyche, best we look for a new word, a new experience, a new way to frame and reframe. Create a new empowering perspective!

Rather than trying to control food, control our habits, control our thoughts and ourselves; let’s look at the word create.

The Word: Create

From Webster’s Dictionary, “create” means to bring into existence. (God created the heaven and the earth. — Genesis 1:12) To produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior to make or bring into existence something new. Wow!

Doesn’t the word create feel expansive? Doesn’t it sound like we are more likely to succeed if we move out of control and straight into create? Can you feel the door to infinite possibility opening? (I hear creaking noises; does it need to be oiled?)

Control vs. Create

Control = constrictive, limiting
Create = expansive, limitless

INTENT of the DAY:  Instead of battling control, let’s CREATE! Today, let’s choose to be CREATORS. Let’s open up to the possibilities and create a fun-filled, fabulous, healthful day!

IF you are hungry for more creative weight loss, as well as motivation, inspiration, fun, play, then visit Our Lady of Weight Loss’s BLOG: this past week’s posts include but are not limited to: Puzzled? The Watermelon Angel; #OneWord Thursday-Dare to be #YOU!; Review of Healthy Choice’s Steamers–and much more!

AND to discuss all, be sure to join Our Lady of Weight Loss’s Club: Kick in the Tush Club/FB.

Deliciously yours,

Janice Taylor
wise * fun * utterly useful

5 Essential Questions to Lead You to Your Calling

o-FIND-YOUR-CALLING-570I was talking to a son of a friend of mine who is 16 years old and rather evolved for his age, and I asked him, “Michael, why do you think we are here?” and he said to me, “To wake up.” He proceeded to elaborate on that thought by saying: “I think most people are asleep — they don’t know who they are. I think we need to wake up to who we are.” He then asked me, “Agapi, why do you think we are here?” I had no hesitation replying, “I think we are here to evolve and transform, and I think that everything that happens in our lives, and everything that doesn’t happen is the journey to our transformation… I think fundamentally I totally agree with you, that we are here to wake up.”

This conversation prompted this blog.

There is an underlying and maybe sometimes not so underlying question, which is in all of us: What is the purpose of my life and what am I here to do? Obviously, each one of us has to find our own unique and personal answer to these questions.

“How can I find my purpose?” That’s a question I get asked a lot from people who are successful to unemployed, happily married to single, etc. “I don’t feel connected to a purpose,” they say.

I like to think of our purpose as our individual calling. It does not have to do with our accomplishments or our resume; it is a deeper thing that connects us to our heart’s pulse. When we find it, it adds meaning to whatever we do and helps us feel the true sense of what success is.

Either way, when we connect to our heart’s calling, everything starts to have meaning. So I have come up with five questions that as you answer can bring your calling closer to you.

What am I here to learn?
What am I here to teach?
What am I here to overcome?
What am I here to complete?
What am I here to express?

If you take a moment to answer these questions from an authentic, truthful place, the answers may be very different from what you had previously thought. These questions are meant to break down self-imposed standards we have bound ourselves with.

The answers to these questions are ongoing and evolving. At different stages in our lives, we are here to teach and learn different things. Nothing is set in stone. As you answer these questions, you may find that there is a blueprint that emerges that can guide you to what calls you, and as you follow that thread you start to experience more of an inner fulfillment. Going through life knowing that we are all teachers and we are all students, and we all have something to contribute, alleviates a sense of separation we often feel.

That knowing can bring a solace and comfort to the basic question: “Why am I here?” It helps us create a bigger arena where we can explore the dimensions of our lives. It adds tremendous creativity in our existence and makes us welcome the unknown instead of fearing it. It also puts us in the driver’s seat where we become the creator of our lives. Seeing that everything that happens in our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly, becomes part of life’s tapestry. Our life’s experiences are the alchemy that helps us transform and awaken to who we are. My mother used to say, “We are all born an original, and it is a challenge to stay an original in a world that tries to mold us to fit in.”

I personally started my life thinking that I was here to become a successful actress. I went to a prestigious drama school and was acknowledged and validated as a very talented actress, moving on to Hollywood to do a movie. When the movie did not work out I went through a soul-searching journey only to discover years later that my calling was not to become a successful actress and perform others’ scripts, but to write my own script, create my own life, and design my own set. I found my calling in a NY bus, performing for a stranger, realizing that I had to share my gift of expression unconditionally. I had restricted myself with expectations of what life should bring me until that moment.

Learning to become resourceful within myself was and is an extraordinary process, and the joy it brought me is invaluable. So often when I feel stuck about something the question I ask is, “How can I create a desirable outcome?” I return to the basics: “What do I need to overcome here?” It always leads me to taking a positive action. Sometimes it’s overcoming a misconception of inadequacy, or fearing to even try in case I don’t achieve the outcome I was hoping for. Overcoming that in itself creates a huge amount of space for all sorts of possibilities that you may not have even thought of to surface.

The mistake we make as human beings is how we attach ourselves and our well-being to external circumstances for validation. The irony is that some of the greatest awakenings we often have are triggered after things don’t work out.

I have often heard statements such as, “Breaking up with this person and going through my divorce led me to find myself and who I really was.” “Leaving the job that I thought was it, lead me to find out what I really wanted to do,” etc.

I hope that these questions bring you a lightheartedness to what can be the serious quest for our life’s purpose because they are meant to bring clarity. I see these questions as a compass to our center, out of which we can enjoy our lives no matter what.

The funny thing is that I am writing this blog as I am sitting with my Greek friend Stavroula, who works with me, having a glass of wine, some mozzarella and tomatoes in NY’s Little Italy. I’m watching people in the summer evening walking about at a slow pace, licking ice creams, couples holding hands and kissing, children running around, men cruising and tons of people sitting on the pavement having dinner, stress-free, enjoying life in the moment. As I am witnessing these rich moments in others’ lives, I can’t help but think to myself that maybe the sixth and most important question is: “Are you enjoying your life, my dear?” and if the answer is no, ask yourself why not. If not now, when.

 

For more, visit my website: www.unbindingtheheart.com

 

Photo credit: Getty images

Deepak Chopra: Facing the Fear of Death

Why are we so afraid of death? Is it the pain? Facing the unknown?

In this episode of “Spiritual Solutions” on The Chopra Well, Nick asks Deepak: Why are we afraid of death, and what can we do to face that fear? Deepak responds that all fear is the fear of death in disguise, which is why death is constantly like an elephant in the room.

Facing our fear of death is all about stepping into the unknown and struggling with the reality of impermanence. We can deal with this fear by moving toward the unknown in some way every day. Take a risk, try something new, challenge a belief you hold dear just to see what that encounter with the unknown does for your consciousness. By creating some distance between ourselves and our routines and static beliefs, we can begin to explore impermanence and get comfortable with the fluid nature of reality.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and read Spiritual Solutions by Deepak Chopra!

Life is What Happens When I’m Making Plans

life“If we actually believe half the shit we talk and write about, why are we worried? It’s all going to be what it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?” This was what I said to my best friend Cate the other day as we yammered on to each other about the woes in our life – you know, money woes, men woes, kids woes, work woes– whatever woes. Of course we attempted to add in our very aware and very spiritual observations, just to make sure that even though we were whining and worrying, we were being enlightened about it.

Such as me stating my desire to be in love – followed by self eviscerating examination as to why I need to be in love, judging myself for wanting to be in love; all of which is true. I do have issues with love (I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a very generalized statement- which is probably very true- most of us have issues with love) but I also want to be in love, because love is fun. I have a much better understanding of myself and what love means to me and my desire for love is pretty freakin’ normal.

Is it possible for me to hold both concepts: Desiring love because it’s normal to want to share your life with someone and desiring love because I have issues I’d like to work through regarding love? They actually work together, if I stopped trying to blow one of them up in the name of enlightenment and just have some fun with love, explore love, try on love. Do I have to wait until I have all my love stuff worked out before I can be in love? And if I do, how exactly can I do that? Seriously not looking for another class or seminar or book, I swear I’ve read them all, and I learn by doing!

I spent some time with another friend whose life is in a big transition. She has an entire list of things that need to happen before she can do the things she really wants to do. There is no room for either or, nor both simultaneously- it’s this way first and then she can have that. She’s not capable of seeing that it’s possible to have a mixed up convoluted version of both. Life is convoluted! There is life in-between the pages of your plan!

It’s true that sometimes you have to follow a recipe. Having a plan is a good thing; I like plans, but I spent an awful lot of my life planning and organizing and waiting for things to happen that were in my plan so I could do the next thing only to have wasted that time and missed out because I was so locked into my plan, which eventually blew up because I was, okay I admit it, attached to my plan.

It sort of goes back to that old myth “Wait until you’re ready to have kids.” Is anyone ever really ready to have kids? You might think you are and then you have one and you’re like “Shit I was not ready for this!”

Last year I had a plan and almost nothing in my plan actually happened, at least not exactly. But here’s the interesting thing: all the things my plan represented happened, but not in the way in which I had actually planned them. Huh, go figure.

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 5.51.28 PMWhich brings me back to my original question – if I were to live my life, with the understanding and acceptance that my life is going exactly as it should because I am following my true souls desire and trusting in that, and then of course planning (you have to plan a little) but being very clear about what my desire really is and then being open to what might come that isn’t in my master plan- but is my ultimate, true plan, then everything is going to be okay.

In my own life I have come to see the beauty in the chaos of plans unraveled. People often desire balance. We are often told to find it as if it’s something to look for. We like it when things happen the way we think they should. It makes us feel like we have balance and everything is under control. And sometimes that works- but really let’s get real, how often does it really happen that way?

Life is full of duality for which I don’t think you can find balance per se – balance means to equally distribute, and I don’t feel like my humanness equally distributes. It flows from one to the other and it holds each as possible and not possible and all possible. When I hold to tightly to one way another invariably gets jealous and puts a monkey wrench on my plan, thus causing me to feel completely out of control and unbalanced, and things start to fall apart. Once I finally allowed myself to live and breath and accepted that life is utterly unbalanced, I have no control, and only strive to know and to learn my true souls desire, have I found a steady wire to walk on.

What Will You Do When Your Life Flashes Before Your Eyes?

the pathI had an interesting experience yesterday. One of those life-flashes-before-your-eyes kind of moments.

I won’t go into the particulars of the incident, but what is important is that I saw how, in a few short seconds, my life could have been gone and, after a breath or two, the realization that I was still here.

This sat a little heavier with me than it might most people because I’ve experienced being on the other side of loss, where I was the surviving half of a pair. I’ve written about this before, as it was the slow-but-sure catalyst for a complete collapsing and rebuilding of my inner and outer life, perspective, and purpose.

For a long time after I had reentered society and “healed,” I noticed that I was hyper-sensitive to the small things in life. Giving someone a hug, saying goodbye or hello, a bird flying by, listening to a heartbeat – these all struck me as so precious and fleeting. I marveled at how no one else seemed to recognize the value in these small moments, while also realizing I could not live with this kind of intensity. I could not keep treating each moment as if it could be the last.

Or could I?

If I did value each moment as if it could be the last, it ramped up my experiences to the level of sacred. It slowed down the pace of life to one slow-motion moment. Life simultaneously filled and broke my heart every day from the sheer happiness at being alive and the knowledge that this too will end someday.

Over time this intense attitude faded some, as you can imagine. I got comfortable with my new normal life. I was able to enjoy it without valuing it as priceless. I told myself it just wasn’t sustainable to live with that kind of intensity.

I now realize it wasn’t sustainable because I wasn’t yet strong enough to sustain it.

It takes a lot of strength to take on life fully, with all its rawness, beauty, fullness, and heartbreak. It takes a strength and commitment that no one can give us because it has to come from the inside out. Perhaps this is why we tend to get inspired or feel fearless momentarily, and then slowly fade back into a more comfortable zone of living where people are nice, loving, and live their lives with an ease and trust that everything’s going to be alright. We’re all going to live to a hundred, tragedy doesn’t touch us, and let’s put off that dream until tomorrow.

I found certain kinds of yoga lit the flame deep inside me to live my fullest life, to face my fears, and to live each day as if I was going to die tomorrow.

That’s a question that works wonders for me, and I often call on it when I feel especially afraid or especially self-conscious about putting myself out there.

I ask myself, If you died tomorrow, would you wish you had done this?

The answer is usually yes. Because in the light of death, vulnerability doesn’t seem so scary. In the light of death, vulnerability is all there is. It allows us to turn ourselves inside out, not so much for all the world to see, but more for us to see. For us to feel. For us to let out all our inner, protected, sensitive layers and let them feel the freedom of being unprotected and fully alive.

In the light of life, vulnerability is dangerous. It exposes us and that means people might be able to poke a hole in our armor with their harsh words, opinions, or indifference.

It also means people could get inside us. God forbid someone come up close and touch our beating heart, see our deepest fears, or learn that we are only human like them.

I’ve often thought when our lives flash before our eyes it would happen quickly, in our last moments of life. Isn’t that how it’s always portrayed in the movies or in stories?

My experience of my life flashing before my eyes was quite slow. It happened over the course of hours, as I witnessed every step I took in my daily life that I might not have been able to take. Everything I might normally take for granted I saw as alive, priceless, fascinating, and almost unreal.

Even so, I saw old patterns acting themselves out. Fear, defenses, walls. It was as if, since I was still alive, I still felt I had to protect my “self” somehow.

This is the glory of being human.

I find it unfortunate that it often takes loss or trauma to remind us of the intrinsic value of life, of a breath, of a heartbeat. The urgency and brevity of life often does not fully register in us until we are faced with our own mortality or that of someone close to us.

It’s not just every new day that is a gift, an opportunity, and an invitation to live fully.

It is every moment.

Every moment we can choose to embrace or pass by. And it is not just an invitation. It is our obligation. As humans, as parents, as partners, as friends, as children, as human beings it is our obligation to step into our lives fully, so that when our life flashes before our eyes, we will not have to wonder, What would I have done if I knew I was going to die today?

We will have already done it. We will have already done it, spoke it, wrote it, shared it, lived it.

In the words of Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Why Complaining May Be Keeping You From Living Life to the Fullest

Stop complainingBy Pamela Johnston

Humans are literally born complaining. The very first thing we do upon being dragged unceremoniously out of a nice, warm, dark, cozy place into the loud, bright, cold, and uncertain world is to register a noisy complaint. It makes perfect sense; the newborn has no other way to change the state of its life. We communicate our fear, hunger, pain, or discomfort with the hope that someone can and will do something about it, and we have narcissism to blame.

Social media has in some ways accelerated our human instinct to complain. Remember “he who can rain on a parade in the desert?” He was the guy at the club complaining because all the strippers have implants. And he has a twitter account now.

Twitter is a veritable hotbed of bitching, from the classic #humblebrag,“I hate that I can’t walk into a bar and just have a quiet drink with friends because there is always some guy hitting on me.” To the nigglingly Seinfeld-esque, “How can you date someone who names their dog Newt?

At times, we all register a noisy complaint hoping that someone somewhere will fix “it.” If your complaint is bigger than you, a fundamental wrong in the world, then complaints carry evolution and can actually be productive. If you organize your complaint into a protest, then putting your complaint out in the world can be net positive; it is a form of alchemy in which you turn your impotent words into a formidable action. But this example is the exception not the rule; most of our complaints are more akin to the narcissistic cries of the infant than the exhortations of Gandhi.

Everyone has that friend – Facebook or otherwise – who just can’t seem to turn it off. Among them are the “So do something about it, girl/dude,” – the ones with the same complaint, day after day, year after year about something eminently solvable. Stop going to the restaurant where you hate the fact that the waitress introduces herself to you every time. It’s annoying, yes, but after a while, so are you.

Then there are the “I’m so clever,” complainers, your standard eye-rollers who complain to impress, because really, who ever sounded funny, ironic, wry, and sexily jaded saying something nice? So let’s clarify here: All the various reality shows you said heralded the coming of the apocalypse did, and it’s not funny anymore. Watch or don’t watch but let the rest of us enjoy our Teen Moms and Honey Boo Boos in peace.

And of course there is the “first world” perspective. Yes, it would be nice if the barista didn’t screw up your order and give you a latte when you clearly asked for a cappuccino, or perhaps you can’t believe the sommelier doesn’t know the difference between a 1969 and a 1972 Pinot. Oh go take a bath in it.

It’s clear that far more often than not, we are complaining not out of oppression but out of entitlement. Rarely, if ever, do we stop to consider whether it is productive to voice our complaint much less ask if it is reasonable to want what we wanted.

When complaining becomes wholly destructive is when you can’t or won’t take action but refuse to accept powerlessness. Every small disappointment, every expectation unmet, attaches itself to the last as the snowball rolls down hill and your positive energy leaks out into the ether and is lost. The irony is that in accepting that you are powerless you can actually restore your sense of control and move on in a healthy way. After all, that acceptance is a conscious act, a decision you are making to clear that clogged and bitter real estate in your mind and rebuild there with something better.

Seriously, because after a while, if you don’t come up with a way to make peace with the gnats and nits of the world, you are really going to have something to complain about: loneliness. Think about it. You used to have that friend, that non-stop complainer. It’s a type.

To determine the difference between healthy expression and leaking negativity when you open your mouth, consider your motivation. Most complaining is essentially a byproduct of lack of control. Something goes wrong and we can’t immediately fix it, or change it, so we do the one thing we can do: We talk about it. In doing so we are able to experience, for a moment at least, the illusion of action and of being back in control. In some subconscious way we believe that by complaining we are actually doing something – that we can set the mechanics of karma in motion and make it right.

But of course, karma doesn’t work that way. Karmically, when you complain in most cases you are merely throwing an ultimately porous and futile roadblock in front of what is, rather than letting it flow around you and accepting its place in your path.

The point is, you may well slowly be becoming one of these types and forgetting that each and every one of them are someone you no longer spend time with because frankly, who has the time to listen to all that complaining?

So stop.

From our earliest moments, we know that this is a cold and scary world in which we are all too often anxious and tired…but you were born, and here you are. For goodness sake, suffer the minor annoyances in silence and enjoy the rest of life while you can.

* * *

Pamela Johnston is an image and reputation expert, media expert, entrepreneur, and author who routinely takes on and triumphs over herculean challenges. Her landmark work in image management and market strategy spans numerous sectors where she has been ‘of record’ for governments, blue chip companies, consulting firms, technology entrants and incumbents, personal branding and image agencies, dating services and astrologers. She has precipitated great moments of business innovation and is a sought after speaker on innovation, authenticity and problem solving. It is her lifetime quest to help people and organizations realize their potential and navigate change.

Should We Discuss Death at the Dinner Table?

In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Natalie and Iman join Laurel Lewis, Deepak Chopra, Mallika Chopra and friends for a “Death and Dying Dinner.” We interviewed Laurel on the significance of these dinners. Click here to read Part 1 of Laurel’s interview, on the importance of contemplating death.

The Chopra Well: The notion of a “death and dying dinner” is pretty unique! Most people will do anything they can NOT to think about death. Why do you think that is?

Laurel Lewis: Most people choose not to focus on end of life issues, certainly not their own. Our culture does not encourage this discussion. We have been conditioned not to consider death and dying. We try so desperately to avoid all things which we believe will cause us discomfort. Death certainly falls into that category. What people don’t realize is that by moving through the discomfort of facing their fears they actually free up some life force which can be used to fuel their present day experience. It takes courage, curiosity and willingness to examine one’s own end.

We all know, death is coming. It’s just a matter of time. I’m amazed that we don’t teach courses on death and dying in elementary school! We prepare for everything we want to succeed in in life. Having a peaceful death seems like something we should be preparing ourselves for with more discipline and interest. Death somehow did not make the list of things in which one can succeed at in life. A bit ironic, I know, but I aim to change that.

CW: So once you introduce people to the idea of a death and dying dinner, how do they react? And how does the event usually go over?

LL: When I talk about the death and dying dinner party people are generally either very curious or completely uninterested. I have not found too many people in the middle. Those who have a negative reaction to this themed dinner party are simply not ready to face this topic for whatever reason. I respect that. I am content knowing that this venue will be available to them when and if they would like to discover more about death and dying.

People who are interested think it’s a great, novel idea. They wonder what we talk about, how many people show up, what do they have to talk about, what qualifies them to attend and then they want to know when the next dinner is. These dinners have been ongoing monthly for over 2 years now. Hundreds of people have shown up not really knowing what they were getting into. People who show up with a bit of anxiety or fear always leave feeling more relaxed around the topic. They seem to leave offering words like: inspired, calm, grateful, content, connected, respected, surprised, elated, full and open.

No two dinners are the same, because the mix of people is different for every dinner. These dinners are for anyone interested to explore any aspect of death and dying in an intimate, safe, respectful place.

CW: You say the trick to dying well is living well. What can we do to “live well”?

LL: What I have seen is that, generally speaking, how we relate to the deathbed is how we relate to life. Knowing this can be a great gauge so that you might guess what kind of dying patient you would make. You can either be a victim of this life or be a unique expression of this life now coming to completion. I say if you want to die well, meaning with grace, patience, ease, wisdom, courage, confidence and love, then do your best to live well. Start with cultivating qualities that you admire in yourself or others that tend to impact not only your good but the greater good as well. Consider doing the following in order to live well:

1. Practice accepting what is, changing what you can, then letting the rest go.

2. Offer gratitude daily, for everything! Because even the most painful challenges we face can bring us our greatest gifts.

3. Explore your creative impulse, because you have something in you that no one else does and sharing it can feel so good.

4. Contemplate your death so as to live your life more fully, with more appreciation, courage, and compassion.

5. Share your love. Unexpressed love is one of the dying person’s greatest regrets.

6. Forgive yourself for all of the judgments that your mind is holding onto. Forgive others too! Not just in your head, feel it in your heart.

7. Be present. This is the only moment we ever have.

8. Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Give your inner critic and inner judge some time off. You are your best resource, learn to cultivate a loving relationship with yourself.

This is a good start for planning a graceful transition. And this list will have you feeling better about yourself and your life no matter how much time you have left. I have so much gratitude for the opportunity to share some of these ideas with you. I hope they enrich your life. I send big love to each of you and blessings to carry you through your journey.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss the final episode of Natalie and Iman’s journey on 30 DAYS OF INTENT this Thursday!

Visit Laurel Lewis’ website for more information on Death and Dying Dinner Parties.

Would you go to a Death and Dying Dinner? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section! And stay tuned for Laurel’s guest blog post tomorrow – “10 Tips on Dying with Dignity.”

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