Take Action On Your Dream Life!

Have you ever sat down and really thought about what you want your life to look like?
When you were little I bet you had some fun dreams – where you dancing in the Nut Cracker, or jumping out of airplanes putting out forest fires?

When I was 5, I had typical little-girl dreams – I wanted to be a veterinarian, marry my high school sweet heart (because 18 seemed super old already) and have boy, then a girl. A scary incident with my cat at age 7 brought my veterinary career to a screeching halt – I just couldn’t handle being around any injured animal without falling on the ground and sobbing uncontrollably.. A trait that that I will never out-grow. In high school I realized that I could not have a regular 9-5 job and also keep my sanity, and by my early 20’s I just knew deep in my heart that kids were not a part of my program. Things change. Values change. Life throws us punches. We can either bob and weave, or stay pinned up against the ropes. Our relationship, work, and life situations all lead to growth… or struggle,  if you choose to ignore the lessons.

So, I ask again, when was the last time you sat down and evaluated your life? Does it look and feel like the life of your dreams? If the answer is no, then grab your journal or a piece of paper and write this down:

~ WHAT DOES YOUR DREAM LIFE LOOK LIKE?
This is a bigger picture snapshot of your life. Don’t hold back. This is not your BFF’s dream or your partner’s dream… This is YOUR dream, so go big!

~ WHAT DOES YOUR PERFECT DAY LOOK LIKE?
From the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep.
This is a super fun exercise. I did this about 4 years ago and now my perfect day is everyday! Not kidding.

~ LIST 3 THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO TO GET CLOSER TO YOUR DREAM LIFE!
Did you read this and say to yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow?”
This is where people hesitate. Taking the action. If you want to live in a cabin on a lake, start looking up locations and even real estate properties. It doesn’t mean you are going to go out buy something tomorrow, but it gets the juices flowing and creates excitement. Want to start a vegan handbag line? Start sketching designs or taking sewing classes. It can be small steps, but take the steps – TAKE ACTION!

~ WRITE DOWN 3 OBSTACLES THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO OVERCOME.
Because there WILL be obstacles and challenges. Maybe your kids are still in middle school and flying off a lake-front cabin is not realistic. Could you spend the summers there until the kids go off to college? Your community college sewing class is only offered during your night shift. Can you borrow a sewing machine from a friend and take online classes?

Have a plan of attack!

This dreaming exercise is so much fun, but LIVING YOUR DREAM –  IS   –  THE  –  BEST!

Lessons from Buddhism’s Super Bowl MVP – H.H Dalai Lama

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Last summer I had the great fortune to travel to Ladakh, India and attend the “Super Bowl” of Buddhist ceremonies, The Kalachakra Initiation, presented by H.H Dalai Lama. Just for the record, I am not Buddhist, although I do tend to gravitate towards Buddhism’s simple teaching that ALL beings deserve love and compassion.

We meditated 4-6 hours a day for 6 days straight! After each intense teaching and meditation from H.H. Dalai Lama we would then have a 2-3 hour lecture led by Robert Thurman, a professor of Buddhist studies at Columbia University, a former Buddhist monk and literally the worldwide authority on all things Tibetan Buddhism and H.H Dalai Lama.

I am often asked what I learned from this special time spent focusing inward…

Most of the people in our group were Buddhist. And many of these people had been to multiple Kalachakra Ceremonies – I fondly call them, Dalai Lama Groupies. I sat in awe as they asked profound questions and expressed their views about the teachings, most of which were way over my head. What surprised me the most, was that some of these same groupies were often short with, or downright unkind, to the staff that served our food or kept our tents clean. I wrongly presumed that people with so much spiritual wisdom would walk their talk. (You can file that one under, “Things that make you go Hmmm.”)

So what I took most from H.H. and my fellow seekers that week was very simple:

PRACTICE loving kindness to yourself and others.

And it is a PRACTICE. Like everything in life, practice make permanent. You cannot just SAY you are something or will do something. You must put in the time and practice to become that which you want. It is a perpetual journey.

Here is one way that I practice loving kindness to myself. When I sit down to meditate, the first thing I say to myself is, “I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.” Sometimes I actually spend my whole time meditating by breathing in PEACE and breathing out LOVE.
And speaking of meditation…

Get Present. 

It sounds so simple, but the only thing you have control over is this moment right now. When you are focused on the past or thinking about the future, you cannot feel truly at peace. I find that meditation, whether it be for 5 minutes or 1 hour, is a great way to become present. Slowing your breathe, eliminating some of the “monkey mind” is also a way to become more self aware.

When I sit down to meditate and I cannot stop my own incessant thoughts, I do a counting meditation. Lately I have been: (all nasal breathing) Inhaling for 6, holding for 2, and exhaling for 7. Exhaling for longer than you inhale calms your nervous system.

Practice Gratitude.

Studies have shown that feeling gratitude boosts our wellbeing. We tend to unconsciously focus on the negative things that happen to us, but when you start to recognize all the awesome things that fill your day, you will SEE more of those awesome things.

Start a Gratitude Journal! Every evening, or even just once a week, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. Think about what people, opportunities, experiences and things bring you joy and are enhancing your life. Easy.

My favorite quote from H.H Dalai Lama is: “My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness.” Sometime’s life’s simplest lessons are actually the most challenging. Keep practicing.

(Photo Credit: Christopher Michel)

Nothing Tastes As Good As A Healthy Gut Feels!

Have you ever wondered why we feel the need to label our eating habits? Vegan, Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Paleo… Any of these ring a bell? Many people truly want to look and FEEL better, and jump from one restrictive-eating plan to the next seeking the magic diet.
I will admit, at some point during my life I have been all of the above. But not anymore.
After my abdominal surgery in 2003 I had symptoms associated with gastric bypass surgery – Because part of my stomach was removed (along with my spleen and most of my pancreas) I had serious issues eating solid food. When I was finally able to eat a couple tablespoons of a particular food, I knew right away if I was sensitive or not. It was an accidental elimination diet. A year later I joined a group of my clients for a “2 week body transformation” that consisted of daily 90-120 minute workouts as well as an elimination-type diet. Eating ONLY green vegetables, lean protein, and almonds. It was after these 2 weeks of not consuming fruit that I realized how sensitive my stomach was to fructose. I now know I can eat wheat and gluten in moderation and I am especially sensitive to dairy, apples, strawberries, garlic, and garbanzo beans.
ACTION:
If you are tired of bouncing around from one food label to the next, I highly recommend trying an elimination diet. For 12 weeks cut out the most common food allergens: dairy, eggs, corn, gluten, soy, and peanuts. Then introduce one food back at a time. This is a good place to start in determining what foods you really need to stay away from, instead of just playing the guessing game.
There are many causes of tummy troubles. Food allergies is #1 and bacteria overgrowth in the small intestines is #2.
The surface of the small-intestine is where your food is absorbed. Did you know that is also where about 60% of your immune system resides? Alcohol, stress, a diet high in sugar and low in fiber, and even the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics break down this intestinal lining leading to irritable bowel symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc (YUCK). At a simplistic level this leads to the death of your healthy gut bacteria and means that the bad bacteria start to take over and you are unable to absorb the nutrients from your foods – even healthy foods!
After 10 years of living with constant stomach aches, gas, and “carb bonking” I can assure you that “NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS A HEALTHY GUT FEELS!”