What change would you make to bring you peace?

A week ago, I posted the question, “What’s the one change you could make that would give you more peace and calm?” I want to dive a little deeper so that you can understand the importance of this question.

Think about today. Did you wake up thinking about all the tasks you need to accomplish today? You have to get the laundry done, pay a few bills, get that project done at work, return phone calls and emails, check your kids’ homework… the list goes on and on. When do you get to be in the moment? When do you get to spend time focusing on joy? Or when do you have time to think about your goals and dreams?

Most of us live a very busy and reactive lifestyle. This keeps our sympathetic nervous system—also known as fight or flight—always on.  Research shows this causes disease in our bodies, including anxiety and high blood pressure. We constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed. Instead of being able to plan or set goals, or to sit back and enjoy the present, we’re continually reacting to immediate issues and forced into a survival mindset instead of a thriving mindset.

Wouldn’t it be great to consciously switch to our parasympathetic system—also known as rest and digest—for a sense of peace and calm? Wouldn’t you rather have a holistic sense of being?

I like to take time out of my busy life to slow down and get plugged back into my well being by sitting in a field with my horses. Few experiences give me that sense of peace and calm. This allows me to feel like I am living a life worth living.

What change would you make to bring you peace?

#chairchallenge

Don’t Neglect Your Feminine Energy

 

We live in a society that thinks work is far better than leisure. You aren’t praised for going on vacation, you’re praised for all the overtime you put in. You get the evil eye if you take a long lunch, and a pat on the back if you work through lunch. You’re not admired for taking time for yourself, you’re admired for juggling a million things going on in your life. “How does she do it all?” “Wow, she really has her stuff together!”

It’s quite sad, if you think about it. And, unfortunately, not only does it make our existence less enjoyable; it actually impacts our health and our relationships.

Dr. Sara Gottfied’s research shows when women stay too much in their masculine, it wreaks havoc with our hormones. Staying in the masculine means more competition, more ambition, more systems and procedures, and more stress. And when we’re stressed, cortisol, a steroid hormone in our bodies, is released. Gottfied believes that the “new crack” is cortisol. If we’re constantly stressed and too much cortisol is being released, it has negative, and often serious, consequences to our health.

Learning how to engage both the masculine and feminine is what ends up making us whole. You need both of these energies as your power sources. They are necessary tools for shaping your life.

balanceWhen women have too much masculine energy, we get overwhelmed and burn out. Feminine energy is needed for balance. Whereas masculine energy is all about competition, ambition, and systems, feminine energy allows us to see the bigger picture, is collaborative, and chooses things based on feelings.

And it goes both ways—too much feminine energy and you might be saying, “I’m confused, and not able to get things done.”

It doesn’t always have to be a 50/50 split, either. When you’re at work or need to get things done, you might be 70 to 80% in your masculinity and 20 to 30% in your femininity. Everyone’s ratio is a bit different, but when you come home, you need to be able to flip it for your wellbeing, for your health, and for your relationships.

Women are becoming more masculine in their energy, and in order for men to connect with women, they are becoming more feminine. We are losing that polarity. We are just existing as friends and wondering where that spark went. You need that polarity to want a roll in the hay!

We are trying to be too much, which is masculine and becoming less juicy. Without time to reflect and self-care, which is feminine energy, leisure researcher Ben Hunnicutt says, “We starve the capacity we have to love.” When we are too much in our masculine, we over-give and we are overwhelmed. Wear and tear happens in our bodies. There is a cost.

You can give up this cloak of struggle by turning up your feminine energy and by giving yourself permission to experience pleasure, comfort, and peace.

Like I said earlier, we live in a world that celebrates you for how hard you work, how busy you are, and how much multi-tasking you are capable of. Not surprisingly, it’s a world that celebrates masculine energy over feminine energy. Pleasure is a lot like Cinderella. She never gets the proper invitation to the party. And just like the stepsisters, everyone feels a little funny hanging out with her.

It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. The women who take my boot camp send a pleasure-a-day to the group every day for two weeks. They look actually radiant when they come back—after even one week! They start looking forward to and anticipating things that will be exciting.

So what would you do for pleasure? Where do you find ease? What gives you comfort? Do not be roped into what our society deems praise-worthy. Take care of yourself, tap into your feminine energy, and start living a healthy and enjoyable life!

Managing Your Energy Vs. Self-Care

You’ve probably heard about self-care. Self-care is an important aspect of life. It’s when you purposefully take the time to nurture yourself, whether it’s meditating, getting a massage, resting, working at your passion or hobby, or just getting your hair done. When you take time for yourself, it replenishes your energy, makes you happy and content, and helps you grow.

But it also triggers feelings of anxiety and guilt for some women. As women, we’re seen as the nurturers. We put others’ needs first. We bend over backwards to help our loved ones and neglect ourselves. We sacrifice. We ask ourselves, “How can I take time to do a yoga class when I’ve got piles of laundry, an unfinished project at work, a kid that needs homework help, and a million emails and phone calls to respond to?” This always-put-others-first lesson has been ingrained in us for generations. So the concept of prioritizing self-care is often met with hesitation and resistance.

But, still – it’s important. How can we change our mindset so that we make it a priority to take care of ourselves?

I suggest we reframe the concept of self-care into the concept of managing your energy. I believe managing your energy is the key to living the life you desire. And, the concept of managing your energy versus self-care will probably get better support from you and everyone else in your life.

You only have so much energy. And, you want to use that energy to do the things you feel are important, like helping your child with homework or doing a great job at work. When you run out of energy, you’re doing yourself and others a disservice. You’re not giving it your all; you can’t.

To get more energy, to replenish energy, so that you can give 100% when you need to, you need to instill positive, replenishing habits.

95% of our lives are run by habits. Sometimes bad ones. That’s when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, and your pre-frontal cortex or your rational and analytical mind shuts down and goes to your subconscious default habits, like reaching for the bag of cookies, or cigarettes, or alcohol, in an attempt to soothe yourself. These habits do not replenish your energy; they deplete it.

Why not guard your energy and replenish it and make deliberate, high-quality choices? Get more sleep, eat foods that are full of life force, laugh and share with friends. Move your body. It is designed to move. Give yourself permission to chill. Take that class you’ve wanted to take for a long time. Go for a hike by yourself.

These types of habits can fill your energy tank back up so that you can be truly present and energized for your job, for your kids, for your partner, and for anything else important to you. Your energy is the most serious thing about you, and you are responsible for managing your energy so that you can bring it to every situation that needs it.

Beauty, In and Out

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Many women look at the mirror, and instead of appreciating what they see, they pick it apart, piece by piece. They don’t see a beautiful woman. They see a droopy chin, flabby arms, a crooked smile, or grey hairs. Instead of feeling confident and satisfied with their reflection, they list what they feel is unattractive.

This brutal, daily take-down of our self-esteem isn’t doing us any good. Pervasive, negative thoughts can poison our minds and spirits, and when we feel bad inside, our outside suffers, too, whether through frown lines, poor posture, or just not caring or trying anymore.

Breaking the cycle of negative thinking and judgment is possible. You just need to be diligent about it. And while you’re working on your inside with positive self-talk, consider enhancing your outside.

Some of you may be thinking that sounds shallow; that what matters is inside, and you can’t judge a book by its cover, and the like. You’re partially right. What’s inside is most important, of course. There’s no denying that.  But boosting your outside appearance can have positive effects on your inside, too.

Or maybe you’re thinking you don’t have time to worry about your look, or you don’t want to spend money on yourself. Perhaps you’re always putting others ahead of yourself. Maybe you even feel you don’t deserve to indulge.

But you do deserve it. And your loved ones deserve to have a happy mother, sister, aunt, or  friend.

Wearing colors that flatter, clothes that fit properly, and a hairstyle that you love and that looks great can lift your spirits. You’ll find more positive things in your reflection. Maybe you’ll stand a little straighter. Smile a little more. Walk more confidently. Your good-looking outside will start making you good-looking on the inside, which, in turn, will make your outside even more beautiful! Your inner light and happiness will shine through. Marianne Williamson tells us “Beauty is an internal light, a spiritual radiance that all women have but most women hide, unconsciously, denying its existence. What we do not claim remains invisible.”

Here’s how you can start feeling better, inside and out.

Perhaps you’ve been wearing your hair the same for the last 25 years because it feels safe, or your makeup hasn’t been changed even though fuchsia isn’t really your color. Maybe you’ve been wearing yoga pants and a pony tail for the 234th day in a row. It doesn’t matter. If you want a sleeker, more updated look; if you want to find colors and styles that flatter, you can do it now. You can find the courage to make a change.

Here’s a great tool to help get you started on your beauty journey: http://dressingyourtruth.com/. Designed by bestselling author Carol Tuttle, Dressing Your Truth is a fantastic website and course that can help you identify your strengths and help you learn how to look your best, through finding clothes that flatter your body type to learning new makeup techniques.

Discovering your type takes into consideration how the natural expression and movement of each type influences your personality, behavior tendencies, thought and feeling processes, gifts and talents, personal space, body language and your physical features. It truly resonated with me. And, I’m pleased to report that my profile is called The Bright, Animated Women.

Believe that you deserve to feel good, inside and out. Take the free Discover Your Beauty quiz, and start watching the videos. That’s all there is to it to get started celebrating YOU.

Raising Your Standards

Your standards are how you choose to behave; what you deem acceptable. They can apply to anything, from how you fold your clothes to how you take care of your health. When you raise your standards, you raise yourself up, and thusly, better your life.

Think about something simple, like keeping your car clean. Maybe right now you wash it occasionally, and throw out the trash that accumulates. It’s not as if the dirt impedes the car’s performance, so you don’t put a lot of effort into it. And it’s not a big deal—you kind of wish it smelled nicer or had less dust, but you’re busy and have other things to do.

But let’s say that one day you decide to raise your standards. You spend a couple hours cleaning your car. Really, meticulously cleaning it. You wash it, wax it, clean out the clutter, vacuum, wipe everything down, wash the windows, the tires, everything. You even buy a new air freshener.

Now you take pride in your car. It looks and smells great. You love being the one with the spotless car. And once you did the initial hard work and cleaning, it was a lot easier to maintain that higher standard. Sure, it’s just a clean car. But it made you a little happier. And that’s the goal, right?

Now think of something more significant. What if you decided to raise your standards at work? What if you chose to become a better employee, or become a better boss? Imagine you set some higher standards, such as: not gossiping, being more encouraging to others, being more organized, spending less time slacking off, ensuring work was completely error-free, helping others, or other goals.

Only good things could come of that! Possibilities include recognition, better pay, better relationships, more respect, more satisfied clients, less stress—the list goes on and on! By setting higher standards and choosing to be the person you want to be, you are making your life better. And, just like the clean car example, it’s easier to maintain once you’ve done the initial work. It’s about making habits, getting into routines, and making your goals become your normal, everyday standards.

If you decide you want to be better and to live a better life, you can do so. Use these following ten steps to help you determine what kind of person you wish to be and how you can achieve the higher standards you desire:

10 Steps to Raising Personal Standards

1. List ten people you admire and identify their qualities. What standards could you raise that would have you be more like them?

2. Be unconditionally constructive every time you open your mouth, yet still say all you need to say.

3. Stop gossiping, good or bad, about anyone.

4. Let go of standards you “should” have, and make a list of 10 standards you most want.

5. Understand that standards are a choice, not a requirement.

6. Fully respond to everything that occurs in your “space.”

7. Always put people and relationships ahead of results.

8. Always put integrity first, needs second, and wants third.

9. Always honor the standards of others.

10. Always maintain a reserve of time, money, love, and wellbeing.

Of course, improving your life is more work than just setting your standards higher. Once you identify the kind of person you want to be and choose to raise your standards, you have to work to meet those standards. You have to hold yourself accountable. Don’t let excuses enter into it—make a plan and stick to it. The rewards will be much, much greater than the cost.

Now, think of this: who are you? Are you a person who gets things done? Are you someone to be relied upon? Are you someone who takes good care of themselves? Are you a contented person? Give yourself a mantra. I am a person who _______. Then repeat it every day. Ten times a day! It is time to look inward and choose who you are. Honor that person. Be who you are meant to be.

Your Life May Need a Little Pruning

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Life gets so busy that the days, weeks, months and years become a blur; that goals and plans remain unfinished. We can change all that. Henry David Thoreau tells us, “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” When we reclaim our day and our “Wild Self,” we are creative, powerful, wise, and intuitive. We are authentic, passionate, and boldly spontaneous.

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I love to take the wisdom from earth’s seasons; they offer both invitation and reflection. The seasons help us to engage and understand life. The crisp clarity of Fall, for example, is a time of retrospection. What needs to be tidied or pruned in my garden and in my life? What do I need to cut out to live a life that is in alignment with my values? What is non-negotiable in how I choose to live my life? Hard questions? Absolutely.

Let me paint you a picture. It was early morning, as mornings are on a farm, and I had just finished milking the 85 cows. I enjoyed the rhythmic, pulsating sounds of the milking machines and revelled in witnessing the gift that wraps the start of each day with a beautiful sunrise. But life changed from those peaceful mornings.

Soon mornings became all about my deadlines, things to do, and places to be. One morning I remember hurrying up 17 flights of stairs, out of breath. I whipped off my shirt, took a mouthful of mouthwash to swish around for the required 90 seconds while making my bed, then headed back to the bathroom to grab a toothbrush for finishing my oral hygiene routine. I looked up at my unguarded reflection in the mirror. I was shocked at what I saw—hair sticking up, standing practically naked from the waist up, mouthwash foaming and dripping out the corners my mouth, poised with a toothbrush.

Oh my God, I resembled Jack Nicolson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or perhaps a person bitten by a rabid animal—certainly something that represented insanity at its finest. Until that day, I used to see doing four things at once in a span of 15 minutes miraculous, and wore it like a badge of honour. Not anymore. My real self was saying, ARE YOU CRAZY?

That day I decided to stop doing so much so quick, and I started to cultivate the act of just being. There are three types of people out there: Thinkers, Doers, and Feelers. In order to bring each into balance, the Thinkers have TO DO MORE, the Feelers have TO THINK MORE, and the Doers just have to TO BE.

I am a Doer and need to cultivate more times where I am just being. This requires me to prune the many activities a Doer innately gravitates to.

What am I willing to trade my life force for? What activities add passion, and which ones burden it? Which ones soothe and calm?

I invite you this autumn to prune and expose new surfaces for growth and relaxation.

This softens the boundaries of separation and blurs the line between you and the world around you. In relaxing, you open up to be permeable and flexible, which allows you to eventually grow to your fullest potential. Prune out some of your activities and cultivate your inner Thinker and Feeler.