Stop absorbing the bulls%t

sloans-lake-paddleboardThis morning, my neighbor and I went on a two-hour paddle board ride.  It was awesome.  We discussed how we both stay away from many of the ‘mom’ groups because of the caddy negative energy.  It reminded me of one of my biggest focus’; to surround myself with positive, upbeat, driven individuals.  It is no secret that who you spend time with- you become like.  There are some simple, yet difficult ways we can work toward the goal of not surrounding ourselves with assholes and life suckers:

1- Don’t invite everyone into your life. Your mind, your body, your family is your sacred place.  It is not something you want everyone to walk all over.  This is not to say you shut the doors to your world and wallow in it, but you take care and consideration into who you let in to affect your thinking, your behavior or to influence you and your loved ones.

2- You can’t make everyone happy.  I have a hard time with this one sometimes and have to constantly remind myself of this.  When I used to own a couple children’s art studios, I especially found this out the hard way.  I could not make every parent or child happy, no matter what I did.  It was debilitating sometimes until I just let it sink in: I CANNOT MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.  Period.  I can only make myself happy, and if I have good, honest intentions in what I am doing, then that is the direction I will head and make peace with that.

3- Don’t feed it.  This morning, on our paddle board trip, I mentioned that at the local dance studio, while in the waiting area, I would listen to moms speak horribly of other women, that probably thought they were friends with.  When one of those moms would turn to me to start a conversation, I literally got up and moved.  Yes, yes I did.  I don’t feed garbage at this point in my life.  I have no intention of giving attention to people who want to speak awful of others.  I only have so many hours of a day, I refuse to spend it talking crap about someone else, or especially, listening to someone else talk shit.  No thanks.  And guess what happens when you don’t feed it?  It goes away.  IT may talk about you now, sure, but do you really care?  They would have either way, now you just won’t know or care.

4- Own it.  One lesson I try to teach all of my kids is this: own your crap.  Own the good, own the bad, but own it.  If I make a mistake, I do my best to own it.  Yesterday my dad called me to tell me he had lied to me about something.  I was so proud of him cause I know how hard it is for all of us to lie and then try to admit it, hoping the other person won’t resent or hate you.  When something bad in your life happens, don’t blame others (do you blame others when something good happens?); own it and move on.  Blame, entitlement, self-righteousness; all of it leads to emptiness. Do your best to not allow others to blame you too.  If they do, see numbers two and three, and probably number one.

5- Find your happy place.  My happy place is outside most of the time.  Usually on a trail.  Sometimes it is in a yoga class.  Sometimes on my meditation cushion.  Sometimes with a book or curled up in bed (and probably with a glass of wine).  Find your happy place and go there when needed and able.  Don’t look for happiness in other people, look for it in yourself first, and then surround yourself with people who are inspiring and up-lifting.

xoxo

Shannon

These three things are ruining your life

A mature couple spending time together on a wine farm

Living a joy filled, peaceful life is within your reach.

Many of us are feeling like a hamster on a wheel spinning round and round trying to find balance, peace and that elusive happiness.  We read articles, educate ourselves, seek answers in diet, exercise, meditation, friendships, love and gratitude.  Sometimes we think we have it figured out.  Sometimes not.  At all.

In our quest, there are many things that will change, cycle out, cycle in and develop.  But for sure, there are three static things that are inhibiting our peace and happiness.

1- We are too connected.  In a recent study, it is proven that when we have unanswered emails, or even social media notifications, it can make it more difficult to focus on a task or to focus period.  Social media especially is a time sucker and can literally change your emotions in a nano second (did you just read on Facebook about the lady who drove her car over a bridge on purpose, and her kids were in the car with her…now how do you feel?).  These emotions that are swirling inside us because of the amount of emails and social media time, can steal joy, peace and happiness.  We have to unplug.

What to do: set aside time each day (at least an hour) to completely unplug. During this time read, listen to music or play with your kids.

Put curfews on your phone: no email or social media after 6pm.  Set a time to check your social media/emails such as: 9am, 1pm and 5pm and nothing in between (unless you are at your office and then only during work hours, and still limit that social media).

And do NOT browse through social media/email while you are socializing with PEOPLE.  Smile.  Talk. Look at their face, not at your phone.

2- Too much busy work. We live in a culture where if you are not busy, there is something wrong with you.  Truth be told- we are killing ourselves with this culture.  Although obesity is attributed to our western diet of processed foods and lot’s of sugar (and this is the main problem), another reason is our high stress levels and lack of sleep.  My father in law has always owned a business.  He told me he used to get up at 2/3am to get to work, and then would get home around 6pm, eat and go to bed to start over.  His words were, “I had to provide for my family, so this is what needed to be done”.  I challenge this though, as his next statement was, “Although I wish I would have spent more time with the family though, maybe then I wouldn’t have gotten a divorce”.  I am not so naive to not know there are tough jobs that are being done out of necessity.  And at times when two jobs are needed even.  But, there are always choices.  Working those extra hours once in a while is admired; working those extra hours on a regular basis is a recipe for disaster (for you and your family). **This is in no way saying that one should not work hard- we should always give our best when tasked with a job, but we should work just as hard on taking care of ourselves and our family- if not more so**

What to do: limit work time to what is necessary (better yet, do a job you LOVE so it also doesn’t feel like work).  This may require some life changes (where you live, what you own, how you spend).  Trust me- they will be worth it despite the short-term struggle.

Don’t over commit.  I am a victim of this; I say yes to too many things.  Learn when to say no (a hint: say no if it takes time away from yourself or your family that you don’t have to spare).

Schedule free time for yourself. Hold it as the most important commitment you have.  Your life and your health depends on it.

3- Lack of purpose.  Do you know that the rate of depression sky rockets after retirement age?  Wouldn’t it seem like it would be the opposite?  Working hard is fine (in moderation- see above), but without goals or something to work towards, we feel as if we are floundering and it can cause anxiety, depression and/or terrible frustration.

What to do: set short and long-term personal and work goals.  Even if you are retired, you can set goals that you want to accomplish. Have an accountability partner to work with these on.  I have a friend that we challenge each other every week on where we are at in our goals.  A life without goals or dreams can feel like an empty life.

Can you look at these three points and determine where you may need to make changes?  By evaluating these areas in your life and identifying ways to adjust, you can take steps to a more peaceful joy filled life.

Who is your a$%hole?

April messageI love sweating.  I love eating healthy.  I love meditating.  I love mentoring others.  And then, there are days, when I need encouragement too.  Just like you.

On those days, I need someone to put a foot up my a$% and remind me of my why.

Why do I get up early on some days in order to get my sweat in.

Why I take time each week to cut up fresh foods and prep for meals.

Why I take the time to meditate daily despite the LONG list of crap that I need to get done.

Why?

Because I care.  About myself and those around me.  And when I don’t do these things, I am not my best.  When I am not my best, I can’t provide the best for those I love.

And because of this, I have an incredible circle of accountability partners that help keep me focused on my why.  When I am in a funk (yes this happens to me sometimes too) I have an accountability partner that will keep me focused.  She will let me bitch for a few, but then will demand that I change my perspective and regroup- as wallowing accomplishes NOTHING.  During those times when I have too many adult beverages, too many days in a row (yes this happens to me sometimes too), I have an accountability partner that will lovingly, but firmly remind me why this is not a good idea.

I am extremely blessed to be surrounded by people who are focused, determined and uplifting.

Recently I showed a friend of mine a text I received from one of my accountability partners that made me laugh.  My friend quickly stated, “yikes she sounds like an a$&hole” and I was immediately taken aback as I had never looked at it that way.  But you know what?  Perhaps we all need a$&holes keeping us on track.  Someone who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear (lovingly of course).  Someone who helps us be the best we can be.

So I ask you…who is your a$&hole?

What is your perspective?

April and SerenaOne of my closest friends and I were texting back and forth about stuff (aka life).  We were discussing that her sweet daughter had, had a fever for six days and she hadn’t had much sleep.  She had been up over at the ER of the hospital literally overnight, didn’t get home until 6:30am and had a client appointment at 9:30am.  I felt so bad for her and texted her how sorry I was, thinking that I would be a wreck.  This was her response:

“I want to sleep all day,  but I have to get a deal worked out which is a GREAT problem to have”.

And I just sat in my car and smiled…almost a bit tearful.  What she could have said, and I might have said is,

“I know, this SUCKS.  I am SO f*&*ing tired!”

But she didn’t.  And she meant it.  She meant that she was truly grateful, that although she was physically and mentally exhausted, worried about her daughter, and probably a little bit black under the eyes, she was excited to have the ‘problem’ of working with clients and getting deals done.

Well hell.

THAT is what makes the difference between a happy life, and an unhappy life.  Perspective.

Each of us could analyze our lives and find all the crap this is awry.  We could spend the time and waste energy complaining and wishing it was different.  Or we could look at it differently.  We get to choose our perspective.  Always.  No exceptions.

Are there terrible things happening in the lives of people?  Yes, absolutely.  But every day that we wake up breathing is a gift, and we get to choose how we view this gift, and what we do with it.  It may not be easy sometimes, this perspective thing, and it does require practice, but when you really, truly, focus on the good, the things to be grateful for, it will absolutely, 100% change your entire life around.  IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE.  No matter what situation you are in.

Try it.

Try changing your perspective, just one small thing at a time.

 

 

 

Don’t have regrets

regretI recently made some big changes in life.  The first, was to sell my business to change my focus and to move my family.  I went back to school, have been obtaining and working on specific licenses and am almost finished with my professional focus change.

Moving my family was much harder than all of that.  I had been talking about it for years, but the actual point of selling, buying, moving, starting over in a new area proved to be much more stressful, sad, hard and at points debilitating than I had imagined (and by the way…it was not this hard ten years ago when I made a similar move- what the hell!?).

Through all of this I kept questioning myself; am I doing the right thing?  Is this really best for my family?  For myself?  For my marriage?

You know what?  I don’t know if it is.  But we did it.  And now I won’t spend years wondering WHAT IF.  And you know what else?  If it sucks ass, then we will move again.  Why not?

What is holding you back in life?  What do you dream about, think about and wonder about?  Do you think, as you lie on your death-bed, you will have regrets about these things?  Yes, I am going there because we have ONE life to live here on earth; are you living the life you dream about?

This month I want you to spend some time thinking about this.  Is it feasible for everyone to up and move?  No.  Is it feasible to make small changes that can lead up to it, or whatever you dream about? YES.  My husband and I started this process over four years ago.  Four years ago we put up pictures of our dream neighborhood and dream house.  YES we did.  Four years ago we started making decisions and changes in our life that would get us steps closer to where we are today.  Sometimes, we thought we would give up and scrap the whole idea.  Sometimes we ran into obstacles we thought could not be overcome (for a moment or two we even allowed ourselves to wallow in doubt).  But each day we woke up, looked at our vision boards, looked at decisions and what needed to be done and we chipped away at our dream.  By the way, we are not done.  We have new dreams and are starting to chip at those, while we live our current dream.

No matter what your dream is- you CAN achieve it.  You just have to do two things:

BELIEVE in it.

MOVE toward it.

We can help you do these things by the way.

Let’s get to LIVING OUR DREAMS.

xoxo

Shannon

 

Giving up to gain in 2015

Metta-WordleMy number one fan, my aunt Theresa, has been asking me where I have been.  “No videos! No posts!  What is going on?” she asked.  I smiled and said, “I am breathing, making space, and enjoying life”.

There are many, MANY articles and posts about how to make the most of this holiday season.  And many of them talk about ways to make it all work, and how to make everyone happy.  I don’t subscribe to that theory.  At breakfast the other day, with two of my closest friends, they both asked me, “Do you even sleep??!” as they see, from the outside, that I am “getting shit done”.  What they don’t see, but I tried to explain, is how much I have let go, in order to breathe and make space for peace to fill me up, versus the anxious “gotta get xyz, abc, efg done..yesterday!” frenzy I am watching in most of my friends and family.  I am not going to stay up all night wrapping presents perfectly.  My presents…that I wrapped, look like my three-year old wrapped them (they really do).  And I could care less.  I am not gonna cram to bake, prepare and cry over dinner plans and family gatherings.  Market Street has a killer deli, and my favorite gluten-free bakery makes amazing cakes/pies.  I am not going to get hung up on what time we meet, where it is, or who is in charge when it comes to the family holiday madness.  So long as I bring my wine, and probably the kids (I really should make sure I don’t forget them or anything), I could care less what the details are.  I am not going to beat myself up because along with the holidays, my businesses, my kids- we are preparing to move across country. A new, life changing decision my husband and I are making.

I am letting go.

Because, what I present to myself each time I start to feel anxious, or like I NEED to do something, is a question.  I ask myself just one simple question.  Each time.

“Will this bullshit matter five years from now?”.  If the answer is yes (which it rarely is) then it stays on my list.  If the answer is no, then I let it go.

That includes my three times a week video podcasts and posts during this life transitioning time, despite how much I love doing them.  It includes cramming in certain holiday madness traditions that are not necessary.  That includes anxiety over listing, showing and perfecting the house.

During this time of reflection, I have come up with my 2015 plan.  I don’t believe too much in resolutions, as I have my vision/goals all year-long.  But I do like to put thoughts together at the end of one year on what I want to think about the following year.  Here is my plan for 2015.

  1. Live YOUR purpose.   I am not worried about what everyone thinks I should do, or what I think everyone expects and neither should you worry about it.  I know what I want, and how I plan to get there and I plan to live out my days doing just that.  Wake up and breathe in your purpose.  Stop wasting time on ‘getting by’ doing what you hate.  Take risks.
  2. Let GO.  I have gotten so much better at this, it is almost scary.  Because of my 5 year question; I am able to let go of the crap that usually bogs me down.  Meditation helps tremendously as well.   I am learning to say no, and learning to be kind and forgiving to myself when I can’t do it ‘all’.
  3. Bask in good Karma.  If you want something, give it.  If you want love, compassion, kindness, respect- give it.  I do subscribe to ‘what comes around go around’ so sow what you want in your life and watch it grow.
  4. Be happy for others.  It hurts my heart when I am with people who are determined to tear others down, no matter what it is in reference to.  Being spiteful, jealous, mean-spirited is draining and so counterproductive for your OWN life.
  5. Guard your circle of Influence. I watched a segment with Steve Harvey yesterday and I plan to live by it; “Don’t share your dreams and aspirations with small-minded people”- be careful who you share your dreams with.  Be careful who you spend time with- remember, the five people you spend the most time with reflect who you are.  Are they uplifting, encouraging, supportive?  Are they cheaters, thieves, gossipers?  Think about it.
  6. GIVE.  Find the time, energy and resources to give.  Help others.  Serve someone.  Do it with joy in your heart.  There is no better gift to myself than to give to others.  I can’t describe the joy it brings me- I want you to experience it for yourself.  Start with baking cookies for a local firehouse.  Or dropping off needed items at a homeless shelter.  Or playing the piano for a senior center (or just reading to the folks there).
  7. Be kind to YOURSELF.  How many times in a day do you call yourself a name?  Either out loud or mentally? YOU hear that.  YOU are listening to this.  Your subconscious does and you produce what you tell yourself.  Yes, we make mistakes.  Sometimes big ones.  But how productive is it to call yourself stupid?  Instead try, “Well Shannon, that was something to learn from, let’s not do that again”.    Also, don’t worry what others say about you.  Remember this; what others think about you is none of your business.
  8. Stop drinking poison.  Are you holding onto a grudge or negative energy about someone?  Stop drinking poison hoping it will kill that person.  It is only killing you.  I can’t tell you how to release it, as it depends on what you need to release.  But I can tell you to seek help.  Look inside yourself and know that if you continue to harp, fester and think about this negative situation or person, you are truly only hurting YOURSELF.  See number two above.
  9. Ease up on expectations.  We all make mistakes.  I usually do within 30 minutes of waking up.  It is unrealistic to hold someone to such a pedestal that when they do something you don’t like or don’t live up to your expectations, that you then start to drink poison (see above).  The only person you control is YOU.  Stop trying to control others.  What someone else does is all about how you SEE it, not the actual actions.  See mistakes as what they are- the same thing you do when you are trying to live.
  10. Practice Metta.  My choice of meditation is metta.  This is a universal love.  It is not easy.  But always, always, it brings such peace with it.  This means loving yourself, your enemies, your loved ones, and everyone in the universe.  This does not mean you allow others to attack you and seek that- it does mean you offer love, at minimum, silently, to those that have hurt you, to those that have nurtured you, and to those that are suffering, rejoicing and living in this world too.  Imagine if everyone in the world practiced Metta.

Lastly- ease up.  Don’t live so seriously.  As my husband and I say, especially when our kids are being absolute assholes (sorry people, we all can be assholes)- “we gotta enjoy the ride”.  Life is a journey, stop looking for the destination of happiness.  It is happening now.  Right now.  As you sip coffee, sip wine..as your kids are screaming and throwing stuff and destroying the last thirty minutes of cleaning you just did (oh, wait..that is my moment)..as you go through whatever season you are in- it is happening, if you look for it.  If you look for ugly, you will find it.  If you look for happiness, you will find it.

Happiness is already within you, around you.

Let’s enjoy the ride in 2015.

Cheers!

 

PS- I am so happy to say I finished my 200 hour yoga certification and meditation instructor certification.  So thankful for what I have learned and continue to learn on this journey.  I am living my purpose and so grateful for those that have encouraged, uplifted and supported me.  I am also almost done with my Masters in Mental Health.  I started this journey several years ago, in my late thirties, with four kids, as my fourth ‘career’- the one I was always destined to do, but never wanted to give up the corporate checks or stability of what I have done and known in the past.  Know this-  It is never too late to live your purpose.

 

Growing through fear

no-fearMy husband and I are looking to make some big life changes.  And they scare me a little bit.  As I was sharing some of this thought process with a friend, she easily stated, “Ya, but remember we grow through fear”.  Well, duh.

Sometimes you need someone else to say something, that you normally teach, say and practice- right back at ya when things are a bit cloudy.  Our own perspective can get a bit lost.

When we use our fears, when we face them, we 100% grow, change, develop.  Remember the video I did on the fly last week about fear?  I shared four ways to overcome fear.  Which is important- but let’s analyze what happens when we do face our fears.

First, what are the most common fears?  Below is a list of what folks fear the most:

  • Fear of death
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of what others think
  • Fear of not being enough
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of not being loved
  • Fear of public speaking

Can you find any of your fears listed above?  There are a few there for me.  Right now I am struggling with fear of failure (for our life change decision).

But.

Here is what I remind myself of.  When I tackled things that I was most fearful of- I always, 100%, every time have come out better because of it.  Either a better circumstance, or a better perspective.

Cause here is the thing.  You are CAPABLE of achieving, changing, succeeding, dreaming, chasing, and being.  What stops us- is fear.

Can you look at that list, and pinpoint something that is holding you back?  Can you tackle it?  Either head on, or bit by bit?

You can.  I know you can.  And if you do, I promise, you will be a better person because of it.


mushroomMushroom Stroganoff

This week my family and I tried a new recipe from my new favorite recipe book, from Forks over Knives. OH MY GOODNESS.  This, the whole family loved.  You can find the recipe here.  I have been on a 90% plant-based ‘diet’ for several weeks now- and am LOVING it.  I can’t believe how great I feel.  I ate fairly healthy before, but cutting out animal proteins and fats have been huge.  And I am shocked.  By the way, I do love a good steak.  So I say 90% (or like 95% ha) of the time I will eat plant-based.  But I do have fish once a week, and a good steak around once a month or so.

Oh, and wine.  Gotta have my wine.

Cheers!