Happy Tools

I’m happy most of the time. In fact, I’m so cheerful that occasionally it irritates people! I have normal emotional ups and downs but after thinking about it, I realized that I’m happy about 85% of the time. I have been really, really unhappy before though. In fact, I spent a year in clinical depression. Depression so painful that I didn’t want to breathe anymore. It was awful. So I work really hard NOT to go back there.

My favorite tool to keep me on the happy side of life is to count my blessings. I try to find at least five: I have love in my life, I have a place to live, I’m healthy, I’m doing something I really like and My kids still say, “I love you mom!” When I’m having a really rough day my list looks more like this: I’m breathing……I have gas in my car…….UMmmmmm….I have coffee…. squirrels are cute… I like the blue sky…. But at least I can still find five things!

My next best tool is to move (sometimes drag) my mind into the present moment. If I am busy worrying about something then I am NOT present. I’m really in the future making up stories about what “might” happen and then making myself sick over it. If I’m thinking about something in the past I’m not present in this moment either. When I finally bring myself to this moment I can see that everything is fine. I’m ok. Life is good and I don’t have anything to complain about.

Another tool that I use is exercise. I am a yoga instructor so I practice some kind of yoga daily. Yoga helps me get in touch with my body and my mind. It helps me “burn away the crazy” and also produces ‘Happy” endorphins in my brain! I also like to hike, ride my bike, swim or paddleboard. Any kind of exercise is helpful!

An often used tool is to talk to others about what is bothering me. It can be a professional counselor or a really good friend. But it needs to be someone I can be brutally honest with. Someone who will just listen and not judge. This person/or group of people can take some time and trial and error to find! Unburdening myself in this way takes a ton of weight off of my soul and raises my happiness level by leaps and bounds.

Hugs or hand holding is a great way to boost my happiness level. Humans are made to be in connection and communion with others. Being able to hug someone – tight, or walk around holding hands is an essential part of how we are made. If you’re not with a partner right now, go get a massage. Appropriate touch through massage can be a very worthwhile thing in your life. It is especially helpful for senior citizens who have lost their partner in life.

Going outside is probably one of the most underutilized ways to boost your happiness level! Our bodies need the vitamin D that the sun gives our skin. At least 20 minutes a day outside is recommended. I lived in Seattle for most of my life and there is not enough sunshine there but being outdoors at least gave me fresh air, green moss under my feet, huge pine trees to smell and ocean views. The sound of the waves can be a great meditation tool!

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So, if you’re feeling a little out of sorts please try one (or all) of these Happy Tools! Life is good. It’s difficult sometimes but it’s worth it. Every day.

From My Heart to Yours!

The Universe’s Answer is YES

What do you do when the Universe offers you everything you’ve been working toward? For me it looked like dancing around in my living room and pumping my fist in the air while I yelled, “Yes, yes, YES!!!!” really loudly!

It started six years ago when I set some BIG changes in motion. My marriage was coming to end, I had attained a very unhealthy weight and I knew I had to change my life. Eventually, the divorce ensued. I started practicing yoga and the weight came off!

Because I loved Yoga so much I set my intention to become a yoga teacher. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to pay for my training but I courageously put down my deposit and found that the rest of the money showed up little by little just when I needed it. A similar experience followed with a yoga retreat to Costa Rica.

That’s when I learned that the Universe’s answer is YES! If you want something, ASK for it and then WORK toward it. Don’t just sit on your bum with your hands extended waiting for the goods to drop into your hands. You have to help! You have to put energy in to get something out!

Eventually, I starting telling the Universe that I wanted to own a studio.  I even flew from Seattle to Florida to look at a yoga studio that was for sale. But that place didn’t feel quite right. So I waited and kept practicing and  teaching. I worked and educated myself and dreamt of what I wanted a studio to be.

Recently I went back to school to become a Licensed Massage Therapist – another skill to add to my resume. Then I told a few friends that I was planning to move to Georgia in July – checking in to see if they would maybe have some work for me….and the Universe had a great big YES for me.

Neely Hunter, the owner of Balance Wellness Studio offered me a partnership in her business! Balance couldn’t be more perfect. It is a holistic wellness center that offers massage, reflexology, acupuncture, community meditation and education, Feldenkrais, yoga, barre & Pilates. It’s a cooperative community of wellness professionals and It’s exactly what I would have built on my own!

The Universe’s answer is YES. It may not happen overnight. It might take 6 years. It might take a lot of hard work on your part to be ready for what the Universe has in store for you. Don’t give up hope. Keep moving in the direction of your dreams. The perfect place is out there waiting for you!

You can learn a little bit more about My Yoga Story here. 🙂

Peace, Love & Namaste.

Wild Carrot Herbals – You gotta try this!

I’ve been on a crusade lately. I want to eat food that is fresh from the garden or farmer’s market. I want to use Essential Oils as natural remedies for health and skin care and I want to use products for my body that are a combination of all things good: fresh, healthy, holistic and clean. And Wild Carrot Herbals is all of the above!

I first became acquainted with this company a few years ago while working in a yoga studio in Stanwood, WA. I fell in love with the Wild Rose Eye Cream and also their “Lord, my hands are so dry!” lotion.

So I looked them up online and found out that they offer a Sampler Pack by mail. For only $5 I received this great packet of trial size products.

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In it I found good things like Luminous Lemon & Lavender Eye Brightening Cream and Gaia Goo Healing Salve (say what?) Borage Butter Cream (sounds like a dessert) and even Hemorrhoid Healing Salve – glad I don’t need that today. LOL.

Every email I received was signed with “Love and Blessings” from the owner and I found myself looking forward to checking my email to see what I would find there – THAT doesn’t happen very often with companies that email me – how about you?

In the world of Sacred Commerce they are doing everything right. They are a small family owned company in rural Oregon. Their packaging is made from recycled materials. They make everything from scratch and package it in small batches. Everything has an expiration date – because it’s FRESH and organic.

But more than anything I love this company because of the way they make me feel. I feel like I am a valued customer and that I am furthering the ethics that I choose to live by….by working with them…..AND that’s the kind of company I want to purchase from.

Why the name Wild Carrot?

from their website:

“According to the ‘Flower Essence Repertory’, by Patricia Kaminsky and Richard Katz, Queen Anne’s Lace flower essence harmonizes both ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ energies, so that one can stay connected with the Earth, yet also be emotionally clear and objective in one’s spiritual insight and vision. The Queen Anne’s Lace flower (aka Wild Carrot) helps to ground and stabilize, as well as to refine and sensitize the soul’s ‘clear-seeing.’

See you way clear to the Wild Carrot Herbals company. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Peace, Love & Namaste – from Dawn.

Choose Love over Fear

We have a decision to make in every interaction that we have in life and it’s simple. You can choose Love or you can choose Fear. If someone gets in your face and is belligerent, you can choose to smack them upside the head OR you can choose to let it flow off your back and say a silent prayer for them. When someone cuts you off in traffic you can flip them the bird OR you can choose to believe that they may have an emergency to get to. And if things just don’t seem to be going your way you can give up OR you can choose to believe that something better is on it way!

I know it seems like a small choice. It is. But if you consistenly choose Love over Fear your life will be a whole hell of a lot happier and easier.  But what does each word mean? What does Love encompass (besides the obvious) and what does Fear stand for?

Love = Happiness, Hope, Faith, Trust, Forgiveness, Looking for the Silver Lining, Believing it will get better, Taking care of our self, Believing the best of others, Letting people in front of you in line, Giving, Sharing, Talking to the Homeless, Holding the door open, saying YES when appropriate, Calling your mother, Believing in Abundance, Helping others, Believing in yourself and rooting yourself on with “I got this!”

Fear = Jealousy, Anger, Throwing a fit, Creating drama, Gossip, Pouting, Dishonesty, Being negative, Scarcity, Us vs. Them thinking, Isolation, Perfectionism, Addiction, Not being your real self, Worry, Selfishness (not self-care), “I can’t”, Thinking you are better than anyone else, Hoarding, And I’m going to add Depression because I’ve been deep in it and I know how fearful I was.

These lists are not complete by any means. They are just what I could come up with quickly off the top of my head.  When you are in the moment to choose, you’ll know which category you’ve chosen. Just remember that saying “no” to others can mean saying “yes” to yourself and that is definitely choosing LOVE. And there is a difference between taking care of yourself and being constantly self centered – which is not choosing love.

No matter what, it’s always a good idea to stop, breathe and think before reacting. Our life and our world is a reflection of our actions but none of us are perfect. We won’t always make the right choice. So if you mess up, choose Love and forgive yourself and move on!

Move Toward What is Light

I got some great advice the other day. And it came from someone I don’t even know. He’s a self-help guru from Los Angeles that I found out about on the Internet! Now I normally don’t go looking for a lot of help online unless I’m really down. But what he had to say landed in my brain with a, “Oh yeah!” And just like that I was hooked.

He said lots of great things but the thing that hit home was, “Move away from what feels heavy and move towards things that feel light.” Easy right? So, why have I never thought of it this way before? I’ve said, “If it isnt’ a HELL YES, then it’s a NO.” That’s a pretty good one and I’ve also said, “What’s meant to be will be.” Isn’t that a song from the 50’s or something? LOL…..

But FEELING how your body reacts to a situation or a question is easy for me. Do I want to travel around the world – Hell Yes! Excitement, My face smiles – hence lightness!!!!! Do I want to stop going to school and do it right now? Ummmmm no….concern, worry, lots of questions….hence a heavy feeling. See it’s easy! Give it a try!

Yeah….right now….ask yourself a question and see how your tummy feels….does your heart drop? Or do you start to worry about it? Or does it make you get all squirmy feeling and excited??????

I hope it works for you too. Sometimes all we need is a new tool to help us figure things out. Because we commit ourselves to things that we really don’t want to do ….because we get shamed into it, or our mom makes us feel guilty, or we just feel societal pressure…the reasons are never-ending really. And the truth is we shouldn’t do that.

Stick with your gut – your inner Guru. It will give you an honest answer if you listen. Try it out this week and let me know if it works for you!

Now you’ll have to excuse me because I’m feeling like it would be a very good idea to go spend some time walking in nature!!!!!

Being Still and Quiet

Today I tried something totally different. I did my yoga practice in the quiet. Usually I play music – anything that fits my mood. Sometimes I listen to mellow stuff like Norah Jones and some days I rock out with Pink and Christina. But today, for some reason as I entered my yoga room the idea came to me to just be quiet.

Now, for those of you who know me, you know that being quiet and still is a real challenge for me! I have an opinion on just about everything and I’m not shy about sharing. And stillness is challenging for me.  Yin is not my favorite class because I want to MOVE, sweat, get my heart beating and burn calories.

So as I began to move I was surprised by how lovely the quiet was. My window was open a bit so I could hear the birds waking up and chirping hello to each other. I could hear cars making their way into the beehive. An owl hooted low and mellow…and I could hear my breath.

When is the last time you heard your breath during practice? And I don’t mean….”pant, pant, huff and puff Yeah of course I hear my breath!” I mean a slow measured inhale and exhale with each move….keeping the focus internal. REALLY taking time to hold each pose for 5 slow breaths.. holding the pose in stillness for longer than usual..tuning in to the muscles being used and making any small adjustments that are needed.

Of course, I wasn’t able to stay focussed the whole time. My mind did wander a bit…mostly to YOU. Whenever I practice I’m always thinking about what I will share with you. What is it that I learned today that I can tell you about? What message does the Spirit have for us? So YOU were right there with me this morning!

We are so busy in our every day lives. We spend a lot of time distracting ourselves. TV, cell phones, music, books, magazines…conversations….None of these things are bad in and of themselves but when was the last time you were just quiet and still? When is the last time you connected to the voice within? When is the last time you listened to your heart and heard your breath?

Krishnamacharya said, “Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.

How to Start a Home Practice

Have you every noticed that yoga instructors have a certain set of things that they usually talk about in class? One teacher might talk a lot about “letting go.” Another teacher might mention meditating or eating healthy. What I have learned (because I AM a yoga teacher) is that we all preach to you about what it is that we are working on ourselves! It’s not that we think you’re the same as us…it’s just that this item is forefront in our minds. It’s our topic for the week so we share what we’re learning!

The thing that is forefront in my mind this week is my home yoga practice. Having been a yoga instructor for several years you’d think that I would have a long, burgeoning home yoga practice right? Nope. Although I’ve tried over and over to commit to a practice at home but it never happened. I just couldn’t seem to find the time or be dedicated to get on my mat consistently. Until recently. I now have a daily home practice that I LOVE. So here is what I have learned.

Find a place. You must have a space dedicated to your practice. I suggest a separate room with a door that you can close. If that’s not possible then it needs to be a place where you won’t be disturbed. Decorate this space with things you love. When you come into the space it should make you feel happy and glad to be there. Your body should literally go, “Ahhhhhhhh!” Put up inspirational quotes or photos that you love. Choose lighting that makes you feel groovy – nothing too harsh, something soft and natural. Light a candle if you like or have some incense. Your mat should be spread out in invitation always so you can just walk onto it…..none of this “rolled up in the corner” crap.

Find a time. I have found that it’s really important to have my practice at the same time every day. For me, this is the first thing in the morning right after my coffee. If mornings don’t work for you that’s fine. Just pick a time – the same time every day – and commit to it. It will be easier for you to be consistent and it will also be easier for your family to remember that this is your time. Guard this time with your superhero abilities. Don’t double book yourself! Say NO if someone asks you to do something during your yoga time! Be strong! Don’t cave. Also – you do not have to take an hour. You might want to just start with 10 or 15 minutes and work up to longer if you like.

Find a Teacher. I know this is your home practice but you will need someone to guide you and inspire you and answer your questions. Unfortunately this will be like dating. You will have to kiss a few toads before you find the right one for you. It’s good to get into a studio to be with like-minded people, check in with your mentor, ask any questions you may have. In fact, you may even want to do a private yoga session to have them check your alignment and suggest poses for specific things you want to work on. If you’re just not a studio person there are lots of great teachers online. Watch a few videos and find one whose language and personality are attractive to you. You will tend to stick with your practice if you admire your teacher.

Find a Style. You may be the type of person who just needs time to meditate every day. Or maybe you need a hot power flow to get your blood pumping. You may love inversions….or not. Try different types of yoga, see what makes your body feel good (and it SHOULD feel good), helps your mind to focus and leaves your heart feeling happy. Not every practice is for every person. Shop around, try them all and cherry pick what works for your body.

Find the Love. To commit to a daily yoga practice is to show love to yourself and that is a GOOD thing! Some of us really struggle with this. We have busy lives and it seems like everyone else comes first. It can be easy to push our practice out-of-the-way until it’s been years since we stretched, meditated or balanced. But to be able to give and give and give…we first have to fill our own cup. We have to take time to care for ourselves so that we can then care for others. It is NOT selfish. It is self – care You are worth it and it will make you a better person.

I hope these tips are helpful. I know it’s working for me. I hope you can find the Place, the Time, the Teacher and the Style that works for you…..and most importantly the Love to care for yourself!

Namaste yogis