Wind

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When I first created this website, I was inspired by the idea of finding peace on a windy day.  At the time, that meant that even when storms rage, you can find a place of calm and sanctuary within yourself, and use that to return to balance and joy.  Although that is all still true, lately I find that wind means so much more.

Wind is change.  It is transformation, inspiration, movement, magic.  It is what allows us to be lifted into the air, to soar the heights, to hear music and our loved ones’ laughter.  It is power.  It allows us to sweep away the past, and make room for the future.

And so “finding peace on a windy day” has taken on a different meaning for me.  The peace found on a windy day does not deny or ignore the wind, but rather it embraces it.  It uses the wind and all the powers of creativity and change that it represents.  This is the power of artists–to harness the wind, to use it to create something new, something beautiful, something full of joy.

So when the winds are raging in your own life, you do not need to fear them. Instead, let them inspire you to create something worthy of the artist within. See what you can do with that wind to create your own kind of magic, whether you call yourself an artist, a writer, a parent, a lover, a knitter, a sculpture, a dream-weaver.

We are all artists.  We all have windy days.  The greatest art is in allowing that wind to bring us new beginnings, and the possibility of creating greater peace and joy than we had previously imagined.

Try This: Keep a Journal

IMG_0109Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing a series of posts called “Try This,” a collection of ideas for you to try when you’re seeking greater joy and peace in your life.  These are things that have often worked for me, and which might be of benefit to you.

I’ll begin with a practice that I began at the age of 14, and have used fairly consistently ever since:  keeping a journal.  I have used my journals for many things:  to rant about problems, to play with solutions, to capture memories, to record my journey.  There is no wrong way to keep a journal but, if you are new to the practice, here are a few ideas:

Begin where you are.  Describe where you are sitting, how you are you feeling, what’s on your mind.

If you’re upset, angry or wrestling with a problem, try this:  give yourself some time and space to really get it out.  Express your feelings, without censoring. After you’ve done that for a few minutes, switch gears.  Find something good about the person or situation, or some lesson that you’re learning.  If that doesn’t work, switch gears entirely–try writing about something else that brings you joy, such as your adorable 2-year old niece, the party you’re looking forward to, or just the way the snow looks on the mountains.

Use your journal to express gratitude.  Simply writing down a list of things that make you happy can make you feel better.

If you’re concerned about privacy, there are apps that require passwords (I like iJournal), or you can enable password protection on many word processing programs.  Or find a great hiding place!

As with any practice, experiment with different ways of doing it, and find a way that works for you.  That could be writing every morning as you sip your coffee, or once a week as a Sunday night ritual.  You may prefer a spiral notebook, a computer or a beautiful leather book (I like fairly large pages that open flat, but over the years, there’s nothing I haven’t tried).

Have you ever kept a journal?  What works for you?  If you have ideas, suggestions or questions of your own, I’d love to hear them!

Clouds In My Coffee

IMG_0098It’s already December, the final month of 2013.  It’s been a wild ride:  completing the Martha Beck Life Coach Training Program and setting up my practice; creating the Wise Owl Book Club; traveling to San Diego, Pismo Beach, Lake Tahoe and Napa…  Well, let’s just say that I am very grateful for the shorter, cooler days (even here in the desert) and to turn my focus toward my home and loved ones.

Of course, there’s still plenty to keep me busy–holiday events and shopping, work to do, knitting projects to finish–but during this time of year I find myself a bit more comfortable taking a moment to sit by the fire, drink a cup of tea and enjoy the time I have with my family.  And that means that I can also do something incredibly valuable:  dream.

When I take the time to dream, I get in touch with myself.  I listen to the small still voice inside that reminds me what’s most important, and what I should be focusing on now, in this moment.  I relax.  I play.  I listen.  And I remember to pay attention to my nightly dreams as well, which often hold messages from my soul about the way to go.

I’ll be writing more soon about methods of dream analysis that I find particularly useful and enlightening but, in the meantime, let me just recommend this:  take the time to dream while you’re awake.  Look for those clouds in your coffee, and open your imagination to what you find there.  Not only is dreaming a good way to get in touch with a peaceful, joyful part of yourself, but it just may suggest possibilities you haven’t yet dared to imagine.

Comfort, Joy & Mindless Eating

IMG_1607Thanksgiving arrived early this year, and with it began the season of gift-giving and of holiday celebrations.  It is a time of joy, a time to gather together with loved ones, a time to share the warmth of love and laughter.

Yet for many, this is a time of excess:  too much food, too much wine, too many parties, too many obligations, too much money spent.  And so I wonder, is there some way that we can bring more peace and balance into what should be a time of light and love?

Let’s begin with those holiday parties.  Wonderful food, holiday cocktails, a time to celebrate… yet many of us either fret away the evening trying not to ruin our diets, or, instead, indulge and indulge and indulge… and regret it the next day.

Instead of this all-or-nothing approach, try to find a place of balance between enjoying the moment, and feeling good the next day.  According to Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink (one of my all-time favorite books about how and why we eat), we eat what we do because of hidden influencers:  the size of our plates, the atmosphere, the music playing, the company.  We cannot control (or completely ignore) all of these things, so the best thing to do is to fight fire with fire:  use your own tricks and tips to enjoy the holidays while protecting yourself from over-indulging.  Here are a few ideas:

1.  Make it a game.  Ask yourself–what can I do to slow down how fast I eat?  Perhaps serve yourself less than normal, and leave the leftovers in the other room so they aren’t as tempting.  Can I delay that snack I want?  Perhaps have a glass of water and see if you still feel hungry in 15 minutes.  Do I need the hamburger with cheese, bacon and avocado, or would I be just as happy with only the avocado?  Find clever ways to cut out a few calories here and there, without ever depriving yourself completely.

2.  Be patient.  Losing (or gaining) weight takes much less drastic measures than most of us believe.  The difference of a few bites can make a big difference when done daily.  Read Mindless Eating or The Four-Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace by Martha Beck to learn more.

3.  Increase your joy.  Not only from food, but from everywhere.  That holiday party shouldn’t be about only the crab cakes and wine; it should be about the company.  Enjoy your friends, enjoy the music and the conversation, and don’t become too fixed on what you are or aren’t eating.

4.  Stay balanced.  When you get too hungry or too tired, of course your choices won’t be as good.  So take care of yourself.  Get enough rest, drink plenty of water and eat well.

5.  Create your own tricks.  Find what works and pass on what doesn’t.  I like to share meals or order appetizers; I use small plates, bowls and glasses (another Mindless Eating trick).  I try to eat slowly and take breaks so that I know when I’m full.  Doing these things allows me to enjoy everything I want, and still feel good later (and fit into my favorite jeans).

Wishing you joy, balance and all the pleasures of the season,

Jennifer

The Muses Are Singing

We are creators, born to create and to share our creations with others.  When we create, out of joy rather than desperation, we enter a state of grace.  We stand beside the Muses, alive to our gifts and the privilege of sharing those gifts with others.  We flow with the current of life, turning every precious moment into something transcendent and eternal.

We forget that we are creators only when we attempt to divorce art from our lives.  But art is not something separate from the everyday.  True art reaches us wherever we are, as naturally as air reaches our lungs.

Don’t hold your breath.  Let yourself create.  Slip into the realm of creation, the place of possibility.  Give life to your dreams, wherever and whenever you find them.  Let your life be a work of art–open to new interpretations, full of fire and passion.

The Muses are singing.  It is time to sing back.

Journey Into Stillness: Beginnings & Endings

It has been 40 days since the beginning of our journey into stillness.  Whether you sat beneath a bodhi tree, welcomed the dawn with a favorite mantra, or simply contemplated the idea of meditation, you are welcome here, at the place where one ending and a new beginning meet.

We are surrounded by endings and beginnings, some obvious, some not.  In a world that is constantly shifting, constantly changing, constantly evolving, it is important to mark the transitions, to notice when the gate swings open and we walk into a new life, a new day, or simply a new moment in time.

Breathe into the changes.  Find your sea legs; let yourself bend with the curves.  It is all a dance, and you were born to be a dancer.

Wherever you find yourself in your own journey to stillness, I hope it brings you joy and peace.  As for me, I will continue practicing the ways of stillness.  I will continue watching how one ending flows into a new beginning.  I will continue to fall deeper in love with the moments that hold me, and to share with you what I find along the way.

Namaste.

Lotus Flower

Pure beauty, floating serenely on water sparkling with light, does not begin its journey warm, cradled, safe.  No, its roots lie far below the surface, in the dark, cold mud of the earth.  Its seed lies dormant, often for many years.  One day it pushes up, through the mud, through the dark, and reaches the light above.  Only then does it bloom, full of beauty, a symbol of peace and enlightenment.

A lotus flower is not beautiful in spite of the mud, but because of it.  It is the earth that gives it the strength to journey towards the light.  We are the same–it is our past, our struggles, our darker experiences that teach us our abilities.  That send us on our journey toward love.  We learn to reach for the light, to express our beauty, only after we have traveled through times of darkness and uncertainty.

We do not always see our paths.  We do not see the evolving, unfinished design.  Yet the Designer does not fail us.  Trust.  Accept.  Practice faith.  Or don’t, and that will be part of the journey, too.

There will come a time, a time beyond time, when we will be one with ceaseless, passionate joy.  Until then, embrace the uncertainty.  Embrace the many-faceted experiences of your life, for none will ever come quite the same way again.  Love it all, even when love seems distant and cold.  It never is.

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