Category Archives: Naturally Happy

Eat Your Seedlings!

Is that a vicious title or what?  Actually, I’ve decided eating seedlings is the kindest thing to do.

The hardest part of gardening, in my opinion, has to be thinning seedlings.  You spend a week or more, wishing, hoping and praying that your seeds germinate and grow.  Then they do!  Then you have to wipe out a sizable portion of them because there are always too many or none at all, nothing in between. They need to be spaced properly or they won’t grow but MY GOD, I don’t want to decide which ones have to go.  I want to nurture them but in order to do that I have to ruthlessly pick which ones get to live.  Yeesh!

The other thing that bothered me is that it seemed so wasteful to just toss them.  So, I decided to eat them!  Now, I prefer to think of them as sprouts, instead of my victims and they are delicious!

So, how is your garden growing this year?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Seeds Update

There is some good news and not so good news.

Bad news first,  the indoor herb seedlings didn’t make it.  I suspect I didn’t get the peat pots wet enough to start and the sides needed to be covered better with the plastic.  I’ll direct sow them again outside.  I think they will be fine.  I’ll just need to wait a little longer to harvest them.

Now for the good news!  The tomato plants are doing great.  So great in fact, I needed to find homes for them.  Several people have said they will be happy to adopt the little leafy guys once they are hardened off and can live outside.  They should be ready in about two weeks.

So, tell me how is your garden growing?

Many  blessings,

Cynthia

Planting Seeds of Hope and Happiness

I was at Home Depot last week trying bring a project that was banging around my head to fruition when I spied the organic seed section…  Uh-oh.  It’s amazing how quickly seed packets can stack up in your cart.

Now, I have tried to grow plants from seed several times before. I haven’t tried indoor seeds in many years.  I tend to be more successful when I direct sow outdoors in the Spring but that means I never get to grow certain plants like tomatoes from seed.  So, with a heart full of optimism, here we go again…

Baby Tomato Plants

Baby Basil

Do you grow your own plants from seed?  I would love to hear from you.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

Naturally Grateful: Actually, I practice…

Gratitude is a very popular word these days. You can’t go for very long, it seems, without someone mentioning having, “an attitude of gratitude.”

I had been flirting with a gratitude practice for a long time. I mentioned in my birthday post that I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I also used to try to close my journal entries by writing three things I was grateful for but I didn’t always keep it up.

Last October, I decided that I wanted to establish a daily gratitude practice. A quick google search revealed there are a myriad of different ways to do it. Some people opt for the typical method of writing down what they are grateful and why. Others have come up with unique approaches like snapping a daily photo or shooting a quick video of what they are thankful for and then sharing it on social media. One artist, Lori Portka, expressed her gratitude over a two year period by making 100 paintings to honor people who have impacted her life in a positive way.

Combining your personal creative passion with gratitude is a beautiful daily practice! Since I am a writer… that pretty much brought me right back to where I started BUT with a few helpful changes! I bought an old school composition notebook. (By the way they are still only 99 cents. Isn’t that amazing?) I decided I wanted to keep a separate gratitude book because I like writing freely in my journal. I also wanted a cheap book because I wanted to make sure I wrote daily without trying to save space for truly sterling, eloquent expressions of gratitude. This practice is about being thankful for all things, big and small.

I do have a few rules for my daily gratitude writing. Each day gets one page. I write only about what happened that day. It’s easy to write about a bunch of things you’re perpetually grateful for but the idea is to train my mind to focus on the good I encounter each day.

I noticed during that first month that was exactly what occurred. I think knowing that I was going to do the ritual at the end of the day, kept me aware of good things as they happened. I was then able to pause and relish them, instead of rushing on to whatever bit of business to which I had to attend next.

Take Chauncy, for example, I am always grateful for him! However, this is how it shows up in my gratitude book:

“I am so grateful that I looked back in the window before I got in the car this morning to go to work. Chauncy was on the other side with his paws up on the window seat, watching me go with all the love in the world shining in his little face.”

I catch so many more of these moments when I maintain my notebook. At times, it has almost seemed like more good things were happening. Although, it’s more likely that my shift in awareness allows me to see more of these twinkly moments, that actually happen all the time to everyone.

Now, to be completely honest, I fell off this practice for several months after my dental disappointment in December. It can be hard to feel grateful all the time when you’re heartbroken. While I am always aware I have a lot to be thankful for, knowing it and feeling it aren’t the same. Sometimes, you just can’t force it and need to give yourself a break. I am pleased to report I am easing back into a more regular practice again… and I am grateful for that!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Naturally Creative: The Perfect Gift

I love it when I get to make gifts for people.  I really try not to be annoying about it.  I mean I don’t make things to get out of buying things.  It is nice to save money when you are on a budget but I genuinely enjoy being creative.  So, when the stars line up affording me the time, opportunity and inspiration to make something I believe someone else will appreciate, truly, I am at my happiest.

Up until recently, I never had the chance to make anything for my dad.  Dad is a manly sort of guy!  I make jewelry, bath and body products, etc. While he enjoys my baked goods, I have never have been able to make him anything that lasts.  So, imagine my delight when I happened across this dragon egg tutorial from Accio Lacqueur!  So happy!

Just to give you a little background.  Dad is a very well-read cat, everything from classics to military history, sci-fi, thrillers, you name it BUT fantasy is one of his faves.  So, Dad is a big Game of Thrones fan.  In fact, Dad, my brother, sister and I, all started out reading the George RR Martin Series but I bowed out after two or three books.  (I need more dragons and magic, less gore; more romance, less creepy sex.  I digress…)  Dad has been an avid fan of the show since the beginning. When he took me to the Renaissance Festival last September, it seemed like every time we turned a corner, he was greeted with “Game of thrones!” or “Winter is Coming!” because he was sporting the coolest Family Stark tee shirt in all the realm.

We both like dragons.  Here are two of Dad’s snaps from that day:

Bigger DragonLittle Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty cool huh?

So, after after putting 5000+ tiny coats of varnish on 1000+ tacks over countless netflix sessions, this

image

 

Turned into:

Dragon Egg Two

So much fun!  I just had to share.

Do you ever make gifts for people?  Leave me a reply in the comments section.  I would love to hear all about them.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Naturally Reflective: New Year’s Review and Reset

I am very happy to have today off!  Since it’s New Year’s Eve, a coworker asked me yesterday with a smirk if I was going to “party hard.”  The sarcasm stems from the fact that I am the only introvert in an office replete with extroverts.  It’s common knowledge at work that “partying hard” is clearly not in my wheelhouse.  In fact, I stopped trying to “fake it in order to make it” years ago.

I prefer to focus more on starting the New Year off on the right foot.  So, New Year’s Eve for me is a good time to reflect back over the last year.  I saw a great quote on Facebook the other day from the ageless and wise Mimi Kirk:

“2016- Life is like a garden, keep the things that worked last year and get rid of the things that didn’t.”

Oh how I love a good gardening analogy!  It seems like sage advice for non-diggers as well.  Removing clutter from our lives has become a popular theme in recent years, as the minimalist trend has gained momentum.  I applaud the idea of careful consumption and avoiding the accumulation of items that aren’t loved or needed.

What about habits and behaviors that don’t benefit us and keep us from living our dreams?  This is the question I will be pondering today.  New Year’s Eve is a good time to look back over the past year and see what worked and what didn’t.  I am going to follow Mimi’s advice to weed out what is not serving me.  I also want to recognize with gratitude what did and plan to cultivate those practices.

How are you spending New Year’s Eve?  Will you be spending time in reflection and gratitude?  Partying hard?  Little of both? Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!  May 2016 be your best year ever, filled with love, happiness, prosperity, laughter and many beautiful blessings!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Naturally Purposeful: Building the Dream with Andrea Shields Nunez

After our interview, I asked Career Liberation Coach Andrea Shields Nunez if she would answer a career/business question with a (health and wellness slant) quarterly.  She agreed!  I am really excited about this collaboration because I believe pursuing a dream you feel passionate about is integral to good health.  Our timely first installment is below.

Everything gets so crazy this time of year with the holidays.  It would be easy for people to get side-tracked from working on their dream.  Do you have any tips for people not to lose focus during all the holiday madness?

Not falling prey to the inevitable holiday madness that this time of year brings requires you to be very intentional. Even things that are truly important to you can get bumped for family obligations or just out of pure exhaustion. As much as I tout the importance of staying focused and taking action, in this case—at this time of year—my advice is not to fight it. In fact, build the downtime into your plan. Chances are you probably need the break, and what better time to give yourself permission to wind down then when everyone else is allowing themselves to be stressed! (I’m nothing if not a contrarian!)

The keys here are intention and full permission. Make it your intention to actually get some rest, recharge, do things you enjoy just for the sake of the enjoyment. Understand that this is as important to achieving your goals as taking action. Giving yourself this time can actually help you gain even more clarity and focus once you get back into action! And give yourself full permission to take the break. Absolutely NO guilt; None! For some, this time of year comes with plenty of that already. Don’t pile it on!

As we head into the season full force, take a few minutes to declare your intention to juuuust chill, give yourself full permission to do so, and know that you’re doing the very best thing possible for moving yourself forward in the New Year!

I agree with Andrea that rest and taking time to recharge is very important especially this time of year.  What do you think?  Please leave a reply in the comments section.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Naturally Generous: This Year’s Donation for Little Shelter

I mentioned a few times on here that I donate financially and also handmade jewelry to Little Shelter.  It’s almost time for their annual masquerade ball.  I created this piece especially for this event.

Little Shelter Auction

Click on image to see the full-sized photo.

This necklace is made with sodalite, sterling silver, blue lace agate and Swarovski crystals in an “alexandrite” finish.  These crystals have a little surprise!  They change color depending on the light.

The Masquerade Ball will take place at Water Mill Caterers in Smithtown on Thursday, October 29th from 6 to 11 PM.  Call 631-368-8770 ext. 26 for more information.  Please consider purchasing a ticket to the event or making a donation to Little Shelter.  Check out http://littleshelter.com for more information.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

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Naturally Purposeful: An Interview with Andrea Shields Nunez

Do you hate your job?  Do you feel like you are living your life with purpose?  Just thinking about these questions make your head and heart ache with frustration?  Maybe it is time to liberate your career with Andrea Shields Nunez!

Andrea Shields Nunez is a Career Liberation Coach from Los Angeles, CA, who works with people all over the United States. Andrea helps folks pinpoint what they are passionate about and develop a plan to move toward their goals.

You are a Career Liberation Coach.  Would you explain what that is and how your approach is different than other coaches?

Career liberation is all about freeing yourself of anything that feels out of alignment with who you are and what you want your life to be. Anyone in a job that doesn’t reflect their values; doesn’t allow them to fully express themselves; doesn’t provide them with the fulfillment and sense of meaning they desire, knows what this lack of alignment feels like and it’s not good!

I help people liberate themselves in a very real and practical sense because I come at it from the career perspective but the work I do with my clients is very deep and, of course, ends up touching all aspects of their lives. I think this is the differentiator—I’m not a traditional career coach whose focus is on resumes and interview skills. I’m all about holistic, life changing career transitions, specializing in people who want to do—or are already doing—something entrepreneurial.

You worked for many years as an Executive Recruiter. How did you transition into coaching?

I worked at a global executive search firm for many years and was unhappy for most of that time. When I started, I thought this was finally that career soulmate I had been looking for all my adult life—the place I would stay and build my career in a significant way. But I transferred offices early on and the growth opportunities just didn’t exist in the new office. It took me YEARS to realize and accept this.

When it became clear to me that if I wanted to do something I cared about, that made me feel whole and aligned, it was going to have to be something I created for myself. Well, that’s when things really clicked for me. I took a lot of classes; went to workshops; read a gajillion books and hired a coach.

It was at her suggestion that I start working with people in the career space. It was an area that I had experience and interest in. I had always been the person, friends and family came to for career advice but I felt wholly inadequate to help people FOR REAL. (Andrea laughs) I felt like this was clearly a problem area for me, since I didn’t feel like I had ever found The One. How could I help other people get there when I hadn’t myself? She pointed out that all my years of searching, struggle and angst over my career, the circuitous path with all the crazy left turns—it was all preparation to help other people navigate it more easily. This made sense to me but I was still unsure, so I coached some people for free to try it out and LOVED it. It just felt like home, like this was the one I was waiting for.  After coaching on the side -during my commute, lunches and late at night- for two years, I was able to leave my job and devote myself to my business full-time earlier this year.

I have to ask you…You have a VERY honest blog and YouTube Channel.  You made it clear before you left your full-time job that you wanted to leave.  Were you ever concerned about being called out about that at work?

(Andrea gives a little  laugh) You know….I never really worried about it that much. I’m sure a part of me felt like it might be a gift to get called out and possibly fired. It certainly crossed my mind but I guess I didn’t care, to be honest. Once I tapped into the deep passion I have for this work, that’s where all of my focus and energy went. I wasn’t going to censor myself or hold back in anyway. I don’t even think I could have. It was like a dam burst or something—there was just no stopping me.

That said, I realize this is not necessarily a model for how other people should go about it. Everyone’s situation is unique and one of the most important things I work with my clients on is making their transition in a safe way. I’m a risk-taker by nature with a very overdeveloped rebellious streak! So, this was my path but it need not, and probably should not, be someone-else’s.

Do you think it is ever too late for someone to make a MAJOR career change or start a business?

I really don’t. People can do amazing things when they choose to. All sorts of previously unknown things can align when a person simply decides, “I’m doing this!” Now, can you dance the lead in “Swan Lake” if you’re 47 and have never had a ballet lesson? Not for the ABT, but I do believe there is a way to get some part of that dream fulfilled. It really becomes about deconstructing it and finding out what piece of that would be most fulfilling to you. What I call uncovering the essential elements of a career or business that would make you happy. It’s never too late for that, right??

Yes, I agree!

Reading through the testimonials on your website, there are many references to your excellent listening skills, empathy and intuition.  Do you feel like you have an uncanny ability to help people gain clarity and map out a new career course for themselves?

I’ve always been an observer, a listener. I’m a pretty quiet, reserved person. So that lends itself to hanging back and surveying the scene a lot, which has helped me learn an awful lot about people. I’ve also always trusted my intuition completely and I think that trust has made it stronger and more easily accessible to me. The combination of those things, along with a deeply ingrained desire to serve and make a difference…I think those all help, of course, but really, when a person is ready, they are ready. My role is about supporting them, sometimes challenging them, but always, always about getting them to listen to themselves as intently as I am listening to them.

When people know they are being heard and validated, things start to shift for them in big ways. What previously felt murky and unimaginable becomes crystal clear and totally doable. All because someone modeled for them how to listen to their deepest wants and needs. It’s powerful stuff. This is why I love coaching!

Recent surveys have revealed that most employees are very unhappy in their jobs.  Why do you think this is?

We are in a transitional place right now. The traditional Western career path: go to school, get a job; stay there until retirement and then you finally get to go enjoy your life—that’s just gone, if it ever truly existed. Yet, many of our institutions, corporations, public employers, they’re all still stuck in this model that isn’t working for most people.

Very few working people are encouraged to be creative, to take risks, to fail. We all KNOW that failure is a huge part of the learning process—it’s what makes the greats great, but if you fail in the workplace you’re screwed! So people can’t be human at work. They can’t bring their whole selves. They can’t speak their minds. They have to swallow a criminal amount of shit just to get through their workdays. They’re spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting. Their wages are stagnant….I could go on and on and ON about this, but the bottom line is that people are unhappy because they don’t get to do anything they actually want to do, anything that’s meaningful to them.

The result is that we have 80% of American workers who are disengaged at work. Honestly, I consider this a safety issue, a health hazard and a cultural crisis all rolled into one. And with numbers that high, it affects everyone. Do you want your kid’s teacher to be disengaged? The doctor treating someone you love? The accountant doing your taxes? The pilot flying your plane? This is not just about fluffy “do you what you love” platitudes, this is a real problem with real consequences.

This is the “why” behind my work. I believe the world would be a safer, more peaceful, tolerant place if more people were doing work they care about. If more people are happy, thriving and enjoying themselves at work every day, how can it not be?

“Do what makes you happy” is advice you believe in though.  You’ve put in writing! How can people begin to shift their thinking to feel like it is actually possible for them to have a career that actually brings them happiness?

(Andrea Laughs) Yes, I just called it a fluffy platitude, but I truly do believe this!

One easy suggestion I always make is to talk to people who are doing something they love. Chances are they haven’t always been, so find out what shifted for them. Open yourself up to being inspired rather than envious and learn about how they made the shift. Get really curious about this and start surrounding yourself with people who have done it, and the belief that you can too, will start to rub off on you. I promise!

Beyond that, all it really takes to begin the shift is a desire for things to be different and a willingness to entertain the possibility. Us coaches love to use visioning as a tool to help people see what’s possible for them. Sometimes people have a beautiful, heartfelt vision for what they want their life to be like but it feels so far away that it may as well be a fairy tale. We help them play the “what if?” game, as in, “What if that could be your life? What’s one step you could take today to bring you closer to that vision?” And you build on that day by day, month by month until you know it’s possible because you’re in the process of making it happen!

You are very clear on people establishing “non-negotiables” for their career.  Would you explain this practice and why it is important?

What I call career non-negotiables are 3-5 must-haves for a career that makes you happy. Some people might be able to rattle things off fairly quickly, but it’s important to give this some thought and to go for depth; because what you’re using them for is to weed out anything that doesn’t include ALL of your non-negotiables. It’s a focusing tool, essentially. It allows you to see everything that doesn’t include these things, as the distractions that they are, and focus your attention on the things that have the highest probability of allowing you to be happy. My clients love this!

To figure out what yours are: do a job history inventory, noting what you liked and didn’t like about every job you’ve ever had. Yep, all of them! Then, think about what you want your daily life to look like. Then combine what you’ve come up with and look for themes. You want them to be so meaningful to you, that holding out until you can get them, doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Because it’s not—it’s an act of self-care.

(For a more detailed write up of the process, you can check out this article Andrea wrote for The Daily Muse.)

Is there any other advice or information you would like to share with people who are looking for their passion?

I talk to a lot of people who know they’re not doing something they’re passionate about but don’t know what would stoke their passions. I was one of those people for a long time. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas. I had lots of ideas! I was just too afraid to move forward with any of them. I would play it all out in my head and give it up as impossible before I even started. Until the one time I didn’t. And now I’ve left my job and have a business I’m beyond passionate about!

There were many reasons why it was different this last time but the most important one was that I took action on it, rather than just running through it in my head. I went out and got some clients and I coached them. I often tell people it doesn’t matter which idea, which passion you choose, just pick one and DO SOMETHING! All the clarity; all the growth; all the FUN starts to happen, once you start taking action. So get to it!

Since my blog is about being healthy and happy in a natural way, would you share what role nature plays in your life?

Nature and natural living are hugely important to me. I live in a big city, so I have to make special efforts to get out of my car and go to the beach or the hike in the hills, but it pays dividends when I do. I have high expectations of myself and push pretty hard sometimes. Taking time to get outside and look at the sky or even just walking my puppy around our neighborhood and noticing all the different shrubs and trees is meditative for me and helps me decompress. It’s really a vital part of being able to get everything done.

I’m also very into clean eating (most of the time!) and creating my own natural products, which is one of the reasons I LOVE your blog! I’m making your cashew parm today, in fact! It all goes back to alignment. When I think about what I want my life to be, healthy is obviously a huge part of that. So, I do the things I think will put me on that path; just as I coach my clients to do in their careers and as  do in my own work.

Ready to find out more about Andrea Shields Nunez and how to liberate your career? She is offering a free 60 minute session. Head over to her website, http://www.andreashieldsnunez.com/ for more information.

Are you happy with your career? Do you feel like there is something MORE you’re supposed to be doing? Did anything Andrea say resonate with you? Please leave me a reply in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

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A Different Kind of Birthday…Naturally!

My birthday has never been a convenient day to celebrate. When I was a little girl, my birthday parties were rarely looked forward to because it meant summer was coming to a close and school was starting soon. As I got older, many friends and family members would be away because it falls on or near Labor Day weekend. So, I have gotten quite used to not celebrating on my actual birthday. This year looked like no exception, as it fell in the middle of the week.

I knew I was going to be alone on my birthday and honestly, as an introverted person, that is absolutely fine with me! I like spending time with people but I also need, make that NEED, time alone. So, normally, a day to myself: to read, practice yoga, write, be in nature, make jewelry or some other artsy-crafty project would suit me down to the ground. However, since it was my birthday, I wanted to do something to celebrate. I decided the best way to do that was to make it a day of gratitude and giving.

My first stop was Target. Since I started all this dental work, my monetary donations have dwindled. So, when I got a gift card from the sales guys at work for Target, I decided to buy food to donate to a local food pantry. I was inspired by Mimi Ikonn’s birthday video for this first deed. (Our plans diverge after that. She gave people free hugs.  I’m … not a hugger.) I went over the limit for the gift card but it was worth it. I was pretty happy with my haul:

Target Food HaulI also may have gotten a treat for myself.

Why do I dig English Muffins so much?

Why do I dig English Muffins so much?

Okay… two! (It was my birthday after all.)

iice cream and Enlish muffinsWhen I returned home, I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I won’t be sharing this (you’re welcome!) It is a really good exercise to do, especially on a birthday. We are trained by advertisers practically from infancy to think about what we are going to receive on our birthdays. It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate all that we already have.

It’s funny. The landscaping guy broke my car window by accident the day before. Initially, I was pretty annoyed that my birthday was going to start at the glass place. Then I gave myself a little smack-down. How many people in the world would love to have a car in the first place? How many people would love something to eat on their birthday? “#1stworldproblem, Cynthia Lenz! Get over it!”  And I did quickly.

I decided not to keep all my gratitude to myself.  I wrote out a card to one of my friends expressing how pleased I was to have such a good friend in my life. It was a lot of fun mailing a card to someone else on my birthday. How nice is it to get an unexpected bit of appreciation in the mail? At that moment, knowing I was doing something to bring a bit of cheer to someone else, which no one else knew about, was a gas! I think it will be a new tradition. Thankfully, I have a lot of other people in my life to send cards to.

cardAfter I mailed the card and dropped off the donated groceries, I was hungry. So, I had some lunch. Then I took a nice, long nap. Highly recommend a birthday nap, by the way.

My last act of goodwill was to make banana bread for everyone at work the next day. Judging from how often I see people at the vending machine, I figured an unexpected homemade sweet treat would be appreciated.

Banana BreadWhile the banana bread was in the oven, I sat down to eat dinner. I poured myself a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. The wine was a gift from my buddy, Jack, at work. I told him I would toast to his health and prosperity on my birthday and I did.

Chilled and delish!

Chilled and delish!

I really enjoyed my different kind of birthday. Birthdays have a special energy to them. They remind us we were given the gift of life. Think of what it would be like to never have existed. Impossible! I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna. Life is really REALLY hard sometimes. Having a little awareness of the beauty, that is all around us every day, makes it much easier to endure those challenges. What better way to celebrate it than by creating a little beauty for others?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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