Tag Archives: happiness

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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justdragonfly

 

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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justdragonfly

 

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 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

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

justdragonfly

 

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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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justdragonfly

Naturally Passionate: Make Time To Do What Feeds Your Soul

I have a birthday present to make for my friend, Sylvia, who I will be seeing later.  So, I am going to share one of my passions with you today.

These are the first pieces I ever made.

These are the first pieces I ever made.

I started making jewelry almost 15 years ago.  I had a naval ring at the time and wanted to change the bead on it.  Being too… thrifty to pay $10 bucks for a bead change at the tattoo place, I decided to buy a bead and change my own.  It’s very difficult to buy one small bead.  So, I bought a package.  Since I only needed one for the purpose at hand, I decided to get some beading wire and fasteners to make use of the rest of the package.  I was hooked on making jewelry immediately!

I put this chain together link by link and set each of the beads.

I put this chain together link by link and set each of the beads.

I made pieces for myself that other people really dug.  So, I started making jewelry for friends, coworkers and family members.  The more I made, the more I wanted to make.  My pieces began to get quite interesting and complex.  I started selling my all-original jewelry under the name Chickyrhumba (a nickname my mom had for me when I was little) in 2006.  I had just begun to do quite well and then the economy tanked.  Understandably, original, handmade jewelry wasn’t a priority for people to purchase at that time.  I closed Chickyrhumba in 2012.  The truth is I never enjoyed selling it as much I enjoyed making it.

boothphoto

I took the big tumble down the stairs a few months later, so I didn’t make jewelry for much of 2013.  When finally I started again,   it was just like it was in the beginning.  I LOVED it!  Making jewelry gets me down into my hands and keeps me from over-analyzing anything that may be going on in my life.  I would definitely describe it as a form of meditation.

tweednecklace

It’s such a delightful one because it is so sensory.  I love feeling the smoothness of the stones.  I enjoy looking at all the colors and natural variations in gems.  Bending wire into submission can be like therapy!  I also love getting vintage beads and remaking them into something new.  I guess most satisfying of all is being able to see the fruits of your labor.  Executing something tangible from start to finish that I can give to someone else makes me very happy.

JosieNeck9

I made this for Josie Stevens using vintage beads and Swarovski crystals.

 

Ah done!  Do you think Sylvia will like it?  I hope so.  I know I enjoyed making it.

Sylia's birthstone is peridot.  Amethyst is a healing stone.  Who couldn't use an angel?

Sylvia’s birthstone is peridot. Amethyst is a healing stone. Who couldn’t use an angel?

Do you have any hobbies or passions that you need to make more time for? Leave me a reply in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

 

Naturally Disciplined

Discipline. (Sigh!) Discipline and I have a very, well, undisciplined relationship.  It’s not Discipline’s fault at all!  I take full responsibility.  Discipline is not the one with commitment issues.  It’s all me.

I am conflicted.  I love the idea of daily practices and rituals and see the value in them.  Yet, I also detest the idea of living the same day over and over.  Afterall, what’s natural about practicing, rigidly going through the same steps repeatedly? NOTHING!  Plants don’t need discipline to grow.  The wind doesn’t need discipline to blow.  The rain doesn’t do reps!

Alas, I am not a plant, rain or the wind (…but how cool would that be?)  Growing as a human is more than just physical; we strive to accomplish goals and achieve our passions.  These feats require discipline,  I have accomplished goals in my life, throughout my on again/off again relationship with discipline but I know I can do more.  In fact, I want to do more.

So Discipline… I’m ready to committ finally!  Let’s start with writing, an area I have been particularly lax in lately.  Every day for the month of August, my intention is to put up a new blog post.  This should be interesting, depending on what else is going on.  Some posts might be quite short.  Some may be a trifle too long.  Some might suck!  Maybe some will be helpful and enjoyable.  I hope so.  Time will tell…

Please join Discipline and me for our August adventure.  Check up on us often and see how we are doing.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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

justdragonfly

Natural Gifts: Do You Know What Yours Are? What Would You Like To Be Doing?

My thriftiness was the inspiration that got me started making jewelry 13 years ago.  I was too cheap to pay $10 bucks for a bead change on my belly ring (Nope, I don’t have one anymore) at the tattoo place, when I could get a whole package for less than half that.  The only dilemma was what was I going to do with the rest of the beads?

I like to learn new things and since they string beads at kids’ summer camp, I figured making jewelry wasn’t beyond me.  So, I bought my first pair of pliers, some crimps, wire and catches and off I went.  First, I made an anklet, then earrings, then a necklace and bracelet.  I was hooked.  I learned how to bend wire (LOOOOVE bending wire and banging it into designs.) Very quickly, I outgrew the jewelry aisle at the craft store and began going to bead shops, mail order companies, metal companies and lapidaries for semi-precious stones and silver.  I made gifts for friends and eventually starting selling my one-of-a-kind pieces in 2006 under the name Chickyrhumba (a nickname my mom had for me when I was little.)

I closed the business in 2012 but I still enjoy making jewelry and I am proud of the work that I did.  The funny part is I am not sure I would have ever pursued it directly if it hadn’t been for my now defunct belly ring.  Honestly, I am just like that.  Life tends to have to inspire me to try new things indirectly or I need to ease into them somehow…slowly, sometimes VERY slowly.  I practiced yoga for several months on my own before I ever went to a class, just so I wouldn’t feel like a complete spaz doing it in public for the first time.

I suspect I am not alone when it comes to being a bit fearful about trying new things, even things I suspect I would enjoy.  Many of us are probably a bit nervous about looking foolish or fear that we may not be good at the chosen activity we admire or maybe, we don’t even know why we don’t make the effort.   Perhaps, there has just been an underlying current of subliminal messages in our minds telling us things like, “I don’t come from artistic people,” or “I have never been good at any sports.”  So, we stay stuck in our little safe box.

The cool thing is that if you manage to reach beyond your comfort zone, you just might amaze yourself with what you accomplish.  There are so many quotes about going beyond your comfort zone, it’s hard to know which came first.  I like Robert Allen’s “Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.”  (It just sounds so promising!)  More importantly, it’s a good way to take care of yourself.  You may find a new vocation that makes you successful beyond your wildest dreams or you may just find something you really enjoy doing.  Either way, it’s time well spent!

So, what have you always wanted to learn how to do that you have been putting off?  I would love to hear from you.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

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

justdragonfly

Letting Go: Sorting Through My STUFF

I just watched the last piece of my Nana’s cherry wood set get hauled away.  I dragged that set with me from home to home for the last fourteen years and today, I let it go to an appreciative young man who was probably furnishing his first apartment.

I moved out of my parents’ house over 19 years ago.  Hurricane Sandy brought me back here temporarily.  My dental reconstruction is keeping me here a while longer.  Deciding it was better to have funds available to pay my various dentists than for storage fees, I cleared out my POD this weekend.

I am a fiercely independent person.  I do not enjoy asking for help.  However, this situation has required that I learn how to accept it and I am definitely grateful for the help that has been extended to me by friends and family.  I’d be lying if I said I was excited about the idea of sorting through all my crap and deciding what stays and what goes.  It’s a perfect beach weekend and that is where I would rather be.

Rather than dwell on the loss of my independence (and a good beach weekend) though; I’ve decided to view this as an opportunity to let go of what I don’t need and welcome a fresh start.  While I was looking through one box, I found a baseball card album filled with Steve Sax cards.  My boyfriend in college gave it to me as a birthday present one year.  I had remarked that Steve Sax had a cute tush and he thought it would be funny to give me all his cards.  It was funny but not funny enough to keep toting around decades after we broke up; especially when I never really wanted it in the first place.

The baseball card album was one of his better gifts too.  One year he gave me a toolbox filled with tools.  I didn’t want that either.  The nicest things one of my friends at the time said about it was “tell him next year, you want a jewelry box and to fill that up too.”  The rising chorus from my friends was “dump him” and eventually I did.  So, why do I still have this little album all these years later?  Who the fuck knows… I am a sentimental person but I think this is a good time to reevaluate what I want to keep in my life and what NEEDS to go.

I also have this sense that letting go of unnecessary stuff will make room for new and better things, opportunities and experiences in my life.  I think I will do a mental overhaul while I am at it and let go of accumulated fears, pains, frustrations and insecurities… I’m sure I have a book on that in one of these damn boxes…

What do you need to let go of?  Have you had a positive experience after letting go of items you no longer needed?  I would love to hear from you!

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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Happiness: What else do you need?

Happiness is something I find endlessly fascinating.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about it; trying to get it; chasing after it and most recently trying to master it.

When it comes right down to it, once the basic necessities of life: food, water shelter, good health and sleep are all met; what else do we really want except to be happy?  Why does it seem so complicated sometimes?

Happiness is the subject of endless pontification.  Books, articles and poems have been written about it.  Documentaries have been made about it.  Studies have been done on it to determine who the happiest people on earth are, where and how do they live.  We are surrounded by so many platitudes on happiness that they become almost like wallpaper, no matter how wise they are:

  • Happiness can’t be bought
  • Follow your bliss
  • Count your blessings
  • Accentuate the positive

We know how important happiness is; so why does it seem so fleeting for so many people?  Why do we get so distracted by the circumstances of life that pull us down?

I came across a new happiness quote on Facebook (new to me anyway) that may shed some light on the situation:

 “Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble because that reason can be taken from you.”

Deepak Chopra

Hmmmm… interesting, right?  That Deepak Chopra is a pretty smart guy.  He makes a lot of sense.  Usually, we get happy because we have gotten something we’ve wanted: a car, a relationship, a job but then something happens and that initial elation begins to diminish and we begin looking for something new to regain that wonderful euphoric feeling.  The funny part is that as nice as it is to have the thing, what we really want is the feeling.

So, then the question is how do you get happy if you don’t feel happy right now and how do you stay happy?  That’s the rub isn’t it?  If happiness isn’t about getting what you want then how do you go about getting the feeling?  I’m hardly an expert on this but I have learned a few things that I will share with you now:

Be mindful:  When I get into my worst funks, it’s usually because something unpleasant has happened and I get caught up in it.  Before I know it, I let it sweep me into a place of self-pity where I convince myself I am a loser and things will never get better.  Sounds pretty grave; doesn’t it?  The easiest way to get out of a spiral like this is to realize that you are in it.  Check in with yourself: How are you feeling?  If you feel good, be grateful.  If you feel bad, identify it and then do something to nourish yourself and take the power away from your negative feelings and then refocus that energy into something positive.

Be Grateful:  Being grateful feels good and attracts more things to be grateful about.  Just try it.

Breathe:  Most of us in the west really don’t breathe very deeply at all. Taking a few deep breaths is like an act of personal power for me.  It is something you can do anytime, anywhere. You don’t need anyone else’s permission.  In my experience, it always makes me feel better.  One of the reasons for this is that breathing deeply encourages the parasympathetic nervous system to trigger a relaxation response rather than the “fight or flight” response which may be induced by a stressful situation.

Invite a better feeling:  Sometimes, we just feel crappy and overwhelmed.  Shit happens.  We get sick, hurt or heart-broken.  Forgive yourself if you are having trouble keeping a stiff upper lip through the pain but always stay open to feeling better.  One way to do that is through affirmations.  Acknowledge that things may be crappy right now but invite something better.  One of my favorite affirmations is from Louise Hay, “All is well.  Everything I need comes to me at the perfect moment.”  And it usually does.  That doesn’t mean I get everything when I want it always but by and large things always work out.

Last one!  This one may seem like being happy for a reason but it is one you have control over.

Do something you enjoy: One of the best ways to get your mind off your troubles and get happy is to do something you love.  Since my accident, I am very grateful to have this blog to write every week.  It gives me a continued sense of purpose while I am healing.   (Not to mention, it is also a way to communicate while my jaw is wired shut.)

What makes you happy for no reason?  I would love to hear your suggestions for boosting your mood.

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyhappy

ChauncyonGrass

Chauncy Boo Boo Puppy Pants Lenz

“All animals except man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it”

-Samuel Butler