The Sun is Coming

Summertime...

I feel as though my whole year is geared around making the most of long summer days - I truly thrive in the heat, I love the spontaneity, and I relish the shift in attitude and perspective that this season urges me to take...

BUT...

When it's cloudy and dull outside, it takes full intention to follow through. It's a bit harder to get excited for an after-work dip at the lake with the kids when the sun isn't beating down on my neck and the ripples on the water are more like full-fledged waves...but - go, we must! 

SO!

On this summer solstice eve, it's time to take the leap (whether you have done so already or not!) and step into the beautiful unknown that is the world outside.

Go: 

Wear that swimsuit.

Take off those shoes.

Sign up for that outdoor yoga class. 

Take your dinner to the park... 

Climb a tree. 

Wade in the shallows. 

Stand under a tree. 

Hike that mountain. 

Paddle that Stream. 

Catch that frog. 

Read that book, on the lawn, in your favorite chair... 

There are so many options, and so little time :)!!!  (Go now!)

 

Much love,

Mish xx

It's delicious...

As the leaves open and the warm winds return, I find myself moved.

Moved to move.  To connect with the ground.  To look to the skies, and sit by the water…

Each moment I spend outside feels a bit sneaky – as if it’s a moment I have stolen from some other galaxy. The warm air and bright colors feel other-worldly and… I LOVE IT!!!

So I am heading outside every day, even if only for a few stolen moments. I am following my kids out to the stream, I am calling friends at lunchtime and simply requiring them to meet me for a walk – no excuses… I am eating my breakfast and dinner out on the lawn (and swatting those buggy bugs away) and heading to the ocean every chance I get...

It’s delicious.

I hope you are feeling it too!

Seeking our innate wisdom...

Our lives are convoluted, complex... and the interconnecting elements often are unknown to us until we step back from the busy-ness to find them.

It's usually something immense that forces us to take that step - birth, death, loss, love...but spending time regularly in nature gives us access to that wisdom in bite size pieces.

How we experience nature shows us much about ourselves. If we make a practice of being outside, we see so much more of what is happening within.

So...if you're seeking your own innate wisdom, don't hesitate. Head outside. Today.

It's worth it.

Gratitude isn't always easy

Until the onset of this summer, my family had a practice of giving thanks for something before our evening meal.  Once the routines of school ceased, we somehow... forgot. We got busy moving house, not everyone was home all the time, we found that most evenings we were busy just DOING all the wonderful things we loved to do. So...our practice of being thankful - along with some other good habits like brushing teeth every night, and going to bed at a reasonable time - fell by the wayside.

When the shit hits the fan and life gets busy, it can be so hard to keep a positive outlook. The exhaustion. The very real physical, emotional and mental effort it takes to get through a day can really sap my energy, and some days it can feel so inauthentic to muster up Gratitude. There is still, after all these years of spiritual practice, a little voice within me that still says "How trite! How can you say you are thankful for your family when (really) they have annoyed the hell out of you today with their neediness and whining". Ouch. Am I really such a horrible person?

When I quiet that horrid voice, I find that I miss the repetitiveness of the daily Gratitude Practice - family, food, sunshine, friends. Yawn.

I miss the insights: Chickens. Mudboots. Spiderwebs. Icicles. Toilet Paper. The Supermarket. Teachers. Friends. Airplanes.

One particular morning last winter, my newly-5-year-old daughter gave thanks for the sunshine that had just risen on the lake outside our window. She was right, of course - it sparkled on the ice surface, with a rainbow of muted colors that somehow we had missed seeiing until that moment. Almost every day last winter she gave thanks for the warm air coming out of the Rinnai, for music and for her friends.

I am so thankful for her ability to see what I cannot...really, for my incredible life - the places I get to call home, my loving family spread far and wide, the people who swirl around me.

Every day is different: small things to honor in our lives - sometimes mundane, always essential, and yet it's not always easy to see and feel the connections.

Stepping outside each day helps me reconnect with the essential practice of giving thanks for everything I have.

So this month we start over.

What are you thankful for, today?

Remember...

The very things that we treasure and love have come to us over time.

The habits that support us the most aren't created overnight.

Spectacularly beautiful moments are not on the calendar.

Wonderful things do happen. Often.

Awe is a state of mind.

Be kind to yourself. Take it slow. Breathe. Step outside, for YOU.

With love,

Mish

Paying Attention

THEME OF THE WEEK: Paying Attention

How can we support our own best selves?

How can we pay more attention to our lives - to the things we do every day, the people we welcome into our private spaces, to the thoughts we entertain, and the habits we allow to continue?

Mindfulness, of course. But how?

Seek happiness in the little things...the swirl of the butter on your toast in the morning, the rustle of your shorts as you walk down the path... the look you share with a friend that turns to laughter, the moment where you delight in the feeling of the breeze in your hair, or the bird call you hear as you open your car door.

These small gestures, sounds and moments of awareness become a part of your "happiness blueprint" as they become more conscious. A detailed plan, of sorts...a "map" of experiences and possibilities that are the structure upon which you can build your day - the little things that you really do need to have in your life, and which accumulate into a sense of belonging, subtle joy, and deep contentment.

I'd love you to bring as many nature and outdoor experiences as you can into the picture, into your "blueprint"... in whatever way you can!

After some time - perhaps not very long - you will notice yourself begin to crave mindful moments every day - to connect with the fresh air, the light, the contrasts and patterns, and the surprises that nature brings. 

Pay attention, and reap the benefits!

Wishing you a fabulous day :) xx

5 Ways to Stop Stressing Out

Stressed out? Overwhelmed? Need to take a chill-pill?

Feeling stressed out is our physical and emotional response to feeling as though we don't have the resources to deal with a challenge we have in front of us. It feels AWFUL, and often it can make us feel as though EVERYTHING is insurmountable.

Before you grab that bottle of Xanax, I have some amazingly simple ways for you to reduce your stress levels and get your juju back... QUICKLY!

1. BREATHE. Sit upright in your chair, or on the ground. Put both of your hands gently on your the sides of your ribcage, and breathe in deeply enough to feel your hands move apart. See if you can actually feel your diaphragm (the wide flat muscle under your lungs at the base of your ribs) broaden and stretch out, and then collapse again as you breathe a long breath out.

Breathe in and out 10 times.

You should notice that your ribcage opens up, and even maybe rises a little with each breath. You will probably also notice that your lung capacity increases a bit each time. Don't force anything, just eek a little extra breath in (and out) each time, and notice the incremental differences. One thing I like to do is to count in and out, and add a number each time - maybe counting to 5 for the first breath, and be at 15 for the last one.

THINK ONLY ABOUT YOUR BREATH THROUGHOUT THIS ACTIVITY. THIS IS IMPORTANT!

2. OPEN THE DOOR AND STEP OUTSIDE. It really is that simple. When the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, instead of reacting to it as you always do, excuse yourself...head to the door... and step outside for a few minutes.

Take a little walk, sit down in the sunshine, stomp a little bit, go stand in the wind, put your hands on a tree... do something out of your ordinary routine to connect yourself with something bigger and bring a little perspective to your situation.

Once you have had the chance to calm your mind and re-set your equilibrium, you can step back inside, and re-enter the fray!

3. SMILE. Smiling is a sure-fire way to trick your brain into thinking it is happy, even when it's not, because our brains think that when we are smiling... everything is groovy (!)... and go on to release endorphins and seratonin.

It's the same reason we love eating chocolate, or exercising, or having sex... but it's so EASY TO DO, and the logistics are less tricky than have a quickie when you're in a tizzy.

4. GO FOR A WALK:

"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking" (Nietzche)

Walking helps you to calm your nerves, gets you thinking creatively and openly about your problems, and - when taken with a friend or colleague - can also help you to feel more connected to others. 

"Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster," says Sara Warber, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

5. GRATITUDE:

Take a piece of paper (it can be a napkin, or the inside flap of a book you are reading, or a receipt!) and a pen, and jot down 5 things you are grateful for.

5 things that when you look at your situation, or your life, stand out as things that bring you joy, peace, pleasure, a sense of belonging, a feeling of freedom, that make you feel strong, or beautiful, or that allow you to have love in your life.

Don't overanalyze it - just write them down.

Then read your list over and actively give a little prayer of thanks for each item. This doesn't have to be a religious prayer - a simple "thank you" will do.

Slip that piece of paper into your pocket and pull it out again a few times during the day and then hide it somewhere you can find it later...

***

I hope these techniques help you remember that you have the strength and tools you need to tackle ANY challenge, and when you don't there are always ways to figure it out. The first step is a calm mind and an optimistic approach.

How do YOU deal with stress? I would love to hear more great ideas!