Don't Fight It, Own It

One of my closest friends is a hamster.  At least, that’s what she calls herself.  What my friend really means is that she has the energy of a hamster.  Always going, always doing, never stopping.  She confided that she has a hard time harnessing her inner hamster.  My response was “Don’t, just own it. “

There is no set path to inner peace.  There is no wrong way.  There is only your way.  If you are a hamster, having a less scheduled week might work against your inner peace.  If you are trying to change your true nature, you are going to meet a lot of resistance and cause friction in your life.  Friction is the opposite of what we strive for.  Inner peace is about making sure those activities and things we spend our time on are filling our cups.  Our intention shouldn’t be to do more or less of any particular thing, but to do more of the things that are in line with our desires and beliefs.  We are not wired the same way as one another and that, my friends, is what keeps things interesting!   

It was ironic that we had this conversation recently, because I have realized this about myself.  Not that I am a hamster, only a few select people get that proud title.   But, I have been paying attention to what things in my life are a strain for me.  I’ve been paying attention to the things that cause anxiety or stress and that don’t need to exist to begin with.  If volunteering to read with a child at school makes me want to pull my hair out than it probably isn’t good for me or the child I am reading with.  I am realizing that these things don’t necessarily have to be fixed.  They are something I can just accept.  They are just a weakness and I don’t have to keep trying to overcome that weakness.  Releasing these things and choosing to focus more on my strengths has the potential to be much more valuable to myself and to those around me.  Some things are easier to release than others.  Maybe it’s your career that is a struggle.  Maybe you have become good at your weaknesses, but they still cause friction in your life.  These things can take more time and planning to release, but release should be considered.  

We are all pieces of the same puzzle.  Not everyone can be the sky, most of us don’t have a straight edge, some fill others, some get filled by others, but none of us stand alone and no two pieces are the same.  Find where you fit and come together to create a beautiful picture.  Stop trying to be a corner piece.  Own your strengths, fill your cup and enjoy the big picture.

With Love,

Tosha

 

I'm on a Mission

Do you have a question you ask yourself when you want to slow down the spiral or just to do a self-check of your priorities?

Many cancer “survivors” experience fears of recurrence.  I am no exception.  I don’t get paralyzed in this fear as I do sometimes with other challenges, but instead I do this self-check.  At the time of my diagnosis,  I was most worried about feeding my children with everything I possibly could if I didn’t survive. Now life is back to normal, but I have a heightened awareness that it can change on a dime.

A side effect from my medications are achy joints.  Sometimes my legs throb at night while I’m laying in bed and I let that awful thought creep into my head, “what if this is bone mets?”  Breast cancer can recur all over the body.  When it shows up in a new place it has metastasized (mets).   Having had a mastectomy doesn’t keep it from rearing its ugly head again.  This reminds me that the time to do all that is important to you is now.  It also gives me a healthy reaction to this fear.  It is so easy to fall into a dark place or a self-pity, but what good does that do for you, your family or the community you are a part of?

Life is busy and I cannot live 24/7 dedicating myself to all that I think is worthy.  Sometimes I just need to lay on the couch and veg in front of a television show or read a book just for sheer enjoyment. Instead of learning and growing I just need to relax and enjoy just being.  In fact, most of my time is spent just living….working, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc.  But through the choices I make, the people I surround myself with, the books I read for enlightenment, time spent meditating and writing this blog is setting the intention in my life.  We are not in control most of the time, but we do have a lot of control over the course we decide to take.

It gets easier as you go.  If you aren’t in a good place, start with acceptance.  I often find that telling myself that whatever emotion I am experiencing is ok, it helps me to move through it faster.  I often felt the need for validation (and sometimes still need to know that I’m not crazy from an outside source), but most of the time I’m able to validate my own feelings and acknowledge that they are real.  Once you do this and believe it,  you can start setting your intentions for what you want your life to look like.  What you want to surround yourself with.  What you want your legacy to look like when you are no longer here.  I challenge you to think about your personal mission statement.  Don’t write anything.  Just mull it over for a while.  What does your mission statement look like?  Who does it effect?  How will you change things in your life to align with this mission?  When you are ready, write it down.  Re-visit it from time to time.   Change it if necessary.  Choose your path.  

Choose your path.

Much love,

Tosha      

 

Why does mindfulness matter?

Why is mindfulness such a hot topic right now?

Why are we selling coloring books by the truckload and why are yoga studios popping up on every corner?

Is it because all of our cells are over-stimulated most of the time?

In my house, we have five people going in different directions all the time, BUT that’s really not even the problem.  It’s technology.  I have a number of things I need to do on the computer from looking up phone numbers to paying bills, checking calendars etc.  The problem is I turn it on and immediately forget what I’m doing.  I look up a recipe on Pinterest or stumble onto facebook for too long before I remember what I was supposed to be doing.  I absolutely know I’m not alone in this one.  It’s sort of an inside joke that we are all in on. My phone dings and my attention turns to the sound.  As much as I try to tune it out,  it seems to provoke/invoke a false sense of urgency.  Our phones are tools.  They hold our schedules and our contacts and they are a lifeline to the outside world no matter where we are or how alone we might feel.  They are incredible….I love my phone.  However, I equally love being unplugged.  Much of my screen time is reading and learning.  I’m obsessed with a few groups I’m in on facebook.  Fascinating information is shared and I just can’t get enough. The problem is the ease of acquiring this information, and my brain is constantly being stimulated.

This is where mindfulness makes an entrance.  By purposely slowing down my thoughts and sometimes even my physical response to these thoughts, I am able to create a balance.  Meditation is something many people feel is too hard to do and I totally understand.  I think it’s an acquired taste.  One worth acquiring, but in the meantime, try to practice purposeful quietness.  Standing in line at a store, walking, drinking coffee… these are all great times to just be silent and let your head unwind from all the stimulation in our lives.  One of my favorite exercises is to walk in the morning and listen.  I listen for all the sounds.  A quiet morning becomes alive with birds and wind and dogs barking and cars in the distance.  At times it feels so loud and it’s at these times that I realize just how stimulated my poor brain must be most of the day.  Practicing quiet doesn’t have to be long to make a difference.  Five minutes at the beginning of a walk.  A silent cup of coffee or tea.  Just notice the flavor of the tea. Just listen to your breath.  Just listen to the clock tick.  Just relax and feel that you are nurturing yourself in a very important way.

Mindfulness is much bigger than it may seem to you right now.  Give it a whirl and see how things start to change in your life.  One of the groups I am on in Facebook is a breast cancer page.  Many of these women are fighting breast cancer with alternative approaches and there is a lot of research on breaking down some emotional blockages and the effect it has on fighting tumors.  I don’t do this because it’s trendy or feels good.  I do this to stay healthy.  Don’t let yourself get too caught up in superficial life and forget to truly live.  Take some time to just be quiet and figure out those blockages and live the best life possible.

Five minutes….how will you spend five minutes of unstimulated relaxation?  Go on, get balanced!  

With Love,

Tosha

Just Keep Dancing!

I lost my groove for a little bit.  Not feeling well and just not doing my grounding stuff.  You’ll know that happened when I don’t post for a week or more.  This time I started to doubt myself.  Doubt my message, doubt my credibility and even doubt that I should continue.  It takes a lot of time and dedication to you my readers, to myself and this promise I made to keep my inner peace.  It wasn’t a big overwhelming feeling.  It was more of a nagging feeling and a loss of inspiration.

 I’m finally feeling better, got out to a mindfulness class and I immediately started feeling more like myself.  I went into my meditation time with the intention of quieting my mind and what I was greeted with was a very nurturing time of contentment.  I gave myself permission to just sit with things for a while and decide if this is worth doing for you and worth doing for me.

The very next day I was at work.  I work at a university and I never know who might stick their head in my door.  Well, a woman walked in to basically scope out my office and borrow some paper.  She was chatty about the class she was taking and then went on her way.  Next thing I knew her husband was in my doorway.  She sent him down to talk to me.  I think he wasn’t satisfied with the class so she was pawning him off on me.  I’m glad she did.   What a lovely man!  He is in his late 80s and as a couple they have taken just about every class the school has to offer.  He is a Korean war vet, he wrote a book of satire to “Live and Laugh By” and he is legally blind.

He gave me a copy of his book and offered to sign it for me.  We sat down at the table so he could get up close to the page in order to see it.  I felt oddly comfortable with him and asked if it was hard to have such trouble seeing.  He said, “Nah, I’m not going to let this get me down!”.  He then told me a story about his aunt with terrible arthritis and a wedding with lots of late night dancing.  He asked her, “How is it that you are still dancing with your arthritis?!” She exclaimed “I’m not going to let pain stand in my way!”.  I so needed this visit.  We all infect each other and if I can infect another person and make a difference than I will keep doing what I’m doing.  It just feels right.

And, as if I hadn’t gotten the message,  he sat back and pensively added, “I don’t know if my outlook is genetic or if it was influenced by people around me.” I hope it wasn’t genetic, because that means I can have an effect on people around me too.”  AMEN!

So, I got lost for a bit, but I remained open to the many signs and blessings that surround us each and every day and I found my path again.

I hope this is a reminder to look for those signs and blessings.  To be open to receiving and even more importantly, to not let the pain get in the way of a good time!

Much love and blessings to you.

Tosha

 

Take your time, but HURRY UP!

Take your time, do it when you’re ready, but hurry up, you’re not guaranteed tomorrow.

This is the paradox we face most days.  Attempting to maintain inner peace with so much to do.  How does one balance it all? I’ve found that having a good grasp on my expectations and limitations is a good start.  I often think there is much more time in an hour than there actually is.  I’m learning to slow down and just do what I can and let some things slide.  There are things I want to tend to, but I know that these things will likely send me topsy turvy for a while and I am holding steadfast to my resolution for inner peace.  

How do we make room for these extras?  How do we clear space to make sure these things happen even while maintaining inner peace?  

I was reminded of this paradox after losing a special man this week.  He was a grandfather figure and one whom I had not visited in a long time as I wasn’t feeling well and simply too busy keeping my head above water.  I had just made the realization that I was strong enough now to take a day to visit him and his wife.  Before I could do this, he fell ill and passed away.  It’s a common story, isn’t it? You reach a certain age where you only see loved ones at weddings and funerals.  

We can't always change this story, but we can keep our hearts desires in the forefront thereby creating more opportunities to fulfill our souls and hopefully spread the love and kindness into another's world in the process.

Take your time, but HURRY up!  To me this means get your sh*t together.  Know what your priorities are and make them come to fruition.  No, there just isn’t enough time to do all that you want to do.  You need to choose.  Yes, sometimes things fall off our radar because other things are coming at us with more urgency. But think about this, whose urgency?  Be careful we don't get pulled too far away from our own truths.  Take time to connect with yourself and stay grounded.  

This goal of inner peace needs mindfulness or we risk missing out on what is truly important to us. We don’t want to miss out on what fills our souls, because if we do, what do we really have to offer?  Practicing mindfulness and de-cluttering that busy part of your life gives you a glimpse of what your true purpose is. Practicing mindfulness allows you to stay calm in the face of the many fires that interrupt our day.  Mindfulness is one of the tools we need to have in our back pocket for handling difficult situations that come our way.  It is also the guiding force that shapes our lives.  

Go out and live the life you dreamed of, but first take a moment to really know what that means for you. Practice mindfulness, learn resilience and thrive with me.

With Love, Tosha