Wellegance

Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose


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What it Really Means to be a Romantic

“ ‘A romantic,’ said Nightingale much, much later. ‘The most dangerous people on Earth.’”

(Ben Aaronovitch)

For years, I’ve considered myself a romantic. I love music, chocolate, perfume, flowers,, Valentine’s Day, and all things ‘love.’ I’m an optimist who tends to see the good in people and situations, and who believes in the transformational power of kindness and beauty. It seems to me that the recipe for a happy and fulfilled life is a daily dose of joy, pleasure and dark chocolate. Clearly, I’m a romantic, right?

And yet, when one considers where the word ‘romantic’ comes from and what it really means, it goes much deeper than candy hearts and cupid. A true romantic has more than just optimism and a belief in love and beauty. A true romantic is quite powerful and, in fact, pretty dangerous, as  Aronovitch points out in the quote above. Here’s why…

Romanticism was an “artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, partly as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment.” (Source). When the world seemed obsessed with knowledge and science and business and productivity, some people (mostly those dedicated to the arts) rose up to remind people where REAL power, truth and intelligence come from, thus the Romantic movement began.

Romantics, the followers of this movement, are characterized by the following traits:

  • They value emotion, imagination, the senses and spiritual truth over reason, science and the intellect.
  • They value the individual over society as a whole, and believe that every person should strive to be self-referenced and self-actualized.
  • They reject all forms of materialism and, instead, recognize the abundance of the natural world.
  • They appreciate beauty over usefulness (particularly as it applies to nature).
  • They turn inward for guidance, believing that all answers lie in our individual passions and struggles.
  • They honor the creative spirit more than the rules, traditions and dictates of society.
  • They have a deep appreciation for the exotic, remote and mysterious. They know how little they know.
  • Rather than strictly adhering to what came before, Romantics dream of a better future and believe in the possibilities and strength of the human spirit.

(Source)

So you see why Romantics may be considered dangerous; they follow their hearts and their intuition and are, therefore, hard to control and manipulate. They won’t blindly follow rules and settle for the status quo, but instead they question, imagine, dream and create. If there is beauty to be found (and there always is), they will find it and appreciate it fully. And perhaps most important (and most dangerous of all!), the Romantic honors him/herself above all else and will not compromise his/her character and integrity. Ever. For anyone or anything.

So this Valentine’s Day and always, let’s fully embrace what a beautiful thing it is to call ourselves a Romantic 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves!

Karen

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2018 – A Year of Joy!

Happy New Year, my friends!

I hope that you enjoyed the holidays and that the new year is off to a beautiful start for you. In a recent newsletter, I shared that I’m heading into 2018 with one and ONLY one intention and that is to experience as much joy as I possibly can. As many of you know, 2017 was a challenging year for me, as I ended my marriage of 24 years.

Anyone who has gone through this can tell you that, even when you’re the one ending the relationship, it’s a grieving process that takes time. The death of a relationship is not unlike the death of a loved one. During these last nine months, I’ve experienced the full range of emotions – everything from concern for my children to disappointment, anger, feelings of betrayal, fear, and the pain and sadness that come from the fact that people change and some circumstances are simply beyond our control.

In fact, this past year, MOST circumstances were beyond my control. I had, however, two important realizations during this time that quite literally kept me afloat during the toughest times:

(1) I have complete control over my choices. No matter how difficult the situation, I have the power to choose what to do, think, say, and focus my attention on. The actions and choices of others (including how they treat me) do NOT have the power to define me or reduce me. In every moment, I have the power to choose who I want to be and how I want to operate in the world (and it’s important not to mistake kindness for weakness; I saw that I could act with grace, integrity and kindness and STILL maintain strong boundaries). I assumed full responsibility for my choices and my recognition of this power was hugely comforting.

-and-

(2) I can ALWAYS access joy. Even on the worst, longest, hardest days, I found things that made me feel good and grateful. Yes, some days, I had to work harder at it than others, but there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t been able to experience at least one moment of joy. Which led to my understanding that my joy, like my choices, is completely up to me. Whereas happiness is created by outside forces – landing the job, getting the guy/girl, buying the shoes, etc. – joy is strictly an inside job. Whereas happiness is fleeting, joy is always available if we choose to find it.

These realizations – particularly the second one- have been so empowering that I decided to make the pursuit of joy my major intention in 2018. I am committed to living a JOY-full life and making choices that align with that. Here are some ways that I’ve found to do that. Of course, there are many more, but these simple commitments are a great place to start.

1-Spend time with people you love, people who inspire you and people who share your values. Seek out people who lift your spirit and contribute positively to your life and avoid those who don’t. It’s that simple. Create the cast of characters you wish to surround yourself with and that will naturally bring more joy to your days. But also remember to…

2-Enjoy your own company. There is a peace and freedom in being ok with being alone. Take time to get to know yourself on the deepest level. Make time for yourself each day: journal, take a bath, prepare a meal, go for a walk, etc. People who struggle with spending time alone often just don’t find themselves that interesting or pleasant to be around. Love yourself enough to nurture this relationship (it’s the most important one you’ll ever have).

3-Follow your curiosities and experience new things – hobbies, interests, books, music, foods, etc. Joy is often found in the unknown.(For more about this, check out this post.)

4-Travel and explore. I’ve found no better way to find wonder and awe than in seeing this big, beautiful world we live in!

5-Eat good/real food. Your body deserves the nourishment and your senses deserve the joy and pleasure that a good meal provides. (I wrote an entire guide on this – with some recipes – called, “Wellegant Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul.” You can download a copy here.)

6-Declutter your surroundings. A space that’s cluttered usually results in a mind that’s cluttered. More space=more clarity=more room for joy.

7-Demand quality in all areas. Whether clothing, home decor, groceries or anything else…be willing to have fewer, but better things in your life. And speaking of quality…

8-Cut back on social media. It’s a time suck and, often, an energy suck as well. I’ve cut back considerably on the time I spend on Facebook and other social media sites. I’ve also stopped following a bunch of people/accounts that tend to be “downers.” It’s made a huge difference in how I feel. Be discriminating about how you spend your time and those you allow into your mental space. If, for whatever reason, something feels negative…unfriend/unfollow/unsubscribe. Remember, move towards joy…

9-Allow yourself to feel everything (even the tough stuff!) and rest in the knowledge whatever storms you face will pass. We can’t outrun pain or other negative emotions. We can find ways to numb and/or distract ourselves from pain for only so long. Eventually, it catches up to us (and often packs a harder hit when it does!). Instead, allow yourself to feel both the good and the bad. It’s called being alive! How can we expect to live a full life if we spend our time and energy running from anything that doesn’t feel good and avoiding the very things that challenge us to grow? (And the great irony is that when we don’t run from the hard stuff – when we face it head on and feel it, fully and deeply – it passes more quickly and leaves us with the gifts of clarity, wisdom and an even greater capacity for love and joy.)

10-Celebrate everything! Don’t wait for holidays and special occasions to celebrate. Have dinner on the good china, just because. Pop a bottle of champagne, just because. Invite friends over for an impromptu dinner party, just because. Buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers…well, you get the idea. You’re alive and there’s beauty and love and goodness all around you. Is there any better reason to celebrate than that??

So, let’s celebrate the many ways in which we’ve grown during 2017 and all the joy that we will experience in 2018!

Sending you love and light,

Karen

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2017 Roundup: Top 5 Articles

I must begin by saying that I’m so very appreciative for your emails and comments on the articles that I write. For one thing, it lets me know what topics resonate with you and assists me in planning content for the future. More importantly, it’s allowed me to connect with so many incredible women who share the same interests, hobbies and passions! This blog has been a true labor of love and I’m thrilled that I can share something that you might find helpful and valuable. Here are the Top 5 Articles posted in 2017. Enjoy and, as always, I welcome your feedback.

As you know, we’re all on this path together and none of us have mastered it! (Is that even possible?!) But the sharing of insight, experience and passion adds immeasurably to the journey!

Thank you for being my travel companions. I look forward to what lies ahead!

xoxo,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Busy Life vs. a Full Life

If you spend time in the presence of women (especially a group of women and especially at this time of year), you’re sure to hear a medley of “I’m so busy” comments. “There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!”; “I have so much to do!”; “I’m not ready for the holidays!”; “I’m swamped with work!”; “I don’t have a minute to breathe!”. They’re all variations of the same thing.

“I’m so busy” has become the mantra of most women. And while we often state is as a complaint, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we also wear it as a badge of honor. “I’m so busy” means, “I’m needed,” “I’m responsible,” “I’m liked/loved,” “I’m important,” and “I’m productive.” And most of all, when we feel the need to remind others of how busy we are, what we’re really trying to say to them is, “My life is full.”

Except that, often, it isn’t.

A busy life is NOT the same thing as a full life. Busyness and the sense of overwhelm and frustration that accompany it do not contribute positively to our life but, rather, detract from it in some pretty major ways.

Let me first define the term “busyness.” But rather than trying to quantify the amount of activity in a busy life, let’s instead define it based on how a busy life feels. Busyness makes us feel

rushed

overwhelmed

scattered

ineffective

distracted, and sometimes even

victimized

A full life, on the other hand, makes us feel

appreciated and appreciative

present

focused

satisfied, and

enthusiastic

We may have just as much to do, but the energy of a full life is very different from that of a busy one. And the difference between them boils down to three things:

How aligned are my actions and my values?

How present am I to what I’m doing?

How effective do I feel?

We can’t possibly feel “full” when we don’t feel aligned, present and effective. When we moving through a slew of activities, yet feel and unsatisfied, that’s busyness. When we feel obligated to complete tasks that we don’t really want to do, that’s busyness. When we feel as if we’re spinning our wheels, but not really getting anywhere or accomplishing much, that’s busyness. And when we feel resentful because we have agreed to do things that aren’t really aligned with what we WANT to do and how we WANT to feel, that’s busyness.

On the other hand, when we’re aligned, present and effective, we can take on the world (and feel great while doing it)! Our choices about how we spend our time are conscious and consistent with what we WANT to be doing. We’re focused on what we’re doing, so we can appreciate more about each experience. We feel excited about the things happening around us and optimistic about how things will turn out. And we feel gratified, knowing that our actions make a difference and that we are contributing something positive to a situation, a person and the world in general. THAT’S what it means to live a full life!

Now, keep in mind, there’s no black or white here. Your life isn’t one or the other…busy or full. It’s a continuum and, at different times, we may find ourselves in a different place. But when the scale of your life tips more toward busy than full, believe me, you know it! You’ll likely recognize the sense of struggle and resentment. You may feel as if you’re fighting to get it all done. Checking off the items on your “to do” list feels more like an uphill climb than a labor of love. That’s the general vibe in the “busy” zone.

When you feel this way (and ‘tis the season when many of us do!), I encourage you to ask yourself the three questions mentioned earlier to determine where the imbalance lies:

How aligned are my actions and my values?

How present am I to what I’m doing?

How effective do I feel?

Be brutally honest here. Only when you identify what’s creating the sense of busyness (being out of alignment with your values, not being present, or feeling ineffective), can you identify the actions you need to take to bring yourself back into balance. (Hint: those actions almost always involves honoring yourself more, making more conscious choices and creating stronger boundaries!)

Sometimes, we become so used to the state of busyness that we forget that there’s another, better way – one that doesn’t deplete us, but rather opens us up to more joy and fulfillment. And the choice is ours. We can become very intentional about how we live. We can honor ourselves. We can refuse to settle for a busy life and we can commit to building a full one!

During this “season of giving”, my wish is that you give yourself this gift!

Have a beautiful holiday and a “full” and blessed New Year,

Karen

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DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!


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A Good Night’s Rest

Open up any health magazine and you’re likely to find at least one piece extolling the benefits of a good night’s sleep. More and more, research has linked poor sleep habits to everything from obesity and heart disease to depression and diabetes. Clearly, sleeping well is an integral part of our overall wellness. However, for many people, that’s far easier said than done.

As anyone who has trouble sleeping can attest, it is ENDLESSLY frustrating to lie awake in bed, trying desperately to get some rest. Naturally, the harder we try and the more anxious we become, the more sleep eludes us. Add to that, worry over being exhausted and not being able to function the next day. Add to that, the stress of a life challenge that we (or a loved one) may be facing and the “Worst Case Scenario” movie that’s on replay in our mind and…well, a good night’s rest seems like an impossibility!?

While we all have sleepless nights now and then, a consistent pattern of poor quality sleep not only prevents us from functioning at our best, but also presents some serious health risks. Before I share with you my best tips for getting a good night’s rest, let’s look at the benefits of good sleeping habits (there are many!). I have a feeling that these benefits will convince you to invest some time and attention to this area of your life.

The benefits of a good night’s rest include:

  • better thinking, problem solving, attention, memory and creativity
  • A strong heart (during sleep time, the body works on maintaining/restoring the heart and blood vessels)
  • Healthy weight  (sleep decreases cortisol levels)
  • Hormone regulation
  • Strengthening of the immune system
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Less depression and anxiety
  • Better sex
  • Lower risk of accidents and injury

(Source)

But the bigger question is how do we get a good night’s rest, when most of us are hyper-stimulated and trying to pack entirely too much into each 24-hour day? Based on the research available on this topic, here are some strategies for improving the amount and quality of your sleep. I’ve used many of these strategies and they’ve made a noticeable improvement in my sleep and, consequently, my energy level. Even trying just one or two of them is likely to yield a positive result (and number 12 is the absolute game changer!).

  1. Stick to a steady sleep schedule – both bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day (and NO hitting the snooze alarm – this is counter productive, as the depth and quality of sleep in those 10 minutes is poor).
  2. Watch what you eat and drink at dinner. Have enough food that you won’t go to bed hungry, but not so much that it’s difficult to digest. Also, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Both interfere with sleep patterns throughout the night and will, ultimately, result in less restorative sleep.
  3. Keep the temperature in the room on the cool side. It’s harder to get good rest when the body is too warm.
  4. Keep the room very dark. This is important, as we don’t want to interfere with the circadian rhythm of the body. Even things like a nightlight, a bright digital clock or other screen can cause sleep disturbances and interrupt natural sleep cycles. So, it’s a good idea to ditch the lights and, perhaps, even invest in a sleep mask or blackout curtains to maintain a very dark environment.
  5. Make the bedroom a television-free and computer-free zone. The goal is to establish the bedroom strictly as a place for rest and sex. The body will begin to recognize the bedroom this way and will begin to wind down, upon entering.
  6. Get regular exercise. Make sure to get some movement/exercise each day (just 20 minutes will do). Just be sure not to exercise right before bed, as it may give you an adrenaline rush and make it hard for the body to wind down. Gentle yoga might be an exception to this, but all other forms of yoga should be done at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Spend a little time outdoors each day. Whether due to the fresh air we breathe, the sun on our skin or the peaceful quality of nature, it’s well documented that being outdoors promotes better sleep.
  8. Develop a “wind down” routine. This can be a hot bath, some deep breathing exercises, time spent in meditation or prayer, a hot cup of tea, journaling, reading, etc. When done regularly, this routine signals the body to release the day and prepare for sleep.
  9. Invest in a quality mattress, pillow and bed linens. Make sure that your back and neck are well supported and kept in proper alignment while you sleep. In addition, high quality bed linens will be much softer against the skin. All of these things combine to create a more comfortable and restorative sleep.
  10. Experiment with essential oils and aromatherapy. There are lots of options for incorporating scent/essential oils into your sleep experience – essential oil diffusers, pillow/linen spray, even just rubbing a few drops of essential oil between the palms, cupping the hands over the nose and inhaling the scent. Some scents known to relax the nervous system are lavender, vanilla, cedarwood, frankincense and chamomile.
  11. Avoid napping during the day. Some people love the luxury of a good nap but, most people find that it interferes with the body clock and makes falling asleep at night harder. If you’re someone who has trouble falling/staying asleep, you may wish to avoid napping during the day.

And the VERY best piece of advice I can give is this…(drumroll, please)…

  1. Make sure that you have some “me” time scheduled into each day. This doesn’t, at face value, seem like it would benefit sleep, but I believe that the reason most people don’t go to bed earlier is that the time at night, before bed, is the ONLY time that they have to themselves and they are loathe to give it up to sleep. One girlfriend after another has told me that they can’t seem to go to bed earlier because, “If I give that time up, then my entire day belongs to others.” Wow. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? We are staying up so late because we simply MUST have some time to ourselves each day; it’s so important that we will even sacrifice sleep and energy and, perhaps even our health, to get it. Therefore, if we build a little “me” time into each day, we’ll likely be much more willing to go to bed earlier and get more (and better) rest.

When we make quality sleep a priority and implement just a few changes to our daily routine, the results are quite noticeable (and pretty amazing!). A well-rested body contributes to a well-lived life.

I hope that this information serves you and, if you have tips and tricks that have worked for you, I’d love for you to share them in the Comments below.

Have a beautiful (and restful) weekend,

Karen

Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/better-sleep-tips-best_n_4958036.html

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html

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DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

 


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Trust Your Struggle

From time to time, we all face challenges and struggles. Struggle is part of the human condition and there isn’t a single person walking this planet who is immune. Those of us who’ve faced challenges know all too well how heavy it feels when you’re in the midst of it and how desperately we wish for the pain to go away. I’m not going to play Pollyanna and try to convince you that this process isn’t exhausting and upsetting. I won’t tell you that you’re wrong to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. Or that I have all the answers. I most definitely don’t.

But I will share a few of the things that I’ve been grateful for and a few of the things that have comforted me during tough times. I believe that there’s a tremendous amount of healing in simply sharing our experience and offering others whatever little bits of knowledge or understanding we’ve gained. I’ve certainly benefitted from the wisdom of others who have faced challenges and, while I’m no expert, I have a few thoughts that I hope might benefit others.

You see, we spend so much time trying to resist struggle and avoid pain that we often overlook the fact that struggle has the ability to lead us somewhere good, if we let it. If we trust it. If we stop resisting, accept what is (even when it sucks), love ourselves through it, and trust that it will eventually pass. Not only will it pass, but it’s likely to leave us a few gifts to take along on the rest of our journey.

I know…this is a major shift in perspective for most of us and I know, firsthand, how difficult that can be. But here are a few things to remember as we move through this process.

  1. When we face difficult situations, we are often reminded of how many people love and support us. And I’m not only referring to those whom we know we can rely on for support, like family and close friends. My experience has been that people are so good – neighbors, colleagues, even casual acquaintances; when people find out that someone is sad or overwhelmed or just, generally, having a tough time, they’re usually very generous in offering help, support and words of encouragement. It’s a great comfort to know that we don’t have to go it alone and that more people than we realize care about us and wish us well. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Challenging times often require that we become more comfortable asking for what we need. This is a big problem for a lot of women, myself included. Most of us are quite good at getting things done ourselves and quite bad at asking for help. However, tough times sometimes leave us no choice. They provide the perfect opportunity for (a) identifying what we need and (b) developing the humility to ask for it. And those are incredible skills to have, during good or bad times.
  3. When we feel knocked down by life, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice self-love and self-care. There simply is no other way. We can’t beat ourselves or shame ourselves or guilt ourselves into feeling better. As anyone who’s tried this knows, if just doesn’t work. We have to accept that we did our best and honor the choices that we made. We have the chance, in each moment, to treat ourselves with love – go for a walk alone, take a long hot bath, spend time with people who lift you up, feed yourself healthy food and healthy thoughts. And most importantly, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Stuffing emotions down is not loving. Cry it out, move it out, talk it out…the important thing is to let emotions come up and out, and continue to love ourselves through it.
  4. Flex your resilience muscle and develop strong coping skills. Resilience is THE best indicator of who will be successful in life and who won’t (there has been study after study that shows this). But nobody develops resilience without living through struggle. The hard times teach us how to cope. Day to day, we can assess which thoughts and actions feel empowering and which ones don’t. Some days, we may need to go to bed early and have a good cry and other days, it feels better to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and soldier on. Some evenings, curling up with a book and a cup of tea is just the comfort we need and other evenings are better spent having dinner with a group of girlfriends. In other words, take the time to know yourself and “read” what your needs are. That’s what coping is – the ability to deal with difficulties and to soothe yourself in healthy ways. Do that regularly and you’ll become pretty damn resilient (and pretty damn successful at whatever you do!).
  5. You’ll get a crash course in “surrender” and, finally, learn how to “be present.” I thought I knew what it was to surrender. I mean, I practice yoga, I’d read all of the most popular spiritual/self-help texts, I meditate and drink green juice. Trust me, I can talk the talk. But going through some really tough stuff forced me to walk the walk (some days I walk it and some days it’s more of a crawl, but you get the idea ;). There are points in all of our lives where we must simply recognize that we have no control over anything but our thoughts. Period. And we can allow that stark realization to either take us down or plant us firmly in the present moment. If we focus on the present moment and control the one thing we can – our thoughts – one moment leads to the next and the next and, before long, we feel a bit more peaceful and productive. By no means is this an easy habit to learn, but there’s a reason that every spiritual teacher preaches this – it’s the fastest route to peace.
  6. Develop confidence in your strength and abilities. You will surprise and impress yourself.  I know that’s hard to believe when we feel so emotionally fragile but, inevitably, difficult situations require you to act differently and/or do things you’ve never done before. While it’s scary to navigate the unknown and face uncertainty, you’ll get through it (yes, you will). And each time you do, you’ll feel that much stronger and that much more capable of braving whatever comes your way. Success breeds success, so each small victory over a problem or a fear will make you that much more self-assured.
  7. Have faith that things are not happening TO you but, rather, FOR you. Each experience, good or bad, provides opportunities for us to learn the lessons we need to learn and each experience moves us further along on our path. Just because we can’t see the final destination doesn’t mean that we aren’t moving forward and making progress. This one can be especially tough when emotions and tensions at running high. For that reason, finding practices that calm the mind and encourage a more positive perspective are essential. i’ve found that it helps to read inspirational books, stories, articles, etc. If you have a spiritual practice like meditation, that helps, as does surrounding yourself with positive people. In other words, the more you work to alleviate stress and ease your mind, the more likely you are to recognize that “fight or flight” aren’t your only options; there is another one – faith.

Life is long and broad and wide. The challenges we face at any one point in time are simply one chapter in a very long story. Rather than remaining focused on the struggle, zoom the lens out and view your struggle within the larger context of your life. I once heard someone say that she likes to imagine her 90 year old self proudly telling her story and sharing the wisdom gleaned from it. I love that idea – the idea that we each have the power to create our own story. Instead of creating a tragedy full of sadness and regret, let’s write a heroine’s journey. Let our story be one in which we face our troubles with grit and grace and emerge fiercer, wiser and more loving than before.

If that’s not Wellegance, I don’t know what is!

Sending love and light,

Karen

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Slow Down and Maintain Your Summer “Mellow”

One of the things that I love the most about summer is that time seems to slow down. Perhaps it’s the heat that drives people to move slower, perhaps it’s the longer days, maybe it’s because there’s generally less to do…whatever the reason, it’s a feeling that I’m always loath to give up when summer winds to a close and September rolls around.

It seems that, as soon as the calendar page turns to August, my mind begins to fast forward, thinking ahead to ‘back to school’ and beginning to compile the lists (many lists!) of things to do, to make, to buy, etc. Most years, I feel as if I cheat myself out of several weeks of summer because of my inability to stay present and to keep myself in “summer mode” for the full duration of the month. Well, this year, I made a vow to do things differently.

I’ve thought long and hard about this and I believe that it is possible to slow down during these last couple of weeks, despite the fact that the media, technology, advertisements and seemingly everyone/everything else is trying to speed up and jump ahead. Here are the strategies that I believe will help us to maintain a sense of calm and ease at this busy time. And while I’ve been speaking specifically about summertime in this post, these practices are helpful at any time, during any season.

Because it’s really all about our thoughts. As we all know, nothing that we do is ever TRULY going to slow the passage of time. However, we most definitely can change our perception of time so that, rather than feeling rushed, stressed, anxious and harried in these last few weeks, we can continue to feel present, relaxed and joyful.

How to Slow Down and Maintain Your Summer “Mellow”

  1. Limit the items on your daily ‘To Do’ list. Do less and make the things you decide to do really count! I like to identify 3 things each day that I will get done. These are the things I deem most important. By limiting it to 3, I rarely have a day where I feel non-productive. While I may not complete everything I’d like to do, I almost always complete the 3 things that I’ve identified, and because I’m not spreading myself too thin, I do a better job on those 3 things. As with most things, it comes down to quality over quantity.
  2. Give up multi-tasking (if not long term, at least for the next few weeks). There is no greater myth than the one that tells us that we’ll get more done if we work on multiple things at one time. Our brains are simply not designed to concentrate on more than one thing at a time and, for this reason, multitasking (a) rarely produces as good a result as single-tasking and (b) is exhausting, as it requires quite a lot of mental energy. Stop doing it and you’ll likely be amazed at how much more productive you are and how much better you feel.
  3. Set limits/parameters around technology use. Technology (and, particularly, social media) can easily become a time-eater and create feelings of inadequacy. In an effort to slow down, seek to control what you feed your mind. The result will be more space and clarity rather than the feeling that we must hurry up and/or do more.
  4. Get your daily “nature fix.” Nature is a great metaphor for life. Whatever happens in nature happens on its own time and can not be rushed. Furthermore, being in nature encourages us to be present and experience what’s around us with our senses, rather than our intellect. This kind of presence and connection is a great way to slow down and savor our time.
  5. Truly listen to others. Often, conversations happen so fast and we’re so focused on getting things done that we fail to truly listen to the people we interact with. I’ve been frustrated by others who aren’t great listeners, yet I’ve also been guilty of doing this (many of us are, from time to time). One important way to slow down is to take our time when we’re in conversation. It not only shows the person with whom you’re speaking that you’re interested, attentive and considerate, but you’ll get more out of the conversation, as well.
  6. Pause throughout the day to take a breather. Literally! Stopping periodically to take a few deep, cleansing breaths will help to relieve stress/anxiety. Those pauses are also helpful when we find ourselves getting swept up in the momentum of what’s going on around us. Just a moment or two to close our eyes, breathe and refocus helps to slow our thoughts and maintain a sense of calm.
  7. Eat mindfully, sitting down. No wolfing the food down. No eating at the kitchen counter or, worse, on the run. In other words, slow down and savor your food. Consider mealtime as an opportunity to nourish yourself and allow it to be a moment of pleasure. After all, nothing seems to expand time more than the experience of pleasure.
  8. Make healthy food choices. Limit stimulants like caffeine and sugar. As we all know, what we put into our bodies makes a difference in how we feel. If we’re on a caffeine or sugar high, it stands to reason that we’ll be moving more quickly, probably jumping from task to task and, generally, feeling less of a sense of ease. And besides, with such wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s not hard to satisfy ourselves with healthier alternatives.
  9. Incorporate simple pleasures into each day. Take a moment to buy yourself flowers or indulge in a piece of dark chocolate or make a call to that friend you’ve been thinking about. It may only take 5-10 minutes, but it will make the day seem a little longer (and so much sweeter!).

I hope that these strategies help you hang onto that summer vibe a bit longer and enjoy these last few weeks more fully. Summer is a gift that we’re blessed to receive – a beautiful, bountiful time of year when the rush of life subsides, if only for a while, inviting us to slow down and savor it. Let’s not to miss this golden opportunity!

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