Month: June 2018

Summer Nostalgia

As the stay-at-home parent of school-age children, I get to revisit this trove of summertime emotions every year with an intensity that almost matches how I felt about summer as a child. When my children were younger, my summers were not particularly fun—school provided essential structure for them and much-needed free time for me; without those two things, summer was a dangerous void, like a family weekend with no plans that stretched on for three long months. I’d guess we city dwellers, lacking even the built-in release valve sending our children out to play in the yard, feel this especially keenly.

But now that I have older kids, who don’t need my constant attention, are happy to attend camp, and can play in a pool for hours, summers have regained the gorgeous glow I remember. Unlike other seasons, summer is poignant to its very core; even as it begins, we are all too aware that it will end.

Summer romances, summer tans, summer camp—everything we accomplish or enjoy in summer is by definition impermanent, has a tearful ending built in as a precondition of its existence. And summer’s ephemerality makes it so much lovelier while it lasts.

Summer memories and experiences are somehow more individual, more definitive than what we do at other times of the year. Released from the lockstep of sports schedules and academic deadlines, sometimes liberated even from our usual homes and pathways, summers allow us to explore and broaden, to imagine ourselves in chrysalis form, to remake our identities.

New Year’s resolutions were nothing compared to the resolutions I once made in July and August about how to be different and better come the new school year. Snipped from all the usual strings and expectations, I spent summers floating blissfully between all the potential selves I could imagine or become. I was free in every sense, even from myself.

Summers were identity-defining for people my age: Were you a camp kid? A pool lifeguard? Did you hang out with your friends at the lake, the drive-in, the beach? Did you do summer stock, or hike the Grand Teton?


Live with Less

The beauty of being a beginner minimalist is that you can be curious, and daring. You can ask for help, get back up if you fall, and look forward to new adventures in a life with less stuff, drama, debt, and obligation.

1. Write it down. Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. If you are sick of debt collectors, write it down. Mad that you never get any time with your kids? Write it down. To stressed out to sleep at night? Put it on paper. Want to fire your boss? Yep, write that down too. These are your whys and your whys will provide great leverage when you think it’s too hard to keep going. Your whys will help you remember what matters.

2. Discard the duplicates. Walk through your home with a box and fill it with duplicates. If you have two sets of measuring cups, put them in the box. Copies of the same book or DVD? Put one in the box. Doubles on placemat sets? You only need one. Once you fill the box, label it “Duplicates” and put it out of sight for 30 days. If you don’t need anything or don’t remember what was in the box, donate it.

3. Declare a clutter-free zone. This area could be a kitchen table, your nightstand, a countertop or a drawer in your kitchen. Use that clutter-free zone as inspiration to live with less. If you enjoy that clean, clear environment, expand the zone a little bit each day. A clutter-free countertop can become a clutter-free room and a clutter-free room can become the clutter-free, minimalist home you’ve been thinking about.

4. Travel lightly. Travel always renews my love of minimalism and living simply. The next time you take a trip, pack for 1/2 the time. If you are traveling for 4 days, pack for 2. You can wash and hang clothes if you need to or wear the same things twice. See how it feels to carry less baggage.

5. Dress with Less. If you haven’t considered Project 333, dressing with only 33 items for 3 months (clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories) sounds extreme, but thousands of people know that it actually makes life easier instead of more challenging.


Daily Enlightenment

There is a clear difference between a conceptual thought and the actual practice of everyday life. Today, we live in a stimulus-reaction driven society. We are always busy reacting to things – the phone calls, emails, business reports and our kids.

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding that limit. ”

— Elbert Hubbard

We try to balance it out. We try to have our own time, work on some personal goals and pursue personal/spiritual/professional development all at the same time. We all know what to do. It’s just that we fail to execute them. Life becomes burdening, overwhelming and we fatigue. How does Tony Robbins or Gary Vee do what they do? Are they faking it?

Goal-setting and using to-do lists are tools to keep our track amidst the chaos in life. It’s actually one of the most ubiquitous advice in the world of self-improvement. But one thing that all these ‘gurus’ don’t teach you is that we eventually burn out. Not everyone can sustain the high-energy output of Gary Vee or Tony Robbins. I’m here to tell you that you’re not Gary Vee – and you don’t have to be. Don’t fake it. You want to become better. But does that desire itself bring you down? Make you depressed?

It’s actually a vicious cycle. You accumulate goals over time, learn new things, aspire to achieve more and eventually, your list of to-dos become too much. As you fail to complete a task or reach a goal, you begin to feel underachieved. A sense of failure creeps in. Below are 5 steps to your daily enlightenment that will help you stay conscious and empower you to achieve your goals in life and have fun doing it.

“It is important to note that the most sensitive, self-reflective souls among us — those of us with the highest visions, ideals, and standards — often have the lowest sense of self-worth because we consistently fail to meet our idealized standards. George Bernard Shaw once remarked that the “ignorant are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.”


Youth Rejuvenated

We live in a very fast-paced world, running from one place to another and doing one thing after another. Because we get so busy doing all the things we have to do, making them all seem a lot more important than they actually are, we start to panic and live in this constant state of urgency. As a result, we start to accumulate a lot of stress and tension into our bodies and forget what it actually feels like to relax and enjoy life.

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

Today I would like to share with you 9 simple yet powerful ways to restore, renew and rejuvenate yourself so that you can enjoy life a little more and bring more peace and more happiness into your life. These are really simple things that will generate great results.

There’s nothing like a hot bubble bath to relax your mind, body, and spirit. Add some naturally flavored sea salts and flavored candles and you will spoil, pamper and awaken all your senses. By far one of my favorite things to do!

Bring your attention to your breath whenever possible. Breathe in deep through your nose by filling your lungs with oxygen, and exhale through your mouth. When you breathe in, make sure that your belly expands and when you breathe out, the belly should return inward to a neutral position. While exhaling, you can make the Heart Sound which sound something like “Haaaaaaaa”. I have learned this from practicing QiGong. It’s a great way to release stress and tension from your body and let go of all the things that no longer serve you.

By becoming mindful of your breathing, not only will you get to restore, renew and rejuvenate yourself and improve your health, but you will also train your mind into becoming more and a more present in the now, and trust me, it will change your whole life for the better.

Power naps are a great way to reset yourself and return to a place of inner peace, balance, and tranquility. If you want to give this a try, just find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed by anyone, whether it’s at home or at work, set your alarm, and for the next 15 minutes or so, go into the zzzzz land. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you for it. Sooooo good!


Stress Relievers

Ever wish a stress superhero could save you from the tension of traffic jams, chaotic meetings, arguments with your spouse, or a toddler’s tantrums? Well, you can be your own stress-busting superhero. Using your senses, you can tap into the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening and stay in control when the pressure builds.

Like any skill, learning how to ease stress in the moment takes time, experimentation, and practice, but the payoff is huge. When you know how to quickly relieve stress, you can stay calm, productive, and focused—no matter what life throws at you.

There are countless techniques for managing stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment—during a high-pressure job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse—you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. For these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible.

One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is by engaging one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—or through movement. But since everyone is different, you’ll need to do some experimenting to discover which technique works best for you.

It might seem obvious that you’d know when you’re stressed, but many of us spend so much time in a frazzled state that we’ve forgotten what it feels like when our nervous systems are in balance—when we’re calm yet still alert and focused. If this is you, you can recognize when you’re stressed by listening to your body.

When you’re tired, your eyes feel heavy and you might rest your head on your hand. When you’re happy, you laugh easily. And when you’re stressed, your body lets you know that, too. Get in the habit of paying attention to your body’s clues.




Flower Language

Take a step back into Victorian times, when flower-rich bouquets and petite nosegays were arranged with attention not only to the beauty of the blooms but to their meanings as well.

In a rediscovery of traditions that go as far back as the Greeks and Romans, the 19th century saw thoughts, feelings, and wishes assigned to hundreds of plants and flowers. The result was a kind of floral code through which poetic suitors and the objects of their affections could coyly communicate in prim Victorian society.

Through time, some flowers have acquired multiple and even contradictory meanings, and not every flower has been assigned one. For example, foxglove, a cottage garden favorite, could mean either “insincerity” or “a wish,” depending on the occasion.

A modern approach to communicating with flowers calls for a loose interpretation of the meanings and a willingness to have fun. Feel free to make one or several symbolic flowers the stars of your bouquet, then fill in with blossoms that contribute beauty, but not necessarily meaning, to the arrangement.

The vast vocabulary of flowers can express sentiments for hundreds of occasions. Celebrate an anniversary by giving the lucky couple a bouquet of red and white roses, symbolizing “love” and “unity,” respectively, mixed with hydrangea and lavender, both of which communicate “devotion.” Or thank a friend with a clutch of bellflower, expressing “gratitude,” and daisy fleabane and parsley, which both mean “thank you.”

Finish each arrangement by attaching a handwritten tag that lists the meaning of each flower, or explain them in person when you deliver the bouquet. You might include a flower meanings reference book so the recipient can continue the tradition.

Our half-dozen blooming beauties mix stems cut from the garden with florist favorites in combinations pleasing to the eye and the heart. We hope they inspire you to compose your own poem in flowers.