A Time for Contemplation

We know what time of year it is…December is nuts. There is decorating and gift buying and crowded parking lots and parties you really don’t want to go to and parties you really wish you could attend. Work is suddenly crazy busy. There is traffic and grumpy, rushed people. It is cold and icy. I get it. I’m right there with you.

Let’s see if we can make this all a little easier. First, I highly recommend making a cup of herbal tea and sitting down in a relatively quiet place, whether it is your favorite coffee shop or a corner in your home. Make a few lists…gift lists, to do lists (decorating, etc.)…and then look at the lists and see if it actually can all be done. Anything that doesn’t seem truly important can still be crossed off, guilt free. Then take out your calendar (old school written or electronic) and plug those activities in…order holiday cards, go shopping, etc. Make sure you leave enough time for each activity. I do all my shopping online which saves me tons of time, money (no impulse buying), and stress (no crowded parking lots and grumpy people). Once the lists and activities are plugged in, you may feel a sense of relief, as if the tasks are already completed since now you KNOW that you have time! Take a deep breath. It is all going to be ok.

Also, make a deal with yourself. While this may not be the best time of year to start a diet, it also doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel altogether. Eat breakfast every day. Eat vegetables and fruits and some protein. Try to avoid the processed foods and simple carbohydrates when you can. They will only make you feel bloated and cranky, neither of which is my favorite. They may look tempting for the moment, but they are not worth it…truly. If you are staring down your very favorite desert that your mother makes, have one serving and savor every mouthful…and then move on. Let the holidays be about the people that you love, the fun that is to be had, and less about the unhealthy, calorie dense obstacle course that will surround you for the next few weeks.

Ok…gift suggestions…I have always wanted to make a “Colleen’s Favorite Things List.” I will do a proper one at some point, but here is a starting point. If you need small gifts or stocking stuffers, consider these, which will also be on my favorite things list someday, when I have time…

All of Graham Clarke’s music. Grahamclarke.com. It is fun and creative and energetic and sweet. It is appropriate for your children…it is written for your children, but you will find yourself playing it in the car even when the kids are not with you. You will do this for years. And you won’t regret it.

Books by one of my Holy Cross Classmates: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=me+reilly+mcgreen&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ame+reilly+mcgreen She is witty, smart, and entertaining in person, and this translates onto the written page as well.

“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is, in my humble opinion, a must read. I just re-read it again this past weekend (more about that below), and it will alter your perspective for the better in a way that will allow you to enjoy your life so much more than before. That is a win-win.

And well, I’m allowed to put my own Strong Mamas Fit Families DVD on my favorite things list, right? http://www.wellnessnow.guru (under “Our DVD”)  will take you there! Let me tell you why I love it…first of all, I am so proud of the DVD, the work that went into it, and the beautiful moms and children who volunteered to be part of the project. Secondly, I keep hearing from families all around the country that this is the first DVD that the little kids, toddlers especially, will let the parents finish because they love watching the children on the TV screen. And lastly, I know that when families exercise together, it opens them up to better communication and bonds which are really important when things come up as the children become teens and beyond. I know this because the boys and I have always exercised and skied and worked out together, and it brings us closer together as we stay fit and healthy. Love love love.

Enough with the commercial break…welcome to the thought of the week…

Last week I had posted on Facebook that the week was just kicking my butt for reasons that I could not put my finger on. The image in my mind was that I had gravel in my soul. Everything that I tried to do, which normally comes easily, was an effort. I was pushing the mountain, and it wasn’t working very well. I was frustrated and irritated…without any particular reason…which was frustrating and irritating.

There didn’t seem to be much that I could do to change the situation until I figured it out, so I just kept pushing through, dragging my gravel-laden soul behind me like a ton of bricks. Sometimes we just have to go through the motions until we can come up with a plan. Everything was accomplished with best available effort, which might not be best-ever effort…but we work with what we have.

I had a party to attend Friday night, which I had committed to and was looking forward to even though it was pouring rain and I knew my 2-ton soul was not going to be soaring. Continuing to go through the motions, I primped and put on my best-available party smile and headed out to the party, which was lovely.

And then it happened. I saw an old client who had attended my classes years before when her now-nearly-grown children were small and she was new to town. When she saw me, her whole face lit up and she pushed through the crowd to get to me and give me a giant hug, and she said, “Oh Colleen! I’m so happy to see you here! I just wanted to tell you how much I love you and how amazing you are and that you changed my whole life when I moved here. I didn’t know anyone and you helped me and I got my body back and my energy and I love reading your positive energy in your posts and I just love you. You are light!”

Well, wow. That was unexpected. Here I am dragging my sorry, soggy soul around and out of the blue, love gets dumped all over me! It was, of course, so nice to hear those kind words, but the most important syllables were the last three. I am light. That was what the problem had been! I had forgotten that when I AM light and when I AM love, the negativity in the world cannot touch me. I don’t have to fight it. I don’t have to push the mountain. I wake up and I am just so happy and cannot wait to jump out of bed and spread more light and happiness and help people be their very best selves. It isn’t any effort at all. Nothing is effort. When you focus on the moment and allow your soul to do the very thing it was designed to do, whatever that is for you, you float above the negativity and mean words and gossip. Everything is so much clearer.

I hugged her back and already knew that I was going to re-read “The Four Agreements” on Saturday. The four agreements are 4 rules to live by that allow you to live your best life ever, effortlessly:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

So simple. I had gotten tired and started taking things personally, which leads to assumptions. It involves not being impeccable with your word…speaking negative words yourself about yourself or others. And then you can’t even see whether you are doing your best or not. It is a poison…all the negativity in the world. It can infiltrate our minds and weaken us. It makes us forget who we are and what is most important to us.

I’m back. I am light and I am love (which doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else…it is just who I am at this moment in time), and this allows me to float. I can hear other people’s challenges and help them without absorbing the problem myself. I can walk through the negativity and hateful words of others. I can do my best and stay focused on what is most important to me: being the best mother I can be to the boys; bringing hope, health, and happiness to those around me as best I can; and hopefully inspiring optimism in others as I continue to be present in the now and believe in the brightest of futures for tomorrow. Today is already beautiful. You can tell me that it isn’t, but I know differently.

So, my thought for the week is to follow the principles in The Four Agreements. I highly recommend the book. They are ideals that cross all religions…tell the truth, stay present, don’t judge, do your best. I know you can do it! Take a deep breath, focus on the now, and remember that I love you.