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SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 11

Welcome to Week 11 of Summer of Well-Being! Our guest blogger this week is Ellenit Serrano. Read her blog below to learn about the transformation effects of focused breathing, and don’t forget to share your thoughts!


“We must live fully before we die.  We must generate sufficient energy to realize

ourfull potential. The journey to our core is arduous; 

only pranic energy can take us there.”   —B.K.S. Iyengar

 

Before you begin reading this blog, I want you to breathe.

REALLY BREATHE…..

Take a deep, slow inhale through the nose and envision breath and energy filling your body.

Feel the expansion in your chest and oxygen filling the lungs as you deepen the inhale.

Retain that breath for as long as you can then just as slowly – exhale and feel the release.

Notice how your belly hollows out and empties in the process.

Repeat this a few times before you continue reading.

 

How do how you feel?  Do you notice a change from just a few moments ago?  Were you able to calm SOMETHING down?  Maybe you were able to calm your thoughts, your nerves, your physical pain or your stress just for a moment after taking a few short conscious breaths.  The good news is that you have the ability to become conscious of your breath (as opposed to involuntarily just breathing) and control it during any and all activities of your life.

We often take it for granted when someone says “just breathe”   but when you really think about it, your breath, in each moment, defines the span of your life.  Once it’s gone your life on this earthly plane ceases.  In yoga we speak about “prana”, the energy that permeates the universe at all levels many times referred to as our “Life Force”, or the “Breath of Life”.

Your next breath is the most powerful opportunity for transformation that exists.

In fact, in this moment your next breath is the beginning of the rest of your life!

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At the beginning of my yoga classes I often tell my students that if they do nothing else but focus on their breath, with awareness, for the duration of the class they are getting the full benefit of the practice.

Of course it’s OK to just breathe unconsciously after all it means we are still alive!  But magic happens when we slow down, become conscious and influence the flow of our breath.  As we inhale, we breathe in fresh oxygen and energy into the body converting and merging it with our physical form.  In essence, we breathe spirit into the flesh; we are in union (yoga) with the divine energy of the universe.

As we retain the breath we allow that energy to nourish every cell in our body allowing healing to occur.  We use the exhale to get rid of toxins and to consciously let go of thoughts and energies that no longer serve us. We create space for the new.

For me, breath work started as part of my yoga practice years ago.  I learned to become aware of my breathing; allowing it to keep me centered and to empty my mind.  With practice this has become almost second nature.  It’s easier to pick up on certain signs such as shortness of breath, lack of focus, or anxiety building up that reminds me I need to take a moment and come back to the breath.  Sometimes that’s all it takes right before a big presentation, in preparing for a response to a child, or to get perspective on wandering thoughts.

There was a time in my life when I had to put a huge reminder on my office white-board to “BREATHE”.  Now it’s just a technique I more often than not, use in my personal and professional life.  When I do it has direct, positive outcomes and always makes a huge difference in the way I feel.

With practice we are able to calm the body and mind at will.  We learn to create space in between our thoughts to allow new ideas and new opportunities to emerge. We learn to listen to our inner voice, turn the outside world on mute and be led by our Truth.  What materializes is transformation and growth in ways unimagined.

 

Just Breathe…


jdiaz-medium

Ellenit Serrano
SBL LAC Strategy, Analytics and Integration
Global Products and Solutions of MasterCard Worldwide

Ellenit is a certified Hatha/Vinyasa Yoga instructor and Reiki level 1 and 2 Healer. Becoming an instructor was an unexpected part of her personal evolution given that she has a full-time career with MasterCard. As such, she  uniquely integrates the yin and yang of her corporate and yoga roles into her teaching and practice. In her classes she seeks to inspire her students through music, affirmations, aromatherapy and lighting, creating a full sensory experience.
Facebook: facebook.com/ellenit.serrano
Email: Namastelle7@gmail.com

 

Running my Internet marketing firm means I work very long, hard hours.  I lead our sales efforts, drive our creative teams and oversee program quality.  I work tirelessly on the processes we use and people we hire to become more efficient and less dependent upon me.  My hope is to work myself out of a job over the next several years.

It’s easy to mistakenly say to yourself, “When I accomplish all these things and achieve all these goals, I’ll be happy.”  That’s not the way happiness works.

A speaker at a men’s prayer breakfast I attend shared a quote that sheds some light on this.  It says,

The ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.”

The spirit says, “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.”

 

I’d like to convince myself that once my business gets streamlined and funded and I become successful (whatever that means), I’ll be happy.  I’ll be making more money.  I’ll have more freedom to travel and more time to spend with my loved ones.  “Of course I’ll be happy, right?”

The problem is this is it assumes you can control your way to happiness.  In this make-believe world, happiness comes to those that achieve.  You know what? I make an income today that in my twenties was far beyond my definition of filthy rich.  I now run the business I could only dream of running when I was younger.  I’ve accomplished a lot.

Yet my success to date hasn’t brought me happiness.  What does make me happy is sharing tapas and dinner with my wife of thirty years, family and friends.  It’s sitting down with my daughter to discuss a job offer she’s just received.  (She actually confides in me and asks for my input.)  It’s realizing my youngest daughter who’ll be off to college is well prepared and excited about leaving the nest and taking on this new challenge.  It’s helping an employee with a paycheck advance she’ll be using to purchase her first home.

Notice it is NOT the accomplishments that bring me happiness.  It’s the place my head is at that enables me to appreciate what happens in my life’s journey.  It’s based on awareness and the nurturing of relationships with people I love.

 

Here’s a word picture for you.  Happiness does 505697585NOT come from focusing on my mobile device GPS map thinking of the happiness I’ll feel when my car arrives at my destination. 

It comes from:

  • Opening the car windows,
  • • Feeling the rush of the wind,
  • • Holding the hand of the lady next to me who’s been putting up with me all these years,
  • • Appreciating the moon rise in front of us which I would typically miss and
  • • Keeping my mind free from tomorrow’s to-do list and mental clutter so I don’t miss out on the happiness of my situation.

 

My Uncle Max passed away recently and I shared a few moments with his daughter Adriana after the burial.   I don’t see her often because she is now a sister in the Mother Theresa order of nuns serving the poorest of the poor in Mexico.

My uncle had a sly sense of humor and really appreciated the ironies in life.  My cousin lives a very basic life with zero in the way of worldly possessions.  She explained to me the irony of riding in a black limousine to the cemetery.   A friend of hers joked about taking a picture of her in full nun garb sitting in the driver’s seat of the Porche 911 parked next to the limo.  We all smiled because we knew how this would all strike Uncle Max.  “I’m sure Dad’s cracking up right now,” she said.

 

Happiness comes when you least expect it and from the least likely of things.  Don’t miss out.

 


jdiaz-medium

Jorge Lazaro Diaz
Founder/Chief Internet Marketing and Technology Officer of Larry Jacob Internet Marketing

Jorge Lazaro Diaz is the Founder and President of Larry Jacob Internet Marketing. His expertise comes with strong marketing, copy writing and technology skills delivering Internet Marketing, Infusionsoft Automation and Website Design solutions that deliver results to small and medium sized businesses.

 
 
 

SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 9

Are you looking to find some inner insight on your well-being? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe there is more to life than the physical? Sure, staying fit is wonderful and all, but do you ever think about the nitty-gritty of things, through soul searching, or even trying to find that balance in life to make you feel “whole”? Holistic practices have been used for hundreds of years. A holistic practice not only focuses on the body, but the entire body-mind-soul connection to help achieve a greater satisfaction of oneself. Wholeness is just right around the corner, folks.


 Bringing Your Well-Being Full Circle

How we can heal our lives through holistic practices.

Holism means that we are all connected somehow to the world and everything around us. We humans spend so much time bettering ourselves via money and indulges that we forget to thank ourselves in personal and natural ways. We need to allow ourselves to access peace and harmony to better help our spirit remain in the state of bliss and tranquility that we deserve. We can do this through holistic practices.

yoga-pose2Caring for the mind and soul are equally as important as taking care of the body. The metaphysical components of wellness should be taken into account and not be set aside. We can all benefit from getting that ol’ yoga mat out more often instead of waiting for that rainy day Yoga, one of the more practiced types of holism, not only helps to stretch the muscles, it decreases stress, eases depression, and even helps keep blood pressure in check.

Meditation is also a spiritual awakening practice that can put us in a relaxed state of mind. When meditating, we clear our minds and focus solely on slow, balanced breathing. For a beginner, it may take a few meditations before he/she can fully relax and forget those pesky daily woes that trouble us all. Meditating, even if for 5 minutes, can benefit us in the long run. So, the next time you find yourself thinking there aren’t enough hours in the day, believe that there are, take a seat, relax, and ‘om’ your way to a better, happier you.

These are merely two well-known types of holistic practices. There are many other ones that you can easily try at home, or at a studio with a teacher or professional. And, they can also support any illness you may be working through. Sometimes, medication is not enough. Holistic exercises and rituals can help heal your soul and awaken you to your true self and true needs.

The forces of our minds and our transcendental connection to the universe can make miracles! I believe holism can help anyone, if they’re willing to open themselves up to the universe—mind-body-and-soul.

I created I AM Equilibrium because holism has been in my life as long as I can remember! My grandmother taught me to always to look at the root of a situation or illness for the blockage or obstacle, and try to find the “why.”  The surface of anything tells a different story than its root. Looking for the answers within helps you evolve spiritually.

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My tip for you is to try and do the same. This week, when you feel stress or pain, instead of masking it with pain killers, cocktails, or other quick fixes, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and ask yourself questions that can help you find the root—the spiritual cause of the stress or pain.

And, I invite you to consider expanding your well-being horizon and trying out a new and unique holistic method. Regardless of the method or practice you try, be patient and be in the moment with it, releasing any judgment for the activity and for yourself.

The art of allowing is never easy! When I began my holistic journey I decided to take it slow. I realized that to develop the habit I needed to take baby steps. First, I set a time, even if I wasn’t going to do yoga or meditate, I’d have the alarm sound ‘meditation time’ and I would be ready with some affirmations or thoughts that I wanted to manifest as detailed as possible.  For one week, it was just that! The following week I wanted more, so I would actually sit up and meditate for 5 minutes and put on some yoga clothes, never pressuring myself to do more. These small baby steps helped me incorporate these and other practices into my life, all while running two companies! I also realized that how I thought about my time was critical. Did I feel I had no time at all, or all the time in the world?  Believe you have the time and you will find it.

I wish you much success on your well-being journey, and a lifetime of mind-body-soul practices that bring you into the wholeness you deserve.

Thank you!

 


Mary P
Ivette Agusti
Founder of I Am Equilibrium
Ivette Agusti is founder of I Am Equilibrium, a Holistic Gym in South Miami focused on helping others integrate Holistic practices into their everyday lifestyle. IAE offers classes, one on one treatments and weekend workshops for the mind, body and spirit, ranging from prosperity classes to the latest healing modalities like Sound healing, etc. Recognizing always how you are your first and only healer, IAE provides simply the tools to assist in your evolution and growth.

 

 

I looked a hundred times and all I saw was dust.

The sun broke through and flecks of gold filled the air. 

This has been a tough week for me; perhaps for you as well. You can’t turn on the TV or radio, check-in with Facebook or Twitter, or read the paper without learning about yet another tragedy occurring in our world. In fact, with the instantaneous updates our world operates on, you don’t have to look for it, it simply pops up and let’s you know, “Look what’s on CNN now!”

My heart aches.

Even though some of these incidents seem so far away, they are, indeed, very close to us all… it may be a young student murdered from our community, a man on the downed plane went to a local high school, or a friend who travels frequently to a troubled part of the world. We are connected through degrees of separation.

Maybe you’ve read the research as I have, or perhaps you just feel it in your bones. Here’s the TRUTH…we are all connected. When someone hurts a world away, we all hurt–seen or unseen; felt or not.

It’s very easy to not see or feel. For me, it becomes routine to acknowledge the disaster, feel it in my whole body, cry, perhaps, and then I tuck it away quickly and move on with my life. I wish there was more that I could do. I wish I could fly over the scene and scoop up the hurt bodies and souls and fly them away to safety.

A part of our path to well-being is understanding this energetic connection that we have with others and with the world at large. Connecting with other people and places in meaningful ways can significantly spike our wellness. But, what do we do; what can we do when we don’t have any control, are affected by the sadness, and don’t necessarily want to ignore it and keep living as usual?

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I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I imagine there are many small ways that we can reach out to those who are affected by these horrific disasters. Almost daily I see many examples of people making a huge difference through small actions…writing letters, making care packages, donating money to relief funds, etc. My heart is compelled to also do something very small. In fact it will only take you 5 minutes. But, because I know the power that doing things in numbers can provide, especially in the world of energy, I invite you–all of you–to join me in this exercise. And, truly hope you will invite others so we can create a massive movement in just five minutes.

More on the 5-Minute Miracle in just a few moments…

The inspiration for this came to me as I was reading one of my older blogs. This one was about self-love, but also about how our prayers, goodwill, and positive words heal us humans—as well as the universe as a whole—through water. Specifically, the book documented amazing research about the changes to water crystals (whether you are with the water, or whether you are sending thoughts to far-off bodies of water!when you speak to them, pray to them, or send them good and/or bad thoughts. The results were hair raising.

Watch this short video to get the summarized version!

Screenshot 2014-07-25 10.41.57

Emoto shares in his book,

…”vibrations will be sent out into the world and the cosmos, and the great symphony of that harmonic vibration will wrap our planet in waves of love that serve to cherish our Heaven-granted lives. This is the message from the water.”

Screenshot 2014-07-25 10.41.14

So, this week, for our Summer of Well-Being, I hope that you will join me to intend for a 5-Minute Miracle… a brief exercise that not only will serve to benefit you through quiet, compassionate mindfulness, but also will serve to heal the world.

Mark Your Calendar NOW! On Friday of this week, August 1st, at 8:45 am, I am asking you to join me in 5 minutes of prayer, intention, healing light… whatever speaks to you…for the healing of our world and for peace.

Will you join me? I’d love for you to commit and comment below by typing “YES!”

Please share and let’s expand these circle of healing and peace. I want to see LOTS OF YES’S BELOW!!

To close today’s blog, in preparation for the 5-Minute Miracle on Friday, I’d love to share portions of a beautiful prayer for our world, created by Marianne Williamson from her book, Illuminata. Feel free to use this one on Friday:

Dear God,

There is so much danger in the world today. There is so much insanity, so much darkness and fear. Our human resources are not enough…please send a miracle! Into every country and every home, into every mind and every heart, may the power of your spirit now trigger the light, activate our holiness, remind us of the truth within. May a great love now encompass us, a deep peace give us solace. May the world be reborn. Thank you. Amen.

If you prefer a powerful visualization/intentions, Marianne shares this one in her book, Everyday Grace:

See luminous energy emerging from your heart, extending outward to touch all things. Cast the light over  warring nations. Cast it over the entire planet. Cast it over the people you love. Cast it over the people you judge. Feel now a bolt of energy coming over you as you extend this light. Avoid the temptation to invalidate this image. It’s not an idle fantasy, for the light is real.

Thank you, and Namaste,

Monique

SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 8

Welcome to Week 8 of Summer of Well-Being! This week our emphasis is on the well-being dimension of eating, and making sure we eat healthier. As we get older we tend to start eating better. Slowly, the days of quick Pop Tart breakfasts and Ramen dinners disappear and are replaced by early morning green smoothies and late-night buckwheat Soba noodles.

Today, in honor of the Summer of Well-Being, we have Leoncio Alvarez from Munch This!  who has revamped three of his recipes to make them more health-conscious. Try them out and let us know how they work for you!


Vegetable Spring Rolls

Fried empanadas are swapped out for baked vegetable spring rolls that you can make with whatever veggies on hand. I had some sweet potatoes and corn and added some black beans. If you have zucchini, or carrots that would work. Just because a recipe says you have to use something doesn’t mean you have to. You’re in charge of your kitchen!

Ingredients:Spring_Rolls2

  • 15 spring roll wrappers (can be found at your nearest Oriental market)
  • ½ yellow onion (peeled, diced, finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced, chopped)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled, diced, chopped)
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil

Step 1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and sweet potato and cook for 12-15 minutes or until sweet potato is soft but not mashed. Reduce heat if needed.

Step 2. After cooking veggies for 5 minutes add curry powder, turmeric and coriander powder.

Step 3. After 10 minutes add corn and black beans and combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 4. Crack egg into a small bowl and add a 1 Tablespoon of water. Whisk and set aside.

Step 5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 spring roll wrapper on a cutting board. Add 1 Tablespoon of veggie mixture to top edge. Create spring rolls using this video as guidance. Repeat with remaining spring roll wrappers. Any leftover vegetables could be stored and used as a side for another meal.

Step 6. Place prepared spring rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crispy.


Chicken Meatballs

Cuban-style ground beef can get tiring in Miami. Chicken meatballs are 98 percent fat free and taste just as great. The addition of steel-cut oats adds fiber and makes these meatballs plump up in the oven. When buying oats make sure you get steel-cut compared to rolled oats. Steel-cut should have no added sugar and are less in calories. Serve meatballs with a drizzle of soy and honey.

Chicken_Meatballs2Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 small onion (peeled, finely chopped)
  • ½ red pepper (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced, chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of nonfat milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped basil
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped sage
  • 3 Tablespoons of tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients in order in a large bowl and combine.

Step 2. Use an ice cream scooper to make meatballs and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink in the center. You can test by taking a meatball and cutting through it with a knife to see how it is in the center.

Try these out with ground turkey too! You can serve with your favorite sauce.


Brown Rice Coconut Pudding

Grandma’s rice pudding is decadently creamy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t add some healthy ingredients to make it even better. Coconut palm sugar is being recognized more and more as a substitute for white sugar.  The effects of carbohydrates on your blood sugar are measured by the glycemic index. Regular table sugar  ranks between 60 and 75, while coconut palm sugar is just 35 on the glycemic index. Your blood sugar level could spike depending on how high the glycemic index is for the food you’re intaking.

This pudding is not as sweet as grandma’s, but cranberries and toasted coconut and pumpkin seeds add a delightful sweet-and-salty crunch.

Ingredients:
Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.43.54 AM

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ¼ cup of coconut palm sugar
  • 1 13 ½ oz can of lite coconut milk
  • 2 cups of almond milk or skim milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of toasted coconut
  • ¼ cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • ¼ cup of cranberries

Step 1. In a large pot over medium heat add lite coconut milk, 1 cup of almond or skim milk and brown rice. Heat until boiling. Bring down heat and stir every two minutes to make sure rice never sticks to the bottom.

Step 2. Add cinnamon, ginger, coconut palm sugar and vanilla. Keep stirring every two minutes for about an hour.

Step 3. Add remaining milk, lemon zest and cranberries and continue stirring rice. Cook for another hour never forgetting to stir, until rice is soft and pudding is creamy. If rice pudding gets too thick, add a few spoonfuls of milk. Top with toasted coconuts and pumpkin seeds Enjoy!

 

Try out these and more recipes from Munch This!


Mary P
 Leoncio Alvarez
Founder/Chief Editor of Munch This!
Leoncio Alvarez is a Miami native who loves to share his passion for food and cooking with others. He has been munching out on Munch This! since 2010, developing and starring in his own Youtube cooking show in 2013. He is a graduate of Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Website: MunchThis.net

 
 
 

golfer-hitting-ball[2]

Wow! Is it already Week 8 of Summer of Well-Being? I am so grateful to our guest bloggers for their wonderful content, and I hope each of you is taking advantage of their knowledge and suggestions, and trying a few on for size. I’m excited about our guest this week, Leoncio Alvarez, from MUNCH This!, who will take some delicious recipes and show us how to make them healthier! Super cool, yes? Make sure to join us on Thursday for his blog.

If you need to catch up on all Summer of Well-Being blogs, you’ll find them here

This past weekend I decided to tackle a wellness goal that I have been wanting to try for quite some time, but never made the time for it. When I noticed that Summer of Well-Being guest blogger, Mary Trontz, was offering a 3-day cleanse, I knew this was the time. There are many ways to cleanse and different systems offered. I chose the 3-Day Refresh by Shakeology, because it does most of the work for me with little prep or hassle. Because my hubby also is participating in the Summer of Well-Being, we decided to do this challenge together, and today is our last day! Today, day 3, I’m really feeling the positive effects, and I can’t wait to see the full results tomorrow!

So, what have I noticed? 

  • I’ve been more tired than usual. My body is definitely detoxing and saying, “Whoa, woman! What are you doing?” We decided start over the weekend to allow ourselves time to rest. That’s been helpful!

  • Staying hydrated is necessary for energy, and also to help us feel more full. In this case, I’m following guest blogger, Davis Mitchell’s advice of drinking a minimum of half my body weight in ounces.

  • Some headaches, which I feel may be due to detoxing and releasing my coffee habit.

  • And, some moments of bloating and nausea.

  • Mostly, the first two days I noticed how easy it would be to give up after day 1! It has taken a lot of will power and positive self talk to keep me going, especially when I’m cooking normal meals for my kiddos! But, tackling this with a buddy definitely helps!

So, how do you stick with a goal when the going gets tough?

Although I’m proud that I have almost reached my goal and have managed to stay focused and on point, I really enjoy learning from others what helps them to reach their goals, especially when the going gets tough.

This weekend I spent some time watching the British Open. Both my step-father and son are avid golfers, and so my liking to golf has grown over the years. It was very exciting to witness 25-year-old, Rory McIlroy win the Open (again), and three out of the four major crowns in golf. When asked what he told himself to keep his mind positive and focused on the goal, he said that he repeatedly told himself two words over and over…PROCESS  and SPOT.

PROCESS. SPOT.

Easy and effective, and that’s why I felt compelled to share it with you today.

He tells himself that golf, and winning a tournament, is a process. It’s not the outcome of one hole, or in my case, one day of cleansing; it’s in sticking with the plan and getting through. At every hole, he would say to himself, “spot” as a reminder that his only role in that very moment (moment-to-moment) was to focus on the next spot; where he needed to place the ball. For me, during my cleanse, my spot was the next hour. What do I need to do to be prepared for the next hour? Taking it moment by moment–spotting– was really helpful.

If you haven’t yet found a way to get through your well-being goals, or any goals for that matter, maybe this easy tip from a young, extraordinary athlete can help you get there. Also, to develop your athlete’s mind, make sure to catch guest blogger, Mike Rosenfeld’s vlog, if you haven’t already!

Our well-being is most definitely a process; a life-long one. I hope that the process for you has been a positive and joyful one! And, remember, if you’re not feeling challenged, you may need to step up your effort a bit. I know you can do it!

Have a magnificent week!

Namaste,

Monique

 

Ocean

Meet Ocean, our brand new Labradane puppy, whose been in our lives for only two weeks. I wrote about her in my blog last week, and I want to write about her again today, because having her join our family has brought up so many great memories, as well as both joyous and challenging moments. Keeping up with my well-being habits has not been easy these last few weeks, and as a good student of my own teachings, I decided I had to broaden the way I not only looked at our new situation, but also how I could transcend it, bit-by-bit.

In thinking of transcending the challenges, I immediately am taken back to a time in my life when my grandmother, Amelia “Mami”, moved in to our childhood home, together with my sister and her family, as well as with my grandfather, Mario “Papi”. My sister had a Yorkshire Terrier named “Rambo”. Rambo was a very loving dog, despite his hyper tendencies. He loved to cuddle and be spoiled. My grandmother hated the idea of living with a dog in the house and complained to no end about it. But, she had no choice in the matter. Rambo wasn’t going anywhere.

Because my grandmother didn’t work, she stayed home all day. Her role was a very traditional, maternal one. Cook, clean, babysit, sew, etc. But, it was a lonely life during the day, because she was not interacting with others and had no young children to care for. Little by little, she let Rambo get close to her. He really seemed to fill a void for her, one that no one else could. Sometimes I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, listening to her conversations with Rambo! Before you knew it, she and Rambo were inseparable! She even made home-cooked meals for him!! I mean, really??

My grandmother’s demeanor changed. She was more bubbly, and giggly. When she wanted to be funny she didn’t have to try hard, she was hilarious, mostly because she laughed at herself so hard that we laughed at her! Rambo became her daily companion; her everything. Loving him and caring for him was a high priority for her. So, you can imagine how difficult it was when Rambo died. Mami was so depressed; unconsolable for months. Watching her suffer was very hard for all of us. We saw my grandmother’s overall well-being soar because of her very close relationship Rambo. It was a true wellness lever for her.

I share this story, because I’ve had a few moments over these last two weeks when I have noticed that how I have been thinking about our new life with Ocean has not been supporting or allowing my well-being to be optimal. I have found myself reacting too much, complaining, and feeling sorry for myself (when I can’t sleep, or have to clean my rugs- again!, or take the puppy out on wet grass, or in the rain every 1/2 hour). Thinking of how much joy Rambo brought to my grandmother’s life, and also how much love and joy our former dog, Cousteau, brought to our lives, has helped me to become more intentional (I’m learning how to puppy train!), set realistic expectations (yes, she’s a puppy and will poop and pee a lot and cry at night!), and really forgive both Ocean, for doing what she can’t yet understand and control, and forgive myself, for being an emotional human!

I’m also really enjoying her and focusing on who she is naturally– a pup who offers so much unconditional love, which is not always easy to find, and I’m imagining how amazing our lives will be with her as she grows up. Day-by-day it is getting easier. And, well, I just can’t get enough of her puppy breath! I’m learning so much about training puppies now (instead of just complaining and feeling like a victim), that I can probably offer you a few tips if you ever need them! LOL.

Shifting a bit to well-being at work, companies that are putting the well-being of their employees first are understanding the important link between pets and their owners’ happiness and productivity. More and more we are seeing employers adding pets at work as a benefit. I just came across this video interview with Dr. “Woody” Woodward, who serves on the board of our Center for Leadership, sharing this trend.

What part do pets play in your well-being? Are they enhancing your well-being? If so, how?

I, for one, am looking forward to going on longer, faster walks with Ocean, which I know will enhance my wellness plan. And, there is simply no way to measure the amount of love that a pet can bring in your life. It can be priceless.

I’d love to hear your stories!

If you’ve missed any of our Summer of Well-Being blogs, you will find them here.

AND…you won’t want to miss our guest blogger on Thursday…the amazing Mina Shah! Catch you then!!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

 

Welcome Back to our Summer of Well-Being awareness program! We are nearly half-way through the program, and already I’ve received feedback on how so many of you are enjoying the blogs/vlogs and choosing to make your well-being a priority through small, attainable steps. If you’ve missed any of the blogs, you will find them here.

ChiaLynn

Have you heard this popular new expression, “Shut the front door!”? It’s so catchy that I find myself using it often instead of saying something like, “No way!”, or “You must be kidding me!” In the context of my blog today, however, as well as in preparation for Sheena’s blog on Thursday, I’m thinking of it in this way…

  • Our minds are so darn busy that we consciously have to “shut the door” to our mind to intentionally focus it toward something meaningful, And…
  • Life sometimes feels like we are on warp speed that we have very little consistency and change is ever-present, keeping us from achieving a sense of balance. Our plans keep escaping out that front door and we want to shut it!

Is is realistic to keep shutting the door, or should we proactively keep it ajar doing a little dance with it?

I am a fan of Kabbalah wisdom, and today’s message couldn’t have been more spot on for me in thinking of this door in my mind’s eye. It says:

When the Israelites were in the desert, they were given food one day at a time. They were told not to create a stockpile; the manna would fall from the sky everyday.

The message in this is actually quite simple and clear: Today is the day that counts. The Creator will provide for us each day. There is no such thing right now as “tomorrow.”

If we aren’t capable of giving of ourselves today, if we aren’t able to establish a connection to the Divine love that each of us has within, then we have yet to understand this important lesson—that each day is in itself the fulfillment.

No person on earth has a guarantee that tomorrow will happen.

The simplicity of this message excites me! All the planning in the world won’t matter if we cannot connect with what’s important, purposeful, and divine in this moment. When all of our wellness plans go flying out the door, how do we achieve a state of well-being in this moment? If you happen to be very excited about achieving a greater sense of well-being, but are having difficulty being consistent, why not try dancing in the moment?

This morning was one of those mornings when my door flew open! We just brought home a new puppy, and as joyful as it’s been, it’s also been exhausting and unpredictable! I found myself struggling with trying to control this little ball of energy (yeah, right!), as well as making plans–all of which flew out the door as well! Just like having a new-born baby, my sleep has come and gone. If you’ve been following my blog and read those I wrote about Arianna Huffington’s, Thrive, you know that one of my critical wellness levers is sleep! Not only was my “front door” open, I was sleep walking out of it!

The truth is that our path to well-being will be most solid, I believe, when we have the capacity to make the appropriate “well” decisions moment-by-moment, leaving behind the complaints and excuses. On this more hectic day, some of my moment-to-moment decisions were:

  • 5 am: Drink warm water with lemon to detox while I play with the puppy!

  • Grab another glass of water to drink while driving my daughter to camp.

  • Starving by 7 am, but no great options at home! I chose to wait until 9 for breakfast with a friend so I could choose a healthy snack and small cup of coffee (instead of large!).

  • Pick up a salad on the way to the office so my exhaustion doesn’t cause me to pick something “easy” or “quick”.

  • Run up the stairs to the office to get my heart moving.

  • And the dance continued!

I am a planner by nature, but I have to admit that leaving the door ajar and dancing in the moment sometimes just feels right. The stress of planning it all and knowing it all can also hinder us from feeling well. And, as the message above indicates, there is a divinity to trusting in the moment–what is revealed or given to us, or what we choose to make happen today. In the same, if our wellness plans failed yesterday, we still have today!!! When it’s not empowering, this dance certainly provides us with a great opportunity to learn and to forgive ourselves if we happen to not choose wisely.

When it comes to your well-being, is dancing in the moment hard for you, or do you thrive on it?

Do you want to shut the front door? How can you benefit from leaving it ajar?

Wishing you an amazing week of wellness!

Namaste,

Monique

Photo courtesy of ChiaLynn

SUMMER OF WELL-BEING WEEK 4

 

An important part of our well-being is how we support ourselves and our growth through our thoughts and feelings. They are always the precursor to action—good or bad. Accessing your Brilliant Zone has everything to do with the well-being dimensions of Thinking and Feeling, and ultimately Transcending ourselves to achieve our BIG  life goals. This week, our well-being expert Mike Rosenfeld shows us how we can access our Brilliant Zone in three easy steps! As well as, how to be on fire, share your gift with the world, and how to play it big, not safe. Watch his video below!


Mary P
Mike Rosenfeld
Peak Performance Coach
Mike Rosenfeld is highly respected as a peak performance coach and motivational speaker who counsels CEOs, entrepreneurs, and professional, Olympic and collegiate athletes. His Authentic Power program assists individuals and teams maximize their unique strengths and abilities and excel in all areas of life.

 
 
 

 giving

It’s Week 4 of Summer of Well-Being!

If you’re new to our community, WELCOME! WE ARE SO HAPPY TO HAVE YOU! You can find all previous blogs/vlogs here.

On Thursday we welcome a vlog by Mike Rosenfeld, Peak Performance Coach who works with CEOs, Entrepreneurs, and Athletes/Olympians. Mike is going to teach us how to access our “Brilliant Zone!” I can’t wait for his video! His energy is CONTAGIOUS, and I know you’ll appreciate what he has to offer us this week.

Today, I close out my blogging about Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive. This book is truly a gift for everyone, but in my opinion, more specifically for high-achieving and successful professionals and executives who know in their gut that there is a “better way” to operate and to define success, and certainly, a better way to feel about our work, our impact, our relationships, and our well-being. I’ve been picking parts of the book that resonate strongly for me, and I invite you to do the same for yourself.

The last chapter in Thrive is all about giving. In the very beginning of the chapter Arianna states,

“Well-being, Wisdom, Wonder: All are critical to redefining success and thriving, but they are incomplete without the fourth element of the Third Metric: Giving.”

I believe that most of us intuitively understand the importance of giving, caring, empathy and compassion, because of our spirituality, religious practices, or simply by how we were raised, or the role models in our lives. I also believe that for some, giving is in their DNA. Now, with Social Entrepreneurship growing in popularity, it’s easier to integrate our desire to help others with our desire to be financially “well”. We even see this trend with the Millennials who lead the way in volunteering, with 43% of them engaged in service. And, universities have been on to this for quite some time, folding-in service learning and leadership into the fabric of college life. Here, at FIU, it is directly tied to our strategy, to the experience we want our students to have, and to the impact we want them to make in our communities once they graduate. Even companies and innovative start-ups are realizing that by providing their employees with the opportunity to serve others and be impactful in ways they decide helps them to stay engaged in their work and even increase their productivity and longevity with the company. Here are some numbers to back this up, based on a 2013 study by UnitedHealth group about employees who volunteered:

  • More than 75% of the employees said they felt healthier.

  • More than 90% said volunteering had put them in a better mood.

  • More than 75% reported experiencing less stress.

  • More than 95% said that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life (which, in turn, has been found to strengthen immune function!)

  • Employees who volunteered reported improved time-management skills and enhanced ability to connect with peers.

Regardless of the trends and stats, however, do we truly understand the capacity to which giving not only helps others and the world we are connected to, but the capacity to which it CHANGES US? Again, intrinsically I feel we do, but where’s the proof that Giving is the Miracle Drug? If you’re like me, you’ll get emotional, and even shed a tear or two when you see people doing good. I just can’t help it! Have you seen the Pay It Forward commercials by Liberty Mutual? I just love them! You can view one of them here. This is the intrinsic stuff I’m talking about. You watch this commercial and you immediately feel better, and perhaps you want to go out and pay it forward.

How do we pay it forward more often, and how is paying it forward directly linked to our wellness? Here’s some MORE good info Arianna shares in Thrive:

  • One study demonstrated that volunteering at least once a week yields improvements to well-being tantamount to your salary increasing from $20k to $75k.

  • A Harvard Business School study showed that “donating to charity has a similar relationship to subjective well-being as a doubling of household income.”

  • A study by scientists from the University of North Carolina and UCLA found that participants whose happiness was mostly hedonic (i.e., focused on self-gratification) had high levels of biological markers that promote inflammation, which is linked to diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. Those whose happiness included service to others had health profiles showing reduced levels of these markers.

  • A 2013 study led by Dr. Suzanne Richards of the University of Exeter Medical School found that volunteering was connected to lower rates of depression, higher reports of well-being, and a significant reduction in mortality risk.

  • In Give and Take, by Wharton Professor Adam Grant, “Those who give of their time and effort to others end up achieving more success than those who don’t.”

Pretty interesting, yes? We can read all the studies in the world and believe in their results, but at the end of the day, we must pay attention to what we feel and what we know. For me, I have no doubt that these links are true, based on my own experiences of philanthropy and compassionate actions. In fact, in my courses and coaching about Energy Leadership, we look at the benefits of shifting our thoughts and actions from Level 2 (conflict and competition) to Level 4 (compassion and others focus) and what that does for our energy, whole-life well-being, and how we lead others. What’s your experience?

Now let’s look briefly at how focusing on our well-being can increase our capacity to be giving and compassionate!

  • A 2013 study by researches from Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts General Hospital found that “meditation enhances compassionate responding,” providing “scientific credence to ancient Buddhist teachings that meditation increases spontaneous compassionate behavior.”

  • Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone”, when released can promotes empathy and giving. It increases the compassion toward one’s family and the groups one identifies with. Oxytocin is in a constant battle with cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which increases in our bodies when we are exhibiting behaviors related to: judgment, fierce/negative competition, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, fatigue, etc.

Small shifts in our well-being, then, as we have been promoting these last few weeks during our Summer of Well-Being, can help us lead more compassionate and caring lives, which clearly boomerangs right back to us with a greater sense of wellness. It’s a full circle!

I agree with Arianna that compassionate behavior is something that can be cultivated through certain wellness practices–not only for ourselves, but for our children–how we educate them and teach them how to feel better and solve problems.

So how do we learn to give each day? To live outside ourselves and not what’s important only to us? How do we find opportunities to give and to tap into the amazing healing power that it has?

I like this view, by John Burroughs,

“The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, everyplace is the center of the world.”

Yes, the opportunity to give and to care is always right where we are. As in the commercial I shared above, small gestures go just as far for others and for us as do the large, intricate ones.

How will you pay it forward today? I’d love to hear your thoughts around Giving as the Miracle Drug. Chime in below.

It’s your life. Lead it well!

Namaste,

Monique