A Born Again Morning Person

Anyone who knows me, up until recently that is, would never classify me as a morning person. Monday-Friday, I set my alarm so that I could get every last second out of my comfy bed which normally meant setting it for something like 6:52. I gave myself just enough time to get ready for work and eat my breakfast. I should mention that I have an internal clock, and don’t even require an alarm clock – it’s really a just-in-case kinda thing.

Sleeping in on the weekends was basically my reward for getting up early five days out of seven. I earned it, and I would take it no matter what. Because of my internal clock, I’d wake up at my regular time anyway, but would stay in bed…just because I could and because it was my reward for having to sacrifice my lovely sleeping-ins five days a week. On the weekends, I generally didn’t make my way out of bed until at least 9:00.

As with most of my life, all of that changed when I began meditating and reading The Tao. I learned the importance of taking time for myself, solitude and silence. I also discovered that the most logical part of the day for me to practice all of these things was in the morning. Yikes! It wasn’t always possible to squeeze in my “me time” after my evening routine – exercising, dinner, dishes, shower, doing stuff for work, and the list goes on. And to be honest, it didn’t really seem fair that I had to squeeze it in, in the first place. I deserved more. And that is the sole reason I became a Born Again Morning Person (remembering my love of Saturday morning cartoons and actually getting up early for them, leads me to assume that at some point in my early years, I was in fact, a morning person).

I, the queen of sleeping in and grabbing every last second I could possibly get out of my bed, now rise and shine at 5:3oish each morning (except for the weekends when I still relish a little bit of sleeping in time!). Technically, I usually wake up before 5:30, around 5:00 (always before my alarm goes off), but stay in bed until around 5:30. I should mention that I now go to bed a bit earlier than I used to. I used to be an 11:00 bedtime person, but now it’s usually 10:00. I also turn off my computer/any DVD I might be watching, etc., by 8:30/9:00. I spend at least half an hour reading a positive, inspiring, uplifting book (one that will put me in a good frame of mind for a pleasant sleep) before bed. Sidenote: I used to have a really hard time falling asleep – I tossed and turned, my mind wouldn’t shut off, I often didn’t fall asleep until 2:00/3:00 in the morning, and when I awoke, I felt like I hadn’t even slept. Since I’ve made all of these changes (meditating, Yoga, changing my bedtime and waking time), I’ve never slept better.

I’m still human though, and occasionally, I don’t really feel like getting up; but then I think, well I’m already awake so what’s the point? Lay in bed for an extra 5 minutes? Reset my alarm for a later time in case I fall asleep, and then feel robbed when it rudely wakes me up? Nah. Instead…

I immediately get out of bed, turn on my lamp with the soft lighting, brush my teeth, light my incense and do my morning Candlelight Energizer Yoga. What better way to start a brand new day than with the first 15 minutes dedicated to me and my peace of mind? Once I’m done my Yoga, I do my makeup, hair, etc., and the rest of the time, until I leave for work, is mine, which usually amounts to a good hour. One hour all to myself to do what I want – meditate, read, sometimes write. Uninterrupted time all to myself. My days have never gotten off to a better start, and I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.

~Carolyn

Working for the Weekend?

Dr. Dyer, in his book, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, states that whatever your passion is, “you can make a living doing it.” I have my fingers crossed that this is true. I am one of those people who is always working for the weekend, eyeing that prize starting on about…Monday. We often plan something to do on Fridays just to give us something to look forward to in order to “get through” the week. My passion no longer lies in my current job, and it’s getting harder and harder to do it by the day. Unfortunately, in my place of employment, there is some discrepancy between my morals and ideals and those of my employers which does not help the situation. What has helped is distancing myself. For so long, I was very emotionally involved in my job – I wanted to fix everything, to be a miracle worker, and it was a very stressful way of working. My whole world revolved around this job, not just my time at work, but my own time at home as well.

As sad as this might be, I now look at my job as just that, a  job, a means to an end, that end being my own business centred around my passion. Sure, I could try to find another job, but that is easier said than done, and in my profession, jobs are few and far between with fierce competition. Not to mention the fact, that my dreams and passion now lie elsewhere.  Because of this, I’m in the process of following my passion, and trusting it will turn out the way it’s supposed to. It already feels better. To know that, very soon, I’m going to be doing what I want, how I want, and it’s going to benefit not only myself but others as well, is very empowering. I am Woman, Hear Me Roar is exactly how I feel!

This week was a bit rougher than usual, and a lot of that may have to do with my heart just not being in it anymore, but I figured I’d write this post (even though it’s not all that cheery) because I’m sure I’m not the only person experiencing these kinds of feelings regarding a job. In the past, I would have complained, and made no effort to do anything about it simply because “doing something,” seemed too hard and the fear of the unknown was frightening. Regardless of how bad it was, it was “easier” to just stay there and suck it up. Well, those days are over. It may be easier, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I can no longer let someone else dictate what my song is. Life is too short to do something that does not make you feel good inside, to go through the motions day after day like a robot, no feelings, no joy, no passion.

In the meantime, to get through my workdays until my business takes off, I do a few things to help me cope and keep the positive vibes flowing:

  1. Bring my business journal to work. Just bringing it to work (many times I don’t even have the time to jot ideas in it), makes me feel connected to my passion and my goal.
  2. Listen to a Zen relaxation CD as soon as I get to work, and during my lunch. The sounds of birds chirping, waterfalls, chimes, gentle music slows down my mind, and really does help me to relax. It’s like an little escape from the hustle and bustle of my workday.
  3. Read a particularly inspiring chapter from one of my favourite books (which is always in my purse). This chapter is the one that jump started everything regarding following my passion.
  4. I haven’t implemented this one yet, but I’m hoping to soon, especially with the fresh fall air just around the corner – going for a walk during my lunch hour. A little dose of Mother Nature is medicine for the soul.
  5. Remind myself why I’m still there using the mantra, “a means to an end.” My sister has actually texted me this phrase after a particularly difficult day. Believe it or not, it helps me to refocus.
  6. This one may same weird, but it works for me. I sometimes peruse baking/cooking websites while on my lunch. There’s something comforting and homey about looking at recipes, and these kinds of websites tend to be very visually appealing.

On a sidenote, on one particularly stressful day, I got an instant stress headache after a very taxing episode. When I got home, I immediately put a hot beanbag type thing on my eyes, laid down with one of my meditations, and within maybe half an hour, my headache began to ease up which for me, was a mini miracle. I am the type of person who gets headaches that last, on average, at least two days, and when I get one, I’m unable to function. So let this be a testimonial to the benefits of meditation!

Back on track, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who love their jobs, but for those of us with a less than amicable relationship with it, what do you do to help you get through your day?

~Carolyn

Why I Meditate in the Kitchen

No, you read that right.  I meditate in the kitchen.  Not all the time, and not every day, but I do.  Sure, I do my “real” meditation in my living room, on the sofa, stereo off, lights off, sometimes guided, sometimes not.  But, I definitely consider my kitchen time as my favorite meditation time.  So what exactly do I do when I meditate in my kitchen?  I cook (and occasionally bake).

My first memory of being in the kitchen is when I was about six years old and baking a cake in order to earn my Baking Badge for Brownies (ah, remember Brownies?!).  My Mom still tells the story every once in a while.  I have a short attention span and I’m very easily distracted – I was standing on a chair at the counter sifting flour through one of those metal cups with a handle that you squeeze to sift the flour through it.  Well, my Mom called my name to tell me something, I turned to look at her, and continued sifting the flour right onto the floor.   (By the way, this is one of the reasons I don’t drive – I can’t seem to just turn my head, I put my whole body into it which is a little tiny bit unsafe when driving!)  Well, didn’t matter, I earned my badge and was a happy little camper.

Anyways, back to the cooking.  Anyone with a full-time job can attest to the fact that finding the time to cook dinner every night is difficult.  My job keeps me away from my home for almost 12 hours a day – I leave at 7:30 in the morning and get back home at roughly 7 at night.  Cooking dinner after work each day just doesn’t work for me and my schedule.

So what’s a girl to do?  I’ll tell you what this girl does – each Sunday, I gather all of the ingredients for the meals that I’m going to be eating for the week, both lunches and dinners, and I cook.  I cook like a demon.  Sometimes there’s music involved, and sometimes I just want peace and quiet.  Either way, it has turned into a relaxing, meditative, yet very productive, part of my weekend.

I own a lot of cookbooks – I have an entire book shelf dedicated to my growing collection.  Every Christmas I receive a new one and it’s something I look forward to.  I read these cookbooks like novels, from cover to cover, drooling over the recipes and photos; but here’s the thing – I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I’ve actually used/followed a recipe in one of those books.  I’m more of a do-my-own-thing kind of cook.  Granted, I have a tendency to cook the same things over and over but that’s okay, I like the routine.

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is chopping fruit and vegetables which sounds boring, I know, but this exercise isn’t about excitement so it’s okay.  My breakfast consists of the same thing every day – chopped fresh fruit.  There is something so relaxing about cutting up produce – the repetition, the monotony, the rhythm.  It’s like, well, meditation.  I’ve cut up so much fruit over the years, I can chop up a pineapple, a couple of kiwis, mangos and a melon in roughly 10 minutes!  Onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes – well, once I get into the rhythm of slicing and dicing and chopping those, I could handle the entire produce section!

Baking is a completely different story altogether.  While I like baking, I know that if all the conditions aren’t perfect, or as close to perfect as I can make them, whatever I bake probably won’t turn out very well.  I read somewhere that your baking turns out the way you’re feeling – in other words if you’re stressed when you’re baking, whatever you’ve made will likely not come out very good, but if you’re relaxed and happy, you’ll have a good day in the kitchen.  That is so true.  I definitely noticed that at Christmas, in particular, over the years.  I used to wait until the last minute to do my Christmas baking and was always rushed and stressed; things just didn’t turn out very good.  Well, I shouldn’t say that, they turned out okay, but they were never as good as they could have been (I feel like I’m sounding like Martha Stewart here, but what can I say, I’m a bit of a perfectionist).  Now, I meditate before going into the kitchen; after that, I’m relaxed, centered, balanced, and ready to get my hands (and my kitchen) dirty.  I also don’t wait until the last minute at Christmas anymore!

I’m sure the main thing with baking is that unlike cooking it’s a science – and I was never any good at science.  Now, I only bake when I’m completely relaxed and in the mood to bake.  One of my favorite things to bake is bread.  Yep, bread.  Not in a bread machine but the old school, put your back into it, knead for 10 minutes, way.  Honestly, it’s beyond meditative and therapeutic.  I love it and I love giving away the bread, it makes me feel good.  Really, making something delicious and comforting out of a few inedible raw ingredients (flour, yeast) never ceases to amaze me!

My First Batch of Bread!!! (Sorry for the photo quality, I wasn’t expecting to ever post this!)

I’ve been told that I should do something with my cooking and baking, something professional.  But I always say the same thing, if I turned what I love as a relaxing hobby into something I did for a living, I don’t know if I would love it as much.  So, a hobby it will remain.  I will continue my Sunday ritual of cooking and relaxing and creating.

~Trisha~

Ta-Da! Dream a Little Dream

Judging from when I made my initial post about the Vision Boards, I guess one could say I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Anyway…Today I finally attempted my O Board. The template was very easy to work with, searchable pictures were available on the site (or you could add your own), and they could be moved wherever you wanted on the page as well as sized and turned. The hardest part for me was coming up with enough stuff to fill the board – which is a good thing because it encouraged me to really think about my “dreams,” what I really wanted out of life. What I realized is that my dreams are fairly simple, and have a lot more to do with feelings than with stuff. All in all, it was a good experience  (I even felt a little empowered afterwards), and it currently plays the role of my computer background. My next step? A tangible Vision Board that I can hang in my home.

~Carolyn

Drive Carefully…

Someone loves you. While watching my favourite morning show before work one day, there was a short segment on a digital sign that one of the co-hosts had seen on his way to work. Instead of having the typical traffic play-by-play of current conditions, it had Drive carefully. Someone loves you. In this world of short attention spans and overpowering bombardment of messages, this caught the co-host’s eye, and he decided to share it on the broadcast. I have to say, it stuck out in my mind, and I later shared it with my sister on the way to work.

For some reason, I was truly touched by the message on that sign. To me, there was a much greater message than just drive carefully. Someone in charge of updating traffic conditions, took it upon him/herself to broadcast something that went beyond what was expected. That person was encouraging others to not only think of the people who loved them, but to hopefully think of the other people sharing the road with them, their safety, their loved ones. ..the proverbial “ripple effect.” How many people saw that message that day? How many people went on to share what they had seen with others around them? How many people took a step back after reading that, and thought, “Wow. That’s so true. I really need to be more careful on the road.” In a city where people drive as if they are the only ones on the road, perhaps that message planted a seed, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see it grow into a forest. The biggest changes sometimes happen with the smallest of actions. Perhaps that sign was one of those small actions.

~Carolyn

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