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

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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

Trimming Your Screen Time – Ten Simple Ways to Watch Less TV

Okay, so the idea of not having a TV is not the ideal option for most people.  In fact, if the statistics that I’ve read are any indication, I’m pretty sure most people would rather chop off an arm and wave it around than give up the old TV.  Basically, most Americans watch 6.47 hours of TV a day (I’m assuming they are talking about both pre and post work hours here ‘cause that’s a lot of TV to be watching in a single day!).

Now I’m not going to sit here and preach about the virtues of going TV-free or even TV-lite, since up until a year or so ago, I was one of those people watching endless hours of mind-numbing television.  However, I will tell you that last summer I made the decision to give it up and I haven’t looked back.  I should point out that I do still, technically, have a television (for watching DVDs and my workout videos) – what I don’t have is cable and where I live, that’s the same thing as not having a TV.  Nary a channel can be found on my TV.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering on more than one occasion what you were doing sitting in the front of the TV instead of out and about doing something, I think I can help.  Although I basically cut out TV completely on a whim, I do realize that that particular way is just not realistic for a lot of folks.  In fact, most TV-lovers would probably prefer to simply cut back on their TV time, not cut it out altogether, which is more than doable – it’s a great idea and I promise you won’t regret it.  I have offered up some tips below that anyone wishing to expand their lives beyond a television screen can work into their day.  Try one, try some, try them all – you won’t regret it!

1) Turn on Your Stereo

Instead of turning on your television the minute you wake up in the morning or the minute you walk into the house at night, turn on your stereo. If you’re like me, you like a little noise in the background when you’re fixing dinner, cleaning up, etc.

2) Set a Time Limit

If the first tip is out of the question because you absolutely just have to have your morning television fix or your evening news jolt, then set a time limit.  Really – say to yourself that you’ll watch only enough to get the “Top Stories” and the weather.  After you’ve seen what you “need” to see, turn it off.  You’ll still be informed, but you won’t be wasting precious early morning prep time lingering in front of the television.

If you’re weaning yourself off TV (which again is perfectly fine – just because I went off TV completely, cold turkey, doesn’t mean you have to – that’s just my personality, all or nothing), set an allowable amount and stick to it.  For instance, tell yourself that you’re allowed a maximum of two hours of TV each day and that’s it.  How you use those two hours is up to you.  My one word of advice is, don’t watch TV right up until your bedtime.  You need downtime before hitting the sheets and TV doesn’t qualify – there is just too much stimulation for your brain (this goes for computers as well – log off at least 30 minutes before you plan on turning in).  Try reading or meditating instead.  I guarantee you will find you have a better sleep.  Really, I promise.

3) Move Your TV Out of Your Bedroom

Speaking of your TV and your bed, don’t watch the darn thing in bed.  In fact, if you have a TV in your bedroom, move it out of there, stat!  Your bedroom should be a peaceful, tranquil room; watching TV while in bed is anything but peaceful, admit it.

4) Eat Your Meals at a Table

What a novel idea! Eat meals at the kitchen or dining room table instead of in front of the TV.  Not only will you enjoy your food and become a more mindful eater, you might also wind up having a great conversation with your family, and what could be better than catching up with your loved ones?

5) Get Out There

Get out of the house or apartment and play!  Nothing is better than being outdoors and having fun.  That’s hard to do if you’ve melted into the sofa in front of your television.

6) Do Something You Enjoy

Find a hobby or pick up a new one!  There has to be something that you’ve wanted to do, but kept saying to yourself you didn’t have the time for – gardening, knitting, a sport.  Remember, if you’re like the average North American, you’ll have an extra 6 hours a day – think of what you’ll be able to do with all of that free time!

7) Say “Om” 

Try meditating.  There’s something about the idea of watching garbage on TV after meditating that seems almost vulgar.  You have just cleared and reset your mind, centered yourself – why would you want to introduce anything negative and/or unbalanced into your mind?  You won’t, that’s why this is on the list!

8) Volunteer

Not only will you be getting out of the house and away from your TV, but you’ll be doing something good to boot.  You’ll feel better, the people you’ll be helping will feel better – everybody will be happy.  Smile!

9) Enjoy…Silence

Enjoy the peace and quiet, and watch your days slow down! Mindlessly watching television, scheduling your days/evenings around television programs, only serves to diminish your “me time,” believe it or not. Watch what happens when you begin to lessen the time you spend in front of your television. Miraculously, you’ll have MORE time for yourself, and your days will, literally,  slow right down.

10) Do a Little Math

If none of these tips are up your alley, try this one – grab your cable bill, look at the total, multiply it by 12 and see what you come up with.  Have you done it yet?  Crazy isn’t it, how much money we spend, or have spent, to be “entertained”?  Now think of all the other things you could be doing with that money!

I hope that I’ve given you some ideas that you feel you can and will use in your daily life to, if not cut it out completely, at least trim your screen time.

~Trisha~

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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