Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leave a Trail

I’ve been noticing a trend with my clients lately: most of them, in fact the majority of them, don’t take my skin care advice! Many of them are using really harsh products and wondering why their skin is red! I explain why, and it seems like they don’t believe me. Maybe they have a built in skepticism of a salesperson trying to get them to buy lots of products, whether they need them or not. I genuinely want them to use products that will benefit their skin.

I had a lovely teen client recently. Her skin was really red, flaky, and she had lots of blackheads and pimples. She told me she was using a really harsh cleanser (I won’t badmouth any companies!!), as well as witch hazel and a really thick moisturizer. I explained why her skin looked the way it did and to my delight and surprise, she actually bought the kit I recommended. She came back a month later and her skin improved so much. Then she came back two months after that, and her skin was pretty much in the same condition as it was when I first saw her. She said she ran out of the products she bought and she went back to what she was using before!

I couldn’t believe it. I wondered why she would go back to using products that produced obvious and detrimental results, especially after seeing such wonderful results with the new products. And why do so many of my clients continue to use harmful products, even when I explain their negative effects?

I know that everything is a reflection of what’s going on within me, and I realized that I am doing something similar in my own life: I often go back to old ways of thinking, even though I know better! I have so much knowledge and I have seen powerful results when I use the tools I’ve learned over the years. I know all about the power of cultivating gratitude, looking for the positive aspects of a situation, and reframing something negative in order to see its benefits. I know all this and more, and I know how powerful it is, yet I still find myself stressing out about trivial things, worrying about the future, and feeling regret about the past.

It’s so easy to revert back to our old ways. If you think about it, our patterns of thinking have been there for so many years. It’s not always easy to start a new pattern. It takes time and focus. I love the way Abraham has simplified this concept: instead of trying to work out all the details, bring your attention to the emotion. For example, if you’re under a lot of stress, you might not have access to the solution right now. Instead, bring yourself into a general place of well-being. Think about the stability of the mountains, the rising and setting of the sun, the magnificence of your beating heart…all these things are profoundly in place, and they elicit a strong and steady feeling of true well-being.


I feel more and more inspired lately to really live what I believe in. I have gained tremendous insights over the years, and I feel compelled to really apply what I’ve learned.

I know, and I’ve experienced, that life circumstances change when you first change your emotions and your mindset; it’s the inner work that produces the outer results. Yet if you’ve been under a lot of stress for a long time, it might be difficult to shift into a state of ease and well-being. It takes practice and it won’t feel natural at first. It might feel like a new pair of shoes or like you just put on someone else’s jacket. But if you wear the shoes and the jacket for a while, you’ll notice that they start to feel like your own, until you reach the point where you can’t see yourself without them.

You can start with a gentle moment of peace or a few seconds of bliss. Practice these new emotions and start getting used to these new states of being! Keep practicing until they start to feel natural, and soon you won’t even remember you ever lived life any other way…

Be gentle with the process and keep going!



"Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What To Do When Things Go "Wrong"


We all go through personal challenges in our lives. What matters is how we choose to handle each situation. When things go wrong, we have the opportunity to experience just how resilient we are.
Breakups, job cuts, losing a loved one, natural disasters…all of these things have the potential to be totally devastating—or they can act as catalysts that show you just how powerful you really are. You can make a choice to look at these situations in a way that is truly empowering.
I learned a powerful technique from Abraham-Hicks called going general. You can do this as a written exercise or you can talk it out with a good listener.
Basically, you take something that’s bothering you and bring it to a general place. Let’s say you just lost your job. First you acknowledge how you feel about it in a general way by saying something like, “This sucks!” I’ve noticed that when I do this, I immediately feel a sense of relief.
Then you continue to express how you feel in a general way until you feel like you’ve released the emotional charge. You can say things like, “I know things will work out. I never really liked this job and, anyway, I’ve been getting so many ideas for my business.”
After you feel a sense of relief, you can continue whatever you were doing in your day, or you can take a few more minutes and bring your thoughts to a more positive place.
This process only takes a few minutes, it’s so doable, and it works really well!
After you’ve processed the initial emotions, you’ll find that there are many great gifts hidden within it. Stretch yourself a little bit and see if you can find at least one or two hidden blessings.
So many people experienced varying forms of devastation with last month’s hurricane. If you take this to a general and higher place, you can definitely see the hidden blessings in it. For example: so many people tapped into their generosity and did anything they could to help. Even people who weren’t directly affected by it now have a newfound gratitude for the simple things they might have taken for granted before.
In addition to going general, here are some other ideas that might help you move out of a place of discouragement:
Meditate. Put on some relaxing music or do a guided meditation. It will benefit you physiologically and emotionally.
Do something physical: Go for a long walk, go to the gym, play a musical instrument, dance, breathe deeply and intentionally—anything that will take you out of the mental chatter.
Do something creative: Make art, write poetry, or take photographs.
Connect: Be with supportive people who love you, ask for help, call someone, or meet a friend for coffee. Know you’re not alone!
Focus: Pour your focus into something that feels productive and worthwhile to you.
Take care of your body: Rest, eat nourishing food, and drink lots of water.
Let it out: Have a good cry, watch a couple of great movies, or get lost in a book.
Delight your senses: Listen to beautiful music, go to a concert, or visit a museum or a garden.
Nourish your spirit: Get an energy healing session, a massage, or a facial. You’ll feel relaxed and restored.
Take care of yourself and realize how resilient you truly are!
You can also read my article here! http://islaorganic.com/what-to-do-when-things-go-wrong/

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What If?


I recently heard the phrase “never arrive.” Those two little words stimulated a powerful train of thought, which prompted me to ask myself some questions:

What if I stop striving? What if I simply arrive in the constantly moving present moment?

I’ve lived much of my life in a proverbial waiting room—waiting for things to change so I could finally feel complete. I’m realizing that we are never really complete, and I’m starting to be okay with that!

Years ago, Ram Dass wrote a book called Be Here Now. I think the title says it all.

What if I stop seeking? What if I find?

What if I make peace with where I am, no matter where I am? What if I stop fighting against my circumstances and use my gifts and my strengths instead?

Isn’t life just a wild thing that keeps moving at different speeds?

There will always be a there, but what if we enjoy the here while we’re on our way?

We will always have new desires and new things to be excited about. But there are things to savor and enjoy right now!

Isn’t life all about our experiences? We are always at choice in the sense that we can choose how we want to feel in each experience.

What if I stop rushing? What if I stop worrying about time? What if I start flowing with divine timing?

What if I start trusting life? What if I start trusting myself?

Instead of saying “I’ll feel better when I move, when I fit into my skinny jeans, when I reach my income goal,” what if I start to say, “I’ll feel better now, regardless of what’s bothering me”?

What if I stop all the doing? What if I choose to just be here now?

I have a feeling everything would get done with such ease and flow, and each day would feel like a natural unfolding, free of struggle and filled with grace.


Photo © 2012 Meaghan Grettano

You can also read the article here: http://islaorganic.com/what-if/

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Are You Grateful For?

I really enjoy my job as an esthetician. I love the people I work with, the peaceful environment of the spa, and my wonderful clients. But I’ve been working six days a week for the last few months and it’s finally catching up with me. I’ve been feeling tired, grumpy, and easily agitated by little things these days.
I took a day off recently because I needed a little break, and I ended up in my favorite mini-getaway spot: Barnes & Noble. I wandered over to the magazine section and picked up Oprah’s magazine. I flipped to her monthly article called “What I Know for Sure.”
In this month’s article she writes about how she used to keep a daily gratitude journal for years without missing a day, but when she started her new TV network, her life got so busy that she stopped her gratitude practice, and she noticed a decrease in her level of happiness. Even though her life is filled with so many blessings, she wasn’t taking the time to appreciate them. Once she started her daily gratitude practice again, she noticed that things started to move in a better direction.
My life is nowhere near as busy as Oprah’s, but working six days a week, trying to get everything done, and trying to have somewhat of a healthy social life has been a lot to handle. I have definitely neglected my own gratitude practice and I’ve noticed a decrease in my own level of happiness.
This was a perfect reminder to notice the beauty and magic of life again. Sure there are negative and stressful things going on, but there are also beautiful things to appreciate and enjoy. As soon as I read that article, I immediately started a mental list of things I felt grateful for. I had to start with easy things because I was in such a bad mood! I started with:
Sunsets
Puppies
Fresh air
Beautiful colors…
Just thinking about these things made me feel better pretty quickly. It took a couple of minutes, but I was lifted out of my grumpy mood!
This reminds of one of my favorite quotes:
“In the midst of our lives, we must find the magic that makes our souls soar.” – Evelyn Beilenson
I’m really grateful that Oprah wrote that article because it truly was the perfect reminder for me to notice all the wonderful things about my life and to start my regular gratitude practice again. I also love remembering that when you start to feel grateful, you experience more and more things to feel grateful for.
What are you grateful for today? Where is the magic that makes your soul soar? Feel it now and watch your mood lift to a higher place!

Photo © 2012 Britta Duncan

You can also read the article here: http://islaorganic.com/what-are-you-grateful-for/

Monday, October 8, 2012

Enjoy the Ride!


Some philosophies teach that when you reach the place of having no desires, all suffering will stop and you will reach enlightenment. There’s a distinction worth mentioning: when you have a desire and you believe you can have it, it’s a great feeling. But when you achingly long for something and you believe you can never have it, that’s called suffering!

Having desires is natural. Suffering in a place of doubt and worry is unnatural. I’ve heard many teachers say that if you have a desire, you also have within you the ability to achieve it—otherwise it wouldn’t be there in the first place!

When you have a glorious dream or goal that you’re excited about and you know it’s coming to you, you basically feel like you’re floating on a cloud. You can relax and enjoy the journey of its perfect unfolding. But if you’re worried about it, stressed out about it, doubting that it will ever happen, you’re more likely to become disenchanted and really unhappy.

Choose something from your mental or actual desire list. Instead of feeling bad about it or doubting it will happen, try this:
Positively anticipate its arrival
Know in your heart that it’s on its way
Feel the feeling of its arrival
Feel the feeling of it being here right now
Feel the satisfaction and fulfillment of it
Trust in the perfect unfolding of it
Try to relax about it
Enjoy the ride until it gets here, knowing something even better may happen!

Catherine Ponder is known for adding “this or something better” to her affirmations. This idea leaves you open for even bigger blessings than you imagined!

Sometimes things don’t work out, and the normal reaction is one of disappointment. What if instead, we see it as a blessing in disguise?
A really great guy you had a connection with never called you back
The apartment you fell in love with was rented to someone else
The job you applied for was filled by someone else…
Maybe the guy has a mean streak
Maybe the apartment is next to a really noisy neighbor
Maybe the job you wanted has a very hostile work environment

As the saying goes: rejection is protection! When something doesn’t go as planned, try to come to a place of peace about it, knowing that something better is on its way. It’s so cliché, but somehow, things really do work out for the best!

 Move forward in a powerful way and remember to have fun along the way!

Photo © 2012 Meaghan Grettano

You can also read the article here! http://islaorganic.com/enjoy-the-ride/

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What to Do When You Have a Rough Day


If you find yourself in the middle of a rough day, sometimes the best thing you can do is just ride it out. I tend to try to fight my negative emotions and convince myself that I can feel better if I just concentrate hard enough—it never works. I’ve realized that sometimes I just need to feel what I’m feeling and not fight it.

I have to admit: today was a rough day. I went to sleep late, and I woke up too early. I went through the motions in the morning and drove to work. I felt tired and cranky, and all I wanted to do was to go back to sleep!

I realized it was going to be a busy day, and I did my best to mentally prepare myself to get through it gracefully, yet that didn’t actually happen! I felt like I was struggling to just get through the day. I finally felt better during the last facial of the day. I had about ten minutes to go and I breathed a sigh of relief. All of a sudden, I felt a burst of energy. I thought, Really? Now that it’s the end of the day, I get this burst of energy?!

This is what I learned and what I’d like to share:
In the midst of a rough day, breathe a sigh of relief knowing that what you're feeling is just temporary. Sometimes you can’t fight your negative emotions. You just have to ride them out or at least let them be!

Here are a few ways to find relief, even during a stressful day:
  • Take a quick five-minute break and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly and let a little bit of the stress melt away.
  • Take a short walk outside if you can. The fresh air, sunshine, and change of scenery can uplift you, even for the moment.
  • Write out your feelings on a piece of paper and then throw it away. You’ll feel like you’ve released them and you can move forward with a clear mind.
  • Eat something nourishing. It’s a good distraction and you’ll feel better physiologically!
  • And finally: realize that you have the freedom to choose how you react to everything. You don’t have to get caught up in a whirlwind of stress. You can choose to stay grounded in a calm state of grace—and if you do get caught up in the stress or negativity, just ride it out and know that it’s temporary. You will make it through!


Photo © 2012 Meaghan Grettano

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tell a New Story!


I was recently reminded of an exercise from Abraham-Hicks called “Telling a new story.” It consists of going into a playful state of imagination and telling the story of what you want to experience as if it already happened. You can do this with an open-minded friend, or as a written exercise in a journal or on your computer. For example, if you don’t like your current living situation, instead of complaining about it, worrying about how it’s going to change, and telling everyone how frustrating it is, you can start telling a new story about it. For example:
Things really turned around for me. I didn’t know how everything was going to unfold, but it all worked out really well. I absolutely love my new place. It’s perfect for me. I am so thankful that I found it. I feel like a new person! I love this neighborhood and I love the spacious layout. I love how peaceful it is here. I love my neighbors, and it feels so good to live here in this beautiful space! This is a fresh start for me and I’m so excited.
That’s it! It’s a very simple exercise, but if you take it on as a new practice, it can be life-changing. Every time you find yourself complaining about something, gently turn it into a new story. Be playful with who you’re talking to and say, “Let’s try something new: I want to practice telling a new story. Want to play?”
It might feel awkward to do this at first, but if you keep practicing, it will become second nature, and, of course, that new story will actually become real! And you can do this with any area in your life.
Here are some more examples:
I love how easy my new commute is. I get in my car and before I know it, I’m at work! It’s so easy to get to work now. There are so many beautiful buildings on my way there, and it’s such an enjoyable ride.
I have some amazing news: I got that promotion! Let’s go out and celebrate!
My business is thriving and going strong! It’s so exciting to be living this dream I’ve had for years. It feels so good to have such a powerful purpose and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to live with such passion and inspiration!
It’s funny: as soon as I stopped trying to lose weight, it seemed to happen naturally. I gave up the struggle and I started eating what I was naturally drawn to. I feel amazing and I noticed that my pants were loose today!
This practice is so powerful because it feels really good to talk like this! The next time you find yourself worrying or complaining, notice that it doesn’t feel very good, and then make the conscious, loving choice to tell a new story.

Photo © 2012 Britta Duncan

You can also read it here! http://islaorganic.com/tell-a-new-story/

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's My Pleasure!


I have loved the artist, Sark, for many years. Her style is playful, authentic, and truly inspiring. In a recent email newsletter, she talked about how so many of us are motivated by “FOG” and “PUS.” That is: fear, obligation, guilt, pressure, urgency, and scarcity.
It got me thinking about what the opposite of these would be. Some thoughts that came to me were:
Trust, Knowing
Choice, Freedom, Eagerness
Pleasure, Love, Joy, Delight
Ease
Calmness
Plenty
Empowerment
Certainty
Passion
Wouldn’t it be amazing to approach life from this perspective? Wouldn’t it be amazing to do things from a place of total choice, rather than obligation? Imagine being invited somewhere you really don’t want to go and feeling free to say no. Personally, I’m always afraid to say no to people because I don’t want to disappoint them. Yet if you think about it, I’m disappointing myself for doing something I don’t want to do! The funny thing is: people will still love you if you say no to them!
If you think about it, the opposite of “FOG” and “PUS” is complete authenticity. When you are free to be yourself, you can say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. You can do what feels good to you in your heart and not feel a trace of guilt. It’s a place of total freedom to be and do what you feel called to do in situations that are big or small.
Imagine being able to say, “It’s my pleasure,” and really mean it!

photo © 2012 Britta Duncan

You can also read my article here! http://islaorganic.com/its-my-pleasure/

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Love Experiment


I recently heard a story about a car salesman who sent love to all his customers. He would mentally say “I love you” to everyone he interacted with. The result was that he was really successful and people loved buying cars from him!
This story really got my attention because I feel like I try so hard at work to do my best and achieve all my goals. I often try so hard that it backfires on me. I get really nervous and I can look like I don’t know what I’m doing! When I heard this story, it inspired me to experiment and see what would happen if I sent love to all my clients. The next day at work, I mentally said “I love you” to each of my clients and to my coworkers too. The result was an overall feeling of ease and well-being that flowed through my entire day. All four of my clients upgraded to customized facials, and two of them bought products. This happened so naturally, with minimal effort on my part! There was no forcing, no convincing, and no sales pitch. I simply kept bringing myself back to this feeling of love, and everything unfolded so beautifully.
If you think about it, it really makes sense. We all want to be loved, and when we can feel love emanating from another person, of course we will naturally feel drawn to them. Let me clarify that this is not a way to manipulate people; genuine love can’t be faked, and I believe that people can tell if someone is trying to manipulate them. What I’m talking about, and probably what this car salesman experienced, was a feeling of true connection with people.
I noticed that my day unfolded with so much ease. One thing that usually bothers me is when my timing is off and things get backed up. That day, my timing wasn’t perfect at all, but the difference was that I didn’t let it bother me! I just rolled with it and decided to keep sending love to my clients. Every time I started to feel a little stressed or worried, I just kept bringing myself back into a feeling of love. I also want to add that the love I’m talking about is not to be confused with romantic love. I’m talking about genuine love and appreciation for another human being, whether we know them well or not.
I recently read a quote that sums it all up:
“We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.”
–Mother Teresa
I wholeheartedly agree, and it’s interesting to note that Mother Teresa was a millionaire. Just thought I’d throw that in there!
Imagine how your day would unfold if you sent love to every customer, every client, and all of your coworkers. Imagine sending love to every driver on the road—even the ones that cut you off! Imagine sending love to people that have hurt you in some way. It’s going beyond forgiveness, into compassion and wisdom. What a magnificent way to move through each day. I am totally going to continue this experiment and watch how it keeps unfolding!

You can also read it here! http://islaorganic.com/the-love-experiment/

Monday, August 20, 2012

What is Confidence, Really?

I’m doing something a little different this week. I’ve been having so many insights, and instead of trying to write a perfect article for each one, I feel inspired to express my thoughts in a more free-flowing way.
It seems like throughout my whole life, people have been telling me I need to be more confident. I’ve grown to almost hate that word! And I hear it everywhere: Confidence is sexy, confidence is key, guys are attracted to confident women…okay, I get it! But how does a person become confident if they’ve never really experienced it?
I’ve explored the concept of confidence, and the dictionary definition is kind of boring: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities. What does that really mean and how does that translate into an actual experience?
I was lying in bed the other morning, in between sleeping and waking, and it hit me:
True confidence is the total freedom to be you.
I’m so glad I always keep a notebook by my bed because lots of other clear insights came to me and I was able to write them all down:
Relaxed self-expression, open and free
Decisions, actions, movements without hesitation or questioning
Unafraid, unabashed, unfiltered
Not embarrassed
Loud and clear. Not needing permission from anyone
Bold
Total inner knowing
Fully here
Alert, focused
No comparing
No need for approval from other people
Approving myself first and only
I realized that I approach many of the things I do in life with a lot of hesitation, questioning, doubting, and wondering if what I’m doing is good enough. Somewhere along the way, I picked up this habit, but now that I’m aware of it, and now that I have this empowering new understanding, I can make a new choice. I can choose to fully be me, loud and clear, proud and filled with joy and appreciation for who I am and for the privilege of living this amazing, mysterious, miraculous life!


You can also read it here:
http://islaorganic.com/what-is-confidence-really/

Monday, August 6, 2012

Living in the Moment


Some of you may know I work at a spa as an esthetician. It seems like every day is a lesson in trusting my instincts and knowing that everything will unfold smoothly. Most days, I’m booked pretty solid. Sometimes my first client will be a little late and it creates a negative domino effect for the entire day. I’m learning to ride that wave gracefully instead of getting flustered and rushing through each session, just trying to catch up with myself.
When I’m relaxed, confident, and even nonchalant, things seem to just flow. When I’m booked solid, I have a choice: I can freak out about trying to make sure everything goes perfectly, or I can relax and focus on enjoying the moment. When I’m able to relax and enjoy the moment, everything unfolds as if by magic. I am supplied with everything I need, people seem friendlier, and things just seem to go my way. Yet when I fret about timing, or trying to sell products, or if I find that I’m working too hard or trying to impress someone, everything feels more tedious and stressful, and it’s not fun at all.
I love the days when I’m in a state of flow. I’m in the right place at the right time and there’s not a trace of stress. The other night, it was the end of my shift and I happened to check my phone as a call was coming in. Then I made another call and I caught the person just before they were leaving. Then I realized I had three extra hot towels and I asked if anyone needed them. Someone just happened to need them at that moment! I absolutely love when things unfold like this. It amazes me because I wasn’t trying to make anything happen. I was just relaxed in the moment and everything just clicked into place.
These kinds of things happen all the time. Do you ever notice that when you’re in a rush, you catch every red light, or when you try to be quiet, you make the most noise? What’s up with that?! It seems like the very act of trying to make something happen is counterproductive. It’s more natural and productive to ease into the experience, no matter what it is, and watch it unfold gracefully.
I always thought I had to set goals and work really hard at achieving them. But I’m realizing more and more that life is not about getting to a finish line. Life is a constant unfolding. Life is here and now. We can’t relive the past and we can’t live in the future. We can only be right where we are: in the constantly flowing present moment. What a great place to be!



You can also read my article here! http://islaorganic.com/living-in-the-moment/

Monday, July 23, 2012

Putting Drama into Perspective


What do you do when you walk into a room and you’ve just stepped into a cloud of other people’s drama? It’s so easy to get swept up in it, but sometimes you have to realize: you don’t have to get involved!
The next time you walk into a room and everyone is complaining or freaking out about something, here are a few things you can do:
If possible, walk back out of the room!
If you can’t leave the room, don’t respond directly to what’s going on, especially if it doesn’t involve you personally.
If it does involve you personally, stay centered, stay present, and send thoughts of well-being to everyone in the room.
If you’re on your way to work and you know something might be brewing, mentally prepare yourself and remember that you can handle whatever is in front of you.
It also helps to zoom out and see the entire situation from a broader viewpoint. Put it into perspective. Realize that the things we complain about or freak out about are usually really small and inconsequential, and there are always solutions. I used to think I had to help everyone with their problems, but sometimes people just like to complain! Even if you offer them the perfect solution, they might not see it—and that’s okay. Love them where they are.
If you’re stuck in major traffic, realize how amazing it is that you have a car and that you have a place to go! Life is good! If you’re in the middle of work-related drama, realize how great it is that you have a job and that there really is a solution for everything. Let the drama be a trigger for gratitude! I always come back to gratitude. It’s like a magical elixir for your emotional state. If you can get to a place of gratitude, it’s easy to see everything from a higher perspective.
I was out shopping recently and I was feeling stressed out about a few things related to all the changes going on in my life. I was walking around in a state of worry and frustration. Then I saw a woman in a wheelchair and I thought, Wow, I am so incredibly blessed! And the frustration evaporated. Perspective is powerful!
I believe that drama (big and small) has a purpose. Sometimes it’s so unbearable that it propels you to move forward into something you were afraid to do. Sometimes it makes you see how blessed you really are. And sometimes it makes you broaden your perspective and realize that it’s not so bad after all.


You can also read my article here: http://islaorganic.com/putting-drama-into-perspective/

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Art of Surrender


When you hear the word surrender, do you think of giving up? Quitting? Feeling defeated? I actually see it as letting go of an endless struggle. Many of us were taught that we need to work hard and suffer in order to be successful in life. This is a prevalent concept that influences us in ways we don’t even realize. I always believed this, but looking back on my life, I can see that it hasn’t been such a great formula! I definitely have so much that I’m grateful for, but I have so many goals that I haven’t achieved.
I feel like I’ve always been trying to figure out what to do with my life, constantly searching for answers to my endless questions. It’s amazing to notice how many wonderful experiences have fallen into my lap when I finally let go of trying to force anything to happen. My current job, my closest friendships, my workout routine—all these amazing parts of my life came to me without having to force them into reality!
I now approach each day knowing that things will unfold naturally, especially if I let go of worrying or trying to figure out how it’s going to all work out. For example, I work at a spa as an esthetician, and some days can be pretty hectic. Some services have to be coordinated with the massage therapists and the timing has to be pretty precise. I had a very busy day recently and I decided to trust that it would all unfold in just the right way, rather than stressing about how to time everything and get it all perfect. Everything unfolded smoothly and I even enjoyed my whole day! I didn’t rush or worry. I was present with each client and even at the end of that fully packed day, I felt energized and fulfilled. I wasn’t tired at all.
What would happen if you started letting things unfold naturally?
Things always work better when you stop trying so hard. It’s like the world opens up to you. Every desire starts to make its way towards you in an endless stream. Of course, there will be challenges along the way, but that’s just part of the big picture. It’s such a cliché, but the challenges really do make you stronger and wiser!
So this week, let go of the struggle and really trust that everything will unfold naturally…and see what happens!



You can also read this article here: http://islaorganic.com/the-art-of-surrender/

Monday, July 9, 2012

Living Courageously


I grew up in a Greek and Italian household. The Greekness, as I call it, was so prevalent in our house that I didn’t realize I was also Italian until about age ten! If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you have a pretty good idea of what my life was like. I never felt like I fit in with the other kids at school, and my parents were very protective. As an adult, I now understand they were just trying to keep me away from danger, but I missed out on a lot of life experiences. I never had a fake ID, I never played hooky or got into any kind of major trouble, and I was a late bloomer in many ways.

Now that I’m an adult, I realize that it’s not such a scary world! I have the full capability to handle everything that comes my way. I actually embrace challenges now because I know that I’ll grow and gain tremendous value from each experience. I don’t avoid new things anymore. I am open to new experiences and when things don’t go the way I want them to, I don’t berate myself for not doing a better job. Life is much more fluid and graceful now.

I also realized that when I was playing it safe, my life was really small. I stopped putting myself out there. I stopped dating for a while, and I took time off from the working world because it felt too stressful. My world kept getting smaller. I recently went through some drama that actually shook me out of my falsely safe cocoon. I can honestly say I am grateful for the pain I went through because it pushed me into what I’m doing now, which is working at a really lovely spa with a staff of wonderful people! It’s such an amazing feeling to look back at this dramatic experience and actually feel grateful for it! Going through that drama showed me that I have a lot more courage than I thought.

I love the word courage—no, it’s not a Greek word! The root of the word, cor, means heart in Latin. Courage is taking a step towards something that scares you and doing it with all your heart. To me, living courageously simply means that you’re living life fully, and you trust that you can handle whatever comes your way. It’s such a wonderful feeling to be open to new experiences and to approach life from this empowered point of view.

This quote sums it all up:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”     –Anais Nin

My life is definitely expanding now that I’m living more courageously. And I want to add that courage can take on many forms, including: speaking in front of a large group, expressing your true feelings to someone, making a bold career change, or learning a new skill. It’s so exhilarating!

In what ways can you see yourself living with more courage?



You can also read it here: http://islaorganic.com/living-courageously/

Monday, July 2, 2012

Self-Help: Is It Really Helping?


The self-help industry is huge. New books are constantly coming out, each one holding the promise for a better life. I’ve read so many self-help books over the last few years, and I realized that they’re not actually that helpful! Sure, I get momentarily inspired and I get some new ideas, but I often wonder if they’ve really made a difference in my life.
I recently heard about a study that was done with two groups of people who wanted to lose weight. The first group was told the program would be easy, and the second group was told it would be challenging. Surprisingly, the group that knew the program would be challenging lost a significantly higher amount of weight than the other group! This struck a chord with me. Many of the books I’ve read have led me to believe that once I followed the steps that were laid out, I would be set for life. I wouldn’t have any more problems and I’d be living happily ever after on Easy Street. It’s amazing that I actually believed this would happen!
The results of that study, combined with the insights I’ve gained from reading The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, have showed me that it’s okay to come across obstacles and difficulties sometimes. It’s not a disaster if something doesn’t work out the way you planned or if something goes wrong. I’ve found it empowering to face a new challenge with the knowledge that I can absolutely handle it, and that there’s something of value in the experience. I’ve been realizing how vast my inner strength is and how much wisdom I have within me. I’ve also realized that in the long run, it’s actually more painful to avoid uncomfortable or challenging situations.
I’ve been playing with the idea of jumping into new experiences wholeheartedly with a true sense of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is basically a strong belief in your own competence. It’s such a simple concept, but it’s so powerful.
I recently got a new job. I had been out of work for a while, and honestly I was feeling a little out of the loop. On my first day, I was really nervous, but I decided to just be fully present in the moment and remember my own competence. Things have been going well, and I encounter different challenges every day, but I no longer see them in a negative way. Now I’ve started to see these challenges as opportunities to draw upon my own inner wisdom and use the strength that I know is within me!
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
--Patanjali
Hopefully these insights have sparked some inspiration in you and maybe you’ll wake up some of those dormant forces!


You can also read my article here: http://islaorganic.com/self-help-is-it-really-helping/

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Recharge After Drama


Life can throw some interesting things at us sometimes! Even the most conscious and positive-minded people are not completely immune to some stress and drama once in a while. I believe we have a choice in how we handle these things. We can choose to breathe and remain centered in the midst of the chaos, or we can choose to entangle ourselves in it.
I found myself in the midst of some drama this week and although I feel like I stayed pretty calm, I felt really zapped of my inspiration and creativity afterwards. I turned to one of my go-to remedies: a twenty-minute guided meditation. It helped me truly relax and let the drama go.
So how do you replenish yourself after a difficult or dramatic experience?
Take a nap. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just take a nap! It’s one of the best ways to soothe your mind and body.
Meditate. Guided meditations are amazing because your mind is following the words that are being spoken. You are gently guided into a deep state of relaxation that benefits your mind as well as your body.
Write out your feelings. Acknowledge the way you feel in a journal, and then let it go.
Call a good friend. Talk to someone who you know will uplift you. Express how you feel, and then focus your energy on how you can let it go and move forward.
Create art. Take your mind off the subject that’s upsetting you and let yourself get happily lost in a creative activity.
Go for a walk. Walking is good for you in so many ways! When I go for a walk, I feel physically and mentally balanced.
Take a shower. The feeling of the water is so soothing. I always feel so refreshed after I take a shower.
Listen to music. Music is such a powerful soother. It’s so easy to get swept away in the rhythms and melodies of a beautiful song.
If you’re in a place where you can’t be alone, for instance if you’re at work or if you’re driving, the best thing you can do is breathe consciously and slowly. Let everything slow down and deeply feel the sensations of your breathing. Find a point of focus and zoom in on it, whether it’s a background color, the beauty of someone’s eyes, or the music in the background.
Once things have calmed down, there’s usually something of value to be gained from the experience. It might not be obvious while you’re in the middle of it, but if you look a little closer, you can see the silver lining in every cloud.

http://islaorganic.com/how-to-recharge-after-drama/

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What is Life Like Beyond your Comfort Zone?

Most of us are familiar with the term “comfort zone.” I honestly wish it had a different name! It just sounds so…well, comforting. I think it should be called the predictable zone, the boring zone, the cocoon…any of those names will do! Our comfort zone is the place where we keep doing what is familiar and safe. We are afraid to venture out into something new because we might mess up, get embarrassed, or any number of uncomfortable feelings.
Neale Donald Walsch once said that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and I really believe that. Sometimes, the things we’re scared to do are often the most exhilarating and satisfying. Things like talking to a handsome stranger, delivering a speech, or singing karaoke.
Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, authors of the book, The Tools, address this in a really unique and powerful way. They suggest fully embracing the feeling associated with leaving your comfort zone instead of avoiding it. (I highly recommend checking out their book for the full explanation of this exercise, as well as the other transformative tools they suggest.) I’ve tried this a few times in the last week and it’s actually really fun to do! I was at Starbucks the other day and there was a very tall, attractive woman in line behind me. I was intimidated by her but I embraced the feeling and started talking to her anyway. She was so nice and we had a lovely conversation about being tall! It might sound silly, but I felt really alive and happy afterwards! This is just a small example, but it applies to bigger things as well. I actually applied for a job that is way out of my comfort zone. I met the owner and had an interview, and now I’m just waiting to hear back. Even if I don’t get the job, the experience itself has been so exhilarating. I’m proud of myself for going for it and I have more courage to keep going. This reminds me of a beautiful quote that I’ve heard so many times, but now it holds a powerful new meaning:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  –Anais Nin
If you think about it, everything was once unfamiliar. From the basics of talking and walking, to everyday activities like driving and cooking, we have to try new things on a regular basis. After a while, they become familiar and automatic.
So what is life like beyond your comfort zone? It is exhilarating, exciting, and fun. It’s filled with new experiences that are truly fulfilling. Think about all the best things in your life right now. Imagine if you didn’t take that extra step that led you to those experiences?
I feel another quote coming on!
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”  –Henry David Thoreau
In what ways can you go beyond your current comfort zone?
You could:
Start the business you’ve been dreaming about
Apply for a job that feels a little out of reach
Make a new friend
Submit your artwork to a gallery
Start a challenging new workout routine
Life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone. Embrace the discomfort and watch it dissolve. And if you do, you’ll meet with success unexpected in common hours.


(You can also read the article here: http://islaorganic.com/what-is-life-like-beyond-your-comfort-zone/)

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Savor the Moment

Why do we have goals? Why do we make plans and write to-do lists? I’m beginning to think it’s not just to get it all done. I think everything we do is for the enjoyment of it. We’ve all heard the expression: Life is about the journey, not the destination. I’m starting to realize that life is really about cherishing and savoring the moment.
Savoring and being present go hand in hand. Eckhart Tolle popularized the concept of being present with his book, “The Power of Now.” A simple definition of being present is to be fully aware of whatever you are doing in the moment. You’re not thinking about the past or worrying about the future; you are fully here, now. It’s actually a really elegant and potent form of gratitude.Your body is relaxed, your breathing is slower and fuller, and the experience of enjoyment is enhanced. In her book, “The How of Happiness,” author Sonja Lyubomirsky mentions that researchers define savoring as any thoughts or behaviors capable of “generating, intensifying, and prolonging enjoyment.”
I also love these definitions:
To give oneself to the enjoyment of
To relish or enjoy; to delight in
To taste or smell, especially appreciatively
Here are some ways to savor the moment:
Savor a meal. The next time you sit down for a meal, notice and enjoy the flavors of each bite. Notice how different your food tastes. Really revel in the experience instead of rushing through it.
Revel in music. Play your favorite songs, and really enjoy how the music makes you feel.
Luxuriate in a spa treatment. Make an appointment for a massage or facial, or ask someone to massage your shoulders for you. Be sure to fully enjoy the sensations.
Delight in beauty. When you see something beautiful, take an extra second or two to notice the details of it. Nature is abundant with beautiful sights to enjoy.
Enjoy conversations. You can also savor a really good conversation. Savor the feelings that come up and notice how good you feel!
Lie in glory. To bask means to lie in glory. I just love that! Where could you bask? Maybe you could enjoy a sunset on your balcony, revel in an accomplishment, or hit the snooze button and enjoy a few extra minutes relaxing in bed.
Cherish a friend. The next time you’re with a good friend, really notice what you love about them. It could be the way their eyes sparkle, their witty sense of humor, or the way they really listen to you.
Enjoy routine behaviors. Imagine enjoying a routine behavior like brushing your teeth! You can enjoy the sensations of the water, the minty taste of your toothpaste, and the freshness of your breath.
And there are so many other things you can savor:
  • A hug
  • Art
  • Pictures
  • Memories
  • Future plans
  • Books
Savoring doesn’t have to be limited to vacations or special occasions. You can find endless things to savor even on ordinary days.
“The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt
What are some things you can savor in your life?