The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

Let it RAIN

Hi guys. Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve posted but my Mom passed away a few days before Christmas and, as you know, my Dad passed away about a year before that so I’ve had a lot on my plate. I’ve been trying to take care of myself though and one of the things I did for myself recently was attend an all day retreat withTara Brach, Ph.D. It was an amazing day filled with lots of insights and thinking but I really wanted to share one of the meditation techniques she taught us because you don’t even really need to use it when you’re meditating. It’s really just a good life practice. It’s called RAIN.

Recognize

Allow

Investigate

Nuture

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re at school and someone makes a rude comment to you and it hurts. You find yourself going back to it over and over again which seems sort of silly because you don’t even know or like this person so why is it impacting you so much? To help understand why you’re so upset it’s time to practice RAIN.

First, Recognize that you’re upset. Don’t try to brush off the feelings but stop and take a moment and Recognize – hey, I’m sort of upset about this.

Second, Allow that you’re having these feelings and that’s ok. “Ok, I’m upset about this rude comment and it’s not really anything else that’s bothering me so I need to just sit here for a minute and acknowledge and allow these feelings that I’m upset.”

Third, Investigate. This is where things get interesting and this is where you have to put some work in. On a superficial level it’s easy to say “Oh, I’m upset because that person was rude.” But Investigating forces you to look a little deeper. Why do you care that someone made a rude comment? Well, because it hurts. But why does it hurt? Because it made me feel bad. Why did it make me feel bad? “Because I’m afraid they don’t like me and that if they don’t like me maybe other people don’t like me.” But why am I afraid of this? See, how you can dig deeper and deeper? The purpose is to really try to understand your deep feelings behind something. Once you can start to Recognize and Acknowledge these feelings you become more aware of how your mind is working, how your thoughts impact how you react and respond to things and who you really are deep down inside.

Finally, Nuture. Now that you’ve figured out why you’re upset it’s time to take care of yourself. It’s time to say, “Hey wow. I didn’t realize how these little things upset me and what they awake in me but that’s ok. I’m human and these are just feelings and thoughts. In reality, I am loved and I am worthy of love.” The words don’t even matter so much. Sometimes you can Nuture yourself just by sitting with the feelings until they start to fade and you accept them as an ok part of who you really are.

So, when  your mind is spinning and the world feels out of control, stop and take a moment and make it RAIN. Just like rain cleanses the world when it comes down, this simple exercise can cleanse your mind and your soul so the sun shines again.

XO

 

Furry Love and Why It Makes Us Smile

Meet Blue! He is my three month old blue Holland Lop bunny. This is just a quick post to give a high five to all our furry friends – whether they live with us or just make us laugh via YouTube – as there is something truly special about animals. There are reasons why animal videos are so popular but for me animals do these three things to make is joyful:

1. Animals are always fully present and in the moment. They aren’t worrying about the past or the future. They are just in the here and now which forces us to be in the here and now. I think we recognize the value of this and see them modeling the behavior that we know would be healthy for us to adopt. I know that petting Blue or watching him run around like a race car driver is very Zen for me. I’m fully there and fully with him. It’s like a living meditation! 

2. Animals love unconditionally. They don’t worry about what kind of mood we’re in and whether we’re having a good day or a bad day. They know us and they love us just as we are. That is invaluable and extremely rare here on earth so I think it makes our souls sing a little inside when we get to experience unabashed in-your-face love from an animal. 

3. We get to see our more playful goofy sides. I volunteer for an animal rescue organization and last week I had to sit in the puppy pens trying to find homes for nine adorable hound puppies. It was obviously a joyful and joy-filled “job” for the day but what cracked me up was how goofy these puppies made our visitors. Big huge burly manly-men would get down on their hands and knees and say in their most babyish voices “Who is a good boy? Who is a silly puppywuppy? Why yes you’re a silly puppy. That’s sweet boy!” Pets completely disarm us of our egos for a moment and allow us to play and smile and give freely of our love to something that doesn’t ask for anything but that. 

So, go give your pet a pat or Google some funny animal videos today. You will smile both inside and out. 

R YOUR EMOTIONS UNIVINTED GUESTS OR DELIGHTFUL VISITORS? A RUMI POEM TO MAKE U THINK

My yoga practice ended with this poem today and I was inspired to share. Lately I’ve been feeling really sad about my Dad and missing him a lot. This poem helped to remind me that I can think if my grief as a housecleaner of sorts. Sometimes you have to just wipe everything out and start fresh. And so, I will try to treat my grief honorably and you can do the same with your emotions too. If you’re sad, it’s ok to feel sad. Happy? That’s great too. Angry. Sit and work it out for awhile. These emotions make us who we are and prepare us for what’s next. Well enough of my paraphrasing. Go enjoy the poem yourself! Let me know what you think!

The Unexpected Guest

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~Rumi

One Simple Thing U Can Do 2 Change This Sometimes Scary World We Live In

Yesterday I was sitting in a meeting with my colleagues and was discussing the wariness and sometimes outright fear that I feel when commuting into work on the train. My senses are always on. I’m always looking around and assessing my fellow commuters. I’m ready to “See Something, Say Something”, I look for my escape route. To be honest, it’s a pretty sh*tty way to feel on what should just be a train ride home or to work and I wish I didn’t have to feel this way but it’s hard to not translate what you see on TV and sort of be ready for it to maybe happen to you. I, sadly, often do the same thing in movie theaters which doesn’t make for the most enjoyable experience. But obviously we can’t live our lives this way right? Sure we have to be aware but if we let ourselves get too caught up in this thinking, it can lead to paralysis, paranoia and worse.

So what can I do and what can you do to try to counter this? Well, this might sound simple and it might not even feel like you’re making a difference in the world (but I would disagree – I believe this actually works) but I think at a very simple level you can just think, feel and send out love. I tried it yesterday. It was a super crowded train and I felt myself beginning to grow tense (and my Spire told me I was getting tense too) and I decided to try a different approach. I closed my eyes and started to send out love to my fellow passengers. I sat there and thought, “I love each one of you. I love your humanity. I love your faults. I love our connectedness. I love that we’re all here on this planet together. I love that you have someone who loves you too. I love that you matter. I love that you are me and that I am you.” I just sat there and tried to picture warm rays of love coming out of me and touching every unhappy and stressed commuter on that train. I know, I know, it sounds cheesy but stay with me here.

So did it work? Did someone feel that love and turn around and look at me meaningfully in the eye? Did I make that real world connection with someone and change the energy on that train? Well no. At least not that I could see or sense but I felt love. It caused a shift inside of me. I felt that connectedness with those around me. I was no longer feeling tense or anxious or fearful. I just felt peaceful and that somehow, it would all be ok.

It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t immediately address all of this world’s problems but I believe in my heart that if we all did this, if we all committed to just trying to feel love towards one another, we could start to shift. Will you try it with me and let me know how it makes you feel? Sending you all, obviously, lots of love!

Why Finding Dory Might Leave U Stressed Out (& Two Tips 2 Calm Down)

So I think I’ve written about my Spire device here before but just to recap, Spire is this gorgeous and amazing little device that you clip onto your clothing that monitors your breathing throughout the day. It has it’s own app and that app is what tells you whether you’re tense, calm or focused and believe me, practically everyone in my family has one and we’re all amazed by the data and what we’re learning about ourselves. I have actually found that in using Spire consistently, I’ve been able to increase my moments of calm and decrease my tense moments over time which, for someone like me who previously suffered a panic attack, is pretty darn amazing. All the meditation and yoga I’ve been doing likely hasen’t hurt but being more aware of my breathing and how I’m acting (or reacting) has truly been the biggest factor to my increased zen state.

And so, we went to see Finding Dory. My husband, step-daughter and I all have Spires and we all wore them when we went to the movie. I don’t know about you, but I always think of the movies as a place to go and relax and to escape from reality as you lose yourself in the onscreen fiction. Well, you would think that an animated film about a fish and her friends would be the perfect way to wind down over the weekend right? Not so! Our Spires were buzzing throughout the whole movie and all of us thought “Oh, we must be really focused.” or “Oh, we must really be calm and relaxed.” But nope. We were tense people! We got out of the theater and looked at our apps and saw prolonged moments where our breathing was tense! Why? Well, I personally thought Finding Dory was a good movie but I guess we were a little more invested in whether or not Dory would find her parents than we thought! It’s all good but being tense actually isn’t good for your health so what can you do when you find yourself getting tense?

Here’s my top two tips for calming down:

  1. Take long deep breaths. You don’t need a lot of them but slowly breathing in (for let’s say a count of five or six) and slowly breathing out almost immediately starts to calm your body and brain down. Should you have to practice such breathing during a children’s movie? I’ll let you make that judgment on your own but in any situation, deep breathing is an easy and quick way to find your center.
  2. Become aware. Become aware of where you are, how you’re feeling and what’s going on in and around you. Feel the chair under your butt and your feet on the ground. Become aware of the popcorn smells around you and the colors on the screen. So often we go through life almost oblivious to the world and our place in it but practicing this present moment awareness is another simple but extremely powerful tool to get you out of your head and out of your thoughts.

That’s it. It’s that simple. Deep breathing and awareness and you’re on the road to more moments of calm and a less stressful existence. I will end this story by letting you know that my husband and I also went to see the movie The Shallows where Blake Lively gets attacked by a great white shark and we were both less tense in this movie than Finding Dory. I’ll let you come up with your own opinion of that!

Three Things U Need 2 Know About Your Final Grades

I know many of you are in the process of taking, finishing up or have recently completed your final exams in high school and that many of you are relieved, depressed, happy, nauseous or some combination of all of these emotions. Yesterday, I experienced the tears of someone who didn’t do as well as expected on one of their finals which blew their chances of getting a 4.0 for the year thus ruining their chances of getting that same 4.0 for all four years of school. My heart breaks for this student and for all of you who didn’t end up where you wanted to be with your final grade(s). That said, I have three really really important things to tell you about your final grades and you need to trust me that these things are true because I always only tell you the truth on this blog and I’m older than you and living happily and successfully so I’m living proof that I’m right. (Ok, there’s a bit of sarcasm there but stay with me!)

Here’s what you need to remember and remind yourself of about grades:

  1. You are not a number or average and this number cannot and should not ever define who you are. I admire you for wanting to get good grades because, sadly, they matter. Schools look at them and people judge you by them and frankly, that’s life and sometimes it life isn’t fair. But, who you are today and who you decide to become in the future has nothing to do with those grades on a report card. I promise that your dreams and goals in life are not going to be impacted by the B you got on your chemistry final and that a few bad grades (and a B isn’t actually bad so let’s also try to remember that) truly are a few measly raindrops in the ocean that is you and your future. You didn’t do as well as you wanted to do. It’s over. Mourn about it for a day and move on and start thinking about what you’re going to do differently moving forward. That leads me to #2.
  2. Use your unhappiness about a grade or grades to look at your actions and what responsibility you can take, if any, for the outcome. Another sad thing about life is that most of the lessons you will learn from life are learned the hard way and often with pain and heartache. I’m not sure why our lives are set up this way but it is and the sadness and pain you feel about the outcome of your efforts can teach you something. Maybe you got the grades you did because you worked as hard as you could and there is nothing you could have done differently. If that’s the case, then take a moment to be disappointed but feel good that at least you tried to do your best. But maybe, just maybe, you didn’t do as well as you would have liked because, in truth, you really didn’t work as hard as you needed to throughout the semester or at the end. Hard work and sacrifice are often necessary to achieve our goals and sometimes that means temporarily giving up some pleasures to get some work done. Did you spend the days and night before your final really and truly studying as hard as you could or did you put your books away (or only pay half attention to them) because you were watching the NBA finals? Only you truly know if you did your very best but being honest with yourself is really important because you will need to be honest with yourself for the rest of your life to live your best life so start now. I’m sorry if your disappointing grades are teaching you a lesson at the moment but let that be a positive and use it to make positive changes in the future.
  3. Finally, stop thinking about your grades and move on! If you’ve read anything I’ve written on this blog you will know that I am always talking about living in the present moment and practicing mindfulness and meditation too. It’s easy to sit and chew on your feelings like a stale piece of gum over and over and over and over and over and over and over again but why are you torturing yourself?! You got a bad grade. Maybe you deserved it and maybe you didn’t. Maybe you needed to work harder or maybe you did everything you could have done. The thing is, it’s over. Summer is starting and frankly, you deserve a break and some down time. Take a deep breath. Actually, take three or more. Sit and think about what happened for a moment and with one really long and deep exhale and let it go. It’s over. Sitting and thinking about it is only going to make you miserable like most of the past memories we hang on to. The rest of your beautiful and amazing life is sitting right in front of you if only you’d look up and start it.

So that’s what I want you to think about when it comes to grades. I got some sh*tty grades along the way too, believe me, and yet I never gave up on my dreams and followed whatever path was necessary to achieve my goals. I didn’t let a few bad grades define me and you don’t need to either. Trust me. Now go and enjoy your summer before it all starts over again. 🙂

 

Are U a Good Match 4 Matcha?

I’m not going to lie. I’m completely and totally addicted to matcha (a powdered green tea) so I’m pretty much going to try to convince you that you ARE a good match for matcha! You’ve probably noticed that matcha is showing up on more and more coffee house menus (although Starbucks calls it a green tea latte) but perhaps you’ve been afraid to try to this alien green concoction. Fear not! I’m here to tell you how simple it is to make and why it’s good for you too!

I switched to matcha after my panic attack when I was looking for a less caffeinated alternative to coffee. The first thing I’ll tell you about matcha is that yes, it does have a less caffeine than coffee but it gives you this lovely energy boost (that I personally feel almost immediately) that lasts for a few hours. It doesn’t blast you with caffeine like coffee does but sort of imparts a nice alertness. Just perfect.

Anyway, you might be wondering what matcha is and why it’s a powder. Matcha is a green tea that is grown in the shade for the last few weeks of its growth and then ground into a powder. You’re drinking the entire leaf when you drink matcha which is why you get so many more health benefits. Matcha has lots of antioxidants and catechins (which can help with cholesterol) but it’s chock full of other good things too! Because you’re drinking the whole leaf it’s also why you get this lovely sweet flavor (if you’re drinking good matcha). I don’t recommend trying to skimp on matcha and buying a cheap brand. I started out this way and it’s very bitter so it’s probably ok for baking or smoothies but for pure sipping pleasure, spend a little more and get a ceremonial grade tea. You don’t have to hold a tea ceremony when making matcha like they do in Japan but you can make preparation a little mindful and special which, to me, is part of the joy of partaking of matcha.

Sure you can just dump a teaspoon of matcha in a mug with some hot water and stir it but with a few simple steps and tools, you can make a much more special and tasty drink. I highly recommend buying the following (and you can just google these and find lots of online sellers. I bought my stuff on Amazon because it was easier but it’s up to you!)

  1. A sifter. Putting the tea in a sifter over your bowl and sifting it through takes out the static and clumps and makes for a smooth tea with no overwhelming matcha sludge. You know those gross clumps you get when you make powdered hot chocolate? That’s because you’re not sifting so sift when making matcha for a smoother end product. Personally I’m probably going to sift hot chocolate from now on too!
  2. A bamboo matcha scoop or chashaku. Yeah yeah you can just dump in a teaspoon in a sifter but using this lovely little bamboo scoop is so much more fun and you always seem to get just the right amount (although you can obviously add or subtract depending on your own personal tastes.) Have fun with this and experiment!
  3. A bamboo whisk or chasen. Believe me, I tried just using a metal whisk but the fine pieces of bamboo make a lovely creamy foamy top (or crema) and it’s also super fun to do! It’s hard to stop whisking actually but try to control yourself people!
  4. A bowl. Sure you could drink matcha from a mug but there are lots of beautiful bowls out there to sip from. I bought one on Amazon from Japan with bunnies on it and it makes me happy every time I take it out.
  5. Finally and obviously you need some matcha! I just bought some at Teavana in the mall but there are lots of online purveyors out there to check out. Just make sure it says “ceremonial grade” so you know you’re getting better quality.

That’s it! With five simple tools you’re ready to make some matcha. This part is easy. Ready?

Just take a scoop of matcha with your chasen (or about a teaspoon of powder) and sift it into your bowl. Then take your heated water and pour in about an ounce or so (only a little bit in other words) and use your whisk to create the foam and try to get a whole bunch of small bubbles on the top. Once you have your crema on top you just gently pour in some more water and enjoy! Savor this process and slow down when you take your first sip! Try to bring some of that ceremony to your tea drinking and try to be mindful and aware of what you’re doing. Consider it a mini-vacation from life!

So there you have it. A little matcha 101 for matcha newbies like me. Once you get the basics down you can make lattes, iced matcha, etc. Any matcha fans out there? Let me know your tips and tricks and favorite brands! Namaste!

 

 

 

What r u hanging on to and can u let it go?

Here’s a question for you to ponder today: What are you holding on to and what would happen if you let it go?

While this might seem like a simple question it’s actually sort of terrifying if you really spend some time with it. When I think about this question, things like hurts, anxieties and fears are the first things that pop into mind. And so I ask myself, what fears am I hanging on to? Fear that if try something new I might fail so I avoid doing it altogether? Fears about losing someone (because after losing my Dad last fall death is always on my mind)? Fear of change? Geez, actually when I think about it it’s sort of amazing to watch the list evolve.

But let’s talk about what happens when you hold onto something. Eventually, you may hold onto something because it’s true to you. You’ve been hurt by someone and you hold onto that hurt and don’t trust again. You failed at something and you hold onto that fear moving forward and don’t take chances.  Eventually, these things come to define you and they also become comfortable – like a pair of comfy old sneakers that you can’t imagine parting with. But what would happen if you did let it go? What if you realized that those comfy old sneakers are actually pretty stinky and that you can’t run as fast in them anymore (and, God forbid, that they aren’t fashionable anymore!?) You would dump those sneakers and be ordering a new pair in a heartbeat. Well, it’s the same with all the things you’re hanging on to that don’t serve you anymore. What would happen if you let go of your fear and took a chance at something you want in your heart? What would happen if you forgave the person who hurt you and decided to let love in again? Sure it might be uncomfortable, like a new pair of shoes, but before you know it, you’ll break in your new state of being and wonder why you hung on to those old smelly sneakers for so long.

So ask yourself today, what am I holding onto and what would happen if I let it go? Be brave and let it go for a minute or two and just try it on for size. You might discover a new look!

 

Helping Others = Happiness. It’s Pretty Simple.

This weekend my family and one of my daughter’s friends volunteered at the 2016 Food Fight to end hunger at our nearby expo center. Sure the girls are looking for community service hours for school but I don’t think any of us knew how bubbly, giggly and happy we would be at the end of our service period. This event was sponsored by Feed My Starving Children and as a volunteer you help make and pack  up bags of MannaPack Rice. This incredibly nutritious combo of rice, soy protein, vitamins and veggies contains about six meals and costs only about $0.25 per bag. Our job (though there were plenty of different things to do) was to scoop the ingredients into the empty bags and then hand them off to the rest of our table where they were weighed, sealed and boxed. Our little ole table of just nine people managed to pack up 47 boxes in 2 hours which equals over 9,000 meals for hungry children!

Knowing we were helping others was reason enough to attend but I cannot tell you how much fun we had together. There was a DJ so we were dancing and singing and there were various challenges along the way to keep us motivated and boy we were motivated knowing our hard work was providing more food to more children! But here’s the thing, sure our event was fun but studies have shown that people who are the happiest are people who give back. You don’t have to feel hungry children to give back. You can donate old clothes or electronics to a good cause, help out a local animal shelter (another one of our favorite things to do), help your elderly neighbor carry in her grocery bags or donate your old prom clothes. You don’t have anything to lose by giving of your time or self but you do have everything to gain!

Worried that you won’t be able to find any volunteer opportunities where you live? Check out the site Do Something. You can choose a topic you’re passionate about, figure out how much time you have and what type of volunteering you’d like to do and it will give you some ideas.

I know lots of you are busy with end of the year tests and exams but when that’s all over, give some thought to giving back and helping others this summer. I promise you’ll have fun, I promise it will look good on your college resume and I promise you will make a difference in someone’s (or some animal’s) life. All those pluses and you’ll end up feeling happy too. What are you waiting for?

 

Chasing Away the Clouds with Headspace

blue sky

Since my panic attack I have performed some kind of meditation or mindfulness practice every day using a number of different apps until one of my friends recommended Headspace. I saw Headspace while perusing apps but didn’t feel like spending almost $100 a year after the free 10 day trial. Well here’s the thing. My other meditation apps are getting dusty and I am about $100 poorer but boy am I feeling better!

With the free 10 day trial (called Take 10) all you have to do is take 10 minutes out of your day and you learn to let all those pesky negative thoughts just sort of float by you instead of engaging with them. My favorite visual for this that they shared is to think of your mind as a blue sky. And sure, sometimes the sky can be cloudy but behind those clouds, the blue sky is still there. They use the example of when you go up in a plane and you get above the cloud level and discover that the sky is all blue and pretty. Yup, your mind can work just like that.

It’s a powerful visual even if you’re not sitting quietly and trying to meditate. I find that even when I’m just going about my day and a negative thought blows in, I mentally picture myself just sort of blowing or pushing it out of the way so I can see my clear blue sky again. Simple but powerful stuff.

Anyway, I’m not associated or affiliated with @Get_Headspace in any way nor am I getting any kind of monetary compensation for this post. I share merely to tell you how it’s been working for me and to encourage you, if possible, to try it for yourself. I have some tips on meditation right here on this little ole blog that are also free! So take some time to today to picture those clouds blowing out of your mind and remember that a blue sky is only a thought away.

Ever Have a Panic Attack? I did & it is NOT fun.

panic button

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted since my Dad died and while I know that I’ve been grieving and have been experiencing stress, I thought I was coping pretty well. I still got up and went to work every day. I still talked to my friends, went grocery shopping and spent time with my family. The weeks after my Dad passed were the most stressful…we moved my Mom, sold her house, got her settled and drove to NJ every weekend from down south so sure, there were lots of hours in the car. Still, I thought I was doing pretty well.

Well, two weeks ago my Mom went into the hospital with a respiratory virus. Because she has an existing lung condition even a cold can be a big problem so to say I was stressed would be an understatement. My stress was compounded by the fact that my Mom has been telling me and my sisters that she just wants to go be with my Dad in heaven. Then my sister really freaked me out be telling me that I needed to come up to see my Mom immediately implying that she was dying. OMG.

So yeah, stress. My mom went into the hospital on Thursday night and they quickly got her stabilized and my other sister informed me that no, my mother was not dying and that I could relax. Sure I felt relief but I guess I was underestimating how stressed I was. On Saturday I felt funny. Not like myself. Short of breath. Dizzy. Nauseous. Headache. I sorta knew I had a sinus infection and even though I’ve had these symptoms for a few weeks now, I was still attributing them to various other issues…I must just have a head cold. Allergies. My asthma was acting up. As my I began to feel worse and worse my husband insisted he was going to take me to the emergency room. And then it all started.

I felt a tingling start in my spine and it soon traveled to my arms and legs. I began hyperventilating and asked my husband to call 911 telling him I was having a heart attack or stroke. My arms and legs began to shake uncontrollably and I felt like I was hanging on to my consciousness by a thread. The EMTs got there and monitored my heart rate, put me on oxygen and took me to the ER after assuring me I was not having a heart attack or stroke (at which point I decided I must be getting ready to have a seizure then because my body was so out of my control). What did they know?! I felt like I was dying!

So they did all the things they usually do in an ER. Put in an IV, heart monitor, more oxygen, chest xray, bloodwork etc etc. And then the doctor came in and told me I had a panic attack. I was embarrassed, horrified, confused, and in disbelief that stress could do that to my body.

So, what’s the point of my tale? It’s to tell that I am now a firm believer that stress really can kill. Yes we all hear about how stress is bad for you. How you need to do things to manage stress and we all poo poo it and say yeah yeah, I know. I’ve got this though. I’m good. I’m getting through all my days aren’t I? I’m getting my work done. I’m living my life. I’m managing my stress like a pro. Until you’re not.

Honestly, I still don’t quite feel like myself since my little trip to the ER but I immediately began taking steps to truly take care of myself (instead of just saying I am). I am trying to eat healthier. I’m limiting sugar. I can’t even think about coffee or caffeine at the moment because the idea of taking anything that would make my heart race like that again is terrifying. I stretch. I have started walking again. I am honoring my body when it tells me I need to rest. But most importantly, I am truly practicing mindfulness and meditation. I religiously spend a few minutes meditating every day but I’m not doing it on my own. I downloaded the Mindfulness apps and Buddhify (my favorite) and I manage to find the time to quiet my mind and monitor my breathing.

I’ve spent many posts here preaching about the importance of meditation but I have to admit, I got lazy and didn’t practice what I was preaching. Don’t be like me. Meditate. Quiet your mind. Manage your stress. Don’t just tell yourself you’re managing it when you know you’re really not.

There are a lot of things that can kill us in life but this is one that we can control so why not control it? I see the stress that my daughter is under in school and now I worry more than I used to about how she’s managing it. And how you all are managing the stress in your lives. With that, I’ve realized it’s time to get back to blogging. It’s time to stop ignoring the things that I care about in life and start to actually engage in life again. It’s time to manage my stress. It’s time to help you manage yours.

Thanks for reading folks. It’s good to be back.

Social Anxiety.

Some thoughtful thoughts about social anxiety and some tips to help you cope. I especially love #3 about putting yourself into situations that might make you anxious. The more you face your fears the more you start to realize that there usually is nothing to be afraid of and that it’s our minds that create the scary situations. Kudos to you everywordyousay for facing your fears and helping others!

Every Word You Say

Today is going to be a little bit more of a serious post. I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a little while now but wasn’t really sure how to explain it. See, I have had social anxiety for a very long time now. So if I’m put in new situations, or I have to meet new people, or if I’m in a large crowds it makes me very nervous and can lead to panic attacks. I know when it started, but as I’ve mentioned before I don’t want to talk about that part of my past. Basically when I was younger I was put in dangerous and upsetting situations and unfortunately this has affected many aspects of my life.

Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to meet his best friend. I’d been putting off meeting her for a year and a half, but yesterday he “persuaded” me to…

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Do Unto Others

9 great reminders about how we should be living our lives. It’s not hard to do any of these things…I think sometimes we need to just slow down and remember that we’re not alone in our own personal little worlds.

Sun Safety This Summer

A great post on sun safety with great product recommendations and links. I know you don’t want to hear it but you need to be reaaaalllly careful about tanning. Trust me, the wrinkles and spots you get when you are older (never mind the cancer threat) is not fun. Why not just slather or spray on a fake tan? It looks better and is much safer!

Sundays Breeze

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Sun safety is a huge priority in my family. I had a great Uncle pass away from skin cancer, my mother had Melanoma, and I have already had three suspicious looking “freckles” removed. Not too mention, I am as pale as they come- it is quite easy for me to get burned.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what skin tone you have, everyone is at risk. To help prevent skin cancer, wearing an SPF 30 or higher daily is essential, no matter the weather.

Since I live at the Jersey Shore, my friends and I are very careful about being out too long in the sun, or making sure to really cover up when we head to the beach. We know now that not only does the sun cause skin cancer, but chronic UV exposure will give you winkles, hyper-pigmentation, and age spots.

Here are a few of my favorite sun blocks for face….

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16 Things I’ve Learned When I was 16

A great post from a real teen on lessons learned while she was 16. Take a peek & see what you might learn about yourself. Have you had similar experiences? Got anything else to add?

Growing Up


As summer before my Senior year of high school begins, and I have long past celebrated my 17th birthday, I thought I should reflect upon 16 things I’ve learned when I was 16.

  1. It’s hard to be yourself, especially if you don’t know who you are yet. But I think through figuring out who I wanted to be, I just tried to be the best me I can be, and that was hard. Because I wasn’t sure if it was good enough. Then again, I knew I only needed to be good enough for me, yet I couldn’t wrap my mind around being unable to please everyone (it’s a learning process okay).
  2. It’s okay to keep your interests a secret just as much as it’s okay to let the whole world know. I read fanfiction, in fact I read a lot of fanfiction. That was something I held close to…

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Looking Back on the School Year: What Would U Do Differently?

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Buddha
Ok so maybe my quote doesn’t quite jive with the title of this post but bear with me. For the most part, I agree that we should try to not relive the past and shouldn’t spend all our time worrying about the future.  All that being said, I do think it’s important to look back on your school year and take inventory of what you did well and what you did…well, not so well. Life is a learning experience and it is through these experiences, good and bad, that we figure out who we are and who we want to be moving forward. So, look back on your school year and think about it for a minute. What happened that you didn’t like? What would you change? Would you study harder? Would you try to not obsess about your grades so much? Would you try to have more fun? Would you spend more time with friends or family? Would you try out for a sport or join a club? Would you learn to ignore the nasty comments/posts/looks from people who aren’t your friends and don’t even pretend to try? Would you try to make a new friend? Would you not have chosen a friend?
Once you’ve looked back, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take a deep breath, be ok with the decisions you did make and vow to spend your next school year being more authentically YOU. Whether you would do things differently or whether you would do everything exactly the same, as long as you are trying to be you, you won’t fail.
But now you tell me – what would you do differently? What would you not change? What advice would you give to someone just starting high school? What would you do to more authentically you?

Attention and Approval: New Age Motivation

A refreshing perspective on social media. You are not your Twitter account!

Trials and Tribulations of High School and Beyond

I don’t understand why so many teens feel the need to gain attention and approval so often by way of social media. I personally am a very private person, so having someone “like” the picture of my mom and I doing a goofy dance move on the Fourth of July is not something I would even like. But the fact that so many teens and people in general do this just to know that people like them and like what they are wearing and doing is crazy. It’s beside me how that’s fulfilling. Obviously I like to get compliments – I’m pretty sure most everyone does. So I can understand where the approval of a new outfit or hairstyle can be nice. It just gets excessive with some people.

When it comes to personal things in life, it’s nice to share with family and friends. What’s not fun is sharing…

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Summer Fun

What R U Doing 2 Make Summer Fun? Some Great Ideas Here!

A Princess Life For Me

Ahhhhh summer!

I always have such high expectations for summer- but I usually end up feeling like I am wasting it away by sleeping in until 2pm and end up watching a whole lot of Netflix. But today I am turning over a new leaf! I want to make the most of summer and not have any regrets once August comes and I have to head back to school. So I have put together a list of some fun things to do this summer if boredom strikes, other than watching Netflix in pajamas all day long!

1. Make DIY 4th of July shirts– I always have LOVED 4th of July and always go all out with my outfit, so I thought it would be fun to make my own shirt this year! Get some paint, friends and some white tshirts and you are set for a fun day!

http://allthingswithpurpose.com/2013/05/memorial-day-food-crafts-and-decoration-ideas/

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