What My Summer Vacation Will Teach Me

In just a few days, I’m embarking upon a two-week vacation through Europe.  It’s a much-needed trip that I’ve been anticipating for months.  I’m an explorer, a history nerd, and a lover of architecture so of course, that side is covered.  But what I’m most excited for is enjoying every minute of the present, each day I am away from everyday life.

There was a moment this past weekend where I felt myself getting caught up in a situation that could easily not have involved me.  As I’m sitting there, trying to figure out if this was going to ruin my night, and should I quit while I’m ahead, I told myself to enjoy the present for what it is: being around fun friends who I truly love being around.  Their problems are their problems – just do you.  It was a powerful moment that made me realize so few people have this small, yet profound conversation with themselves, and I need to take advantage of it more often.  To release yourself from external influences and be present is the most freeing thing you can do.

Later this same weekend, I came across a rather popular Facebook post about that Italian teacher’s “Summer Assignment”. It took the guess work out of how anyone and everyone should live their summer, regardless of what they do or where they are.  Haven’t read it?  Here’s the list of “to-do’s”:

1. Sometimes, in the morning, go take a walk along the seashore completely alone: look at the way sunlight is reflected on the water and think about the things you love the most in your life; be happy.

2. Try to use some of the new words we learned together this year: the more things you manage to say, the more things you’ll manage to think; and the more things you think, the freer you’ll be.

3. Read as much as you possibly can. But not because you have to. Read because summers inspire adventures and dreams, and when you read you’ll feel like swallows in flight. Read because it’s the best form of rebellion you have (for advice on what to read, come see me).

4. Avoid things, situations and people who make you feel negative or empty: seek out stimulating situations and the companionship of friends who enrich you, who understand you and appreciate you for who you are.

5. If you feel sad or afraid, don’t worry: summer, like every marvelous thing in life, can throw the soul into confusion. Try keeping a diary as a way to talk about how you feel (in September, if you’d like, we’ll read it together).

6. Dance, shamelessly. On a dance floor near your house, or alone in your room. Summer is dance, and it’s foolish not to take part.

7. At least once, watch the sunrise. Stay silent and breathe. Close your eyes, be thankful.

8. Play a lot of sports.

9. If you meet someone you find enchanting, tell him or her as sincerely and gracefully as you can. It doesn’t matter if she or he doesn’t understand. If they don’t, she or he wasn’t meant to be; otherwise, summer 2015 will be a golden time together (if this doesn’t work out, go back to point number 8).

10. Review your notes from our class: Compare the things we read and learned to the things that happen to you.

11. Be as happy as sunlight, as untamable as the sea.

12. Don’t swear. Always be well-mannered and kind.

13. Watch films with heartbreaking dialogue (in English if you can), in order to improve your language skills and your ability to dream. Don’t let the movie end with the final credits: live it again while you’re living and experiencing your summer.

14. In sparkling sunlight or hot summer nights, dream about how your life could and should be. During the summer, always do everything you can to avoid giving up, and everything you can to pursue your dream.

15. Be good.

What’s so great about this list is that it requires you to be unplugged, present, and appreciative of every moment you have of everyday.  His list has inspired me to get up early, watch the sunrise from the sea, meditate, and give thanks to what I’ve been given in my life.  It’s a chance for me to be inspired all over again.

Trips of a lifetime don’t come very often (although I’ve set a goal to take one, once a year), but through my travels, I’ve discovered more about who I am and what I want out of my own life.  It’s a powerful, freeing feeling to be present with yourself and with those you love.  It’s even more powerful to expand your mind and develop it into who you really want to be.

Here’s to a summer filled with wonderful memories, lots of sunshine, and lots of love!

Following a Dream, Getting Over a Fear

After 6 months, I decided to resume my novel writing last night.  The inspiration kicked in when I watched the following video from Heather Allison:

If you don’t have time to watch it, she blatantly tells you f*** fear.  Fear is what stands in the way of us accomplishing some of the biggest things in our lives.  She is absolutely right.  For me, that fear was not finding the time to write, or feeling as though I wasn’t ever going to be good enough to be a published author, so what’s the point?

As internal conflict goes, there was a loud voice inside of me, telling me that I had to get the story out of me.  Published or not, it needed to happen and then from there, I could make the decision to send to an Editor, and then to a Publisher.  And so, after this video,I sat down and wrote.  I only planned on one hour and instead, I wrote for three.  The words just came to me and I’m now proud to say I’m one Prologue and three chapters in.

As I shut my laptop down for the night, I reflected back on this video and what I just accomplished.  It led me to wonder what other strong urges are inside of me that I’m ignoring.  It turns out, I ignore a lot of stuff. I have a dream to live and work in Europe, to travel the world and explore, to love someone with my whole heart, and to be a full-time writer – novel or screenwriter, or both!  They seem like huge dreams but take a look at those that have accomplished exactly what I want to do.  It is possible!

So, in the meantime, I’ve decided to start small.  Each day, asking myself what I’ve done to contribute to my dreams.  Before I know it, I will be accomplishing them!

Being Grateful for Strong Women

Sometimes, women need to stop and take a break from the world around them, to celebrate each other for no other reason than being grateful for the friendship they have with the other.  This past weekend, I was incredibly fortunate to celebrate this with new and old friends – women who are dynamic, beautiful, successful, and strong.

We oftentimes forget that women should build each other up, not tear each other down. We should remember each of us brings something incredible to the table, and we need to own it.  Boys will come and go but a bond with a “sister” can last forever.  It’s through this that we need to remember to treat each other with kindness and respect, which will, in turn, come back ten-fold in love, support, and plenty of wine!

Here’s to a fabulous summer filled with more girl time!

XOXO

Home Sweet Home

Exactly 19 days ago, I touched down in D.C. on a one-way flight from San Diego.  When the plane was safely parked at its gate, my very patient and loving dog (who had never been on a flight before) looked at me with the same look I was giving him – what on earth were we doing?

IMG_1838

Leo (the dog) and I just spent a year, living in San Diego with miles of beaches, an abundance of sunshine, and plenty of opportunity to be outside and experience both.  Yet for months, I deliberated over moving home as these wonderful things don’t replace friendships, good times, and family.

Our year out west definitely had its fair share of challenges but the immense personal growth I experienced more than made up for it, and I don’t regret the decision at all (I never would have met my furry companion otherwise).  Taking a year “off” from the east coast, made me a stronger, more self-aware person who left knowing exactly who she is and what she wants out of life.  I left DC (seemingly) angry and toxic and came back lighter, happier, and more confident than I’ve ever been.  No longer does the crazy stuff matter in fact, not much does matter in the scheme of things, so long as you’re happy.  It’s this mantra that has made my first 2 1/2 weeks utter bliss (even the moving, unpacking, and furniture assembly put a smile on my face).

Since I’ve been home, I’ve rarely had a night in, making new friends and connecting with old ones.  I’m so lucky to be back where I truly belong.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Frolicking in Flowers and Meditating in Gardens

This past Saturday, my girlfriend and I traveled up to Carlsbad and Encinatas to spend one of my last Saturdays in Southern California, visiting some of the most beautiful hidden gems along the SoCal coastline.  It was one of those much-needed peaceful days that remind you of how lucky you are to be on this Earth, as well as fortunate enough to live in a place that offers so much beauty.

Flower Fields

Our first stop was the Flower Fields in Carlsbad.  If you’re in the area, I highly suggest you go.  The acres of beautiful flowers in vibrant colors, overlooking the Pacific Ocean were just amazing.  The pictures truly speak for themselves.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meditation Garden

Our second stop was to meditate in a place that is designed to provide a zen experience in an outdoor setting.  Overlooking Swami’s, the Self Realization Meditation Gardens offer a variety of areas to meditate in.  Meditating there was a much more amazing experience than being in my own home, especially with this uninterrupted view. :-)

IMG_1647

21 Day Meditation with Deepak Chopra (Day 21): Remaining Open to Success

Note: If you missed the first two-and-a-half weeks of my meditation experience, scroll through the home page to review.

In Day 20 of the Meditation Experience, the Centering Thought is focused on opening every avenue for success.

These last three weeks have been an incredible (and indescribable) experience.  The 21-Day Meditation Experience has given me a whole new perspective on how to cope, how to expand, and how to let go.  It has allowed me to work on becoming the best of myself.  With each day that passed, I felt myself becoming stronger, more aware, and more confident.  I felt myself making choices from a better place while feeling incredibly relaxed and inspired to keep pushing on with my goals.  My meditations have taken me to places (visions) that elicit indescribable emotions and breathtaking scenery.  But more than anything else, I felt completely connected.  Each part of my being, coming together, to work in harmony.

What this experience aimed to do was to show you that success comes from every direction because your being is multi-dimensional.  We use all parts of ourselves to achieve success and when something is out of sync, it throws everything else off balance.  It’s why Deepak had us focus on our minds, our bodies and our souls, individually, before tying it all together.  We need to remember to focus on each part of ourselves every single day, to achieve what we set out to do.

It’s through this experience I have modified my daily routine, to include activities that focus on each part of my being:

  1. 20 minutes of meditation each day (mind)
  2. 30 minutes of exercise everyday – I’m super into my Squat Challenge, which has completely transformed my physique! (body)
  3. Continue to utilize the Weight Watchers app to maintain complete control of my diet for feeling my best everyday (body)
  4. 1 hour of relaxation each day to just “be” (mind and soul)
  5. At least 1 hour of writing every night (achieving tangible goal)
  6. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night (mind, body, and soul)

While my posts on meditation have come to an end, my continual need/want for growth, to help achieve my goals and become the best me I can be, will never stop.

For those of you who continued to read my posts (or even glanced at one or two), thank you so much for taking interest.  I hope it at least served as a form of inspiration to continue to achieve/pursue your dreams and become the best YOU there can be!

Namaste

21 Day Meditation with Deepak Chopra (Day 20): Being proud of your uniqueness

Note: If you missed the first two-and-a-half weeks of my meditation experience, scroll through the home page to review.

In Day 20 of the Meditation Experience, the Centering Thought is focused on valuing your uniqueness and rejoicing in it.

Imagine living in a world where everyone was the same – everyone had the same thoughts, agreed on the same conclusions, dressed in the same style, and had the same taste in pretty much anything aesthetically pleasing.  When I think of this, I think of everyone wearing white, living in all white abodes, nodding at each other.  Now imagine one person, standing in the middle of this, wearing a bright color, such as red.  They are dancing by themselves, completely bucking all conformity, knowing that one day, someone else will break from the norm and follow suit.

Let’s apply this concept to the real world.  Think about inventions you were reluctant to buy or use because you were “unsure” they would have staying power, that perhaps they were just a fad.  Think of CEOs you have heard of, that people mocked because their idea would never take off.  Think about your own experiences where it seems all forces were against you but you pushed forward on your own agenda anyway.  Uniqueness is what makes civilization evolve and those that push evolution – either in thinking or creating – are the catalysts to this.  They are proud they are different and they don’t care what other people think – they are passionate about what they do and they know that the world will embrace it soon enough.

We oftentimes limit ourselves in thinking outside of the box because there are many people in this world who do not embrace change and it’s often voiced loud and clear.  While this might very well be too much of a generalization, think about someone who told you, you couldn’t do something or that the idea you had was a bad idea.  Yet, you knew it would probably do more good than harm if it was implemented.  Did you really think there was potential for it truly being a bad idea or did you get the sense that the other person might have found it to be too much of a change for them, causing slight chaos in their own world or, maybe it was just more work they didn’t want to do?  It’s at this point that the majority of people would dismiss their idea and agree with the “negative” party and instead, would go about their day, doing what is expected of them.  It’s then that they have accepted that being unique is a hindrance to life and thus, they stop evolving.  The trick to getting past it?  Confidence and passion.

I’ve found that the older I’ve gotten, the more CONFIDENT I am in my abilities and intelligence.  It also helps that I work in an industry where they EXPECT creativity and unique skill sets and for me, that drives my PASSION for what I do.  But in order for me to get there, it was a process.  It was a process of both self-discovery and team work.

I worked for Microsoft for a long time as a Marketing Manager.  It wasn’t the type of environment (at least in the department I was in) that encouraged creativity.  Even when I left and started my own company, I still limited myself to what I offered as services, based on my experience in the corporate world. It wasn’t until I became the Director of Marketing for a luxury mall that I realized I never had a chance to even attempt to tap into my unique and creative potential.  In this job, it was expected.  The more I was encouraged to do this, the more it infiltrated every part of my life.  I found my own “eye” for creativity in everything I did and certainly, my own sense of style became a trademark.  The more this was encouraged, the more confident I became.  It opened the door for opportunities both in the fashion and technology worlds, often bridging the two.  The more this evolved, the more I started coming up with new concepts and working on new projects with people who had similar experiences in the corporate world (before they’d spin off on their own or onto more creative ventures).  They were unique souls who believed in disrupting antiquated processes and often banded together to make it happen.  The more I met these like-minded individuals, the more inspiration I acquired to push myself even further, and the more I realized that uniqueness was highly embraced in today’s work world.

Today, I am incredibly proud of the unique person I’ve become. It’s because of my confidence that my creativity is at an all-time high and when surrounded by the right people, has made a huge difference in my success.  I’m proud of the fact that I stand out in all aspects of my life and no longer feel like I need to conform to what “should” be in this world.  I know that I am making a unique difference and that is one of the best feelings in the world.

Namaste

21 Day Meditation with Deepak Chopra (Day 19): Saying goodbye to judgmental personalities

Note: If you missed the first two-and-a-half weeks of my meditation experience, scroll through the home page to review.

In Day 19 of the Meditation Experience, the Centering Thought is focused on finding your success without judging others or yourself.

If you live in a major city (or really anywhere) you know that there is an ABUNDANCE of judgmental people in seemingly every direction.  Judgment might be passed in the form of picking apart someone’s outfit; or it might come in the form of “attacking” someone’s character, based on a brief conversation (or no conversation at all); or it might come in the form of listening to someone else incessantly rant about anything and everything.  Regardless of the nature, being judgmental is one of the biggest personality “addictions” there is (next to narcissism – which can often go hand-in-hand).  Why do I call it an addiction?  Because the more someone falls into this trap of negatively opining on things, the more comfortable it gets.  To some, being judgmental is such an integral part of their life that they don’t know how else to communicate.

Think about someone you know that judges (what seems like) everything.  How do you feel when you’re around them?  Is it uplifting to hear their words or do you feel drained, silently waiting until you can move on with your the day?  Do you feel yourself beginning to judge as well?  Do you feel like you can’t trust them?

What if you’re the one judging others?  Do you feel comfortable or uncomfortable after you have verbally judged someone else?  How does everyone react when you do it? Do they just nod their head or give you a one word acceptance, or do they launch into a negative conversation on it?  Have you lost friends because of your attitude?

Unfortunately, being judgmental of others is so common (especially with social media being a daily part of our lives) that we find coping mechanisms to be able to allow this type of personality into our lives – whether we’re the ones doing the judging or not.

So what is the usual cause of this?  The answer: Insecurity.  We all have insecurities but it’s in how we deal with them that separates those that judge and those that do not. I can give numerous examples of those that project their insecurities onto others in the form of judgmental statements.  They often do it to lift themselves up (that song “Selfie” by the Chainsmokers was unfortunately very accurate) because they’ve found a “strength” in someone else that they currently don’t possess themselves.  For example (and this is VERY common where I’m from): A girl and her girlfriends go to a club.  They see another group of girls and immediately, it’s a huddle to attack the other group.  Usually, there’s a “leader” that begins the attacks.  She’s upset because the other group of girls is thinner, is dating (what she considers) the “right” men, are prettier, and basically just seem intimidating (or bitchy as she would call it).  Instead of getting to know that group of girls and realizing that everyone is human, the first group feels like their night is ruined so they keep on drinking and having a marginal time, while continuing to judge (and blame) the other group.  They don’t feel like the queens of the club and internally, they start listing out everything that doesn’t make them “the best”.

Now think about the other group… and I’ll use me as an example:  I know I’m not a “10” to everyone.  I know I have flaws.  Sure, there are things I can do about some of it (and have) and others are just genetics (I can’t make myself naturally taller or naturally have less freckly skin).  I’ve accepted what I can’t change and instead, have projected confidence to others on what I can offer.  Confidence is sexy, period.  You don’t need to take a million selfies to gain acceptance.  Understanding and accepting your insecurities, changes the view of the world around you.  Instead of judging others to build yourself up, you’re paying compliments left and right to build THEM up.  You’re interested in getting to know anyone and everyone for who they are and in turn, they want to get to know you.  A light inside of you comes out and people see it.  They can trust you and they want to be around you.  It’s hard to put into practice at first but super easy after that.

So how do YOU get this into a practice?  First thing’s first: List out your insecurities.  What’s bothering you?  Complain to a journal and when you feel like you’ve gotten everything out, read the list.  See how you feel.  Did you end up complaining about others in this list? If so, ask yourself if it’s directly related to something you’re insecure about and then write that down.

List out those insecurities you know you can work on and those you can’t change (physical genetics).  Start to put goals around the ones you need to work on – aim for 1 or 2 at a time.  Perhaps the goal is to say something positive to someone else at least once a day; or perhaps turning what is usually a negative in your life, into a positive.  For example, instead of freaking out at work that you’re a horrible employee that can’t do anything right, simply because you got feedback on a PowerPoint you developed; appreciate the fact that someone took the time to review it and help YOU become better at your job.   This positivity can become infectious and before you know it, your confidence is back!

The following personal saying I constructed (and adopted) a long time ago: “I never judge anyone for who they are because I, myself, am no saint.  However, if they harm me in some way, I don’t give it another thought – I just move on and let go because it’s clear they have things they need to deal with and I won’t participate in that.”  This statement is not selfish and it’s not rude- it’s honest.  It allows you to freely move onwards and upwards without risk of being dragged back down into what you have worked so hard to get away from.  Be a shining example for others.  Be honest with yourself.  Be successful in becoming YOU.

Namaste

21 Day Meditation with Deepak Chopra (Day 18): Learning to “Let it go”

Note: If you missed the first two weeks of my meditation experience, scroll through the home page to review.

In Day 18 of the Meditation Experience, the Centering Thought is focused on always being in the flow.  In the type of fast-paced society we live in, where “now” is everything, it’s hard to let go and just “be”.   We’re programmed to please others, to succeed at things in life, to live in fear of judgment, and to control the world around us so that we feel just a bit safer/confident.  Living in that fear prevents us from being truly successful at anything we want to do.  While some use fear to drive them forward as a sort of motivation, it “destroys” many others’ paths to growth.  It’s why you will hear certain people say “let it go”.

Like the majority of the population today, I had a super hard time with “letting go” for a long time.  Letting go meant doing something risky that I wasn’t willing to take the risk on (even though I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life).  It usually meant trying to hold onto the instant gratification (usually peace) of something in the short term, versus what was better in the long term (permanent peace).  Like Deepak said, when we don’t trust, control takes over.

Over the last six months or so, it’s something I’ve been really trying to work on.  Through almost all of my previous posts during this experience, the pattern developing has really centered around control and how to let go of it, to embrace every aspect of the success process: Letting go during the creative process, letting go and taking risks, letting go and embracing meditation, letting go to let others fail, etc.  It certainly has restored a level of inner peace and balance I’ve not quite found before because I’m no longer worried about anything other than myself.

So how does one get there?  First, I’m not saying to drop everything and let the universe handle it. There are certain decisions in life that require brain power and control.  For example, if you want to lose weight, the universe isn’t going to do it for you.  Usually you have to exert some control over what you are eating and how much you are exercising :-)  Think about your decisions that were harder to make in life – the ones that put you at a crossroad for days, not seconds.  When you have one, think about every possible combination of problem solving you tried, to help make that decision.  If every method you have tried has failed to produce a decision, it’s when you know it’s time to let it go, to stop thinking about it (which is super hard), and watch as the answer comes to you (in sometimes the most unusual of ways).

Taking a step back and letting the universe step in not only removes the fear, doubt, uncertainty, and stress; it also allows for more expansive thinking, learning opportunities, and self improvement.  It allows us to focus only on our being, reducing our worry of others, as well as boosting our confidence.  It allows us to achieve the level of success in our lives we set out for ourselves.

At risk of sounding like a Disney Soundtrack (sorry to those I put that song BACK in your heads), I’ll leave everyone with this.  Take a deep breath, let go, and let the universe be the boss :-)

Namaste

21 Day Meditation with Deepak Chopra (Day 17): Learning to take risks to create possibility

Note: If you missed the first two weeks of my meditation experience, scroll through the home page to review.

In Day 17 of the Meditation Experience, the Centering Thought is focused on turning unpredictability into creative possibility.

Some have a fear of the unknown.  They want to control every aspect of their life to minimize any potential chaos that can occur.  Some have a fear of being let down, as perhaps they used to get high expectations on things that were promised but were never delivered on, resulting in disappointment.  Those that live in the fear of the unknown have a hard time accepting the true life that is waiting for them.  They live by checking boxes, not collecting stories.  They live in a “safe zone” that doesn’t allow them the freedom to “soar” until “it’s too late” (or so I’ve heard some say).  I always say, “I was given one life to live and I’m gonna live it wisely… by not living by rules all the time!”

You ask anyone that knows me, I’m not a rule follower, I never play it safe, and I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life.  Sure, I’ve had failures and disappointments along the way but I like being free.  More often than not, people tell me that they live “vicariously through me” because they could never do/experience some of the things I do.  I’ve picked up and moved to Seattle, I’ve picked up and moved to San Diego (twice!), I’ve left my corporate job to start my own company, I’ve invested in an app company that (unfortunately) didn’t pan out, I’ve taken gambles on startups, and I’ve pushed my own physical/mental boundaries by trying new things (no matter how nervous I was before it). This grew into pushing people to think differently on how to do things; motivating others to think freely; and accepting opportunities I might otherwise be too afraid to say yes to.  While not all of it was roses, these are some of my greatest achievements in life.  I’m proud to say, I am a disruptor and I embrace chaos.

I remember in the 80s and the first half of the 90s (before the dot.com era came to fruition), people did live in a “safer” world.  People went to their jobs and they came home from their jobs.  The majority of the population was married in their early 20s, taking a safe job that provided steady pay, came home at night for dinner and lived a balance life.  This was the “thing” that society said you were supposed to do.  In my own career, I had a hard time conforming.  People called me ungrounded and unsure of my path in life.  I was looked at as a liability because I wanted to make dramatic shifts in how things were done, opting for a less rigid work environment where instead, people were free to think and contribute.  I wanted to be an ideas person because I could see the larger picture and connect the dots on how to get to the end goal.

With the launch of the internet, and in the next 15 years or so, younger generations were more on my level of thinking, leaving the older generations even more afraid of embracing creativity through chaos.  Those safe processes that people conformed to were giving way (quite rapidly) to a million ways to do things with less structure behind it.  These older generations weren’t attempting to embrace the unknown – they were pushing back or worse, retreating completely.  And, as the years continue to fly by, chaos is becoming the new norm, just as is creative, rapid response.

Take a look at any innovative person who is a titan in their industry – each one of them persevered for the sake of their passion to get where they are today: by breaking rules, disrupting process, and thinking “outside the lines”.  (Almost all of them also meditate!)  While some have also been successful at playing it safe, the stories aren’t as numerous and aren’t as inspirational (it’s also not where society has been heading).

While this meditation didn’t really apply to me, it was nice to have an entirely new mental image pop into my head during it – watching myself meditate on the edge of an extremely tall cliff, over-looking a waterfall.  These images are symbolic to me and the fact that it came so easily, tells me that I already do embrace how to turn that “unknown” and “fear”  into creativity.  So how do I do it?  Well, aside from having always been like this, I also try to look at everyday as a “Christmas surprise”.  I wake up everyday, excited to see what today will look like.  Every minute of my life changes from the next and embracing that has been the best thing I have ever done.

For those that feel as though this is an impossible task, I suggest you take today’s meditation to help begin the process of allowing yourself a bit more freedom.  I also suggest you network or go out and meet people who think more freely – push the boundaries with just this step.  They are an incredible source of inspiration that will leave you feeling enlightened and empowered. Before you know it, you’ll be turning “I can’t(s)” into “I can(s)”.

Namaste