07/28/14 10:00pm

Joy as an Every Day Choice

WP_20140630_001Joy as an Every Day Choice
by BlackLion

I know that folks won’t always heed the advice of following their calling and creating a life that is worth living. Sure, we all have reasons not to follow our instincts and create. Work, kids, sleep… we all have things we prefer to do when inspiration hasn’t been calling.

Yet when it does, we are transformed into creative genii, scampering with yarn, needle, drum, voice, or hoe to fulfill our ingenious desires. When we are truly focused on our calling, joy is as easy as our next moment. When we create, we are allowing our spiritual acumen to shine forth onto the mundane of our normal lives.

When we forgo our routine and step into our passionate creativity, we become these amazing beings of enlightened ability. We become these nymphs of joy and spreaders of love. Transformation of raw materials: ink, paper, and seed; becomes these amazing mosaics of our imagination. When you choose to focus on your most creative spark, you become the purveyor of wondrous things.

Why not choose to focus more on what brings you a better feeling thought, than one that brings you down? Are you noble in sacrifice of your own desire, or are you an equal among all who seek to better themselves in every fashion that is most compelling?

It’s okay to spend time being contemplative, focusing on your spiritual connection. When you are fully yourself, whatever you bring to the table for your next encounters will surely be beneficial to all involved. Taking your circumstances and intentions into consideration is an essential tool for intentional transformation.

07/23/14 8:40am

To Increase Your Joy, Do What You Love

Starcat and BlackLion strawsTo Increase Your Joy, Do What You Love
by Starcat

One of the best ways to ramp up your joy is to do what you love. Period. End of story.

If you’re like me, you probably already have a whole bunch of reasons popping up in your mind why you can’t possibly do that. The ego loves to doubt and second-guess.

But life is too short for excuses. There’s no real reason why you shouldn’t do the things you love, despite your circumstances. You’ve read the inspiring stories of how people born into extremely harsh conditions – homelessness, lack of limbs, severe physical abuse – have overcome these tough challenges and lived their dreams. If they can do it, so can you!

Sure, it will take practice, dedication, and perseverance. But doing what you love is so packed full of rewards, ones that are received in the moment. The bliss that arises when you’re doing something meaningful and fun to you will make all the challenges worthwhile.

OK, so, you’re in? Great! Now let’s address a few of the most common reasons why you’re not already doing those things that call to you.

No time. You’re busy. Seriously. Between work, care-giving (kids, partner, parents, pets), housework, errands, volunteering in the community, when is there time to do something just for you? The main answer to this is that you’ll be much more productive and able to give of your best self when you devote time to doing what you love. As for the logistics? Give up something else to create time for your passions. Watch less TV, skip reading the news, take a break from Facebook, ask for help with the housework. You can create just one hour a week for doing what you love, and that’s a great start.

Lack of resources. What if the thing you love doing costs money? Like, say, horseback riding, or making pottery. Or perhaps your job takes up most of your energy, and you need it to pay the bills. Years ago I read a book called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar. The book’s title phrase really stuck with me, and while creating an entire career from your passions can be more complex than we have space for here, the concept holds. Chances are there is something you can do that generates the resources you need to pursue your passions. You could volunteer to groom horses and muck out stables in return for riding lessons. Sell a few of your homemade vases to friends and family, then use the money to buy more supplies. Use your imagination! As for your day job eating up your time and energy, refer to the previous paragraph. There’s sure to be something in your schedule that can shift just a bit.

Fear of failure. Modern society has trained us to be afraid of failure. We don’t want to look bad in front of other people, so we play small and stay safe. But failure is a part of learning! Think about babies when they learn to walk. If they fell a couple times, then just gave up, we’d all still be crawling around on our hands and knees. When we fail, we learn lessons that we can apply on our next attempt. Let go of that fear of failing and go for it!

Not sure what you love to do. This is the best possible objection. It means you get to enjoy playing around and discovering fun new things! Make a list of everything you think you might enjoy but haven’t tried yet. Knitting, salsa dancing, playing the trombone, building a tree house, running a marathon, writing a novel about werewolves, whatever sounds like fun. Now start trying some of them! If you like being prepared, do your research first. Or just leap in and see what happens. Have fun!




07/21/14 1:30pm

A Vacation from the Ordinary

fd140721vacationfromordinaryA Vacation from the Ordinary
by BlackLion

Whether you are taking a family vacation to an exotic location, camping in the mountains, or simply taking yourself out on a date, remember that wherever you go, you still bring yourself with you. What better feeling than to release yourself from your own limitations? Instead of doing the same things you do at home, like watching TV or puttering around, go find a drum circle and dance or take a leisurely walk in the sunshine, exploring as you go.

It is essential to transform yourself, starting from within. Allow the new scenery to spark creativity and adventure. You can only know what your beliefs let you experience, so being in a new locale will aid in the diffusion of those barriers. Snorkel, swim, or hike to keep your body moving and refresh your senses.

Summer is the time to explore and find new ways of experiencing this magnificent and amazing world. In what ways do you enjoy getting out of your shell and blossoming? As you discover new ways of being and interacting with the world, you’ll enhance the joy in your life. Be thankful for where you are now and you can bring this energy back with you to your daily life.

When you return home, you’ll see the way things have been in a different light. Perhaps add yoga into your daily practice, or go on walks to places that are familiar or to a nearby place you haven’t been before. The sense of adventure from your vacation can be carried within you from now moving forward. This excitement and view that life really is an adventure will enliven and enhance your daily experience. Enjoy!

07/16/14 8:59pm

How to Enjoy Your Summer and Still Get Things Done

Enjoy!Way back at the beginning of the year, when my corner of the world was still covered in ice and snow, I chose my Word of the Year for 2014. It is the word ENJOY. Now, in the height of summer, I’m checking in to see how well I’m following my own goal of enjoying life.

It seems a little bit easier when the weather is nice and the world is in full bloom.

Still, I don’t know about you, but sometimes there seems to be a disconnect between the tasks I’m facing each day and the concept of enjoying. When your monkey mind takes over and presents you with a list of things that have to be done – you know, work – it can be easy to get all serious as you get productive. But why shouldn’t you also enjoy the things you are doing as part of your day?

Summer is thought of as a time of leisure, when you can unwind at last and enjoy things like swimming, hiking, picnics, getting out onto the water in a boat or kayak, and just plain relaxing in the sun and shade and warm breezes. Weekends are precious and often spent with family and friends at celebrations and gatherings of many different types. When you’re indoors working on a project, your mind might drift to those times. It’s easy to get distracted by wishing it was playtime.

Instead, how about making your work feel like play? How about enjoying yourself no matter what you’re up to?

It’s easier than it sounds. Our enjoyment of life is mostly in our own inner attitude. We’re trained ourselves to equate fun with not having any responsibilities. Or, in the Puritan work-ethic mindset, fun is what we we’re rewarded with when (and only when) we’ve done all the things on our list.

But those are just beliefs, and beliefs can be changed.

The technique I’ve been using lately, and which I’ve found to be incredibly helpful, is to relax into whatever I’m doing. It goes deeper than just releasing physical tension, although that’s certainly a part of it. You know that feeling of inner tension when you’re rushing to get somewhere on time, or making sure you’ve brought everything you need when you leave the house? It’s stress, and it’s easy to let it become a default attitude.

It’s not as hard as you think to release it, though. Here, give it a try:

Imagine your inner stress or tension is a mask or garment that you’ve put on, and then envision yourself taking it off. Take a deep breath and release the physical tension that can build up in your body. Roll your shoulders back a few times, shake out your arms and legs, and relax your face. Think of a soft kitten purring or a beloved child laughing, something that brings you joy right now, in this moment. Let a gentle smile come to your face as you bask.

Not so hard at all, huh?

The key to success is to incorporate this enjoyable life practice into your everyday routine. Set up reminders for yourself on your phone or post-it notes, “Love Life Now!” and “Enjoy This Moment!,” whatever works best for you. I’ve been practicing it for a while, and now I remember to reset my attitude periodically, moving more toward joy each time.

Add a joyful attitude to your life and remember to release inner tension. You’ll find that it’s easy to enjoy your summer, and still make time for your chosen work. Enjoy!

P.S. If you share your joy on our Feline Dreamers Facebook page, you have the chance to win a book or CD!


06/24/14 6:19pm

Patience & Persistence

beachrosesPatience & Persistence
by Starcat

Are you making changes this summer to improve your wellness? Maybe you’re increasing your physical activity, choosing healthier foods to nourish your body, or focusing on getting enough sleep. No matter the changes you’re implementing, two key factors to keep in mind are patience and persistence. The changes to your body won’t happen overnight. It takes time and perseverance to establish new habits.

If you’re working on losing weight, patience is particularly important. It’s easy to get excited about dietary changes and a new exercise plan and expect the pounds to melt away quickly. Maybe you even know someone that it has happened to. If your weight changes more slowly, be patient. It might be tempting to go ahead and indulge in that gooey chocolate pudding cake, thinking that what you’ve been doing so far hasn’t made any difference. Perhaps it’s true that you need to tinker with your plan, but giving up and resorting to old habits won’t help. Make sure you’re nurturing yourself in ways that are healthy for you, so you’re not living in a space of lack. Then turn your attention away from the scales for a while, and notice other benefits to your more healthy eating habits. Do you feel better? Have more energy throughout the day? Have you fallen in love with big crunchy salads or homemade green smoothies?

Persistence is another key attribute to encourage in yourself. I’ve been doing near-daily yoga for almost three months solid now. There are still mornings when I feel weak and stiff, and wonder if my yoga practice is having any effect on my body. This morning I was feeling bored with yoga. I wanted to do something else, or just rush through the exercises without paying much attention. Rather than giving up, though, I decided to add in a few poses I hadn’t done in a while, to challenge myself and keep it interesting. I ended the session feeling strong and focused. Being persistent, especially when your new routine isn’t fully established yet, can make a world of difference.

When you want to change your sleep habits, persistence and patience both come into play. If you’re been running on empty for a long time, you’ll have a big sleep deficit that won’t go away instantly. Establish a comforting and nurturing sleep routine, and stay with it. Even when you feel like you’re not sleepy, do something relaxing, like reading or listening to peaceful, calm music.

No matter what wellness changes you’re putting into place, stick with your plan for the long haul. Sure, make adjustments as you observe your needs and challenges, but don’t skip around from diet to diet or embrace every new workout fad. The wellness you’re establishing is not made up of actions alone, but also of your attitude and willingness to let your transformation unfold over time. Many blessings on your journey!