Unselfish Sundays: The Art of Meditation

7-types-of-meditation-1040x780The first time I attempted to meditate was in a yoga class many years ago. I remember the instructor settling us down onto the mats, encouraging us to close our eyes, and then she told us to let the thoughts in our minds go.

What??? Let the thoughts in my mind go? Where were they going to go?

I laid there as still as I could, willing my brain to stop thinking about how I wasn’t supposed to be thinking. I tried to tell my brain to be quiet, to just ‘let go’, but all I could think about was that I couldn’t stop thinking. Then the questions started to arise. Who ever thought of not thinking? Were other people in the room having the same trouble as I was? Is that someone snoring in the corner? Can you believe we are all engaging in this group nap? Why is this floor so hard? And so on, and so on… Until the instructor finally put me out of my misery by chiming in that it was time to sit up. I left class that day feeling like a complete failure!

Does this sound familiar to any of you?

I think that many people have similar experiences to this and, as a result, they think that meditation is incredibly hard or a complete waste of time.

It took me a few years before I tried meditation in another form – guided meditation. In this case, the instructor had us sit up and gently guided us through a visualization. It was easy to follow and when it was done, I wanted more. The feeling of peace, contentment and relaxation was amazing, and I left with a commitment to myself to take up this practice.

I have studied different types of meditation since then, including Transcendental Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation and Zazen. All of it has a similar purpose although they all come at it in different ways. The purpose is to allow your body, mind and spirit to align. When they do, there is a feeling of one-ness, calm, peace and contentment.

There is an art to meditation, and I have reaped the benefits and rewards that it offers. Because of my experience, I strongly recommend daily meditation to my clients. The health benefits are numerous.

If meditation is something you are interested in pursuing, practicing or learning more about, then I encourage you to attend our next Unselfish Sundays workshop, The Art of Meditation. Led by Marjatta Moimas. For more details, check on our website and Facebook page.

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Unselfish Sundays: Harmonizing Your Home

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Wendy Eden, Owner of Harmonizing Your Home

This summer, my kids and I moved into a new home. One of the best parts of that move was creating the new space in a way that reflects who we are. A good friend of mine once told me that the rooms in your house will reflect where you are in a given moment of time. I agree, which is probably a good argument for updating your decor every few years or so as styles change, but also as you change.

In any case, the result of this process is what distinguishes a house from a home. Learning to create harmony in the furnishings, colors and displays of items which are joyful takes practice and patience. However, when it is achieved, it makes the home feel comfortable and inviting.

I am the first to admit that creating this harmony is a challenge for me. I struggle to allow each room to express itself, and I am impatient. I like things to be done, and I don’t always want to wait patiently for the essence of a room to speak. Selfishly, I wanted to have Wendy Eden present at one of our Unselfish Sundays events this year so that I could pick up some ideas on how to make this new house feel like a home. I also wanted her to speak because I know she will give everyone some tips that will be useful.

Wendy’s company, Harmonizing Your Home, specializes in organizing, decorating and creating good energy flow in your living spaces. She started the company in 2005 and the business has evolved and expanded over time to now offer a variety of services. Whether someone is transitioning to a new chapter of their lives because of retirement, health issues, empty nesting, divorce or death of a spouse, or just getting organized because they can’t stand another minute of the disorganization, she guides them through the process and helps them to gain a new level of harmony in their home. Services include professional organizing, senior move management, real estate staging and soon photo organizing.

If you need a new approach…If you want to learn about how to organize and harmonize your house…If you want to create a home that reflects who you really are, then join us on Sunday, November 13th from 1-2:30pm at the Kirkland Art Center in Clinton, NY. Everyone will take something useful away from this workshop.

Harmony In Your Home
Presented by Wendy Eden, Owner of Harmonizing Your Home
WHEN: November 13, 2016 1:00pm – 2:30pm
WHERE: Kirkland Art Center, 9 1/2 E Park Row, Clinton, NY 13323 – Get Directions

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Do You Think They Worried About the Wheel?

wheelTechnology has certainly changed our lives. We no longer have to lick our fingers to turn a page or even write a letter now that we can send ‘selfies.’ With the abundant use of texting, our teenagers no longer have to pass notes across the aisle and Siri has made sure we never have to ask for directions again. We can connect with someone across the world in a matter of seconds and can purchase anything we want without even getting out of our pajamas! I am also convinced that in the future, the human species will evolve to have enormous thumbs because of the amount of time we spend using them. In any case, there is no doubt that technology is changing our lives!

Although we have seen a lot of change as a result of technology, one thing that is still the same is our FEAR of change! There are endless articles written about why all of this technology is so bad for us – how it’s changing our brains and making all of us so lazy! Of course, it is human nature to worry about things, but it makes me wonder if people worried about change when they invented the wheel! At that time I imagine there were many who were concerned about how ‘bad’ this technology would be for people because it would ruin the environment and make everyone lazy!

For all the fear that we might feel, I would like to suggest the opposite – that technology is NOT BAD! Rather, it is an indicator of progress. It is the result of creativity. It is INNOVATION! As we continue to evolve, technology will evolve with us and vice versa.

In the end, I think we can all agree that technology is not going anywhere. It’s here and is going to continue to evolve and develop. We can choose to worry about it or we can choose to embrace it. If you choose to embrace it, there are some GREAT gadgets out there to try.

For now, however, let me suggest that we all stop for a moment today and appreciate the invention of the wheel! Yes it changed us, but I think it was worth it!

It’s Time to Dance

marcus-dancing-with-momEach year I set a theme to create a focus and structure for my year. For 2014, my theme was “It’s Time to Dance.” When I came up with that theme, I was thinking about many things. It was last December and I was trying to imagine what I wanted to accomplish this year. At the time, one of my main goals was to build relationships within my network. I wanted to continue to find ways to integrate services and knowledge with other holistic practitioners in our area. I wanted to explore opportunities for expanding our facility, and I wanted to continue to build the relationship I have with my 3 children. In particular, I wanted to make sure I was ‘in sync’ with Marcus who would become a senior in 2014 and will be heading off to college very soon.

In addition, I wanted to make more time to ‘play’. I heard a speaker who talked about making business a part of your life rather than making your life a small part of your business. I wanted to make sure that I was LIVING and doing things that made me joyful even when I was not at the Studio.

All of that was in my mind last December, and the word that kept popping up was “Dance”. I wanted to ‘dance’. It was playful and fun, but it also created an image of working together, being in step, creating a rhythm with others that seemed like just the right way to describe what I wanted to happen this year.

Today I sit here a year later looking back and pondering whether I accomplished what I set out to do. The answer is – YES! I created new opportunities through relationships with businesses and practitioners in the community. I have been home more frequently with the kids and able to do more with them than I had the previous years. And I played as well.

What I didn’t anticipate this year was what is happening with my mom. And perhaps that is the most poignant recognition that my theme was accurate. Many of you know that my mom was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer 2 years ago. After undergoing surgery and chemo, she was in remission for the past year. However, in October, we learned that the cancer is back and the prognosis is grim. In addition, shortly after learning this news, she had a stroke. The last couple of months have been dedicated to getting her back on her feet and moving in a way that allows her some independence.

One of the things that my parents always loved to do was dance. They both tell stories of when they were in high school and they would set the record player up on the porch of my mother’s house. My dad and other friends would come over and they would dance on that porch. I have watched my parents dance many times through the years. It makes them both so happy to be in each other’s arms, twirling, jitterbugging and doing the polka. Of course, it has always been fun to watch them as well.

Well, thanks to an inspiration from my friend, Carol Conigiliaro, when we were home over Thanksgiving, my family began to dance. It just worked out that all of us were in the same room, and when I started playing music, the kids began to dance. Eventually, my dad stood my mom up, wrapped her closely in his arms and they danced. All of us watched in wonder at this moment they never thought they would have again.

And then it was time for the boys to step in. My son, Marcus, and my two nephews, Michael and Jon Luke, both took turns dancing with my mom. What a special moment it was for ALL of us! That memory will stay with us for a long time.

My parents will celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary on December 26th. My hope is that they will have another chance to dance on that day – a celebration of a life well-lived, a heart that has given more than her share of kindness in this world, and to honor the relationship and love that my mom and dad have shared for more than 50 years!

For now, however, it’s time to start thinking about a theme for next year. I already have an idea in mind – but what about YOU? If you would like to try this idea, I strongly recommend the book, One Word that will Change Your Life, by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. It will help you focus your thoughts and idea so that you can create a very special 2015!

Love, Kelli

The Bright Spot

bright-spotsLast week I had an opportunity to see Dan Heath present on his book, “Switch: How To Change Things When Change is Hard.” I want to share one of his thoughts with you. He gave the example of a child coming home with his report card. Imagine that your child’s report card reads like this: B, C, B, A, B, F, B. Which one of those grades are you most likely to focus on? You’re right – the F! We want to find out what went wrong. Why is he failing in that one subject? What is the problem and how can we fix that? And that’s typically how we handle issues in our lives and in our businesses. We tend to focus on the problem and try and find a solution. Dan’s suggestion is that rather than primarily focusing on what went wrong, when we’re stuck on a problem and we want ot move forward, he suggests focusing on the bright spots In that report card there was also an A. In one of those subjects that child is doing very well. Dan suggests taking time to focus on what he/she is doing well, and then continue doing more of it.

I love that thought. Sometimes we get paralyzed by the analysis of a problem. We don’t know where to move. It’s in those moments that we can focus on the bright spots, do more of what’s going well and consequently, move forward.

All the Energy You Need…And Then Some

boulderLast week I had a tough night sleep. You know the nights where no matter what position you find yourself in, it just doesn’t seem comfortable? My first session began at 5:30 am, and so the few hours I managed to spend in bed didn’t really add up to much energy in the morning. However, as soon as the first clients came in the door, my energy shot way up and we had a great session.

Has this ever happened to you?

And have you ever wondered why you are able to go from such low energy to such high energy in a matter of minutes?

My answer is that energy can come from two sources – Willpower and Purpose.

Willpower requires sheer determination. It requires that you put your head down and gut it out. Willpower allows us to achieve many things. With enough of it, we can reach a goal and feel successful. However, willpower requires an inordinate amount of energy. It is like pushing a boulder uphill. Can it be done? Absolutely! But how much effort, force and energy does it take to get there?

We can take that a step further and say that willpower is the reason that many people begin and then fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions. They start off with a high level of energy and commitment toward their goal. The first few weeks they are ‘all in’, but as the proverbial ‘boulder’ gets heavy, their energy starts to wane. It becomes harder to push and eventually they give up and go back to their old ways.

Ultimately, willpower is an inefficient method of reaching a goal because it requires such a high amount of energy to maintain. It will take us a certain amount of the way, but if we really want to use our energy efficiently, we have to look toward Purpose.

Like willpower, Purpose can help us achieve many things. It can lead us to our goals and make us feel successful. The difference is that purpose requires little to no effort. Purpose means aligning with your passion and doing the thing you love to do. Purpose also requires an understanding that the reason you are doing something exists somewhere outside of you. Purpose gives us meaning, and when we tap into that inner drive it requires a significantly smaller amount of energy output on our part.

In comparison to pushing a boulder uphill with willpower, purpose is like a having a winch hauling the boulder up the hill. The winch is our purpose, and when it’s connected, all we need to do is gently guide the boulder as the winch does the work. Purpose requires little effort or output of energy and propels you quickly and easily toward your goal.
Connecting back to New Year’s Resolutions, you can probably think of examples where those who have a Purpose stay with it. If someone wants to be healthy so they can see their grandchildren grow, they will be more likely to lose the weight and keep it off. If someone wants to exercise more regularly so they can spend more time doing activities with their spouse, it will be easier for them to stay on track.

Bringing this back to you — just ask yourself the question:

Do you want more ENERGY?

Then connect with your Purpose. Find your WHY! Align with the inner drive that creates the meaning in your life. When you do, you will have all the energy you need….and then some!

It is about BREAST CANCER!!

I don’t often have the reaction that I am going to share with you today. Most of the time I am easy-going and can ‘roll with the punches’ that come. However, I cannot keep my mouth shut on this issue because it is really bothering me!

This week I saw SEVERAL (not just ONE) people posting about fitness events they are hosting to help support BREAST CANCER. I LOVE that people are onboard with raising funds for research and to help those who have been afflicted by this terrible disease. I LOVE that people are hosting events to help raise awareness and to give support to people and families who have been impacted by breast cancer. What I CAN’T STAND is that they are diminishing it by titling their programs “Burpees for Boobies” or “Barbells for Boobs” or any other combination of words like that! Honestly, even as I write those words I have a visceral reaction to them. Those words are so offensive!

I have thought about this for a few days before responding because I want my words to be heard. BREAST CANCER is a SERIOUS disease. This year alone, more than 230,000 people will find out they have it. In fact, it affects 1 in 8 women, and is the 2nd leading cause of death in the female population! It doesn’t just impact women, however. More than 2300 men will be diagnosed with it this year as well. I will guess that almost every one of you reading this has been affected by this disease because you have had it or know someone who has. That is SERIOUS!

And yet, as a culture, we are diminishing and degrading the problem by using a word that is infantile at best and derogatory at the worst. The word, ‘boob’ or ‘boobies’ is demeaning! It is a way of describing a body part that is silly and ridiculous. It has NOTHING to do with breast cancer, and using that word diminishes the suffering and anguish that those with this illness experience.

Words are POWERFUL. The way we say something and the vocabulary we use makes a difference in the way the message is received. We are talking about BREAST CANCER, not about boobs! There is a SIGNIFICANT difference between the two!

Think about it — if we wanted to do “Dips for Dicks” to raise funds for testicular cancer, would there be an outcry? What about “Crunches for Cocks?”

The truth is that it wouldn’t happen! No one would stand for it because it is NOT OKAY to use those words! So why, then, is it okay to use “boobies?”

As I was thinking about writing this blog, I decided to ask some of the women I know about how they feel about this word and how it is being used to help raise awareness of about the disease of breast cancer. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN I spoke with said that they feel completely offended by this trend. They talked about the “I love boobies” bracelets that are being sold by organizations and companies. Although the underlying purpose is to raise money and awareness, the message is skewed. We use the word, “boobies” to make fun of a body part. We use the word ‘boob’ to laugh at someone or some thing. In many cases, they are simply marketing ploys that have NOTHING TO DO WITH BREAST CANCER!!

I could make a strong feminist case for this if I wanted to continue here. I could talk about how we have made so many strides forward in our country to make sure that women are taken seriously and seen as worthwhile individuals. I could argue that women are not just the sum of their body parts. But what I really want to do is raise YOUR awareness so that you begin to question the practice – to help YOU understand that words are important and consider that just because it’s happening doesn’t mean that it’s okay- and ultimately, I hope I make YOU think twice before using those words again.

breast-cancerIf you have comments about this, or want to raise your voice along with me or against me, please feel free to comment below.

Lessons From My Puppy

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Even at 10 months old, my dog, Cody,  is a creature of habit. Every day we take a morning stroll up the street. Every day he walks up the left side of the street and comes down on the right. Every day he goes the bathroom in the same yard and we come back home to get his breakfast which he sits and waits for expectantly.  In the afternoon we take another walk – this time to the park. He knows we are going even before I tell him, and he waits patiently for me at the back door. When you think about it, it’s really incredible that he has established these routines and patterns at such a young age.

Then again, maybe it isn’t.

We are all creatures of habit. We all have established routines that we conduct every day. Think about the way you brush your teeth, the route you take to work or the way you get your table set for dinner. We have created patterns and rituals that help us get things done more efficiently and once they are ingrained in our mind, we don’t even think about them. We just do them.

The habits we have created tell alot about the kind of person we are, and also help to determine whether we are successful in our endeavors….or not. Successful people have different daily rituals than those who are not. Productive people have different daily rituals than those who are not. People who are content and happy in their lives have a different set of daily rituals than those who do not.

Consider the daily habits of a person who is overweight and unhealthy, for example. Don’t you think they have a different set of daily behaviors than someone who is fit, healthy and active?

This morning Cody reminded me of the importance of creating and maintaining daily rituals that allow you to live the life you want to lead. Let me share with you some of my best practices right now:

1. Meditate for 10-15 minutes every morning.

2.Spend 10-15 minutes stretching in the morning.

3. Write in my journal for 10-15 minutes a day (right now that is a gratitude journal)

4. Exercise for 30-45 minutes every day.

5. Have 1 hour of time in the evening where the kids and I turn off our phones.

6. Spend focused time with each of my 3 kids helping them with homework and talking with them each night.

7. Walk and play with my dog every morning and afternoon.

8. Get my work done in 25 minute segments to help me keep focused and on task.

These are some of my current best practices. What are yours?  Feel free to share them in the comments below.

In the meantime, I am going to go and hug Cody and thank him for being my inspiration today! 🙂

Little Things Matter

little-things-matterLast week I was in San Diego at a Mentorship Program hosted by Todd Durkin. Approximately 70 fitness professionals gathered from all over the world to learn about themselves, about their business and about life. As I left the conference, I was struck by the thought that ‘little things matter’. I had opportunities over the weekend where I noticed that something as small as buying someone a cup of coffee, taking time to listen and really focus on someone or simply giving someone a hug have made a difference. I am encouraging each of you to do some little things this week. Impact as many people as you can by doing small things, and watch what a difference it makes.

80% Off Course

In an article I read this week by Chris Trout*, he shares an interesting statistic that “a jet flying from New York to LA is off course 80% of the time.” Think about that – as you fly across the country, you could be off course 80% of the flight, and yet, still make it to your destination. Now Shawn, as an air traffic controller, can speak to that statistic better than me, but it still got me thinking.

What if that same statistic applies to us? Is it possible for us to be off track the majority of the time and still make it to our end goal?

I think so, and I want to share an interesting analogy in order to demonstrate my point.

My nephew joined the Children’s Choir at his church. Rehearsals are at 7pm on Sunday evenings. My sister KNOWS, without a doubt, that he will be in his seat in the front pew at 7pm on Sunday night, ready for rehearsal to begin. What she doesn’t know is HOW he is going to get there. He might choose to come in the back door, race down the center aisle and skid into the front pew just in time. Another possibility is that he walks in the side door, pauses to get a drink of water in the fountain, and saunters into the sanctuary with plenty of time to spare. There are endless choices that he might make including crawling under the pews, chatting with his friends or stopping to read the quotes on the stained glass windows. However, no matter which way he chooses, he will still be in the front pew at 7pm. In fact, the only way he won’t be in that pew on time is if he chooses to stand still and do nothing.

What’s important is that it really doesn’t matter which way he chooses to go. In fact, most of his choices – perhaps 80% of them – will even lead him temporarily off the course. However, as long as he moves, he will eventually reach his goal. As long as he makes a choice to walk forward, he will be presented with opportunities that will help him get there. He will also have experiences that will help him along the way.

The same is true of us. As we strive to create businesses, design websites and brochures, or decide upon our career paths, it doesn’t really matter HOW we get there. What matters is that we know WHAT we are trying to achieve. As long as we are clear about WHAT we want, we can begin to move forward, make choices, take action and slowly make our way there. Some of those choices will turn us off course. Some of those decisions and action steps will temporarily turn us in a different direction. But, with constant progress and small adjustments along the way, we will all reach our goals.

Based on some of the threads and the phone conversation last week, I wanted to share this thought today. When you are very clear about where you’re going, you can make choices that move you forward. Even if your decision throws you off course for a moment, you will still get to your goal if you keep your sights on it. And along the way, you will enjoy new opportunities and many experiences that will make the journey rewarding as well.

Your ‘front pew’ is waiting, so start walking!

And that’s just a thought…

Love, Kelli

*Chris Trout, “Are You Blocking Your Own Clarity,” http://www.strengthsinfocus.com/2012/01/are-you-blocking-your-own-clarity/