The Magic of Margin

Are you constantly on the run? Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and don’t have time to do the things that truly matter to you? Do you find yourself spending less and less time with friends and family and more time at the job or doing other activities? Breaking commitments and feeling bad afterwords? If so, you’re not alone. A recent experience with a long-time high school friend demonstrated the need for a solution to this dilemma.

Some weeks can be particularly stressful and this had been one of them. I was so looking forward to getting together with a girlfriend. We had made plans about a month ago to get together to hear one of our favorite country bands at a nearby shopping mall. The week before I had an idea.

“Hey, girlfriend. Would you like to get together for dinner on Friday before the concert?”

“Hmmmm. Not sure if I will be able to make dinner. I’m driving some friends to Pennsylvania that day and it could be a long day. Ok if I let you know by 2 or 2:30 when I see how things are going?”

“Sure,” I said, knowing full well there was no way she was going to make dinner if she was going on an all day trip to PA. I felt a twinge of disappointment as we both enjoy this pizza place and we hadn’t been for quite a while, but I brushed it off and decided to look forward to the concert.

Long story short, my friend never made it to the concert. She was, understandably so, too exhausted from the day’s trip.

Now please understand, I am writing from experience. I, too, have tried to do too much in the past until I learned about this one concept that fixed the problem once and for all. It’s called Margin.

If you invest in the stock market or remember writing essays back in school, you know what I’m talking about, but in case you don’t here’s a basic explanation. Margin means ‘leaving space’. It’s a simple concept but it has huge implications.

Just as it is important to leave space on the written page, and space for the price of a stock to fall before you decide to buy it, it is even more important to leave space in our schedules between activities.  Things always take more time and more energy than we usually anticipate, especially since none of us is getting any younger. But how exactly does one build margin into one’s life?

Two keys I’ve learned: 

1) practice saying that two-letter word “NO”
2) prioritize your activities, friendships, and commitments

We cannot say “Yes” to everything and everybody. Time is a gift to be treasured, not squandered. Scripture exhorts us to “let your yes be yes and your no be no”, (Matthew 5:37). When we are clear on what we want to say “yes” to, it will be easier to say “no” to things that matter less. Stephen Covey has a whole series on this topic entitled “First Things First” if you want to read more about it.

Until next time, practice building margin into your days. Then write and share with me how it has helped you feel more relaxed, more at peace, and more fulfilled than ever before and remember – keep looking up!

3 Steps to a Deeper Relationship with God

Do you sometimes feel disconnected from others? Unloved? Alone? If so, you’re not alone. We all struggle with these same feelings and doubts. We go through periods of time when we feel like everyone has deserted us and we are left paddling the streams of life all by ourselves. It is in these times that it is even more important to turn inward and to turn to God. Sometimes God allows these dry periods so we can come into a more intimate relationship with Him. We may not know exactly how to go about it so today I am going to share three steps to developing a closer relationship with God. An interesting question over the weekend precipitated this post.

I was at a good friend’s wedding having dinner, when a gentleman shared that he had read my book, “The Power of Faith”. He said he wished he had the same type of faith to get through the trials in his life and asked me if I thought if it was possible for anyone to develop a strong faith.

“Absolutely”, I replied without a moment’s hesitation.

In fact, God promises us this: “You will seek and find me when you search for me with all your heart,” (Jer. 29:13). Just as healthy earthly parents want a good relationship with their kids, so our heavenly Father wants a close relationship with us. In the same way, if we want an intimate close relationship with another person we must be intentional about it.

“Well, how do you do that?” my typically shy and reserved friend inquired.

Now I know, many of us are stuck in this sensory world we live in. If we can’t see, feel, hear, touch, or smell it, we don’t believe it exists. God does exist only in another reality – the spiritual realm and we just have to get comfortable operating in this realm as well. The good news is the same steps we take when we are serious about getting to know someone are the same steps we can use in developing a relationship with God.

1. Have an open heart and an open mind.

In other words, we have to believe in our heart that it is possible to have a deeper relationship with God, that He does love you, and wants to have a relationship with you. God wants to connect with us, just as much as the spiritual part of us wants to connect with Him. Once we let this truth permeate our minds, we open the doors for an amazing adventure.

2. Spend more time together.

Getting to know God is much the same as getting to know another person. When we make it a priority to spend time with someone, we get to know them at a deeper level. We come to know who they are, their likes and dislikes, their values, how they think. We each have our own way of spending time with God. Some of us like to take a walk, a hike, or a bike ride in nature. Others
prefer to listen to comforting music or work in the garden. Still others find God in a communal approach such as a church setting or a meditation group. Whatever puts you in a calm and receptive state of mind is conducive to meeting with God.

3. Learn how God feels and thinks about things.

God is not some secretive, illusive being. He wants to make himself known to us, to speak to us, and to guide us – personally. These days, when we want to find out information about someone, we do a Google search and look them up on the Internet. We can do the same thing with God, believe it or not. We go to a reliable source and seek information. In fact, God has put much information about himself, his ways, his thoughts, and his ways of operating in in one collection of books known as the Bible. Now I know many people have a problem with the Bible, saying it’s old and antiquated but not much has changed in the way of relationships since it was written. Did you know that the way experts determine the validity of a manuscript is by how many copies there are of it? Did you know that the Bible is one of, if the not the most copied manuscript in history?

When we make time to read Scripture, we learn who God is, what He thinks, and what is important to him. We also open up the channel of communication for Him to speak to us. You will be amazed when you start reading the Word, how some passage will jump right out at you and you will know that it is meant for you. Try it and see!

“One more thing,” I said to my friend. “Just ask God to reveal Himself to you, and He will.” My friend smiled and nodded.

So there you have it, friends: three steps to developing a deeper relationship with God. Do post a comment, and click the +1 Google icon to let me know you liked this post. If you’d like to receive my free guide entitled “7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path”, enter your email address in the box above. Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

4 Stages of Attraction: What Makes a Man Attractive to a Woman

Frustrated with the dating scene? Tired of not being able to connect with someone? The problem is the same for both sexes so a bit of education might be helpful. Last week, we talked about the four stages of attraction for men. This week I’m going to share the four stages of attraction that women go through when they meet a man. They are indeed very different from the order in which men are attracted to women so let’s go ahead and find out what they are.

Level #1:Romantic and Emotional Level

Whereas men are first attracted visually to a woman, women are usually attracted to some aspect of who a man is or something about his demeanor. It could be his smile, the way he says her name, the level of success he has achieved. Just as physical chemistry is the first and lowest level of attraction for men, romantic/emotional chemistry is the first and lowest level for a woman. This is why men often go the cards and flowers route early on in the relationship. They know women are emotional beings, but speaking from personal experience, these gestures however lovely and romantic they may be, often disguise a less than desirable character and low-self-esteem. Many times women mistake romance for true chemistry when in fact, this is only the first level.

Level #2: Mental Attraction

Yes, women are attracted to a man’s mind, his intelligence and his intellect. The more intelligent and intellectual a woman is, if a man is not on the same level as she, this will not be a good match in the long run. What kinds of subjects does he like to talk about? Education comes into play here. A highly-educated woman will not be happy with a man with a high school education. They will be unable to communicate on the same level and it will be frustrating for both. They will also not be able to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings easily.

Level #3: Physical Attraction

Some women are attracted at the physical level first. These are usually the younger women, those on the rebound, and those who have not matured emotionally. Strong physical attraction is actually a red flag. This can blind a woman to a man’s real character and she can wind up being very hurt. The wise woman will enjoy the romantic gestures and the physical attraction but will not be swept up by it. She will guard her heart until she gets to know a man’s personality and character. A woman who keeps herself in shape usually is attracted to men who are in good physical shape as well, but there are exceptions sometimes.

Level #4:Soul Attraction

When a woman feels attraction and chemistry at the three previous levels, she is then ready to fall in love and move into soul attraction. When she likes who a man is, can interact with him at the same level, and finds him physically attractive, she is then open to falling in love with this man. If she accepts him as he is and can love him unconditionally, she will feel that this is the man she is meant to be with. There will be a deep connection at the soul level.

Everyone I’ve asked agrees there must be chemistry for a relationship to work. It’s either there or it’s not. Don’t try to make it happen. What about the concept of a soul mate? Do you believe there is such a thing and if so, do you believe there is only one person right for you? If so, how do you know? Love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please post a comment and click the Google icon. Also, if you’d like to receive these posts, please enter your email in the box to the right.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

The 4 Stages of Attraction: How a Man is Attracted to a Woman

Single? Divorced? Widowed? Searching for your soulmate? You’re not alone. According to recent reports, there are more than 100 million single Americans. Yet, it’s not so easy to find someone you’re attracted to, much less compatible with. The dating scene can be intimidating but the good news is we can educate ourselves on how we are attracted to the opposite sex so we make more informed choices as to whom we decide to date. Did you know that men are attracted at different levels than women? This week’s post is dedicated to helping singles understand the four levels of attraction for men and next week we’ll take a look at the four stages for women.

Stage #1: Physical Attraction

We all know that men are visual creatures so it comes as no surprise to learn that guys are attracted at the physical level. This is the first and lowest level of attraction. Young men and even a more mature man on the rebound are attracted at this level. This is stage 1 for a man.

Stage 2: Emotional Attraction

This has to do with a woman’s personality; how she relates to the world and others. Some men like a woman with a bubbly personality, others prefer the more quiet type. Some experts say opposites attract when it comes to personality, and from my experience, this could be true in many cases. The question a man asks himself is “Can I be friends with this woman?”

Stage 3: Mental Attraction

When a man takes the time to learn how a woman thinks, feels, and conducts her life, he has reached the third stage of attraction. He is attracted by her character and not just by her body. He will be attracted to the way she thinks, and how she handles the situations of life.

Stage 4: Soul Attraction

You realize this person has what you need to grow. After all, growth is what relationships are ultimately about – the growth of the two individuals and the pair as a unit. The man feels this person is the “One” he is meant to be with for his soul to grow. At this level, a man’s heart must be open and he must be willing to fall in love.

Has this post resonated with you? What are your thoughts about these four stages? Are they true for you? It is important for both sexes to understand how men come to fall in love. Next week, we’ll talk about the four stages women go through to fall in love which is very different from the order for men. Stay tuned. Do leave a comment, and click the Google icon if you enjoyed this post. Also, sign up for my weekly posts using the email box on the side.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Six Signs You May Need a Spiritual Path

Everyone is on a spiritual path, whether they know it or not. What’s more, everyone needs a spiritual path, not just those who have been abused, addicted, or abandoned. We all have been wounded in some way. How can I say this? Because after years of thinking dysfunction happens only in “broken” or “alcoholic” homes, I’ve seen enough people from seemingly “normal” families have the same kinds of issues. I’d scratch my head and ask “How did that happen? Her parents weren’t divorced/alcoholic/addicts or whatever.” Until one day, it dawned on me – we are all wounded. Each of us is in need of healing of some sort. It could be physical, emotional, spiritual or all three. Author Wayne Dyer says that “there is a spiritual solution to every problem,” and if we look deep enough, we will find it.

The problem is that many of us are not aware that we are on a spiritual journey, so we fail to look for spiritual solutions. We look to medications, drinking, food, activities, and relationships to console us but sooner or later we realize, we have to go deeper. Hence, the popularity of such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation groups, and yoga classes. Participants realize there is a spiritual struggle going on underneath the covers of the suffering they are experiencing. We are three part entity: body, mind, and spirit. An injury to any one part affects the other parts. The Chinese have known this for centuries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long correlated physical ailments with emotions. For example, a few years ago, I went to an acupuncturist for treatment of an asthma condition I suddenly developed. I had never had asthma in my life so I knew something was going on. “Asthma affects the lungs,” the specialist explained. Then he asked this probing question: “Have you experienced any grief lately?” At that, I burst into tears. Grief! I wanted to scream. Yes, I have experienced grief in several very close relationships all in the same year. The light bulb went on. Once I gained the awareness of the grief I was experiencing, the asthma symptoms completely went away. When we bring light to the darkness of the pain in our spirits, we can process the emotions, which then allow us to heal at the physical level as well. So how does one know if one is in need of healing?

There are probably many more signs, but the ones I am aware of I am listing below. See if any of these resonate with you.

1) physical symptoms and pain – such diseases as fibromyalgia, arthritis, high blood pressure, back pain may all have emotional and spiritual roots

2) incessant chatter – are your conversations self-absorbed (all about you)? do you focus on the negative circumstances in your life?

3) fear of the future – does anxiety about what may happen steal your joy? do you feel a need to keep up with every negative news story, gossip, or Hollywood drama?

4) overdependence on company of others – do you always have to be around people? Are you uncomfortable being by yourself?

5) preoccupation with any one area of life – are you a workaholic? exercise fanatic? Is there any area others would say you put too much time into?

6) inability to overcome addictions – such as overeating, alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, or codependency?

If any of these hit home, I am offering a free mini e-book entitled “7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path“. I’m not talking about religion here, so please don’t confuse the two. Spirituality is very different from “organized religion” although we may find our path in church for a time and that is quite alright. When you enter your email in the box to the right of this post, I’ll get it right out to you.

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual advice on how you, too, can find healing, wholeness, and harmony and live the life of your dreams.
Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Back to School: One Habit That Should Stick With You Forever

A new school season started this week. Families and teachers have been busy getting ready for the year ahead. Perhaps you, too, are shopping for clothes, shoes, and school supplies. It is a busy yet exciting time. We learn many habits in school and one of them, in particular, is a key to lifelong progress. Are you still dealing with the same issues you were 5, 10 years ago? Wonder why you’re not making progress? Ready to throw in the towel on your aspirations and dreams? Don’t! It is never too late to move forward so today I am going to share with you the one powerful habit you can use to make definite progress towards your goals.

Before you moan and groan, let me reassure you, this is not something new you have to learn. In fact, you probably already do this at least once a day. Some use electronic gadgets, others use whiteboards, and others, like yours truly, use a good old pencil and paper. But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane, back to our school days. What was your favorite school supply? Mine was the notebook. I loved choosing from among all the colorful covers. Teachers back then were very particular about what kind of notebook to have and how to divide it up by subject or topic. Then they came out with the 5-subject notebook which I loved because it saved me running back and forth to my locker to switch notebooks for different classes. The purpose of notebooks was – to take notes, of course!

Whenever someone was out sick, they would come to me for the notes, because even back then, I took good notes. And what is the purpose of taking good notes? To be able to remember what is important! Good note taking is simply this: jot down the important facts you want to recall at a later time. With everything on our schedules these days, sometimes the most important ideas can be forgotten if we don’t write them down.

Experts say only 10% of what is read is remembered. This skill comes in handy in daily life as well. I bet many of you make grocery lists, create goals on the job, and have daily to-do lists, yes? Billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson, even recommends this habit .

If we want to make progress in any area of life, we need to get in the habit of taking notes. This one simple habit we learned in school can help us stay on top of things in all these important areas of life:

1) our finances
2) our fitness and health goals
3) our diets
4) our personal growth
5) our spiritual growth

So while we’re on the topic let’s talk about spiritual growth for just a minute. How many times do you go to church or your favorite spiritual place, and forget the message before the day is over?
We get distracted. We barely pay attention. We fall asleep. As soon as we leave, we start thinking about where to have lunch or what we event we are headed to next. Taking notes is not only a good way to stay focused and attentive, it also helps us remember and apply what we’ve heard so that we can move forward. Where would the world be if such people as Aristotle, Confucious, Augustine, and Camus did not write down their thoughts and ideas?

What one area of life do YOU want to make progress in? If it’s diet, start taking notes about what you eat every day. If it’s finances, start tracking what you spend every day. Get the idea? Nothing is impossible and this one school habit can make the difference! Where else do you use note-taking? How has it helped you?

Until next time, do leave a comment. Love to hear your feedback. Keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel

How to Prepare for the Next Crisis

Ever feel like life is one crisis after another? Does watching the evening news make you anxious and fearful? Ever wish things would just settle down and stay static for a while? I know I do but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. In fact, it seems like things are coming at us at even faster speeds.

The crises we face in life are opportunities to see how we react and to test and grow our character. The difficult part is most of the time we are blind-sided by these events: an unexpected death or illness, a financial loss, a relationship shatters. Then what? If we have not strengthened our spiritual muscle, we are in for a rough time. So today, I’m going to share with you the importance of strengthening your spiritual muscle. Didn’t know you had one? Then read on.

In the same way athletes strengthen their physical muscles for more intense workouts, we too must train our spiritual muscle for the ever-increasing challenges life presents. Deep within each of us lies a seed. This seed is the birthplace of our greatest power. It is our secret weapon against the trials and tribulations of life. It is the key to keeping our joy and our peace despite difficult circumstances. It is crucial to maintaining hope in the midst of great loss or disappointment. Without a strong spiritual muscle, we are tossed to and fro in the tsunamis of life’s sudden difficulties. We moan and groan. We get depressed. We lose hope and we lose faith. There will always be difficult circumstances to deal with but we can prepare ourselves to handle them in a much more positive way.

I was having dinner with an old friend last night who had recently married. As she shared all the joys of marriage, she also shared how her health had deteriorated and how she is in much pain. I felt so badly for her. As a ballroom dancer for many years, she has always been active and now she can barely walk without pain. Yet her conversation was full of joy and hope and she focused on all the blessings in her life and her upcoming travels. That my friends, is what a spiritual muscle does for you.

It’s about focusing on the good things in our lives, rather than the negatives. It’s about realizing we all go through storms, but the storms will pass and there will be blue skies once again. It’s about knowing there is a loving and caring God who understands the suffering we go through. It’s about looking forward into the future with hope and anticipation despite the current obstacles.

Faith is the positive belief of things not yet seen. Faith says not only do I believe God can get me through his, I believe He will get me through this. Faith is what Winston Churchill instilled in his famous speech when he said “Never, never give up!” Every trial we go through is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, others, and God. It gives God a chance to prove His faithfulness to us. It gives us a chance to see God move in our lives. It really is quite an amazing thing to encounter.

As a single divorced mom, I was faced with many difficult circumstances. I dealt with addictions, financial disaster, depression and anxiety, the effects of being raised in an alcoholic home as well as an emotionally abusive and unavailable spouse. I know what it’s like to face major challenges unprepared, so I want to encourage you to take steps today to strengthen your secret weapon so you will be better equipped to face the inevitable crises that will arise in your life.

The storms will rage all around us, but we do not have to allow ourselves to be continuously tossed about. We can remain anchored and steady, knowing the storms are sent for our ultimate good. What storm or challenge are you facing today? Are you sinking in the depths of despair and lost hope? If so, take heart. You will get through it and you will be stronger for it. If this post encouraged you, please click the +1 Google icon, leave a comment, or forward to a friend who may need some encouragement.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Change Your Words, Change Your Life

“I have a dream” Martin Luther King.
 “Never, never give up!” Winston Churchill
 “Four score and seven years ago,” Abraham Lincoln.

These famous words so eloquently delivered, influenced nations in a powerful way and will live forever in our memories. Three men were motivated by their passion, conviction, determination, and courage. These were  also men of great faith who believed in the principle of freedom.

Words  have a magnificent and awesome power to effect change. The words you and I use have great power as well. Words can heal or harm, build up or destroy, uplift or tear down. All of us can remember words spoken by parents, siblings, and classmates, that affected us strongly in some way.

The effects of our words have much more impact than we realize, because they carry energy which is either positive or negative. In his book, “Awaken the Giant Within”, motivational speaker Tony Robbins talks about the power of words. He suggests we maximize positive words to increase pleasure and minimize negative words to decrease pain. For example, instead of angry say disenchanted. Instead of confused, say curious. Say unstoppable rather than confident. Robbins encourages us to use “transformational vocabulary” with the goal being to minimize our negative feelings.

In my opinion, the greatest motivational speaker of all time was Jesus Christ. Think about his words and the impact they had on people he encountered:
“You are forgiven.”
“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
“Your faith has made you well.”

His words healed the sick and the blind, the down-trodden and the outcasts of society. The Bible refers to Jesus as “The Word” (John 1:1) which relates back to ancient Greek philosophy and refers to divine wisdom, reason, and creative power.

What kinds of words are you speaking out? To your kids, your friends and coworkers and more importantly, to yourself? And to God?

If you want to transform your life, I encourage you to start changing the way you speak. Instead of saying “This —- is going to kill me” say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Instead of saying “I feel fat, ugly, old” say “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is true. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). 

Write and share what one phrase you are going to stop using this week. Let’s all speak words of life and faith and watch our lives be transformed.

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel

Mindfulness: How it Can Help You Stay Connected to What’s Really Important

There’s been quite the hubbub lately about mindfulness. You know something is catching on when there’s an article about it in the Costco magazine. Mindfulness has made its way out of the yogic realm and into mainstream society. Our culture has us moving faster and faster with the plethora of electronic gadgets and social media. Many feel pressured to “keep up” with the pace of the world and every Facebook post, Tweet, or news event. Perhaps like me, you wonder if all this is such a good thing. In the midst of this information overload, are we losing sight of what is truly important and failing to enjoy the precious moments in our every day lives? Maybe the ancients were on to something, so this week’s post is devoted to answering this question:
What is mindfulness exactly and how can it help us in our daily lives?

When some hear the term “mindfulness” they conjure up visions of cross-legged yogis with eyes-closed chanting. Perhaps a more realistic and comprehensible word for mindfulness is “awareness” or “being present”. Being present & fully engaged is the best gift we can bestow upon our spouse, our child, our friends and ourselves. Mindfulness is a form of meditation one does to learn to clear one’s mind and to be aware of one’s thoughts as they pass by. An untrained mind is mindless. Our thoughts jump from one thing to another, like a monkey on tree. We are easily distracted, forgetful, sucked in to emotional reactions, and not fully present or aware.

One way to judge this is to notice the rate of speech we use. When we are talking a mile a minute, our minds are racing. My mother always used to tell me “You think too fast,” and now I realize she was right. I thought too fast and I talked too fast so that is one reason I have taken up the study of mindfulness. Nowadays, I am often bewildered by someone’s conversation when they seemingly go off on an unrelated tangent. I ask myself “How is this related to what we were discussing?”. What happens is in their mind there was some connection to another event. Their mind monkey-jumped to this other thought thread and they started following it without realizing it was not related to the discussion at hand. As we age, this happens more and more because the circuitry of our brains has been wired for years. However, it is possible to stay focused and connected, even as we age, by learning this ancient practice.

Relationships:
Nothing is more upsetting to a wife than to come home to her hubby all excited about sharing something about her day and he tunes her out by reading the newspaper or being fixated on the boob tube, computer, or video game. I remember when I was married and I used to teach aerobics one night a week. I would come home from class all excited to share how the class went and my then husband would look at me briefly and then go right back to reading the newspaper. Is it little wonder then we ended up in divorce court? These days people substitute their cellphone, the television, the internet or a video game. It’s all the same problem – lack of mindfulness. Otherwise known as not paying attention.

Your kids:
When you are with them, make the effort to be truly with them. Don’t be doing dishes, talking on the phone, grading papers or whatever else needs to be done. Stay in the present moment and really be with your child. These things can be done after the kids are in bed. If you’re a working mom, like I was, you only have a few hours to develop a relationship with your children. Those hours are precious. I made sure eating dinner together was a priority. I’d ask them about their day and get them to talking. Some nights we’d have a bible study session where we would take turns reading the Bible. Now it doesn’t have to be the Bible. I wanted to make it a two-fer and use the connecting time as a teaching time as well. Then at bedtime, I’d often read them a bed time story. In other words, I made sure the hours I had with my kids, I was present.

Personal life:
How often do you forget where you put your keys, your wallet, the grocery list? You start one task and find yourself doing something else two minutes later. No, it’s not ADD or ADHD. Most likely it is the normal state of mindlessness. Not being aware of what you are currently doing. I think if we taught our kids mindfulness at an early age, far few kids would be on prescription meds. When we learn to slow down enough to pay attention to the present moment, we actively engage in the here and now. You know how you get so involved in your gardening, or playing tennis, or dancing and then wonder where the time went? That’s because you were mindfully present. You were actively aware in what you were doing. You were being mindful.

Inner world:
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of mindfulness is being more connected to our thoughts and feelings. When we slow down and pay attention to our thoughts, we are more aware of what is going on in our internal world. We are able to feel our feelings before they cause us to react in an unhealthy or unproductive way or keep us up at night thinking about things. Even though we are asleep, our mind is still trying to process the events of the day. This is why we wake up in the middle of the night ruminating. When we learn to be mindful during the day, we will process our thoughts and emotions real-time, so our minds don’t have to work overtime at night to do it. Just yesterday, I caught myself having negative feelings towards an old friend. Rather than ignore them or stuff them, I allowed myself to sit with them. I realized why I was feeling upset, which led to an understanding of what I need to change about myself in this situation.

Mindfulness is a practice, like most things worthwhile in this life. When we make the time to train our minds, we will have better control over our thoughts and our actions. Our relationships with others will be more intimate and more connected and we will be more focused and directed in our daily lives and accomplish more of what we want to do. There are several ways to practice mindfulness and I have attached a link here with more information.

Love to hear your thoughts on this relevant and timely topic. Please leave a comment below or on Facebook.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

6 Strategies to Guarantee Weight Loss – Part 2

The battle of the bulge is a never-ending struggle for most of us. Don’t let your weight get the best of you. It is never to late to change some habits and even small changes can make a huge difference. Think of how much energy you will have, the activities you will be able to enjoy, the clothes you will be able to wear with confidence. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So let’s get started with three more strategies that I guarantee will help you lose those unwanted pounds.

Tip #4: Drink more water
This cannot be emphasized enough. Dehydration is a cause of headaches, fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms. We often mistake hunger for thirst. So I drink a glass of water with a bit of lemon or lime juice which helps balance my PH especially at meals. The amount of water we need to consume on a daily basis varies but I think it’s safe to say most of us don’t drink nearly enough. An easy-to-remember rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 8 oz glasses of water daily, preferably filtered. Not only will drinking water keep you full, it will flush out those toxins and keep everything flowing nicely.

Tip #5: Eat only when you’re hungry

Now this may seem obvious to some, but if you’re overweight, you probably don’t wait for hunger pains to eat. I know sometimes I don’t. An upsetting phone call, an unresolved decision, an emotional dilemma can all make me want to head for the fridge. This is what we call “emotional eating”. It is not real hunger. Somewhere along the line we have learned to use food to comfort us during times of stress. The key is to distinguish between the two. I am working on becoming more conscious of my physical state when I want to reach for food. I ask myself “Are you really hungry right now?” As a working mom, I have had to eat “on schedule” for many years. The clock determined when I ate, not my belly. A better way is to pay more attention to what I am feeling. Is my stomach growling? Is my thinking fuzzy? Do I feel cranky? All of these are good indicators of true hunger. If I still am not quite sure, I drink a large glass of water first and then see if I still want to eat.

Tip #6: Sit down to eat

Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has many of us eating on the run, in the car, at the desk, at a fast-food joint. I know sometimes it can’t be helped but eating on the run prevents us from focusing on what and how much we are eating. We don’t enjoy the meal. When we slow down and focus on the taste, texture, and color of our meal, we are being mindful. This allows our brains and our bellies to recalibrate and deliver the message “I am full.” We reduce the risk of overeating because we are more present and in control of our intake. As a single parent, I always made dinner-time a priority; it was important to prepare healthy meals and teach my sons good eating habits, but also to reconnect after everyone’s long day.

I have used these 6 strategies with success over the years to lose about 35 pounds and maintain a healthy weight so I know they work and they are simple to do. The battle of the bulge is not unbeatable. You can be slim and trim, have more energy, and feel great about yourself. Start today with a few of these tips. What weight loss tips can you share with us? Leave a comment below or post on Facebook.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel