This Way Up!

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh


This Way Up! Here I go!

In my last post Smile,  I let you all know that I was asked to change the title of my book. As I said in that post, I felt frustrated and kinda old. However, what I learned was as Thich Nhat Hanh explains:

For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.

What a wonderful week of uncovering and abandoning old views.  I asked for help (ah there’s a novel concept!) First, I called my friend Tam in Seattle and we brainstormed together, from the red chair. Then I asked for ideas from my son Lukas. And then my incredible editor Annie and I brainstormed some ideas.  And finally, I sent off our top 5 ideas to Brooke at She Writes Press. Eventually it was a bit of an amalgamation of everyone’s ideas.

So the new title of my book, as reflected by the new look and title of this blog page is:

This Way Up: One Woman’s Path to Fullness and Joy

I’m so glad I asked for help, and that ultimately I was willing to let go of feeling old and stuck and embrace the new.

To honor the concept of asking for help, I’d like to close with a wonderful video, Bill Withers singing Lean On Me.

 

 

Please let me know what you think of my new title. I’d really like to hear your opinions.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Grateful Beyond Measure!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
– Melody Beattie

Yay! It has happened! What I have worked toward for the past decade.

I have signed a contract to publish my book!

Reclaiming Myself

A Woman’s Transformational Journey

I have signed a contract with She Write Press. If you haven’t heard of them, do go to their website, they are awesome. Just to give you a little blurb about them, this is from their website:

She Writes Press was founded by Kamy Wicoff and Brooke Warner in 2012 as a response to the barriers to traditional publishing getting higher and higher for authors. Kamy’s online community, She Writes, had been founded on the principle of connecting and serving women writers everywhere, offering a community for established and aspiring writers. Brooke had been the Executive Editor at Seal Press for eight years, and was witnessing firsthand the contracting publishing environment, where she personally was having to reject beautifully written books on a regular basis because the submitting author didn’t have a strong enough author platform.

Kamy and Brooke envisioned a company where authors would be invited to publish based on the merit of their writing alone. They wanted to found a press for women writers that would be a platform—that could launch their writing careers, and where they could legitimately compete with their traditional counterparts.

We are a mission-driven, female-run company with a strong vision, passion, and work ethic. Our roster of impressive, accomplished authors speaks for itself, and we’re proud of being an industry game-changer.

The women who work at SWP are amazing. I am so honored and excited to have signed with them. I am working with an editor there, Annie Tucker, who is awesome. She inspires me in new ways every time we meet.
Reclaiming Myself will be published in March 2016. I am steadily moving toward my greatest dream, my biggest bucket list item. I am grateful beyond measure.
I thought I would close with a video that really speaks to me, because I am feeling this so intensely at the moment – Want to be happy? Be grateful.

I’d love to hear about your bucket list items and how you are moving toward them.

And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

Love Yourself First!

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”
– Lucille Ball
“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams”
– Oprah Winfrey

Think about Oprah’s quote –

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams”

So what is stopping you? As women we usually take care of everyone else first. Especially over the holidays, everyone else’s needs came first. Self-care and self-love are often difficult concepts for women.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”

So how would that look? . . .  to love yourself first. Well here’s an idea . . .

How about an exciting and inspirational retreat!

In my last blog entry, I wrote about my intentions for 2015.

One of the most exciting goals/intentions I have is related to my work with Figjam Workshops. We are planning a Fuel for Inspiration Retreat in Bali! 

I thought I would share a bit about the retreat with all of you. Who knows, maybe one of you reading this blog post might be interested in a Relaxing, Rejuvenating Retreat with a Creative Twist!

What a great way to practice some self-care and show yourself some love!

 

Bali Spa Retreat with a Creative Twist

Imagine yourself escaping winter, lounging in the sun in tropical paradise with a small group of women, sipping a cocktail by the pool.

This is a retreat with a difference. You won’t find a mung bean for miles – instead, you’ll find creativity, rejuvenating fun, connection to self and fabulous food.

 

 

We’ll indulge at the boutique Sama’s Cottages in the heart of Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali. We’ve reserved the whole gorgeous space – including a swimming pool, gardens and a private cottage with ensuite for each participant – for ultimate privacy and relaxation. It’s easy walking distance to Ubud’s vibrant markets yet blissfully peaceful.

Your Bali retreat package includes:

  • Fuel for Inspiration workshops plus high-quality art materials (ADD LINK)
  • Arrival dinner at world famous Casa Luna restaurant and departure dinner at award-winning Rondjji restaurant
  • All breakfasts, morning teas and lunches
  • 7 nights accommodation in a private cottage (fan-cooled or air-conditioned)
  • 3 spa treatments of your choice
  • Visit to the Blanco Museum and Gallery and a tour of a local temple
  • Return Airfare (Auckland – Bali) and transfers to and from accommodation (Conditions apply.)

Our leisurely schedule blends hands-on creative sessions with time to relax and unwind.

 

Register

Reserve your getaway today.

Contact us by email  or phone Deb at 021 258 0078 or Patti at 027 777 4735.

Dates

12 – 19 June 2015
(Depart Auckland 12 June; Depart Bali 19 June)

 

Costs

We are thrilled to be able to offer this amazing package for NZD $2799 to $2999. Contact us for specifics.
Space is limited to only 10 women.

 

 

Reserve your rejuvenating getaway today.

Contact us by email or phone Deb at 021 258 0078 or Patti at 027 777 4735.

 

Meditation, Intuition, Inspiration and Changing Behavior

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

– Albert Einstein


The final point in  Neuroplasticity and getting rid of bad habits, involves hooking into your highest self through meditation to find inspiration and support:

9. Connect with your Higher Source for inspiration and support.

10. Transform and make the shift.

I have written many posts about meditation and neuroplasticity, two of my favorites are Your Brain on Meditaion and Meditation and Happiness. Meditation creates new neural pathways and brain changes. Many studies have been done to show meditation’s effect on neural circuits of the brain.

The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) is doing ground-breaking work on the subject of Meditation and the brain.  Dr. Richard Davidson is world renowned:

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is a renowned neuroscientist and one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as meditation, on the brain. He is the founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought after expert and speaker internationally. Time magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world.

As Einstein so eloquently puts it – We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.  And studies have shown the same is true with old habits we want to break.  The way to change behavior calls for a different level of thinking than when they were created.

There is an excellent article on Belief.net on how to strengthn your intuition by Dr. Kristen Harrell, well worth a read.

And finally the transformation.  This is usually gradual and can often be frustrating not to see changes immediately. The important thing here is to pay attention. The changes may be subtle, but the brain is changing and so are the habits.

I’d like to close with a great talk by Dr. Richard Davidson.  It’s a long one, over an hour, but really excellent.  If you want to change behavior, of all the videos on neuroplasticity, this is the one to watch!

Transform Your Mind, Change Your Brain:  Neuroplasticity and Personal Transformation

 

 

I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this video.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

Want to Change a Behavior? Make a Plan!

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes  open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want.  No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”

-Paulo Cuelho


No one will argue that bad habits are hard to break, but making a plan on how you will achieve it is half the battle.

Continuing the posts on Neuroplasticity and getting rid of bad habits, looking at steps seven and eight:

7.  Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.

8. Transform the obstacles.

I’m a big fan of goal setting.  I believe that heart centered goal setting is life changing. As I say in one of my past posts, A Fine Balance:

In my 7 Tools,  I discuss Heart-Centered Goal Setting.  In order to really focus on true goals, you have to find out the deepest WHY of the goal, the emotion behind it. Work to discover WHY you want that particular goal, journal about it, question it. When you understand the deeper emotion of why your want that particular goal, the emotional need behind it, then you have hit the WHY.  You can FEEL the why in heart-centered goal setting.  And in order to feel it, you have to be paying attention and be present to the moment.  That ability to stay present actually helps to define a direction for the future.

By setting a definite goal and getting specific, it helps to build new neural pathways. You are engaged in what Rick Hanson calls Self-Directed Neuroplasticity. For example, I have a friend who is trying to watch less TV, she knows it is mind numbing, but it feels so addictive (According to several studies, TV is addictive!) Decide if you want to exercise or read a book or journal instead of watching TV. Focus on the new choice. The more you decide to read at 7pm after dinner, instead of watch TV, the more your brain expects that behavior.  Self-Directed Neuroplasticity kicks in, the behavior starts to change.

Sometimes it feels like you are trying to trick your brain, and maybe that’s exactly what it is.  In an article in a great website, Greater Good, it is argued that:

Ultimately, what this can mean is that with proper practice, we can increasingly trick our neural machinery to cultivate positive states of mind.

The second point, transforming the obstacles is really more of “tricking the brain” again. Look at the obstacles, at what is in the way of you changing the behavior. What have you been getting out of the old habits or pathways? Going back to trying to break the TV habit – it feels like a treat, to just blob out, numb out.  But often after a couple of hours of TV, the numbing out feels negative and kind of yucky, and a waste of time. So before the TV goes on, transform the lure of the TV (the obstacle is the old belief that it is going to be a treat) – but you know it becomes a burden. Identify that obstacle, that lure, and make the decision before the TV goes on to do something else.  Get your mind in the place of possibility. Begin that process of changing your brain by remembering the truth about the situation and transforming the obstacles.

I’m going to close with an old favorite.  Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals.  This is part 1 of 3, if you have a chance, watch all 3, they are inspirational and fun!

 

 

I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Identify it and set the Intention

“You can use your mind  – To change your brain  – To change your mind for the better!”

– Rick Hanson

Last week I wrote a post about Neuroplasticity and getting rid of bad habits.

The first step is to identify the habit you want to change and set the intention to break it.  That sounds so simple.  But the reality is that bad habits are hard to break, that’s why we call them habits!

Dr. Rick Hanson talks about self-directed neuroplasticity to break habits, or indeed just to change your mind for the better! Dr. Hanson explains that neuroplasticity is ongoing. Our brains are changing all the time. He says that

Neurons that fire together, wire together

So we can create good habits of the mind or bad habits.  The secret lies in focus – do things with clarity, skillfulness and intention.

If we rest our attention routinely on what we resent and what we are dissatisfied with, or our bad habits – that is where we build our neural pathways.
When we change attention – to positive things, blessings, what we are grateful for – we build up a different neural pathway.

Have an intention – to redirect your attention! Attention is like a vacuum cleaner – it sucks whatever it rests up into the brain. New neural pathways are turbo charged when done with attention. So by mindfully internalizing positive experiences, you are consciously creating neural pathways. This is Self-Directed Neuroplasticity.

So by first identifying what the habit is that you want to break, setting the intention to break that habit, and then redirecting your attention from that negative habit to a something else, something positive, you begin to create a new neural pathway. New synaptic pathways can form in as little as 5 – 10 minutes!
It’s only the first step, but it’s an incredibly powerful one.
I want to close with another clip by Dr. Hanson, also on Neuroplasticity.  This one called Take in the Good. Enjoy!
I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

Paying Attention to the Coincidences

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133182.html#cRzVZOHjpM8tGpjB.99

Alice Walker


Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous! (God, Goddess, The Source, Higher Power – use whatever word evokes power for you.) It’s my connection to that higher self or higher power that helps me when,  as Alice Walker reminds me,  I start thinking I don’t have any power.
One of  the ways I know I’m connected to that power is when I am paying attention to the coincidences. And one of those lovely coincidences has been happening in the last few days.
On Saturday,  I got together with my friends to do a fun, informal goal setting night where we had a lovely dinner and discussed what we anticipated our lives would be like in 2019.  During the evening, one of the things we talked about was finding new streams of money through Social Entrepreneurship,  or creative fund raising.
On Sunday, I attended an amazing event in Auckland called The Auckland Writers Festival (Thank you Trudi!)  During one of the events, I heard four amazing women speak: Eleanor Catton, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Sandi Toksvig and Jessica Jackley. As Jackley spoke, I got chills as she elaborated on Social Entrepreneurship and what great ‘givers’ New Zealanders are.  I sat up and paid attention.  And then on Monday morning, while reading the NZ Herald online, an article jumped out at me, again about New Zealanders and their generosity, with a link to an incredible website called Give a Little.
Givealittle is the free, safe and easy way to receive online donations for charities of all types and sizes.
In three days I had heard about the amazing generosity of many people in New Zealand and the wonderful giving being done, often anonymously, through various ways of giving, micro-financing, social entrepreneurship, etc. I was paying attention.
So on Tuesday, I went to our office at Figjam Workshops and my business partner and I set up an account at Give a Little.  We published the information on our page on Facebook, and we are getting the information out there.
When I pay attention to the little coincidences around me, and when I remember to act on those little nudges, then I am connected to my power.
Although I enjoyed every aspect of the Auckland Writers Festival, the highlight for me was hearing Alice Walker.  What an amazing woman!
So I’d like to finish with a video clip of Alice Walker speaking at Google.  Please take the time to watch and be inspired!
Please let me know what you thought of the video. And I’d love to hear of any ‘coincidences’ that you’ve experienced lately.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Thriving with Gratitude

“I’ve come to believe that living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.”

It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133182.html#cRzVZOHjpM8tGpjB.99

Arianna Huffington


Can Gratitude help you thrive?

Arianna Huffington believes so.  In her new book Thrive, Huffington redefines success and describes how to create a life of well-being, wisdom and wonder.

Huffington explains that:

“Grace and gratitude have the same Latin root, gratus. Whenever we find ourselves in a stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off mindset, we can remember that there is another way and open ourselves to grace. And it often starts with taking a moment to be grateful for this day, for being alive, for anything.”

Personally, when I find myself stuck in a negative mind loop, where I am focused on something negative, causing me to stress out and stay stuck in fear, the best way out for me is by going through my gratitude list. In my 7 Tools for Transformation, Tool 6 is: Gratitude for what you have NOW.

I personally start with my relationships, focusing on my wonderful sons always cheers me up! And the love of my husband, my sister and my friends.  Then I move on to my health, there is so much to be grateful for when contemplating one’s health: feeling vibrantly fit and healthy, having a sharp mind, limbs that work, eyes that can see a gorgeous sunset, a sense of smell to enjoy freshly baked bread. Then I move on to my home, my job, my lifestyle.  Everyone’s list will be different.  But one thing is for sure, when I am focused on what I am grateful for, my mood lifts every time! When I start focusing on my gratitude list, I cannot stay stuck in a negative mind masturbation loop, anxiously focusing on fear, it just isn’t possible.  Even if it starts out feeling a bit forced or ‘by rote’ – the shift in my head space by the end of the exercise is amazing.  I urge you to try it next time you “find yourself in a stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off mindset.”

I have attached two interviews with Arianna Huffington about her new book.

The first one is a “Talk at Google” and is relatively long and in depth.

 

For those of you with less time, the second interview is with Ellen DeGeneres and is only 6 minutes.

 

Please let me know what you thought of these videos, and if you’ve read Thrive,  I’d love to hear what you thought of the book.  Or if you’d like to share what you are grateful for today, that always makes me happy! And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Brain on Meditation Again

“To meditate with mindful breathing is to bring body and mind back to the present moment so that you do not miss your appointment with life.”

– Thích Nhất Hạnh


I love how the universe works!  After posting my last post, Your Brain on Meditation, I vowed to meditate everyday for at least 10 minutes a day through the month of March.  Less than 15 minutes later I randomly found this amazing site:

Headspace

Find out how to meditate, feel happier, sleep better and beat stress. It’s as easy as signing up, sitting down, and pressing play. Then just sit back and relax as Andy guides you through a simple process making it easy to learn how to meditate. Research has shown that brain activity begins to change within just a few days of learning to meditate decreasing stress and improving your mood.  Log in online or through  Headspace-on-the-go App  and get your Headspace how you like it – anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

So I downloaded this app onto my phone, and Voila, it not only reminds me to meditate for 10 minutes everyday, but it leads me through a slow, relaxing exercise using my breath.  And it’s Andy Puddicombe leading the meditation – he has a lovely voice.

Wow!  Just like that.  Ask and it is given.  I love it.  But I  have to remember to Pay Attention.  As I mention in the 7 Tools – I can send out the information I want to attract to me, but I have to be open and remember to pay attention to the inspiration and information that comes back to me.  And it often comes back in very random ways.  

Headspace is a great site and a great app.  Do try it – it’s free and it’s incredibly helpful if you’re looking for ways to be more mindful.

I’ll close with Andy Puddicombe explaining Headspace on another very cool site called Do Lectures.

 

 

Let me know what you think of Headspace, and thank you for taking the time to stop by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Your Brain on Meditation

“People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing – and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”

– Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert – Research psychologists from Harvard University


There is a website I enjoy a lot, a website that “exercises the brain.”  Lumiosity is a great website that “challenges your brain with scientifically designed training.”  I like to think of it as wasting time playing games that are somewhat useful and not just a total of a waste of time.  Recently they published an article that explains “Meditation’s Effects on Alpha Brain Waves.

“A new study out of Brown University has found that a form of mindfulness meditation known as MBSR may act as a “volume knob” for attention, changing brain wave patterns.  Originally developed by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is based on mindfulness meditation techniques that have been practiced in some form or another for over two millennia.”

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn.  And is a central tenet of the work being done at The University of Wisconsin by Dr. Richard Davidson that I have talked about a lot on my blog.

In the recent study discussed in the article on Luminosity, researchers examined how meditation affects Alpha Brain Waves, and how Alpha Waves affect cognition.

Alpha rhythms help filter irrelevant sensory inputs in the brain. Without proper filtering, the ability to carry out many basic cognitive operations can be crippled. This Brown University study is in line with other research on meditation, confirming previous findings that link enhanced attentional performance and fewer errors in tests of visual attention with meditation.

Yet another reason to meditate.  If I know it’s so good for me, then why is it so damned hard to sit down and sit quietly for only 10 minutes a day?!  I mean really!  Why is it so hard to commit to a such a simple discipline? A discipline that is simply asking me to sit down and not do anything for such a short time each day when I know for a fact it is so good for me?

For Christmas, I gave my sister Karin and I identical date books for 2014:  Live With Intention.  And Karin and I decided that we would set an individual intention together at the beginning of each month for the year.  So I have decided that my intention for March, 2014 is to meditate for at least 10 minutes everyday.  There, it’s in writing. (*My brain immediately said “Damn – March has 31 days too, why couldn’t you have made that your intention for February!)

I want to close with a great 10 minute TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe about meditation.  It comes from a fantastic TED Talk series:  4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity

Enjoy!

 

I promise to let you know how I’m doing meditating everyday – And I’d love to hear about how any of you have the discipline to keep meditating.