How to Save the World and Yourself

red_coatWe encourage entrepreneurs and businesses to discover what makes a product or service unique so they can stand out from the competition.

Yet, as kids we’re raised to shave down our individuality so we can fit in and belong. It’s not good to be too smart or too funny. It’s not good to be different. If we sparkle a little too much, we make others uncomfortable.

But to be successful in the world (and I mean in every definition of the word) we need to be genuine. We need to find the thing we have that others don’t because that’s what the world is starving for.

We need less John and Jane Does and more Sabrinas and Zeniths.

We need people who are courageous enough to embrace their strengths.

If I want anything for my children, it is to know what makes them weird makes them special.

You could spend years trying to replicate someone else’s success. But you will find your own when you free yourself.

That inner soul who loves to sing, draw, dance or stand up for people’s rights, make others laugh or write poetry in a delightfully odd way, that’s the missing piece of your own puzzle. That’s the gift you were given. It’s what the world hasn’t yet seen. So we need you to be brave enough to risk showing it.

My favorite lines from The Neverending Story:

The Childlike Empress: Bastian. Why don’t you do what you dream, Bastian?
Bastian: But I can’t, I have to keep my feet on the ground!
The Childlike Empress: Call my name. Bastian, please! Save us!
Bastian: All right! I’ll do it! I’ll save you! I will do what I dream!

Dear readers,

Please face your fears. Stand up for yourself. Believe in your dreams.

We’re all waiting for you to discover it, recover it and reveal it to the world.

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Addiction to Doing

BeesI’ve come from a long line of them. Workers. Busy bees. One of the reasons why I named this blog, “The Inspiring Bee,” is people buzzing around was normal to me.

So many hot afternoons on Kauai with my grandmother clanging pots, mixing azuki beans and opening the oven door to let out heat and sweet manju. Either that or she was cleaning. There were always floors that needed sweeping, dishes that needed cleaning or laundry that needed to be washed.

Doing meant living. Sitting was equatable to death.

I think that’s how it started-my insistence on doing.

I think that’s why it took an autoimmune disease to stop me.

I was in remission for two whole years before the holidays knocked me off my feet. Obligations, and unhealthy eating were more than my body could handle.

For two weeks and counting, I ended up bedridden. It was a miserable beginning to 2017.

After cursing my illness, I can honestly say I’m grateful.

It is a reminder that being is every bit as important as doing. In 2016, there were days where I’d hike, bike and swim with my boys. But then I would do it until I crashed and end up holed up in my room watching the sun rise and fall.

I’m returning to the lazy me. The girl who my grandmother called, “Lazy bones,” for lying on the couch watching her work. I need her to keep me from doing too much. I need her to remind me that being, just breathing is also a magical, spiritual experience.

For when we stop to breathe, we notice the things we take for granted.

The wind.

The sound of your working heart.

The intuitive knowing that speaks when you listen.

If you give yourself time to savor a cup of warm tea, sit in silence and lie down in reverie, you will hear the call of your heart. You will find energy that you try to gain from Starbucks. And you will reconnect with the part of you, you thought was lost.

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Making Room for the Grumps

Frayed ends

I have to admit that it’s been difficult to stay like this =) when I feel like this =(.

It’s been hard because my grandma recently passed away.

It’s been a challenge with my relative’s recent surgery.

It’s been annoying cause of the weather.

But if I was honest with myself, there are always reasons excuses to be frustrated with my current situation. There’s illnesses. There are getting older reminders. There are bad days filled with unlucky situations, toxic people and difficult circumstances that can get the best of me. The key is to create a toolkit to lessen the pain of the situation so that external circumstances aren’t stronger than my internal resources such as:

1) Surrounding myself with positive people.

Good friends who have been through difficult times remind me that challenges make people stronger and should make them wiser. They inspire me to harp less on pain and more on what’s working in my life.

2) Taking a break.

This means many things. It could mean leaving the dishes unwashed, turning off my laptop or giving myself a vacation from my inner critic. When the tough gets going, I need to get going too-towards rest and away from work.

3) Practicing self-compassion.

As any mother knows, you could always be doing better. But instead of comparing myself with a false ideal, I spend time working on self-forgiveness, acceptance and compassion. Yes my kid isn’t “gifted.” I may not be a professional chef or a breadwinner. But on some days, I can clean the house like nobody’s business. And yesterday I made my son smile. Did I mention I make a mean “healthy” brownie? Be the kind of friend to yourself that you’ve always wanted in another person. Forgive yourself for losing your patience. No one’s perfect. And thank God, you can always try again tomorrow.

4) Immerse myself in positivity.

It’s extremely rare to find a successful person who whines, complains, and frets about his or her circumstance.” – Richard Carlson

I love reality TV shows. I know that seems like an anomaly, but there are positive TV shows like The Little Couple and Super Soul Sunday that promote a positive perspective of gratitude and hope. Because I’m not there yet, it continually inspires me to live and be better.

5) Laugh until you cry.

I believe there is a thin line that connects our emotions. Sometimes to get out our pain we need to do something that feels more socially acceptable like laugh. Joy and sadness are just energies that need it’s day in the sunshine. To free them, watch a funny movie or make a date with a friend who’s great at making you laugh.

6) Make room for the grumps.

If all else fails and I’m one grumpy woman, I let her out. I don’t try to stifle her, distract her or criticize her for not being more positive. Life is hard and sometimes one needs to vent. And while I don’t always do this right, I aim to let her out on paper, or while I’m alone and save my loved ones from her wrath. Let the grump be the grump. Let your emotions be heard and eventually they will simmer. Ignore, distract and pretend they don’t exist and they will bubble up to the surface erupting into hot magma flow that will burn everyone in its way.

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Quick and Simple Ways to Relax Now

With Larisa at Mom-O-Rama.

This past Sunday, I managed to accomplish something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time-divulge my secrets to help people relax. [You can read more about the event I spoke at here.]

It made me even more passionate about spreading my message. We’re all so eager to get physically healthy, but rarely do we devote time to our emotional health and wellness. Caregivers, parents, and burnt out professionals need to read this!

I promised a few moms who missed my Mom-O-Rama talk at HMSA this weekend that I would email them my relaxation tips and I wanted to share them with you here:

  • Slow down: I interviewed a health psychologist for this article and she said that by simply slowing down our breath we can return to a feeling of peace and relaxation.

TRY IT: One thing I discovered by accident is that by massaging your jaw with your second and third fingers you will automatically breathe deeper, and more consciously from your diaphragm. That type of deep breathing helps to trigger the relaxation response. An added plus is it feels good too!

  • Social support: We’ve become so reliant on social media and texting to be our primary forms of communication, but there’s something to be said about in-person interaction. Instead of tweeting or messaging a friend, schedule time to talk with them. Social support has been shown in research to help with almost anything you can think of, including stress. As human beings, we’re more dependent on our relationships than we think.

TRY IT: Schedule a date with a friend or make an attempt to share something about yourself with someone new. Connecting with someone about what’s important to us and how we genuinely feel can make us feel less isolated and alone.

  • Music: Music is by far, one of the simplest way you can transform a mundane activity into something extraordinary.

TRY IT: Pick a tune and play it while you’re doing the laundry, dishes or even while putting your kids to sleep. If you find something soothing, the music will help you focus on the moment. You might find, as I did, that it can turn washing dishes into a spa day.

  • Meditation: Meditation could simply mean focusing on this moment. I created one visualization exercise that’s fun and that helps to remind me that no matter what I’m going through, all is well right now.

TRY IT: Get comfortable in your seat or while lying down. Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Imagine that every time you inhale you’re inhaling peace and relaxation. And when you exhale imagine you’re letting go of stress and tension. Now I want you to bring into your thoughts everything you’re currently stressed about. But imagine them as red balloons tied to you so that maybe one red balloon is worries over your kid’s academics, another is your concern for your parents’ health or your own financial well-being. For the next minute, just see in your mind’s eye every single red balloon you’re holding onto. Maybe you start to notice how they are each tugging at you. Maybe you notice your shoulders are inching up to your ears. Now for this moment, I want you to imagine letting each one go so that one red balloon turns into a small red circle into a dot until they disappear into the sky. Pretty soon, you’ve let them all go. Suddenly you feel your shoulders melting down from your ears, maybe your breath naturally deepens. Take another deep breath in and a deep breath out. Feel how good it is to realize that everything is all right in this moment. Stay here as long as you need to.

  • Color: Coloring is so stress relieving, adults are starting to do it too! In fact, it’s one of the most popular books these days on Amazon.

TRY IT: If you want to try it before you buy it, google free adult coloring pages or check out these pages on Pinterest.

  • Make a wish: Think about someone you love. Then, think about a wish you have for this person. I did this exercise at Oprah’s Live the Life You Want weekend in San Jose. She says the things you most wish for those you love are the things you most wish for yourself. But maybe you’re too focused and concerned on someone else to think of yourself. Let this be a reminder that you need to work on you too.

TRY IT: Whatever you wished for, make it a priority to help that dream come true.

I don’t think it’s possible to live a stress-free life. At least, that’s not the case for me. But I think what’s more important is to find ways to bring peace even amidst the chaos. And we do that by prioritizing stress management in our lives. Do it, and you might discover as I did that you’ll not only be able to cope with things better, but you’ll enjoy your life more.

 

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6 Signs You’re Spiritually Disconnected

Australia

{Etsy photo by MeemsaEtsyPlace}

It’s not easily recognizable unless you already know the symptoms. But there’s an ache, a longing, a feeling of purposelessness that comes over you when you’re disconnected. It can happen to all of us from the deeply religious to the spiritual. Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Emptiness. When you’re spiritually disconnected, there is a numbness and a feeling of hopelessness that permeates your being. It feels like you’re on automatic pilot. Every day seems like the next. Something’s missing, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
  2. Meaninglessness. You’re busy. You’re getting things done. You’re successful. Your career has taken off. But if you’ve questioned why you’re doing what you’re doing, it could be a sign of disconnection.
  3. Relapse. You’ve been doing well, eating healthy, exercising, meditating. Suddenly, you find yourself shopping fanatically, eating mindlessly, and doing whatever you can to fill the emptiness.
  4. Irritability. You’re tired, grumpy and find yourself picking a fight with loved ones. Arguing temporarily gives you a sense of purpose. But long-term it’s draining you.
  5. Imbalance. You’ve lost the joy in your life. You’re working hard but have forgotten to play.
  6. Routine. Life used to seem mysterious, magical, memorable. Now it seems routine. You’ve lost the ability to be grateful, to see things with fresh perspective, to expect the unexpected.

Have you experience any of these symptoms?

In my next post, I’ll provide a few tips to remedy a lack of soulfulness.

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The Secret to Success: Care Less?

{Etsy print by Art Problems}

{Etsy print by Art Problems}

I always believed if you work really hard and you really, really wanted something, you’ll get it. If I’m going to be honest, it’s how I’ve gotten everything I wanted or avoided what I didn’t want. It’s how I’ve accomplished the big things like get my first copywriting job with no prior experience and get out of things-paying tickets/admission/etc.

Besides that, it just makes sense.

Hard work = big pay off.

But there’s another important ingredient in the recipe of success that I often forget and that’s much harder than any time you put into working.

Doing. Nothing.

It’s something I don’t do enough of. I actually created a challenge for myself and you guys to do more by doing less in 2011. I can’t believe it was 3 years ago! It’s still an important reminder.

You can only do so much before you reach that point where you’re either going to burn out or become ineffective.

During moments when I’m feeling desperate like I’m trying to force something to happen, I take a breather. If you’re like me, you’ll need a little push to do nothing.

Nothing, after all, feels like failure. It feels like laziness. It feels unproductive.

But when we give ourselves time to sit and stare off in space, to read a book just for the fun of it, to draw even if our scrawls resemble our child’s, we open the door to inspiration. And in that place, life rewards us with the thing(s) we really needed anyway. So let this be your excuse to play.

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Put to Bed the Fighter

{Etsy decal by 60SecondMakeover}

{Etsy decal by 60SecondMakeover}

why it’s good to be a fighter…

I was born a fighter. I think I must have came out of the womb with gloves on. Well except that I was delivered via C-section so maybe I wasn’t quite ready.

I carried this mindset my entire life. It dictated my academics and shot me up from a C-average student to a straight-A’s one.

What that’s led to is a lot of great opportunities and surprising successes. And just as surprising failures.

What I’ve learned in looking back is that it’s not always the fight that wins the battle, but the letting go, surrendering and accepting what is. It’s a great thing to be a fighter. You need someone in your corner to fight for your dreams, to stand up for what’s right, to make a difference. But you need a listener to propel you into the life you were meant to live.

leaning into what is…

When you have an innately fighting personality, you believe with 100% certainty that you can control everything. Your body may be tired. Your soul may be fatigued. But your mind says, “Keep going!” And you listen. What happens over time is that you stop communicating with your intuitive voice. You live on adrenaline to keep going. Eventually, you run on empty and get sick.

It’s the same thing with living your life. I think being a straight A-student gave me the false impression that if I only work really hard, I could get everything I wanted right away. I forgot about ambiguity, faith, the unknown. I forgot about trust.

When you fill up every single space of “what if,” you leave little room for things like magic, mystery, serendipity.

It’s not wrong to go for what you believe in. But you won’t get to your dreams by going on your own. Don’t let your mind drive you all the time. Sharpen your intuition by trusting your instincts and allow your soul to guide you.

The struggle isn’t always the fight. Sometimes it’s about settling in softly into the present moment of the unknown and having the courage to walk patiently without answers, without solutions to your current problem and just be.

 

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