Effortless Gratitude plus a Gift for You


With Thanksgiving (here in the States) just around the corner, I find my thoughts turning towards gratitude.

I don’t have a specific gratitude practice.

Yes, I’ve read about the benefits of practicing gratitude or having an ‘attitude of gratitude.’ I understand, thanks to Brené Brown, that it is impossible to live a joyful life without actively practicing gratitude.

However, for me, practicing gratitude contains a should. As in, “If you want to life a joyful, connected life, you should practice gratitude.”

As with everything containing a should, I resist. I rebel. I don’t do it.

Followed by, naturally, feeling guilt for not doing something that could enhance my life.

Such an unnecessary cycle! And so easily avoided by simply practicing gratitude!

Except, that isn’t how things work for me.

While I don’t have a specific gratitude practice, I often do feel grateful.

There are times when I feel such immense gratitude for everything in my life that all I can do is bow down to the earth saying ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ over and over and over.

There is nothing quite like that sweet intermingling of joy, humility, and gratitude.

To bring that state of joy and gratitude to the surface, I don’t practice gratitude.

I practice connection.

Gratitude flows from connection.

When I am deeply connected to my body, to myself, to the present moment, all I feel is gratitude. Gratitude so intense and so filled with joy that it verges on pain, that it overwhelms me and I have no option but to surrender to it.

When I’m not connected to my body, myself, the present moment, no amount of trying to feel grateful is going to get me to that place of deep joy and thankfulness.

Same scenario; different experiences.

Let’s consider the following regularly occurring scenario:

Me, lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning after being awoken for the umpteenth time by a little one learning to sleep.

Experience 1: immense upwellings of gratitude and deep relaxation.

I listen to the rain softly falling outside my window, I feel the utter exhaustion of my body, I hear the soft sounds of my little one as he returns to peaceful sleep, the wind rustling the bare branches outside the window. I burrow deeper into my covers, filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

In these moments, there is no striving to feel grateful, there is only this natural outflowing of thanks-giving for every precious moment of and in my life…

Experience 2: anger, resentment, and self-pity combined with tension radiating through my body.

I lay there, mind racing as I think about how little sleep I’m getting, how my body aches, how very sleep deprived I am, how every moment that I lie awake is one moment less of precious sleep, and how I will be even more exhausted when morning finally arrives.

The difference is connection.

When connected to myself, to my body and spirit, to my external worlds of home, family, community, work, and to my internal worlds of feelings, sensations, and emotions, gratitude becomes effortless.

When I’m not connected, no amount of ‘trying’ to feel gratitude is enough.

When I am, there is no other state possible than utter and complete gratitude.

For you, today, I’m offering this gift:

My connection practice takes many forms. I share one here:

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 1.35.58 PM

One of the 7 audio Remedies for Holiday Overwhelm, listen whenever you want to feel more gratitude and connection – to the natural world, to others, to yourself.

While this recording contains the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address* and I’m offering it to you now, at Thanksgiving, its true purpose is to connect you deeply with the natural world.

And, through this connection, to bring you naturally, effortlessly, into a state of gratitude.

My wish for you.

May you remember this holiday season that deep connection leads to effortless gratitude.

May you surround yourself with practices, people, rituals, and reminders that help you connect deeply to yourself, to Spirit, to the natural world, and to others.

May you know, feel, and live gratitude this holiday season.

*The Thanksgiving Address as shared by Chief Jake Swamp and modified for the general public by John Stokes of the Tracking Project.

The Holiday Overwhelm Survival Kit

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 4.22.03 PMThe holidays are fast approaching. Already I feel dread and resistance descending. Perhaps you do too?

If so, I have a solution: Seven Audio Remedies!

Audio remedies?

Yes, audio remedies. I took a look through the holiday posts I have written over the past seven years and discovered something interesting. Practically every year I’ve written at least one post talking about how overwhelmed I feel and offering a suggestion for how to relieve said overwhelm.

I chose the posts with the most useful suggestions or concepts and recorded myself reading them.

Just like that, they were transformed into audio remedies – seven individual doses of medicinal calm and perspective to counter holiday pressure and overwhelm.

These remedies are for you if you:

  • like me, tend to feel overwhelmed, alone, not-enough, stressed, and pressured during this time of year
  • want quick doses of perspective and calm – most of the recordings are 5-7 minutes long
  • want to know that you are not alone in dreading and resisting all the activity and busyness of the holidays
  • enjoy listening to audio recordings
  • want simple suggestions for returning to center and feeling nourished throughout this holiday season

These remedies are not for you if:

  • you love the holidays and are filled with cheer, wonder, love, joy, and peace during this time of year
  • you do not enjoy listening to audio recordings

How much?


How will they be delivered?

A download link will arrive in your inbox immediately after purchase.

You want? Yay!


ps. I created these remedies because I experience holiday pressure and overwhelm and want to share what helps me find relief. May the suggestions and energies of these remedies do the same for you.

You are Worthy; Your Body Loves You

worthyWhen beginning to explore why they don’t do things that nourish them, many people run into the thought that they don’t deserve to do self-care. They don’t feel ‘worthy’ of doing nice things for themselves.

Another question along a similar vein is: “Why can’t it just feel good to do good things for myself?”

Self-care isn’t about ‘worth’ or ‘deserving.’

While these are worthwhile questions to spend time inquiring into, they don’t have much to do with self-care as I teach it.

If anything, these topics lead to an increase in self-analysis (which occurs in the head) and continued disconnection from the body. In the end, they serve as a further distraction from doing the things that nourish you.

Our bodies don’t question whether we are worthy of self-care.

When we take a moment to sink out of our heads and into our bodies, these questions, these thoughts, these beliefs about ourselves that may or may not be true, simply melt away.

Our bodies don’t think in this way. They don’t care whether or not we have been good enough to ‘deserve’ to be nice to ourselves.

Our bodies simply love us. They are always here, in the present moment, waiting for us.

Let’s experiment.

Allow your eyes to relax into your Owl Eyes. Now, do a scan of your body. Notice any areas where you are holding tension or pain. Note the sensations present.

As you are ready, shift your attention to areas of your body that feel good to you, whatever that means in this moment. What sensations are present in these parts of your body?

Now, spend a moment or two, still with your eyes soft and relaxed, watching/witnessing your ever-changing internal landscape. You don’t have to do anything with what you notice. You are simply gathering information. You are listening to your body.

Gently bring your attention back out of your body.

While you were connecting with your body in this way, what thoughts were present? Was it even possible to think, to have questions of worth and deserving, when you were fully present with your body? I’m guessing not.

This is self-care beyond questions of worth and deserving.

Connecting with our bodies isn’t necessarily easy.

Yes, when we first begin to connect with them (especially if we have been disconnected for some time) we are likely to encounter pain and other challenging sensations.

Yes, it may be beneficial to seek help from a therapist or a bodyworker or to work with me.

Soliciting the listening skills of a close friend could also be beneficial.

However, embodying our bodies is the path to effortless self-care.

As we continue to connect with and listen to our bodies, they will guide us towards the people, activities, places, and the moments of stillness that most nourish and support us.

And eventually, as we allow ourselves to fully embody our bodies, we will discover that self-care becomes effortless. We will discover that doing good things for ourselves does simply feel good!

For you:

Do you struggle with feeling worthy of doing nice things for yourself? …whether that means taking 5 minutes to sit quietly by yourself before doing the next thing or taking a weekend at the beach or…

If you were to relax into your Owl Eyes and sink into your body, what might you discover?

My love to you.

Note: If questions of worth and not-enoughness are up for you, I highly recommend the work of Brené Brown – especially Daring Greatly as this book puts into compassionate context how living in a culture of scarcity affects our perceptions of ourselves.

It’s Not About Eating Broccoli – Defining Self-Care without the ‘Should’

photo credit Pontus

A friend recently told me that whenever she hears the words ‘self-care’ she immediately quits listening. A wall goes up within her.

She continued: “For me, the term self-care contains an underlying should. It contains this sense of something that has to be done daily, like doing the dishes or eating broccoli. It is not something that leads to growth or healing. A certain amount just needs to be done in order to function.

I know that what I’m describing isn’t how you talk about self-care but… I get stuck on the word ‘self-care’ and then tune out whatever comes next.”

Can you relate to my friend’s experience?

Do you also experience either a slight twinge of guilt or a full-fledged wall of resistance when you hear ‘self-care’?

Does it remind you of all the things you know you ‘should’ be doing but aren’t (for whatever, perfectly valid, reason)?

For myself, even, there were many years when the term self-care evoked guilt, a sense of obligation, and complete resistance.

It has been a long and winding journey for me to get to a place where the term self-care evokes a sense of nourishment, support, and strength. To get there, I’ve had to rewrite what self-care means.

For me, now, there are two levels to self-care.

Self-Care, Level One:

The first level is somewhat akin to what my friend speaks of above, with a couple of caveats.

For this level, I define Self-Care as: the small things you do on a (mostly) daily basis that nourish and support you.

The 2 caveats are:

  1. Your self-care may look very different than my self-care. Perhaps a long conversation with a trusted friend for you; 5 minutes staring into space doing nothing for me.
  2. If it feels like an obligation or a ‘should’, it isn’t self-care. Is there something else that calls to you that doesn’t have a ‘should’ attached? If so, do that instead.

The second level of self-care is what I call Sacred Self-Care.

You can learn how to create your own Sacred Self-Care practice here.

I define Sacred Self-Care as those activities, practices, people, etc that bring you fully (safely, gently) into your body and into the present moment.

This level has less to do with what you are doing and more to do with how you are being as you do it. It has to do with bringing a deeper level of awareness into your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Eventually everything becomes self-care.

As we approach self-care in this manner, eventually everything we do (whether it is a ‘self-care’ activity or not) becomes self-care. When we are truly present in our bodies and in the present moment, even things we normally dislike (like eating broccoli or doing the dishes ;), have the potential to be self-care.

Every moment of our life truly becomes sacred.

This is the essence of Sacred Self-Care.

This is the essence of everything I teach and of the healing sessions I offer.

Self-care, as I teach it, does lead to tangible healing and growth.

Through doing self-care in this way we become more resourced and resilient. Deeply held traumas are gently met and dissolved as our capacity to be present to what is true, what is real, and what is needed in the moment, increases.

Basically, more of *us* becomes available in every moment of our lives.

We are better able to meet life’s challenges and joys without resisting, collapsing, or withdrawing (at least not for very long). We become better at meeting ourselves… all of ourselves… our light, our shadows, our pain, our joy, our fear, our grief, our deep, deep ability to love…

And then…

And then, magically, effortlessly, we begin to be able to meet, to love, to respect, and to tend to those we love – our partners, children, our greater families, our friends, our communities, our earth!, and on and on and on – on a deeper level than ever before.

We begin to move effortlessly in the direction of work (and play) that truly feeds us and that allows us to contribute our true gifts and unique talents. Our lives (whether unassuming or grand) inspire others to the same.

We discover that just us being our unique, vulnerable, authentic selves brings the possibility of healing and transformation to those we encounter.

For me, self-care is a path of endless growth and healing, first for ourselves and then rippling out in all directions.

How about you?

What do you think (or feel) when you hear ‘self-care?’ What tangible benefits have you experienced as a result of your self-care practice?

Photo credit: Pontus

What Little D is Teaching Me about Struggle, Frustration, and Learning New Skills

IMG_20150718_082254753Yesterday I was watching my 5-month old as he struggled and struggled and struggled to reach out and grasp his favorite chewable book. He was on his stomach and the book was just barely within his reach. Except, every time he reached for it, his fingers would brush it and push it further away from him.

Oh, the resulting frustration! He howled and howled.

And then, he would try again.

Again, he would just touch it, only to push it further away.

As his mother, watching him, it was excruciating. I SO wanted to reach out and give him the book. And, I did a couple of times but within a matter of moments it would once again be out of reach and the entire process would begin again.

Watching him, I found myself wondering…

  • What if all of those times when I struggle and struggle and struggle and it seems as if the thing I so want (to learn, to become, to have) is always just out of my reach… I’m actually on the verge of learning some new skill?
  • What if the struggle in and of itself is a gift? A gift because without the struggle I wouldn’t be able to learn something new that will lead to a huge growth spurt in my life.
  • What if being rescued from my struggling means that I never master the new skill or receive the gift inherent?
  • What if feeling frustrated is a healthy part of the struggle and in no way indicates the thing I’m attempting is impossible (or that I’m a failure)?
  • What if it is ok to fully express frustration and then try again?

The skills we don’t yet know we need.

For Little D, two of the skills he is on the verge of mastering include:

  1. an increase in fine-motors skills as evidenced by a better ability to grasp; and
  2. crawling!

If I continue to give him everything he wants the moment he wants it, he will not be able to struggle and struggle to reach it himself. Ultimately, me ‘rescuing’ him from his frustration will delay him learning to crawl.

If I give him the space to struggle and to figure things out on his own he will learn to crawl which will, ultimately, open up his little world in an entirely new way. In fact, it will open his world in ways that he can’t even imagine in his current state of frustration and struggle.

What if the same is true for me? What if the same is true for you?