Happiest of Holidays to You and Yours!
"Over the river and through the woods" was more than a line from a holiday song to me growing up. For my family it was part of the Christmas ritual as we drove up to my Grandparent's farm in Northern Wisconsin. Frequently we were driving in heavy snow and there were many trees to see and rivers to cross before we crunched up the gravel drive and were welcomed by the lights of the farmhouse kitchen.
Even before the car stopped the dogs would be barking their "Hellos" and I would dash out of the car to rub their wagging tails and receive their sloppy kisses. If there was any light left in the day I'd run to the barn to visit the cows in their stalls munching away on their hay and corn. I loved the barn with it's earthy smells and steaming pails of milk! I would stay in there for hours, talking to the cows, scratching their itches and rubbing behind their filed down horns. If I got too close to their nose though, I'd end up with a long strip of gooey green hay slime on my sleeve (or worse, my face!) when the curious bovine licked me with her long tongue.
Those days on the farm and hours in the barn with the cows, dogs, cats, sheep and chickens were some of my happiest childhood days. It was also where my healing skills were first nurtured and my desire to help any and all creatures in pain gained strength. It wasn't all play and petting the pretty (pretty dirty!) cows though. Visiting the farm meant helping with the milking and the feeding and the barn cleaning (the endless barn cleaning!!) and whatever else Grandma and Grandpa needed help with. It made for a strong body and great sleep at the end of day. Long walks in the woods, through the fields and along the river taught me a love for nature that remains with me today.
It's a Southern California Christmas for me this year, but no matter whether you're sledding in the snow or surfing in the sea this Holiday season, may you be blessed by the warmth and love of dear ones, keeping them in your hearts joyfully and with good cheer!
Big Holiday Hugs,
P.S. Share a favorite Holiday memory in the comments section below :D
Walking is an ideal form of exercise. Our bodies are designed to walk! A walk of just 10 minutes will refresh you and get your blood flowing, 15-20 minutes will reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes and 30-40 minutes of regular walking will help your liver burn fat and improve the cognitive function of your brain, plus all the well known benefits to your lungs, muscles and bones.
Well, all that is true and good, but thinking about taking a walk because you HAVE TO EXERCISE makes it seem like a CHORE. Anything thought of as a CHORE it will definitely get relegated to the 'NOT FUN' and the 'NOT DONE' category.
What if we turn that around and think about walking as a mini-vacation in the midst of your busy day? If you 'walk for wonder' it can be just that … a mini-vacation.
Guess what? You already know how to Walk for Wonder and you've done it before, probably many times. For example, while walking to the coffee shop something catches your eye that makes you smile. Maybe it's the sloppy chocolate-smeared face of a child with an ice cream cone, a large exuberant puppy pulling it's owner along the sidewalk, or the first buds of green on the trees in springtime. That momentary glimpse of beauty or sweetness stops your whirling brain, settles your breath deep into your belly and, Voila!, an instant moment of relaxation. You buy your coffee and go back to your tasks refreshed, re-balanced and feeling in harmony with the world around you.
So…how does one Walk for Wonder and not merely for exercise?
Start walking. (natch)
Open your eyes and look around. Yes, yes, I know, your eyes are usually open when you're walking. But where are they focused? Looking at your feet while your brain swirls the day's events about? Staring blankly ahead of you as you barrel through the lunchtime crowd? Even in the busiest cityscape there is something to 'wonder' at. So…eyes open.
Check your shoulders. Are they relaxed? What about your neck? As you walk shake your shoulders a bit, roll your neck slightly, yawn. Yawning will help relax your jaw and draw in more oxygen to your lungs.
Pay attention to your feet. Feel your feet spread slightly with each footfall. Think of the soles of your feet like a drain in a sink and just open them up in your mind's eye. Imagine all your tension and stress draining out, pouring into the ground as you walk.
Check in with your senses - aka Get Sensual Baby!
I mean it...now that you're walking and your body is relaxed check in with each of your five senses:
Sight: Look around, notice how brilliantly orange that flower looks as it's caught in last rays of the sun. Take a moment to really look at it - yes, you can stop! Walking for Wonder doesn't require that you go barreling down the street.
Touch: Focus on the feel of the sun on your face, or the mist or the rain. Is the air warm, balmy, sharp, cool, cold, frosty or freezing?
Sound: Listen to the wind in the trees, the birds chirping, the sound of the cars as they pass by, the crunch of the gravel beneath your feet or the gentle bump of your neighbor's swing against the big oak tree.
Taste: Does the air have a taste to it, however mild? or maybe you're sipping water, pay attention to that, identify it, give it a name - sweet, crisp, refreshing.
Smell: There is always a smell - that crisp, fresh "after the storm" smell, the exhaust of a passing bus, the earthiness of your neighbor's freshly mowed grass.
Come up with your own descriptions as you walk and tune into your senses…go on, wax poetic for just a bit.
Now that you've relaxed your body and checked in with your five senses you can do a bit of brisk walking if you like. If not, save your brisk walking for another time, remember, this is Walking for Wonder -- Not for Exercise!
One last step. Just as the flower has graced you with beauty and the breeze has brought you to your senses, now I ask that you pay the favor forward and smile at a passerby. Just a simple acknowledgement of their presence. Make a connection, however brief. Appreciate the joy that simple human interaction might bring to somebody in the middle of their busy day.
That's it, you're done!
By the way, the sneaky thing about Walking for Wonder is that it also gives you the benefit of (drum roll please) … exercise.
May all your walks be filled with Wonder! Then share the Wonder by leaving a comment below describing a moment that woke up your senses or fed your soul.
As I walked (yes, walked!) to the grocery store this evening, fog from the Pacific danced in the headlights of rush hour traffic and softened the glare of streetlights. To us in LA, this is winter. Time to put on sweaters and extra covers at night, even light a fire in the fireplace and say silly things like "boy is it chilly." Especially silly as my relatives back in Minnesota and Wisconsin have recently endured weeks of arctic temps multiple digits below zero. Wherever you live though, this time of year can seem a little low energy. The Holidays are over, the thrill of newly made resolutions has faded and spring is oh so far away. That's why I put together this short list of five simple things that can make a big impact on your energy and give you just that little extra boost.
Five Little Things You Can Do Today to Feel More Energized
Some of these tips might feel like no-brainers, but are you actually doing them? Here’s five easy things you can build into your daily life that will put that extra pep in your step.
Get Enough Sleep
Do whatever you can to get the sleep that you need. If you need nine hours of sleep, you must be vigilant about getting nine hours of sleep. Yes, occasionally we just can’t get what we need, but if you go months at a time getting less, you’re hurting your body. You’re not giving it time to heal and recuperate, which is what happens while we sleep.
Every once in a while situations come up and we have to make exceptions one way or another. It’s important to make sure we build in a day or two just for ourselves to relax after periods of less-than-optimal sleep times.
If you want to have more energy, limit sugar, coffee and alcohol. This may seem counter-intuitive, because coffee is generally thought to give people energy. One or two cups in the morning is fine, but if you find yourself drinking coffee later in the day you’re depriving yourself of precious rest time during the night.
Some friends and clients have told me that they can drink coffee and go right to sleep. This tells me that either they are so exhausted that it doesn’t matter how much caffeine they imbibe, or their body is so accustomed to stimulants that it’s almost immune to them. Either option is not ideal. Try cutting down on caffeine to a level where your body is still receiving benefit.
Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration keeps your body functioning properly, simple as that. Water helps flush out toxins and lubricate all our movement, and is especially important if you do drink coffee or alcohol. How much water per day? It is suggested that you take your body weight, divide it in half and drink that many ounces per day. So, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink about 60 ounces of water per day. At 10 ounces per glass, that would be 6 glasses of water.
Go for a Walk
Move that body! Our bodies are designed to move, especially to walk. In these days of cars and computers we don’t walk enough, so try adding even ten minutes of walking into your daily routine. A walk around the block will get the energy and blood flowing again.
A fun alternative to this is to take a five minute dance break! Bop around to your favorite tunes for a few minutes and your brain will feel sharper, you will feel energized and you might not even need your coffee.
Get at least 10 minutes a day without sunscreen, as it blocks some of the natural benefits of the sun. If you’re worried about getting a sunburn, choose carefully the hours you sun: before 9 am or after 3 pm is ideal for those with fair skin (10am to 4pm during Daylight Saving Time). Aside from the well-known benefit of helping our bodies make Vitamin D, getting some sun helps regulate your circadian rhythms, which will help you sleep better at night.
Implement these five little things into your daily life, and in no time you’ll be feeling much more energized and centered!
Creating a Sacred Space: Why I Work from Home
Over the years, I’ve practiced Reiki and GYROTONIC® in studio spaces as well as invited clients into my home. Home is better. Yes, it makes sense that something like Gyrotonic would be offered in a studio or gym setting because it’s movement-based, and many luxury clubs offer services such as Reiki as well. However, my most successful clients prefer to work with me one-on-one in my home, and it's not just because they can play their favorite tunes.
As the healer, working out of my home helps me feel grounded. The simple fact that I can have a cup of tea on my balcony or relax by petting my cats a bit before starting a session impacts my clients tremendously, and they can feel the soothing energy the instant they enter the apartment. I also like to meditate and light candles before a client arrives. Through meditation, I create a calm and peaceful atmosphere that allows deep healing to occur.
At the gym, the mind more easily strays from the present moment to a to-do list or the next appointment. The home space is a comforting, all-encompassing, and womb-like retreat where the mind can settle in.
The moment a client sets foot in my home, they know they have absolute privacy. Unlike a gym or club setting where you can feel chaotic, fiery energy radiating from the people around you or blaring through speakers in the ceiling, the energy in my apartment is very quiet and centered.
Often when a client comes to me in pain, there is an emotional component to the injury. It’s important to feel safe enough to delve into the emotional aspect to truly clear out the “junk” and help the body heal. In my home, it’s just you and me. My cats are sleeping in the other room. They’re not going to tell. My plants are here to support you, they’re not going to tell. There’s an opening for healing and release that is created when a client truly feels at ease and we can work much deeper. Tell me, would you prefer to delve into your secrets in the middle of the gym or in the comfort of my home studio?
In the end, the simple fact that clients are walking into my personal space elevates the session to a level of intimacy that in my experience is not possible to achieve in a public space. I trust them and welcome them into my home. That confidence inspires their willingness to be vulnerable with me in return. Working with Reiki and Gyrotonic at home, in my opinion, is the most productive and healing way to work.
And the best part is, there is no line for the bathroom.