Archive | Living Brighter RSS feed for this section

Kindle Reads – “Living Your Yoga” – Part 1b

18 Jan

Image Source: Drew Avery


You can find the introduction to this series of posts here.

The final three qualities of finding more awareness in your own life by “Living Your Yoga” are described here.

Faith Practice

This section discusses the importance of having faith – faith in yourself and faith that things will work out as they should.  My faith definitely wavers especially when things don’t work out the way that I expect them to. A quote that really spoke to me on this concept was “belief is a preconception about the way reality should be; faith is the willingness to experience reality as it is, including the acceptance of the unknown.” This one sentence pretty much sums up how I would like to live, although most of the time my preconceptions get in the way. To practice faith, we have to make decisions in connection with our hearts. My favorite mantra from this section was “I have the courage to act from my heart and the compassion to stay open.”

Perspective Practice

This section calls each of us to broaden our perspective and to explore other points of view. Wisdom is really just the clarity of perspective, stepping back and seeing the big picture. You know they say hindsight is 20/20, but perhaps if we are willing to look through a different lens, we can really see what is important and what is not, we can avoid pitfalls or curb negative reactions we may have.  “Your life is as it is. How you feel about your life is up to you.” Ways to practice perspective are to cultivate gratitude (which I’ve been trying to do weekly in Thankful Thursday posts) and to purposefully make a point to look at a situation from a different perspective. My favorite mantra from this section was “It won’t be this way forever.

Courage Practice

According to Judith Lasater, she believe that next to love, courage is the second most important quality to cultivate.  It is knowing when to ask for help, listening to your heart.  To strengthen your courage, practice a yoga pose that you are afraid of. For me that might be a backbend or flipping over from a three legged dog. I can take small steps to work towards each of these poses, having compassion with myself at however far I can get. I need to not do something just because it is scary, “the point is to choose to do what is possible in the face of fear. That choice defines courage. And with it comes a sense of freedom.” My favorite mantra from this section, “Letting go of what I cannot change celebrates my courage.” 

Do you feel that you live your life in awareness?

What areas do you think you can work on on a daily basis?

**All quotes from Living Your Yoga – Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Lasater **


Kindle Reads – “Living Your Yoga” – Part 1a

6 Jan

Image Source: Lady Tori

One of my Goals for 2012 was to read more and one of the books on my must read list was Living Your Yoga – Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Lasater. It came recommended by Kim over at Forty is (the new) Fabulous and I was intrigued. Now I’m no spiritual guru nor do I tend to be “hippie-ish” in any way, but I thought that there was no harm in learning more about finding more peace and calm in my everyday life. I’ve also been loving me some yoga lately so I thought it was the perfect time to incorporate whatever the author had to share.  I’ve tried reading “enlightenment” books like A New Earth and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle only to get bogged down in the heavy verbiage. Lucky for me, that is NOT the case with Living Your Yoga.

The book is separated into three parts:

Part 1 – “Awakening Awareness: Yoga within Yourself”
Part 2 – “Widening the Circle: Yoga and Relationships”
Part 3 – “Embracing All  Life: Yoga in the World”

Within each part are seven qualities that the author believes should be nurtured within our everyday lives. The author uses personal stories and quotes from ancient spiratual writings to explain the importance of each quality and how each person can cultivate it. She suggests some yoga practices both in the form of poses and Daily Mantra meditations that can help each person focus on enhancing that particular area of their life.

Currently, I have just finished Part 1and wanted to do a download of the practices that I learned and how I can apply them to my everyday life. The sections are short so they are easily reread so that I can get the full understanding of what is being said! I’m a dork, what can I say! 🙂

Here’s the first four qualities:

Spiritual Seeking – Abiding Practice

This section taught that the answers we seek are within each of us and the only way to find them is to develop full awareness of our lives be it in our thoughts, words and actions. This practice requires centering and focusing on the breath and living in the present moment (something I’m sure we all could do more of!). This is much like what you would do at the beginning and end of each yoga practice, but Judith encourages  to do it at any time of the day. There’s no objective to the practice other than to fully experience your own life, free of any distractions.  The place where I have found abiding practice to be the most soothing and calming is in a hot shower when I can clear my mind of the stresses of the day. My favorite mantra from this section is “I commit to living my life fully in this moment.”

Discipline Practice

This section taught that discipline has less to do with the amount of things you can accomplish in a day and more to do with intention and commitment. It says that “yoga , or that state in which fluctuations (or agitations) of the mind are resolved, can be achieved by practice (or discipline) and detachment (or letting go, described in the next section)”. Now discipline as used here is not “Go to the corner in time out!” or “Sorry can’t have that cause you were bad girl!”. Discipline here is resolving to do something with intention (be it reading a book, eating dinner, practicing piano) and  fully immersing yourself in the moment of whatever action you are doing.  I’ve been trying to be disciplined while reading this book. Clearing my mind and fully focusing on the words on the page and their meaning to my life. My favorite mantra from this section is “Discipline is quality, not quantity”.

Letting Go Practice

This section was one that really spoke to me. One that I think I need to embrace whole heartedly. It was mentioned to me before by a co-worked that I need to detach myself from the outcome of a situation (particularly the one of my not getting pregnant). I was a little offended because really isn’t the outcome EVERYTHING?? But, in Living Your Yoga, this message was explained yet again and I think this time I understand (although I’ve been struggling with putting it into practice!). Being detached is NOT being uninterested, it is the act of just living your life and remaining present even with all the crap that is going on around you. I need to give up my attachment to the way I think things should be so that I may be able to experience another perspective. The attachment then loses power over my life. I’m have a GREAT  life with or without a baby. I’m healthy, The Hubs is healthy, we’re financially stable, and life is pretty darn good. Acceptance is key. My favorite mantra from this section is “This is the perfect moment to let go.”

Self Judgement Practice

This section starts out with a quote from the Yoga Sutra (2:46)  which translated says “The posture should be steady and comfortable.” When I read this, I immediately thought of tree pose. This is one pose that I sometimes for the life of me can’t do. I can’t find my balance and am wobbling all around (definitely not steady and comfortable!) and then I proceed to judge myself for not being able to do something that in my head should be simple. But other times, when I’m not thinking so hard, I can balance for quite a while relishing in my strength and balance. One thing I realized I need to remember is that there is a difference from honestly admitting that you may not have done your best and self judgement. Self judgement is drawing a conclusion about how you performed in a situation. It is giving in to the negative self-talk. To speak to yourself softly and compassionately is to live in a comfortable way both internally and in the world.  Living fully there is no space for self-judgement.  There will always be difficulties in life, but my attitude and inner dialogue to these events CAN change! My favorite mantra from this section – “I am attempting something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying.”

I’ll finish up the rest of Part 1 another day! Don’t want to get too heavy on a Friday, but have found writing this so helpful (especially after a rough day)! Hopefully it speaks to some of you, as well!

Do you practice any of these qualities in your daily life?

Becca’s Closet

10 Oct

While I was cleaning the closet yesterday, I found a few things from my past that have been in the closet gathering dust.

Prom Dresses!

There were five dresses in the hallway closet still in their garment bags. Two I kept…one that I could possibly wear again (what can I say, I was a prude in high school so that dress is still age appropriate!) and the other held sentimental value since I wore it to Junior Prom – the dance I went to with The Hubs. The third looked a little old, so I put in the give away pile.

The other two, however, I thought looked in good condition, so I started researching the possibility of donating them to an organization that gives prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them.

I headed over to Donate My Dress (link found in Better Homes and Garden) and found an organization fairly close by that takes dresses.

The organization is Becca’s Closet and they have a high school in Tracy and one in Modesto that will take dresses. Only problem is, they say the dresses need to be from 2005 to present so that they are “current styles”.  (Ugh! Makes me feel SO OLD!)

Anyways, I looked at the dresses I again and I really don’t think they look that out of date!

See for yourself…

Blue shimmer dress I wore to Senior Ball – 2000

Detail at the top and better idea of color. It’s like a shimmer blue/black.

Black strapless dress with flower detail. Can’t even remember what I wore it to!

I really hope these are donation worthy! I’d love to make a difference in the life of teenager by giving them a fun dress to wear to Homecoming or a Prom!

What do you think? 

Do you think these dresses are donation worthy?

Doing Things for Myself

5 Oct

I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin’s – The Happiness Project blog for some time. There was awhile there where I was reading books all about happiness (including The How of Happiness and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment), trying to figure out ways where I could make my life happier. At the time, work was really crappy and the unhappiness of it seemed to leak into every portion of my life.

That was before her book The Happiness Project came out and although I haven’t yet read the book (I figured I would get most of the info in it on her blog), I’ve been filing away little tidbits of what she’s learned into my daily life.

The latest thing I’m trying to incorporate to make my life (and marriage) happier was found on Tip Wednesday a couple of weeks ago.

Gretchen wrote an article about the 5 mistakes she continues to make in her marriage and even though I could identify with Every.Single.One of them, I worked on just the first one over the weekend.

I always want to be recognized for what I do around the house, something Gretchen calls “Demanding Gold Stars“. Like her husband, mine is also not very good about handing them out. He normally doesn’t care if the house is super tidy or that the sink is free of dirty dishes.  Those are things I appreciate. So instead of getting annoyed when he doesn’t do something, I’ve been just trying to do things for myself that I know will make me happy. For instance, this weekend The Hubs washed his car and then took it out for a drive and didn’t wash mine at the same time. So while he was out, I went ahead and washed my car myself. I felt such a sense of accomplishment and it made me happy that I had a nice, sparkly car (that got rained on today!) It’s the little things people! 🙂

From now on I’m going to try to give myself gold stars both at home and work when I check something off a To-Do list or accomplish something I think is significant!

Image Source: The Happiness Project

The next mistake I definitely need to work on is Number 4 – Scorekeeping. I’m always keeping a tally of all the thing I’m doing around the house and I’m oblivious to the things The Hubs IS doing around the house. He gets annoyed that I only see what I do and that I don’t see what he does. Anyone else have this problem?? I think if I followed the rule above about doing things for MYSELF, we’d BOTH be happier!

Are any of you guilty of one of Gretchen’s “Marriage Mistakes”??

Have any of you read The Happiness Project? Is it worth reading even if you follow her blog?

I Give Up…

9 Mar
For Catholics (and those who love a challenge) everywhere, Ash Wednesday (Today!) marks the first day of the Lenten season. The forty days that lead up to Easter has become the time of year where we challenge ourselves to do without something that we don’t really need. 
Since I’ve grown up Catholic, I have had many opportunities to try (and fail!) at giving up something that I truly love. When I was younger, it was often chocolate or candy. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been better about highly qualifying what I give up (something I learned from my mom who often gives up candy – specifically Tootsie Rolls. Bit sized Snickers or Milky Ways are fair game!). Last year, I gave up Starbucks Mochas. I did really well, didn’t cave once, and saved a pretty penny on top of it!

This year, I was planning on giving up all alcohol for Lent in order to “practice” for when the time came when alcohol would be a no-no. But I think that I would be just setting myself up for failure considering I have some already planned occassions coming up where I may just want a glass of wine (i.e. – an “I quit my job” bash for one of my best friends and a snow trip with my other best friend).

I’ve already started to cut back on the wine intake, so I plan on continuing that. In fact, to continue with the cut back, I think I’ll give up all alcohol at home, including when we have company over (there’s qualification at its best!). That might be a cop out, but The Hubs and I do enjoy a lovely Thursday or Friday night glass of wine after a long work day, so I think it will still be a challenge.

I still would like to give up something else, but couldn’t think of anything in time to start today. I’ll keep you posted if I come up with something.

Also this Lenten season, I want to make sure I don’t eat meat on Fridays, another Catholic tradition. I’m usually pretty conscientious about this, but I think I might go a bit farther and make it no fish/seafood also. Perhaps it will give me the incentive to try out some new vegetarian recipes that I have come across that I can share. Or maybe you all will share some good vegetarian recipes with me! Hint, hint! 🙂
What is everyone else giving up for Lent? Do you think your will power will get you through the next 40 days or are you a little worried about following through, like I am?


9 Feb

You know the saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”? I know it’s mostly used when talking about relationships, however, I’ve found its relevance in my professional life.

As you know from a previous post, I’ve been working crazy hours – like 10am to 9pm crazy. It’s been happening for about 2 weeks straight. It’s exhausting and annoying.

However, today  I am grateful for it.

Why you may ask?

Because, yesterday I was able to work a normal 8am – 5pm day and OMG was it REFRESHING!

I was able to leave and come home when it was still light out.
I was able to enjoy both the sunrise and the sunset on my drive to and from work.
I was able to go to lunch at a normal hour and hit up the gym so I could get home early to hang out with my husband.
The day flew by and when it was 5 o’clock I was outta there (and didn’t feel guilty).
I got a lot more accomplished because I could go back to my good ol’ morning routine.
I was able to go to Starbucks and get a morning snack.

I know that I likely have a few more 10am-9pm’s  in my future, but I think it will really help me appreciate the normal days that I often used to despise.

If you had asked me last week if I would be grateful for working crazy hours, I would have given you a big “HELL NO!”.

I hope this new perspective will help me continue to see the things I should be grateful for in any challenge, obstacle or negative thing that occurs in my life. I know it won’t be easy, but now I’ll have the post to always come back to and remind me!

January – Goal Update

1 Feb

Can you believe that January is already over? I sure can’t! Even though the work days seem to drag by, time still seems to be flying!

The last day of January seemed like the perfect time to reflect on how I’m progressing with the goals I’ve set for myself for 2011 (plus a few I added along the way) and also how I’m doing without the 11 things my life doesn’t need in 2011 (probably one of my favorite #reverb10 posts!).

Goals Accomplished!

Personal Training – A week or so ago, I finished the 8 personal training sessions The Hubs got me for Christmas. I had a really awesome time learning new workout skills and techniques. Even though I hated being pushed by the trainer while I was in a session, I always felt so accomplished afterward. When it came time to sign up again, the trainer was pretty hard core about getting me to continue, but the true cheap skate in my passed. I feel like I shouldn’t let money stop me in my training goals, but just the thought of dropping $600 – $1000 for a month or so of sessions is really hard for me… We’ll see where this goal goes for the rest of the year. For now, it’s transformed into a resolution to get into the gym 4-5 times a week and doing both cardio AND weights.

Take a Trip – Although we haven’t yet gone on or even planned a big trip for this year, I DID spontaneously plan a trip to San Luis Obispo this past weekend. It was a great way to unwind after what was a crap work week for me. It is amazing how even a short trip recharged my battery, even if it was only a little bit. I think it is probably the reason for me not coming into work today crying my eyes out (which happened pretty much every day last week!).

Avila Beach – Jan 2011

Take a Class – I took a meditation class in the beginning of the month, which I really enjoyed. I do however need to find more time to practice what I learned. I would like to take a class a month, if possible, so I need to start doing research into what classes are available in the topics I want to study.

Buy Stuff – The Hubs and I bought an area rug for the living room…a small step in the right direction (see before and after below). We still need curtains for the bedroom and a TV console, but research has begun in at least one of these areas.

Living Room – Before
Living Room – After
New Habits Started
Flossing! – I started flossing twice a day at the beginning of the year and I’m happy to report that the habit has stuck! I did skip over this past weekend since we were on vacation, but I got right back on the wagon last night and this morning. It is amazing how quick of a task flossing really is and how much cleaner your mouth feels after!
Making the Bed Daily – I had read on BlogHer awhile back about changing up your morning routine for a better day, so I thought I would start by making sure the bed was made every morning. It takes a little bit of extra time, but I have found that if I start making the bed, The Hubs will usually help out making the process a lot faster. I love that it makes the room look clean and less chaotic. I need to get a habit like this started in the kitchen by dealing with the dishes sooner rather than later!
I haven’t had soda all month! It has helped that we haven’t had any available, but I do know that The Hubs has some in his truck. I almost caved yesterday and had one, but stopped myself before I even had The Hubs go get it.
I have been fairly good about not using plastic bags at the grocery store. I’ve been better at remembering to bring in my reusable ones or I go back to the car to get them if I do forget. One hard part has been remembering a reusable bag when I go to the drug store or to the mall, places where I don’t normally bring them in. I ask for no bag when I have a few things that I can just carry to the car, but this is hard to do at the mall when a bag is necessary if you are going to continue shopping around. Plus, you don’t want people thinking you are stealing things. I’m not quite sure how to deal with this part of it yet…
Celebrity blogs are no longer on my blogroll, but I do occasionally peruse them when I need some mindless thing to do.
Cursing and harboring animosity are still things I’m working on getting rid of, as they are harder habits to break, but I have been trying to be more aware when I find myself doing either one of these things…

I’m still working on getting rid of the other 8 things. I either haven’t had time to get to them or they are substantially harder to do.

I am very proud of what I’ve done so far, although I still have a long way to go and quite a few goals to accomplish and things rid myself of for the rest of the year. Writing this has reminded me of what I want/need to accomplish to make my life brighter and to be a happier person (which is sometimes lacking these days…).
For those of you still reading this, thanks! I love that blogging makes me accountable to all of you for keeping on top of myself to continue growing and accomplishing!
How have all of you done on your resolutions/goals so far this year?