The Art of Kindness

February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day – a call for people to remember to simply be kind, show compassion and perhaps have a little more patience with others. Mindfulness coach, Cynthia Readnower, recently wrote an article on “The Art of Kindness,” and how to make kindness a regular practice that goes beyond one day. Readnower reached out to me for my contribution on unique ways to be kind.

CLICK HERE to read “The Art of Kindness.”

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Letting Go of the Past: A New Year’s Ritual for Renewal

Featured in the Huffington Post: Jan. 2, 2018


Ritual has been a part of our lives since the beginning of time. They can be as intricate as a wedding ceremony or rite of passage, or as simple as a morning cup of coffee while reading the newspaper. Some are very specific, and passed down through the generations, while others are self-made. Personally, the most effective in my life are ones where I take what I’ve learned from varied people and cultures and make it my own – thereby creating my own ritual. And while these little rituals take place throughout the year (e.g. taking a bath or shower to “wash away a stressful day”), one of the more important ones happens during the New Year.

The New Year can be time of remarkable rebirth, an opportunity to review the past year, let go of what no longer serves us, and invite more of the good into our lives. By “no longer serving us,” I include physical illness, emotional distress, relationships, habits and thought patterns. By “inviting the good,” I am referring to abundance, joy, like-minded friendships that help us grow, and thoughts and behaviors that promote a happier and healthier life.

I’d like to share my New Year’s burning ritual with you, and invite you to change it and personalize it in any way that fits you. This process can be repeated throughout the year as part of a mindfulness practice. READ MORE 

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The Accidental Podcast

About six months ago, I started my own podcast … somewhat by accident. A company I’ve been working with for years asked me if I knew what it would take for them to host their own broadcast. I confessed that I didn’t, but being insatiably curious about how things work, I told them I’d do a little research.

And research I did … Between online “how to” blogs and talking with people who had successful shows, I was confident I knew what to do in theory if not in practice. The problem was, many people had a team to work with to produce, edit, publish and market said show, and I was just a one-woman operation. So, I enlisted the help of my tech-savvy husband and decided to attempt to set up equipment, record, edit and submit a single show just to make sure I knew how to do it. Not wanting to potentially mar the good name of the company I was working for, I decided to experiment on my own time with my own business.

 

I fell down the rabbit hole from there…

I followed an online suggestion to submit the show to multiple platforms by setting up an RSS feed … Then I was advised to link my social media accounts … Then it was producing a certain number of shows and submitting to even larger entities … And why not become an affiliate while I’m at it?

 

And Then There Were the Guests

While I really wasn’t sure exactly what form the show would take, I knew that I wanted each guest to be able to share the tricks of their respective trades and give guidance to those interested in understanding more about varied fields. I also wanted it to be a non-political platform where people could talk about causes that are important to them and educate listeners.

What totally surprised me is the amazing people who agreed to be on the show … from filmmaker to Sky Bergman talking about following one’s career passion to magician Nathan Coe Marsh sharing what it takes to be successful entertainer, and from spiritual teacher Beatriz Orive discussing Shamanism and its role in the world today to Guitar virtuoso Jami Gee raising awareness about violence and discrimination against people who are transgender … I suddenly had a diverse roundup of unparalleled talent.

In future blogs, I’ll be sharing some of their wisdom and key takeaways; but for now, I encourage you to give the show a listen by CLICKING HERE. If it resonates with you, please hit the “subscribe” button on the main page.

I’d like to say I planned this all along; but this Thanksgiving, I am just grateful for happy accidents.

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Note: The Birdland Media Works podcast is available on iHeart Radio, Spreaker, Stitcher, TuneIn, SoundClound, iTunes, Amazon and Sonos streaming. 

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The Guide Dog Experience

Back in 2010, I wrote, “The Remarkable Lives of Service, Therapy and Companion Dogs” (pg. 32) for Natural Awakenings Pet. The article focussed on Southeastern Guide Dogs and the training involved in preparing a dog for their special support role. Ironically, AquaNew had one of its first Watt-Ahh® advertisements placed in the same issue as my article – a year before I would begin to work with their company.

Recently, AquaNew asked me to write an updated article featuring Southeastern Guide Dogs’ newly expanded facilities and special events. I took part in the Guide Dog Experience and learned more about the life of service dogs and guide dogs. CLICK HERE to read about my adventure.

*Photo by Judy Williams

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“Mindfulness in Work and Business” Now Available!

Over the years, I’ve used mindfulness and meditation exercises to gain greater clarity in my work and career. While I know that many people explore guided meditation for relaxation and to de-stress, they may not realize that it can also be used to enhance communication skills with colleagues, remain grounded no matter what the situation, and to chart a course for a better work experience.

For this reason, I was honored to work alongside Cindy Readnower of Skinny Leopard Media to create “Mindfulness in Work and Business.” Whether you are exploring mindfulness exercises for the first time, or seek to deepen your practice, this course is designed to teach you tools for creating a better life. In it, we explore several different mindfulness tools, including affirmations, setting intentions, guided meditation, and visualizations. Once a student completes this course, they will have the foundation to practice six new mindfulness meditations and exercises that can be utilized at any time.

For those reading this blog, I’d like to offer you “Mindfulness in Work and Business” for only $10 – that’s 60% off of the retail price. This offer ends Feb. 3, 2017. Here is that link: MINDFULNESS

Best wishes, wherever your journey takes you!

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How to Be in the Moment When the Moment Sucks

When in the middle of a personal crisis, there are three expressions that are guaranteed to shut down communication between me and a well-meaning advisor: “Everything happens for a reason,” “This too, shall pass” and “Be in the moment.” The sad fact is that I too use these expressions when at a loss for something to say. While they may be very true and relevant to the situation, somehow they do nothing to make me feel any better, and it as if my own words are coming back to mock me at the most inopportune time.

Yes, everything happens for a reason, and sometimes that reason is a poor decision. I have no doubt it will pass … but when faced with an injury or illness, that moment can’t come quickly enough. Will meditation and quiet reflection provide greater clarity for better decision-making in the future? Will it help me get through discomfort with greater ease? Definitely. The problem is, pleasant distractions from the dis-ease provide instant, but not often long-term relief, and being in the moment requires facing a few internal demons, and who the heck wants to do that? Essentially, how do you be in the moment when the moment sucks?

READ MORE

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Stop. Look. Listen. (Managing Thoughts vs. Managing Stress)

57af9f661800001d00bcaa03I hate the term, “stress management.” To me, I get the image of a vicious, rabid animal running around the room wreaking havoc, with me standing on the desktop and swatting it with a broom before it can bite me. When someone in the next room offers, “You need to learn how to manage your stress,” I look down at the creature and think, “I don’t want to manage it! I want to get rid of it!”

“Manage” implies that it always has to be there. 

Stress has become, for many, the common state of being – so much so that we no longer see the animal that’s constantly in the room with us, nipping at our heels. We may not even realize that it did bite us, and we are now infected with a poison that suppresses our immune system, making us more susceptible to heart disease, gastrointestinal distress, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, and a host of chronic illnesses. And it seems that no one is safe from it. 

Read more on the Huffington Post Blog

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Busy, Stressed and Sleep Deprived: Why So Self-Destructive?

Jolt cola and powdered donuts were all we needed to get by during my undergrad years. Back then, those of us who went to school full-time while also holding down jobs (sometimes, more than one) loved to practice one-upmanship. “You think you’re tired? I was up until 2 a.m. studying for an exam after having to work late. I got – maybe – four hours of sleep.”

When we entered the workforce as graduates trying to climb our way up the corporate ladders, starting at minimum wage and the bottom rung – the landscape changed, but not the sentiment. We were proud workaholics who didn’t mind bragging about working a 60-hour week on a 40-hour-a-week salary. We were “team players” who were going to make something of our lives, even if we were overtaxed, overstressed, undervalued, underpaid and tired all the time…

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Read what happens NEXT

 

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Today’s a Good Day to “Take Out the Trash” (Preparing for the Total Solar Eclipse)

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NRWelcome to the positive disruption…

If you think a full moon and Mercury in Retrograde put a damper on your best laid plans, hold onto your seat.

Symbolically, the total solar eclipse brings change – and who the heck wants that in the middle of a perfectly good work week? But more than that, it means getting rid of the old, worn out and toxic beliefs in order to shed a light of clarity on what’s in your best and highest good.

Today’s a good day to “take out the trash.” Consider what negative emotions, patterns of thinking and behavior, and possibly even what relationships are unhealthy for you, and vow to toss them out of your life. It’s also a good time to consider what it is you’ve always wanted to accomplish or become, and take one step to do or be that.

While the eclipse may happen overnight – voiding out toxic patterns and replacing them with positive ones will take time and regular reinforcement. For example, to this day, I sometimes have negative self-talk that likes to creep in. When it does, I remind myself “That is not who I am anymore,” and consciously replace it with a more positive thought. I, like many, am a work in progress.

 

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