In my quest to create a simpler life I am committed to ceasing the tendency to say "Yes!" when people ask me to do/join/attend every project/group/club/board/party. Are you a "yes woman?" So many of us are by default. We seem to be wired to jump to do all that we are asked. In pursuit of a simpler life, it's vital to learn how to PAUSE and really consider whether saying yes is going to enrich your being and life or feel like an added burden.
Don't get me wrong. I believe in service to others. My entire career and life is built upon being of service to people in need and I love my work. I do love my life. But once I have gotten closer to age 50 and my presence and service is in higher demand than ever (it tends to mushroom when you do good work and people hear about you) I am learning to say "No."
Simply saying no doesn't mean you need to be impolite or insensitive It might sound like this:
"I'm not going to be able to add that to my schedule right now but thank you so much for your consideration."
"I won't be able to join you this time but I appreciate the invitation."
"My dance card is full. Thank you anyway!"
"I'm needing to spend some time on my self care this month so I won't be able to help you with that this time."
I tend to over schedule and overcommit. I confess it. And this is not the first time I've made this vow. I've pulled back, slowed down and used my "No" statements before and then fallen back into the habit of yes-ing myself into overwhelm. But this time my commitment is to 125 days of seeking simplicity through particular daily habits so they will really stick.
Try saying No and see how much open space you will find in your calendar and your mind.
This meal planning and eating thing just does not need to be stressing us out. Of course I do have an AHH-MAZING 12 week program that includes an easy meal plan along with shopping lists and simple recipes for women who want to really change their habits, the way they feel body, mind and spirit if you want to invest in your whole self. You could click here and go check it out if you like. But I digress! This is about simplifying with regard to the way we eat in general. I must share that I did my own 12 week program again recently to reset my healthy lifestyle and this time I realized how easy this whole thing can be!
So, here is the short version. You know what your body needs daily right? A rough version of what nutritional experts have taught me is as women in mid-life we need some protein three times/day, we need a couple helpings of some nutritious leafy greens and a variety of brightly colored veggies every day and we need a couple servings of fibrous fruit too. Occasionally a small serving of a whole grain packed with nutrition is good for the body as well. We only need to drink water. Really. I know wine is fun and delicious but in mid-life it should be reserved as a very occasional treat not an every night event if our aim is to feel our best and have a simple, balanced life. All we need is water and we need to stay hydrated.
So what if you simplify the grocery shopping and meal planning by simply buying a variety of (preferably organic) berries, a few apples, a head of romaine lettuce, a bag of baby spinach, a dozen free-range eggs, if you're no a vegetarian a pack of chicken breasts, some wild caught salmon, a head of purple cabbage, an avocado, some coconut oil, onions, mushrooms, pink salt, spices, a sweet potato, some quinoa and some plain greek yogurt and Voila! You've got groceries for a week's worth of creative, simple meals.
Just make a list of staples such as above and then have your go-to easily prepared, quick meals. You might use your crockpot and slow cook chicken and salsa all day and come home to a ready made chicken taco salad! Or you might throw some salmon in the oven and pan sear some asparagus in coconut oil and lemon juice.
Once we get into the habit of simple, straight forward healthy meal options it becomes... well.... habit! Healthy habits that contribute to our simple life aim.
And when it comes time to eat your food, sit down with it. Slow down. Take time to smell it. Chew slowly. Savor the experience and your body will digest it more thoroughly.
It's been four days since I started the 125 day challenge called A Simple Life Project. Today I will be driving from Atlanta up to Chattanooga for a training conference and I asked myself how I might simplify my life today. So, I plan to leave early and not turn on the radio during the drive. I'm going to drive with no sound other than my own breath and the faint squeal of my electric car along with the rush of other vehicles blowing past me on the highway. (Oh wait, I can't take the electric car on this trip - not enough battery. Honey? Can I borrow the SUV please? No, I don't need the Y cord for streaming music but thanks!)
I noticed recently while on a drive to and from our family vacation that my kids and husband seem to need to be listening to music constantly while in the car. I tolerated it but I craved silence. Maybe that's why that serene lake with no cell service and no wifi was partly such a relief!
It's all too easy when driving to become lost in thought or distracted by audio books or music. Today I am choosing to just drive. See the sights (even if it is tail lights and highway directional signs). I'm going to just be with myself, my breath, the steering wheel and the road.
Driving Simple. Simply driving. Like a meditation on wheels with eyes wide open.
When I trained with Drs. John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute several years ago, I was introduced to 30 years of research they had conducted observing over 3000 couples in determining the predictors of divorce. One of the behaviors they recognized as very problematic in marriages is when one partner (or both) use what the Gottmans call harsh-start-up which is when a partner begins a conversation with a harshly negative or critical comment. The anecdote, of course, is approaching the same conversation with a soft-start-up which is consciously softening tone and choosing words which are respectful and absent of criticism or negativity.
This same idea is true for the way we lead our lives. If we are able to employ a softer approach to everything we see, do and say, our relationships will thrive in a very positive way and we will likely feel a greater sense of peace in our daily lives.
Here are 10 ways to improve relationships & life by using The Power of Soft:
- Check yourself before you speak. Notice if there is any "charge" of anger and take a deep, full breath. Come into awareness and intention to speak softly.
- Express feelings, thoughts, ideas, and requests with a soft tone of voice.
- If you want to receive something, first give freely and then softly and clearly make a kind request of others. If you are ignored or get a "no" don't take it as personal rejection rather understand that person is simply not available at this time.
- When you hear others brag and boast, know that likely they have some fear and insecurity within. Soften your heart to them rather than rush to judge.
- Listen more than talk. Hold space for others and just really listen. As you listen simply hold the space with full attention rather than rushing to respond.
- When you feel the sensation of anger, soften the edges and peek underneath the anger noticing there are probably thousands of moments of confusion, fear, pain and doubt under there. Breathe into the sensation of anger feeling it as simply energy in your body. Breathe through it and with it. Watch how it will begin to dissipate simply by being observed with breath and softness.
- If someone is harsh with you, attacks you verbally or lashes out, take a moment to sit back and breathe and remember they also have pain, confusion, fear and doubt under the emotion from which they are speaking. Soften your heart toward them knowing this. Then, with a soft, clear voice make a request, "I must ask that you please not speak to me so harshly. I am sorry for what you are feeling and I will help if I can."
- Be like water. Take the shape of whatever container you find yourself. Flow around obstacles. Be softly persistent. Be capable of changing shape and form as needed to adapt to the environment. Be fluid in all things for here is your greatest strength.
- Practice softening the muscles around your eyes and jaw regularly. Also, practice softening your belly throughout the day. Drop your shoulders down and away from your ears and notice when your hands are gripping the steering wheel or the pen or the phone. Soften.
- Take pause. Learn to wait and not react and jump to respond to what others do and say or to whatever impulsive thought may tempt you. Cultivate an ability to shift into neutral and observe long pauses before taking action.
A steady, dedicated practice of observing the power of soft will improve your relationships and your life. The word power is often confused for hard-hitting, fast-moving, action-oriented behavior. On the contrary, soft-touching, slow-moving, being-oriented behavior with fluidity, flexibility and patience allows for longer lasting joy and peace in life.
By now you are very familiar with the term "mind, body and spirit." But what is the significance and what does this have to do with yoga and relaxation?
Yoga is a practice that, by design, aims to unite the focus of the mind, the body's well-being and the breath and essence of your being.
The mind is the boss of the body. You see, your body and emotions follow the thoughts in your mind. When we are able to be fully conscious of what we are thinking, what we are focused on and have a clear, orderly mind we will find the body and emotions are more in balance. Ahhhhhh...
On the contrary, if your mind is scattered, preoccupied or consumed with worry, the body will receive signals to tighten up, release stress hormones and will not be able to function optimally.
If you learn how to practice gentle yoga for deep relaxation you will experience wonderful results. Keep in mind, this is a PRACTICE requiring regular repetitive observations of gentle postures, particular breath awareness and soft mind-training in order to get the mind, body and spirit of who you are in alignment.
In order to experience deep relaxation, you have to have both your mind and your body in the same place. This may sound simple but in today's society we are often in one place with our body while our minds wander everywhere except the here and now!
When you practice gentle yoga for deep relaxation, you are receiving the benefits of bringing the mind into a meditative state - a state of focus, of being very present with your body and your breath. During this meditative state, the body is recharged much like a battery. You receive fresh and new energy. It is different that a sleep fraught with dreams. It is a deep state of relaxation that restores and nourishes the body.
I love Yoga Download. No bones about it. For a while there I thought I might develop my own online yoga studio but after consideration I decided I just love Yoga Download's classes so much there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
And Yoga Download is now offering 50% off their one month membership. You can download as MANY yoga classes as you want for only $9 with this sale. Hello? Where else are you going to be able to access unlimited yoga and meditation classes you can follow from home for only NINE DOLLARS?
So I had to share! Go check it out for yourself. It's an incredible opportunity to try it out! All levels of ease and challenge... All ages... All body types. Try it out!
Click HERE to go check out Yoga Download. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you....