Butterflies & Tigers

My daughter has a set of garden themed shower stickers. They are thick foam pieces in the shapes of flowers, stems, grass & butterflies. She has had them for months now and plays with them during every bath and shower. This morning, while she was sitting down in the shower playing with these stickers, I looked down and noticed that the little purple butterfly had a separate little piece for its head, with adorable little antenna and eyes… I had never made the connection before that these two pieces belonged together, and as it dawned on me, I found myself realizing just how hurried and busy I typically am as we zip through our daily activities and routine. Then I wondered, what else might I be missing out on as I fly around at the speed of light, always multi-tasking, always thinking about my next step and one after that, never fully present in the moment that I’m in.

Amazing how little ones can teach you so much about life and value and shed so much perspective.

My daughter loves to read books and carries books to me throughout the day and crawls up on my lap for story time. She has a book about tigers that has a little button you can push that makes a “roaring” sound, and she loves to push this button and then try to roar with the tigers on the page. Today as I sat with her on the floor and read about the 5 little tigers playing hide and seek, her pushing the button every 5 seconds, I found myself strangely non-irritated, and instead very lost in the curiosity and fun loving nature of her.

It was then that I recognized that pausing for one moment of being present and still, seemed to naturally lead to another focused and purpose filled moment later on, and then a more contemplative energy as I moved throughout my day. Still points and stop overs and even a complete break from the busy, suddenly seem so much more appealing and acceptable and even anticipated in a way that makes me want to create these moments in my day, so that I can more fully experience life, and the individual moments that make it what it is.

Have you paused today?

Have you experienced your full presence in a moment in a way that made that moment pop?

I hope that you can capture a moment in all its splendor today.

Holistic Wellness

I have been thinking a lot about optimal health and holistic wellness, both of which seem to have become popular buzz phrases as of late. Unfortunately, though we hear these phrases often, and even talk about them, we often fail to strive to become them.

In looking at popular definitions of wellness we see the following:

  • well.ness (wel’nes) Optimal physical and mental health.
  • well·ness noun \ˈwel-nəs\ : the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal <lifestyles that promote wellness>
  • Wellness is considered to be an active process of becoming aware of and learning to make choices (healthy choices) that lead toward a longer and more successful existence.    
  • well·ness [wel-nis] noun the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
  • well·ness [wel-nis] n.The condition of good physical and mental health, especially when maintained by proper diet, exercise, and habits.
There is a predominant theme that stands out in each of these definitions, which is that “wellness” is not simply attained, but rather sought after and then maintained through ongoing effort… We do not stumble upon wellness, nor are we simply gifted with wellness, but rather we strive for and actively participate in creating wellness.
So what is Holistic about wellness?
To understand holistic, we must define the word holism. To be whole we must acknowledge the parts. The system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave. Aristotle best summarizes this as “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”.
Holistic Health is the balance between all aspects of life – social, physical, spiritual and emotional. It impacts on how we manage our surroundings and make choices in our lives – clearly it is an integral part of our overall health. (as described by the american psychological association)
If holistic wellness involves intentional action to be obtained, and the goal is to seek overall balance; both in physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and environmental, then i will propose that we are to be actively and very presently pursuing integrated and collateral balance. Where does one begin this journey? Perhaps that is unique to each of us as individuals.
Look at those six areas of holistic health; physical  emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual and environmental. What area needs the most attention in your life? What area feels the strongest and can therefore inform the other areas how to become stronger? Do you put a lot into physical health, exercising and being mindful nutritionally, yet create very little time or space for your emotional well-being? Or are you a very social individual with lots of close connections in your community, while neglecting the importance of your spiritual growth/development? We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses.
This week, what would it look like to identify a strength to build even further upon, and name a weakness to begin strengthening from the ground up? Could this be the first step toward holistic health?
We are whole beings, with many intricate parts, and when we neglect even one part of who we are, the whole being becomes off balance. Honor your whole self today, in your own unique way as you begin to seek Holistic Health.

Some days are dodge ball days

A dear friend of mine once sent me a card which pictured two little kids, backs against a wall, with facial expressions of fear, seemingly clinging for dear life and the caption read “some days are dodge ball days”. I have kept that card for many many years now and look to it often when I need a way to simply sit back and smile at what is outside of my control.

This morning as I went for a run with my daughter, we paused at the duck pond to watch the mama and baby ducklings swimming in the pond, and they repeatedly were diving down into the water and then coming back up, and we watched as the water droplets simply rolled off their backs, leaving them with a dry appearance once more. I couldn’t help but think of the popular phrase “water off a ducks back’, and how many necessary moments there are in life to simply channel those little ducklings and let whatever it is just roll off, because the alternative is to become heavily weighted, carrying around more than necessary.

So my question today; Is this a dodge ball kind of day? If so, how could you possibly channel those ducklings and let it roll off?

We as a society have become so accustomed to struggling and fighting and working really hard at everything that we do, that we seem to be like a fish out of water if something comes easily or isn’t incredibly heavy to carry. As a result of the amount of time and energy we spend going strong and pushing hard, we have become an anxious, harried and “I’m so busy” kind of people.

In my line of work, I see both the short term and long term ramifications of carrying these kinds of stressors throughout our lives. I see the toll that it takes not only on individuals, but also on families, and then in a larger context, on neighborhoods, communities and societies… We are exhausted. We are worried. We are stressed and we are tired. Often times this lends to a lack of patience, an inability to be in the present moment and a large ambivalence toward others and their own life experiences, because we are so caught up in surviving our own.

So I am challenging myself and all of us today, to slow down. To breathe in a few deep breaths. To look around us at where we are and who is close to us and how we may have disengaged, and check in to see if we can re-engage, with life, with our families, and with our own sense of connectedness to the world at large.