Monday Meditation

I sat cross-legged on my yoga mat one morning at the beginning of practice and began to cry. The instructor was guiding us toward the place we wanted to be and told us to focus on that, rather than the stuff in our heads, and the things that were wrong.

I was weighted by much that was wrong–real and imagined. Things I have continually heaped on myself since my divorce and things that I wanted to change about my own life and surroundings. Ways I attempted to control circumstances so I could bring order to places in my mind and body that I felt were lacking. I was a mess–full of anxiety and wrapped tightly into a cocoon of sadness and guilt and darkness.

On the mat, I began to moved through the poses. The focus was on strength and the idea was that we are stronger than we think we are. The poses became more intense. I shook in holding poses, (planks, especially) and felt fatigue hitting me in waves as I did yet another vinyasa. But as I continued through the difficulty of the practice I felt stronger and calmer and more assured that my life was a thing of complicated beauty.

Off the mat, several hours later, I began to meditate on empowering thoughts. Then I wrote them down. You know what? All that anxiety and guilt and regret and need to control my surroundings just melted away! It was such a relief!

This was so helpful to me that I wanted to share my list with you. I encourage you to make your own–it’s actually kind of fun and I think you’ll feel anxiety slip away and a sense of calm and strength center you.

I Can

I can be my best self today.

I can tell the truth today.

I can enjoy my life today.

I can be kind and generous to myself today.

I can be kind and generous to others today.

I can bring ideas and solutions to work today.

I can accomplish what I need to today.

I can listen today.

I can say I’m sorry today.

I can release the past today.

I can learn today.

I can be enough today.

I can matter to others today.

I can love people today.

I can take care of my body today.

I can take care of my soul today.

I can love my children today.

I can love my husband today.

I can stay in the light and not hide today.

I can be a good friend today.

I can drink enough water today.

I can get outside and let Nature embrace me today.

I can laugh today.

I can communicate better today.

I can improve on yesterday today.

I can say no when I need to today.

I can say yes when it’s wholehearted today.

I can make mistakes and grow today.

I can be God’s child today.

Weekly Inspiration (Links I Love)

This is where I will share my sources of inspiration from the past week: it could be from books, podcasts, blogs, films, artwork, food/recipes, etc. I hope you find some encouragement here as well!

Podcasts

The Brendon Show

The best quotes I heard all week and possibly all month so far are from Brendon Burchard’s podcast The Brendon Show. This is what he said in the episode entitled Best Of: How to Deal With Self-Doubt.

“We don’t think of doubt as a choice, as a decision”. (Brendon Burchard)

We think doubt just happens to us, Brendon says, “(but) You’re choosing it. Be aware: the next time you’re choosing doubt, say, ‘Oh, wait, I’m choosing doubt. Why am I choosing doubt right now? How is that going to serve me?’”

I honestly never looked at self-doubt as a choice before—I just assumed it was part of life. Thank you, Brendon for enlightening us!!!

If you struggle with self-doubt as an entrepreneur, creative, or just in everyday life, you definitely should listen to this episode and put these truths into action!

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/brendon-burchard/the-charged-life-with-brendon-burchard/e/60370867

Getting Bookish with Shawna and Lizz

I listened to a new podcast called Getting Bookish with Shawna and Lizz. In this episode they interviewed Tiffany who started a fire when she was interviewed on What Should I Read Next a few months ago and talked about her Literary Society. Of course hundreds of book lovers wanted to know what on earth was a Literary Society and how could they start their own.

In this episode, Tiffany shares all about Literary Society. I should mention that her interview with Anne Bogel prompted me to start the FLX Literary Society and our first meeting is on May 23rd! You can find out more on our Facebook page or email me at FLXLiterarySociety@gmail.com

Books

If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, or in charge of an organization, and you have never heard of Seth Godin, stop whatever you’re doing and go to his website. Subscribe to his podcast Akimbo and to his daily blog. Buy his books. Sign up for his courses. Seth is a genius in the entrepreneurial, marketing space. He will challenge you, open you to new ideas, push you to do good work and ship it. And then to do it better.

I just finished reading Seth’s latest book This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See. There is so much practical and inspirational food for thought and action to be found within these pages. I’m going to write a more in-depth review soon, but I had to mention in now.

Chapter 9-11 were quotable throughout and worth the price of the book alone. Some of what you’ll find in chapter 9: “Everyone always acts in accordance with their internal narratives. You can’t get someone to do something that they don’t want to do, and most of the time, what people want to do is take action (or not take action) that reinforces their internal narratives.

Marketers bring change and a lot of folks are resistant to change, Seth shares, and there are two ways behavior can be changed: our desire to fit in and our perception of our status.

I wish I had understood this twenty years ago! Anyway, I’m not going to tell you anymore before my review–go get yourself a copy and start learning how to market better.

I’m loving the quiet simplicity of Wendell Berry’s poetry collection Given. I shared one of these poems for Evening Poetry a few days ago and there are more to come.

If you’ve never picked up and read a Wendell Berry book, then crawl out from under your rock and get reading!

I am currently reading The Art of Loading Brush and even the introduction moved me. Another one of his I recommend is Our Only World. He is a plain-spoken, intelligent, reasoning writer with love for people and the planet. Everyone needs to hear what he has to say.

Instagram

One of my favorite accounts for poetry, book quotes, and photos from the UK is Sarah Clarkson’s Instagram. She is an author, book lover, and was homeschooled, so she is definitely a kindred spirit. I was inspired to start Evening Poetry because of her. During Lent, she would do a Live video each evening and read poetry. Her latest book is Book Girl, which is, well, about books and reading.

Another favorite is Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Instagram. She has a Live video each week where she makes a recipe from one of her cookbooks. I am purchasing her latest cookbook, Eat What You Love, after checking it out of the library. I made a few recipes and there are dozens I want to try. For gluten-free, dairy-free folks, cookbooks like this are valuable and a real boost for when you’re feeling a bit glum about the work and monetary investment of this lifestyle. After a quick glance through the cookbook, I was inspired to keep it up!

OK, lovely readers, that’s some inspiration for your weekend. I’d love to hear what’s been inspiring you lately.

Evening Poetry, May 9

The Future

by Wendell Berry

For God’s sake, be done

with this jabber of “a better world”.

What blasphemy! No “futuristic”

twit or child thereof ever

in embodied light will see

a better world than this, though they

foretell inevitably a worse.

Do something! Go cut the weeds

beside the oblivious road. Pick up

the cans and bottles, old tires,

and dead predictions. No future

can be stuffed into this presence

except by being dead. The day is

clear and bright, and overhead

the sun not yet half finished

with his daily praise.

You can find this book in the collection Given.

I Still Struggle with Excuses after 30 Years of Exercising

Here I am working out in my messy bedroom.

It’s true. I’ve never been a natural-born exerciser. Until age 8, I suffered with chronic nosebleeds, so I was discouraged from engaging in any activity that was too strenuous, and was unable to participate in gym class. My siblings and I were also anemic (a hereditary condition) so I didn’t have a whole lot of energy. I spent free time reading, drawing, writing, and crafting.

At 12, I began learning about health and fitness and decided I needed an exercise routine. With birthday and Christmas money, I purchased a few workout videotapes (this was 1988!) and worked out every day in our living room. With my low energy levels, it was a challenge each morning to follow through on my exercise plan. I tried running during this time as well, but had trouble breathing, so I didn’t run often; I didn’t learn until I was 38 that I had asthma!

All through my teens, I lifted light weights, walked and hiked, and did cardio and interval training workouts at home. Whenever I’d feel bored, which was every few months, I’d buy a new workout video or try a workout from a fitness magazine. I did all of this on my own steam: no family member or friend encouraged me, supported me, or worked out with me. That would have been great, but it wasn’t my story. The ways I encouraged myself, were reading books and magazines on health and fitness as well as reminding myself how good I felt after working out each day.

Enter my twenties and raising two kids: working out was still my normal. I had a treadmill and walked or run/walked as well as working out in my living room. The infant phase was rough because I would often be on the treadmill with a baby in a bouncy seat wailing while I walked, which was no fun. But they eventually got used to entertaining themselves for an hour a day while I worked out. And since we homeschooled, when they were school aged, I would feed them breakfast, do a couple of subjects with them and then assign them a few things to do on their own (like their spelling list or math page).

My thirties were a bit smoother because I didn’t have to deal with babies, but I had a full schedule with homeschooling, church responsibilities, and family expectations, so it was imperative to keep exercising to avoid going completely crazy. Although my energy remained low, often with me taking short naps in the afternoons, I continued exercising.

Let me just say that each and every morning it is the same. I wake up with the intention to exercise. I am tired, always tired, so the excuses start in.

Here are some of the best of the best:

(You might recognize a few!)

“You don’t have energy to exercise today.”

“If you exercise, how are you going to do everything else you need to do today.”

“You have so much to do today: you really don’t have time for this now.”

“It’s so unfair that so-and-so is naturally slim and has never exercised a day in her life! And you exercise all the time and what good does it do? You might as well give up.”

“No matter what you do, you’ll never look good. What’s the point of trying?”

“You’ve been wanting to lose this same ten pounds for two years. This isn’t doing anything.”

“What if you injure yourself again? Doesn’t your back feel tight already? If you throw your back out again, you’ll be back to square one. Maybe you should just stretch and call it a day.”

After I go through the litany of excuses each morning, I remind myself why I need to work out:

I will have more energy afterward.

My mood will get a boost.

My heart and whole body will be stronger.

I don’t want to be an out-of-shape middle-aged woman whose body is always breaking down.

The act of doing something I don’t want to do that’s good for me will help me follow through in other areas the rest of the day.

This is the only earth suit I have and I need to take care of it.

The most successful and busy people in the world work out every day, so you can too.

Then I choose to put on my workout clothes and either head to the gym to walk/run on the treadmill, I do a Barre3 class or Glo yoga class in my bedroom, or do a cardio interval training video in the living room, just like the old days.

My favorite video workout can be found for free on Youtube. It’s from the 90s and features Elle Macpherson and Karen Voight. It was filmed in Hawaii and is one of those not-too-hard and not-too-easy workout that works every major muscle group, has three cardio and three strength sections and a great stretching segment at the end. If you’d like to do a retro workout, give it a try!

So readers, after you go through your morning excuses, I hope you’ll throw on your workout clothes, lace up your sneakers and go for a walk, run, work out with a video online, or just dance around your kitchen. The most important thing? Just move your body every day!!!

Evening Poetry, April 20

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass (This poem is in seven sections, so I’ve spread it out through the week.)

7.

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.

Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.

That was many years ago.

Since then I have gone out from my confinements,

though with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.

I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.

They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment somehow or other).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.

I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.

I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,

I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

This poem can be found in the collection Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 17

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass (I am spreading this poem, which is in seven sections, throughout the week.)

4.

Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,

the dancer, the potter,

to make me a begging bowl

which I believe

my soul needs.

And if I come to you,

to the door of your comfortable house

with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,

will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance,

I would like to give you this chance.

This poem can be found in the collection Evidence.

Evening Poetry, April 16

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

To Begin, With the Sweet Grass ( This poem is in seven sections, so I am going to include one section each evening during the week.)

3.

The witchery of living

is my whole conversation

with you, my darlings.

All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.

This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It’s more than bones.

It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.

It’s more than the beating of a single heart.

It’s praising.

It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.

You have a life–just imagine that!

You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe

still another.

This poem can be found in the collection Evidence.