If You’re Going To Weigh Yourself, Weigh What Matters Most

 

developing sunflowerFor those of us who step on the scales. For those of us who step on the scales more than once a day. For those of us who have thrown the scales out the second-story bedroom window.

Here’s an inspirational new ad from Lean Cuisine.  http://my.happify.com/hd/weigh-what-matters-in-your-life/

 

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A Cool Mona Masterpiece: A Colorful Run In Neon

Weekly Masterpiece iconGo For A (Colorful) Run!

Get doused in neon powders along the route of “the Happiest 5K on the Planet,” a.k.a. the Color Run. The untimed race asks only that participants wear white to ensure a rainbow sea of runners. Oh. And there’s a dance party at the finish line. Find out when the event is coming to your city.

http://thecolorrun.com/

Go for it. Live out loud. Live in color.

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Here’s What They’re Talking About – How To Be Mindful In Your Everyday Life

from my garden

from my garden

Bringing mindful, non-judgmental attention to the present moment has been getting a good rap these days. It was once thought of as solely a spiritual practice, but research has found that people are substantially happier when paying attention to what they’re doing—even happier than if they’re daydreaming about something pleasant. I wantmore happiness in every day interactions and just getting through this painfully hurtful world, and so I read all on mindfulness and try to include it in my life.

While the fastest way to build up a strong level of mindfulness into your life is by developing a meditation practice, the ultimate goal is to implement it into day-to-day life—to enjoy longer and longer stretches of clear, peaceful attention on the present moment. Luckily, every day is filled with opportunities to bring your attention to the present moment—it’s just about making a conscious effort. These seven ideas are suggestions of where to start. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can practice mindfulness at any moment of the day. Just try it and see how it changes the quality of your life.

1. Mindful Waking

Set an intention to bring mindfulness into the very first moments of your day. Be aware of the lovely, gentle way to set the tone for the hours to come, instead of slamming your hand on the alarm clock and bolting out of bed.

Pay attention to: Your mind and your body. Do you feel alert or tired? Are your muscles tight? Slowly stretch your limbs and your back, noticing the sensation of each movement. Try to notice what thought crosses your mind the second you open your eyes – or even just before.

Each morning I open my blinds with the mantra of “let the light in”. I go through the entire house doing this and the mindfulness/mantra bring calmness and a sense of joy to me.  

2. Mindful Eating

No matter what your day brings, there are going to be meals or if you’re with me, lots of snacks. Reminding yourself to come back into the moment each time you eat is a great way to insert mindfulness into your day. And it will help you to be more conscious of what food you’re putting into your body, too.

Pay attention to: Taste, texture, smell—there’s so much to notice in every mouthful of food. If you’re really concentrating, even a tiny raisin can make you happy! Take small bites and chew slowly, savoring as you go—and wait until you’ve swallowed to pick up your fork for the next bite.

3. Mindful Cleaning

Whether it’s doing the dishes, sweeping the floor or folding the laundry, chores present an ideal opportunity to bring mindfulness into day-to-day life. In fact, most meditation retreats encourage students to continue their practice through such tasks, outside of formal sitting hours.

Pay attention to: Whatever your hands are doing. If you’re washing dishes, notice the temperature of the water, the texture of the plates, the motion of scrubbing. If you’re folding laundry, feel the different fabrics. While sweeping, notice the movement of your arms, the stretch and extension and perhaps even an aching as time goes by.

4. Mindful Walking

Just like eating, every day is comprised of some walking. It may be a long walk to work or school or a short one to the margarita machine. Every step brings with it a chance to be mindful.

Pay attention to: Your feet and legs. Notice how each foot feels as it touches the ground, rolls and then pushes off again. Feel the bend of each leg as it moves forward, the stretch of the calf and thigh muscles. As your attention gets sharper, you can also notice the rotation of your hip joints, the swing of your arms, the straightness of your spine and the wind on your face.

5. Mindful Showering

While it is said that our best ideas come to us in the shower, washing can also be a time to step away from the non-stop flow of thoughts. It’s a good opportunity to really be aware.

Pay attention to: The feel of the water. Notice the temperature before you adjust and after, how each drop feels as it makes contact with your skin, the sound it makes hitting the shower curtain, screen or tiles.

6. Mindful Waiting

Bringing mindfulness into your waiting time can turn that sigh when you first spot the long line at the bank into a genuine smile. It’s also an opportunity to notice your mind as well as your body, as emotional reactions tend to arise fast and strong when we’re forced to wait.

Pay attention to: The whole experience. Notice how you feel when you realize you’ll have to wait – does your heart beat faster? Do you feel annoyed? Angry? Perhaps your fists even clench instinctively. Does your breathing change? Once you’re sitting or standing in the line or at the bus stop, pull your attention away from the mental and emotional part of your experience and be mindful of your body. Feel your feet on the ground, your inhalations and exhalations. Notice each and every tiny movement.

7. Mindful Listening

You know that cathartic feeling of a deep, personal conversation with a friend? Chances are, your friend was practicing mindful listening—whether they knew it or not. Truly being with the people around us – really being – is one of the best ways to connect and deepen our relationships. Like at home, work, happy hour.

Pay attention to: Everything about the person who’s speaking to you, not just their words. Listen, of course, but also take stock of their body language, giving them your full attention. Resist the urge to start thinking about what to say next before the other person has finished their sentence. Just listen.

Not so easy to do – introducing mindfulness into our daily lives – but I hope you’ll join me in trying.

These tips originally appeared on Goodnet.

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A Cool Mona Masterpiece: Dismaland, A Theme Park By Banksy

banksy disneyland“Dismaland,” a temporary art installation recently unveiled in the U.K., could only be the work of Banksy, the anonymous street artist whose guerilla artworks frequently sell for six figures at auction despite his best efforts. It’s such a great statement! An anarchy-friendly theme park!

Meant to be a fun day for the family, it features book burning, a Jimmy Savile puppet and political commentary. Sounds family friendly to me. The “bemusement park“, which opened 8/21/15, was constructed as a decrepit interpretation of the happiest place on earth.

Dismaland includes a grinning Grim Reaper sitting in a bumper car, paparazzi snapping shots of a deceased Cinderella after a pumpkin-carriage crash and a butcher making lasagna out of carousel horses. Audience participation is encouraged. “A dead princess is only complete when surrounded by gawping crowds with their cameras out or the opportunity to photograph yourself pulling an amazed expression when a killer whale leaps from a toilet,” Banksy told the BBC.

The site is built on an abandoned outdoor swimming facility that the artist frequented as a child – the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare – Dismaland features politically charged works by Banksy and 58 other artists, including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, and Jimmy Cauty, who built a model village swarming with riot police. The artist Darren Cullen, who created a pocket money loans shop in the “kid’s enclosure” that offers money to children at the generous interest rate of 5,000 percent, told The Guardian neither he nor the other artists met Banksy during the process. “I only knew the minimum amount before I got here, but it is so cool,” he said. “It is just amazing having this much sarcasm in one place.”

Even though Banksy has insisted the show “was not a swipe at Mickey and co.,” several of his 10 new works, including a distorted Little Mermaid who sits on a rock in the castle’s lagoon, use copyrighted material. Unsurprisingly, “legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporationare “strictly prohibited” from entering the park.

Other attractions include a daily bonfire kindled by the works of the disgraced peer and crime novelist Jeffrey Archer, a caricaturist who only draws the backs of visitors’ heads and a riot-control vehicle from Northern Ireland that’s been turned into a children’s slide.

Dismaland is open until September 27 with a limited number of tickets available online. Demand is expected to be very high, especially on Fridays, which are billed to feature performances by musicians including Run the Jewels, Pussy Riot and Massive Attack. It’s highly possible Banksy will be on the premises, even if recognizing him will presumably be a challenge for most attendees.

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Going With Your Gut – How To Tell The Difference Between Fear And Intuition

no more flowers, just candy

no more flowers, just candy

The concept of intuition fascinates me. There’s a mystique to it, a connection to our subconscious stories and our inner knowing. Fear, on the other hand, is not so fascinating but I know it well. It’s the voice of the inner critic that screams loudly in our ears every time we try and step out of our comfort zone.

They are the Dr. Jekyll and the Mr. Hyde within us. We often confuse the two when we’re headed for the most important decisions of our lives. We can mistake the voice of fear for the wisdom of intuition; we stop ourselves from the very actions that would allow us to rise to our full potential.

In an article I recently read by Homaira Kabir, she points out 5 ways to tell the difference.

Build Body Awareness

Intuition is a gentle inkling, a fleeting answer that happens in an instant, according to Malcolm Gladwell in his groundbreaking book, Blink. It’s easy to ignore, which is why people often fail to recognize it. Fear, on the other hand, is a relentless and loud unease, evolution’s way of making sure we stay safe from what may harm us. Except that in today’s world, most of our fears are not real, but psychological.

Integration vs. Catastrophization

Intuition integrates the neural networks from different parts of the brain. In his book, Brainstorm, Dr. Dan Siegel talks about these linkages and how they lead to the emergence of an inner wisdom and informed decision-making. Fear does none of that. It activates the amygdala as a neural shortcut that also leads to a racing heart and a catastrophizing mind.

They Emerge in Different Situations

Intuition rarely speaks up for the minor decisions of life, whereas fear can throw a fit whenever we are required to try something new and different. Intuition emerges for the larger decisions of life, when reason does not seem to provide conclusive answers. But fear simply says “no” to all that may potentially harm us, however remote and far-fetched the possibility.

Feel Comfortable, Not Relieved

Intuition points us in a direction that makes us feel comfortable, even if not certain. Fear, on the contrary, dictates a decision that makes us feel relieved, as though we just survived a threat to our very existence. Except that it becomes louder every time and curtails our way of showing up in the world like a shrink-wrap around us.

Befriend Them Both

Intuition may simply be experience. Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow, says that intuition is the growth that comes from taking on risks and opportunities and learning from successes and failures. None of that is possible if we shy away when faced with fear. Instead, we need to recognize the voice of fear, befriend it and allow it to trust the knowledge of experience, the voice of intuition. Over time, both learn to cohabitate in peaceful existence.

So don’t let your fear hide behind your intuition any longer. Don’t narrow your field of possibility and confine yourself to the limits of your comfort zone. Instead, stretch out under the spaciousness of the open skies, trusting your intuition and growing to your fullest potential.

 

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What To Do When You Can’t Find Your Passion

Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert shares the piece of advice that led her back to the thing she was meant to do. She’s wonderfully warm in the sharing of her story.garden plaque

I’ve always considered myself lucky that I do not have many passions. There’s only one pursuit that I have ever truly loved, and that pursuit is writing. This means, conveniently enough, that I never had to search for my destiny; I only had to obey it. What am I here for? No problem! I’m here to be a writer, and only a writer, from my first cigarette to my last dying day!

Except that two years ago, I completely lost my life’s one true passion, and all my certainties collapsed with it.

Here’s what happened: After the unexpected success of Eat, Pray, Love, I diligently sat down to work on my next project—another memoir. I worked hard, as always, conducting years of research and interviews. And when I was finished, I had produced a first draft that was…awful. I’m not being falsely modest here. Truly, the book was crap. Worse, I couldn’t figure out why it was crap. Moreover, it was due at the publisher.

Demoralized, I wrote a letter to my editor, admitting that I had utterly failed. He was nice about it, considering. He said, “Don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.” But I did worry, because for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no passion for writing. I was charred and dry. This was terrifyingly disorienting. I couldn’t begin to know who I was without that old, familiar fire. I felt like a cardboard cutout of myself.

My old friend Sarah, seeing me so troubled, came to the rescue with this sage advice: “Take a break! Don’t worry about following your passion for a while. Just follow your curiosity instead.”

She was not suggesting that I ditch my passion forever, of course, but rather that I temporarily ease off the pressure by exploring something new, some completely unrelated creative endeavor—something that I could find interesting, but with much lower emotional stakes. When passion feels so out of reach, Sarah explained, curiosity can be a calming diversion. If passion is a tower of flame, then curiosity is a modest spark—and we can almost always summon up a modest spark of interest about something.

So what was my modest spark? Gardening, as it turned out. Following my friend’s advice, I stepped away from my writing desk and spent six months absentmindedly digging in the dirt. I had some successes (fabulous tomatoes!); I had some failures (collapsed bean poles!). None of it really mattered, though, because gardening, after all, was just my curiosity—something to keep me modestly engaged through a difficult period. (At such moments, believe me, even modest engagement can feel like a victory.)

Then the miracle happened. Autumn came. I was pulling up the spent tomato vines when—quite suddenly, out of nowhere—I realized exactly how to fix my book. I washed my hands, returned to my desk, and within three months I’d completed the final version of Committed—a book that I now love.

Gardening, in other words, had turned me back into a writer.

So here’s my weird bit of advice: If you’ve lost your life’s true passion (or if you’re struggling desperately to find passion in the first place), don’t sweat it. Back off for a while. But don’t go idle, either. Just try something different, something you don’t care about so much. Why not try following mere curiosity, with its humble, roundabout magic? At the very least, it will keep you pleasantly distracted while life sorts itself out. At the very most, your curiosity may surprise you. Before you even realize what’s happening, it may have led you safely all the way home.

 

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A Cool Mona Masterpiece: 1,000 Musicians Unite

Well, if this isn’t just the coolest idea ever. A gathering in Italy of Foo Fighters lovers. One man organized 1,000 musicians (and countless singers) in Italy to learn one of the band’s biggest hits, “Learn to Fly”. They created this video to invite the band to come to Italy and play a show.  The response? Lead signer Dave Grohl said in a video reply “We’ll see you soon!” You’ll play this one over and over. Totally inspiring.  Watch 1,000 Musicians

1000

Click Link To Enjoy Video

 Watch 1,000 Musicians

Watch Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters Respond Here

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The Right Way To Support An SGBV Survivor (Sexual And Gender Based Violence)

angel street art in miami

angel street art in miami

I just read this important article written by Hannah Stohler and posted on WeWillSpeakOut.US. I had to pass it on since the bleak statistics indicate that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Which simply means that there are likely survivors amidst our loved ones.

It had been a few months since we’d seen each other. My friend and I sat in the kitchen laughing and catching up over a glass of wine. Suddenly, the tone shifted, and she began to tell me. As she described her sexual assault at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, I filled with rage and my eyes welled with tears. I wanted to scream. How could he? How did I not know about this? How long has she been sitting with this pain on her own?

As a state-certified sexual assault crisis counselor, I have been trained to respond appropriately, effectively, and compassionately to this exact situation. However, while caught off guard and with a loved-one, I felt unable to control my emotions and was overwhelmed by guilt that I had not been there for her in the wake of her trauma. Most of us aren’t prepared to be a supportive responder to a survivor of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), especially when the survivor is a friend or family member. While intending to be supportive, we often react in ways that do not feel helpful to the survivor: we doubt, let our own emotions get in the way, or try and rationalize that “it could have been worse.” Responses of denial, avoidance and minimization interfere with the survivor’s healing process and further victimize the survivor.

So what do you say when someone shares their traumatic experience with you? How do you react? Here are some basics on how to be a supportive responder if a survivor decides to share their trauma with you:

1. LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN.

It takes a lot of trust to disclose a traumatic experience. Do not interrupt, or overact with your feelings. Be open to hearing anything they wish to share, and willing to enter difficult spaces with them, but do not probe for more information. Ask how you can be helpful in their healing process, and honor their answer.

2. Believe them.

It seems so simple, yet it needs to be said. When we are shocked, our natural reaction is often denial. However, refusing to believe their trauma can be extremely damaging. Even if they express self-doubt, if their memories are vague, or if the incident seems extreme, believe them. Don’t try and make the survivor prove their trauma by asking more questions. Say “I believe you.”

3. Empathize.

Make sure that the focus is centered on the survivor and their experience. Sometimes, we are inclined to share our own experiences to relate and help others feel more comfortable. However, if you have not experienced similar trauma, an attempt to compare the trauma to your own life may come off as minimizing. Instead, let them know you are there for them and are with them.

4. Connect them with resources.

While you are not there to give advice, make sure the survivor knows that there are trauma professionals trained to advocate for them in any way they would find helpful. Without putting pressure on the survivor, offer to help them find resources in their local area, or connect them to online resources like WeWillSpeakOut.US, RAINN or Darkness to Light.

5. Tell them it is not their fault.

We are unfortunately immersed in a culture of victim blaming, where it is somehow deemed appropriate to ask questions like “were you drinking?” or ”what were you wearing?” This implies that the survivor is to blame for what has happened to them. Dispel any notion that the survivor is responsible for their trauma. Tell them “It is not your fault.”

Luckily, when my friend recounted her sexual assault to me, I was able to regain my composure and be a responsible, supportive responder for her. It is crucial that we are activists speaking out to end SGBV, but we must also remember to be present allies to the survivors in our families and communities by taking the time to listen.

 

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5 Tips On Surviving Your Next Transition (You Can Do This!)

blue manThey’re simply a part a life, these transitions, so it’s best to learn how to handle them. Some will be exciting, like my move to LA and working in the music industry, and some will not, like being downsized for the second time.

You don’t have to invite transition in, it will walk in without knocking and pull its shoes off. Parents get older, spouses get childish, your sister finds religion. Regardless, they are stressful but Silvia Pencak shares 5 tips on surviving and getting the most out of it.

 

1.  Focus on where you want to go.It’s easy to get distracted by looking at your current situation. Whether you lost a job or you’re expanding your business, looking at your current situation won’t inspire you to create your best results. Instead, try to look at your desired outcome. What type of job would you like to land? What do you want your business to look like after the transition is over? Paint a picture, set some goals and focus your attention on those to stay positive and motivated.

2.  Answer your emerging questions.We all have many questions when in transition. How long will it last? How much will it cost me? Can anybody help me? What if something goes wrong? Best strategy to get out of doubt and prevent getting stuck is to write all of your questions down and answer them one by one. It’s quite simple – you can use pen and paper or my favorite Evernote to come up with answers. Give yourself enough time and grace and don’t expect for the transition to be over overnight.

3.  Focus on your strengths.

Transition is a great time to do some self-evaluation. What are you really good at that can be the biggest help during this time? Is there specific strength that can be improved or upgraded? How can you maximize this transition time to learn, improve or help where possible? One of my favorite assessments is Kolbe ATM which reveals your conative strengths – how you take action and create your best results.

4.  Evaluate your resources.

In addition to your own strengths, there might be other resources available to you. Do you have a team member who has strengths in the area of your weaknesses? Do you have a piece of technology that can simplify the process? Is there a book on your shelf that can give you tips and ideas? Do you know someone who walked the walk and can give you invaluable insights? Look at what’s already there that can make this transition easier or more manageable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are willing to help, but can’t read your mind if you don’t ask.

5.  Keep your mind open.

If you look back at your life you’ll agree that transition time is actually pretty cool. It’s time when anything is possible. Yes, it can go down hill, but you might also find opportunities you never knew existed. Be open to possibilities, meet with people, stay positive and be willing to try new things. If it doesn’t work, you’ll gain a new experience (and good story to share). But if it does, it will be all worth it.

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A Cool Mona Masterpiece: Limited Edition Of YOPO Beer

2 yopos, please

2 yopos, please

A New Jersey brewery is releasing a limited edition beer to commemorate Pope Francis’ visit to New York City and Philadelphia next month.

Cape May Brewing Co. co-owner Ryan Krill says his company is brewing 500 gallons of #YOPO, or “You Only Pope Once.” The pope-inspired beer is a hoppy pale ale with 5.5 percent alcohol content and will only be available on draft.

Sales representative Justin Vitti says the beer pairs well with a nice cut of Argentinean beef — calling to mind Francis’ home country.

Krill says the beer will get a laugh from pop culture enthusiasts, but it’s also a tasty brew in its own right.

It will be available at the brewery’s tasting room in the Jersey shore town (Cape May) along with watering holes throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey beginning September 21.

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