Empowerment Through Self Awareness
Category Archives: Cowboy Wisdom
July 18, 2012Posted by on
Just what is a soulful summer? Remember the summer vacations of the past where we giggled as we played with our friends, ran around in bare feet past the setting of the sun? Maybe we read a book, lay back in the grass and watched the clouds form a shape, tried our hand at baseball and made new friends at vacation camp. Those times you remember from summers long ago are clues to what feeds your soul.
Every time we invest in a soulful moment, we reduce our stress level, and since stress is a factor in heart attacks, cancer and other illness, we should experience soulful moments as often as possible. Here are some activities to feed your soul, structured for those of us who feel we have no time:
Read a good book – Wash up for bed twenty minutes early so you can curl up with a good book. Choose something that makes you feel good (an English mystery, a heartwarming tale about your favorite animals, history of your ancestors) and if you fall asleep after a few minutes, know you probably needed to. If you are like me, once you get into it, you’ll be reading it while standing on line at the pharmacy, etc. Suddenly you will find time to read a little bit more.
Catch up with an old friend – or a new one. If friends are close by, get together. Busy schedule? Make it twenty minutes at the coffee shop, or forty-five minutes while walking the neighborhood. If your friends are across the country or the globe, phone calls and Skype keep us in touch. Sharing, laughing, listening, connecting. These are soulful acts!
Spend time in nature – Go to the farmer’s market, city park or arboretum for an hour. Sit in the back yard and listen to the wind blow the leaves. Use all your senses to experience nature. Not only will you be in the moment (great for reducing stress), but also you might find a frog’s hiding spot (I did). If you don’t have a back yard, and aren’t near the park, bring nature to you. A houseplant, a terrarium with snails or a gold fish bowl will do the trick as long as you focus on them.
Exercise – If you don’t love a sport you might need to trick yourself into this one. A tango lesson is exercise, and so is gardening. Rescue a dog and commit to walking it as a way to combine two soulful acts. Consider your personality and the condition of your present health. Choose enjoyable, easily attainable goals and reward yourself with one slightly more challenging when a goal is reached. The number one goal is letting you know you care about yourself, feeling good right down to the core of your being, so don’t focus on “personal bests” unless that makes you feel good.
Take a vacation – If you have a full schedule, lots of local responsibilities or a tight budget a vacation can seem impossible. But vacations are about changing your perspective and your routine. A weekend getaway, staying (or swapping) with a friend, or a day trip to a local attraction can supply the soulful pick-me-up that comes from a break in “the norm”. So be creative about what “vacation” means and challenge yourself to take a break on your terms.
Whatever you do, keep it stress free. I know I can find twenty minutes once a week to read a book. And…I set the timer, because the chatter in my head would have me off folding laundry otherwise. This twenty minutes is my gift to me, and it is amazing how quickly my mood lightens, and I am feeling more creative, and am better able to listen to others. Know your limits and honor them – time, money, physical health all need to be respected or you’ll add stress instead of diminishing it. Choose things that you feel compelled to do, and things that are out of the norm for you (change your brain patterns) to give sustenance to the physical, emotional, mental and energetic YOU.
Feel free to give me feedback about what you chose, why, and how it made you feel. Happy, soulful summer to you!
August 7, 2011Posted by on
As summer winds down and planned activates wane, try this recipe for homemade clay. Add essential oils and color to make it a more kinesthetic experience. If your children have trouble with letters or numbers, have them shape the clay in uppercase or lower case letters. Stipple, score or otherwise texture the characters and let them dry for a three dimensional representation of the alphabet. For more ideas, contact me!
Kids of all ages will have hours of aromatic fun with this soft, long-lasting dough.
- Mix 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tarter, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 cup water in a medium-sized pot until well blended.
- While stirring continuously, cook the mixture in the pot over medium-low heat until it forms a thick dough that is no longer sticky (approximately 5 minutes). You can tell it is done when it no longer sticks to the sides of the pan, but forms a clump of dough in the middle of the pan. (*Helpful hint: the dough will become fairly hard to stir before it gets done, so an extra set of hands to help stir may be useful.)
- Remove the dough from the pan and place on waxed-paper. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Divide the dough into four equal pieces.
- For each of the four pieces of dough, add approximately 10 drops of different colored food coloring, and knead until the color is well blended into the dough.
- Add approximately 8-10 drops of different essential oils or blends to each of the four pieces of dough and knead for about 60 seconds. If you find the scent of the dough is not strong enough, add a few more drops of the essential oil or blend. (*Helpful hint: to make sure both the food coloring and the essential oil or blend stay in the dough and don’t drip off, create a well in the top of the piece of dough with your finger, drop the coloring or oil in the well, fold the dough so it closes over the well opening, then continue to knead the dough as normal.)
- Store each piece of dough in a clean, 4 oz. plastic container, Ziplock® bag, or other airtight container.
- Create fun labels for your containers using sheets of inkjet or laser labels (such as Avery®). You can either color these by hand using markers, stamps, or paints, or you can use your software that has pre-formatted label settings (most word-processing software does) and create labels on your computer and print them.
- Try creating scents that match the color of the play clay you created. For example, try using peppermint oil for red or white, pine for green, wintergreen or birch (both have a root beer-like aroma) for brown, spruce for blue, orange oil for orange, and so forth.
- Make two batches and shape the clay into the letters of the alphabet. Before they dry, lightly stipple, score or mark the letters in varying ways. Once they dry, have your child put them in order, group them into consonants and vowels or spell simple words.
This and other recipes using essential oils are available at http://www.aromatools.com
January 17, 2011Posted by on
For years I have lived, whenever possible, by four simple rules. My friend and mentor, Warren Jacobs, M.D., has shown me their wisdom, wisdom he gleaned from Dr. Dean Ornish. I share them with you here, and hope they work the same magic in your life that they have worked in mine.
1. Show Up. Be present and aware of what’s happening in this moment, rather than worried about the future or reliving the past.
2. Be Honest.
3. Be In Touch Your Feelings & the Feelings of Others. Feelings are different from thoughts. They inform or guide thoughts, but they sensations like joy, fear, hopelessness, sorrow, humiliation. If you are clear about your feelings, and the feelings of others an open dialogue can take place.
4. Don’t Be Too Invested in the Outcome. Whenever I am too invested in the outcome, one of the other rules gets forgotten, so I find that when I have my heart set on achieving a goal, it is best if I am also okay if the outcome is not what I was hoping for. When I can imagine both outcomes, and be content with either, I can maintain perspective, and remain in touch, honest, and present.
They are not always easy, but try these rules out the next time you face a situation where you are hoping for a certain outcome, and your partner, friend, sibling or boss is hoping for another. See if it makes things go more smoothly, even if the outcome is not what you were hoping for. Focus on the connection you have with that person, and notice if you respected the connection, and if it is now stronger. I find that stronger connections enrich my life more than gaining the outcome I hoped for every time. See if you agree. Post your feedback, if you like.