Modern Day Journaling

The 5th tool I’d like to share from my toolbox is a new version of an old standby…. Journaling. Journaling is an important self care tool because it is a great way to 1. Keep track of your thoughts and feelings 2. Discover patterns in your life, and 3. Shines light on the places where you have grown vs. the areas you still need support. In other words, Journaling helps us to see not only where we started and where we are now, but also how we got here. I think what keeps many of us from utilizing this easy affordable tool is the misconception that journaling has to be time consuming, tediously detailed, only kept in a special journal or notebook, or be written in full sentences. None of this is true! We can use our cool gadgets and new technology to make journaling modern, simple, easy, and portable. Laptops, cell phones, iPods, and daily planners can all be easily transformed into modern day journals. Here are some examples of how to turn your favorite technical gadget into a useful modern journal. iPods
  • Create a “week in review” playlist by adding one new song each day of the week that sums up how that day went for you. Repeat this process each week.
Cell Phones
  • Using your calendar function you can either add descriptive words that summarize your day, or rate your enjoyment of tasks once completed.
  • You can also text yourself descriptive words, or even just a smiley face, when good things happen through out your day.
  • Or you can take pictures through out your day or week to document your highs and lows.
Email Accounts
  • Create a journal for yourself through email. Take a minute each day to type out a few sentences describing your day and then email them to yourself; this can be done at work or home, or if you have email on your cell phone while waiting in line, sitting in a waiting room, on your lunch break, basically anywhere. Next, create a specific folder dedicated to Journaling in your email account so they don’t get lost, or clog up your inbox.
Laptop/Desktops- There are so many communication programs to choose from, pick one that you like and make it your own. For example, you could….
  • Record MP3’s of your thoughts
  • Create picture journals by adding favorite photo’s into your favorite’s on Flickr
  • Create an Excel Spreadsheet tracking descriptive words for each day

Flower Essences

The 4th tool that I’d like to share from my personal toolbox is Flower Essences. Flower Essences are a natural way of restoring balance within our bodies and minds by helping us release negative emotions, memories, and blocked or stagnant pocked of negative energy we may be holding on to. Flower Essences work on an “energetic level” to align our systems- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. We’ve all had the experience of knowing some has entered the room without seeing him or her come in; we feel the energy in the room change and are able to feel their presence- this feeling is what is meant by an “energetic level.” Flower Essences can be used to treat a wide range of presenting issues and concerns. A few examples include:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Lack of abundance
  • Grief and Sadness
  • Anger
  • Burn Out
  • Chakra Alignment
  • Digestion
  • Heartbreak
  • Stress
Where to find Flower Essences Most health food or supplement stores will carry some brands of Flower Essences. Bach is the most widely found brand. Locally, Whole foods, Supper Supplements, PCC and Dandelion Botanical Company all carry Bach or another brand of Flower Essences. Personally, I use Green Hope Farm for all my Flower Essence purchases. Mainly because they do not use alcohol as their stabilizer, so are the only wheat/gluten free brand of Flower Essences I have found. But also, they are an incredibly generous and knowledgeable company with amazing personal customer service. Check out Green Hope Farm list of Common Concerns and see what Flower Essences my be able to do for you! CommonConcerns-Updated10-09

Treasuring

Another favorite tool in my personal toolbox is called Treasuring. What is Treasuring? Treasuring is similar to positive thinking, but instead of taking what is and trying to see it from a positive lens, you dream about already having what you want. In treasuring you pick something you really desire like love, money, a home and spend 10 minutes imagining you already have it.  The more detail you bring into this imagination exercise the better! The goal of this exercise is letting yourself believe that you already have the desired thing and then letting your mind move backwards in the time line of how you got it. One of my favorite authors, Martha Beck, describes this technique beautifully in her book Steering by Starlight. How to use Treasuring Treasuring is another, and sometimes easier, way to bring positive thinking into your life.  Remember this post about Gratitude and why gratitude is important?  Treasuring is a simple way to create some of these new positive pathways, I discussed in that post, in our brains. I have found that because treasuring involves more imagination, and already having what you desire, many people find treasuring easier to do and more enjoyable than positive thinking.  Myself included. Some days or events are so hurtful it’s too hard to try to see them positively, this is when I turn to treasuring.  It’s a great, healthy, and easy escape from whatever might being going on in my life.  You’ll notice that once you’ve spent 10 (or more) minutes dreaming about having what you desire, whatever is actually going on seems smaller and less hurtful. I find I am able to see the current situation differently, from a more positive place, after spending some time treasuring. When to use Treasuring Martha Beck recommends you do a treasuring meditation 10 minutes a day for 30 days.   While I think this 30 day goal is totally useful and highly recommend it, I have found treasuring to be really useful even in smaller periods of time. So if creating a goal to do this exercise for a week feels more attainable for you, go with that! I find with my clients, breaking this assignment into weekly goals vs. monthly goals makes getting started much easier.  Also, I have discovered that my clients dreams actually get bigger and evolve if we re-evaluate the assignment each week.  It seems setting a monthly goal can leave us feeling as if we need to do the same thing over and over again for the whole 30 days. **An Interesting Thing About Treasuring** I can always tell which of my clients are doing their treasuring homework, Martha Beck says the same thing in her book.  Treasuring tends to decrease the physical appearance of stress in people.  After spending a week doing this exercise my clients actually look different- lighter, younger, healthier, more confident, glowing and radiant. So what do you think?  Is there room in your toolbox for treasuring???

Happiness Project Toolbox

So far this month I have shared 3 of my must-have toolbox items with you, and I’ve got 4 more to review with ya before the month is over.  Not to mention the free MP3 download of my favorite relaxation technique will be available before the end of the week! Since Creating Your Own Toolbox is our topic this month, I wanted to share an interesting site I came across with you.  One of my favorite blogs, The Happiness Project,  had this post yesterday about their very own toolbox website.  Cool, right?! The Happiness Project Toolbox is another great resource for building, and even storing, your personal toolbox.  When you sign up, this site provides you will 8 tools to help you create your own personal happiness project. Remember, variety is an important component in a helpful toolbox.  Having an assortment of tools that both help you create happiness, and simply soothe you when the chips are down, will not only make your toolbox its most useful, but also allow you to create and maintain balance in your life. Maybe you’ll be able to find something useful for your own toolbox on their site…… A quick review of the 4 guidelines to having an easy to use toolbox
  1. Your toolbox can be literal or figurative as long as you can easily access it
  2. Add Variety to your toolbox
  3. Think of your toolbox as a living thing, allow it to grow and evolve over time
  4. Toolboxes and toolbox use are not black and white assignment

Egg Timer (Yes, Again)

Do you remember this post about the incredible inedible egg timer? In that post I shared with you how I use an egg timer to create pockets of time in my day; well, I also use an egg timer to help bring more balance to many of my relationships including my marriage. Which is why I decided this amazing little gadget needed another post dedicated to it, and a formal mention as one of my favorite tools in my toolbox. Why an egg timer? Have you ever noticed how having an end point, in any event, allows us to dedicate ourselves to the event more completely? If it’s a good event, we are able relax and enjoy it, and if it’s a bad event we know we just have to suck it up for so long. Well, an egg timer can be used to create this end point for many things in your relationship. The Good Think of it like this- whether you go get a massage, play golf, or go to a movie you always have an idea of how long the event is going to last. This allows you to relax and enjoy it fully without worrying about what comes next. This same principle can be applied at home with your partner by using an egg timer. Creating a set end point in advance allows you to exchange back rubs, foot massages, or have dinner together, play games together, or go for a walk together without worrying about when you’ll get to your to do list. The Bad Every relationship has difficult fight-causing topics; by using an egg timer to manage the time devoted to them you can discuss them and still have time for other things in your life and relationship. Having a set end time will help each partner participate and stay present, stay on topic, better organize their thoughts on the topic to ensure their point of view is heard, and means the topic cannot take over your evening or relationship by going on and on and on. 5 places to use an egg timer in a your relationship
  1. The difficult topics like money, sex, in-laws, and household chores. Set up in advance with your partner on how often and for how long each topic will be discussed, this way you both can let it fall by the wayside when it’s not time to discuss it.
  2. To create a space for venting after a break in trust, or hurt feelings. Placing a time limit on the venting allows one partner to get things off their chest, and the other to just listen without defending them self. This can be very help in moving towards forgiveness.
  3. Making time for physical touch. 5 minutes of hand, foot, shoulder and/or a back massage are all wonderful things to share with our partners and can increase emotional intimacy.
  4. Making time for fun. 20 minutes after dinner of walking, playing cards, sipping wine, checking in, it doesn’t matter what you do with the time, having a set end time allows you to have some fun quality time together and still get all your to do’s done.
  5. In doing daily chores/house cleaning. Set a timer and have everyone in the house clean as much as they can for that period of time. Everyone will be much more motivated to help knowing it’s broken into small increments of time. You can even make a competition out of it to see who gets the most done. When time is up, use the timer to do something to reward yourselves for the hard work! (Don’t forget a prize for the winner!)

You Can Heal Your Life

If I were stuck on a desert island and could only bring one book with me, this would be the book!  You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L Hay.  It’s a must-have in my toolbox. Louise wrote this book back in the 1970’s- it’s a precursor to the recently popular book The SecretYou Can Heal Your Life describes the “Law of Attraction” in a spiritual non-materialistic way. Louise L Hay explains that things like health, relationships, confidence, forgiveness and wealth come into our lives based on our thoughts. You may remember this post on gratitude thinking and why our thoughts are so important. I keep this book in my toolbox because I love pulling it out when I am feeling down.  I like to use it as a starting point when I feel overwhelmed in a situation and as a way to gain some clarity on that situation.  Reviewing this book always reminds me that “this too shall pass.” It helps me gain some perspective on how I got where I am, where I want to be instead, and gives tangible affirmations to start my journey towards that better place.  It also has an amazing chart towards the end that Louise uses to help us connect physical ailments like headaches, digestive issues, depression, anxiety, hay fever, and even acne with the negative thought pattern that causes them. Check it out sometime, you may find it to be a nice fit in your own toolbox as well!

Valerian Root

A tool I always have on hand as part of my personal toolbox is Valerian Root. Now, I’d like to point out that I am not a Doctor, and as with any supplement or herb you should always consult your Doctor before starting- especially if you are on medications, are concerned about your health, nursing or pregnant.  That being said, Valerian Root is a natural herb, sold at any health food store, in many grocery stores, and in many brands of tea. This post is not meant to be a necessarily be a plug for Valerian Root, but an example of the variety you can include in your toolbox to help you to create more balance in your life. So, on we go….. Valerian Root’s History Valerian Root is an ancient herb (we are talking ancient Greece and Rome) with centuries of history for treating nervousness, sleep problems, and anxiety disorders.  In more recent times, numerous scientific studies have shown Valerian Root to be an effective sedative for both the brain and body aiding in physical relaxation and mental/emotional calming. Current Uses Currently, Valerian Root is most commonly used as a remedy for insomnia.  And I have to say, I find it to be a wonderful alternative to over-the-counter sleep aids.  It doesn’t “knock you out” and leave you feeling groggy in the morning.  It just allows you to relax and easily slip into a natural sleep restorative sleep, so you wake feeling refreshed and rested. I discovered Valerian Root during grad school and couldn’t have made it though those years without it. I added Valerian Root to my bedtime routine many nights when 2-4 hours of sleep was all I could afford.  It allowed my body to get the rest it needed out of those short periods of sleep so I woke feeling rested vs. more tired. Other Uses Besides treating insomnia, Valerian Root’s relaxation effects on muscles makes it a helpful tool in relieving body tension and aches (including migraines and headaches), stomach and menstrual cramps, and digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Valerian Root is also helpful in reducing stress-related anxiety, calming panic attacks, and decreasing restlessness and stress-related depression. Where to find Valerian Root Valerian Root can be found on it’s own or in combination with other herbs in pill, liquid herbal extract, and tea form. Valerian Root supplements can be found at any health food store, Whole Foods, Fred Meyers, Super Supplements, even Bartell Drugs carry’s Valerian Root. Also, many tea’s have Valerian Root as an ingredient.  Two of my favorites are Bedtime Tea by Yogi Tea, and Sweet Dreams tea found at Dandelion Botanical Company in Ballard.

Creating Your Own Toolbox

This month, I am dedicating my blog to “My Favorite Things.” We all are looking for simple ways to add balance into our lives, so this month I am going to share some favorite tools that I use to create more balance in my own life. When reading these posts it is important to keep in mind that Balance is not one-size-fits-all. Maybe some of the tools I share will work for you, maybe none of them will; there is no right or wrong to this, as long as the tools you create for yourself work for you. So, let’s start with the idea of Creating Your Own Toolbox…. What’s a Toolbox? A toolbox is collection of things that you enjoy, that bring you comfort, that make you laugh or allow you to cry, and refresh you. In other words, a toolbox is where you store the self-care strategies you use throughout your week to look after yourself, and the ones you rely on when the chips are down. We all have little self-care strategies we use to get through life, creating a toolbox just organizes them so that we can easily call upon them when needed. It’s like getting home from a long day of work without a plan for dinner; you find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator unable to see past the individual ingredients to a finished meal so you order out or eat junk and feel awful later. Self-care is the same way. Without a plan, or toolbox, of how to care for yourself after a long day you end up watching TV all night, or zone out in front of the computer, and at the end of the night you do not feel any better, just numb. By having a toolbox created before exhaustion sets in, you are able to easily pull from an assortment of tools that actually refresh you no matter how tired, stressed, overworked, depressed, or anxious you are feeling. Sounds pretty simple, right? It is! Here are 4 easy guidelines to follow in order to keep your toolbox straightforward and easy to use.
  1. Your toolbox can be literal or figurative as long as you can easily access it. This means taking the time to set up a clearly defined toolbox so that you aren’t stumbling for tools when you actually need them. Your toolbox can be a hand written list, a note in your phone, a shoebox you put reminders in, notes on your calendar, post it’s on your bathroom mirror, text messages from yourself. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it exists.
  2. Add variety to your toolbox. Include things in your toolbox that you can do on your own, with friends, at home, at work, that cost money, that don’t cost money…. This way it won’t matter when or where you need to reach for a tool, you’ll have one that fits the situation.
  3. Think of your toolbox as a living thing, allow it to grow and evolve over time. Keep your eyes open for new and different things you can add to your toolbox so you are always excited to pull from your toolbox.
  4. Toolboxes and toolbox use are not black and white assignments. Cut yourself some slack if you forget to use your new toolbox from time to time. The point to having a toolbox is that you can easily pull from it when you want/need to but that does not mean you’ll never zone out in front of the TV again. And that’s OK!
What to keep in your toolbox Again, what you keep in your toolbox is individual to you. This is the only way a toolbox will be really useful for you. But here are a few suggestions of things you may want to include in yours… Free Things
  • Walks by the water
  • Walks around the building on breaks from work
  • At home spa days… Mani/Pedi’s, Facials, Hot Baths
  • Relaxation CD’s from the library
  • Podcast’s from iTunes
  • Audio books from the library
  • Journal writing
  • Gratitude Thinking
  • Catching up on sleep
  • Dog park (even if you don’t have a dog of your own)
  • Home cooked meals
  • Watching favorite movies
  • Listening to favorite music
  • Drawing/Painting/Scrapbooking
  • Attending the Farmer’s Markets in your area
Things to “splurge” on
  • Starbucks card
  • Coffee with a girlfriend
  • Late night coffee and desert date with husband
  • String Cheese and Baby Belle Cheese
  • Mani/Pedi
  • Facials
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Eyebrow waxing
  • Hot tea (especially after dinner)
  • Breakfast Happy Hour at Peso’s
  • Happy Hour after work with friends
  • Sunday brunch
  • Game night at home with friends
  • Weekly get together with friends to watch current Reality Show
So, what are you going to add to your toolbox today????

April Newsletter “My Favorite Things”

April 2010 Newsletter- My Favorite Things

Welcome to my new monthly newsletter! Each month I’ll tackle a new topic and offer useful tidbits and tools for creating and maintaining a healthy life and fulfilling relationships.  If you like what you read here, keep visiting my blog for free downloads and more information on each month’s topic. Tomorrow’s post: Creating Your Own Tool Box.  I’ll discuss what this means, why you need one, and some of the things I keep in mine. Coming soon: Free MP3 download of my all-time favorite relaxation technique. Enjoy! Caley April 2010 Newsletter