Spirit of Dragonflies

Kripalu Mindfulness Outdoor Experience Guide & Life Coach – Get Outside. Go Within.


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WPC – Life Imitates Art – 2

This week, find inspiration in a piece of art. Then, imitate it.

While visiting my son, Joseph Yetto, a painter, on the easel I noticed he was painting a self portrait. Of course I made him poise next to it and he accommodated me.

My son's self portrait

Joseph Yetto’s self portrait in progress

This isn’t his first self portrait. When my daughter, Allison, and I shared an apartment in Irvine, CA I placed a life size self portrait of Joe in the hallway near my room. This is Joe staring out at you. Actually when you move in front of this painting it feels and looks as if he is following you with his eyes. I love it! It currently hangs in a guest bedroom in my home.

Joe's self portrait from the early years

Joe’s self portrait from the early years

When Allison went to the bathroom in the night I would hear her scream and then say, “Joe you scared the crap out of me.” It would always make me laugh because she never remembered it was hanging there until she was exiting the bathroom. Still makes me laugh!

In my youth I had wanted to become an artist and loved drawing, especially with India Ink. Having my son become an accomplished artist has been a wonderful experience. I live vicariously through him as he engages with the art world and networks with some of the great artists such as his recently deceased employer, Ellsworth Kelly. One day, I shall return to drawing and might even try a little painting myself. One never knows what they are capable of until they try. As a parent I always told my children to do what they love and the money will follow. Luckily, Joe listened. Isn’t life grand!!

If you would like to see more of his work click on this link:  http://josephyetto.com

If you would like to see more entries for this week’s photo challenge or would like to enter your own, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/life-imitates-art/

Love and Light!


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Discovering Yourself in Nature

Yesterday, the last day of February, I had the opportunity to go cross-country skiing in Saratoga National Historical Park. We refer to this location as the ‘Battlefield’ because it was a major player in the Revolutionary War. It was a beautiful day with temps in the mid-twenties. That may seem cold but the temperature has been below zero so it felt warm with the sun shining on us and the layers of clothing we were wearing.

Spending the day in Saratoga National Battlefield

Spending the day in Saratoga National Battlefield

This was the first time in around twelve years that I have been on cross-country skis. I have been snowshoeing for the last several. I think snowshoeing allows the user to be in a little more control of the pace and direction. When I placed the skis on my feet the first thing that happened was I began to slide – feet in different directions. My body reacted in a panic. It truly surprised me.

It was slow going and I felt like I was holding Bill back from enjoying the experience. He is adventurous and loves moving at a fast pace without fear. It opened my eyes to realize that I do have a fear of being out of control of my body and my body lets me know through the panic that sets in the muscles. This is a side of me that doesn’t show itself until I am in these situations. This didn’t deter me, I continued on at a slower pace. It wasn’t long before I went down.

Down I go

Down I go

After going down my first thoughts went to my sore arm, hip, and ankle. Then to how long would it take to get back to the car. Thankfully those were fleeting thoughts. While down I saw some interesting things – a hole in the snow made by a small animal, the sun shining through the trees, the sparkle of the sun on the snow. It sparkled like diamonds. I pulled out the camera and started shooting.

When down - take photos

When down – take photos

After a little bit of practice, I began to feel confident and was able to glide along the flat areas and even on small inclines. The feeling of gliding along on the snow was invigorating and I felt successful.

Success

Success

We went gliding along for quite a while, stopped to sit on the snow for a snack, and some additional photos. As we continued on we saw deer tracks, mountains, and many other beautiful scenes.

Deer trails in the snow

Deer trails in the snow

Sunshine on a winter day

Sunshine on a winter day

Looking east toward Vermont - can see for miles.

Looking east toward Vermont – can see for miles.

Bill finally felt comfortable traveling at his own pace during times that I took off my skis to trudge through the snow up the inclines.

Faster pace

As you can see he is very capable of handling the hills whether traveling down or up. I on the other hand had to figure out how to manage my own fears and anxiety. There were times traveling along that I surprised myself with my bodies resistance to the challenge.

Toward the end when I went down and couldn’t seem to untangle my feet no matter how many times I attempted to keep on the skis and stand. My legs did not want to cooperate with my mind. The more I tried to get up the more difficult and more tangled my legs and skis became which resulted in more frustration setting in.

I thought – this is me – the happy, fun-loving, content person. The lover of nature and all things outside. I laid down in the snow and allowed my body a win. I laughed at myself for a minute. Then I was able to move my right leg and removed the skis once again. It was over for me at that point. The skis had to go. The soft snow was up to my knees and I fell through several times before reaching the snowshoe path that was hard and manageable. At my own pace I was able to pull out the camera and take photo shots along the way. It allowed me to slow down to enjoy the sparkling snow, the deer trails, the fur along the trail – remains of an unfortunate rabbit.

We all have a pace we enjoy, we flow at this pace. Sometimes it can be fast in one situation and slower in others. In nature, mine is slower. When I tried to push myself into a pace I didn’t feel comfortable my body rebelled. It wasn’t a good feeling and the emotions that rose from within me surprised me but sometimes we have to be reminded. There are emotions lurking in the depth of our being. When they rise we can address them, discover where they come from and then release. No need to linger there – when down – stop and take some photos of beautiful things. Don’t try to go at someone else’s pace – let everyone move at the pace that is right for them. Somewhere in the middle we meet and that is the place to build relationships. In that middle place we can learn a lot about ourself. When we stop to take time to contemplate and find peace, we can be happy wherever we are at this point in time. It doesn’t mean we have to stay there, but we can be grateful for where we are and where we have been. Then take time to decide on where we are going and plan steps to take us on that path. Mine for today is to overcome the fear of letting go and releasing some control so I might move a little faster along my path.

A shot of the moon and bird in flight

Learn to fly!

That was the lesson I learned yesterday while lying in the snow:) Have you had any similar experiences? I would love to hear about them if you have.

Love and Light!

Sandy


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Snowy Day Decluttering Cont.

Update on my snowy day decluttering project. I would like to share that I have removed over 200 hundred books from my shelves after using Marie Kondo’s method of spreading the books on the floor and asking myself “Does this spark joy?” The result as you can see from the photo is a pile of books to donate and space on my shelves for other items that do spark joy.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still have hundred’s of books but was able to leave space on those still housing books and emptied one completely. Loving the space and will try this again in a couple of weeks to see if I can release more. The closets and drawers look great. Tomorrow will be the papers. Next week will be the kitchen cabinets again even though there isn’t very much to take out of those. The last decluttering removed all poor choices in food and they have not returned. Many dishes were released as well. By Spring this house will be home to only those items I truly love.

Another benefit of this process was by sharing my decluttering others were inspired to begin the process as well. That is what life is about, being inspired and inspiring others. Remember Law of Attraction – we attract what we think and feel. I feel abundant, giving, inspired, and free so I know the Universe is providing me with more of what I want in life. By releasing what no longer is needed in our life we can begin to attract what we do want as we move forward. Loving life!!

If you have an experience that you would like to share or if you would like a free 30 minute coaching session to help you get started leave me a comment below and I will be in touch.

Love and Light,
Sandy


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Snowy Day Decluttering

What to do on a snowy windy day? Or rainy day? Well if you read any FaceBook posts it would seem to complain is the thing to do. Let’s not indulge those whose only means of entertainment and activity is to complain because it is too cold to drive to the mall. Let’s move our own lives in a different direction. One of hope, love, laughter, and enjoyment no matter what is occurring in our environment. This includes all the ebbs and flows in life.

Last night I began the act of cleaning and decluttering. If you read earlier posts you know that I did this in the summer and most people visiting would think I really don’t have too much clutter. Compared with some family members, I don’t have any clutter. However, yesterday after my iMovie class at Apple and speaking to the supervisor about a part-time position, I began to think about how to reduce time spent cleaning my home so I could be free to work my full-time position and a part-time position while writing my book, coaching, and motivating others. All of which are a priority in my life. Working at Apple would be an excellent opportunity to learn and enhance my computer skills – cleaning and holding onto items that are no longer useful in my new life are not. So releasing once again was a necessity.

I have hundreds of books sorted throughout the house by category. Women Studies are in the antique barrister bookcase in the living room. All books on neurology and brain – behavior are located on a shelf near the couch in the living room along with teaming and business books. Feng Shui, create books, and novels are on the bookshelf in the dining room. The dining room is also home to a small shelf of children’s books. On the small shelf in the hallway is a small collection of motivational books such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is strategically located so anyone heading to the bedrooms can grab something that might motivate them. In my office I have a very large shelf that is home to Memoirs, Law of Attraction, Writing, and Spiritual books along with some favorite items like my drum, family photos, and office supply crate. There is also an antique barrister bookshelf that has been home to all of my older philosophical books to include Ayn Rand, Lin Yutang, Jung and others. There is also one bookshelf that belonged to my mother which is home to my journals from over the last two decades. Some of those journals may start in January 1 of one year then in the center may begin with August three years later. There is no rhyme or reason. These I continue to hold on to for my writing material.

This brings me to decluttering. I have a few books on decluttering. Prior to beginning the process I sat with the newest in my collection and discovered a new thought on decluttering. In the past I have read books on decluttering by removing one item a day or donating an item if a new one is purchased. The latter is the way I try to keep a handle on my material possessions. I don’t know about you but it can be difficult to let go of some sentimental items even when they have long worn out their welcome. They sit looking at us day after day and we wonder why we keep them. Then we put it off for another day. Eventually they build up over time – people die and we take something that belonged to them, we can’t allow anything that belonged to our mother, father, aunt, uncle, friend to be passed to a stranger. Or remnants of a former relationship remain in a drawer, box in the attic, in the jewelry box. You know what you have hidden. Here are some of the books I have on decluttering.

Each one spoke to me when I purchased and read them. The book on De-Clutter, De-Stress Your Life was actually from a class I went to on releasing stress from your life. It was a very helpful class. The more stuff we have the more we have to care for – to dust – to find a place for – more upkeep – less time for doing what we want to do. We use our stuff as an excuse not to accomplish our goals. If we have to clean then we can’t write that novel or paint that picture or take that hike. If we don’t clean out that cabinet of food that is not healthy the better chance we will reach in and grab something unhealthy on those stressful days. The less we own the freer we are – that is a reality.

The newest book, the life-changing magic of tidying up – the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, shares in the value of making one clean swoop and removing it all – removing it from your home immediately. The benefit is a renewed life. A fresh start. A release from what is holding you back.

So I will share what she feels about decluttering books. She said take them all off the shelf – ALL of them. This is a difficult task. As I shared there are all categorized by topic and author. Taking all the books off the shelf and placing them together on the floor. They are no longer lying dormant on the shelf. Then pick up each book and ask yourself “Does this spark joy?”

If too many like myself – she says to divide them by category. General (books you read for pleasure) – Practical (references, cookbooks), Visual (photograph collections), Magazines. Oh did I mention I have a collection of Victoria magazines from the 1990s – 2000 when they went out of business. Ms Kondo shares that you are not to start reading the book – this is what I end up doing. You can only touch it and ask yourself if you need it or not. We have to stop and think about the purpose the books serve. Now mind you, I felt very good about releasing the 60+ books sitting in a pile on the dining room floor. Today, on this cold February day, I shall go back through the books and whereto autographed or not only keep those that inspire me. There is always the library which can house the books and I can go there and borrow them when needed. After all my niece is a librarian and capable of finding books I am interested in reading.

Well I have to go now to place the remaining couple of hundred books on the floor to see which will remain in my hall of fame book collection. It is at once frightening and invigorating – almost freeing.

I’ll let you know how I it turns out. After the books, it will be time to tackle the papers sitting in the files from my writing classes and internships/fellowships from a decade ago.

What do you do when you are inside on those rainy, snowy, windy days?

Hope this helped. Decluttering results in releasing material belongings and freeing you which can reduce stress and improve health. Give it a try!!

Love and Light,
Sandy


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Life Lessons Repeated

Life Lesson Quote

Life Lesson Quote

I don’t know about you but I have some life lessons that continue to surface in my life. It is like ground-hog day when going it through the situation. Many times the people are different and the location may be different however it is the same situation that I didn’t like the first, second or eighth time I went through it. This is why I continue to self-assess to discover what is the lesson that should be learned in any given repeat situation. The first thing is to recognize that it is repeating, the second thing is to look at your own part in making this happen, the third to take responsibility, and fourth do something about it. Not tomorrow, today.

Is there an area in your life that you seem to repeat? Relationships with the same personality style or with someone suffering from alcoholism, anger, selfishness, insecurities, neediness. All of these can happen to any of us. Or what about your relationship with debt. Do you find yourself charging too much? Maybe you have reduced your debt for a while and then find yourself back in debt within a short time. It can become a vicious cycle. Lessons can be learned in any situation if we are willing to accept responsibility to find someone to guide us through long-term change.

This is where I can come in to assist you. As a certified Law of Attraction Life Coach I will work with you through processes that will benefit you and your situation. Every situation is different and so life coaching cannot be a cookie cutter approach. It is always individualized. If you or someone you know could you some guidance feel free to contact me below. I will provide two free 45 minute sessions and then you can decide if you would like to continue. Let’s partner for the New Year to make 2015 the best year ever!!

Love and Light,

Sandy


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Small Steps Lead to a Successful Journey

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.                  ~ Old Chinese Proverb ~

 

When we set a goal sometimes it can become overwhelming if we focus on where we are going. It is when we are able to look at where we are compared to where we have been that we find our strength to continue to move forward. For those just starting their journey, look at where you are and make a decision to take small steps. Then write down a plan of action to take one small step a day.

If you would like to lose weight, set a goal of one pound per week or even one pound per month. What could you do today that would help you reach that goal. Is there something in your refrigerator or cabinet that you could eliminate – maybe soda, chips, coffee creamer? If you are a soda drinker could you cut back to one per day or one every other day? Look at your daily eating habits and make one small change. Write out a grocery list and stick to it. Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry, you will purchase more prepackaged food or snack foods if you do. Eat prior to shopping and bring your list. Clean out the poor food choices so you will not be tempted and don’t allow yourself to eat in front of the television. We tend to eat more if sitting in front of the television. Also, use smaller plates for portion control.

If you would like to start exercising and get in shape could you park further from your office, home, store? Adding a few extra steps into your daily routine is a start. If you have been a couch potato maybe you can place your remote further away from where you are sitting so you have to get up every time you want to change the channel. Start taking a walk around your block after dinner or in the morning before breakfast. A quick walk or even a leisurely walk around the block every other day can start the process. After a couple of weeks add in another block, then another until you walk a mile every other day. Eventually this will increase and you will find yourself looking forward to taking a walk as you reap the health benefits.

If you would like to save some money, can you put away a dollar per week or maybe ten? Take a look at your daily spending habits. If you like to purchase lunch, can you make your lunch and bring it to work every other day? Can you bring your own coffee every other day for a week and then every day. The money you save can be placed in a piggy bank. Once the bank is filled place the savings in a bank account. Once per month place the money in your bank in your bank account and at the end of the year you will have a nice little nest egg started. Or, you can start placing all of your change in a jar or piggy bank. Every time you owe change give the sale clerk a dollar. Take the change and place it in your piggy bank with the money you are saving from the lunch and coffee. You will be surprised how quickly the change will add up. Just seeing the money growing in the piggy bank or jar will excite you. Once in the bank, watching the balance increase will help you see the benefits of your actions.

If you would like to pay off your credit cards start with your lowest amount and pay a little extra on it every month. Instead of the minimum payment, add an extra $10 to the payment or $20 if you can. Pay the minimum on the others and continue to pay more on the smallest amount until it is paid off. Once that bill is paid, take the money you were paying on that card and add it to the next. This will eliminate the debt on the second card even faster. You will be surprised how quickly you can become debt free using this process. It may take a couple of years but this process will knock years off of your debt and allow you to become debt free in half the time if you just paid the minimum on all of your cards.

If your goal is to learn a language, play an instrument, learn a new skill remember that you didn’t know anything about it until you started. Many people give up learning because it doesn’t happen fast enough or someone says something that discourages you. If you can learn one new note, one new word, or anything you didn’t know the day before, you are ahead of the game. It is not about being an expert, it’s about the process, the fun, the baby steps of the long journey. Living in the moment and enjoying life is the most important thing about change. If the process becomes a chore or burden you will give up but if it becomes fun then you will want to stick to it.

As you can see the journey may be long but can become a lot shorter if you start by taking baby steps and being happy where you are today knowing you are moving in the right direction. If we focus on the long journey it become overwhelming and can result in our failure. Taking small steps will lead to success and enjoyment in life. For today, be grateful for where you are. Write down steps you can take starting right now or tomorrow and once you begin to accomplish those small steps be grateful that you made the decision and commitment to yourself. Then take the steps. If you can write them on a calendar and mark off each day that you take a step in red pen at the end of the month you will see red marks for each day you were good to yourself. This will give you the incentive you need to take the steps and mark the red X. Eventually everyday on the calendar will have red and you will be proud of yourself. If you take a back step, don’t criticize yourself just be grateful for those days you succeeded. Sometimes it takes three steps forward and one step back, sometimes two to set change in motion. As long as you take some steps forward each month you will eventually reach your goals.

I am here to assist if you needed. Sending you Love and Light as you start your journey.

Sandy


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Reaching our goals – fulfilling dreams

The spring before we learned of my father’s cancer, I was attending a local community college. Dad had retired the previous year. He and my sister decided to take a course too so they registered for Economics and I registered for English 101. Our classes were on the same evening so I would meet them after work and we would hang out prior to our class and after class stop for ice cream. It was a very good time period.

In the summer he found out he had cancer and was given months to live. As we watched him deteriorate from his illness I continued with my classes. I was very far from receiving my Associates degree at the time. One day while cleaning up after a picnic in the yard Dad followed me in and told me that he was very happy about my attending college and doing so well. He said he would be there to watch me get my degree. I went along with him and said I was going to keep going until I graduated from either Harvard or UCLA. Well Dad died that December and it took me another seven years before I received the degree. Through that time I only took classes when I could afford them and sometimes had to withdraw due to family or work obligations or my own self defeatist attitude. I was a single mom of two and then three children during the seven years. There were many ups and downs but I never gave up my focus and knew one day I would have a two-year degree.

When I had a little over half of my credits I quit one company to accept a supervisory position at another. It lasted six months. When they let me go I thanked them – yes I know raising three children and losing a job, you think how could you thank them. My cousin who was the same age as me died in a car accident and I realized that I may never achieve my goal of a two year degree if something didn’t change. The lay off gave me the push I needed. I joined the Army National Guard at the age of 32 and began attending college full-time while working a part-time job. It worked for us, not too much money but we made it. It took me one more year before I walked across the stage to receive my diploma. Along the way I met people who encouraged me to continue on for a BA degree. I didn’t think it was possible but went for an interview with the Sociology Department at a private college and was accepted. I had been on the President’s and Dean’s list which surprised me and my family I think.

After two more years I walked across the stage again at the private college In 1994, I received a BA in Sociology while working two part-time jobs and the Army National Guard while raising my three children. My family helped care for my children while I worked and went to college but my children and I had dinner together most nights and spent weekends together except for the one weekend a month I participated in National Guard.

It was there that I met a female General who became my mentor. She encouraged me to continue on for a Master’s degree. Gen. Burke felt that I was accustomed to studying and my children were comfortable with their lifestyle so why not. Never had I thought of working toward an MA degree. Receiving an Associates was a miracle and then a Bachelor degree, that was a double miracle. She was very persuasive so I did continue on and even accepted a Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C. My son was attending his first year of college as my daughters and I headed to Washington for ten months. In 1996 I received a Master’s Degree. I realized dreams do come true if we take one step at a time and don’t give up on ourself.

When I located the UCLA Writer’s program the idea of working on a certificate didn’t seem so far-fetched. I enrolled in my first writing class in 2008. I didn’t take it seriously until 2010. I had received positive feedback on my writing so I registered for the Non-Fiction Writing Certificate program. It brought back memories of my father and him telling me he would help. When I attended my graduation from UCLA on June 27, 2014 tears filled my eyes. As my name was called, I looked up and said, “Thank you Dad.”

Graduation from UCLA on June 27, 2014

Graduation from UCLA on June 27, 2014

Graduation from UCLA

If you want something bad enough, if you can feel it, taste it, give up time, money, energy and focus it will come to you. Don’t give up and don’t use excuses like your family won’t let you, you’re a single parent, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the time, you aren’t smart enough – those are just blockages that can be overcome. Be the role model for your children, nieces, nephews, their friends, for family, colleagues, and others in your life. Share in your successes and let others see you shine. We are all shining stars and have a gift to share. What is your gift? Are you pursuing your dreams? If not now, when? The time is never right to get started so why not take a step in the right direction today.

Love and Light,

Sandy