Go Where the Energy Goes…Follow Your Bliss

Follow-your-bliss

This summer my niece visited for 3 weeks. She loves crafts so much that we set up a basement room with sunny windows for “Creative time”. I bought a bookshelf at the 2nd hand shop nearby. All the craft supplies I had in the house filled up the shelves. Everyday at 3:30 we’d head down to the basement and begin our “Creative Time”. We also wrote and cooked together. We watched inspirational youtube videos to figure out how to make interesting crafts. Now, even though she’s back at home in San Francisco, I’m inspired to get down to our creative room every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

And then I recently took two incredible cheese making class. I never dreamed I could actually make cheese!

I’m a foodie and a cheese freak! Taking a cheese making class was high up on my list of things to do. For the last year, I’ve put off taking this class. My friend, Amy, who wanted to take the class, too, went ahead and found a class for us taught by the owner of a goat farm.

At the first class we made ricotta, mozzarella and burrata (which is a combination of the two). We took brie and blue cheese making in the second class.

Stretching the Mozzarella

Stretching the Mozzarella

Yummy Burrata

Yummy Burrata

Homemade Brie Cheese Wheels

Homemade Brie Cheese Wheels

Kate Our Cheese Master

Kate Our Cheese Master

Kate is a great teacher! She was a life coach before a cheese maker. She would tell her clients, “Go where the energy flows.” She did this herself and now she is teaching her bliss, cheese making. My energy was definitely flowing for making cheese! Since the class, I’ve made ricotta and the mozzarella twice plus a batch of Brie. I’ve definitely made mistakes. Yet even so, I feel energized.

flows

All this has made me think of the man who coined the term, “Follow your bliss”, mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell. He was interviewed in 1988 by Bill Moyers and that interview became a classic called The Power Of Myth. Joseph Campbell felt that most people are not “quite awake” which translated to not being quite alive.

In the interview he says:
“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

Your bliss can be anything! Joseph Campbell said, “The way to find out what makes you the happiest is to focus on being mindful of your happiest moments—not simply excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.” Skiing, jogging, hiking, music, coffee, people, photography or even cheese. It’s wonderful when it’s your job or career but if not, what hobby gives your energy? Where does your energy flow? It can be scary to figure it out!

dreams-are-big-enough

Following your bliss requires what he calls “sacred space” — a space for uninterrupted reflection and unrushed creative work. He says in the Moyer’s interview:

“[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

“Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.”

That reminded me of our creative room where we had our “creative time” this summer. So create a bliss station. Start with just a few minutes a day.

You’ll know that you’re in your state of bliss when:

You feel energetic.
You are feeling creative.
You feel alive.
You feel a sense of direction in your life.
You have a deep sense of meaning.
And often coincidences occur otherwise known as synchronicity..

I thought I’d share this positive affirmation I found recently: I am incredibly creative. It’s easy for me to let creativity express itself through me in my art, experience and practices. It feels so good to share myself through creative expression!

Be curious! Be open! Be dedicated! And then maybe you’ll be able to find and follow your bliss.

I’d love to hear how you experience bliss? Please add in the comments below!

P.S. If you’re a parent, include your kids in your bliss! You’ll be amazed how much they love it. My youngest son (aged 19) just texted me from college that he spent 3 hours having “creative time” and made a wonderful garage band song!

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Make Gratitude A Habit for This Thanksgiving and All Year Long!

Zen Tips Gratitude Beattie

Message to my all Zen Mama Readers: My three Kindle books will be $.99 (or a £.99) on Thanksgiving day through November 29th. Now on to the post!

Looking for Happiness?
Of course you are! We all are.
What is the key to finding it?
Could it be gratitude?

It is amazing we have a holiday that is set aside to be thankful for the abundance in our lives. I love Thanksgiving for just that reason. We celebrate family and the things we are thankful for. No craziness, no buying sprees….just gratitude. It’s become my favorite holiday over the last few years. And now, I want to live Thanksgiving everyday!

In 2001, I wanted to experience gratitude. I had been reading The Artist’s Way. I was reading about the many ways to bring abundance into your life. One way was to write in a “gratitude journal”. So, I began to write in one. However, after 2 or 3 weeks I stopped. I kept being grateful for the same things every time I wrote. Even though I was very appreciative and thankful for my life, I didn’t get gratitude quite yet. I wasn’t ready. Next I read Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I just loved this and got a little closer to the meaning of gratitude

So now, years later, I’m contemplating gratitude again. I know it’s easy to feel gratitude when everything is going your way. What is difficult is to find gratitude during the hard times. I’ve had four friends with cancer over the last few years. They’ve all felt a huge shift in their lives, more joy and peace and a great appreciation for what they have to lose! I realize that I don’t want to wait for something like cancer to happen or a family tragedy to feel gratitude for the life I have.

Many of us are thankful for the things in our life. Yet, gratitude is much more than being thankful. Thankfulness is an expression of happiness. Being thankful is telling someone you appreciate what they have done. Being thankful is being glad it didn’t rain on picnic day. Being thankful is happiness from a gift.

Gratitude is thankfulness taken to the next level. It is a heart-felt and intellectual acknowledgement of all that is good in your life. It’s embracing uncertainty. To feel gratitude towards the bad things that have happened to us knowing that will lead you a new opportunity.”

In our society we’re taught to concentrate on what we don’t have. I call this “Scarcity Thinking”. Scarcity thinking is the opposite of gratitude. What you think is what you bring into your life. If you think scarcity, then you have lack. When you practice gratitude, scarcity thinking disappears. You concentrate on what you do have. Remind yourself that you are not lacking. You have such abundance in your life! Did you know that? I love what Oprah said in a recent life class about scarcity and gratitude: “Focus on the $3 you do have in your wallet instead of focusing on the $50 you don’t have.”

Epictitus Lack:rejoice quote

There are many benefits to practicing gratitude:

• You will experience peace of mind and more optimism, suffer less stress, be more satisfied with life, less materialistic and often feel more spiritual, regardless of religion.

• It’s great for your family or children to see your positive attitude and that you appreciate the little things. Did you know that everyday you’re teaching your children to be good parents? Did you know that they will copy your behavior as adults? A study showed that “children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families” (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

• Gratitude is great for all relationships. Feeling gratitude for friends, family or business associates makes your relationship stronger. It may seem like a simple thing but saying thank you really makes everyone feel better! You can be general about your thank you or quite specific.

• There are physical benefits. Grateful people tend to exercise more and experience better health. Author and researcher Dr. Robert Emmons conducted an experimental comparison. Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)

How does one practice gratitude? It’s a habit like anything else. Just as a negative thoughts can strongly influence your mood, so can a positive feeling of gratitude affect your day.

Here are 7 ways to help you make gratitude a habit:

1. Have a morning ritual before you get out of bed.
• Begin your first thoughts with gratitude before your feet touch the ground. These thoughts will start you off ion a wonderful day’s journey. End your day with gratitude. I believe these thoughts will be with you in your sleep via your subconcious.
Next, start off being thankful for your breath, clean water and shelter. Many of us focus on what we don’t have. This is scarcity thinking. Concentrate on what you do have.
Next, be grateful for your family and friends. Think of all their wonderful traits. How do they make you smile? What are the little things they do for you? What can you do for them?
Next have gratitude for the little things like the blue sky, hot coffee, clothes. Be mindful of all the little things around you, in nature, like a spider’s web or a warm blanket. Then be grateful for the big things, like your health!

2. Learn to identify ungrateful thoughts. Those thoughts might be: “I don’t deserve this.” “What went wrong?” “I’m not appreciated.” “No one helps me around here.” “Why is she so lucky?” Replace those thoughts when they appear. Count your blessings. You can’t be envious or angry when you are thinking grateful thoughts.

3. Write in a gratitude journal. Write three to five things a day that you’re grateful for using mindfulness as a tool.

4. Find time to inspire yourself. It can be quotes, inspiratioinal facebook pages, a video or a book of poetry. Just find at least a few minutes a day to be inspired. Click here to check out my daily Zen Tip on Facebook.

ganasha coffee machine5. Have a Talisman, a little statue or charm that reminds you to be grateful. I have a small Ganasha I found in Thailand that I keep by the coffee machine. Ganasha is the Hindu god of wisdom and the remover of obstacles. Each morning as I make coffee or at night when I cook, the little statue reminds me to take stock and be grateful and know anything is possible.

6. Bring gratitude to the dinner table. Have each family member say something that they are grateful for. We asked our kids to say one thing good that happened that day.

7. Now the most difficult part. Can you have gratitude for the difficulties in life? We all hear about people who eventually feel gratitude for tragedy like cancer in their lives because it’s made them look at life differently. Can you try to feel it about the little things like traffic, bad weather or big things like financial or health problems?

Have fun with it! Gratitude is such a positive emotion. It will seep into all areas of your life. I feel great gratitude for all of you readers out there! Thanks for being part of my dream to be a writer and to help others.

One last quote:
“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”
~Albert Clarke

What do you feel gratitude for? How do you experience it? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Please watch my favorite TED video on Gratitude. You won’t be the same after Louis Schwartzberg’s beautiful images and Brother David Steindl-Rast’s narration.

Click on these images if you’re interested in these books:

I have great gratitude for all of you readers!! So my gift to you is that all three of my Kindle books are only $.99 on Thanksgiving Day through November 29th. If you don’t have a kindle, download the kindle app for your mac or other devices. Click here!

Interested in my print books for the holiday season? Please email me directly at thezenmama@gmail.com to get a $9 per book deal plus free shipping! Paypal or credit accepted via square.

Love quotes? Read last year’s Thanksgiving post: 21 Gratitude Quotes.

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9 Ways To Raise A Mindful Child

Children are naturals at mindfulness

Children are naturals at mindfulness

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”– William Blake

Here are some of my preschool students on a recent field trip to our local gardens. About 10 frogs presented themselves that day. We spent as long as we could just staring at this little frog. Nothing was as fascinating as that frog! It was pure mindfulness. Totally living in the moment. Since then I’ve gone back to study the frogs, bees and fall leaves. I’ve never felt such peace.

Children should be naturals at mindfulness. Yet these days so many children are combating anxiety, having trouble concentrating and controlling anger.

Aniexty is a big problem. I recently read that 1 in 8 children feel some kind of anxiety. Some are depressed, some are worried and having panic attacks. It’s hard to imagine! And with all the technology, sticking to a task for a long time is more and more difficult.

There are several tools to combat anxiety through mindfulness. Kids need more time to be mindful. It’s up to us teachers and parents to give that to them.

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13 Quotes To Help You Achieve Mindfulness

MindfulnessA few weeks ago, while on auto pilot and thinking too many thoughts, I got to my destination without even paying attention to the drive. Then there was one night last week I couldn’t sleep as I made all sorts of lists in my mind of things I needed to do. My distracted mind or Monkey Mind had taken control! I was falling into the trap of our culture and being too busy. (Do you remember what I think of busy? Read more here about the 4 Letter Word). I had too much going on in my head. I realized that I needed to take the time out to be more mindful!

What is Mindfulness?
It’s paying attention “on purpose”. It’s being aware without judgement.

Left on its own our mind wanders back into the past and forward into the future. These thoughts can include worry, anger, disappointment, fear, grief and self pity. You suffer with these thoughts because the past is gone and the future a fantasy. Let go of these thoughts, paying attention to the now without judgment. This creates a stillness and peace in the mind. When using mindfulness in your life you tend to be here now. And now is usually filled with contentment.

When in the present moment nothing everything seems just right. It means being there with your children or the other important things. It means really listening. Or being in nature and just observing. Or seeing still in a meditation that revives you. It’s almost like you’ve taken a mini-vacation from life and are feel rested and renewed.

I love these mindfulness quotes. The quotes remind me how important mindfulness whether it’s a serious meditation or just a walk in your garden.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Yummy Zucchini Noodle Salad – The Perfect Zen Meal!

A New Zucchini Growing in the Garden!

The zucchini is one of the most versitile squash around. It’s used in all sorts of meals. In gardens it grows like crazy! I often have more than I knew what to do! Which is a great problem to have if you know a few good recipes.

My latest go-to Zucchini meal is a Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Salad with Miso Vinaigrette. This salad fits in perfectly with my Zen Meal requirements: easy, healthy and delicious. I took a couple of my favorite recipes (from Skinnytaste and Pinch of Yum) and combined them into one.

Shrimp Salad with Zucchini Noodles

You feel healthier just looking at it, don’t you?!

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Live Life In Reverse

What if we could live life backwards

When I am an old woman by Mamjakty http://mamjakty.deviantart.com/art/When-I-am-an-Old-Woman-81727418

When I am an old woman by Mamjakty
http://mamjakty.deviantart.com/art/When-I-am-an-Old-Woman-81727418

I’m imagining that I’m at a party, a birthday for a very old woman. She is surrounded by all those she loves in her life. They are the gifts. The memories of a life well lived are a gift. The momentoes and books on her shelves tell the story of adventure, imagine and creativity. Photos capture loved ones and beautiful places.

I’d like to imagine that woman is me many, many years in the future.

If you imagine life as an old woman or man, you could understand so much. You could understand why the bad things happened to you. Or what you really wanted out of life. It’s kind of like asking yourself the questions, if you were at the end of your life what you would like people to say about you? If you are 50 now and you’re going to live to 80, you only have more 30 years? What will you do with that time?

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Want To Be Happy? Try Gratitude – 7 Ways to Practice Gratitude and Be Happier

Zen Tips Gratitude Beattie

Looking for Happiness?
Of course you are! We all are.
What is the key to finding it?
Could it be gratitude?

Yet how do you define gratitude?

Many of us are thankful for the things in our life. Yet, gratitude is much more than being thankful. Thankfulness is an expression of happiness. Being thankful is telling someone you appreciate what they have done. Being thankful is being glad it didn’t rain on picnic day. Being thankful is happiness from a gift.

Gratitude is thankfulness taken to the next level. It is a heart-felt and intellectual acknowledgement of all that is good in your life. It’s embracing uncertainty. To feel gratitude towards the bad things that have happened to us knowing that will lead you a new opportunity.”

Continue reading

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Give Inspiration To Your Graduate!

Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations Graduates!

My college senior graduated this weekend and will soon be heading out into the work place. The event was joyful! I didn’t expect to cry but I did. There’s something about the song “Pomp and Circumstance” that brings out emotions in me!

This generation is full of hope. Today’s grads want to do some good in the world. They want to explore the world. They want to do what they love. Money isn’t necessarily the end-all, the way it was when my generation was graduating in the ’80’s. Yet, if you watch the news, you know how bad the world is portrayed. It can be disheartening to be entering the workforce. This bad news puts fear in the lives of these young grads.

Don’t want to concentrate on the negative with a new grads. Give them some inspiration! Write some wonderful quotes for them in their graduation card and inspire them. Maybe you’ll inspire yourself, too!

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Just Say Yes!

“The era of “yes” has begun.”
~Carl Allen, main character in “Yes Man”

“I was saying yes because … the world is full of possibilities, and… you want to take every single one of them.”
~Danny Wallace, author of the book, Yes, Man

All around me lately, I’ve been seeing the word yes. In books, in newspaper articles, in quotes on facebook and even movies. Last week, we rewatched the movie “Yes, Man” with Jim Carey. He plays a bank employee, Carl Allen, who has become withdrawn after a divorce. He says no to everything offered him and has an increasingly negative outlook on his life. Then he goes to a “Yes!” seminar. Reluctantly, Carl agrees stop being a “No Man” and say, “Yes!” to every opportunity that comes his way. Mostly this is a good thing, and he meets his new love and gets the job he’s always wanted.

Chapter 5 of How To Be A Zen Mama‘s is called, “Be A Yes Mom”. Several years ago, I decided to become a “Yes Mom”. Are you more of a “Yes Mom” (you can also insert Dad/Person) or a “No Mom”?

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Take Two Smiles and Call Me In the Morning

Smile!! Photo credit: The Mona Lisa Foundation

Smile!!
Photo credit: The Mona Lisa Foundation

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

There’s nothing like humor to make you feel better. A big laugh is one of the best feelings in the world. I’ve even written a post aboutlaughter is the best medicine, but what about smiling? Is smiling good for your body and mental health?

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