Five Videos for the Mindfulness Beginner

Mindfulness“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”
~Sharon Salzberg –

“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.”
~Eckhart Tolle

I’m getting ready to teach a Mindfulness Workshop with my good friend Tricia Gast. (It’s not too late to join us…see below!)

Mindfulness is being in the moment, being aware, without judgment. All worries and distractions seem to fall away when you practice mindfulness.

This is the simplicity of mindfulness. You are fully present in the now. You are engaged in whatever you are doing. You are no longer dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness ends suffering, because the present moment is perfect.

Yet, while simple, it is often difficult to practice.

The practice of mindfulness is often through meditation and breathing. I like to practice mindfulness in nature, through photography. Mindfulness will make you a more contented, centered, and joyful person in your busy daily life.

While putting our curriculum together, we came across some of my favorite mindfulness videos and thought I’d share them with you.

1. In this short, five minute video, Jon Kabat-Zinn answers the question “What is mindfulness?” and discusses the hard work and rewards of practicing mindfulness.

2. Andy Puddicombe asks “When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes?” No texting, talking or even thinking? Refresh your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment.

3. Learn how to apply mindfulness in your day-to-day life, outside of meditation, to raise your self-control.

4. A wonderful 10-minute clip from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine which provides an overview of the science behind Mindfulness.

5. Now try some meditation yourself. Give yourself fully to the moment.

Posted in Mindfulness, Positve Thought, Zen Mama Class | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Are You A Validator?

Thank you for the compliment!

Thank you for the compliment!

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.
~Mark Twain

Earlier this week, I was in the Denver airport waiting in line with all the other people to go through Security. I picked a line and as usual it turned out to be longer. I looked ahead to see what the matter was. The TSA (transportation security admin) agent was acutally talking to people. As I got closer, I could see he started by saying hello and then, after stamping the boarding pass, he would say something very nice to each person he was speaking.

Now if you’ve been in the airport usually the TSA people are intimidating or just bored. But not this guy. Everyone was smiling in his line.

The Zen Papa and I call these people “Validators” after watching a wonderful short film a few years ago. (see below) If you’ve never seen this short film, it’s a fable about a parking attendant who gives his customers REAL validation – dispensing both free parking and free compliments – (Please watch and become a validator!)

A compliment is a powerful tool in life. Why compliment? This isn’t just a secret to a good relationship. Compliments spreads sunshine wherever you go. It makes people feel valued and creates a positive environment around you both. Sometimes it can be the only good part of someone’s day. A compliment is a little gift of joy. But the most wonderful thing is that the giver often feels as good as the receiver.

Now we try to be Validators everywhere we go. It doesn’t take very long. At the most maybe 30 seconds. Give it a try today.
My only advice is:

• Make it something real. Be sincere.
• Follow up with a question. “I love this meal. Can I have the recipe?”
• Be appropriate.
• Be specific. Not just “You look nice today” but “That color really is good on you.”
• Don’t expect anything in return.

Now aren’t you wondering what he said to me? When I got up to the front I was already smiling. He said, “You’ve got beautiful eyes. People must tell you that everyday.” I knew it was coming. In fact I’d already heard him tell another woman the same thing but you know what? It still made me feel great for hours.

I only wish I had said back, “What a good TSA agent you are!”

So your homework is to go out into the world and cheer someone up today. It takes practice but after a while it will flow more naturally.

“A compliment is verbal sunshine.”
– Robert Orben

P.S. **Here are some special ways to compliment your kids**
It’s so important to compliment your kids. They hear so much negativity from you and the world every day. Please tell them these things followed by examples:
• “I’m proud of you.”
• “I believe in you.”
• “I trust you.”
• “You’re beautiful/handsome.”
You’ll be amazed at the results!

Now please take 16 minutes to watch this incredible short film because Zen Mama Reader – You are amazing. You have so much potential and you are my inspiration!

One more way to validate your children… A good friend has shared her new venture with me called Symbuzzles. What is a SYMBUZZLE? A Symbuzzle is a symbol word puzzle with a message that is engaging and fun to read. They are like little flashcards. In fact their tagline is “Love Your Kids In A Flash”. The cards send a great message to your children. You can give them to your children in their lunch, on their pillow or in a suitcase. Here are a few:

I Adore You!

You Can Do It!

Check out their website! http://symbuzzles.com A regular set of cards is $6.50. They also have deals for more than one pack and more!

I have two packets to give away! Just leave a message in the comments section about how you validate someone in your life OR how someone you know does! If you email Denise, she will give you $2 off each pack. Just go to the website and let Denise know (gliwa.denise@gmail.com) which pack you would like.

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Posted in Inspirational Movie Monday, Parenting, Positve Thought | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Be Your Own Super Hero With Beginner’s Mind

Zen Tips from Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Zen Tips from Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

I posted this two years ago and now I need the reminder on how to maintain “Beginner’s Mind”. Plus I’m headed back up to Shadow Mountain Lake to do some paddle boarding!! Enjoy the reposting!

“See the day as obstacle free with only possibilities.”
~ the Zen Mama

A few months ago I was out on the end of our friend’s dock on Shadow Mountain Lake in the mountains of Colorado. Our friend was telling us how she’d started paddle boarding and wanted to teach me how. I knew while she told me that I wouldn’t try it. I was worried I would fall in the water. Shadow Mountain Lake is very cold! And another excuse was, I hadn’t brought a change of clothing. But I followed her outside with the Zen Papa and listened to her instructions, fully ready to say, “Thanks but no thanks.” I’m not really much of a risk taker. I’ve been like that since I was a child. Better to be safe. I didn’t ride the roller coasters or ferris wheels. And I was totally OK with that.

Then I thought of so many things:

• Recently a neighbor died of cancer. That has gotten me doing things that I might put off until it’s a better time.

• I thought of my students at our preschool. Each day at my job as a preschool teacher I observe my 4 and 5 year olds. How perfectly they see the world.

It doesn’t matter if their clothes match. Family and friends are everything to 5 year olds. They are the Super Heroes of their own lives. They have no preconceived ideas and wonder at everything we teach. They are curious, forgiving, open and take risks.

As they get older they realize that the world isn’t like that. They feel criticism. They keenly feel the sting of peer pressure. They know what can go wrong. In turn, they are less creative because they realize that can make mistakes and actually fail at something.

So how does one keep that freshness and enthusiasm of the 5 year old?

• Lately I keep running into the phrase “The Beginner’s Mind” from a book written by Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki. In the book, Suzuki describes the mindset of the “Beginner’s Mind” and the “Expert’s Mind”. Suzuki was the one of the first Zen masters to come to the United States and begin a Zen practice. The book, Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, is a compilation of his talks. I was stuck by the quote at the start of the book:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

The Beginner’s Mind is innocence, emptiness, optimism, and simplicity (Like my 5 year olds). The opposite of Beginner’s Mind is the “Expert’s Mind”. The Expert’s Mind knows too much, is set in his ways, is fearful, unexcited and wants to play it safe. (Like me!) It’s a concept in Buddhism called “Shoshin”.

I thought of the many times I’ve been in both places. When we bought our first house and then sold it several years later, we had no idea what we’ve doing. The idea of changing houses and moving now would be very stressful. When I wrote the first two books, I didn’t worry about the process, the writing, the marketing or the details, I just did it because it felt like the timing was right. I like the idea of getting back to the Beginner’s Mind and letting go of being an expert!!

Cultivating the Beginner’s Mind
So how do we cultivate the Beginner’s Mind in ourselves and in others?

Cultivate the Beginner’s Mind in your children and the people around you by actively listening and being open to their ideas. Don’t automatically say, “No, I don’t like that” or “Not right now, I’m busy.” Encourage the people in your life to take a risk!

Cultivate the Beginner’s Mind in yourself. This is a little harder to do.

1. Ask yourself this question: What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? And who cares if I did fail or not? If I fail with paddle boarding, I get a little wet and borrow some clothes. Is that the worst thing? Like Thomas Edison wrote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

2. Let go of your mindset. Don’t listen to the little voices of criticism in your head, whether it’s society’s voices, your mother’s or your own negative critic. Many times I’ve stopped myself from trying an activity like paddle boarding because, “I’ve never been very good at sports.”

3. Let go of the “But, if I do that, then…” What, then I’ll get cold and wet in the water? What’s so bad about that? Or maybe you think to yourself, “I’ve never done it that way.” Well, why not?

4. Don’t worry about what other’s think. As Wayne Dyer says be “independent of the good opinion of others.”

5. While doing your activity, don’t think about anything else. Be in flow. People in flow are known to be happier people. (But that will be another post on another day.)

Thinking about the Expert’s Mind vs the Beginner’s Mind also got me out of my writer’s block with one of the books I’m working on. I’ve become so motivated that I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the week. And if not, then maybe the next but why wait? I’m starting now!

I’m sure you can guess where this story is going. I shocked the Zen Papa who was sure I wouldn’t try paddle boarding. I got on that paddle board. I followed our friend’s directions and voila! It wasn’t really that hard. In fact, it would have been hard to fall off because balancing was easy. And best of all, I was proud of myself for trying something I wouldn’t normally do.

I got over my fear with the concept of the Beginner’s Mind. (Isn’t Shadow Mountain Lake beautiful?)

What is something that you wouldn’t normally do?
What is holding you back?
Is it a trip you’d like to go on? A book you want to write?

Try to get back to that place, the Beginner’s Mind. Maybe you haven’t been there since you were 5 years old.

You are the author of your own life. So, like my 5 year olds, be a Super Hero!

An Upcoming Event: Experience A Mindfulness Day August 8th, 2015 from 9:00 – 2:00

If you want to know more about mindfulness and how it can affect your day, your health, your relationship and your life, please join Body Talk Practitioner, Tricia Gast, and me for a day full of teaching, sharing and learning practical techniques that you can immediately incorporate into your life. We’ll also practice Laughter Yoga, Meditation and Yoga.

The Cost: $95 (early bird discount $15 if you pay before July 8th)
Date: August 8th
Time: 9:00 – 2:00/lunch included
Where: Columbine United Church 6375 S. Platte Canyon Road, Littleton, Colorado 80123
Please email triciagast@yahoo.com or thezenmama@gmail.com
for further information.

To register click on the paypal link below or email me at thezenmama@gmail.com:





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Posted in Positve Thought | 21 Comments

Paying Attention to Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an important part of life.

Mindfulness is an important part of life.

A 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. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. It’s the 7th part of the Eightfold path.

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.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, brought mindfulness to the attention of Westerners (click here for some more about Thich Nhat Hanh). Others, like Jon Kabat-Zinn, the author of many books on mindfulness and the creator of the 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course – MBSR, have brought mindfulness into the limelight. His course is now offered at hospitals as part of their healing plans. He teaches mindfulness to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. Mindfulness has become quite popular. It’s no longer considered to be “new-agey” or “woo-woo”. In fact there was an article about mindfulness in the Costco Magazine! Mindfulness is recognized as a way to alleviate stress and live more peacefully.

Why practice Mindfulness?
There is scientific evidence that practicing mindfulness can brings peace into your life through your body and mind. Mindfulness can rid the body and mind of stress, anxiety and worry. It can keep related illnesses at bay. It helps the immune system and with the healing process. It can enhance relationships. I think mindfulness, like gratitude, can lead to contentment.

Are you ready to try Mindfulness? There are a few things to do before you start… put any device away. Next don’t think about the past or the future. Mindfulness is all about living in the present. Lastly, remember to breathe. It’s amazing how often we hold our breath. Ok! Here are 6 ways to bring mindfulness into your life:

1. Use Your Five Senses Regularly – We often find ourselves in our mind with our 5 senses muted. When your senses are on, your are aware. And if you’re going to be mindful remember to turn on your senses.

2. Be Mindful First Thing in the Morning – quietly wake up, pause, do some deep breathing or stretch. Have a positive thought. Do not pick up your phone or check your computer. Do not watch the news. Have a quiet ritual that can include smelling the coffee, listening to the birds, meditation or just sitting quietly.

3. Be Mindful During Your Regular Routines – I try be in the moment when I am:
• washing the dishes
• driving down the road
• showering
• brushing my teeth
• walking
• tidying up
• even simply breathing

4. Be Mindful In Nature – This is one of my favorite ways to be mindful. I go sit in my garden and watch the insects. Or take a walk. It’s an instant energizer for me!

5. Be Mindful While Eating – take time to really smell and taste your food. Put your fork down between bits.

6. Practice A Mindfulness Meditation – Many people practice meditation to reduce stress, worry and anxiety. It even helps with illness. Sit quietly, breathe, observe, accept and let go during a mindfulness meditation. Your mind will wander, gently bring it back. Here is a three minute meditation that is often taught with the Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MNSR method:

7. Be Mindful With Your Family – Be mindful when in the presence of your family. Be mindful when you are with others, even people you don’t know. Put down the phone, shut the computer and really listen. Look in their eyes. Have a meaningful conversation! This is what you’re here on the earth for… to be with people you love.

Life is a series of experiences, good and bad. Those experiences are often worries about future and depression about the past. Let go of that, at least for a little while. Come out of your head and give living in the present a try. Give mindfulness a try. Observe, accept and let go. It’s a positive way to react with your day to day life.

An Upcoming Event: Experience A Mindfulness Day August 8th, 2015 from 9:00 – 2:00

If you want to know more about mindfulness and how it can affect your day, your health, your relationship and your life, please join Body Talk Practitioner, Tricia Gast, and me for a day full of teaching, sharing and learning practical techniques that you can immediately incorporate into your life. We’ll also practice Laughter Yoga, Meditation and Yoga.

The Cost: $95 (early bird discount $15 if you pay before July 8th)
Date: August 8th
Time: 9:00 – 2:00/lunch included
Where: Columbine United Church 6375 S. Platte Canyon Road, Littleton, Colorado 80123
Please email triciagast@yahoo.com or thezenmama@gmail.com
for further information.

To register click on the paypal link below:





“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn

I also recommend a great read by Sandra Pawula at Always Well Within with her definition of Ordinary and Extraordinary Mindfulness and Paige Burke’s website Simple Mindfulness.

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Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness, optimism, Positve Thought, Zen Mama Class | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

How I Didn’t Diet…9 Ways To Lose Weight and Not Be On A Diet

Not the best shots... but you get the picture!

Not the best shots… but you get the picture!

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Lao Tzu

“Yes I lost weight and no I’m not on a diet!”

This is the answer I give people when asked about my recent weight loss. I love to eat and cook. I’ve never worried about losing weight. Whenever I contemplated a “diet”, I balked. I really don’t believe in diets. They deprive you, which in turn, makes you binge later down the road.

We’ve always eaten fairly well. Because we love to eat, we sometimes ate a little too much at one sitting. Maybe I put a little too much salad dressing on. A little too much mayonnaise in my tuna salad…definitely! Or had too much bread because it was just out of the oven and then after that, we ate more bread with dinner, too. A little processed food? Maybe. But not too much. The occasional fast food. Sure. And as we lingered at the table, I’d continue eating unconsciously because the food is right in front of me! Yup, always.

I didn’t mind being a little overweight. But suddenly it was a little more than a little; it was more like 25-35 pounds. Truth be told… I don’t know exactly how much I weighed when I started because I never weighed myself.

Then the Zen Papa and I heard a few words we didn’t like… high blood pressure, high cholesterol and what?? Obese. “Why don’t you go on Lipitor?” One doctor suggested. Nope! The doctor just wanted to treat the symptoms not the problem. Yes, we were going to change our lifestyle before we ever went on a medication that we would have to take for a lifetime.

So what did we do? We changed our habits. They say it just takes a month to change habits. We took a year! We became healthier. We ate better. I’ve promised several people I’d write our new habits down even though I promised myself I would not talk about losing weight! So here goes:

1. We educated ourselves. First we watched these movies on Netflix: Hungry for Change, Vegecated, Food Matters, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Fed Up, Forks Over Knives. These movies were at times interesting and at times disturbing. We read a great article in the Cooking Light magazine (click here to read it). We watched several food TED talks like the one by Jamie Oliver.

2. We watched our food portions. There’s a wonderful saying that I got from the Blue Zone Books. “Hara hachi bu”. It’s translation means to stop eating when you are 80% full. You end up being 100% full if wait just a short time. It’s a 2500-year old Confucian saying said before meals. (“Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full Japanese proverb: “eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor”.) The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. We also practice mindfulness, eating our food slowly. Really tasting it. Putting our fork down in-between bites. Everything tastes so good when you’re hungry. (Listen to Dan Buettner’s TED talk about the Blue Zones where people regularly live to 100)

3. We used My Fitness Pal. This is an app where you can watch what you’re eating. You write all your foods in daily. I found that I didn’t realize how much I was eating until I started keeping track. As I started losing weight I sometimes missed writing everything down. The Zen Papa and I did this together and it helped! Click here for my more information.

4. We exercised. Of course we exercised. We mostly walked and biked. But I must say, that when I had weeks when I couldn’t get out and exercise, I still felt great.

5. We started looking at the food we were eating. Many of us are overfed and undernourished. It was time to let go of the notion of “Low Fat”, of processed foods and of sugar (disguised as all sorts of things in our foods). No Fast Food. We began eating real food! We didn’t want to become vegetarians but we were open to eating less meat; mostly vegetables and smaller portions of meat. The meat we eat is now mostly organic. It’s a little more expensive but not much, especially if you’re eating a more plant based diet. The cost of the vegetables outweighs the cost of the more expensive meats. Now I shop at Sprouts and Trader Joe’s. But I have noticed that our local grocery is now carrying a less expensive grass fed meat.

A note on those with a sweet tooth… we got some bars of dark chocolate and would have three squares plus a date. This seemed to take the edge off for those sweet tooth. For those with a salt addiction… just keep the chips out of the house!

6. Have no timetable. I have taken the weight off over the course of a year. For the Zen Papa the loss was very noticeable right away. For a smaller person like me it took a while.

7. Every morning for breakfast I drink a green smoothie. There are so many recipes online. I truly believe that this is what started the whole thing. I’m addicted now and just found this link about the “Green Monster Movement” from Ohsheglows blog. Click here to read more and get recipes.


My own morning recipe goes in my Blentec (that I got at Costco…but any blender will do): one banana, pineapple (cut from a real pineapple not from a can), one orange, a cup and 1/2 of water or almond milk or a combo of the two, 2 cups of spinach and a handful of ice. Sometimes I add a date and some agave, too. Yum! I’m addicted and have it most days for breakfast.

8. I started following some great food blogs to cook differently. The main one I tell people about is SkinnyTaste. Skinntaste has some of the best recipes. It’s all about taste and not depriving yourself. Here are some links to some of my favorite new recipes. The first are from Skinnytaste. I also love Cooking Light and the My Fitness Pal food blog.

Zucchini Soup
Asparagus Prosciutto Panini with Garlic Mayonnaise
Chicken Parmesean
Spiralized Raw Zucchini Salad with Avocado and Edamame
Chicken Saltimbocca from Cooking Light
Granola Bars and Crispy Quinoa Cakes from Ohsheglows
Shrimp Avocado Salad With Miso Dressing from Pinch of Yum
Black Bean Brownies from the Minimalist Baker.
Hummus from the Blentec site (I only make my own hummus now!)
Tortilla Soup from Blentec

9. Garcinia Cambogia is an Asian Pumpkin like plant’s main ingredient, HCA, is taken in a small pill. Dr. Oz first recommended it. We got ours from Costco. Here is what it says at the Costco website: “Garcinia cambogia is an Asian fruit that contains naturally high amounts of (-)-hydroxycitiric acid (HCA). For people trying to lose weight, HCA is the compound that has been found by researchers to help curb the urge to snack and to inhibit fat production.” Somebody told the Zen Papa about this and we tried it. I must admit that I’m skeptical. Does it work? Did it jumpstart our weight loss? Is it an appetite suppressant? Was it a mental placebo? I don’t know. It is natural which is important to me. The other thing I know is that we did lose weight while we took it. You can read the reviews at Costco here. I am not selling Garcinia Cambogia. Just telling you about it!

Lastly, we found that balance was important. Enjoy the process. There will be times when you go back to your old habits. Don’t beat yourself up if you go off your new healthy lifestyle. By the way, I haven’t given up wine, bread and butter! Just not as much of the bread and butter! :)

We reached our goal after a year. The Zen Papa lost 30lbs and I lost around 15-20. And the best part…no health problems what so ever any more. Rather than treating the symptoms, we treated the problems. All done naturally. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have. Please let us know your story in the comments.

Posted in Balance, Health, Recipes, Zen Meals | 14 Comments

11 Quotes And A Poem To Inspire You On Mother’s Day!

I hope you’ll enjoy a Mother’s Day post from a few years ago! Enjoy your day!! In honor of Mother’s Day, my kindle books, HOW TO BE A ZEN MAMA and THE ZEN MAMA’S BOOK OF QUOTES are $.99 all weekend! click here: http://amzn.to/1ImXdsM

“In teaching (and mothering) you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.”
~ Jacques Barzun

Mothers, as we know, are very influential in their child’s life. I don’t think we even know how much we influence them. We mainly influence them by example. We act, they look.

Each stage with our children is about letting go. From the moment our children lift their heads up and roll over, they are working towards independence and we need to let go at each stage. We don’t have to worry (but we will anyway!) because hopefully if we were doing our job of setting a good example, they were watching. Remember that saying? “Do as I say, not as I do.” Children are always watching you!

I am so lucky to have the mother I do as an example of how to be the best mom. She is the original Zen Mama. Growing up she was ever present yet not hovering. She didn’t seem to worry and always trusted that I was making the right decisions. When I had problems, she listened, without judgement and then gave me solid advice but didn’t press me into following it. When the time came for me to go to college, travel or move to Colorado, she let me go on these grand adventures in life with a smile and a cheer even though inside she knew she’d miss me. We are finally living in the same town again, much to my joy and delight. My mom is a blessing and my inspiration!

And to my children, Max, Charlie and Oliver, thank you so much for teaching me these many lessons about what being a mother is all about! You’ve changed my life. In letting you go, I’m able to see to sit back and see the person you’ve become. You’re all perfect the way you are and I love being your mother.

I love this poem for Mother’s Day!
It really says it all! I added a few extra quotes as well. So enjoy your Mother’s Day and know that our children are watching and will reflect what we’ve shown them in life.

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

“When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you hang up my first painting on the refrigerator, and
I wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I knew that little things are special things.
When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I LOOKED….
and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.”

A few more Mother’s Day quotes to inspire you and make you feel blessed:

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
~ Author Unknown
(Thank you to the Zen Papa for loving me!)

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”
~ Honoré de Balzac

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
~ Tenneva Jordan

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
~ Rajneesh

“A mother understands what a child does not say.”
~ Jewish Proverb

“It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn’t.”
~ Barbara Kingsolver

“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.”
~ William D. Tammeus

“There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it.”
~ Chinese Proverb

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
~ Sophia Loren

“I’d like to be the ideal mother, but I’m too busy raising my kids.”
~ Unknown

In honor of Mother’s Day, my kindle books, HOW TO BE A ZEN MAMA and THE ZEN MAMA’S BOOK OF QUOTES are $.99 all weekend! click here: http://amzn.to/1ImXdsM

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Posted in Holidays, Parenting, Positve Thought, Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weeds or Wishes? 6 Lessons To Learn From A Dandelion

What do you see?  Weeds or wishes?I’m a big lover of dandelions. And they’re everywhere now! Dandelions are considered weeds. And I, too, do not want them in my garden. However, I love it when they begin to bloom because they are a timeless symbol of spring. What can a dandelion teach us?

First, not too long ago dandelions were an essential part of life. The word dandelion comes from French for “dent-de-lion” teeth of a lion.The flower was a native to Europe and Asia. They were brought to this country by European immigrants in the 1700s for its many uses as a food, a medicinal herb, as dandelion wine or tea. I was surprised to read that in Belgium, they actually manage and grow dandelions in crops. To read more about health benefits click here or here for actual recipes.

So what’s the secret wisdom of Dandelions?

1. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Plato was the first to utter this phrase that is sometimes considered a cliche but is so true. Remember, you are the beholder of your life. You can view the “weeds” in your life as beautifully flawed, interesting and leading you to your next place in life. Find beauty in life and your life will become filled with beauty. There is beauty in the most common things for those who have eyes to see it. Be mindful and look for that beauty today.

2. What do you see, Wishes or Weeds? Is your attitude positive or negative? A positive attitude can change everything in your life. And your attitude is contagious! You can help the people around you by being positive as well. Try to be completely positive for a day and see where it will lead you.

3. You can let go of expectations. Just as a dandelion lets go of it’s seeds, you can let of what you find yourself holding onto. Letting go of expectations can free you and the people around you to do what you’re all meant to do! It doesn’t mean you don’t have goals or aspirations. It just means that you or the ones you love aren’t being held back by what you thinkcan’t do.

4. Make a wish…DREAM! I love that when we are children we are always making wishes. As adults we live more in reality. I dare you to dream and make your dream a reality! You have many talents that my not be recognized by yourself or the people in your life. Be confident. Develop your talents or what you like, let it become a passion and head in that direction.

5. Let go of negative talk. You are not a “weed” but a beautiful flower! How has negative talk ever helped you? Thoughts can be like weeds, taking hold and crowding out the positive. Concentrate on the good! Stop criticizing yourself and bloom!

6. Become a child again! The dandelion is a child’s flower – we never say no to picking dandelions! Children can curl the stems in water (Take the stem, split it into three parts and put it in water. So fun!). Paint with dandelions. Blow the seeds! Be mindful – go outside and be in the moment.

Just split the stem into three parts and put in water!  So fun!

Just split the stem into three parts and put in water! So fun!

Have you ever had dandelion wine or tea or eaten the greens? Let me know in the comments. I’m inspired now to try an actual Dandelion recipe! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Posted in Finding Ourselves, Gardening, Positve Thought, Recipes | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The Other Four Letter Word

Time is running out!  I'm so busy!

Time is running out! I’m so busy!

Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to.”
~Rob Bell

**I’m reposting this post from May 2013 because I needed this reminder about the other four letter word!**

Sorry I haven’t written lately.
It’s because I came down with a virus called ISBS or “I’m so busy syndrome”.

I’ve been busy. Everyone I know is busy
and yes, BUSY, is the Other Four Letter Word.

How do you know if you have ISBS? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you filled with exhaustion?
2. Are you feeling frustrated with all the activities and things you have to do?
3. Are you telling everyone how busy you are?

If the answer is YES to all these questions then you have ISBS. And lately I’ve had it.

Are we really that busy? Or is the word busy just an excuse?
“I can’t see you because I’m so busy.”

Is it bragging?
“I’m so important because I’m so busy.”

Sometimes it’s good to be busy so you can’t confront a real problem or a relationship that is bothering you.
“Maybe I fill my life with all this stuff because then I won’t notice how unhappy I am.”

I really was busy though. It wasn’t an excuse.

Yes, I was as tired as so many of us are. Juggling work, home life, going to school and sports activities. We know we need to get through it. And “really busy” or “crazy busy” just seems like a generally good words to describe this disease.

I got tired of hearing myself complain about my busyness. It was time to let go of the word busy and the idea of busy. But how do you do that if you really are busy like I was? Here’s what I did:

1. I asked myself what I didn’t want to give up. Dinners and evenings hanging out with my son and husband and friends who stopped by. I took several evenings off totally.

2. Then I asked myself what I was willing to give up. Sleep mostly – I would wake up early, stay up late and sometimes get up in the middle of the night to get things done. I also gave up writing on the blog, of course temporarily.

3. I asked myself, “Can I be more effective with my time?” I needed some big blocks of time for my activities. Yet, I could use a few extra minutes here and there to get the little things done. So I tried to use that time wisely and efficiently. As the Zen Papa always reminds me, “Touch it once.”

4. I asked for help and accepted it when offered. The Zen Papa and my fellow teachers help me; my son helped with dinner clean up and other chores.

5. I did a lot of breathing exercises. And I tried to take walks. Anything to clear my brain for a while.

Sometimes, it’s good to drop out of life for a little while. I have spent time doing a lot of rejuvenating. No writing, instead naps. I’m back to my photography taking pictures of the little things in nature, a dew drop, a blossom or a little hummingbird.

Taking pictures of orange poppies at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Taking pictures of orange poppies at the Denver Botanic Gardens

I’m reading several books. I’m cooking, my creative outlet.

Barbecued Greek Chicken Pizzas

Barbecued Greek Chicken Pizzas

And putting together a vegetable garden. Here’s mine from last year.

My new vegetable garden!

My new vegetable garden!

There are some times of the year that must be filled with activities but I prefer this quieter life and my goal is keep it more like this than not.

Here are some Quotes that I think you might like and go with letting go of busyness!

No matter how busy a man is, he is never too busy to stop and talk about how busy he is.”
~ Author Unknown

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”
~Mother Teresa

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.”
~Jack Kornfield

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.”
~Lin Yutang

Focus on being productive instead of being busy.”
~The 4 Day Work Week

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
~Socrates

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
~Henry David Thoreau

“Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to what they want to do.”
~Kathleen Winsor

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”
~Lao Tzu

Nobody sees a flower–really–it is so small it takes time–we haven’t time–and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
~Georgia O’Keefe

It’s the ordinary and the little things that matters. Remembering that helps me let go of the things that just aren’t so important. This and doing a little “nothing” (nothing being gardening, cooking, taking pictures, connecting with friends.) has helped me heal from ISBS. I’m recovering and have come out on the other side.

The Wisdom of Pooh

The Wisdom of Pooh

And…I’ve decided I’m longer going to use that word. The question, “What are you up to?” will no longer be answered with “I’m so busy.” but maybe, “I making an iMovie” or “I’m spending my evenings with my son and husband” or “I’m planting my veggie garden” or “I’m planning a trip”. Yes, we’re still bu.. (no, no I’m not going to say it) I mean, we have a lot going on but I find myself concentrating on the the things are more restful. No more saying “busy” because busy is my new 4 letter word.

What do you think of the word busy?

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Posted in Positve Thought | 9 Comments

The Wisdom of Lao Tzu

Lao TzuI love to read quotes. To me, quotes are like poetry.

Why do we love quotes? Quotes reaffirm, remind and put life into perspective. Quotes help us to understand ourselves. Quotes are popular sayings that often express common sense and universal truths. They often motivate us and make us think. Quotes inspire. Quotes pack a lot of wisdom into a few words. Quotes explain a purpose to life.

I have been inspired by Lao Tzu quotes for a long time. Many people have heard a Lao Tzu quote but are not quite sure who he was and what he was teaching. Almost daily I seem to come across one of his quotes and I am inspired and comforted. So, here you go incase you wanted to know!

Who was Lao Tzu?
Lao Tzu was a philosopher and poet of ancient China. He is said to have been a record keeper in the court of the central Chinese Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century B.C., and an older contemporary of Confucius. Lao Tzu is said to have tired of life in the Zhou court as it grew increasingly morally corrupt. So he left and rode on a water buffalo to the western border of the Chinese empire. Although he was dressed as a farmer, the border official recognised him and asked him to write down his wisdom. This may be a myth and his teaching may be a compilation of many authors.

How does the world know him?
He wrote a book called the Tao Te Ching and is considered to be the founder of Taoism (pronounced “Daoism”). The Tao Te Ching is a collection of 81 verses offing advice and guidance. I found it interesting that “Tao” means way, “te” means virtue, personal character, inner strength or integrity and “ching” means classic or great book. I highly recommend Wayne Dyer’s interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. (Comment below and be entered in a chance to win this book.)

Here are some of my favorites quotes.

“Nature does not hurry; yet everything is accomplished.”

"Nature does not hurry; yet everything is accomplished."

“Nature does not hurry; yet everything is accomplished.”

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

“At the center of your being
you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures."

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become deeds. Watch your deeds; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become deeds. Watch your deeds; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

"If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.”

"To see things in the seed, that is genius."

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.”

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~Lao Tzu

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~Lao Tzu

What’s your favorite? Comment below and be entered in a drawing to win Wayne Dyer’s book, CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Posted in Quotes, Zen Tips | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Make Your Winter Months Happier and More Creative

Last week I challenged you to Love January! I decided to enjoy January more by restarting my Yoga practice thanks to last week’s guest post. Here are some other habits I really want to practice to be more physically and mentally fit. I want to have a happier, more creative and balanced life rather than too much stress. I find that winter is a great time to get started!

Love January!

Love January!

1. Get creative by being bored (or have down time). I thank one of my readers for this suggestion. I know this is hard when you’re a busy parent but it’s not only good for you but your kids as well. This is a “lost art”. We are no longer bored any more because we have a device to turn to every time we have a spare moment. Scientific research shows that we get our most original ideas when we are bored and let go of the constant stimulation. Our brain is doing some really important work when we think we’re doing nothing.

Listen to this NPR podcast called Bored and Brilliant or this TED video, The Value of Boredom.

2. Stop Complaining for 24 hours and see what happens. When I first got out of college, I was teaching at a Catholic school and had to give something up for Lent. I decided to quite complaining and I’ve never taken it up again. Life becomes much more positive!

3. Breathe. Breathing is something we do unconsciously and shallowly. We should be more conscious. Here are three breathing exercises to practice, getting more oxygen to your brain and all our other vital organs. Breathing helps relieve stress, too.

• Do the 100 Breaths Challenge: Take a deep breath through your nose and count in your mind, “One”. Then let your breath flow out, go with it’s natural rhythm. Continue from number 1 to 100. If your mind wanders (which it will), simply come back to your count and continue. I’ve never made it to 100! I usually do this to fall asleep and it works!

• Breathe in 3 times, breathe out 4. Next breathe in 4, breathe out 5. Try breathing in 5 and breathe out 6. Each time breathe out one more breath than you breathe in.

• I often recommend this 4, 7, 8 breathing exercise that I learned from Andrew Weil. First put your tongue touching the roof of your mouth just behind your two front teeth. Next breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold for 7. Breathe out for 8 seconds. As you breathe out make a noise with the air. This often helps me get back to sleep if I’m up at night.

He demonstrates the breathing technique in the following video.

4. Watch Your Posture. This is a simple thing that we often forget about. Why is good posture important? Poor posture can affect your muscles as well as your internal organs. Good posture mirrors a positive attitude and how you feel about yourself.

5. Be A Mindful Eater. You’ve spent some time cooking. Don’t just eat quickly without tasting your food. Don’t watch TV while you eat. Put your fork down between bites. Really taste each bite. I love the website Skinnytaste. Gina makes delicious food and easy to follow recipes that have fewer calories and are big on taste. I just made salmon burgers last night. Yum!

6. Try something creative. Whether it’s music or drawing, home crafts, writing, cooking, photography or gardening. Don’t worry about being good; just try being creative. The pressure of being good can make you lose that creativity. Just get started and see where your creativity leads. I suggest Pinterest.com if you don’t have any ideas of your own. But be careful; pinterest is addicting! Click here to lead you to an ideas link!

7. Give Yourself A Break. Follow Louise Hay’s advice, “You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” You’ll be much happier!!

Zen tip - Approve of Yourself!

Let me know if you follow any of these practices or any others that you might suggest.

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Posted in Balance, Changing Ourselves, Creativity, Finding Ourselves | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments