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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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 , | 10 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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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

6 Reasons to Start a Home Yoga Practice This Year

Love January!

Love January!

Everyone is talking about the January Blahs. January seems to be the least loved month. I, too, used to find January depressing, but now I love it. I challenge you to do what I did a few years ago and Love January! Go for a walk in the crisp cold or a blizzard or even the cold rain with an umbrella. Read a book in the coziness of the dark! Try new recipes. De-clutter some drawers and closets. Have a picnic inside watching a great travel show. For my blog posts in the month of January (and maybe February, too) I’d like to help you change the way you look at things!

One thing I’m going to in January is start my yoga practice again after several years.

So I was very happy when I had the pleasure of finding Hunter Clarke-Fields at HunterYoga.com. She recently sent me a guest post on why a daily yoga practice is so important! She is giving away a spot in her Daily Practice program to a Zen Mama reader! Please read and comment below if you’re interested in the Daily Practice Program.

Hunter:Main Photo6 Reasons to Start a Home Yoga Practice This Year
By Hunter Clarke-Fields

In my work, I have the pleasure of speaking to fellow mamas who have made big changes with yoga. Something miraculous happens when women start a home practice.

Today I talked to Val. She found my Daily Practice program last year. Since then, she’s been practicing regularly at home. She now feels great in her body. She ends each day with a simple practice to calm her mind. She sleeps better at night. She told me how she feels calmer with her kids. And now, she’s started learning about mindfulness. It feels like her life has undergone a radical transformation in the last 6 months.

Her empowerment comes from the simplicity and ease of her practice. With support, it wasn’t hard to fit it into her life.

Why yoga?

If you’ve felt that blissful feeling at the end of a class, then your body has already told you how good it is for you. Research backs it up.

In a 2010 study, researchers at the Maryland School of Nursing compared the health benefits of yoga to those of aerobic exercise. They found that yoga is especially effective at reducing stress. This is an important benefit to linger on considering the long list of physical and mental health problems caused by stress. For everything from trouble sleeping to weight gain, stress is right there at the root of it (find a list here).

The researchers, however, were surprised to find out how many other benefits yoga gave! Yoga outperformed aerobic exercise at improving balance, flexibility, strength, pain levels for seniors, menopausal symptoms, daily energy levels, and social and occupational functioning! Yoga has been shown to relieve symptoms of mental illness including depression and anxiety.

Wow, right?

We mamas need the kind of support a regular practice can give us. So, without further ado, here are the 6 reasons to start a home yoga practice this year:

• It doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it shouldn’t be. If it’s too challenging, you won’t stick to it. Creating a long-lasting habit means making small, easy changes that you can truly make a part of your everyday life.

• Clear your stuck energy. Past experiences are stored in your physical body. Moving through the yoga postures allows us to open up those stuck areas and release old experiences.

• Yoga helps you become a better parent. When we practice mindful yoga, our self-awareness grows. We feel more grounded and calm. We start to see our triggers earlier. We start to model mindfulness and be more present for our kids.

• Exercise is a keystone habit. Researchers have found that people who develop an exercise habit end up making other positive changes in their lives, like eating better, etc. Exercise helps us feel better about ourselves, and feeling good is addictive.

• Yoga does incredible things for your body. Yoga builds strength, agility and mobility. Yoga postures bring your spine through its full range of motion, keeping it lubricated and supple as you age. Twists re-align your spine, keeping your disks healthy. You should see my older students! Their health is incredible.

• Yoga is mindfulness in motion. Everyone from Anderson Cooper to Oprah are touting its benefits for good reason. Mindfulness helps with stress, anxiety, depression, pain relief and more. The yoga postures are a way to practice mindfulness – even if you aren’t the sit still type.

I believe that we busy mamas need yoga in our lives. The cool thing is, we don’t need to do 75 minutes of yoga at a studio to get all the wonderful benefits. In fact, practicing in small chunks of time at home regularly is better than going to a studio once or twice a month

You can do it too.

In honor of the spirit of transformation in the new year, I’m giving away a spot in my Daily Practice program to a Zen Mama reader! Simply jump into the comments below and tell us, why do you want yoga in your life? And you will be entered.

Zen teaches us that life is constantly changing. We are changing with each breath. The cool thing is that we can choose how we want to change.

Thank you so much for reading! Your time and attention is so valuable, and I appreciate that you are sharing it with me. If you’ve gotten something out of this, please go ahead and share it with all of your friends.

With warmth & lovingkindness,
Hunter

Hunter Clarke from Yoga.com

At HunterYoga.com, Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE, RYT, helps mamas let go of stress and overwhelm and bring more peace and joy to life using the traditions of yoga & mindfulness. Hunter has over 18 years of experience in yoga & mindfulness practices. She has the dharma name, “Calm breath of the heart.”

She thrives on serving others through mindfulness & yoga, practicing her creative expression as an artist, and nurturing a joyful life with her husband and two daughters.

As a busy mama of two girls, Hunter knows first-hand how important a foundation of self-care is for becoming a mindful mama. Please go ahead and jump over to HunterYoga.com to learn how you can become part of it!

Posted in Balance, Guest Post, Yoga | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

I Vow To Eat Stinky Cheese (And More) in 2015!

Seize The Day!

Seize The Day!

I love taking New Year’s Eve as a time to reflect upon the past year and look forward to the future! This year is no different.

In 2010 – I challenged myself to leave my Comfort Zone and try new things.

In 2011 – I vowed to be as Positive as much as possible.

In 2012 – I wanted to find balance from my busy life and I did in a trip to Thailand.

In 2013 – I welcomed some new habits and I called my post Carpe Annum rather than Carpe Diem… I wanted to Seize the Year!

In 2015, I had a little list started of more serious resolutions I wanted to practice and was preparing this post when I saw a friend’s Facebook status. She is traveling through Italy and wrote this:

“With my stage 4 Breast cancer experience, I have learned life is just too damned short for all the life there is to live! Carpe diem!”

Now on this last day of 2014 I have realized what I want to do! I want to laugh a lot. I want to play and do all the things I haven’t done! I’m going to start drawing. Practice up on my rusty French. I’m going to write children’s stories. I’m going to cook all the foods I think I can’t. I’m going to bring abundance into my life. I want to see the wonder in life. To feel satisfaction that it doesn’t get much better than this. Oh and drink coffee, a little wine, eat fresh bread with butter and lots of delicious stinky, French cheese!

I vow to taste as much French stinky cheese as possible!

I vow to taste as much French stinky cheese as possible!

One of my first drawings!

One of my first drawings!

I vow to see wonder in life, just like kids.

I vow to see wonder in life, just like kids.

And most of all I will feel great gratitude for this wondrous life and all the people in it all year long!

Happy New Year!
Let’s make it the best ever.
xoxo
Betsy/Zen Mama

“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~Howard Thurman

Posted in Finding Ourselves, Gardening, Holidays, Positve Thought | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Let Go of Holiday Stress With Two Simple Words

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”

~Buddha

“All that we are is the result of what we have said out loud.”

~the Zen Mama

This is the time of year when you hear people complaining. Stress is usually the reason:
“I’m too busy.”
“I haven’t gotten started shopping.”
“Traffic is terrible.”
“I can’t send out cards this year.”
“I’m out of money and I have hardly started.”

The stress of the holidays are too much for many and the negativity is overwhelming.

Want to know my secret to get through the holiday season? I use my most powerful weapon. My thoughts. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or have read my books you probably know that I believe that your thoughts create who you are. If you have negative thoughts, you have a negative life. If you have positive thoughts, you have a positive life. I also believe that if you change the way look you think about things, the things you think about change. It’s seems too simple to be true but guess what? It works.

Every year I have to remind myself this. That’s why I wanted to repost part of a post I wrote for last holiday season called “Sparkle Twinkle”:

Words are powerful. Remember the old saying “Stick and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Well, it’s just not true! Words can hurt you. But remember that words can make you happy, too.

The Zen Papa and I took yoga for several years with a teacher named Suzanne. She always told us that it is our response to life that can give us stress or not. She got stressed out by her teenage daughter, traffic and the Christmas season. She would laugh as she told us stories of locking herself in the bathroom while her teenage daughter was outside (instead of the other way around). In traffic she would breathe deeply before she had a bad thought for the other driver.

You know what stresses us out at Christmas? It’s the lines at the post office and the stores, Christmas cards, relatives who want you everywhere at once, energy filled children and parties. Suzanne said that we could use our language to relieve our stress at this time of the year. She said that there are two words that you can’t help but smile when you say them: Sparkle and Twinkle.

sparkle – to be brilliant, lively, or vivacious.

twinkle – to shine with a flickering or sparkling light

Sparkle and Twinkle are real holiday words.

These two words conjure up such wonderful images. Sparkle is something new, a little bell, an ornament, or someone’s smile. Twinkle can be the look in someone’s eye (maybe Santa or a young child), a star, or lights across a lake. I see a little elf with a silver, sparkling ornament behind it. The Zen Papa sees Tinker bell sprinkling pixie dust everywhere.

Suzanne would have us breathe in a deep breath through our nose and breathe out thinking “sparkle, twinkle”. But the real power is in saying them out loud. Try it…sparkle, twinkle. You can’t help but smile. I tried it with my kids when they were little. It especially worked with my middle child who really felt the stress of school. He still remembers it today at age 19. He tried a few days ago to say them without smiling and still couldn’t.

Other happy words to think of:

jolly

cheerful

aglow

anticipation

joy

laugh
bliss
wonder

tickle

euphoric

exuberant

rejoice
amaze

love
thrill

merry
dazzle

glitter

happiness

Can you think of any others?

Even though you still have all those holiday chores to get done, say these words, “Sparkle, Twinkle” out loud. Maybe it will change your attitude. You’ll smile and tell your brain to be happy. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin and then you really will become happy. Good luck! And have fun, less stressful holiday.

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Posted in Positve Thought | 12 Comments

There Is Real Magic With Wayne Dyer

I was ready... are you?23 years ago, we were getting ready to take a long car trip to California for the Christmas holiday. Our oldest was a year old. I had become a stay at home mom and we were ready for some inspiration. A friend offered to give us 10 tapes to listen to on our drive. The tapes were Real Magic by Wayne Dyer. The Zen Papa and I loved it all, starting with the first chapter named with the Zen proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. My life would never the same.

Wayne Dyer is the reason we started on this spiritual journey. He has a unique way of putting spiritual wisdom into layman’s terms. And he hasn’t just written Real Magic. Wayne Dyer is the author of over 40 books. Other favorites of mine include: The Power of Intention, Wishes Fulfilled and Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Mind. And now I see he has written a memoir, I Can See Clearly Now. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Wayne Dyer made it through a father leaving the family, a mom having to give her kids up and amazingly came out on the other side to help others. In his his early work teaching college and studying clinical psychology, he discovered the need to make the principles of self-discovery and personal growth available to everyone. His first book for general readers, Your Erroneous Zones, published in 1976, became a bestseller and launched his career as an author and motivational speaker. I have been very lucky to hear him speak twice and even to shake his hand!! It’s as if he speaks directly to you. He taught several great meditations and went well beyond the time allotted. (Read more here: http://www.drwaynedyer.com/about-dr-wayne-dyer/)

Here are just a few of my favorite Wayane Dyer quotes to share and inspire:

Complete peace is always at hand

“It’s never crowded along the extra mile.”

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation”

Your Choice!!

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

“You’ll see it when you believe it.”

“Attachment to being right creates suffering. When you have a choice to be right, or to be kind, choose kind and watch your suffering disappear.”

My favorite quote!

“Upon awakening, let the words Thank You flow from your lips, for this will remind you to begin your day with gratitude and compassion.”

“When you have the choice between being right and being kind just choose kind.” 

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” 

What's inside you?

 “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

“I am realistic – I expect miracles.”

“There is no stress in the world, only people thinking stressful thoughts.”

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”

You can discover Wayne Dyer in his books, audio tapes and all over Youtube. I highly recommend his PBS specials. In honor of all that I’ve learned via Wayne Dyer, I am giving away a copy of Real Magic! To qualify for the giveaway, all you just have to do is leave a comment and tell me which quote you like the best and how Real Magic could help you in your life. I hope you find the same inspiration I’ve found!
Cheers!

Click on the picture for more information

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Posted in Positve Thought, Quotes | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

7 Ways To Practice Gratitude This Thanksgiving and All Year Long!

Zen Tips Gratitude Beattie

Message to my all Zen Mama Readers: My three Kindle books will be free on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Click here on 11/27 – 28 for free Kindle books. 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). Last year at our preschool we had “Nice Wednesday” where everyone complimented each other. You should have seen them smile when they got compliments, even though they thought it was like a game. They still felt warm and loved.

Our preschool has a Grateful Bear this Thanksgiving that we fill with nice notes complimenting others.  My favorite, "You are as beautiful as a butterfly."

Our preschool has a Grateful Bear this Thanksgiving that we fill with nice notes complimenting others. My favorite, “You are as beautiful as a butterfly.”

This year I’ve made a “Grateful Bear”. We wrote little nice notes like “You’re as beautiful as a butterfly” or “You make my day” or “You are a great girl for your mom and dad”. I love what these 4 and 5 year olds came up with. There was a lot of smiles and hugging at the end of the note reading.

• 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 of all of you readers!! So my gift to you is that all three of my Kindle books are free on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday! 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 $10 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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Posted in Gratitude, Holidays, Positve Thought | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments