Category: Think About It

the way you think about adulthood
October 24th, 2013     |    SpiritThink About It

Amen.

10HabitsToHelpYouBeMorePresentPart2Today I’d like to share the second set of habits I have found that can help us be more present.

 

Habit 6: Listen for silence.

 

In The Power of Now, Mr. Tolle suggests listening for moments of silence in-between sounds we hear or in-between words in conversations. By listening for the gaps in the sounds we hear day-to-day we need to be vigilant and focused… in other words, we need to be present.

Last week, I was curious to try this idea in New York, a place known to be loud.

I was shocked at how easy it was to find those moments of silence – even when there were many people around!

In particular, I found the quietness of the subway in the morning most interesting. Had I not paid attention to the silence, I never would have noticed how quiet the subway is in the morning in-between trains. Instead, my mind’s internal chatter would have covered up the silent pauses and I would never have believed that so much silence could exist in such a crowded place.

 

Habit 7: Exercise mindfully.

 

This habit is a powerful one. Much like mediation, mindful exercise like yoga, running, or walking can help us calm our internal dialogue and divert our attention to our body in the present moment.

By turning our attention our movements, we are more likely to experience presence.

 

 

Habit 8: Use the Calm.com app.

 

Calm.com is a great app that provides 2-20 minute meditations. You can use it on your phone or on your desktop, and the meditations can really help you connect back to the present moment when things feel stressful or you need to refocus.

And of course, other similar meditation tools or practices can be helpful, this one just happens to be my favorite.

 

 

Habit 9: Monitor your body.

 

This suggestion comes from The Power of Now. Mr. Tolle suggests checking in with how we feel internally in order to discover how present we are at any given moment.

When doing this practice, I’ve been surprised at how frequently I notice a slight sense of unease or discomfort. Mr. Tolle describes that uneasy feeling as the body’s reaction to non-present thinking.

By putting attention on the uneasy feeling inside, we are able to accept it and ultimately to breathe through it until it retreats.

 

 

Habit 10: Clean your home.

 

Last but not least, our external environments affect our internal environments. So if we want to feel calm, peaceful, and present in our lives, we can help increase that presence by decluttering our physical space.

Because I use the same space as an office, living room, dining room, and kitchen, I make sure to put away work supplies before dinner and I clean the kitchen before work (at least most of the time).

If you haven’t tried to declutter in order to gain presence in a multi-use workspace, I highly recommend it!

 

Though these habits have worked for me, they may not be ideal for everyone. On the other hand, we cannot assume that our current habits will maintain our focus forever.

As I mentioned in the first postno matter what we do, we cannot make one change and have presence forever. Over time, new interruptions or routines will pop up in our lives.

Distraction is a moving target. 

So our job, as presence-seeking beings, is not to find a “silver bullet” that dissolves our distractions forever, but to realize that we will need to remain aware of what interrupts our presence on a regular basis and make changes accordingly.

Part One – Habits 1-5 to Help You Be More Present

 

ask for what you wish for
October 21st, 2013     |    Think About ItVideo

Today I’d like to share two stories from the past 72 hours and have completely surprised me and demonstrated the power of conjuring (sharing your desires), which is an exercise from Mama Gena’s Guide to Womanly Arts.

I hope that my recent experiences inspire you to make a conjuring list or even fulfill a conjuring list for someone else!

 

PS – Does anyone know how to make my camera lens stop readjusting throughout the video? I got a new camera and can’t figure out how to make the zoom stay still during videos.

ten habits to help you be more present
October 14th, 2013     |    Think About It

10HabitsToHelpYouBeMorePresentLately, especially within the last six months or so, it seems like people are having more and more difficulty staying present in the Now throughout their day. Just noticing the new situations where we spot people looking at their smart phones is enough to prove the point. (While talking to a bank teller? Crossing a busy intersection? Texting and driving?)

I too have faced many challenges while trying to stay present over the years, particularly as smart phones granted access to my career 24/7.

While seeking to combat presence-zapping distractions in my life, I have realized:

No matter what we do, we cannot make one change and have presence forever. Over time, new distractions or routines will pop up in our lives.

Distraction is a moving target. 

So our job, as presence-seeking beings, is not to find a “silver bullet” that dissolves our distractions forever, but to realize that we will need to remain aware of what interrupts our presence on a regular basis and make changes accordingly.

Here are ten habits that I have added to my life over the years which have allowed me to gain more presence. They may not all be ideal for your particular life situation, but some of them might be great experiments to try this week.

If they help you to gain any more peace and clarity moment-by-moment, they might be worth including permanently.

 

Habit 1: Don’t check (work) email on nights or weekends.

 

This one was huge for me. A few years ago, I “thought” that I was working about 40-50 hours per week on my business. But even so, I wasn’t ‘jumping out of bed’ to do my work each day like I expected.

Eventually, I realized that for my online business, checking email = working. So my habit of checking my phone the second I woke up to the second before I went to sleep left me working about 119 hours per week! 

No wonder I wasn’t “jumping out of bed” each morning. I was working in bed while staring at my phone!

This habit was the hardest to implement, but also the most profound.

Two years later, I actually feel nauseous at the thought of looking at my inbox on nights or weekends.

 

Habit 2: Don’t sleep with the phone in the bedroom.

 

This one is far more do-able than most people imagine. Unlike Mr. Lively, who needs to be near his phone because he works for a hospital and gets night pages occasionally, I have no nighttime phone emergencies.

Instead, I leave my phone on its charger in the kitchen all night and hate the idea of having it in the bedroom (but I’ll be honest, this feeling took a few weeks to settle in).

I have been doing this for the past year and not once has there been a time where a truly important or urgent call or text was made that I needed to attend to at night.

(If you are on the fence about this habit but think it might be nice, try it for a week.)

 

Habit 3: Don’t check blog stats.

 

This is my newest habit (which is obviously applicable to bloggers) and one that has made the most massive positive change in my life recently. I feel way more present working during the day while not checking my site traffic at all.

Though I may need to check in occasionally for sponsors rates (unless I decide to have my Chief, Jen, start doing it for me…), there is no real reason that I need to sit and evaluate my own traffic.

Instead, I’m left to simply “be” (on the having/doing/being success scale) the blogger I’d like to be in the present moment.

Blog stats keep us stuck on what happened yesterday, last month, etc. They don’t need to affect how I come to my blog each day to write to you. And they don’t need to affect my mood positively or negatively. Whether they are high, normal, or low, they are distracting me from the Now. Away from being.

I can still sense how my community is growing through other things like the social media and the level of engagement in the comment section. But these don’t steal my presence or hurt my “being” moment-to-moment.

So though this might not be something that every blogger needs to consider, I do think it is worth trying out for those who have a gut feeling it might help them be more present.

It’s fascinating (and liberating) to remove the quantification and simply live from a place of true presence online.

 

Habit 4: Do something for your spirit first thing in the morning.

 

This one has been huge! Now that I do my private victory in the morning, I am much more aware of how challenging my days are when I don’t start the morning off with something spiritual.

For me, the hardest time to do the spiritual PV in the morning is when I need to get up at 4:30-5am for an early flight. On those days, I wait to do the PV on the plane ride instead.

However, when I skip the spiritual work in the morning I have way more negative thoughts cross my mind.

In fact, on our trip to Boston, I didn’t get do anything spiritual before our super early flight and I counted seven negative thoughts cross my mind by the time I woke up and put my contacts in. And I promise you, none of those thoughts came from living in the present moment!

 

Habit 5: Go to sleep earlier.

 

Being present requires us to observe our thoughts and to recognize when we are living from our ego’s point of view – which is always leaning towards the past or future, never the present moment.

In order to do this, we need to give our thought-life our complete attention. As we get less rest, this focused attention becomes a struggle.

Sleep therefore is essential to not only our wellbeing, but also to the presence that supports our ability to do things that enhance our wellbeing.

On the other hand, the habit of more sleep involves removing a night-time habit that is currently in our lives.

For Mr. Lively and I, we needed to exfoliate TV past 9 or 10, in order to include the habit of getting more sleep.

 

I hope you enjoyed these first five habits and consider trying a few of them out this week to see how they help you gain more presence in your life!

Part 2 – 10 Habits to Help You Be More Present

when life hands you lemons…
October 10th, 2013     |    Business AdviceThink About It


Yesterday, I had a few of life’s “lemons” handed to me all at once. Not fun.

Today, I am sharing the way I chose to react to the situation so that it didn’t ruin my day, and also made me more capable of handling larger issues in the future.

Also, for those who want to see one of the rugs I mentioned in the video… here’s an image of the rug that I ordered online.

bb393924c7ce4f9465e6f1e14759401b

Beautiful, right?

Well, here is what it looked like in real life.

ActualRugBlah.

Back to the drawing board. We are looking at new options – in person this time – later today.

Fingers crossed we find the perfect one!

LinchpinHabitsKeysToMakingGoalsStickAs we set our intentions for our lives, more often than not, we desire quality habits more than static goals like running a personal best at the marathon. We want to have an active lifestyle, we want to continue to challenge ourselves in our careers, we want to foster deeper levels of intimacy with our partners.

These intentions are ongoing habits that require care and continuous attention in order to prosper.

However, we can get so caught up in the measuring and executing of the specific habit we are trying to achieve, that we lose sight of the linchpin habit beneath the habit in question.

For example, this summer Mr. Lively and I developed a consistent habit of doing our private victory each morning. In doing so, we naturally started to go to bed earlier in order to have the energy needed to get up earlier.

As we continued to dedicate ourselves to this private victory, other positive things like watching more wholesome television and budgeting wisely came into our lives as a result. One good habit birthed other good habits.

However, for the past week or two, we worked later than normal. As we worked until 8-11 pm, it became harder to go to bed early. It was easier to unwind from the long day of work by watching tv after we were done working, than to go to bed immediately.

Going to bed closer to 11 or 12 made it much more difficult to wake up at 6am and complete our private victory. It lessened our commitment to quality reading and exercise. Things started to get delayed, pushed aside, and phoned in.

We started to do the bare minimum. And as a result, we got bare minimum results.

Though the habit and intention in focus was the daily private victory, the habit of going to bed early was the linchpin that allowed it all to happen.

Instead of focusing our attention exclusively on the private victory, we could have been more diligent about the linchpin habit of going to bed around 10pm. 

I believe that this linchpin habit concept also applies to other intentions we have in our lives. For example, if we want to increase our intimacy with our partner, the linchpin habit that might make that possible could be more honest communication, or maybe it is about having more one-on-one time.

If we want to lower our debt or increase our savings, the linchpin habit more be tracking where our money is going on a daily basis.

If we strive to complain less at work, maybe we need to recognize that the linchpin habit of spending time with specific co-workers enables us to complain more.

Perhaps we need to focus more on the linchpin habits that allow our intentional habits to thrive.

wanting what we have
September 30th, 2013     |    LifeThink About It

SurrenderToWhatYouHaveToday I found myself kinda irked by my packed schedule. I have a lot of projects that I want to work on, and not enough time to make a much forward motion on any of them.

But this morning’s passage in Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts was just the thought-changing perspective I needed. Rather than think about how my day as “too busy,” I can choose to see it as something that I want.

Looking at the bigger picture of my week, after today I have two completely open days to work on my projects before heading to Boston and New Hampshire for a quick little vacation with Mr. Lively (his belated birthday present). And that is a pretty nice way to wrap up a short work-week.

Do you have something in your life at the moment which you are resisting, too?

Is there a way that you can look at it as exactly what you want right now?

 

WhyControllingPeopleAndPunchingWaterDoesNotWork

One day while sitting by the lake I had a spiritual a-ha moment.

Though it might sound a little strange, I connected a lot of what I’ve read from spiritual sources to the light-reflected sparkles on Lake Michigan.

Weird? Maybe, but stick with me.

While staring at the water on the horizon, I connected the idea of universality (the idea that we are all separate and yet connected to one another) to the billions of water droplets in the lake.

Technically, there are tons of individual units of water within an otherwise indivisible lake. This is like us as people, too, but we have a hard time recognizing our connection is truly thatclose because our egos want to believe in separateness and specialness.

I’m special. I’m unique. I’m different. These are the echos of our ego and much of modern society.

Though there may be some truth to the uniqueness that our egos desperately cling to, we all are inextricably linked beyond what we comprehend – at least most of the time.

The differences we have are miniscule compared to what we have in common. It’s like a water droplet saying it’s “so different” because it’s in the harbor, instead of outside the harbor. In reality, water droplets in both parts of the lake are only a few dozen feet apart. They look the same, they have most of the same chemistry, etc.

I also noticed that some parts of the water sparkled, some remained neutral, and some reflected shadows. Just like the photo you see above.

What fascinated me most were the sparkles along the horizon that seemed to glisten like LED lights on a Christmas tree. It was spectacular to watch all of the little bursts of light bounce around the lake.

To me, the sparkling water symbolized the essence of what spiritual teachings mean when they say we need to “be still.”

The glistening patches of water didn’t do anything very different than the darker water patches. They didn’t “force” themselves to sparkle, they simply reflected the light above.

The shining water showed me it was up to us as humans to simply reflect the light, connectedness, and power that is within our intuition or spirit at all times.

We don’t need to go out into the world forcing things to happen. We simply need to share our light, and in doing so we naturally harness the power within ourselves to live to our fullest potential.

No striving. No ego. Just reflecting the peace and presence that is within ourselves at all times.

For a while, I thought this was the entire lesson the water had to teach me. But yesterday I gleaned a new understanding from this water metaphor and how it relates to controlling others.

While Mr. Lively and I took Franklin on a morning walk, we saw a man standing in front of the water sparkles. At first, I thought he was practicing Tai Chi, but I soon realized he was actually practicing his boxing skills.

Seeing this man punching the air in the direction of the water sparkles immediately reminded me of what our egos look like when it they force things to happen without consulting our deeper intuition for advice.

It looked difficult and ultimately pointless. The man by the water, in my water sparkle metaphor, was completely unproductive. He was simply wasting time trying to “make something happen.”

At first, I thought this was the end of the metaphor. But then I got another lesson about that boxer that directly related to my own life.

Though I am well-meaning, I can have the tendency to try to help people in my personal life (okay, let’s be real, I’m talking about Mr. Lively here) so strongly that it can sometimes border on controlling.

If I have a suggestion that might help him “sparkle” in some area of his life, I can get really pushy and/or frustrated when he doesn’t follow my suggestions.

Do I come from a good place? Yes, at least in the beginning. I truly do want to help him in any possible way that I can, but that doesn’t mean that I can force him to do anything that might help him in some area of his life just because I think that it could help.

In reality, that boxer punching at the water is actually me when I’m putting too much emphasis on what I think he should or shouldn’t do in some part of his life.

I keep thinking that if I tell him what I think he should do long enough, that he’ll realize I’m right and just do it. But really, I’ve just separated myself from the water by going on land and air punching.

A completely useless action when it comes to making water sparkle in this scenario.

Instead, I would be better off staying in the water and sparkling myself. Sure, I can make suggestions. But more importantly, I need to simply model what I suggest and let him figure out – at his own pace – what is best.

Punching the air to make the water sparkle is as ridiculous as trying to force someone we love to do what we think they should do.

 

photo via

DontFallIntoICantAffordItTrap

A few weeks ago, I found myself looking at a style blog and coveting a pair of very nice boots that someone purchased. Almost immediately the thought, “I can’t afford it” flashed in my mind.

However, that was totally untrue.

The shoes were something I could afford. In fact, I spent the same amount of money on something different that very weekend. I could buy those shoes if I wanted to, but I chose to put my finances elsewhere.

Thoughts like “I can’t afford it” – especially when we actually do have the resources – place our power outside of ourselves. We feel acted upon and forlorn, rather than feeling like a proactive person who is capable of making choices aligned with our best interests.

Just because we choose to say “no” to something, doesn’t mean that we “can’t.”

 

PS – Business in the City is tonight! 

what are you leaning into?
September 11th, 2013     |    LifeThink About It

WhatAreYouLeaningIntoWhen it comes to living a life with intention, we need to remind ourselves not to strive – in an egoic sense – to get what we want. On the other hand, it is also important to recognize the power within ourselves to create and cultivate the change we seek.

It can be difficult to avoid the all-or-nothing thinking and brute force that our egos can present when we want to change something in our lives. But there is an essential element available to us, resting within our intuition, that we can to honor and implement instead: inspired action.

Inspired action is about leaning into areas of our lives which push us past our comfort zone with a sense of playfulness and curiosity. It is recognizing that we have all we ever need in the present moment, and that by going out and taking action in ways that challenge us, we can grow and improve the lives of those around us.

As Marianne Williamson has famously said,

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine… We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

By leaning into different areas of our lives, we can let go of limiting beliefs and step into a new level of consciousness and impact. 

Our “lizard brain,” as Seth Godin likes to call it, wants us to simply survive. And it will convince us to stay put in our status quo because it is safe and secure, or to take action by serious force (as if our security depends on it).

So whether we have it “pretty good” right now or not, our lizard brains fear that the outcome of our actions may leave us worse off than before.

We can feel this in all sorts of areas of our lives. Though it is easy to point to the bigger aspects of our lives like relationships and career, this fear of uncertainty can seep into smaller actions like getting a new hair cut, renovating a kitchen, or trying a new workout routine.

Inspired action, fueled by curiosity and playfulness, has a softer approach to change that sidesteps the ego’s fearful highlight reel. It says, “I honor and hear these fearful thoughts, but I think I’ll take a stab at this anyways. Let’s just see what happens.”

When we pick a single area of our lives to lean into, it builds our confidence. By listening to the fears and then playfully pushing past our comfort zone anyways, we strengthen our inspired action muscles. We become bolder with our choices and feel more connected to our true motivation, which we can then apply to other areas of our lives.

Though there may seem to be a tension between being present minded and the desire for change, this need not be the case. We simply need to take one step at a time, from a place of peace with a smile on our face and a curiosity about what will happen next.

 

fall seasonal intention calendar
September 9th, 2013     |    LifeThink About It

Fall2013SeasonalIntentionCalendarNow that we are in September, it’s time to share this fall’s seasonal intention calendar for September, October, and November.

For those who didn’t see the summer version, here’s a quick recap of what the seasonal intention calendar is all about:

It is easy to let seasons come and go without taking the time to really think through what we’d like to havedo, and be during that season.

Personally, I’m really great at setting a vision for the year with a future letter. But after that is written, I allow my weekly priority list to guide my steps throughout the rest of the year without much extra thought.

The weekly priority list does a good job keeping me on task in my career and in other life roles as well, but it lacks the larger scope that I would like to have for a season.

When it comes to things I’d like to intentionally purchase, fun day trips I’d like to take, or (most importantly) outlooks I’d like to have more frequently, a bigger picture vision for the season is ideal.

As you can see in the photo above, this summer’s calendar was pretty successful. I accomplished almost all of the things I set out to have, do, and be. Over the weekend, Mr. Lively and I talked a lot about what items we’d like to have, do, and be this fall. My fall Haves, Dos, and Bes can also be seen above, based on the priorities we set together.

And of course, I have a free printable for you to use as well.

Fall2013IntentionSeasonalCalendar

 

download free printable here

If you decide to use the calendar, I hope it helps you to take a closer look at the next few months and align your priorities in each Have, Do, and Be area of your life.

Enjoy!

 

TheBiggestLessonIveLearnedFromClosingJessLC

One year ago, I heard a message in my gut to close my successful fourteen-year-old accessory company, Jess LC.

Though I had every intention to continue the business, one simple word from my intuition led me down a completely different path. I went from preparing to hire a manager for the business, to closing its doors two months later.

To many people, my decision seemed crazy. But I knew, deep down, that the company was always a bridge to my full-time vocation – helping people design lives with intention.

While I basked in the new full-time career, helping people through consulting and workshops, others continued to ask how I was doing. They were worried that a huge part of me had been lost and that I might feel sad. But in reality I was relieved. I was finally able to be myself!

No longer did I need to describe myself as a “designer,” I got to merge my passion with my career. 

Looking back over the past year, I am simply astounded at how things have progressed. One year ago, I was coming to terms with the fact that a company (that lasted 50% of my life) was ending. Now, that time seems like eons ago. I truly feel like that girl with the jewelry company has vanished.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from this experience is that by letting go of what no longer serves us, we make room for the wonderful things that are to come. 

If I still had Jess LC now, I would not have the time to re-brand a hotel, design a hotel lobby, help clients design their homes with intention, or, to work on the biggest project of my career (which is still under wraps).

I honestly believe none of these amazing opportunities would have come my way had I continued Jess LC. Or, if they did come my way, I would turn them down because I could not handle that many large projects, consulting, and launching eight product collections a year.

My career – and life – was too full to allow my future to enter. 

By making space and doing what my gut told me to do, I let go of one trapeze bar and grasped the next.

In taking the leap of faith, I had no idea what was in store. I just simply knew I needed to let go of Jess LC. Like an acrobat, I needed to hang in the air, suspended for a short moment, before the next bar was within my reach.

Was it a little scary? Surprisingly, no.

I had taken so many leaps of faith in my career by that point that I simply trusted my gut. I also knew my income from consulting and workshops was matching my Jess LC income. So worst case, I’d be in the same financial position.

However, the wonderful opportunities that have occurred in the past year have shocked me. Though I had faith, I had no idea things would play out so wonderfully.

Don’t get me wrong, things are far from perfect and I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scope of my current projects. But I cannot imagine my life as an accessories designer any longer.

Jess LC was a wonderful experience that taught me a lot about business, life, and faith.

But in closing the company, I understand the importance of letting go when prompted. I now deeply know that the moment in mid-air will pass, and unforeseen potential will come my way.


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