Lil Lemon Drop

Lil Lemon Drop
Happy Clothes for Happy Kids
posts in category meditation

Monday, May 11, 2020

How Using a Mantra Helps Me

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash



Why a mantra?


Do you have a mantra? I have been using them pretty often this year to direct my thoughts and calm my spirit.
When I first heard the term "mantra" years ago, it seemed like this weird, new-agey thing, that you just had to be Californian, named Chloe or Zoe, and sit around in long flowy dresses, or yoga pants being zen. Not me, for sure. But I still used them over the years, from time to time, and since last fall have been using them much more frequently.

What is a mantra?
man·tra
/ˈmantrə/
noun
  1. 1.
    (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
  2. 2.
    a statement or slogan repeated frequently.
    "the environmental mantra that energy has for too long been too cheap"
~From Oxford






Now, to me, of course the first one would be used in meditation. I have been known to use those occasionally, because the mind loves to wander. But in this case, I am talking about the second. I use mantras to calm my spirit when I feel it bubbling over (in a not-so-positive way). For example, "All is Well," is very helpful when I feel anxiety starting to build. "God is in control," is another simple phrase which helps me regulate anxiety. 

I have a headful of dreams I want to accomplish and often feel I am spinning my wheels and never getting there. Since I put hours and hours of work into my business and blog, I find it frustrating to not be getting where I want to be. Most of my reading suggests I need to just lay off a bit with the stress and worry. "Ask and ye shall receive." "Let the Universe know what you want, and then sit back and listen." These are the ideas floating around which I hear often. 

Now, there are conflicted opinions on what this means. Some people say to be very specific  about what you want, then sit back and watch and wait. Others say, "Well, God didn't just make this whole Universe so he can hand you a fancy mansion." Okay, they probably do, I made up that particular awkward sentence. So I think the truth lies somewhere in between. You need to be communicating with God in order to get the guidance to go where you need to go. Once you have talked to God, poured your heart out, let you wishes be known, then you can sit back and watch the events unfold. The thing is, they don't always unfold exactly the way you want them to. Perhaps you are praying for a fancy sports car. You may find yourself placed in a situation where that does indeed happen for you. Alternately, you may find your own self and heart being changed by a chain of events which makes that sports car no longer so very desirable. It's okay to want and expect things, but one needs to be open to growth and possibilities which were never imagained. 

What this leads me to, when I am feeling so frustrated with my lack of worldly success (although, goodness knows I have plenty and more! I have been very blessed), when I feel I am losing focus, and wonder why I keep spinning my wheels and sharing these thoughts, which are so embarrassing to share, I find the simple morning mantra, "Show me the way," to be helpful and calming.

"Show me the way," acknowledges there is a plan, there is a path, which leads to greater things and fulfilling destinies. It acknowledges I want guidance from God to get to get there. These simple words acknowledge my strong desire to do and create more in a powerful way. And they help me to feel peace and trust that help is coming.

For me, choosing a daily mantra, is like choosing an ongoing prayer in a sentence which I want to communicate it with God. Sometimes it is a simple affirmation to soothe my nerves, but often is a prayer, asking for guidance. When I feel confusion or anxiety or concern rising, I can simple take to prayer with my simple phrase, "Show me the way."

And once I let go out of the desire for a specific outcome, and realize this help may lead me down paths I never imagined, I can go forth with peace and joy that God will guide my heart towards the highest path of growth.

Finding your Mantra


If you are interesting in find your own mantra, a simple web search should lead you to a variety of sites with advice.

This one on Oprah.com explains how to choose  a mantra which is personally meaningful to you. 


What is Your Personal Mantra is a site which has a fun quiz. Although the pictures are no longer the working, the quiz still does-you will just have to read the explanation below where the picture should have been to read the "advice."

If you are trying to choose a mantra to supplement your yoga practice here are some ideas:








Sunday, April 5, 2020

8 things I Do To Make Myself Happier

Listen! We are living in some crazy times. If you are anything like me, or say, the other 7. whatever billion people on this planet, your whole life has been turned upside down in just a few weeks. Although most of us are holding on the hope that things will eventually (and hopefully soon) get back to to normal, we are still going through a huge amount of uncertainty, upheaval, and resulting stress.

To get through these times without losing my mind, I find it helpful to keep a stash of little things in my back pocket to lift my spirits, so I can continue to be the strong and mighty queen the world needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Rehydrate every morning
I find it hard to drink water, especially upon waking, EVEN IF my throat is dry. One thing that helps is having a quick 8 ounces before I start my coffee brewing (seriously it almost makes me gag, I don't know where this aversion comes from),  and then sip another warm cup with fresh squeezed lemon. Somehow when I warm up the mug of water, and splash a little zesty lemon it becomes a palatable treat!

I've got to get this happy cup!



2. Caffeinate
I like my coffee. Dark, rich, and hot, just holding that steaming cup in my hands in a fantastic morning pleasure. If coffee isn't your um, cup of tea, perhaps trying a cup of tea will give you a lift. There are so many varieties of coffee and teas, both caffeinated and decaf, you can easily find the right brew to lift your morning mood. Anything that becomes part of a quiet morning ritual will enhance your day and bring a feeling of wellness. When it comes to favorite brews, I swear I love the Walmart Great Value French Roast K-cups. To increase the value of that minute or so waiting for the Keurig to heat up and brew, I do between 20-30 various squats to tone my legs.

Go crazy and consider this coffee:




3. Morning Meditation
I am not going to lie. I am not a super-meditator who can sit for 45 minutes visualizing world peace (although if you are, you go!). But I like to sit and listen to a short meditative lecture on the Simple Habit app, while doing slow stretching exercises to warm my body up and loosen for the day. After that, I will listen to some white noise or meditative music and practice true meditation and visualization for oh, an average of around 6 minutes.
If the Simple Habit app isn't for you, here are links to several other similar sites you can try

4. Hiking

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

While not my picture, and apparently that photo was taken in Chile, I love hiking. I don't do it nearly as often as I should, because the hump I have to get over to pack enough for the kids and get all the stuff ready seems to outweigh my perceived benefit of pushing through, but when I do push through I always am delighted I did. I love the outdoors, the scenery, the exercise, and even the confidence I feel when I manage rocky terrain surefootedly. Nothing as of yet has compared with our short family hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, however, I have explored Ozark hills, quiet wooded paths,  emerald green paths atop the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and I plan to see how the Alps compare to the Rockies as soon as fate allows!

While not technically hiking boots, these were my go-to boots on rainy walks in Ireland:




I swear I love these things. I get so excited on work days when it is wet and rainy. A perfect excuse to wear my two-year-old boots!


5. Favorite Movies
A little media can be good for the soul. Watching a tear-wrenching film is often the carthartic release I need to look at the world through new eyes. Most of us are getting more than enough screen time. Let's just make sure it is something worth our time which enriches our lives. For you it might be a silly comedy, an action film, or a light-bright rom-com. You do you. You deserve it.

Or watch something fun, like the movie we got my youngest child, Alec's name from (I am totally the dorky blonde girl)





6. Reading
I will never have enough time to read. From fabulous fiction which takes me away to a better place, to informative and inspiring nonfiction which helps me discover who I was meant to be and encourages me to become that person, there are so many amazing books out there! Now that my life is so busy I read a lot more nonfiction than fiction. It is just so much easier to skim and drop off and pick up a nonfiction book. But every now and then a fiction book will grab ahold of me and won't let me go until we come to that shaky, sleep-deprived ending. Heaven!
I'll be posting on my current reading soon.

7. Brainstorm Fun Ideas
From bucket lists, to do now dream lists, to planning imaginary virtual vacations, I love to think about the all the options in the world, and think about what it would be like to make it happen.
I have recently been inspired by my reading of How to do Everything and Be Happy, by Peter Jones. It's a simple book to help you feel brave enough to take back some time and has practical hints on how to organize the things you want to do and get them done.

This is one of the books that is cheaper in paperback than kindle...




8. Practice Letting Go
Letting go of past hurts and disappointments is never easy. But it is the KEY to a happy outlook. Give yourself the time to really dig in and feel the feels and then when you are ready, look for the lesson, and move on. Learning not to hold grudges and not to drown in self-pity has given me the power to control my own happiness, and I recommend giving it a try. This is a lesson which requires practice, because once forgiven, doesn't mean always forgiven. The stubborn heart when challenged will bring back those unpleasant memories, so it helps to think of forgiveness as an ongoing process you can practice again and again and again.

I am sorry. My good-girl-ness doesn't usually like bad words, but is just so right on. A good short affirmation for yourself!



As you can see, these are simple ideas. Not a one of them is too crazy-hard to implement to increase your daily happiness. While you would obviously want to switch out the ones which don't work for you and put in things that make you, personally, happy, the key is to add a little joy to your life Every. Single. Day.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Negative Thoughts? Take these 3 steps now!

Image result for mountains sunset
I am feeling a bit like a hypocrite this morning. For one, last week was a fairly negative one. I overshared with a couple of people at work on Friday, due to a stressful situation and feel a bit of regret. Especially since a big thing I overshared about seems better. I should feel better that it is better, but instead I feel I was blowing it out of proportion to get attention or sympathy or something. Then I was feeling anxiety about possible future events outside my control and found myself directing that anger in the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, it was almost entirely internal, but a few less than complimentary comments on my part have me stressing. I am better than that. I know better than that. And if I don't handle the internal struggle, eventually it become external and that's destructive.
 A family member has been ill and is struggling with dealing with illness and weakness, and I fear he is making it worse with his worries. He doesn't seem to be getting out or walking or doing any of the things he has always loved and which ironically probably kept him healthy for so long. It is hard to watch someone flounder, especially when you feel if they would just listen to advice, relax, take their meds, and stop the alcohol and nicotine roller coaster, they would probably be just fine.  But he feels he is dying. And maybe he is. He is closing the world off around him and that is not a good way to flourish. He is saying anxious I love you's, and my brain wonders if it is anxiety and depression driving him or intuition. And it worries me.

And the house is a mess.

And I sit here, feeling like a hypocrite, Who am I to give advice on living to another person? Who do I think I am? That's the feeling running through my veins.
But it is just twisted perfectionism hounding me. This idea I harbor telling me perfection is attainable if I just TRY HARDER, and then I will be fit to give advice.

Nonsense! I mean really. A big load of bull. Everyone struggles.

First thing to be done is take a big, deep breath, and then let it out. And  then another. And another. The second thing is to mentally take this pile of worries and push it away. Seriously, I am visualizing a big brown dirty scruffy Charlie Brown pile with a white sign and red letters painted "Worries," and just pushing it all away by hand. I don't have to carry this load.
YOU don't have to carry this load. Push it away! Now it's all there, but it isn't blocking the path. From perfectionism, to desiring control to ensure a perfect outcome, to worrying about things which are in someone else's hands, I acknowledge that I can't fix all this. I can however stop tormenting myself with it all.

Now, I visualize myself walking right past that pile down an open path (sun setting in the distance, of course). And I feel lighter.

One of the hardest things to do, when you are caught in a negative cycle, is realize what it is. It is just you choosing to focus on the wrong thoughts. PUSH THOSE THOUGHTS AWAY. Unless you are actively coming up with a plan to alleviate your concerns, just thinking about them, running circles around your brain, is not going to help. It is going to keep you stuck.

Newsflash! You are going to screw up. You are going to say the wrong thing, leave the wrong impression sometimes, and deal with family illness. It's going to happen. Ruminating will not take the words back, scrub your impression clean, or heal your sick person. It won't. YOU CANNOT OUTTHINK MOST OF YOUR PROBLEMS. I have been trying for years. I am no Einstein, but I know some things (though I have forgotten so much more than I know-which reminds me,  you know when you meet that person who not only can recall a lot, but can quickly use it in arguments and discussions? I envy those people. Meanwhile I am over here, like, Hmm. My gut tells me you are wrong, but I need to go home read some books, search my soul, and figure this out. I will get back to you next week, how's that? I guess that is why I like to write. Meanwhile, the world is following that quick thinker and easy speaker EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG, because that's how the world works. Silliness).

When things are just wrong and you believe you have screwed up one of the best ways to get relief right away is to just stop everything. Stop digging that hole. Stop trying to fix the problem with thoughts and words and just be still a moment. Then walk past the problem. I get it. The problem is still there. I do understand that, but you do NOT have to live a life of misery because you are not perfect,  or because certain things are simply outside your realm of control. You don't.  Just stop, gather your wits, and walk away for a bit. And later, when you are busy in a project, doing a hobby, watching a favorite show (and make sure you really love what you are watching or do something else. Life is too short for mediocre), or just sitting completely in the moment watching the world around you, you will find that the problem might not be so bad.

And what if it is? What if that pile marked "Worries" is persistently following you and there are serious problems stacked up in that pile? I guarantee if you take a break from them, if you write them out and leave them to a higher power, and ask for help in solving them, the help will come. I don't guarantee it will be the answer you want or the way you want it. But if you can pull yourself away from demanding it all go down in a certain way, it will all work out in the end.

So my 3 steps in a nutshell?

1. Stop and breathe. Breathe deeply and exhale through your mouth several times. Feel your shoulder, chest, and upper back relax with those breaths.

2. Visualize that pile of worries and push it away.

3. Walk past that pile into the distance and start doing something else. Something you love, something you have to do, something constructive, or something frivolous. Just get busy, even if that means just watching the birds hop along in your backyard busily searching for their next meal.


You can revisit the worries later. Now is not that time. Now is a gift. Unwrap it with joy.



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