Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stop BEFORE You Feel Full

"If you have a tough time slowing your pace at the dinner, try stopping before you feel full… I can't guarantee the practice will work; however, you have nothing to lose but weight."

—Dr. David L. Katz, MD

Caring For Your Parents by Martha Beck

Caring for Your Parents: How to Reclaim the Good Old Times
By Martha Beck

Shepherding fragile elders can leave a person lost and overwhelmed. Martha Beck offers a path back toward sanity.
I once attended a Navajo blessing ceremony, held in a tepee on the red sand of the Sonoran desert. The tepee was set up with great reverence, since to the Navajo, it symbolized the womb from which we all emerge, and the tent poles were "the bones of our grandmother." The word grandparents was spoken often and lovingly throughout the ceremony. The group's silver-haired matriarch quietly reigned over the gathering, with everyone else poised to supply her needs. It was a graceful dance of mutual care, with the elderly at the center.

By contrast, our First World way of caring for the elderly is a clumsy, exhausting tarantella. It force-partners isolated caregivers (usually middle-aged women) with decline, disease, dementia, and death. As one woman told me, "Having aging parents simultaneously orphaned me, saddled me with two insane strangers, and shoved every nightmare about my own future right into my face." I heard many such stories as I researched this subject: Polly nearly bankrupted herself caring for her father, who has Alzheimer's. Brooke has barely slept since her ailing mother-in-law moved in. Jennifer had to testify against her parents in court so they'd be declared "incompetent to drive" before accidentally killing themselves or someone else.

This is what happens when a society forgets something people like the Navajo teach explicitly—that caring for the elderly is a "blessing path" in which the whole community should participate. Although our culture shows no signs of collectively adopting this perspective, there are ways to regain it on a case-by-case basis. If you're one of the 34 million or so Americans who are caring for an older relative, I offer my deep respect, and the following suggestions.

Caring For Your Parents - Part 2

Caring for Your Parents: How to Reclaim the Good Old Times
By Martha Beck
Practical Coping Strategies

As I interviewed people who are known in demographics as "unpaid caregivers," I thought I'd hear a few logistical hints. But that turned out to be like seeking just a few general rules on "how to heal sickness" or "controlling bad emotions." Every aging-parent scenario is unique, and there are precious few generalities that apply. One thing I can say is that you'll have fun with the responsibilities of eldercare if you enjoy running the high hurdles while juggling angry badgers. If not, you might try these techniques.

Trust your intuition about how much care is needed.

"There are hundreds of lines between being a little daffy and needing constant supervision," says Polly, describing her father's Alzheimer's. "At first my dad wasn't totally out to lunch; he was just…snacking. Then he definitely went out to lunch, then breakfast, then dinner. I've had to trust my instincts to increase care as he crossed each new line."

Denial is potent and seductive when it comes to dealing with aging. No one wants to acknowledge that a family member is in permanent decline. But when your parent gets really sick, or begins, um, lunching out, you'll feel an uneasy warning from your gut. Pay attention. The sooner you acknowledge the truth—"I must intercede"—the sooner you can begin exploring care options. And there's a mess of exploring to do.

Prepare for a logistical wilderness.

There's no rule book to guide you through the morass of eldercare tasks and demands. Your best source of information is the Internet, where you can e-mail friends and family and research everything from buying walkers to curing constipation. If you're a caregiver and you don't like computers, get over it. Buy a laptop—it will cost far less than the mistakes it will help you avoid—and make some 8-year-old teach you to cruise the Web. Everyone I interviewed, even the technophobes, told me that the Internet was a lifeline in negotiating eldercare obligations.

Online information can prepare you—sort of—for the pragmatic tasks you may encounter: filling out medical paperwork, hiring a care nurse, wrestling the car keys out of a beloved parent's desperate clutches. Many of these duties will be indescribably difficult. But if instincts and information tell you to take a step, take it firmly, without second-guessing, the way you'd lead a frightened horse out of a burning barn. And don't try to manage everything alone.

Create your own village.

The Navajo and other traditional cultures understand that there's nothing more soulful than supporting people at the margins of life, those who can't walk fast or talk sense or remember how to use a toilet. They also know that this takes a village.

It really does.

Most eldercare providers in our village-less society end up jury-rigging systems of helpers. The common refrain I heard from people in the trenches? Take notes. Write down every bit of advice you get, from every person who interacts with your family member: doctors, pharmacists, neighbors, hairstylists. Write down these people's contact information. For good or evil, they're your village.

Jennifer has 45 people on her call list should her elderly parents encounter a crisis. Polly rallied support from her parents' church congregation. Not everyone in the village will help care for an elderly person, but a long list gives you multiple possibilities for support.

"No one can tell you what to expect," Anne said to me. "You have to live like a firefighter, ready to call other firefighters to solve whatever problem arises."

Caring For Your Parents - Part 3

Caring for Your Parents: How to Reclaim the Good Old Times
By Martha Beck
Psychological Coping Strategies

Once you've adopted this firefighting mentality about your parent's needs, you'll need a whole new set of strategies like the ones below to deal with the emotional wreckage that piles up along the way.

Surrender to the emotional grinder.

"The thing that galls me most about caring for my mother," one woman told me, "is that she's the only one who gets a morphine drip." The emotional pain suffered by caregivers is intense—and unlike the elderly, caregivers are expected to live through it. With every new issue your elderly relative develops, you'll head into the emotional grinder called the grief process: bargaining, anger, sadness, acceptance, repeat.

Grieving, like physical caretaking, differs from case to case. If you had a troubled relationship with an aging parent, expect to spend lots of time in the anger stage. Use this time to clean your emotional closet. Explore the anger with a therapist. Journal it. Process it with friends. Clean the wounds.

On the other hand, if your declining parent was your main source of emotional support, you'll find yourself spending lots of time in sadness. You'll feel as though it's killing you. It won't. As Naomi Shihab Nye wrote, "Before you know kindness / as the deepest thing inside, / you must know sorrow / as the other deepest thing…. / Then it is only kindness / that makes sense anymore…."

As the grieving process scrapes along, you'll learn to offer kindness to everyone: your aging relative, the people of your village, yourself. When you snap under stress and begin to rail at Nana, God, yourself, and the cat, you'll learn to be kind to yourself anyway. At that point, you'll find relief and an unexpected gift: laughter.

Nourish a sick sense of humor.

A morbid sense of humor isn't listed in any official guides to eldercare, but to the caregivers I interviewed, it is like oxygen. Take, for example, Meg Federico's memoir Welcome to the Departure Lounge. Federico's wry portrayal of her mother's senescence is both sad and hilarious. Without belittling her mother or her stepfather, Walter, both of whom suffered dementia, Federico recounts conversations like this one:

"I can't seem to find my keys," Walter told Mom. "Say, do you have them?"

"Oh, don't worry about keys, dearest. We don't need them. We can jump out the window and fly home."

"What?" said Walter. "You can fly? I never knew."

"So can you, but you have to take your shoes off."

To Walter's credit, he was not convinced.

Just acknowledging that this is funny makes it tolerable. Cracking up can keep caregivers from, well, cracking up.

"Bill and I are training his dad to 'go toward the light,'" said my friend Anne, whose father-in-law no longer recognizes his family. "Any light we see—lamps, flashlights, the TV—we steer him over there. We figure he can use the practice."

Of course, Anne isn't serious. Not being serious is how she and Bill are surviving. If you can't train your elder to go toward the light, you can make light of the situation. And sometimes, that light becomes splendiferous.

Ponder the nature of existence.

There's nothing like caring for the elderly to help you face your own mortality. Many caregivers told me that their experience was dissolving, through simple drudgery, their fear of death. Pulitzer Prize–winning psychologist Ernest Becker wrote that the denial of death underlies all evils, and that we must drop this denial to live fully. The caregivers I interviewed would agree.

"Fear of death was my biggest obstacle in life," said Polly. "To help my dad, I have to get past it. He's showing me how to die, which is really helping me live."

Other caregivers went further. They said that as they watched the door close on their loved one's physical identity, a door to the metaphysical slowly opened.

"I don't believe in an afterlife, but as my mother died, I truly understood that being dead is no more frightening than being asleep, which I love."

"As my husband's body was failing, he became almost translucent. I went right through my own pain and felt the most intense peace. I can still find that."

"Just before my grandmother died in surgery, I heard her voice saying, 'I'm leaving now, but you'll be fine.' I've been less anxious about everything ever since."

This is why traditional cultures value even the most fragile, disoriented elder, why the Navajo carry "Grandmother's bones" with such reverent attention. Even as you grapple with the logistical and psychological stress of eldercare, there will be moments when you find yourself on the "blessing path." Rather than a long day's journey into night, you'll feel yourself making a long night's journey into day: through fear and confusion to courage and wisdom. Receive this gift, the final one your parents can offer before they take off their shoes, jump out the window, and fly home.

Martha Beck is the author of six books. Her most recent is Steering by Starlight (Rodale).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maximize Spring's Energy

Maximize Spring's Energy
5 tips to grow and be inspired
by Jamie Nishi

In spring - the season of new beginnings and brilliant transformations - it's simply natural for us to look inward at ourselves and make a vow to renew, refresh and pump-up our own self-image. It feels good (and right!) to step things up and shrug off those quieter winter habits as the season begins.

Spring is a time to set the tone for your lifestyle during the warmer months of the year - to try new things, take up imagined projects you may have dropped, and to update your skills. If this concept sounds inspiring, but you're short on ideas, try the following five tips.

1. Grow
It's said that the mind is a terrible thing to waste. So turn on your brain in different ways. Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language? Take a class at a local college or language school. How long has it been since you read a book? Check out the newest bestsellers and get yourself a page-turner to curl up with on a quiet afternoon in the park. Are you already overly intellectual? Sometimes the best brain-food in this case is exercise. Take advantage of spring weather - go on a nature hike, break out your bicycle or tennis racquet, or enroll in an outdoor yoga class.

2. Bloom
Revamping your self-image has to happen on the inside for any lasting results, but it certainly doesn't hurt to get a little help on the outside. Don't go breaking the bank, but also don't forget that you deserve something special every now and then, like fresh new sleepwear or a colorful update to your wardrobe. Don't be afraid to stretch your style limits. Go for something that might even scare you a little. Mix it up!

3. Be colorful
Hit the salon or the makeup counter. You don't need to spend tons of money to revamp your look for spring. Sometimes one new shade of lipstick or nail color is just the ticket. Talk to your hair stylist about a trim or an update! Once you trim off those dead ends, we promise you'll feel ten times better.

4. Recharge
Making time to be alone with your thoughts in a quiet or inspiring place can help you cut through the mists and veils that cloud your vision on a regular day. Allow yourself the time to visit a place you love to walk and meditate and think calmly about the ways in which you can live a better, more enjoyable life. Allow yourself this practice and windows will open in your heart and mind, letting in the fresh air.

5. Flourish
Whether it's having dinner with a friend, joining a club or volunteering, getting out and socializing is an important outlet. If you're single, you can focus on developing friendships, as this often opens the doors to meeting other people. If you're short on time, you can combine a self-improvement activity with socializing or looking for a new romance.

With patience and passion, and remembering always to be gentle with yourself, this spring can be transformational to the rest of your (happier!) life.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recognizing Fear & Offering Love

By Valerie Reiss, Fresh Morning

This is a lovely quote about having compassion for people most in need of it:

"What we do from joy expresses love; what we do from fear calls for love."
-- Alan Cohen

It's so easy to forget that most of the crappy things humans do are from fear, and as such, are actually calls for love. That nasty comment-spewing person on your morning commute, they need love. The line-cutter at the grocery store--yep, needing the love. Maybe we don't risk the black eye by reaching out in those moments, but we can always send a loving thought their way. And not from a place of smug superiority, but a place of, "Man, I know what that suffering must be like in there. I wish you well."

And when we lob harsh thoughts and unkind words at ourselves--those are perfect opportunities to set down the sword we may not have even known we were carrying and take a moment, and, say something like, "I love you, kid. You're alright and everything's going to be ok." Then things can soften, open, and move us along.

Recognizing Fear & Offering Love

By Valerie Reiss, Fresh Morning

This is a lovely quote about having compassion for people most in need of it:

"What we do from joy expresses love; what we do from fear calls for love."
-- Alan Cohen

It's so easy to forget that most of the crappy things humans do are from fear, and as such, are actually calls for love. That nasty comment-spewing person on your morning commute, they need love. The line-cutter at the grocery store--yep, needing the love. Maybe we don't risk the black eye by reaching out in those moments, but we can always send a loving thought their way. And not from a place of smug superiority, but a place of, "Man, I know what that suffering must be like in there. I wish you well."

And when we lob harsh thoughts and unkind words at ourselves--those are perfect opportunities to set down the sword we may not have even known we were carrying and take a moment, and, say something like, "I love you, kid. You're alright and everything's going to be ok." Then things can soften, open, and move us along.

The Art Of Non-Attachment

The Art of Non-Attachment
Make it work for you!
by Jessalyn Marchal

Many spiritual books and meditations these days, talk about incorporating the Buddhist art of non-attachment into our everyday lives as a means of relieving stress. For some, it may bring up visions of having to give away all of your personal possessions and moving to a mountain top.

If that doesn't quite sound like the choice for you - don't worry. Practicing non-attachment doesn't mean that you stop wanting things, it means that you're open to what the Universe has to offer you - and the possibility that life can be different and better than you imagine. Non-attachment teaches us how to get out of our own way and stop limiting the outcomes of our dreams, goals and wishes, to our own limiting ideas.

Often when we really want something passionately, we attach a whole set of specifics to our dream including exactly what we want and how we expect it to manifest itself. But in doing so, the art of non-attachment suggests we set ourselves up for suffering. Love is a great example. Wanting love in your life is a beautiful desire. The struggle comes when we attach ourselves to the belief that a certain person is the only way to achieve happiness in love. By practicing non-attachment you allow yourself to feel the desire, but you allow the Universe to bring it to you without dictating which package it comes in.

Resistance is futile
Along with non-attachment comes the idea that you are exactly where you need to be right now. Loosen up and relax into the flow of life instead of struggling against the current. Eastern thought tells us that suffering is part of life - the human condition. By giving up the struggle we free up huge amounts of energy that can be put to better use.

This doesn't mean that difficult situations will not arise, but they simply will not be as difficult because you're not fighting against them - you simply accept that these situations (that create suffering) exist and you will counter them as they unfold. We all know our parents will probably die before us, but it doesn't mean that this looming suffering should interfere with enjoying every moment they are with us. By accepting the suffering of their possible death, we can then let it go and enjoy the moments more that we are not suffering.

Monkey mind
Giving your full attention to what is right in front of you, stops "monkey mind" (those wild random incongruous thoughts) from interfering with your intentions. By living each moment as it comes (non-attachment), we allow ourselves to engage in our higher Self, which is more universally connected. If your next task is to wash the dishes, feel the bubbles and plates and cutlery, smell the soap, observe the details instead of rushing through the chore to get to the next one. If you find your thoughts wandering to the future or the past, don't judge yourself, just notice the wandering and gently return to the matter at hand. In this way each moment becomes a form of meditation, connecting us with ourselves and the universe. It is from this centered place that we birth our own enlightenment.

By making the choice to accept (not fight against) suffering and not limit your options is what practicing non-attachment is all about. By leaving the particulars up to the Universe, you get to realize the freedom of unlimited potential and living in the moment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Clean Your Home AND Your Spirit

Move your energy around
by A.K. Boyle

There's more to Spring cleaning than a clean closet and a sparkling bathroom. If you're looking for a spiritual pick-me-up, invest some energy in your living space. You may never look at a vacuum and a scrub brush the same way again. Not only is a clean house a good thing, but a clean mind and soul also have as much value - if not more!

Try our 3-step plan to make the most of spring and set your intentions and engery for a happy, healthy life.

It's all about balance

1. Flush out negatives
Defy those packrat tendencies! Tear down and toss out those negative ideas, self-criticisms and regrets. Annihilate words like "can't," "didn't" and "wish I had" from your vocabulary. While you're at it, dispose of remnants of unhealthy relationships, and let go of anything that might be holding you back. Limit your time with naysayers and skeptics. It's a season of new beginnings and fresh perspective. When you purge the negatives cluttering your outlook, you make way for a life in which anything is possible!

2. Unclutter
Becoming uncluttered is hardly a metaphor. When you eliminate disorder in your space, you are clearing your mind for new direction. Clutter is a negative influence on the way we see ourselves and our work, and the way others see us. Conversely, organization leaves room for empowerment, peace and inspiration. Put up a shelf for those treasured books, and keep your work space pristine. Alphabetize your DVDs, and finish re-organizing your kitchen. Keep a calendar of attainable goals that will constantly leave you feeling accomplished and in control. You might be surprised at how effective you can be when the space you see every day is open and ready for progress.

3. Redecorate with words
Once you've dusted your goals and ironed out your ideals, it's time for the finishing touches! Fill your home with positives. Invest in a new journal and fill it with nurturing words for yourself. Jot down the uplifting encounters you have each day - they'll be there if you look for them! Collect inspiring stories and let them proudly adorn your bookshelves and refrigerator. In addition to words, decorate with pictures of people who love you as well as those who inspire you. Your home should reflect the colors, images and ideas that make you happy.

Spring cleaning should never be a chore. It's just the opposite - a joyful, affirming experience. So perk up, clean up your mind, soul and space then enjoy a new happier you!

Coach Sherrie says: I definitely need to do a Spring Cleaning as soon as I drop my copies at the binders so I can begin ANEW!

Friday, April 17, 2009

From "Secrets of the Mediterranean Diet"

These are the main foods to eat that will keep you healthy
AND help the weight come off:
Olive Oil
Eggplant (see recipe below)
Red Wine (o.k., I'm seriously considering bring this back into my diet now!)
Tomatoes (cooked is even better than raw)
Sardines (I eat more fresh Salmon, but the article said that canned sardines
are really good for you because it includes the bones)

From "Secrets of the Mediterranean Diet

To use: Try baked or roasted eggplant stuffed with wild rice, or make eggplant parmesan.
To prepare caponata, a Sicilian relish served as an appetizer,
sauté chopped eggplant in olive oil with onions and garlic,
and combine with tomato sauce and roasted bell peppers.
To reduce the amount of oil that eggplant absorbs, salt the chopped eggplant and let it "sweat" for 30 to 60 minutes,
then rinse and dry before cooking.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happiness Is Contagious

How Happiness Is Contagious
By Tim Jarvis

"Six degrees of separation" isn't just a good plot line. Science shows the theory has dramatic implications for spreading cheer from one person to the next.
The theory that everyone on the planet is only a half dozen people away from knowing everyone else was popularized by John Guare's 1993 movie Six Degrees of Separation. Now research by a pair of social scientists might have Hollywood thinking of a sequel: Three Degrees of Connection.

Using statistical analyses of thousands of subjects, a study in The British Medical Journal has shown that happiness actually spreads from person to person, up to three connections away. "So if your friend's friend's friend becomes happier, it ripples through the network and affects you, even if you don't know that person," says author Nicholas Christakis, MD, a medical sociology professor at Harvard Medical School. Proximity plays a part: A happy sibling who is a mile away can increase your probability of happiness by up to 14 percent; a nearby friend, by 25 percent; and a next-door neighbor, by 34 percent. Interestingly, the effect also applies to smoking and obesity, Christakis has shown. "If people around you gain weight, it changes your expectations about what an acceptable body size is," he explains. "Our work strongly suggests that when one person quits smoking, loses weight, or becomes happy, others around her follow suit. I am reluctant to suggest you pick your friends solely on this basis, but one could say that helping a friend do better is a roundabout way of helping yourself."

If the Buddha Came to Dinner . . .

Eating as Spiritual Practice
From "If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body and Awaken Your Spirit" by Halé Sofia Schatz with Shira Shaiman:

In my experience, I have found the discipline of nourishing our bodies to be an amazingly effective vehicle for spiritual development and transformation. How can food and feeding ourselves be a spiritual practice? Food is one of our primary human needs. Every day, multiple times a day, we put something in our mouths. When we consume food without much thought beyond its taste, it’s call eating. You know what eating looks like: It’s the compulsive reaching into the potato chip bag; eating when you’re full because food is just there; grabbing a quick bite for lunch between meetings; indulging our taste buds while ignoring how our bodies feel.

When we make deliberate food choices based on our needs for physical energy, mental clarity, creativity, and focus, I call this feeding oneself. I use these terms to emphasize the difference between mindless consumption and purposeful, conscious fueling. The term feeding oneself also shows how transformational nourishment requires two components: the part of ourselves that does the nourishing (feeding) and the part that receives it (oneself). When we feed ourselves, we are aware and responsive to our particular needs for nourishment in the present moment.

Coach Sherrie says: Mindful Eating is a habit that doesn't take long to get used to. Once you do it for a while, you can't imagine going back to the old way of eating without being mindful of what your mind and body need.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Allow All of You To Shine!

"In a single human being there are many other beings, all with their own values, motives, and devices. Some psychological technologies suggest we arrest these beings, count them, name them, force them into harness till they shuffle along like vanquished slaves. But to do this would halt the dance of wildish lights in a woman's eyes; it would halt her heat lightning and arrest all throwing of sparks. Rather than corrupt her natural beauty, our work is to build for all these beings a wildish countryside wherein the artists among them can make, the lovers love, the healers heal."
~Clarissa Estees Pinkola

Monday, April 13, 2009

Be Your Own Driver

Take Control
Don't let anyone drive your life
by Adrianne Stone

Do you find yourself derailed by other people's plans for you? Are others controlling your decisions, objectives, dreams? Need we remind you that your life is yours and you are not in the possession of anyone but yourself - either? Even in marriage, you've entered into a partnership, not an ownership. The same holds true for friendships and work relationships.

Controlling situations can begin in a benign fashion: A friend goes shopping with you and talks you into buying clothes that you don't really find flattering. You don't need them and you can't afford them, but you find yourself buckling under the pressure of their influence. Then you get home, angry at yourself for being so weak. So what began as a fun outing with a buddy ended with emotional self-flagellation.

Love and Work Conflicts
When there's no time for romance Who's in charge?
When you hand over the reins to your life, you're effectively telling someone else, "I have no mind of my own. Whatever you decide for me, I will do." This is a recipe for disaster. More extreme versions lead to abusive situations where someone is so enthralled of another that they can't even think to get themselves out of a dangerous situation.

How can you prevent such a scenario from happening to you? One thing is certain… no matter how much you value the wisdom or influence of your spouse, colleagues or friends, you must always cherish independent thought. Without that, you will never be in control of you life.

Free thinking
When someone attempts to control you they are suiting themselves not your needs - no matter what arguments they may have to the contrary. Ensure that you're free of the shackles of someone else's plans for you by basing your decisions on your own thinking. Do your own research, examine situations objectively and form your own opinions. Then, if you're in agreement, by all means move forward with the plans while retaining the option to change your mind. Otherwise, you must speak up.

Let's say the person you're dating wants to see you dress more provocatively, but you don't want to look "cheap." Don't be afraid to tell them so and then offer a compromise that you feel comfortable with - perhaps you'll dress like a sex kitten in the bedroom, but not in public. You needn't dye your hair, get breast implants, a tattoo, move to another country, take a job that you detest (assuming a better one is available) or be amongst a crowd you don't care for just because someone else thinks it's a good idea for you.

Balanced power
A true friend will offer their opinion (whether or not it's sought by you) and then politely agree to disagree if your way differs from theirs. When the friend acts angry or hurt that you don't follow their advice or plans, you must ask yourself whether it's because they're truly concerned about you or whether they're just miffed that you don't fall in step with their every command.

The problem with allowing someone else to determine your path is that you will never feel the sense of fulfillment that you would otherwise, had you followed a path of your own making. Remember: You're behind the wheel during your journey through life. Handing the wheel over to someone else means you're not on your voyage - you're on theirs.

Just remember that your own journey will always be far more fun and fulfilling.

Explore the Dark Side

Pluto in Retrograde
Time to explore the dark side
by Cortney Litwin

How deep would you be willing to go to be empowered? That will be the question posed by Pluto when the planet of power and transformation turns retrograde on April 4, 2009 for five months. Pluto rules the psyche, while retrograde motions turn us inward.

So exploring the depths of your inner world as a path to self-empowerment will be the focus during retrograde Pluto. Plutonian transformations are seldom easy. Pluto touches us where we're most vulnerable and can shake the very foundation on which we're standing. We'll take a look at how retrograde Pluto may affect you as well as its influence on a global scale.

Explore your dark side
Pluto is the ultimate healer because it exposes the dark places that keep you from being all you can be. The really nasty stuff, like hatred, jealousy, dominance, revenge and subterfuge are manifestations of the negative side of Pluto. These behaviors are a quest for power by people who feel powerless. Even if you aren't struggling with such debilitating emotions, you probably have other quirks that keep you feeling less than powerful. Such issues may be family patterns that no longer serve you, low self-esteem that holds you back, problematic relationship patterns, inner blocks to manifesting prosperity, or the belief that life's a struggle and will always be a struggle no matter how hard you work. Whatever you're dealing with, retrograde Pluto will likely bring out some of your inner demons so you can eliminate them, which is a necessary step toward empowerment.

Global changes
Pluto has caused some seismic shifts in the outer world as well. Because it's transiting through Capricorn, the sign of business, government, policy and oversight, Pluto is rooting out obsolete business practices, such as rewarding CEOs of failed companies millions of dollars in bonuses. Governments are also in the midst of some astounding policy changes. Pluto rules shared resources, so the bailouts of United States companies that is costing billions of dollars, and the exposure of overleveraged financial markets, are the result of Pluto in Capricorn. Additionally, the Capricorn influence is responsible for increased oversight and accountability to the public. The demolition of outmoded policies that is occurring now will intensify throughout the summer because of Pluto being retrograde.

The healing process
The best way to handle Pluto energy is to take a clear-headed assessment of your life, accept your imperfections and make a commitment to yourself to change what isn't working. If you've been putting off seeing a doctor, it's time to make that appointment and take care of your health. If you've been suppressing some anger with your spouse, it's time to have a heart-to-heart talk to resolve the problem. If you're stuck in a dead-end job (or have just gotten laid off), it's time to reassess your talents and values and focus on manifesting a job that aligns with your true destiny.

Such practices as meditation, therapy, journaling and taking some quiet time each day for introspection, can help you on your path to empowerment. So during retrograde Pluto (and beyond), let's work together to heal ourselves - and the planet.

Coach Sherrie says: Even if you don't believe in Astrology, exploring your dark side is important. It allows you to accept ALL of you. We all need to accept every aspect of ourselves and realize that even our shadow self has a purpose. Without it, we would have no great art!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

From Spirited Boutique



A Hawaiian spiritual practice where the Divinity takes our painful thoughts and neutralizes or purifies don't purify the person, place or thing; you neutralize the energy you associate with that person,
place or thing and then something wonderful happens.
This is done with a technique called clearing, when you see and feel that you have a negative thought(s) and/or negative energy around you, the following words are said:

You continue saying these words until you feel release and say them again and again when ever needed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Oprah says "Go For It!"

Thought for Today
"If life teaches you nothing else, know this for sure: When you get the chance, go for it."


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Helping Others

Reaching Out
How helping others helps you
by Adrianne Stone
It's no secret that helping others is a good thing to do. It's an act of kindness that repays itself in the look of appreciation in someone's face after you've lightened their load. But have you thought about the unexpected benefits of helping others? The truth is that, in doing so you will also enter into a journey of spiritual and emotional growth. This growth, spurred by the unexpected joy that beams back at you as thanks, continues to enrich your life in unexpected ways.

Lost dog
Consider what may happen if you find someone's lost dog. You return the four-legged furball to its owner and you see the relief in the person's face upon its return. Do you stick around for a monetary reward? No, because the true reward is in seeing the love that emanates between the owner and the dog when they nuzzle up.

Pay it forward
The concept of paying it forward comes into play here. One helps others, then their good deed gets passed on to others, and so forth. And in doing so, you are generating goodness to multiples of people who are each receiving the same swelled emotions as repayment for their actions. Notice how you feel when you've just delivered food to the elderly or provided new clothes or books to an underprivileged family or helped raise money to help a community in trouble.

Building houses via Habitat for Humanity, for example, gives volunteers a great sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Knowing that they've contributed in giving someone a new home is a thrill that helps the giver understand that there is meaning in their efforts. These are all actions of goodness whose own reward is the act itself - and the camaraderie and passion of the people involved. These are feelings that make an essential contribution to your sense of well-being and identity.

Give of yourself
Furthermore, there is a therapeutic aspect to such endeavors. Say, when you've dodged the proverbial bullet in getting a cancer-free scan during your mammogram, try putting the relief you feel into helping others who weren't so lucky with their results. By joining an organization like Breast Cancer Action or doing a fund raising walk, you can raise funds for breast cancer research and obtain a sense of fulfillment from knowing that the sacrifice of walking 39 miles in two days (whew!) will help many. You'll also develop lasting relationships with your fellow walkers and maybe become more involved in the fundraiser over time. This transcends merely writing a check (not to discount that) and is a perfect example of how helping others can affect one's self of spirituality and emotions in the process.

Helpful vacations
There's nothing wrong in helping others while indulging oneself, either. Next time you're planning an exotic vacation, consider "humanitourism." Relief Workers International allows you to assist doctors while they treat people in various villages in India. This way, you're part Nurse Nightingale and part adventurer as you stay in comfortable tents in gorgeous natural settings. Inside/Out takes travelers to Zagoria, Greece to provide medical care for their dog population. After you're done helping out with the pooches, you can embark on an ecotour of the nearby mountains and waters. Roadmonkey's excursion takes vacationers on a week-long hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro then has them assist in the rebuilding of a school for kids who've been orphaned as a result of AIDS.

Think of how great you'd feel after seeing the difference you've made in someone's life. Imagine how that swell of emotion will help you ride out any storms in your own life. You're not just walking through life when you do these deeds - you're making a difference as it helps put your own problems in perspective.

Next time the opportunity occurs for you to help someone, do so happily and wholeheartedly. Don't expect monetary rewards. Just ride the wave of happiness you'll earn as the true reward for easing someone else's life. Remember: You can't touch someone else's life without also feeling touched in return.

Coach Sherrie says: As a teacher (or a parent) we pay it forward everyday, but when I actually have gone out of my way to help others, the benefits have been priceless. I believe in the adage "What goes around, comes around." (I got this from Bob Marley, but my Christian friends say it comes from the bible.) I have gotten so much more than I have given and I continue to reap the rewards! This coming from a person who spent much of her first 25 years just taking. It is so wonderful to be the giver now.

Message from Sylvia Browne

Daily Sylvia Message
"When we give our power away, we lose that essence of ourselves and become depressed. If we indentify too much with another person, we lose ourselves in the process, causing ourselves to fill with the sense of futility."

Coach Sherrie says: There is such great truth in this. For most of my life, I was giving away my power: to my mother, my father and later to boys. I was in relationships with men and I let them have all the power. Now that I am in a kind, loving and nurturing relationship, I can see that I had the power all along. I was just to timid to use it.
Speak your voice. Tell the truth. And be assured that whatever happens is meant to be.

Ask For Help

Ask For Help
4 tips to make it easier
by Maryam Henein
Why is asking for help so difficult? We need assistance but we just don't reach out. Instead we choose to suffer alone. With individualism running amok, one in four people say they have absolutely no one to confide in. How sad!

Of course it doesn't help that we live in a "suck it up and do-it-alone" culture. Our ingrained American independence is creating a culture of need and unprecedented isolation. But it doesn't have to be this way. Asking for help is a skill you can learn. Not only will it ease and enhance your life, it can deepen connections, reduce stress, restore energy and remind you that despite your grim determination to endure hardships, you are not alone!

If you find that you need a little more help than usual these days, try our four simple steps to reach out with more comfort and confidence. Trust us, it will make your life easier!

1. Ask early and often
This technique is based on an old political saying, "vote early and vote often," says Nora Klaver, master coach and author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need, the ultimate anti-self-help book. Building your mayday muscles requires regular practice. With exercise you can become more comfortable in your requests. And when you do ask for help, make sure you articulate. Clarify what you're looking for - from terms to timelines. But be careful not to micromanage - and don't wait till the last minute either. If you expect that you need help making the rent, don't wait until the 30th to get assistance.

2. Believe
Faith grounds our heart and soul. Believe that you are not alone and that your needs will be met, and you will be able to make your request for help from that place of centeredness, says Klaver. Your voice won't shake (or at least it will quiver less) and your request will be clear and strong. Rather than being filled with worry, you'll know that your need for a ride to a doctor's appointment will be met. You have the power to manifest!

3. Gracias
Remain grateful. Gratitude helps put your need into perspective. When you recognize all the blessings of your life, your need will be in proportion to those blessings. Gratitude will also help you to receive either the yes or the no response. With gratitude, if you hear a "no" to your request for help in watering your plants while you're in the Bahamas, you'll still recognize the gift - because now you're free to move on to another solution. Once you get someone to help you out, use the "three thanks" rule, says Klaver. Don't flub the thanks. Express your gratitude three times - when the agreement is struck, when the need has been met and the next time you see your helpmate.

4. Cast a wide net
Expand your list of helpmates. Look beyond the obvious - family and friends - and add some new names to the list. For instance if you need money to fund a project, keep in mind that there are organizations that are also looking for you. And when you do gather up the courage to ask for help, be attentive to the subtle cues behind a general "yes" or "no" response. Is your potential helpmate willing - or reluctant. Be honest. Rejection is a part of life. On a smaller scale, maybe you need someone to look after your beloved pet, while you are away, and maybe they need the nurturing of a furry friend who will love them unconditionally for a short while.

Just remember that we all need help at one time or another and that "interconnectedness" is part of a fulfilling, happy life. If you don't have a chance to help someone out, that feeling is impossible to come by. Also know that providing someone with the chance to give help can make them feel better as well. So ultimately, asking for help, isn't just all about you! Good luck.

Coach Sherrie says: Recently I have been asked for help and I have been asking for help. It is amazing how much we really do want to help each other. It is also impressive how helpful a small favor can be. Remember: some people are just waiting to be told HOW they can help. So, just try it and see what happens.

Find Answers In the Stillness

"True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions
to problems are found." - Eckhart Tolle

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Be Your Best Self

"Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of second rate
version of someone else."
BeVerly J. Sims

Find Your Voice

Find Your Voice!
Be aligned to speak your truth
by Maryam Henein
The fifth chakra, which is situated in the neck region, is associated with our soul's spiritual right of free expression. In other words, it's our ability to communicate and create. This energy center, called Vishuddhi in Sanskrit, enables us to discern between right and wrong. This chakra is also linked with playful detachment, diplomacy, and our capacity to relate to others.

When our fifth chakra is balanced, we speak our truth, listen with intent and live a creative life. We also display independence, truthfulness, and radiate lightness.

When this chakra is imbalanced, however, it's a completely different story. And it's not pretty. We display emotions of self-righteousness, secretiveness and evasiveness. If there's too much energy (excess) in the throat, you'll likely talk too much, talk in defense, listen little and have a bad habit of interrupting people. If you're deficient, you likely have a small voice, a fear of speaking, or difficulty putting feelings in words. Incidentally, the throat is associated with the thyroid gland and also the ears. Thus, blockages have as much to do with the capacity to listen as with the capacity to speak.

Balance your Seventh Chakra and Tap into the Oneness of the Universe Blocked energy
There are many things in life that can block the energy from flowing in, out and through this chakra. Lying, secrets and sending mixed messages are big ones, says Linda Darin, a New York-based psychotherapist who works and heals with the chakra system. Constant yelling or authoritative parents can also throw this chakra out of whack.

Throat chakra blockages are common, adds Christina Pope, an energy worker and massage therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona. "We often develop them as a child when were are told to be seen but not heard. 'Sit down and be quiet' is all about stifling this chakra."

As a result, you could develop a host of problems. You can develop a pesky cough or it could be more serious and deep-rooted and affect your thyroid. And of course, since all the chakras are connected, an ailment can manifest in another part of your body altogether.

Ways to find harmony
Fortunately there are many ways to harmonize the throat center. Try any (or all!) of the ones listed below:

1. Express yourself
Come on people! Get a hold of a pen and express yourselves. Don't plead the fifth! This chakra requires you to say what you need to say. Storytelling, letter writing, journaling and automatic writing are excellent ways to move energy, says Darin.

Why not make a fearless inventory of every relationship where you feel you don't have a say. Remove self-judgment - this is very important. Ask yourself why you don't speak. Are you a silent partner in a relationship? Does your partner make all the major decisions? Is it worth it? Did your mother have her say? In what ways are you like her?

2. Aromatherapy
Of the five senses, our sense of smell is the most primitive and most closely associated with our emotions and how our body responds to them. Aromatherapy can help you achieve a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. It can become a part of your daily routine. Essential oils related to the throat center (including geranium, eucalyptus, frankincense, lavender and jasmine) will relax yet energize this chakra - thus balancing our emotions linked to it, says Dr. Vivian Valenty, an innovative organic chemist who is originally from the Philippines.

3. Chromotherapy
Chromotherapy (or color therapy) uses color and light to balance energy in the body, be it physical emotional, spiritual, or mental. Blue is the color associated with the throat. Blue also denotes peace and tranquility. As a general rule, blue has a positive effect on all kinds of pain. You can use gemstones and candles to surround yourself with blue, or you can simply sip water from a blue glass, says Linda Oksman, a spa director and naturaphatic physician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Every time you sip, invision the water healing you. While you're at it, maybe add a little salt to your water and gargle. Better communication is facilitated by doing this.

4. Sounding
Since the fifth chakra involves the ears and throat, sound is an excellent way to retune your body and regain rhythmic harmony. Consider singing, chanting, and toning to release your voice and clear your throat chakra.

Try the "HU Technique," (simply sit quietly and close your eyes... then breathe in deeply and on the exhale, chant HU - pronounced hue). This sound technique is said to establish the frequency that intuition comes in on. It also re-tunes the body.

If you have an excessive fifth chakra, explore the interplay between sound and silence. Or consider a silent retreat where you focus inward and practice listening to yourself.

Affirmations are also very powerful, says Darin. Some affirmations she uses in her practice include: "I hear and speak truth," "my voice is necessary," and "I express myself with clear intent." Put post-its around your mirror and repeat them out loud and as often as you'd like.

Move your body
If you feel that your throat is lodged, try simply loosening your neck and shoulders. Better yet, treat yourself to a massage. Certain poses in yoga can also help open up and balance your fifth chakra. Shoulder stand is good, as is Jhalandara Bandha, also known as throat lock. During this pose, which is really an interior body "lock" used to control the flow of energy, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Inhale so the lungs are about two-thirds full, and then hold the breath in. Drop the chin down, and then draw the chin back closer to the chest so the back of the neck does not round. Then place your chin firmly on the chest.

The more free-flowing the energy of this chakra, the more you are able to speak your truth without fearing the consequences. When your fifth chakra is in balance, your will is alligned with the divine.

Coach Sherrie says: I've been doing ALL these things for about ten years now and I must say my life is totally different. I am married to a man who respects my opinion (the opposite of what it used to be). I also express my feelings, needs and ideas (which I used to be afraid to do) and am expressing myself creatively (Hopefully I will be publishing my novel soon!) AND, amazingly enough, I no longer get laryngitis several times a year. Of course, it is important to work on balancing all the chakras, but whatever you can do to balance your throat chakra will bring you much hapiness in your life.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 says: "Happiness = Serving Others"

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
~ Albert Schweitzer

Your TQ Training Challenge for Thursday, April 2, 2009:

Maintain The Best Diet for Maximum Strength and Stamina...

So What's The Game This Month?

Create small challenges and prizes for keeping to your nutrition programs. Keep this up until proper nutrition becomes a welcomed habit.

Good nutrition and healthful diet will ultimately create there own rewards.

"The real contest is always between what you've done and what you're capable of doing. You measure yourself against yourself and nobody else."~ Geoffrey Gaberino

Coach Sherrie says: I am loving the Schwarzbein way! It is so easy to stick to and I feel great!

Welcome to Weight Loss Coach Sherrie's Blog!

I am currently trying a new way of eating (forget about that nasty "D" word!). I am following the "Schwarzbein Principle" and learning ways to focus on creativity and taking care of ME. I am currently in Body Blissmas, a program started by Jill Badonsky. As I learn to focus on healthy eating and being happy and creative, I would like to help you do the same.

Are you currently trying to lose weight?