The Secret to a Super Successful Day

the-coolest-hotel-in-every-state-and-dcThis human being is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness,

Comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house and
empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Poem by Rumi

A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings

On the other hand . . .

not_my_circus_not_my_monkeys_poster-rc84903c43b174247b01ca0072c7c72a9_is56p_8byvr_1024

Safin Taxes-1

“The sweetness of adventures is in unpredictability. Life is a great thing, it’s new meetings, feelings, changes. I do not fear anything, and everything interests me. I could travel, be friends, visit as a guest. What more could I wish for? The fact that we could sit, watch, speak and normally cross the street – that is already happiness! One should value, what one has.”
Marat Safin

Home is Everywhere We Are

While I have lived and have traveled to some pretty amazing places, I have always felt that my true home, my refuge, was in my heart and in this present moment right now.turtle_scientific_illustration2_thumbHome, you have sought it everywhere, but you are already there.

Home, the flowing river of the heart.

Love holding you in close embrace.

Home, it’s not a place but a state of being.

Enjoy more poetry from Danna Faulds
Go In and In: Poems From the Heart of Yoga

Courage, Grit and Grace

It takes courage to come home to the here and the now. To arrive in the place in our heart, our home, to feel the connection to what is real right now. Courage to feel the real emotions we may not want to feel. The anger, the resentment, the fear. I am incredibly inspired by Tara Brach’s Meditation Talks and her first book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Today I choose the courage to feel what is real over the temporary comfort of numbing the pain. It takes courage to seek the answer to the question – What am I unwilling to feel?  The process can be painful, but it is also quite liberating.

heart

The root of the word courage “cor” is Latin for “heart”. True courage requires living with heart-felt intent.

A Sky Like Mind, Active Abs and The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Have you thought about what pace feels right for you? At times I do have a need for speed and love the energy and creativity that feels supercharged in big cities like Manhattan. Right now, I feel the need to breath deeply, chill out and slow down to refocus. Not unplug, just down shift to first or maybe second gear.

Something clicked the minute I stepped off the plane at Providenciales. An assuring voice inside my head delivered a comforting message “a more intentional pace.” This slower island pace. Not the harried, brisk and hurried hustle of New York, but the more deliberate and intentional easiness, much like the gentle movement of the waves and soothing breezes of this island.  I am not describing a snail-like, creeping, lazy/boozy pace, but that of speaking, thinking, walking and working which is more conscious, considered and purposed. More thoughtful living. This is the pace for now.

And so it goes with meals, especially meals together. My memories of my youth bring me back to four hour dinners around the long outdoor communal table, under the grapevines, with my loud and excited extended Italian family. The never-ending conversations, the slow and relaxed experience of enjoying a meal together.

The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating begins with an intention to create an experience. Setting the mood, dimming the lights, selecting soft and slower music and smaller plates,  create an atmosphere for mindful eating.  Imagine setting a stage to enjoy and savor your meal. This mindful eating ritual can be extended to any meal – from breakfast to dinner. For more tips on mindful eating, check out Dara Rose, PhD, neuroscientist, foodist, author and the creator of Summer Tomato.

I start my meals by saying grace. Sometimes privately, sometimes with my family. Saying grace can transform a mere meal into an act of celebration, focus, and gratitude.

Listening to meditation talks from Tara Brach, I actually envisioned what she describes as “A Sky Like Mind“, a more expansive mind that allows me to open to the very healing, healthy and beautiful moment that is right now, this healing presence.  Tara’s podcasts and book, Radical Acceptance has really helped release the fear, worry and pain that stems from the mental swirl of anxious activity, the grasping and wanting that only proves to enslave my mind.

It is by meeting each moment throughout the day with radical acceptance for what ever is going on and holding those feelings that arise with a compassionate and open heart, a forgiving heart, this is feels like true freedom.

Reading
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Active Abs

With everything moving at a slower pace this week, I had the opportunity to try Pilates class for the first time. One of the slowest classes I have attended in a long time, a slight pick up from yoga, nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.  The one reminder that I have walked away with today is Active Abs and focusing on my posture, especially when sitting at my desk for hours at end.  Two exercises to help you feel your abdominal muscles correctly.

A Beginner’s Mind, The Power of the Mindful Pause and Cultivating Self-Compassion

smile

As with everything I do, I try to keep a beginners mind.  Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

Although I’ve been challenging myself daily to improve my mental and physical health and wellness, each morning requires a daily reset – a reboot to remind myself of my hopes, dreams and aspirations.   If I don’t awake each day with this reminder to tread this path leading to a more deliberate and intentional life, than I backslide. It’s similar to training at the gym, I find that my mind must also be trained, daily.

The Power of the Purposeful Pause

Communication experts will tell you to be aware of the power of silence between conversations. When the other person finishes speaking, take a breath, relax and smile before saying anything. They know that “the pause” is a key part of improving communication and relationships.

I’ve been reading Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance and I am going to share  her mindful technique of practicing the purposeful pause.  Now, while pausing when having a conversation with others is always an intelligent idea, pausing to listen to the conversations happening inside your own head is another. To bow to this experience happening within and around you, whatever it is, right now.

For example, if I’m worried about an argument I had with someone and thoughts of revenge fog my brain, I pause, accept that this is how I am feeling right now, I do not fight it and just accept it and let it go. It’s powerful. Actually recognizing the pain helps make way for a better decision, a better outcome.

Cultivating Self-Compassion

We can practice radical acceptance (note: Tara is not talking about building a victim narrative here), by pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside of us with an unconditional friendliness and compassion. The way you might treat your best friend or brother or sister.

I practice remembering that I cannot be a fair weather friend to myself. I will not push away anger, jealousy, or pain. Instead I will treat myself with compassion and understanding and recognize the anguish of this moment. This will allow me to create a safe haven for my vulnerability and to be present to the healing that can happen in my mind.

Recommended Reading from Tara Brach
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Maintaining Weight Loss, Healthy Eating on the Go and Spicing up any Damn Diet

spices

I have friends and family that live in the (new) Brooklyn. They are the cynical Williamsburg creatives.  So, when they asked me how I managed to shed 25 lbs, I’d channel my inner hipster-poser persona and told them I was adhering to a low cal, gluten-free, nutrient dense, slow carb, high-fiber, anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy, process-free, no sugar diet. Say what?  They would just look at me.thumb

Weight Loss Maintenance & Practicing Radical Self-Acceptance

I’ve been at my healthy goal weight since the end of May and I am not striving to meet the media standards of a perfect body. I don’t compare myself to anyone; I’m just really excited about finally paying some attention to myself and appreciate the gradual process of self-improvement; the small steps that I take each day while unveiling my best self. I am anxious about enough things in my life, I don’t need to add anxiety while transforming to a calmer, more peaceful person.

Get Inspired, Read
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Food Journaling

So what really works for me? Food journaling and staying really active. Read: like sweating every day for 60 – 90 minutes a day active. I say “works” and not “worked” because you can’t possibly think it’s over when you hit your goal weight. Oh, no, you’ve just begun. This is about lifetime change with lasting results. Now comes the daily discipline part. Almost harder than reaching the weight loss goal.   I started with the LoseIt app and now I use the Fitbit Charge. It is my third FitBit. The first two “Zip” style Fitbits just popped off my sports bra while I was out hiking. But that’s kind of just like me. Would you know I still look for my last lost Fitbit when I lunge through the intermediate school field? It’s been six months and I’m still tracking back my last steps. Talk about OCD.

Eating healthy on the go

I’m traveling to some of the hottest (and I mean degrees) places this month – Arizona, the Caribbean and South Florida; so the key to continued disciplined success with the slow carb lifestyle is planning ahead, especially while eating on the go. Just thinking about the food options at JFK makes me nuts. Now, the first thing I do when I get to my destination is hit the grocery store, to buy wine, because you can’t buy wine in a supermarket in NY. I think it’s so amazing that you can buy wine, and like a decent Sauvigon Blanc, at Publix in Punta Gorda.

No Need for Snacking

So there is no snacking on the slow carb diet. Just eat more of what you made for lunch and/or dinner.  However, when I slip into my let’s-worry-about-everything-going-really wrong mind, I imagine myself being stranded in the airport, hurricane conditions, with no food and freaking out about what I going to eat. So I always have a snack, but I rarely ever eat it, that crumbled (and probably stale) Nature Valley Peanut Butter bar thing at the bottom of my bag.

One thing about nuts

While they are healthy for you and permitted on the Four Hour Body slow carb diet in small quantities, I never snack on nuts, they are just too fattening. Best you don’t eat them at all. Don’t even start.

Curious about The Four Hour Body? Read more

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Dining Out

Dining out includes scouting cafes and restaurants (prior to your arrival) that have great salads. Salad with chicken,  salad with shrimp or chicken with vegetables, Thai chicken with vegetables, steak fajitas, riceless sushi, lettuce wraps, and when in a bind, a burrito bowl, hold the rice, at Chipolte.

When I am cooking at home I have found it’s the seasonings that spark joy with the slow carb diet. I typically grill and slice chicken breast and/or steak and toss them in the skillet with Goya small white beans and broccoli florets with spinach. My family is so sick of this meal. Oh well.

A word about all those beans on the slow carb diet – the easiest I found to digest Goya Premium Small White Beans 15.5 oz .

Here is what I ate for six months straight this past winter to lose the weight.

Breakfast

two scrambled eggs, beans and spinach or broccoli

(or whatever left over veggies I had in the fridge.)

Lunch

see chicken with broccoli above. Don’t forget the beans.

Dinner

see lunch.

The best thing to do is not make food a “thing” any more.  Make like you are a car and the food is your fuel. But just to keep things interesting, I change it up with some spices.

My favorite spices so far (and I am open to suggestions, so please share)

Dave’s Gourmet 6 Pure Dried Chiles, 1.97 Ounce

McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning, 29 ounce

Casina Rossa Truffle and Salt by Nicola de Laurentiis, 3.5 oz

Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Sweet Lime Pepper – 2.5 oz

Additional Tips from fans of the Four Hour Body

Everything you need to know about the slow carb diet @medium @liftapp.

Traveling and the Slow Carb Diet Slow Carb Diet.

A note about garlic

I do this thing with garlic in all my dishes. I chop it and brown it (slightly) and put it on everything except my eggs. Warning, I just read that leaving the garlic in the olive oil to “cool” at room temperature is dangerous – something about botulism. Who knew? So eat it hot. Roasted chopped garlic is a great replacement for fattening bacon on a bunless burger.

Are you a slow carb eater? I’d love to hear what has been successful for you.