Happiness is a Skill, The Dangers of Impoverished Thinking and Coconut Muscle Mylk

bikeCall it what you will, bliss, contentment, excitement, enthusiasm, well-being, enchantment — happiness is a skill, a skill that needs to be trained and practiced daily.  My mind and body training includes a daily ritual (beginning around 5:30 am) of gratitude prayer, stoic philosophy studies, meditation practice, workout training (running, hiking, biking, swimming and high intensity interval training) and learning something new every single day.

Self- experiment for the day – to pay very careful, non-judgmental attention to the contents of my consciousness in the present moment. To watch my mind – to bring my soul into harmony with itself, and not let my purpose be out of tune. Seneca wisdom Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Why all this mind watching? Because it’s a over-crowded zoo in there.

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Through the Lens of Thought
What lens are you using? The way we see and think about things is the most powerful force that shapes our lives. Any impoverished thoughts that are brought into our perception are like poison for the brain. This would be thinking that is deprived of richness or strength; thoughts that are limited or depleted.  Yeah, these thoughts have to go.   Inspired by the wisdom of  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Lolas

Biking Plantation Run & Coconut Muscle Mylk from COMO Parrot Cay

Rode the sweet four-mile palm-covered path to the fresh coconut plantation on Parrot Cay. Yes they grow their own and serve it up for breakfast daily.

Coconut Muscle Milk

This delicious drink speeds muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and replenishing electrolytes and nutrients with 1 banana, 1/2 cup young coconut water, 3 slices of coconut meat, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of almond milk, handful of flax seeds, 3 dates and a few cocoa beans. Blend and replenish.

Unleashing Your Best Workout Every Day

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Visiting Parrot Cay (paradise in Turks & Caicos) and staying on track with my exercise routine has been extremely challenging. Staying disciplined with so many options is not easy. Definitely a first world problem, but a dilemma just the same. I also look a bit intense (crazy) doing squats, sit-ups and push-ups on this beach while everyone else is strolling by occasionally bending down to collect a beautiful seashell.

I’m so determined at home, where I have a daily routine – Spinning class, hills to hike, weights to lift and dance classes at the Y. Here, I have to use my imagination while working out with the same intensity. Do I hit the beach? go for a swim? (knowing that this crystal clear water is not something I get to dive into every day), do I bike? How can I possibly go indoors to the gym? Absolutely no way. How do I know that I am exerting the same energy? It’s time to get creative and make this beach my workout playground.

Now, I know what I am committed to – sweating and measuring out 10,000 steps before 8:00 am (thanks FitBitFitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black) and at least 20,000 for the day,  coupled with a daily dose of High Intensity Interval Training, but the sun, the sand, the sea, is distracting the hell out of me.

Unleashing Your Best Workout Everyday

Inspired this morning by Todd Henry, an arms dealer for the creative revolution and author of  The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice and  Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
These two books are definitely on my reading list.

During his interview on The Unmistakable Creative “Harnessing the Power of Your Authentic Voice“, Todd explains that in order to stay on track and successful you need to be decisive about how you are going to spend your time. Learn what to say no to is extremely important. If you are saying yes to everything you are saying yes to nothing.

When planning out a successful, results-driven, workout routine (and any creative project for that matter) you must set priorities using your finite resources (your focus, assets, time and energy).

Your focuswhat are you attempting to achieve? Your assetswhat tools do you have to work with? Your time  – how long do you have to workout/work/create today? and Your energyare you nourished? well-rested? ready to put in the time?

I’m very curious, what tips do you have for creating an intense workout routine while on vacation?

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

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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.

Blue moon beach

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It is one thing to read and listen to inspiring thoughts, another to put in the effort to practice them. So if life is made of precious moments than I am inspired to create moments that spark joy. To write a better story every day. To live with more intent.

Everything we do brings joy.

Brushing our teeth, cooking our breakfast, walking in the meditation hall — everything we do, every step, every breath should bring joy and happiness to us. Life is already full of suffering; we don’t need to create more. Read Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher mise en scène A beautiful blue moon beach picnic in Bayville, Long Island, New York.  A toast to another  long work week endured. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset this photo turned out to looking more like a painting with the VSCO Cam filter. serving up Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Recipe for a crisp coconut & lime shrimp and mango salad. chop and toss the following ingredients with olive oil 20 jumbo lime-soaked shrimp 2 ripe avocados 20 cherry tomatoes (quartered) 1 red onion 1 mango 2 red peppers toss with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil 1/2 cup of shredded coconut 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts Serve with sliced pumpernickel toast points sweetness honey drizzled figs & cold ripe organic cherries The sounds Listen – Astronauts, etc; Glass Animals, Crystal Fighters, Chet Faker, etc . . .

spotify:user:madelinemariejohnson:playlist:3rXEYCjemsQsmGJr0UM6lZ

The late night flick Holy Rollers – free on SnagFilms. I discovered this free indie film site via Tiny Buddha

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