If You Vision It, It Will Come
If one more loon tells me they have a vision board, I might lose it. Everyone and their best friend’s brother has one, it seems. Umm. Including me.
I signed up for a visioning workshop this past weekend put on by Kristina Leonardi, one of my favorite career coaches. I’m guilty; I’ll admit I like the idea of vision boards. If you can see it, you can believe it, right? And as soon as you believe, you can begin manifesting those visions. You’ve read or heard about The Secret; you know the drill.
Kristina’s workshop was based on the book Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams by Lucia Capacchione. Here’s how it worked. About 17 women gathered in a space, each equipped with bunches of magazines, tags, scissors and glue sticks. For about an hour, we sifted though O Magazine, Self, Cosmo, Yoga Journal, cutting out every image that grabbed our attention. In silence, no less, with instructions not to over think it too much. A hard task, especially for us ladies.
Kristina insisted we use our right brains instead of our left. She explained that we use our right brain for our intuition and creativity, but our left brain is analytical, practical and used mostly for survival. In our city, we overuse our left brain and give it way too much power.
So there I was, flipping through mags and squinting my right eye in an attempt to squeeze something out of my right brain. I must have looked pretty awkward, but nobody was about to comment in a room of silent women, so what did I care?
At the end of our day, everyone presented their collages. Mine looked pretty serene in comparison to the others. But, then again, I am looking for peace of mind; isn’t that what this blog is about? I cut and pasted a lot of greenery, lovely homes surrounded by lush nature, anything and everything yoga, and empowering statements like Be 100% You! I also couldn’t resist an image of a bride in front of a hot dog stand, getting proposed to with a hot dog! Don’t ask what that means!
I’m supposed to look at my board every day and wait for something to happen. “If you can dream it, you can do it!” Kristina wrote on our take-home flyers. “Your collage serves as a motivational magnet. Pay attention to clues and opportunities, and take action based on vision. The courage to grow is noticed by the Universe.”
OK, then. Here I go. My vision board is propped up on my armoire so that it’s the first thing I see when I wake. I’ll just have to hide it when guests come over, because I cannot have them thinking I’m one of those sweet loons!
It’s strange, though. Ever since the workshop, I’ve been really craving hot dogs.
Top Photo: Flickr
Check out Ilana’s blog, Downtown Dharma for more zen tips in the big city.
A Spiritual Diet
Confession time: I just ate a grilled steak and cheese sandwich for lunch, followed by carrot cake. OK, so I shared the carrot cake with a friend. And beta-Carotene, even when processed into bits, counts for something. Right?
Twenty guilty minutes later, I find myself cozying up to the book “A Course in Weight Loss” by Marianne Williamson at Barnes & Noble — all the while secretly hoping the first chapter would read “cheesy meat, butter and cake fat are your friends!”
Not quite. Marianne Williamson is one of the first self-help spiritual authors who made it mainstream with her best-selling, loved-by-Oprah book “A Return to Love” — basically the CliffsNotes version of “A Course in Miracles.” I read “A Return to Love” two summers ago, when I was hopelessly single and sharing a Hamptons house mostly filled with somewhat anxious, 30-something bachelorettes. It was my beach bible and helped me find an inner calm, especially when the ovary freezing conversations came up at breakfast.
Now Williamson tackles weight loss in her latest book, which not surprisingly also has been embraced by Oprah, a woman who has seen numbers large and small on her own scale. The book doesn’t pitch a specific diet or share nutritional techniques. Rather, it encourages its readers to love their inner selves and allow their outer selves to take shape automatically. It sounds much easier than Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to me.
“Neither poor diet nor lack of exercise are the cause of your excess weight,” Williamson writes. “Mind is the cause; body is effect. The cause of your excess weight is in your mind. The cause of your excess weight is fear, which is a place in your mind where love is blocked… The purpose of this course is to root out your fear, and to replace it with an inestimable love… Only the power of love can overcome the power of hate, and make no mistake about it: your unhealthy eating is an act of self-hate.”
Williamson offers 22 spiritual lessons for addressing your weight forever in this book. One of her lessons teaches you to love the not-thin you — she even suggests you write her a letter. Because she won’t go away until she is listened to. (Oh, snap!)
And since she is known for giving amazing, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures, I was excited to have the chance to see her speak at the B&N this past week. An attractive, petite little thing, this spiritual way to diet clearly works for her. She’s soft-spoken, but her words are powerful and moving. When I got home, I took out my carrot sticks started writing my letter.
“Feel free to continue eating cheesy meat and cake,” I wrote my less-than-perfectly-thin self. “Just make sure it’s food that you’re really hungry for, okay? And pay attention to what you pull out of the freezer — strangely, it might look and feel like ovaries.”
Top Photo: Flickr
Check out Ilana’s blog, Downtown Dharma for more zen tips in the big city.
3 Tips To Turn Your Confidence Around
I was speaking with a dear friend the other day, and she was feeling as though she couldn’t attract a bee even if she were honey. The thing is, she is an incredible woman! But, I think we’ve all felt this way at times — I distinctly recall shrinking into the corner of the room at parties, avoiding social events, and just plain feeling down about myself.
Then one day I realized I wasted too much time worrying about my imperfections, and not enough time focusing on the good stuff (I think a friend actually pointed it out to me). I’ve learned to embrace my uniqueness, because we are all magnetic; and it has nothing to do with the way we look!! It’s simple, and we all deserve to have a life we love…
To turn your confidence around instantly, keep these 3 tips in mind:
*To Be a Magnet, You Must Radiate Magnetic Energy
If you think you are lonely and boring, what will you attract? A wet mop if you’re lucky! You’ve got to exude confidence so that others will be automatically attracted to you. Confidence comes from knowing what you have to offer the world, so take a course in YOU! We often forget who we are as we get lost in life’s rat race. Spend some time identifying your best qualities, and only focus on them. Your best qualities will expand, and get even better as a result. People will be drawn to you – see it happening every time you enter a room, and you will radiate magnetic energy!
*Love Yourself First
Don’t pick yourself apart or wish your life away. You’ve got to be your best friend, and love the person you are today, flaws and all! Be proud of every bit of who you are, and then you will nurture yourself well. The way we see ourselves is the way the world sees us. If we walk into a party and think “My butt looks big in this, no one will talk to me.” Then, the signal we’re transmitting is that we want to be left alone. Instead, love your curves, love who you are, and think, “I look fabulous, and I will meet many new people tonight!” I guarantee you’ll spend the night chatting away, and feeling great!
*Live Every Minute
Time going quickly is more than just a cliché. It’s a fact that our lives can pass us by if we don’t really live them. Embrace life, and live it! Do the things you love to do, and you will attract new people and experiences into your world all of the time. If you love nature, find places to go for hikes, get out and commune with nature. If you are a writer, buy a journal, grab a pen, and start writing. We spend too much time thinking about the things we wish we were doing, instead of just doing them!! People are attracted to those who are authentic, and live their lives with passion. Engage in life, make the most of every experience you have, and you will be (as the song goes) simply irresistible!
Inner Peace In The City
If you’re like me, you need to live in a city with a pulse.
Unfortunately, that pulse too often comes at the cost of high blood
pressure. I’m sometimes overwhelmed by New York City’s seemingly
endless options of love, careers, and even Thai take out. Many of my
friends exist on a permanent adrenaline rush. They run around, make
connections, and check off to-do lists without any sense of
fulfillment. The harried “I’m on the go” look isn’t so cute, either.
We all want to be successful, but true success can’t happen without
inner peace and focus. Try out the following techniques to jump-start
some mental and emotional togetherness. If you master these
techniques, blissed-out energy flows are sure to reach you even through cemented sidewalks and stiletto heels.
1. Put You First
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be an ounce of good to
anyone else. In the big picture, therefore, it’s not selfish to put
yourself first: It’s mandatory. Fill your cup so it can spill over by
incorporating an hour of “You Time” every day. It doesn’t matter if
you spend that hour reading, writing, people-watching out the window
of a café, or getting a manicure. And try putting your own well-being
before your boss, partner or family member. Remember: When you’re
happy, they will be happier.
2. Start Your Day with Stillness
Sit still for a 10- to 20-minute meditation every day before leaving
your home. It sounds tougher to schedule than it is! When the dust
settles in your head, everything you do will seem clearer and smart
decisions will come more easily. I get a natural high after 20 minutes
of meditation that beats any martini or tag sale. Stillness tunes you
into who you really are—not who you think you are. If you absolutely
can’t sit still, throw on a soothin meditation CD or join a class to
lead you to silent mental bliss.
3. Go Inward
You can find satisfaction in things, places or activities for all of
three minutes before you find yourself chasing the next thing for
another fix. I used to run around thinking if I focused on certain
hobbies or went to the right events, I would be happier. Find that
high or satisfaction with yourself first: It’s more lasting and
genuine. Doing yoga and mediation helps me with this daily.
4. Check Your Community
We all have friends, but some may cause more chaos than peace in your
already-busy days. Make a list of the people in your life and
determine who drains your good vibes, and who adds to your well-being.
The saying “You are the company you keep” is right on. Cool it with
your unsupportive friends and those erring toward the dramatic. You’ll
see a major shift toward peace in the city.
5. Do One Thing at a Time
This might be the toughest task to tackle. Each morning, I force
myself to make a list of my three biggest goals. I work on each
individually throughout the day. The key is to be conscious and focus
on each goal separately before checking it off your list and moving
6. Let Go
Get the “shoulds” out of your vocabulary and accept and love where you
are in life now. Fretting over how much harder you should be working,
or how much more you should be going out, or how long you should have
already been married is unproductive and damaging. Pressure, worry and
negativity only keep you stuck. Be patient and accepting of where you
are in life—you’re there for a reason, if not a lesson.
7. Stop Complaining
Many city-goers are cynics who proudly complain about everything. It
may have been funny on Seinfeld, but it’s not so helpful in your life.
Whatever you pay attention to, grows. So if you’re bemoaning crowded
trains, a lack of dates, and an annoying boss, you’ll just get more
that in your life. Try putting together a “gratitude list” each
morning of 10 things you love about your life. E-mail it to friends,
or keep the list in a notebook. You’ll notice it grows quickly.
It’s not easy living in a city’s hussle-and-bustle; but don’t let that
dictate the world you live in. Relax and enjoy your time in the city.
It’s fast, fleeting, and worth every skip, hop and breathe.
Top Photo: Flickr
10 ways to get HOT for Summer (and I don’t mean sweaty-hot)!
Yeah, it’s clearly time to get with it and kill it in a bikini this summer. Sick of that back fat behind your jeans? Want to get rid of that jiggle on those arms? Hate the way your ass used to sit high, and now gravity is winning?? Then fight back! It’s time to make some changes and GET HOT for Summer 2012 kids.
#1 – Get off your ass. If you’re not working out 5x a week for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, than you have nobody else to blame. Get moving, run, swim, bike, surf, jog, practice: yoga, meditation, tennis, join a recreational sport team, sign up for a class, get off your ass and do something to make it hot. A few of my favorites? A nice run across the Brooklyn bridge to “get away”, a stroll in Central Park, a city escape and beach run back on the Cali Coast, a 2 hour surf session at D Street in San Diego, or a hot bikram yoga session.
#2 – Swap to Stevia: Want to save hundreds of calories a day? Naturally?? Well get with it! Get to using Stevia in the Raw instead of your chemical sweeteners or tons of high-fructose corn syrup, you will fee that fat disappear. Swap to stevia in the raw for a few months and see if you notice a difference? I call it my 30 day stevia challenge. See if you can get with it! Naturally sweet, satisfying and ZERO calories. You’ll be saving calories and inches this summer. Make the swap!
#3 Be HAPPY! – The sexiest people are the happiest people, so change your perspective, change your outlook, change the way you feel. It’s not up to them, it’s going to be up to you. As my sister says you will attract more bees with honey. “I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”— Audrey Hepburn
#4 Learn how to COOK again!- Taking charge of all of your cooking will save calories, cash and keep that waist hot! So learn to cook yourself hot by using less butter and oils, limit your caloric intake by 500 calories a day. Cook for yourself, cook brekkie, pack your lunch and make your dinner! Get better control of your caloric intake, fat content and cook yourself satisfied!
#5 Skip- it!- Im not talking about that 80′s half-jump rope thangy that we grew up with, although it was pretty fun and prob does burn calories? I mean skip- the dessert, that last drink, the side of fries, the large milkshake, the butter on your popcorn or those mashed potatoes drenched in bacon bits, or the worst—side of fat-ass ranch dressing. Skip-it and save hundreds of calories and get a slim, hot waist!
#6 EAT PROTEIN – Get more protein into you diet! Research shows that people that consume more lean protein will burn more fat, and calories and will thus keep you leaner and meaner. Some of my favorite foods for lean protein? – Salmon, canned tuna, garbanzo beans, tofu, soba noodles, eggs, almonds.
#7 Swap it! Instead of butter go for extra-virgin olive oil, instead of soda go for sparking water, instead of gobs of cheese sauce or ranch dressing go for salsa. Make smarter choices, swap it everyday and swap out that fat-ass for a hot one.
#8 Eat your Greens!- Greens will keep you more vibrant, healthy, fresh, they contain antioxidants that will keep you fighting those free-radicals that will cause cancer! Greens should be juiced, salad (ed) (new word), sauteed, grilled, roasted, braised, boiled, steamed into your diet everyday! Become a greener person and become hotter overnight!
#9 Get Smarter!- Consume more omega 3 laden foods and get smarter. Cause, like I always say, being smart is hella hot. Being dumb?? Well that’s just plain ol’ moronic… Watch this segment with the lovely Dr Oz and I. We explain different types of omega 3 foods that will boost your metabolism and keep you hot as hell.
#10 Commit- Commit to being healthy, happy and sexy. If you want rock-hard abs and a sweet-ass, then work for it. Nothing says sexy more than a commitment! Tell yourself that you will make better choices, you will put down the low-carb- full of sugar bars, full of sugar shakes and sugar laden sodas and you will get back on the health wagon. Cause if you want to roll with hot, you’ve got to be hot!
Word up, keep it hot + sexy people xx ck
Intuition: Are You Tuned In?
As a child, I loved making decisions by flipping a coin. Heads or tales, “Which guy should I sit next to at lunch?” I would ask myself. Coin flipping backfired after a while when I found myself sitting next to my French teacher, who didn’t appreciate my overtly “friendly” nature.
Later in college, I used my analytic skills to handle my forks in the road — making lists and calculating risks. My decisions were created from equations, which didn’t work well either. During sophomore year, my calculations led me to break the heart of my long-time boy friend and move out of the country for a year. Needless to say, neither my boyfriend or mother were thrilled with me.
Today, I still struggle with indecision now and then, and what path to take, personally and professionally. It doesn’t help that we live in a time with infinite choices, information and potential directions — which can perplex the most focused people.
Barksdale is a sweet, soulful and wise African American woman who defied all odds in her working class community to become a successful businesswoman and founder of a top home care services corporation.
She writes, “One of the most important elements of success–both in life in general and in business in particular–is making use of your intuition. Trusting your instincts, listening what your gut tells you to do, may not always be entirely accurate, but my experience suggests that even when it’s not right–and it usually is–it can intimately
lead you in the most useful direction.”
Barksdale trusted her instincts and it lead her to take out loans to start her own business — even when she needed to support her family and pay for her kids’ college educations. But, her instincts were dead on and eventually her to create a profitable and extremely successful business. Many business women and men are more interested in their spreadsheets to help guide and grow their businesses, which can be big mistake in the end. Our instincts are our inner compass and the best guide we have.
How do know when you’re listening to your instincts or that crazy voice in your head that should be sent away for treatment? Your instincts come from your heart and your gut area. They are subtle and feel like a gentle pull. The way to feel your instincts is to sit still, not force an answer and just relax. When we are nervous or filled with anxiety — the right answers won’t be clear.
These days, I’m sitting still often and listening to my intuition before making any rash decisions about boyfriends or my career. I feel less anxious when questions present themselves. I know that if I stay calm, patient and listen to that heart of mine, I’ll be headed exactly where I need to go. Hopefully this time, it won’t tell me to flee the country.
Meditation: Relax Your Mind In The East Village
Meditation is like an acceptable version of napping—it recharges you, clears your head, and helps you escape your daily stresses. The practice is the perfect way to unwind, silence a frantic mind, and cope with the downtown pace of life. How can you pass that up?
You feel the essence of who you really are when you are in stillness, says yogi Alan Finger of Ishta Yoga in the East Village. The static in your mind settles; and you can can see your life more clearly. Meditation removes your fears and anxieties while keeping you happy throughout your day for no reason at all. Sounds like the cornerstone of true bliss and cheaper than therapy.
After your silence ends, you’ll be surprised at how easily these new-found senses of stillness and calm stay with you during your bustling day. “While the effects of other stress-reducing techniques wear off,” says Ethan Nichtern, director of the NYC-based nonprofit Interdependence Project, “meditation teaches you how to remain peaceful in the midst of living in the city—not just escape it.”
If you have have trouble getting to a quiet personal space on your own like most New Yorkers, sign up to meditate with a group or guide. The goal is to get in at least 20 minutes of meditation daily.
Here are some popular meditation spots in the East Village:
Allan Finger Sessions at Ishta Yoga
56 East 11th Street
302 Bowery NY, NY
Classes Ana Fox @ Dance Forum NY
20 East 17th Street
19 Clinton Street, Suite 205
Ilana Donna Arazie is a blogger and vlogger based in NYC who chronicles stories about living your best life in a big city. Her stories have been featured on the Associated Press, Chicago-Sun Times, Yahoo, The Travel Channel and other media outlets. She is the founder of Downtown Dharma.com , a site that is a bit of Cosmo meets Deepak Chopra, offering deep yet fun insights into finding peace and meaning.
Stuck In A Rut? 3 Quick Tips to Escape Mediocreland
Wake-up alarm sounds. Hit snooze button. Steal ten minutes more sleep. Groan. Take shower. Get dressed. Get coffee. Shuffle off to the subway. Head into work. Slump into chair. Check email. Check Facebook. Meet deadlines. Waste time chatting. Watch clock. Check Facebook again. Check clock. Sneak out early. Try to get a cab. Pack back into the subway. Go to gym. Get groceries. Make dinner. Watch TV. Check Facebook. Go to bed. Repeat.
Are you stuck in a rut and ready to change up the same ol’ routine? Motivational guru Shawn Anderson shares three quick rut-escaping tips for those who need emergency advice and are living the same day over…and over…and over:
TIP #1: Quit living in Mediocreland.
Stuck on mediocrity? Well, look in the mirror at the person responsible. It’s you. You created your average-ness…and you can un-create it, too. Want out of the rut? Quit making excuses, quit pointing fingers, and quit waiting for a miracle to fly you out of Mediocreland. If you’re ever going to leave the world of average, you need to start creating the changes you seek. Cast a vision. Create a plan. Take massive action. Passive residents are not allowed to fly.
TIP #2: Don’t expect an overnight miracle.
It’s impossible to go from “ice cold” (in the rut) to “red hot” (out of the rut) overnight. Massive change just doesn’t happen that way. Don’t expect it. Do expect, though, that you can grow to “red hot” if you hold yourself accountable to take one step a day towards the changes you want in your life. Single steps daily add up to big changes eventually.
TIP #3: Don’t wait for perfect.
Waiting for the perfect scenario to unfold before making changes? Your reasons to wait before taking action might sound good in your head now. The problem is that five years down the road those same reasons will probably still exist…and you’ll probably still be in a rut. Life is too short to wait for the stars to fall into perfect alignment before we take life action. Live and live now. Otherwise, waiting too long for the right risk-taking moment eventually leads to paralyzing fear…which leads to complacency…which leads to “I don’t care” acceptance.
“My feeling is ‘we get one life’ so why ever choose to live it with anything less than our deepest passion and most ardent dedication? We create the life we live…one way or another,” Anderson says.
Shawn Anderson is a six-time author, keynote speaker and motivational success coach. His “go the extra mile” philosophy and ability to produce results have been praised by political leaders, world record holders and media outlets across the world. His book titles include A Better Life: An Inspiring Story About Starting Over and Extra Mile America: Stories of Inspiration, Possibility and Purpose. For more information, visit www.ShawnAnderson.com.
What Pharrell, The UN and Social Media Have To Do With Getting Happy
Did you know that tomorrow is International Happiness Day? Yes, the United Nations declared March 20 International Happiness Day, recognizing that happiness and well-being are essential parts in “progress” for nations around the world. Launched in 2012, the day aims to “(create) a happier society” which “requires action at all levels – not just from political leaders and institutions but also from us as individual citizens.
Even singer Pharrell Williams, still basking in the glow of his chart-topping and GRAMMY-nominated single, “Happy,” is even doing his part to spread the happiness movement. Starting on Monday March 10, fans are encouraged to post YouTube videos of themselves dancing to Pharrell’s catchy track Happy with the hashtag #HAPPYDAY, which they will then submit to Pharrell’s new website 24 Hours of Happiness. The musician will then pick the best submissions at noon from each time zone of the world, on March 20.
So, what else can we as haggard New Yorkers do to reclaim our happiness?
Project Happiness, which teaches the skills for greater well-being to students around the world, is working with Action for Happiness to bring together a network of like-minded organizations and people to expand happiness everywhere. One of the quickest ways to get involved is to celebrate acts of generosity, kindness, enthusiasm and connection — focused on bringing happiness to others. It’s easier than one may think to ACT:
A: Affirm the pledge – make a personal pledge to create more happiness in the world
C: Cheer Happy Heroes – celebrate the people who bring happiness to you and others
T: Take part – do something to mark the day and spread some happiness
Wherever you are in the world you can take part on the International Day of Happiness by:
• Cheering your Happy Heroes or using the #happyheroes hashtag on Twitter
• Sharing what you’re doing on the day using Cheers or the #happyday hashtag on Twitter.
C’mon, let’s get happy!
5 Places to Get Centered in the City.
Sinatra said it all when he sang the words, “I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep.” Waking up is the key here, for if you are spending your days in a trance from lack of sleep or you feel like a hamster on a wheel at work, then how are you ever going to be the king – or the queen – of the hill and top of the heap?
It’s easy to feel off-balance, especially if you live in New York City. External demands and the fast pace often result in internal pressure, which is inevitably affecting your day, your relationships, your mind and your body. So how can you get centered in the city?
Here are 5 places to get centered in the city:
- New York Open Center– Committed to holistic learning and world culture, NY Open Center offers a variety of programs including lectures, classes, certification programs, yoga, and volunteer opportunities. They attract amazing speakers/teachers like Dr. Michael Beckwith and Marianne Williamson and attract like-minded participants. They recently moved to a new location: 22 East 30th Street.
- Sacred Center New York – If you’re seeking a spiritual community that will support you in going deeper in your personal growth by giving you tools to live a prosperous life, then look no further. Sacred Center New York, led by the dynamic Rev. August Gold, holds a service each Sunday where Western teachings are blended with Eastern philosophies, music fills the room, and all are welcome. Classes and guest speakers like “The Secret’s” Lisa Nichols, are also offered each month.
- Meta Center New York – Dedicated to raising consciousness, healing, personal growth, transformation and creativity, the Meta Center offers workshops and lectures on all of these topics. This educational center has been Feng Shui aligned and you feel it the second you walk in. Founded by Jodi Serota, META stands for Multi-dimensional Education and Transformational Arts Center.
- Kabbalah Centre – If you want to get on the same, spiritual page as Demi, Ashton and Madonna, this is your place. Through classes, books, webinars and one-on-one instruction, you will learn how to apply the ancient wisdom of the Kabbalah – the study of how to receive fulfillment – to everyday life.
- Chopra Center & Spa – Deepak Chopra has created a space in the Dream Hotel to help “calm the chaotic lives of busy New Yorkers”. How much do we love this guy? This center offers workshops, yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic spa treatments designed to bring balance to the mind and body.Here’s to you getting centered in the city!
Stefanie Ziev is a Certified Life Coach who helps people discover what makes them happy by developing a healthy relationship with themselves the way they would a friend or a partner. Stefanie coaches individual and corporate clients, leads seminars and speaks to groups about a variety of topics related to consciously developing a healthy and committed relationship with one’s self and one’s life. Her approach is creative, fun, and direct as she holds clients accountable to themselves throughout this powerful and transformational process. For more infomation on Stefanie or her services go to www.ZievCoaching.com