Monthly Archives: November 2010

Passion Play

‘Tis the season. Yes, it’s that time of year where things shine a little brighter, and emotions run a little higher. Both good and bad. We’re just coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, which was hopefully a time for pause and reflection. But what about the other 364 days of the year? Why do we limit gratitude to one day only? What would happen if we started off each day focused on the things that bring us joy?

I’ve recently rediscovered one of my passions in life: music. I can’t tell you how much this remembering has changed my very core. I am happier, significantly happier. If I feel stressed, down, tired, upset or emotional – I put on music. I sing and dance around my house, and I remember the pure joy of doing something with passion. And I feel grateful. I’ve learned that the two go hand in hand, actually. Gratitude is not a solemn emotion, to be expressed seriously and with quiet meditation. Gratitude is joy-full! When we feel gratitude, we tend to feel happier. It simply makes sense. And the key to unlocking a perpetual stream of joy and gratitude in your life is reclaiming your passion.

It doesn’t matter what your passion is. Personally, I believe we all have many. What matters is that you remember one. Just one, and then you run with it. You incorporate it into your life in little ways, and you simply enjoy the pleasure of it. I think what you’ll find is that everything around you becomes a little easier, a little brighter and you will feel brighter, too, even during the “stress” of the holiday season. In fact, you might be able to ward off any stress if you make the decision to have a little dose of passion every day, starting now. For me, it’s music. It’s easy, and yet I had forgotten all about it. Now, all I have to do is pop in a CD, open my mouth, take a breath and sing! And voila – instant joy, which leads to pure gratitude. Ahhh. . . .

This week, as things start to pick up and get into full swing with family, parties, obligations, etc. take a moment to remind yourself what it means to feel joy and gratitude, and then know that one key that unlocks the door to those feelings is to experience your life with a daily dose of passion.

Fear and Gratitude

A favorite quote/mantra of mine: “Fear cannot live in a grateful heart.” Not sure where I first heard it or who said it – but it has been a guiding light in many a situation over the years. More recently, however, it has been a great tool that I have shared with clients, friends and family. And now I’d like to share it with you during this week in which we focus on giving thanks. Here’s how it works:

1) Think of something that causes you fear, anxiety or worry. Think of it, see it, and then FEEL it. Recognize that feeling within your body, physically. Sit with it for as long as you need, in order to commit it to memory – but not more than a minute, if you can last that long!

2) Now think of something for which you are grateful. Anything. The day, the weather, family, friends, a child, even your car or a new pair of shoes. Sit with this and truly feel the gratitude you have for whatever this is as it fills your body with love and joy. Allow that feeling to permeate every corner and every cell. Enjoy it. (you can sit with this one for as long as you want.)

Ok – now you know the two feelings and you have committed them to memory. Here comes the life-altering part: Whenever you have even the tiniest twinge of fear, like in the first part of the exercise, whether it shows up and registers as fear or not you now know what it is. You have a memory of it and a barometer, of sorts. When these feelings show up in your body, take a breath and switch into gratitude. Again, it can be gratitude for anything. Gratitude for the train being on time, or your coffee being delicious – or even having the money to buy a coffee. By switching from one emotion to the other, and consciously putting your attention onto your feelings, you are creating new habits and behaviors that will ultimately become automatic, and you will find that life becomes a little easier, smoother and more joy-filled.

The most challenging part of this exercise is recognizing the fear emotion, and then taking the pause (or breath) to consciously switch it. That’s why the first part of the exercise, though not pleasant, is important. You need to have the conscious memory of the physical feelings associated with these emotions in order to recognize and change them. As with all things, it takes practice, but it gets much easier the more you do it.

So, now this begs the question in this week of Thanksgiving: What makes you feel gratitude? Make a list. Keep it with you so you can call on it whenever you want. Add to it, change it, and see how different your life can be. For truly, when your heart is full of gratitude there is no room for fear.

With deepest gratitude for allowing me into your life…
In love and light,
Martina

In a blink.

Lately, I’ve witnessed and experienced several life-changing events. Last week I was 1 minute behind a major traffic accident. A car was flipped over on its side, the driver was still inside, and the police had not arrived yet. I can’t imagine how that person’s life has now changed. (I stayed long enough to offer assistance, and thankfully, the woman was still alive.)

Then this week a family friend passed away unexpectedly. He was golfing alone on Sunday, and somehow had an accident with his golf cart. He was not found for several hours, and subsequently was declared brain dead. His family chose to take him off life support later in the week. Again, a sad, sudden and extreme reminder of how tenuous life can be.

As another, more personal example, a couple of months ago, my own life took a turn rather suddenly too, and my life has changed forever as a result. And that’s ok. It’s been challenging, of course, but I know it’s part of “the plan,” as it were, and I am doing my best to live and let go. Here’s the thing: I have realized in recent days that I have a choice. While I didn’t get to choose what happened that made everything change, I DO get to choose how I go about dealing with it and what I do from here. And that knowledge has made all the difference.

One of my favorite songs from ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ includes the phrase, “the only thing constant is change.” And that is one of the most reliable facts of life, aside from death and taxes. So if that’s true, why do we fear change so much, in general? I believe that it’s because we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it. Yes, that’s a confusing sentence, but let me break it down:

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” – that seems obvious; “until we know it,” –that’s the tricky part. The fact is, change brings about experiences, which in turn brings about lessons, which brings about knowledge, which leads to growth, understanding and compassion. Change is challenging because of the unknown. However, if we return to that which we know to be true – which is the fact that we can CHOOSE how we deal with something – then the ‘unknown’ is no longer a factor. Because, as the above examples demonstrate, everything is actually unknown and life can change in the blink of an eye. What matters is how you choose to live in the moments after the blink.

D-d-d-d-d-Daylight


Ok – so this is something totally new for me to be writing about, but I feel it’s really important to share, in light of the change in seasons and weather. Did you know that approximately 40% of all Americans are Vitamin D deficient? Did you also know that you would have to drink about 10 glasses of D-fortified milk a day to get enough Vitamin D in your diet? Finally, did you know that Vitamin D is created naturally by your body with only about 10 minutes of sun a day?

Since most of us spend the daylight hours indoors, especially with the recent time change, there is no way we can get enough exposure to the sun without making some small changes in our day. So, with winter upon us and the days getting shorter and shorter, what can we do? Well, for starters, you can take simple steps to increase your natural vitamin D production, such as taking a stroll outside during lunch, if it’s sunny. Alternatively, you can supplement your diet with Vitamin D itself. Of course, the best thing to do is to visit your doctor and see if you can get your own levels tested – I think you might find the results surprising. I know I did!

In my own experience, I started adding Vitamin D to my diet a few years ago, specifically during the winter months. I noticed a difference fairly quickly, and am grateful my doctor recommended this addition to my daily routine. Adding Vitamin D gave me more energy, reduced my desire to hibernate during the winter months, and helped stabilize my mood, even on the dreariest of cold days.

Here’s what I do: I usually start adding Vitamin D back into my diet sometime in October, and I taper it off in April. Depending on where you live, and your access to sunlight, you may want to extend or shorten that time. Finally, I did notice a difference between taking the Vitamin D liqui-gels or tablets. The liqui-gels seemed more effective and easier on my system – plus they were recommended by my doc. And, of course, I stay in touch with my doctor to keep him informed of what supplements I am taking or reducing. With his help I am able to determine the most effective dose for my needs.

So that’s my experience with Vitamin D – and I can honestly say that everyone I have shared this tidbit of information with has experienced similar benefits. So what are you waiting for? Do you need more Vitamin D? More sunshine? Lastly, in case you didn’t realize the importance of this often overlooked nutrient for the body – do a quick search online and read about the long list of diseases and conditions that can be prevented by maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D. You’ll be glad you did.

In love, light and good health,
Martina

*And now the disclaimer: This message is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease, illness or condition. Please see a medical professional for specific advice with regard to medications and/or supplements. *