hello over there

Welcome to my corner of the world. I'm so glad you're here. Join me in a conversation about how we build a bridge between daily life and the life we're longing for. As you explore, you'll discover stories, some of my favorite things, a whole lot of love, and perhaps even join me in a little lip syncing. Learn more about me right here.

(almost) weekly letters from my heart to you
upcoming ecourse

Come along to Tell It: 15 days of prompts and inspiration to feed your creative soul. Register right here.

in the shop

Bowls of heart pocket talismans have been gathering in the studio filled with the words and phrases kindred spirits are holding close this year. What is your word? You can find the talismans right here.

stay connected

Sunday
Dec272015

the new WOW summit

I'm so delighted to be part of the New WoW Summit that begins tomorrow. Shawn Tuttle is the woman behind this offering, and she's on a mission to help creative women realize the success they envision by integrating head and heart in their biz. 

In a nutshell, the New WoW (Way of Working) is a methodology centered around cultivating your capacity to act in alignment with the identity you envision for yourself in life and biz. The combination of self-awareness, self-care, and deep listening through simple practices add up to your being calm, clear and confident, which is the foundation of a profound paradigm shift. 

The summit is a series of interviews with women who are running heart-centered businesses and the topics Shawn is covering in these interviews sound so juicy and inspiring. The conversation we had quickly became one of my favorite interviews yet! And I'm totally on board with her invitation for entrepreneurs to experience less struggle in their businesses and instead get to the soul work they long to do.
Come join me and an awesome community of creative entrepreneurs at the New WoW SummitDec. 28 - Jan. 1. It’s free, accessible, and inspiring!

(Note that the links above are affiliate. The summit itself is free! But if you choose to purchase the interviews to keep after the summit is over, I will receive a small commission if you signed up through my link.)

Tuesday
Dec152015

DIY painted bead necklace

 

A few weeks ago, I hosted a crafty girls' afternoon here in Tacoma with some friends and we had so much fun. One of the activities we did was paint big wooden beads to make necklaces (and key chains), and I want to share some photos and some links in case this is a DIY you might want to do in time for holiday gifts or even as a crafty afternoon over the holidays.

 

 

You'll need:

wooden beads (I bought mine from these two Etsy shops, here are some other options)

faux leather cord (also from this shop)

acrylic craft paint

paint brushes

paper or plastic plate or other container for a palette

chop sticks (optional)

You have two options here: 1) plan out your necklace - choosing the shape of beads you want to work with and the colors or 2) just start painting beads and make necklaces from them when you're done. Option 1 is great for a gathering when everyone is going home with one or two necklaces and Option 2 is perfect if you want to make a lot of these.

 

 

To paint the beads, just choose the colors you want to use, squirt a bit of each color on your palette (we used these cups to pass different colors around) and dive in.

We used the chopsticks (and ends of paint brushes) to hold the bead while we painted it so we could paint all the sides without getting paint on you This was awesome for drying too.

 

 

Keeping the paint even and smoothing out any drips gives you really solid coverage, and you'll find it dries pretty quickly. With some colors, you might need to do two coats. 

When your beads are dry, you can string them on your cord in whatever order makes you happy. And all you need to do is just tie it in the back in a simple note. The cord is thick enough that it will just stay. I like to leave a few inches of extra cord when I make the knot, so I can wear it longer or shorter depending on my outfit.

 

 

You've probably seen these big bead necklaces on Pinterest - they are super on trend right now. A few Mother's Days ago, Ellie made some with already painted beads (like these) for all her grandmothers. It was such a cute gift and one that the grandmas actually wear! This past weekend, we painted some together to make for teacher gifts and for a few other people as well. I'm a bit obsessed and want to make key chains and necklaces and maybe even bracelets for everyone I know. Using the chopsticks made it super easy for Ellie to paint them too. Next time I want to add polka dots and stripes with paint or even paint pens. 

 

 

My friend Alli made a key chain for her daughter to tie to her backpack. Love that! Key chains are a great option for gifts for guys too. You can simply tie them to a key ring (lots of supplies are available on Etsy).

And if you're giving them as Christmas gifts, it's fun to just put them in a little fabric bag and tie with a manila tag and put right under the tree (or into the hands of your favorite teacher). 

Note that some of these links are affiliates, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase through the link. All photos taken by Lauren Oliver Photography

Sunday
Dec132015

10 ways to practice self-care at the holidays

Dear beautiful soul,

We're in it aren't we? This beautiful, hard, spirit-full time of year. The Holidays.

Today, I want to reach out and invite you to think about shifting your self-care a bit to support you right now. It still needs to be on your list - your "this is non-negotiable" list - even as you wrap presents and bake cookies and run to the store yet again and how the list goes on and on.

Here are a few ideas to help you think about ways to practice self-care right now. Choose just one from this list to try. Or let these ideas be a springboard for your own.

The important thing: Take time to slow down and notice. Let yourself just breathe within the present moment instead of rushing toward expectations and stuff or whatever else your schedule holds. 

Create space to enjoy the simple things you love about the holidays

Make a quick list of things you love this time of year. Pretend that there isn't a to-do list connected to this and let go of thinking about what your family members love. What do you love? Look over your list and choose one or two and create space to make them happen.

Here's an example: There’s something about the lights of our Christmas tree at night that invite in a sense of stillness for me. I love to simply sit in our family room with just the lights of the tree on while I drink a cup of tea. I just breathe and try to let my thoughts rest as much as I can. When my thoughts are really restless, I’ll stand at the tree and look at the ornaments that represent the childhoods of my husband, myself, and now our daughter. My favorite is the popsicle stick sled from my first grade teacher that I’m holding together with tape after all these years.

Light candles

I've been mentioning this one often lately, and that's because it is such an important practice to me and my family. When it starts to get dark so early in December, I begin to light candles at dusk. Lately, I've been going back to this practice: When I light them, I often whisper a little blessing of gratitude for something that happened during my day. This pushes me to really notice the positives from the day. Then when I blow the candles out before heading to bed, I say blessings of protection and love for my loved ones. 

My current favorites candles are these from Moorea Seal and these amber candles.

Music

I’m one of those people who loves most holiday music, but even if you aren’t a huge fan, there is probably at least one album out there that makes you smile. Maybe it’s Bing singing "White Christmas" or Elvis or Johnny Mathis or Kenny & Dolly. I love just about any version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," but the one sung by John Denver and Rolfe from The Muppets always brings a wave of nostalgia that feels like home to me. Create a holiday playlist for yourself. 



Creating an altar with photos

Getting out a few photos of the people I miss this time of year helps me to keep them in my mind and heart. It feels good to have them around me instead of letting missing or distant memories get me down. I like to gather a candle and a few small things that remind me of that person, like the shells shown in the example of me walking with my grandpa on the beach, and create a little remembrance altar.

Find stillness

As your mind swirls with all that must get done, you've got to slow down and get recentered honey. Even just taking those five deep breaths several times a day can be supportive first-aid self-care this time of year. Create some reminders for yourself to pause and breathe. This might mean setting a reminder on your phone every few hours. Find a way to just get still. And if you need ideas, check out this post.

Connecting

There are so many parties and gatherings that we can feel we "must" attend, and then in contrast, so many of us can feel lonely at the holidays (whether we have these gatherings or not). As you figure out your schedule over the next few weeks, make the choice to connect with the friends and family who most support you too. This might mean a coffee date, a phone call or getting on Skype, or even texting with a loved one. Make time for those deeper connections. And remember, you don't have to say yes to everything. You really don't dear one.

 

 

A cup of tea

I bring up drinking tea often in my self-care suggestions because I really believe that making and then drinking tea (or coffee or hot cocoa) engages all of our senses. This act of slowing down and noticing the smells and taste and even the feel of the warm mug in our hands helps create space for quietness and calm. You can even turn making and drinking a cup of tea into a ritual that grounds you daily and gives you some time just for you.

And this is the part where I say: You can even make your stop at Starbucks this ritual. Skip the drive through. Go inside and order. Then sit and just breathe and take five minutes for you while you drink your latte. Try not to look at your phone for those five minutes.

Get outside

I know it might be really cold where you live, but get outside anyway. If you don't, you're going to go stir crazy. You need the fresh air. You need the sun. You need to remember that there is a big world out there. You need to remember that the birds will keep singing and the trees will keep reaching up toward the sun no matter what this time of year brings you. Go for a walk even if it's just for a block or down your driveway and back.

Let yourself feel all the feelings

This time of year can bring up so much. From expectations to past hurts to hopes that this year your family won't talk about {fill in your own family's story here} to wishing your kids would all smile for the photo to missing loved ones...there's a lot of feelings swirling. Try not to judge the feelings that are coming up for you. Let yourself feel them. Yes, you are allowed to feel sad. And yes, honey, you are allowed to feel happy! And all the other things in between. In fact, you can even feel conflicting things at the same time. You get to choose. (You also get to choose what you do with these feelings. You can dwell. Or you can create your own experience this year. It might be hard to see that, but the choice is there for all of us.)

And remember that those around you have swirling feelings too (even those who might be hurting yours). Tread gently.

Think about how your self-care might have to change this time of year

Maybe you're visiting family or a whole crew is headed your way. Maybe you have to work on Christmas Day. Maybe you're alone for the first time. As you look at what's ahead, think about how your self-care might have to shift. Do you need to get up a little bit earlier because the kids are on break? Do you need to ask your spouse for different kind of support? Do you need to set a boundary around how much you're cooking? Do you need to let go of some pieces of your daily self-care practice due to time and travel?

Think about what pieces of self-care are non-negotiable for you and brainstorm some ways that you can still make them happen.

Then ask yourself this question: What could shift so there could be more ease, more space to really enjoy my loved ones and what I love about this time of year?

I'm cheering you on over here. We really can hold the beauty of the holidays in one hand and the truth that sometimes they are hard in the other.

Give yourself the gift of coming back to center several times a day over these next few weeks.

You deserve to feel the love, and those you love do too.

Blessings,

Liz

PS Feel free to share your own self-care ideas and tips in the comments. I love when we can learn from one another.

photo credits: top photo Lauren Oliver Photography, third photo Vanessa Simpson of Focus in Photography 

Tuesday
Dec082015

creating ripples of love :: an interview with Laura Yon

 

During the last few months, you might have noticed me mentioning here and in my newsletter that I've started going to see "my teacher" up in Seattle every few weeks.  

Laura Yon was my teacher during my two-year yoga teacher training 10 years ago, and she remains my teacher today. She's been helping me with my practice and giving me a soft space to land where I can just be me. She's also teaching me more about meditation and Buddhism, and I'm feeling so blessed to be learning from her on a continuous basis again. We all needs guides and teachers to shine a light for us.

Over here, I keep sifting through my thoughts and feelings about all that's happening in our world, in the United States, in my own corner, and I try to make sense of what's being said aloud by people who are "in charge." And after my last post, I've heard from so many of you that you're doing the same, so I decided to ask Laura if she'd give her perspective on some of the stuff I can't stop thinking about.

She said yes.

And while I had her "on the line," I also asked her about her retreats as I think several of you reading these words would love to connect with her in person. (The safe space she created during our two-year training is one big reason why I felt moved to begin my retreats.)

Read on...

How does yoga and meditation help you keep your heart open amidst whatever is happening in your own life and/or the world around you?  

It is tragic to watch the events of the world and see the suffering that humans continue to perpetuate against one another. The esoteric answer is that, "everything is just as it is supposed to be." This world is a place where there is great love and beauty and also great sorrow. And we are here to fulfill the lessons that each of us is here to learn.

I believe that the fabric of the universe is LOVE and by continually dropping deeply into the places in myself that are connected with this universal energy, I stay charged with a feeling of something greater than myself and of this place. I know that this place is temporary, this feeling is temporary, this suffering is temporary and the universal, eternal energy of LOVE is ever-present, with every breath.

What would you tell someone who feels hopeless when watching the news right now? How can they move from hopeless back to love?

How are you going to be in the world and what ripples are you going to put out into the world?

When something "bad" happens, our first reactions may be based in fear or anger. But meeting the world's events with more fear and anger just reinforces this patterning in the world and in ourselves. All of our thoughts, words and actions have powerful effects, and they create ripples that flow out into the world. Those ripples can be ones of more fear, anger, hopelessness or of LOVE, compassion and understanding.

As the Dalai Lama says, we are ALL human beings who are suffering and we ALL want the same thing - TO BE LOVED. So creating ripples of LOVE, compassion and understanding have a positive energetic effect in the world.

 

Sometimes when we're overwhelmed by what's happening in the world or even to others closer to home, we can feel guilty when we experience good things, as though we should feel bad because we can't fix it all or because we're experiencing joy in our lives. That word guilt is such a big one. I so often talk about how we can hold the beauty in one hand and the grief in the other. Do you have a practice you use that helps you navigate this?

The power of a daily meditation practice for helping us to find balance, equilibrium and clarity in this crazy world can not be over emphasized! It helps us to remember what we are here to do, what is our work and what is someone else's. Their work is not for us to do; it is their practice and lessons to learn. I have a friend who says it is like what the flight attendants say on the airplane, "Put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others with theirs."

Chanting is another powerful tool to help us stay centered, remember what we want to be creating in our lives, and it can change the energetic charge of the moment. When my mind starts to spin or move in a direction that isn't helpful for me, I come back to my chant. It cuts through the busy-ness of my mind and I can go, "AH, there's my heart, that's where I can rest back into."

I think about the retreats you host and how they are full of moments of joy and restoration while also an invitation to get quiet and listen. Can you share about why it's important to get away and give yourself this gift?

Retreat time is so important! It is a time to re-direct our focus from the external world to our inner world. Everything we are searching for is inside of our own heart, most people just don't have the time in their lives to stop and listen to what our heart's are saying. To have an extended period of time where we get to stay inside the space of LOVE and openness, quiet and listening to our inner, innate wisdom and compassion, is essential to maintaining a spiritual life within the modern city. It is respite for our SOUL.

When we come back from retreat, we then take that wisdom, compassion and LOVE out into our lives, our work and our relationships. It is truly transformative!

happy souls at one of Laura's retreats

Over the years, you've taught me so much about how to create safe space and community. Within the safe space at one of your retreats and even in your classes, students get to slow down, listen, ask for what they need, and find stillness all while in community with you and others. Do you feel like the sangha you create becomes a place to practice how one wants to move through the world?

ABSOLUTELY! Deep, deep listening is SO powerful! In yoga classes and on retreat, the room will become so quiet as everyone drops deeply into their own peaceful stillness. It is so beautiful to witness! Being in sangha with a group of people who are all on an inner journey helps us to become present with what we want to manifest in our world.

As Goswami Kriyananda said, "Whatever you are doing at this moment is what you will be doing more of in the future." So what are we creating with every breath - LOVE, compassion and understanding or something else? We get to choose what we are creating for our lives! Being on this journey with others who are practicing this as well is a truly a gift!

*****

 

Laura Yon has taught hatha yoga in the viniyoga tradition since 1992 and as a student/practitioner of Buddhism for 30 years, she integrates mindfulness into all of her teaching. To learn more about Laura Yon, visit her website.

She has an incredible retreat coming up in February. And it's in sunny, warm Mexico! The perfect time to get away and spend time in the quiet, practice yoga and meditation, and connect with kindred spirits. It's at one of the world’s best yoga retreat centers on the Yucatan Peninsula, south of Cancun. Swim in the beautiful Caribbean Ocean, enjoy amazing food and great company, explore Mayan ruins, snorkel, walk on the beautiful beach, and have a spa treatment. You can find out all about it here.

Thursday
Dec032015

five things to do when you don't know what to do

 

As I shifted from role to role yesterday late afternoon amidst the unfolding news coming out of California, the 355th mass shooting in the United States this year, these are the words that came to me as I moved from angry to helpless to hopeless to trying to come back to love.

I reach for the light. I reach for the love. I reach for your hand. Always. :: Praying for change. For wisdom. For hearts opening. For those in charge to listen to that wisdom and light available for each of us.

I don't have clear answers. 

But this doesn't mean I want to be quiet or that I don't want to act.

Here's what I do know: The more of us reaching for that light, for that love, for another's hand, the better our world will be. And we can't do this when we're stuck in the feeling of being helpless or when we're so paralyzed by anger that we don't take action.

For those of us who move through the world in quieter ways, who can feel undone by the news, who are afraid to speak up because being in an argument with others doesn't feel like the right path, here are five ideas to help you move out of that helplessness or anger, no matter the reason why, and back into your body and heart so you can take action in whatever way feels right for you.

(And really these five ideas apply to any situation where you feel like you don't know what to do. Not just when you don't know what to do to help heal our world. You can turn to these practices at the end of a really hard day, after you get unexpected news, and even when you have a big decision to make.)

1. Find the stillness. 

Quiet your body and your mind by pausing and being still. Think about what you know about yourself. Can you find this stillness by just pausing and taking five deep breaths? Do you need to remove yourself from being around others and go outside or even down the hall to the bathroom? Do you need to move to find this stillness? (This is true for some of us. You might need to take a walk outside, without your phone, and breathe and notice. You might need to stretch and breathe. Do yoga.)

Turn off the television. Put your phone in another room. Create space from anything pulling on you. And let yourself get quiet. And if you don't know what to do in that quiet, here are some ideas.

2. Light a candle.

There's something about the pause that happens when you light the wick of a candle and watch it come to life. For a moment, that light is all there is. I light candles on a daily basis in my home and studio. They center me, but they are also like a companion that connects me to the light. Sometimes when I light them, I think about loved ones in my life, especially those who are far away or those who need extra love right now. Often, I let the candle hold all that feels like too much for me. I imagine the candle carrying it all into the wind for the earth, for all that is greater than me, to hold.

3. Hug someone.

Reach out and connect. This might mean literally saying to your partner or a friend, "Can I have a hug?" This might seem simple to some, but for others, asking for a hug is a huge act of vulnerability. But that feeling of physical connection with another roots you in love. (Let it root you in that love honey.)

If you're in a moment (or even a time in your life) where someone to hug isn't available, ask for a virtual hug from a friend through a text or phone call. I do this all the time and I really feel like it works. That simple act of saying a version of, "I'm struggling. I need to know you are there" lets those who care about you root in that same love you are seeking. 

4. Practice your own form of prayer. 

Maybe you practice a religion where prayer is a common act or maybe you don't. Those details are only important to you and the path you are on (as they should be). Even though I don't practice with a specific religion or go to an organized church service on the weekends, I pray. I believe prayer is whatever you need it to be. It might be praying to a god. It might be playing the violin. It might be listening to a specific song. It might be standing in the middle of the forest and just listening. Most importantly connect with the love, the light, that's waiting for you, for all of us.

5. Do something that moves you to a place of connection.

Here's what I mean: Think about the things that invite you to feel that deep hum of "yes, this" inside you, the things that bring you back home to you. Maybe you dance. Maybe you play with paint. Maybe you volunteer. Maybe you read a favorite inspirational book or poem. Maybe you chant. Maybe you take photos. Maybe you play with flowers. Maybe you cook. Make your own list and then put more of these things on your schedule. These are the acts that keep you centered when things feel like they're off kilter. Rituals and rhythms become the way home. 

It feels important to say this: These ideas are about moving you to a place of love and centeredness so you can listen to the path that feels right for you. So you can move to a place of action. This might mean writing your senators and representatives. This might mean asking questions. This might mean speaking up. This might mean educating yourself. This might mean having hard conversations. This might mean even more prayer.

My hope though is that moving away from helplessness and feeling like you don't know what to do and moving back toward your own wisdom will help you take action in whatever way works for you. Because talking about our helplessness or letting hopelessness take over isn't action. And shaming others for not taking the action you think they should take isn't the way either. 

I really believe we can each listen to that wisdom within us and move from a place of truth and love.

And I believe we can even hold hands while we do it. 

(photo by Lauren Oliver Photography.)