#lover #sage

Refilling the cup, so we have something to give

While you’ve surely been having fun toasting your friends’ nuptials this wedding season, if the champagne has started to lose a little of that fizz, and you’re lamenting the fact that you haven’t had a single weekend to yourself, now’s the time to throw a solo celebration.

 

Remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie’s Manolos are stolen from a baby shower? She reacts by sending the hostess a voicemail: “I wanted to let you know that I’m getting married. To myself. I’m registered at Manolo Blahnik.”

 

Whether you’re single or married, the first person you should choose to celebrate is YOU.  Make a point to book a date with yourself. Here are 7 date ideas for what you can do:

 

1. Enjoy an outdoor concert.

 

Being outdoors and listening to live music is a great way to lift your spirits. For one, boogying to your favorite music can be a good form of exercise. Also, live music gives that uplifting, living-in-the-moment feeling that is good for both physical and emotional wellbeing. Take advantage of the warm days of the season, and catch a concert at your area amphitheater or local park. Just pack a simple picnic (wine, cheese, grapes, prosciutto, etc.) and a blanket, and commit to going no matter what.

 

2. Turn off your phone.

 

The average person checks their phone between 110-150 times a day. That’s a lot of energy and attention flitting back and forth, which can leave you feeling stressed and distracted.

 

Pick a day or a length of time and shut your phone off completely. If you can, leave it at home and go do something (Facebook and Instagram will still be there when you get back).

 

Look up! Take in the sights around you. Reacquaint yourself with your senses.

 

3. Take a dance class.

 

How many times have you heard a song on the radio and you started to dance around, only to realize you are stuck in traffic, behind the wheel of your car? A bit confining, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it feel great to get on the dance floor with other people enjoying the music around you?

 

But if you don’t have the desire to go to a bar or nightclub on your own, then take a dance class! You’ll benefit from learning some new moves and so much more, including:

 

Improved physical health

 

Dancing is a low -impact aerobic activity, good for your joints and cardiovascular system. It improves posture, flexibility, agility, balance and body alignment. It’s a great way to burn calories, stay fit and improve your coordination!

 

Improved mental health

 

Dancing integrates rational, emotional, kinesthetic and problem-solving skills, improving our overall mental processing. It’s memory with physical movement (better than doing a crossword puzzle or other sedentary memory tasks). The changes and patterns of dancing make our brains work more quickly.

 

Improved happiness

 

It’s a chance to meet new friends who share similar interests. It’s great for getting out of our head, playing, and bringing out the child and the lover in all of us. It’s a way for couples to flirt with each other and singles to meet new partners. Dancing spurs creativity, motivation and overall energy.

 

4. Book a photo shoot.

 

You should be proud of your inner and outer beauty. And who can bring out your beauty better than a talented portrait photographer? (Besides, it’s much more fun than a selfie.)

 

Maybe you want to update your professional headshot, or have photographic evidence of how hot your body looks — another Sex and the City reference.

 

A healthy dose of each “pride quality” listed, is actually necessary to embody a fulfilled sense of self —  as a woman, and as anybody.

 

5. Take a yoga class.

 

Yoga is an easy activity to do on your own, and so necessary for balancing our day-to-day stress. Cortisol and adrenalin are hormones that are released in the body as a result of stress. Sustained high levels of these “stress hormones” destroy healthy muscle and bone. Over a prolonged period, it can even lead to a host of diseases.

 

Yoga reduces cortisol and adrenalin levels by returning the body to a physically stress-free state, making it less susceptible to illness and more prone to resiliency and vitality. Yoga does not have to be pretzel poses. It includes a practice of centering, meditative grounding, deep breathing, and poses to help align your chakras.

 

When you practice yoga, your entire muscular system becomes stronger and more elastic and therefore, less susceptible to injury. Standing and balancing postures strengthen and lengthen the big muscle groups, and floor postures strengthen the muscles that support the spine and head.

 

As a physical therapist, I call it “cheap” physical therapy.

 

6. Enjoy sensual pleasures.

 

Turn on your favorite music, wear your favorite scent and lingerie, or put on a silly costume, get your hair done, and wear that red lipstick. Just turn off your judgmental mind for a few hours. What do you taste, hear, touch, see and smell?

 

Get present: A sensual person experiences each moment completely — and knows that a simple, fully present, deep inhale can evoke as much ecstasy as anything.

 

Find the sensual energy in everything: sipping champagne, tasting strawberries, touching yourself. No action is too small to ignite your senses and live out your inner diva.

 

7. Write your own happy ending.

 

Is your idea of “getting married” still influenced by the Disney princesses you watched as a kid? Why does every princess need to have a prince? Think you are not enough without one? Time to rethink! Women are warriors, lovers, mothers and sages. We can be the hero in our own story.

 

Create a vision board for what you want your life to look like and then start living it. single or married we can all take time to rejuvenate and relax to refill our cup, so we are better lovers of life!


 

Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself Part 3: Creating the Space for Your Story

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Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

With that in mind, I'm launching this series of posts on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

But for now, let's talk about how to create the space in your mind and life that will allow creativity to flow in.

 

Creativity through stillness

If you walked through a mall or school or coffee shop or park, how many people would you see who are doing nothing? Staring into space, contemplating their tea, or gazing at the clouds? With the proliferation of mobile devices and a culture that increasingly encourages us to do something — anything! — every moment of every day, we are conditioned to keep our brains constantly active. My guess is that you wouldn't see a single person on your walk who wasn't absorbed in reading or typing something.

But if we want to allow our creativity to grow and blossom, if we want our inner selves to step forward and speak, we need pockets of stillness. We need quiet time without distraction or activity, meditative moments in which we let our rational mind sleep and invite our creative mind to awaken.

We also need to allow our minds to wander without judgment. Especially when we're returning to stillness after a long time away, it can be tempting to censor or evaluate all of the untethered thoughts that flow in. It's so easy to impose learned meaning and interpretations on the images and ideas that enter the stillness … but giving them time and space to settle is essential.

Here are some mediation and journaling exercises that will help you reacquaint yourself with stillness.

 

Meditation and journaling exercise 1: The language of imagery

Get your journal and pen and set them to the side. Sit or lie down and focus on the sound of your breathing. Concentrate on being in your body, think about relaxing each limb from your head to your toes, bit by bit.

Allow your mind to free-associate. In all likelihood, you will be visited by a stream of images. Some will be memories, some will be fantasies, some will be things you can't explain. Let them all flow through you unimpeded.

 

When one that feels particularly emotional or significant arrives, try to linger there. Let it unfold, explore it as deeply as you can. Then open your eyes, grab your journal, and write as much as you can remember. If you feel moved to do so, continue the action where your mind paused it. Write fluidly and without judging yourself. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or even if what you're writing makes sense. Just let it flow from imagination to paper.

 

Journaling exercise 2: Becoming a conduit

Pick a topic, scene, or story that you'd like to write and hold it in your mind. Then release it and make yourself present in your body for a few long moments. Close your eyes, breathe, let your mind wander. Then pick up your pen and begin writing whatever comes out, whether its related to your original topic or not.

By doing this, you are channeling more than creating; You are letting your subconscious do the driving. The words and images that flood your mind may seem unrelated to your pre-selected idea, but if you let them come naturally you're likely to see deep connections forming. Creativity does not travel in straight lines. It flourishes in the undefined spaces in between.

 

Journaling exercise 3: Tapping memories

Find a photograph of family members, a past lover, or a treasured memory. Gaze at the image in quiet contemplation, allowing your mind to drift into the past. Close your eyes and try to remember the smells, textures, and sounds from this scene. Write everything you recall and feel, focusing specifically on the emotions that return to you. Let go of your busy mind, sink down into your body, and allow the image to work on you.

 

Meditation and journaling exercise 4: Encountering your deepest desires

Close your eyes and concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing. As you exhale, think or say aloud, “I release all fear of this inner journey.” Repeat this thought on the next two exhalations. Once you feel grounded, begin the next phase of this meditation.

Imagine yourself on a long and winding path. Perhaps it flows through the woods or across the mountains, in a place you know well or one you've never seen before. Travel the path in peace until you reach a large metal gate, sturdily locked and wound through with vines. Reach into your pocket and you will find a key, also metal, sturdy, and heavy. Insert the key in the gate's lock, turn it, and watch as the gate swings open. Breathe again, and release your fears. Walk through the gate.

Inside, you'll find a garden brimming with vibrant plants and flowers. Imagine the garden's layout and design in a way that feels welcoming to you; Perhaps it's an Asian garden with still pools and flowing bamboo, or a rambly English garden filled of bright blossoms.

Now imagine a house within the garden. This house holds your dreams, so create it as a place that is beautiful and comfortable to you. You approach the door and find it locked, but again find the necessary key in your pocket. Unlock the door, and enter.

Stand inside the house and breathe into the feeling of having come home. Find a spot, your favorite spot in the house, to settle and imagine a physical manifestation of your soul in the room with you. Many people envision an animal or bird, but you might see a flower or jewel or other precious object. Sit with your soul for a few moments and commune. Then ask it, gently, “What do you want most of all?”

Don't expect a simple or singular answer, but instead open a dialogue. What you hear and learn will not be the only or final answer for all time, simply the one your soul offers to you today.

Open your eyes, and write down anything that floods into your mind and heart. It often works best to begin by writing the question, “What do you want most of all?” Then write everything that comes to your mind, without thinking or judgment.

 

Re-learn trust

Many of us turn to meaningless busy-ness because we don't feel comfortable letting our minds wander. We fear what might emerge if we allow formlessness to take over. But re-learning to trust ourselves and our imaginations is essential to unlocking our deepest desires and essential stories. I hope some of these exercises help you begin to rebuild that trust yourself.

And if you are the wife of a wounded warrior yourself and would like to share your story in person with other spouses, I would love for you to apply here to attend SPA Day in April! By opening up to others you will heal yourself, connect with others to feel less alone, and help those around you begin the healing process.

 

Can't wait to share more on the power of storytelling with you next week!