Zoom has been a great resource lately for connection, that's for sure. I honestly don't know what I'd personally (or professionally) do without Zoom and other online meeting platforms right now during these challenging times, and I'm so grateful to have those options.
This morning, however, I pondered other more intentional and personal ways that didn’t include digital media that I could feel connected with my loved ones during the pandemic.
I want to share what I came up with with you today. And if you have any other ideas to add, please post them in the comments!
Take it from someone like me whose love language is touch, I recognize how difficult 2020 has been to find ways to connect with others. I wish you so much strength of heart.
I once believed -- and you may have, too -- that altars were only found in religious buildings. The word “altar” comes from the Latin words “altus,” meaning “high” and “adolere,” meaning “to adore.” Simply stated, an altar is used in a place of honor to draw on a higher power.
But an altar can also be located in a home as a sacred area set aside for devotion. It can be constructed for other intentional purposes, too, such as a focal point during meditation or to relax, a place to find inspiration, celebrate joy, or honor grief. An altar might purely be reminding you to take time for yourself for peace, healing, and serenity.
Creating an altar doesn’t have to be complicated or based on any set of ideas that don’t particularly resonate with you, and there’s no need to follow complex instructions either!
An altar is usually set up on a flat surface and prepared in such a way to receive meaningful items placed upon it that have symbolism: candles, flowers, stones, other elements of nature, books, quotes, photos, a decorative box, and various other important tangible items.
Choosing what to put on an altar is a personal and intuitive process and is meant to inspire a connection with the theme of the altar. Altars can remain set up and added to periodically or taken down and a new one assembled at any time.
The basic steps I use to make my own humble altar:
1. I find a space where I can set up, somewhere my pets can’t get to it or is in a little to no traffic area. Since I’m not receiving visitors during the pandemic, I currently have an altar set up on a cabinet in my downstairs office which doubles as a yoga/meditation/tai chi space and is also our guest bedroom.
2. Then I arrange a piece of cloth as a cover, a material that I think is beautiful to me or resonates with the theme of my altar. I currently am using a blue scarf that has been “charged” outside in the wind. But a piece of family lace, an article of clothing, an antique napkin, or any other fabric will serve nicely.
I also like to keep a journal near my altar so I can write down my wishes, dreams, desires, thoughts and fears that come up when I’m taking the time in quietness. Using the dedicated time at the altar can be a new and creative way to look at situations in life and it allows me to connect with a divine higher power.
In today’s modern age, we can become seduced by society and lose the connection we have with our ancestors and with the earth itself. An altar can create a spiritual center in your home and help to increase positive energy and flow throughout your home.
Check back to my blog the first week of every month where I’ll be highlighting other "Down to Earth" Altars: some traditional, some non-traditional, some having to do with current events, and some to honor personal events that are coming up.
What is your legacy?
Simply stated, a legacy tells the story and meaning of your life after you are gone. Your legacy could relate to your faith, family, or personal achievements.
One way to leave a legacy is through a legacy project.
A legacy project is different than an heirloom, as an heirloom is an object of value that has been handed down in a family for several generations. A legacy project is specific to YOU.
A legacy project is a tangible item meant to communicate in a summary who you were. It can be in the form of words, images -- or even music -- that provides information after you’re gone about what was most important to you, about your characteristics, and how you’d like to be remembered.
When considering a legacy project, consider talking to people you trust about what would best express what you love to do, your skills, what you want to say, the memories you would like to evoke, and how you’d like to express your love.
In my lifetime, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been the recipient of legacy projects from family and friends who have passed away. Having a tangible item that I can hold and treasure close to my heart reminds me of the special person who is no longer physically present in my life and preserves their memory.
I am moved deeply when I consider the thoughtfulness and effort, in light of all the other circumstances, that must have gone into creating a gift that was meant specifically for me, and how my loved one would prefer for me to remember him/her.
Here are some other examples of legacy projects:
Write a Book
Your legacy book doesn’t have to be fancy or professionally published. If you want to put your life events into words, consider writing a biography.
Maybe you love to cook? If so, consider creating a cookbook of all those wonderful tried and true recipes that you developed over the years that can be passed on for generations.
If you are a world traveler, why not share your impressions of all the places you have visited and the impact your adventures had on your life?
Perhaps there is a story of a single milestone etched in your memory, and it is time to put that experience on paper?
Also, it’s okay to use humor. Your family will love and appreciate that aspect of you if that is your natural demeanor!
Everyone loves to receive a letter in the mail. Consider how meaningful it would be for your loved one to receive a message from you after you’re gone that you penned and put away for such a time?
Topics you might want to consider:
If you don’t like to write or cannot write, ask for help from someone you trust.
A Piece of Art
Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, artwork is something that can be displayed in the family home where everyone can see it and have a personal connection.
Today, if you’d like to explore your own creative nature, consider collaging with magazine cutouts, quilting/sewing, or trying watercolors or pottery. With most art forms, you can usually find a way to add a note or signature to personalize it.
A friend told me that when her mother and father were first married, her father made a wooden side table for her mother to use near her favorite chair in the evenings. Over the years, her mother didn’t have the heart to upgrade the simple table because it reminded her of their humble beginning years together when times were lean.
I recently read an article about a woman who, every Thanksgiving, brought out the same tablecloth and asked her loved ones to write their names on it in pen. After the holidays, she would embroider the names onto the fabric, and then bring the tablecloth out again year after year. Imagine how touching it will be to whoever receives such a well-thought-out and loving legacy project!
Journal or Diary
A journal or diary with a specific purpose can be a unique gift, as it memorializes how one feels through daily challenges. If you are ill, recording your experiences in a journal as the days progress might be helpful not only to your family but will offer an opportunity for you to also express how you are navigating through difficult times.
If journaling doesn’t seem like your idea of a legacy project, perhaps consider making an audio or video recording.
Legacy projects are not only for those who will receive them someday but are powerful tools for the giver, as they have a tendency to resolve issues and express love.
For more information on legacy projects, contact me!
Yesterday, I posted Part 1 of “Moving with Ease and Flow at Home."
Home is the starting place of love, hopes, and dreams.
When I am in my kitchen in the evenings, that is my dedicated "me time." Service to others – through food preparation – I am pretty sure is part of my love language.
In fact, my husband recently bought me a couple certificates for classes alongside renowned culinary chef, Bob, at our local cooking school, EVOO.
Admittedly, part of my personality, too, is that I like to be productive and efficient!
For example, if I’m waiting for our dinner to cook, it's a perfect time to wash and cut up vegetables and put them in mesh bags in the refrigerator, and then use the cuttings to start a broth base to freeze later after its cooled. It's also an opportune time to get the Instantpot going with beans or grains. How easy is it while sautéing or waiting for water to boil to grate cheese and put it in beeswax wrap or do some other little task that will be a time-saver in the following days.
I have this thought: It takes longer to go out to a restaurant, so why not make our own “fast food” at home?
Another thing we have established in our home is that while we are eating dinner together, we’ll decide what’s for dinner the next day!
I have found the best time to consciously choose what to make is when I am partially satiated and not when I’m roaming the aisles of a grocery store trying to figure out what to buy. After sitting down at the dining room table to eat, my memory is fresh with ideas after just being in the kitchen.
While my husband cleans up and loads the dishwasher, I’ll make sure we have everything in stock so that I know ahead of time whether or not I need to go to the grocery store the next day.
I’ve raised a lot of kids and I’ve been programmed to be the meal planner in the family. Nowadays with everyone out on their own, even though I still feel a little pressure to perform, it’s more intentional for me to stay present during the day when I don’t even have to think about what to make for dinner.
I can’t express enough the added value of planning ahead!
Other home-prepared “fast food” meal options I can suggest if you’re short on time or especially exhausted after a hard day:
I hope you find these kitchen hints useful!
And now that you’ve co-created a super cozy home, have plenty of ideas to fill your loved ones’ bellies, and maneuver with ease and flow, here’s a quick side note to wrap up:
It is also VERY GOOD to have a location somewhere else outside the home that also makes YOU comfortable and happy: a friend or relative’s place, a bakery or coffee shop, the gym, a cabin in the mountains, even the library.
When all is said and done, home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling. It's ESSENCE.
“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.” ~ Rumi
My home is my sanctuary.
I feel that anyone who steps through my door should have an experience of peace, and find a place to recharge, rejuvenate, reconnect, and build up resources to tackle the outside world.
Honestly, I didn't always think this way, though. My childhood was nomadic and dysfunctional, so it took time to learn what the word "home" meant.
As a young adult, I raised a passel of kids and learned to run a pretty tight ship based on efficiency first. Although we had a fairly comfortable existence, I wouldn't say that our house was particularly cozy back then.
I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve picked up along the way to maybe help make things move with more consciousness, ease, and flow for you in your home, too:
I sometimes feel like a kid when I get into my BuJo and put a little star next to a completed task! My BuJo is the first thing I go to in the morning to sketch out what my day might look like and the last thing I look at before I go to bed.
Educate and empower each person to create a fair division of labor. If you’ve lived in the same location for five years and your partner doesn’t know where the laundry soap is kept or what day the trash and recycles go out to the curb, something has got to change! Living together is a team approach.
My next blog post is a continuation of "Ease and Flow at Home." Part 2 will focus on the kitchen and mealtime.
Please comment with your own helpful hints on creating the efficient and peaceful environment you've created with your children, at home, work, or when traveling!
There can be all sorts of feelings that arise when looking back on how last year was navigated and also the excitement of what might manifest in the year to come.
I imagine, like me, you’ve had your fair share of challenges as well as celebrated accomplishments, experiencing joy alongside some difficulties and pain.
Here are just 7 things to reflect on, and to replenish and build up reserves for yourself as you start the year with 2020 vision!
2. Recognize Your Uniqueness – In this age of social media, please don’t compare yourself to others, especially what you see on the Internet. You have a special gift to offer to the world exactly as you are. Learn what true authenticity is that brings out your light to the world and what your core essences are -- don’t betray them!
3. Cultivate a Loving Circle of Friends – Hang out with people who accept you as you are, who you trust, and who you respect and respect you. There’s really only so much energy you can give to others, and your life will be richer for using discernment in who you choose to have around you and who you choose to be around.
5. Dream About the Future – Imagine what you want in life, what you’d love for your life to be like, what you want to do, who you want in it, and what goals you want to accomplish. My opinion is that visioning “pre-validates” what is possible.
6. Organize Your Life and Create Home Rituals – Clutter creates chaos. External chaos manifests as internal chaos. Keep things simple and create more space for relationships instead of stuff. Time spent looking for something is wasted time, so put personalized systems in place that serve your own needs. Celebrate all the little things. "Hygge" means cozy...Have a hygge life!
flowers, stones, books or quotes, photos, and various other important tangible items and elements of nature. Choosing what to put on an altar is an intuitive process and connects you inside with people, things, feelings, and thoughts that are beloved.
I’ve long espoused the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle. It seems easy for me because when I was a child, I moved around a lot and rarely had the opportunity to become attached to much of anything.
As an adult, I do find it more comforting to live in a small, cozy house with few items rather than too spacious of a house that needs to be filled with furniture I won't use and “stuff,” especially anything that requires regular dusting! Ick.
I just finished up a quick read of a book from a wonderfully witty and wise Swedish woman (who is "between the age of 80 and 100"), Margareta Magnusson, author of “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.” I highly recommend it!
"Death cleaning" isn’t a reference to what to do with a body after somebody dies! It is about forward-thinking that makes everyday life run smoothly now and for your loved ones in the future. It is about removing unnecessary things from your life and making your home orderly and pleasant.
Have some of your possessions been with you so long that you don't appreciate them or can't see the value in them anymore? It may be rewarding to spend an amount of time with them, and then gently disposing of them or giving them away.
When you are gone, can you imagine that anyone in your family or circle of friends will wish to or be able to schedule the time to take care of what you didn’t bother to take care of yourself now? No matter how much people love you, you shouldn’t leave this burden to them. Make your loved ones’ memories of you sweet instead of dreadful. Once someone is gone, there can be chaos enough anyway.
We can plan in advance to lessen unhappy moments for our loved ones. When someone passes away, there are things to take care of that are more urgent and complicated than going through their leftover belongings.
How to begin your own death cleaning while you’re still alive:
Your first choice of where to begin should feel natural for you. A good option is one with many items to choose from and without too much emotional connection. (Do not under any circumstances start with photographs, letters, or mementos.)
Go through the larger items in your home and finish with the smaller ones. You'll feel like you're making progress faster.
Get rid of abundance! For example, the author suggests keeping just one set of dishes, glassware, and utensils for the number of guests that you can fit at your table. If you want to decorate your table for dining, you can use flowers or bright napkins instead.
Another trick is if you are invited to someone’s home, don’t buy the host flowers or a present -- give away one of your pretty things!
Only keep books that you haven’t read yet or books that you return to often. This is usually a difficult thing to accept for a lot of people.
Remember, too, that your memories and your families’ memories of photographs are not always the same. You really should be able to name everyone in a picture if you're attached to it. It might be easier to involve your family when going through old photos so you do not have to carry the weight of all those memories by yourself and you are less likely to get stuck in the past.
Living smaller is a relief and a mess can be a source of irritation. All things should have a place of their own. Give everything a spot and you won’t feel angry, irritated, or desperate. To hunt for a lost item is never an effective use of time.
While you are death cleaning, you must not forget to take care of today's things: your sweet home, the garden, and yourself.
Thinking of where your objects will end up can be crucial. Don’t offer things to others that do not fit into their taste or the space in which they live. It will be a burden to them. To know something will be well used and have a new home is a real joy.
It can be a delight to go through things and have memories. If you don’t remember why or where you have something, it has no worth and it should be easy for you to part with.
Someday someone will have to clean up after you. Whoever it may be will find it a heart-wrenching burden. And yet, it is very hard to do one's own death cleaning. In the end, death cleaning is as much or more for you as for the people who come after you.
“…As long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together.” ~ Leslie Marmon Silko
We can all agree that we still find tradition, ritual, pomp and circumstance in our modern world at celebrations such as weddings, birthday parties, and graduations.
Ceremonies serve to honor life's landmark events; they allow us to bring into light acknowledgment of a transition or a rite of passage. They reflect our beliefs and hopes and fears and draw forth the quieter aspects of spirituality.
A ceremony, done correctly, is a transformative process and allows us to serve as witnesses to each other, bringing people together to show that they are united, and to strengthen the bonds in relationships and communities.
A personalized ceremony motivates us as an individual, honors our own Hero's Journey, allows us to accept and embrace our varied emotions, prompts our memories, and compels us to move forward after a significant life event.
Ceremonies recognize the social life, history, and material and spiritual beliefs of the people who came before us and who it is we choose to be in the future. They also provide a valuable opportunity for a tradition to be passed down from generation to generation.
Historically, ceremonies and rituals were associated with organized religion. Nowadays, an option to a church-based ceremony service is to engage a “Celebrant.”
A Celebrant is a professionally educated and trained storyteller, one who believes in the power of using personal symbolism and ritual to craft a ceremony intended to heal, transform, honor, and commemorate life’s meaningful moments.
Celebrancy does not represent any particular faith tradition but blends together the modern day desires, beliefs, and needs of the client. As we enter new paradigms, opportunities still exist to explore and express our evolving rites of passage.
Here are three examples how a Celebrant might be an option for marking your next milestone:
I consider myself a high-functioning introvert, but it’s still sometimes difficult for me to attend social events and open up to people, even if I've met them before.
(In the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’m an INFJ and in the Enneagram of Personality, I’m a Type 4.)
Introverts tend to be reflective and withdrawn, yet usually feel safe and thrive in one-to-one, deep, intimate and personal relationships.
But in order to find those relationships, we introverts need to put ourselves out there in sometimes uncomfortable situations to meet people in ways we can stretch but not tear.
Being a small business entrepreneur and an introvert to boot can present challenges when it comes to networking. Small talk can be intimidating and doesn’t come especially easy for introverts, and it takes a lot of effort to establish rapport with people we’ve just met.
Over the years I have been in business, I have picked up a few tips and tricks to share with you that have helped me navigate Chamber of Commerce events, business-to-business meetings, big gatherings, and mastermind groups.
Full disclosure: I vividly recall twice in my career when I had implemented the 10-Minute Rule, drove to the event, parked the car in the parking lot, only to sit there and watch people walk in, then turned myself around and drove back home.
Don’t Be A Leech:
Once I arrive at an event, in order to not cling on to one person I feel especially comfortable with and hold them hostage, I commit in advance to meeting three to five new people.
Conversely, if someone latches on to me –- probably another introvert or even worse for an introvert, an energy vampire -- I state to the person I am talking to that I am "stretching myself to grow in social settings," and I tell them that I committed to meeting three to five people at the event. I thank them for understanding and I might ask them if they can introduce me to someone!
Match Body Language:
Work on listening skills if you don’t know what to say. If all else fails, match another person’s mannerisms. Turn your body at a 45-degree angle from the other person if facing them is too intense.
Be authentic and not someone you think they want you to be. If you don't know how to interact or feel frozen, at least observe and use the information you acquire as information to grow and use at the next event.
Side note: It's important to try to show up. I feel like people need at least three contacts with you before they consider using your services:
1. They need to know your name;
2. They need to know what you have to offer;
3. There needs to be trust or a connection.
Ask a Buddy:
Sometimes I will try to find someone I already know in the business community who belongs to a networking group already. I might ask them ahead of time, hey, I'm a little nervous and a little introverted, would it be okay if I look for you when I get there?
Once I find that person at the event and become familiar with my surroundings then with their support, I'm able to venture out from my comfort zone.
Be Prepared and Be Organized:
I wear a name tag on my right side chest so that when someone reaches for my hand to shake it, they can see my name and business right there without diverting their eyes, and perhaps immediately start a conversation either about my name or what I have to offer.
I wear pants or a jacket with two pockets, one on each side. I will keep all my own business cards in the left pocket and all the cards I collect in the right pocket. When I meet someone, I can then extend my right hand to shake their hand and I know that my own business cards are in the left pocket easily grabbing one with my left hand.
Then if they offer me their card, I put their business card in my right pocket so I don't get them all mixed together and have to fumble through cards during the next introduction.
As a small business owner you probably already know how important it is to attend networking events in order to build your business. Whether you are introverted or not, I hope that you find these hints useful. If you have any other hints to share, leave them in a comment!