Monday, October 5, 2015

Have more fun

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

I love Amy Poehler, and have recommended her book Yes Please, to many people.

How many times have we been self conscious as adults, when we were just trying to have fun? Think about being on a dance floor, taking a class, or even just wearing a daring new outfit. We so often fall into the "what will they think about me" trap. We lose sight of having fun.

What would life look like if we let ourselves have fun? If we let go of the fear of what others might think? If we embrace the courage of a young child, and just dance our hearts out?

This lesson became so clear to me over Labor Day weekend. Every year, hubbs and I have a big backyard party, and my musical friends and I put together a once a year band. It's a lot of fun...and...I'm always nervous about what everyone will think. What if no one likes my song? What if my voice sucks?

This year, as we were on stage (AKA my deck!) all the little kids at the party were right in front of us dancing their hearts out. People started taking video of them, and even those of us in the band were captivated by them! They were having so much fun. They never thought about how they looked, they just did what they wanted.

I know we're not all 6 year olds, and I also know that being self-conscious is learned behavior, as the kids at my party reminded me. This means that if we learned this behavior, we can unlearn it.

Take a chance and choose to have more fun this week. Listen to Amy Poehler and trust that you won't look stupid. Your childlike courage will shine through, and it'll feel awesome!

Thanks for being on this journey with me.


CLICK TO TWEET: Have more fun!

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Be gentle, be kind

It isn’t hard to be gentle
To lean into yourself as though you are a tiny delicate flower
Piercing through the forest floor
Spreading its elusive white petals to kiss the sky for the first time

It isn’t hard to love yourself
Or embrace the soft pear-shaped being that you are

It just takes a little tenderness here, a little patience there

A little kindness

It isn’t hard, but sometimes we forget how to
Be a mother to ourselves
How to hold our own tender hearts with warmth
Or how to soothe of our own sweet tears

We forget how to sing lullabies to ourselves at night
And how to walk barefoot under the stars
Bathing in healing moonlight
Knowing that tomorrow, when we wake from the deep therapy of slumber
We can start anew again

All is not lost
For what is forgotten can be remembered
What is misplaced can be found again
And these simple words:

Be gentle, be kind

These are guiding posts on the map back to that place of tender grace 

Jodi Sky Rogers is an Eco-Intuitive & Writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She is a flower charmed and nature loving soul who loves quiet moments in lotus position, dreamy sky-scapes and the magic of the Universe. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Friday, October 2, 2015

The power of family connection

Post by Laurainne Marshall for the Kind Kindred series.

When I was a young teenager, I was hard work - I know many of my friends will be surprised to read this.....NOT. :-)

The relationship between my mum and me was often strained - courtesy of me mostly.

In the last 2 weeks I have watched as my two kids have spent time with my mum.

You see my Dad died when my first child, Hayley, was 3 months old. It was one of those bitter sweet moments in life. I got to see the full cycle of life.....and that was tough.

Mum and Dad always wanted Grandkids. In fact my Dad, an avid cricketer, always wanted to share his passion for cricket with them.

Dad has been gone for 16 years now. I often think he would have reveled in the "Poppy" moment - cherishing time with both Hayley and Jamie.

My mum has always loved my kids, enabling them, bolstering them and mostly loving them unconditionally. When they were sick, she would take them so I could still work. And now, they both love spending time with her.

I was looking out of my kitchen window yesterday watching the interaction between Grandchild and Grandmother. It warmed my heart. It made me realize that all those years when my relationship was strained with my mum have, in fact, come full circle. They are so lucky to have an exceptional bond with my mum. And I am blessed to have her in my life.

Namaste lovelies, ‘til next time

Laurainne Marshall (AKA LO) lives in Sydney, Australia with her 2 kids, Hayley and Jamie and her soul mate of nearly 25 years Graham. Their furbaby is a beautiful Labradoodle named Amber. Laurainne has many roles, Wife, Mother, Teacher and Musician. She believes that life is to be lived at full throttle and is deeply spiritual. Her motto in life "Grab life and run". She also believes one person can make a difference in this world and hopes that by sharing her life experiences, she might inspire a few people along the way.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Brain Cancer and Beyond, part 2

Post by Jamie Buchanan for the Kind Kindred series.

Cancer changes your life, often for the better. You learn what's important, you learn to prioritize, and you learn not to waste your time. You tell people you love them…Gilda Radner used to say ‘If it wasn’t for the downside, cancer would be the best thing and everyone would want it.’ That’s true. If it wasn’t for the downside.
-Joel Siegel

Part 2: Dazed and Confused
Click HERE if you missed Part 1

Nonetheless, I came back from Africa changed. My illness forced me to cope through the world’s worst pain though because I thought I had a simple sinus infection. I began spending more and more time alone, in my room, lights off, with the door shut. I did not want to be around anybody, even family. It always felt like my four magenta walls were closing in on me. I felt alone. I felt isolated. During rowing practice, I constantly fell asleep with the oars at hand. No one understood the headaches and the depth of my pain was unexplainable, even to those I loved. I was skipping meals due to the increased symptoms of nausea and throwing up every morning. I could not tolerate any smells. I remember throwing up every time I caught a whiff of my favorite vanilla cupcake candle. But, I thought, maybe I was just changing, and so was my sense of smell.

Once school started in September, I missed so many days that I was home more than I was in class. My memory began to fade and I noticed I could not recall mathematical formulas or memos teachers told me two days prior. I was always a straight-A student; however, my grades began to slip as teachers questioned what was going on with me. Absences, declining grades, and skipping out on events was not my character. As months slowly dwindled by, these conditions only worsened. People suspected I was “faking sick” because I missed so many school days. Teachers accused me of skipping class when I continuously asked to get a drink, or use the bathroom. Other parents spread rumors that I was bulimic because I was constantly throwing up. Everyone had their own thoughts and opinions about what was going on with me—no one believed me—but, for all I knew nothing could be seriously wrong with me because my pediatrician confirmed my symptoms as a sinus infection that just “wasn’t going away.” Doctors know best, don’t they?

As my symptoms progressed, my perseverance prevailed. I have learned that one must reflect on the positives in order to overcome any of life’s obstacles. In a sense, illness has made me more resilient because it has forced me to deal with enormous amounts of pain and have endured a multitude of losses: both physical and symbolic, while motivating me to be more positive. Thus, when pain strikes now, it seems minor, more tolerable. My diagnosis was also honorable in a way because it showed me what real love is. The love I received from my family during this time made me push myself to survive, not just for myself, but also for them.

I am a passionate optimist committed to helping others improve themselves. 
I have been tested to my core and have overcome against all the odds. 
I will be a beacon, an activist, and an advocate for those who feel they cannot do it for themselves.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to Be Kind to Yourself when Presenting your Creative Work (to the World!)

Post by Czarina Aggabao Thelen for the Kind Kindred series.

In his interview of vulnerability expert Brené Brown, photographer Chase Jarvis admitted that his best artwork is his most vulnerable. So how can you be kind to yourself when you put yourself out there in a BIG way? Maybe you're work-shopping a creative writing draft for feedback (hopefully constructive critique), or putting up a gallery show; or even presenting your ideas to your peers for work, a conference, or your passion project. Below I'll share tips and mindsets that will help.

Let me illustrate this through a personal story. Last year I had a rite of passage in presenting my creative work while being kind to myself when it mattered most.

Here’s what I was facing: I had to present a 35-page dissertation chapter to a dozen faculty members from various departments of the University of Texas at Austin. It was the first time I had written a dissertation chapter and presented a work-in-progress before top faculty for a seminar.

Have you had one of these moments? Maybe you offered up your project in its premature stage for evaluation. The people who critiqued your work didn’t know what you had to overcome just to be sitting in front of them.

The day of the presentation, I had to handle tough questions and respond to faculty comments and critique.

The most vulnerable moment was receiving feedback on my chapter while it was still in the tender development stage…when I was still feeling close to my work, not yet confident about its quality, and exposed to the evaluations of senior faculty and gatekeepers. Even though I knew better, it felt that their critiques about my work were a judgment about my personal worth and capability.

How about for you? How has it felt to put your original work-in-progress – a piece of who you are – out in the world?

The challenge is this …

How do you unhook from the roller-coaster highs and lows of riding on others’ reactions to your work?

Even when striving for it to get ever-better, how can you separate the quality of your work from your worth as a person and contributor?

Here’s the most important thing I learned that helps with the jitters when you present your creative work to the world and anticipate feedback or even critique.

When receiving feedback on your creative work, shift your attention away from wondering whether it’s any good. 

Instead, celebrate who you are BEING from the inside out - even under pressure.

That’s how to be kind to yourself. You take the pressure off your “output.” You press “pause” on wondering, “Did people like it? Did they get it?” You return your focus to gratitude and fun celebration of your growth in leaps and bounds from having taken on this challenge in the first place.

No matter what the outcome or how people react to your original work, no one can take away your personal growth. At the end of the day, it’s not about competition or measuring up to anyone’s standards.

(And this goes for going on the job market or writing grant applications as well!)

Here's how you can put structures in place to be kind to yourself and support your energy cycles when presenting creative work:

  1. Recognize that getting feedback on a work-in-progress can be emotionally and energetically draining. Look ahead in your weekly planning to create time to stock up your reserves of physical energy and wellness. I recommend blocking off time in your calendar to eat healthy, exercise and get a good night’s rest for at least 3 days before the presentation. Even if you’re not perfect with this, having the reminder helps you to stay on track.
  1. Leave lots of buffer time the morning of your presentation so that you can prepare yourself energetically and mentally. You know what we do!
  1. Reserve two hours after the presentation to be alone and just feel the feelings. If you need to curl up in bed and cry, let yourself. It’s part of releasing stress.

Case in point: After my dissertation presentation, I felt filled with a sadness that was totally unexpected. Until then, I had been running on adrenaline and a deserved pride in my accomplishment that I shared with fellow students after the presentation. But when I came home exhausted, it felt like a lack of deep inner fulfillment.

That’s because up to this point my friends and I had only cheered the output – our chapters. Yet I was still being hard on myself from having just received a round of faculty feedback. I was feeling raw, tender and unfulfilled because I had not yet paid tribute to who I was being (courageous, smart, groundbreaking, graceful, tenacious, creative, daring…) under pressure.

So if you feel emotional, give your emotions the space they need to move through you.

  1. To recover - make plans ahead of time to meet with a friend for a relaxing, restorative activity. (I recommend yoga, taiji, massage, or a walk by a river or in the park.)
Despite the cold and rain on the day of my presentation, I got my butt out the door and met a friend for yoga. I told her about the huge challenge I had just overcome and about the sadness and exhaustion that filled me afterwards. She really heard me. It feels so good to have the real-life part of this journey recognized and held. I’m talking about the sweatpants-and-eyeglasses part, when you’re rolling out of bed in the morning with not much external guidance and you’re trying to rack up the courage to face people – or yourself – about the value of your project.

Years of your life go into your body of original creative work, and it feels so good to just be real about that. At the end of the day, the content and theoretical value of your intellectual or artistic work is a fine pat-on-the-back. The deeper and lasting fulfillment, though, comes from recognizing and celebrating not the project itself, but rather the way you show up to it, day in and day out. After all, this is what has shaped your life and led you to be who you are today.

What kind of pressure do you feel when you present your creative work? How can you acknowledge yourself for how you’re being, even under pressure?

Let me know in the comments below. I'm here for you.

Czarina Aggabao Thelen, Ph.D. candidate, is a coach, consultant and catalyst for creative changemakers to shape new possibilities in the world. 
She has been awarded Fulbright and other fellowships for her grassroots organizing and research on indigenous women’s leadership development.

Feeling Inspired? 
Visit to download a free Personal Activation Kit so that you can live your calling (even if you’re stuck or don’t know where to start).

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Working with reality

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Byron Katie has been a big influence in my work and my life. I clearly remember reading her book, "Loving What Is", while on a beach vacation with my BFF (the hubbs doesn't like the sand). My biggest takeaway? If you want the socks off the floor, pick up the socks. Or, in my case... if you want the trash taken out, take out the trash.

It may sound silly, but often in a relationship, the smallest things can become the biggest challenges. Ever find yourself keeping score with your significant other or anyone else close to you? Yeah. Me, too.

Katie, as she likes to be called, teaches about working with reality. Looking at things in this exact moment, as a way of resolving pain. It is only when we oppose reality that we experience pain.

To go back to the trash example, what I was fighting was the truth that taking the trash out was what I wanted. Maybe it wasn't what my husband wanted, and instead of asking him to dutifully take the trash out on our designated day every week, I would become resentful of the 'one more thing' I had to do.

Re-framing my experience and working with reality was like a breath of fresh air. It seemed so simple! Clearly, he didn't care about taking the trash out. I did. Why did it even matter? When you take a step back or have that ah-ha moment, you really get some clarity around the little things.

When I came home from that vacation, something had shifted. Working with reality is now a part of my everyday life. Yes, it takes practice, but I bet there's one little place in your life that you can start. What's the baby step you can take to stop opposing reality?

Thanks for being on this journey with me.


CLICK TO TWEET: Work with reality.

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