Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

What is your funny bone anyway? November 14, 2017

My grandmother used to always say “that tickles my funny bone.”  And she had a carefree, easy laughter that sang joy in her space.  And while her life certainly challenges her at times, her attitude and perspective were steadily, if not resolutely,  positive.

She feels deeply across the spectrum of emotions, and she taught me to allow others to see you fully.  She’s not a hider, and yet, her most common state of being is joy.  Even in the midst of a busy life, the early death of her spouse, and the mental illness of a child.

Sometimes we laugh spontaneously; overcome with pleasure.  We find ourselves immersed in the sweetness of life’s nectar bemused, bright, and grateful.

And sometimes laughter is stifled by challenge and joy requires a deep dive into our heart.  These are the moments that matter the most; when levity & light aren’t the natural byproduct of a circumstance.

In these moments, we choose.  We choose the connector AND versus BUT as in “I am feeling deeply sad AND blessed.”  In these moments, we decide to “be fully in” our life while not allowing a circumstance to override our spirit.

Most of the time we live somewhere in the middle.  Our lives busy with routines and activities, we risk falling asleep at the wheel of our life.  Missing the sparkle or the opportunity to just giggle a little and for no reason.

When we decide to cultivate joy in the tiniest of ways, we can trust that those tiniest moments added together turn into a powerful pattern of joyful living.  As my dear friend Linzi would say:  “Leave a sparkle trail of happiness to illuminate the way for others.”

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To Give Joy November 7, 2017

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Disclaimer:  Huge fan of conscious joy.

  • Question:  What in the world is that?
  • Answer:  Conscious joy is joy by choice in all moments.
  • Question:  How about authenticity?  How about allowing ourselves to feel deeply? to mourn and grieve?  To express our anger and sadness?

The word joy roots from the word REJOICE.  Rejoice is defined as “To Give Joy.”

When life gives you lemons, .make lemonade.  Yes, and…..

Can we experience deep, unwavering joy regardless of what’s rocking our world?  Can we be so deeply connected to our truth, to our divinity, & to our blessings that our challenges are continuously calibrated to their appropriate magnitude:  in existence but not in dominance of?

In a nutshell:  Can we authentically experience pain while simultaneously holding space for joy?  

In my life, I’ve had experiences that seem planetary systems away from joy, and yet, I’m learning that it is possible to stay in my heart space and rejoice through these painful, finite moments.  Sometimes, the holding of both comes with ease and sometimes not.  Sometimes it would seem I just can’t.  At least I can’t today.  And, I’m open to the possibility that through growth & intention, I could be someday.

What is your experience?

 

 

I’m not stressed…. November 2, 2017

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stress

Stress is a creeper in our lives.  We are so busy “doing” that we don’t notice all of that “getting it done” is coming from a place of fight or flight.  When (if) we stop, we finally notice that we are worn out, exhausted, sleeping poorly, and anxious.

So what to do?  We feel more stressed trying to solve stress because we know what to do, and with best intentions, most of us aren’t doing it.  No bubble baths, daily meditation, counting our breath.  No funny movies to replace the news (facebook), no earlier bed time, and no daily yoga.  So, we keep “doing”, busily checking off the to-do’s on our list all the while giving ourselves a failing grade (judgement) on our self-care habits.

Sounds like a fabulous way to treat the person with whom we have our most intimate relationship, huh?

I’m an advocate for all the “things” we can do to reduce stress with a particular affinity for breath work and a physical yoga practice.  These are miracle workers in my life, and there is something even simpler that requires no extra time or special outfit.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to
choose one thought over another.
-William James

Where we place our attention expands.  For most of us lowly curious-about but not yet enlightened souls, our thoughts bubble up without us noticing.  This idea of choosing our thoughts seems almost laughable as our thoughts are grooved deeply into our subconsciousness and then, via bullet train, blast through to our consciousness.

What we can do is observe the thoughts upon arrival at the station, and then decide which to leave on the train, which to reshape, and which to embrace.  Sometimes the thought is deeply seeded, negative and easily refutable.

Think the “big story” in your life: I’m not good enough, I’m not smart, I’m too fat…..  These stories require intentional abandonment moment by moment and replacement with soul speak.  I am enough exactly as I am, I love myself as I am.”  Thich Nhat Hanh teaches to say “Dear One, I am here for you.”

Sometimes the thought is about the daily happenings, our perceptions of others, or our ruminations on the past and future.  Think “I can’t believe he said that, and she thinks I’m….”

I practice reframing these thoughts into questions.  How true is that?  What am I making that mean?  How can I contribute to something better in this situation?

There is one tool that can be used in almost all situations:  gratitude.  When your mind is swimming, just begin speaking aloud your blessings.  There’s something powerful about hearing your voice say thank you over and over that quiets the mind, expands the heart, and drains the negativity.

 

 

The Pinnacle of Practice. October 22, 2017

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What if everything we do is a practice?  A practice of connection, alignment, and balancing effort with ease?  What if what we achieve is secondary to what we practice?

I know… My hair goes up on my neck just a bit with that thought.  Perhaps we can just consider.  On the yoga mat (which for me is my little self experimenting petri-dish of observation and reflection),  we strive to twist, bend, hold all the while breathing with ease.  (Sometimes a hilarious endeavor).  And secretly, because we are all human, we get this little burst of inner sparkle when we nail that elusive pose or touch our forehead to our knees.

Yes, we know this means nothing about anything, but still, achievement is instant gratification.  And thus, even though we may not utter the words aloud (because we are much more evolved than that), we sometimes see the pinnacle of our practice as achievement.  In fact, teachers even fuel this by referring to “the peak pose.”  So, we strive to balance on a single finger or smugly look at the Hanover Pretzel Knot and think, “You ain’t got nothin’ on me.”   Like bendiness that would turn Gumby greener with Envy  will profoundly alter our impact in the world and the intimacy of our connections.  Like maintaining pranayama for 60 minutes will cause unicorns  to burst out of our chakras and radiate our auric field into a prism of color.

Sounds hilarious, I know.  And take a moment and consider how this plays out in life off the mat.  How has continuous striving impacted you?

And so every yoga class asks us to “end” with savasana.  Deep rest to balance to the exertion, yes.  But for me, to remind us that it is in the letting go that we come home.  There is no alignment of muscles, bones, and joints.  We simply let go of it all.

We allow the nothingness of the pose to peel away the expectations that we have of ourselves, the roles we play, and the desire to strive.  Until what remains is just essence.  The essence of who we are at our core; our divine spark that exists with and without achievement.  Always enough.

So whether you spend time on a yoga mat or not, practice savasana.  Alive, Awake, Present.  Untethering, Surrendering, and Opening.  Deep & Divine.

 

 

A * MAZE October 5, 2017

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maze

  • Amaze:  In awe / overwhelmed with wonder.
  • A maze:  A winding, unknown, unpredictable journey from start to stop.

To quote my friend, Linzi, “Same, Same, but Different.”

We can choose amazement in the midst of the ordinary if we choose to be overwhelmed with wonder by the potential of each and every moment.  It is a state of openness and curiosity mixed with acceptance and reverence.  It sounds lovely, yes?  But it does require that we depart well-groomed trails of repeat experiences and see each one as an unchartered maze.  In other words, to treat each moment as if it is brand new to us.

Can we be amazed by the beauty of what is, the possibility of what is coming, and the diversity of the people we meet?    Can we remember in the midst of routine to be amazed by the work that we do; recognizing its importance in creating a world that we are excited to leave for our children and grandchildren?  Can we be overwhelmed with wonder when we consider the whole of who we are?

 

 

What does love breathe? September 21, 2017

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I am blessed to have parents who have been married almost 51 years.  As a married woman, I understand that love’s oxygen is a carefully woven blend of commitment, presence, and compassion.

Living our love is different than simply loving.  I can love another and still mistreat with unkind, impatient words.  In the important moments of our life, those that wake & shake us, living our love seems easier.  In these moments, we so easily take a stand for one another; with big love, big hands, and big hearts.

However, most of our life happens in the small moments that feel undifferentiated from the last.  It is easy in the routine of our day to allow the seepage of irritation and ribbing.

As we navigate dinner, moonlighting as uber drivers for our children, we may fall asleep to the impact we have.  Does it mean we love less?  No.  It does, however, mean we are living our love less.

So here’s my experiment.  For one week, I will practice staying awake to the miracle in the mundane & to living my love.  It is a small way to build a big habit & to retrain my mind to elevate above the fray so that meaningful connection, radical compassion, and unconditional acceptance illuminate every moment; even the one navigating school drop-off.  Will you join me?

 

The heartbeat of expression September 14, 2017

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heart

Did you know our heart has a magnetic field with more than a 3 foot radius?

In yoga, we think of our hearts as the center of our subtle body.  Our heart chakra, anahata, is our reservoir of expression.  In every moment, our heart asks us to be truthful and unrestrained by feeling deeply our full range of emotion.  And then our heart nudges us to be complete in our experience by letting go of that moment so the next can emerge (non-attachment).

I recently heard a physician delivering a talk at Google headquarters say, “It is our heart, working in tandem with our brain, that allows us to feel for others and make sense of those feelings.  It is ultimately what makes us human. Compassion is the heart’s gift to the rational mind.”

The practice of gratitude lifts us and others.  It returns our heart and mind to a place of steadiness and acceptance.  Gratitude may be the missing link in clear, centered communication between the mind and heart.  Consider that for yourself.

Gratitude is the cognitive expression of the heart’s knowing and longing.