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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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.

 

 

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 Duck and her iPhone Quagmire August 2, 2017

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duck

This morning, my walk took me along a lake that appeared to be an endless landscape as the fog was obscuring the shore.  The geese and ducks floated while a resident loon soared across the horizon.

I considered a photograph, and it occurred to me that you cannot capture the mystical.  It extends beyond sight; reaching into the sound of silence, the smell of earth, and the touch of dew heavy air.  And it is changing; ever so subtly, but always changing.  It refuses to be contained to a single sensory dimension or moment in time.

The mystical lives in the present moment fully.  It is part physical, part energetic, and entirely magical.  The desire to contain it is a human one.  The duck is not thinking; “I wish the iPhone camera was more sophisticated.”  The duck is just being the duck in the midst of the mystical moment.  I wonder if we humans perplex the duck or if she watches us encountering the mystical & quietly whispers to us….

Just Be.

 

Are you lying your way to success? July 25, 2017

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They say there are no coincidences, and thus my ears perk up when I encounter the convergence of two ideas.

I stumbled across a study showing that people who demonstrate higher degrees of self-deception are more successful in the world.  Participants were asked a series of embarrassing questions written to reveal the dark side within us.   Those who lied reported being happier and feeling more successful in their pursuits.  This went beyond how they felt as they also earned more in their respective roles.

This study converged with a Buddhist principle I studied on self-compassion without self-deception.  The belief that if we drench honesty in compassion, we might live a more authentic, loving life.  Pema Chodron said “the definition of self confidence is self gentleness.”

If this is true, what do we make of the first study?  Have we, as a society, become so inept at self-compassion that self-deception is required to carve a happy productive life?  Have we replaced radical acceptance with deceit as a survival skill?

What if we could accept with compassion the whole truth of who we are without self-loathing?  What if we were amused by our flaws and forgiving of our failures?  What if we met weakness with a heart of curiosity versus a mindset of judgement?   Could this impact our joy?  Our authenticity? Our results?  And what if it had only one impact:  self love.  Would that be enough?

 

Unending rain July 11, 2017

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rainy day

I’ve always marveled at our nature mirrors our life.  Rainy days are the perfect illustration.   Sometimes life seems so sunny & bright with all the pieces aligned & in flow. Our energy boundless & our ideas as expansive as the blue sky.

And sometimes it pours.   It’s in those moments when it’s gloomily overcast & it would the sun is never again coming out that we have a choice.  We can wallow in the darkness & tell ourselves woe is me stories or we can practice patient strength.  With a deep breath & a lift of our heart, we can radiate the joy and possibility that appears cloud covered; digging deep to ride the ebb and flow of what is external to us.

And even then, sometimes the rain just keeps coming.   A dreary moment becomes a dreary season, and still the choice stands in front of us.  Will we see the beauty?  Will we see the gift of the rain?  Will we honor natural cycles in our life without being a victim to them? Will we believe in the possibility of tomorrow’s rising sun and parting clouds?  Choose to bask.