2016

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

joy

Gratitude Is the Attitude!

Expressing gratitude has benefits to you, personally, as well as to all of us, globally. When we live from the heart, grateful for the small blessings that each day brings, the whole world becomes a better place.

Gratitude is a practice. And, like other habits, the more often it is invited in, the more familiar it becomes, so that the gift of gratitude can be evoked more readily. Begin by reminding yourself, every day, to look around your personal world and name three reasons for your own gratitude at that very moment. After a few weeks of this daily practice, that attitude of gratitude will permeate the way you look at all the events in your life.

You will come to see that even challenging times have lessons for which you can feel grateful. That while you impatiently wait on line at the grocery store, the child in the cart before yours turns to you with a blissful smile that melts your heart -- a reason to be grateful. That when you run from your office to your car in the rain and just happen to glance up at the sky, a rainbow has just popped -- a reason for gratitude. That when you can't find a book you've been wanting to read and search high and low in your house, you come upon some old photos of your child as a baby and spend an emotional hour savoring those precious moments -- a real opportunity for gratitude...

Gratitude brings joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and tolerance. Can't the world use a bit of that right about now?

Ahhhh, a Guided Imagery session

In the midst of a busy day, intent on my To Do list, I sat down to create a guided imagery .mp3 for a client. Admittedly--and ironically--I was a bit frazzled as I settled in for the task at hand. With my own eyes closed, I invited her to do the same...and proceeded to drop in to a restorative and calming place of quiet relaxation.

Through guided imagery, brain chemistry is changed, resulting in our becoming more receptive to the positive images that are evoked in the guiding. When our brains are consistently invited to imagine positive situations such as calm, confidence, success, peacefulness, joy, and the myriad of happy emotions available to us, it becomes familiar with positivity. The path of least resistance shifts to healthful, forward-moving thoughts, actions, and responses while letting go of barriers such as anxiety, doubt,  and resistance. Taking just a few moments each day to sit with an intention to quiet our busy brain becomes an amazing opportunity to manifest our best selves!

Twelve minutes later, I was gently bringing my client, via the recording, to express self-gratitude for her willingness to gift herself the time to practice a quieting session, then to gently open her eyes, look around the room, and move with graciousness through her day. And that is just what I did...

It was a joy to work with Robin…

"When my husband of 34 years died I lost my interest in cooking.  Instead I began relying on quick frozen organic entrees and dinners. After three years I decide to improve the quality of my diet, so I contacted Robin Mallery. Robin helped me create a more nourishing and healthful diet that took my busy teaching and consulting schedule into consideration.

It was a joy to work with Robin. She is knowledgeable, supportive, intuitive, and warm.  I highly recommend her as a Heart Healthy Coach.

Through lifestyle counseling, the sharing of her delicious and healthy family recipes, and an informative and fun "field trip" to a local whole food market, I have shifted to an eating plan that is healthy, delicious, and swiftly prepared. The key to swift and healthy meal preparation for me has been Robin's 90-minute Sunday afternoon food prep model, a strategy that assures quick and delicious high quality meals throughout the week. I consider my leisurely Sunday afternoon food preparation time as self-indulgent "me" time, and enjoy chopping, baking, and sauteing against the backdrop of classical music and a glass of wine.  I also love the fact that a nutritious and delicious dinner is ready when I walk through the door every night of my work week.  It's as if I finally have that personal chef I have always coveted, only it's me!"  ---Patricia J., Nevada City

JOY is all around us

Joy.

It's there -- all around us, ours to savor, ours to appreciate, ours to create...

Creating joy begins when you give yourself permission to slow down, just for a moment, so that you can observe the happenings of your own world. The small things. The occurrences or thoughts that might otherwise go unnoticed, if you hadn't given yourself the moment to pay attention.

Even in our busy lives we have time to to invite mindfulness as the filter through which we view our day. Popping to the grocery store in the midst of several other chores, take notice of the smile on the face of a child who is helping his mom load the cart, or the elderly couple holding hands as they stroll the isles; when you walk into an office building, admire the flowers blooming brightly in the planter boxes; on the way back to your car, notice the sound of the birds singing from the trees; watch a sunrise or sunset, marveling at nature; walk alongside a stream; share a smooch with your sweetie...all of these everyday small details will bring you to joy.

The more you invite joy, the more familiar this healthful emotion becomes to you. Your cup will be half-full. Your world will shine brightly. Your tensions will melt away. You will feel lighter, more patient, and more energetic. From a purely physical perspective, the inflammation that occurs in response to the hurry-up stress hormones will diminish; blood vessel soften, leading to lowered blood pressure; blood glucose levels become more balanced; and brain chemistry becomes less chaotic -- all of this, just from giving yourself permission to slow down to experience joy.

What is bringing you to joy today?

Grace (the dog) = JOY

I've been writing and talking and reading a lot about joy over the past several months. Joy [joi] –noun 1.the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
Joy is available to all of us. Joy is a choice. Joy is a gift. Joy is all around us. Joy is free.

When joy is evoked and acknowledged, all sorts of wonderful physical benefits occur in the body. Many of the positive changes are connected to the resulting decrease of circulating adrenaline and catecholamines (stress hormones): a relaxation of the blood vessels, leading to lowered blood pressure; a decrease in cell wall inflammation, which may decrease the risk for some cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease; and a measurable balancing of brain chemicals, leading to a sense of well-being, just to name a few.

Grace the dog brought me to a place of pure JOY today. For those of you who don't know her, Grace is our rescued/adopted Border Collie. Two years after our beloved black Lab Mack died, I began to long for a dog again. One Wednesday, I went to the animal shelter, "just to look", and fell in love with Grace--a short-haired Border Collie with expressive eyes and a sleek body--a real beauty. The shelter folks were calling her Spot because of her coloring, but this undignified name did not suit her! All they knew of her was that she had been abandoned in an adjacent county and had spent a month in that animal shelter before being transferred to where I had found her. She had already been taken home by one family locally, but had been returned due to her "skittish" personality and inability to get along with the other dog in that house. It was inferred to me that if she couldn't find a good home, that the choices for her longevity were limited...maybe it was knowing that, or her soulful eyes, or her gorgeous coat...yes, you guessed it, home she went with me later that week. I renamed her, choosing to call her Grace, which seemed so fitting for this fragile creature.

What a handful! She was so incredibly nervous, her ears seemed permanently plastered back and her tail threatened to poke a hole in her stomach, it was kept so far between her legs. There was general consensus that she had been abused in her past life, which was manifested by the sheer terror she exhibited when a man would approach her. When Grace was outside, she would press to the back of her doghouse if a man was in the yard. Inside our house, any stranger--men in particular--would cause her to shove herself into the 6-inch gap under our bed, hiding and shivering all the while. Our hearts went out to Grace, to witness the fear and anxiety that had defined her life thus far, and we were determined to right her life through love, patience, and structure.

We just celebrated 3 years of Grace being in our lives. Gracing our family. Today, she is a completely different dog. She is happy and animated. She had filled out in body and is a super athlete--leaping into the water, chasing balls at the speed of light, and bounding through the woods where she walks with us twice each day. She is well trained (most of the time) and follows commands (um, well not always!). She smiles. She wags. She plays. She has transformed into a loving, bright, affectionate dog that brings so much to our family.

Grace = JOY. We feel this daily, but I was especially invited to acknowledge this today, during a visit to the vet. Our vet had been wary when she first met Grace, seeing her fear and distrust, and mentioned the potential for aggressiveness or other alpha manifestations. She has seen Grace several times over the past 3 years; today Grace trotted in, tail up and wagging, smile on her face, and spontaneously licked the vet's hand. Our vet was so pleased and impressed with how far Grace has come. She went out of her way to thank me for having been so diligent, loving, and patient with Grace as she found her place in the world.

At that moment, with Grace sitting by my side, looking at me with adoring eyes, relaxed and settled, my heart filled with JOY, for this wondrous animal and our love for each other. What a gift.

Brain Changes Lead to Behavior Changes

Joy, mindfulness, positive affirmation, and visualization

We are creatures of habit, finding comfort in the familiar. Our brain reinforces this sense of routine and familiarity, in that the brain would rather you made the same choices over and over.  Although you may be committed to a goal of "eating healthier" or "becoming fit", the very desire to change familiar behaviors to ones that will support the achievement of your goal(s), are perceived by the brain as being a stressor, which will activate the sympathetic nervous system response of fight or flight.

The body of science-based evidence continues to expand that validates the fact that we can “change our brains” to be more responsive to subtle and pleasant behavior change goals. There are four principles to practice that will decrease the excitability of the brain, minimize stress hormone presence in the body, and create the brain changes that will enhance the achievement of small-step behavior change goals.

  • Invite joy into your life
  • Move mindfully through your day
  • Express positive affirmation regarding your intention
  • Visualize the outcome you desire

How wonderful those principles are! Finding joy is such a gift—and it is everywhere, if you choose to see it. The laughter of children playing, the glorious song of birds celebrating spring, the scent of blooming flowers, the smile you receive as a result of a kindness you extend to another human being, the petting of an animal…all of these opportunities present themselves to us every day  (in variations, of course), and if we slow down enough to see them, then JOY will become a primary emotion throughout our day. And by the way, joy and gratitude are kissin’ cousins in terms of the positive effect on your brain and body.

Mindfulness and joy go hand-in-hand, in that the slowing down of being mindful creates the space to experience joy. Additionally, mindfulness can be evoked while we are eating, listening, and even while working on the computer.

Ah, positive affirmation…isn’t it interesting that we have evolved to be a species that expresses displeasure about ourselves—in the form of negative self-talk. This very common and potentially sabotaging dialogue can be slowly let go of simply by practicing positive affirmation. Called cognitive restructuring, expressing your intention with positive words will diminish resistance and ambivalence that the brain holds regarding new behaviors or thoughts. For instance, stating “I enjoy the energy I feel after going for a brisk walk” is received differently by the brain as opposed to “If I am going to get into shape, I have to go for a walk”—a subtle difference on the surface perhaps, but truly, there is the positivity of “enjoy the energy” versus the obligation of “have to go”. Think about it!

Lastly, consider visualization. It’s been known for years that prior to competing, athletes visualize the ski run, or the gymnastics routine, or the bike race, seeing themselves at their best performance. This prepares the brain for success and fine-tunes mindfulness for that particular event. You and I may not be racing in the Olympics, but nonetheless, the same technique of visualization will enhance our performance to create our own personal successes. Imagine a party scene, as it relates to your commitment to “eating healthier”. See yourself visiting with friends, visualize the buffet table: you take a small plate, mindfully selecting a variety of small bites of whatever you desire, see yourself sitting at a table with friends, enjoying their company, eating slowly, savoring flavors and textures, allowing yourself the time to become satiated. Visually experience the pleasure and satisfaction of having eaten well, reveling in good conversation with others, and having honored your personal commitment. When you arrive at the party in reality, you will have set the tone for your behavior, simply by having visualized your success.

These four principles are FREE! Meaning they are available to you right this very minute, at no cost to you, but for the few moments it takes to practice.  Practice is a key concept, as each of the four mindsets becomes more and more familiar to you and your brain when they are intentionally practiced.

I invite you to experience joy, cultivate mindfulness, express your positive beliefs about yourself, and visualize your success. What a rich life you live!

Exercise stimulates the senses, the mind, and the body

A run, after the rain

Late in the afternoon, I was fortunate to find thirty minutes to run with my dog. After the torrential rains, the bits of blue sky visible between the dark clouds lured me outside. The sunrays were beaming towards the ground, creating steam from the wet earth, warming.

Senses alive, I savored every moment of the waning afternoon. The smells are what I noticed first, they were so incredibly rich: an earthy aroma of wet dirt and leaves, a crisp freshness in the air, sweet wood smoke.  I so love that smell, it is somehow soothing in its’ association with the Fall season.

The visual beauty was astounding: raindrops clinging to tree limbs and leaves, catching the sunlight, creating prisms of color; subtle variations on green—the dull green of the oak leaves, the deep green of the cedar and pine boughs, and most amazing of all is the iridescent greens of the mosses. I have long been fascinated by the mosses, particularly after a rain. What hearty life form this is! Dry and dull after a hot summer, having turned stringy and brown, but after a good rain—it’s a miracle! The moss comes alive, turning a gorgeous vibrant color, plumping up with water, resilient and quietly powerful. Other stimulating sights were the reds and yellows of the changing liquid amber tree leaves, the downed branches from the high winds, and most exquisite was the deep red of the madrone trunk, glistening in the afternoon light. Simply beautiful.

I was serenaded by many birds, their melodic songs seeming to celebrate the end of the storm, were music to my ears: piliated and acorn woodpeckers (yes, they have a distinctly different sound), chickadees, kinglets, house finches, and goldfinches. And the sound of the wind in the tall trees, swaying.

My sense of touch was stimulated as the gentle, fresh breeze ruffled my hair and caressed my skin, by the water drops from the tree limbs, plentiful leaves softening the trail, and by the incredibly supple yet tough feel of the mosses and lichens.

The dust is gone, perhaps for the year now, and that is a welcomed transition. I splashed through puddles on the trail. My heart, on a physical level, was working hard for me, responding well to being engaged in exercise. My spiritual heart was filled with joy for the abundant beauty of the woods after a rain storm, and gratitude for my desire to be out in that natural beauty, moving my body, appreciating that movement, and seeing my dog smile.

“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

recipe link
nowhearthis
mindful more
more...balancedlife
more...quietingbusybrain
more...real food
justmove
Blog Categories