Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to lead an introductory teacher training session and participate in the thesis presentation of a dear friend who is completing her advanced training. Both sessions utilized the Wheel of Life exercise, and in both settings, the majority of the participants remarked it was a new experience for them, which led me to believe it might also be new for some of you.
The Wheel of Life exercise is a tool used by life coaches, entrepreneurs, and teachers to help you assess the different areas that comprise your life. You first identify the different activities and relationships that make up your life - from faith to work to family to any other area you consider important. You then assess your level of satisfaction (or lack thereof) in each of these categories. Seeing these elements compares side by side enables you to identify whether an area (or areas) are out of balance. The next step is to create an action plan to address areas of concern, including what obstacles might stand in your way and what resources can help you make progress.
I have completed this exercise a number of times, and it never fails to illuminate improvements I can pursue, as well as reflecting progress I have made along the way. Whether or not this idea is new to you, I encourage you to carve out 20-30 minutes this week to assess the different spheres of your life and consider how you can move toward greater balance.
As you look at your wheel, notice where you are out of balance. Are you achieving success at work at the expense of investing in personal relationships? Are you neglecting your spiritual development because of an intense focus on physical well-being?
Identify one category in which you want to make a change. Create an action plan by asking yourself:
Determine one step you can take this week, and begin to move forward toward a more balanced and satisfying life.
The first time I met Crystal Moore, I had no idea what just happened. Who was this strong, confident New Yorker who strode into our serene early morning Bible Study group and knocked us back on our heels with her bold questions and an even bigger laugh? Fast forward, and I can't remember life before her!
I am thrilled to introduce you to this yoga studio owner, education entrepreneur, and most of all - dear friend. To hear an inspiring story of courage and resilience in her own words, read on...
A highlight of our recent "staycation" was the ability to enjoy dinner together as a family EVERY NIGHT of the week! While I wish this were the case more regularly, the reality of a marriage between a yoga teacher and a lobbyist is that we more often than not take turns having dinner at home with the babe.
It was with great enthusiasm that we mapped out restaurants we wanted to explore, as well as culinary undertakings in our own kitchen. We chose familiar cuisines and unconventional approaches. We dined on white tablecloths adorned by fine china and ate with our hands from massive, communal platters. Each night was a new and varied experience, but at the end of the week, we could say with enthusiasm that we had dined well, and we appreciated the adventures all the more because we enjoyed them together!
Whether you eat at home or out on the town this week, I encourage you to share the experience with a friend or loved one. Reap the benefits of dining together - and dining well.
Despite my most ardent attempts to slow down, breathe, and appreciate the present moment, I struggle with an innate desire for efficiency. Unless I deliberately set out to do otherwise, I reflexively plan the most direct route from points A to B and begin mapping out my exit strategy and budgeting time for my next three engagements as soon as I enter the first. While traveling with my husband over the weekend, however, I was reminded of a tool that helps set the tone for a more mindful day: the museum stroll.
Whenever we escape town, we try to start the first day away with a visit to a local art museum. We enjoy seeing different perspectives of beauty and how residents of a given area choose to highlight their treasures.
In addition to enjoying the aesthetics of the pieces on display, starting our day with a museum visit has the added benefit of setting the perfect vacation pace. Whether we find ourselves in bustling international capitals or sleepy, remote towns, the deliberate, measured tempo required to observe and appreciate stays with us throughout the rest of the trip's adventures. The museum stroll tunes us into a greater awareness of our surroundings - often causing us to notice a flyer on a lamp post advertising an off-the-beaten-path festival taking place later in the day or prompting us to pop into an unassuming store front that ends up being a hidden gem of a tea shop.
The museum stroll needn't be confined to a vacation - and you don't actually need a museum at all. Next time you find yourself rushing from one commitment to the next, give it a try. Simply slow your pace and proceed with eyes open to your surroundings. See what hidden treasures are embedded in your day to day routine.
Saying a prayer before a meal is a tradition ingrained in me from my earliest childhood From my Montessori pre-school years to Catholic high school to parents with a strong faith and conviction in the blessings of a Heavenly Father, I have always associated meals with an opportunity to pause and express and experience gratitude. But as I look at my life today, I am increasingly aware that I have so much more to be grateful for than the food on my plate, and I am convicted by the importance of recognizing these moments as they happen.
I woke up this morning. I bathed and dressed a strong, smart, beautiful baby girl. I moved my healthy body through a run in a beautiful park. I rode my bike around town to meet with clients who pay me to teach them something I love. Tonight I will share a meal with a caring, loving husband. We will go to bed and wake up tomorrow to do it all again.
I say grace at the dinner table, but I want to be more intentional about expressing my gratitude at all the points along the way and throughout the day that reflect the overflowing fullness of my heart.
When and where can you say grace today?
I recently dined with a friend who was positively glowing. She had recently returned from a beach vacation, but her shine owed less to hours of leisurely oceanfront lounging than the content of her beach read. At the advice of her mentor, she had devoured I Know How She Does It, a recently released book exploring the habits of successful professional women and deriving strategies to find (or create) time for what matters most. I haven't (yet) read the book, but as regular readers of this blog know, the topic is near and dear to my heart.
One strategy my friend immediately embraced was outsourcing the cleaning of her home. In tracking how she spends her time each week, this solopreneur recognized that the hours she spent cleaning took her away from productive work on her businesses as well as the self-care and leisure time she craved. By hiring someone to complete a task she didn't enjoy, she is able to work more (thereby earning more), AND play more.
We all have chores we don't enjoy. While it may seem like an indulgence to hire someone to complete them for us, sit down and map out the cost - in time, resources, and energy - of doing it yourself and consider what you could gain - in time, resources, and energy - by outsourcing. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.
During the month of August I took a technology hiatus. For one entire week, I did not open my email, and for the rest of the month I exercised strong limits over all social media interaction. Among my discoveries is how much less rushed I felt, and how much better I operate at a slower speed.
When I finally moved past the initial anxiety about missing critical information and failing to respond to inquiries immediately, I noticed I was less distressed and frazzled in general, and far more present from moment to moment. I took this break right at the beginning of an extremely busy period in a number of my projects, and I was amazed to discover that by slowing down, I was actually more productive. In the limited windows in which I was connected, I was better able to prioritize the work on my agendaand discern what was and was not legitimately urgent. Nothing fell through the cracks. No deadlines were missed. Everything was accomplished in full and on time, and I was able to spend more time enjoying moments and the people I love.
Most of the pressure we feel to be faster, better, more is self-imposed - and it is often counterproductive. Can you give yourself permission to stop hurrying and allow life to unfold on its own timeline?
For better or worse, throughout my life I have been able to recover quickly from every injury, illness, or other physical challenge life has thrown my way. From marathons to multi-day yoga summits to childbirth and everything in between, I have been blessed to bounce back with minimal disruption to my routine. And I assumed the recent removal of my wisdom teeth would be no different.
In a way it was: the day after the procedure I stopped taking medication and transitioned from liquids to soft foods with no adverse effect. By the end of the week, I was feeling 100 percent, and began mapping out a few runs and yoga classes for the weekend and week ahead. The morning after receiving the "all clear" from my doctor, I hit the road. I hadn't even found my stride when my jaw started throbbing. I stopped immediately, and after walking a few blocks, the pain subsided. When I tried again to pick up the pace, I made it less than one block before the pain stopped me. Resigned to the reality that there would be no running that morning, I took a long, slow walk and returned home disappointed.
The same pattern repeated itself when I tried a few down dogs the following day. Immediately my mind began racing: No running? No yoga? What on earth am I going to do? The answer was clear: rest. So I did.
For two entire weeks, I gave myself permission to sit still - to go about my days and repurpose the time I would have spent on the road or in the studio reading, writing, and resting. I didn't explode, and the earth didn't stop turning on its axis. When I was finally able to resume regular activity, there was no loss of endurance or speed or strength. If anything, I found a renewed enthusiasm for and enjoyment of movements I so often take for granted.
Next time your body (or mind) asks you to take a break, honor the request. Give yourself the opportunity to discover a fresh appreciation for the rhythms of your life.
I have never seen Sarah Bohl not smiling. While I have been assured that she is, in fact, human, her energy and joy are incredible (and contagious!). In recent years she has discovered a way to bring that joy to others by helping them add beauty to their most important occasions. What started as a hobby has transformed in to a successful and rewarding business and a loyal following of customers and admirers. To read about her journey - and see examples of her incredible creations, read on...
Over the past two and a half years, I have been traveling back to the Midwest with greater and greater frequency. I love our life in the nation's capital, but more and more I find myself stretching the length of visits "home" so I can savor the disruption of routine and reap the benefits of slowing down and reconnecting with the people and places that shaped who I am.
Our most recent trip, however, promised to be distinct from the usual rhythms of easy conversation, shared meals, and reminiscing. We were traveling back to reconnect with relatives with whom we had been out of touch in recent years, and no one knew exactly what to expect. Could we find common ground despite significant cultural differences? How would we communicate across the language barrier?
With an uncomfortable lack of certainty, we set out and hoped for the best. While the initial contact was fraught with anxiety, we soon found our stride. Following the lead of our children, who immediately entered into the common language of play, guards were let down, connections were forged, and important memories were created.
We all choose different paths for different reasons. Rather than fixating on what separates us from one another, we can choose to focus on what we have in common. In doing so, we put ourselves in a position to learn new things and see the world from another point of view. What could you learn by pausing to peek down a different path?