How Vitality Helps You Thrive and Inspire (Part 1 of 4)

In the previous sensory balance post we completed a two-part exploration of how the first of our four inner senses—creativity—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. We now turn our attention to the second of our inner senses with the first of four posts on our sense of vitality.

Vitality: I thrive and inspire. I radiate stamina, strength, flexibility, stability, and dexterity. I am healthy, happy, and whole.

You may be expecting a section on exercise and fitness. When people ask what diet and exercise regimen I followed to lose eighty pounds, I tell them it’s simple. Rebalance your calories in and calories out. Any questions?

The tricky part is how to do it so that it becomes a way of life, not a short-lived effort that lasts until your prom or fifty-year high school reunion. That’s simple too. It starts by working on all the other aspects of the Discovery Framework because, as you know from reading my story, turning this way of living into a way of life was much more dependent on the mental, emotional, and spiritual changes, not just the physical ones. Here are some additional ideas to get the physical side moving in the right direction:

I thrive and inspire.

  • Research and experiment until you identify nutritious, satisfying food you enjoy. I finally accepted that my relationship with refined sugar was an addiction. It may not be true for everyone, but it was definitely true for me. I went cold turkey on sugar and substituted fresh fruit and other complex carbohydrates.
  • Research and experiment until you discover a form of exercise you actually enjoy. I got hooked on the mood-elevating effects of regular cardio at a brisk pace. I added in minimal strength training much later because I knew myself. In the past, weight work had fueled my appetite, and in the absence of a sustainable commitment to healthy nutrition, I had responded by consuming junk food with a vengeance. Cardio didn’t have that side effect. This time, once my relationship with food had stabilized and I’d eliminated the foods I had an addictive relationship with, I could trust myself to add in strength training and increase my calories with healthy foods to support the additional workout. Maybe you enjoy the companionship and guidance of a personal trainer—one who will support you in your commitment to fun, no-excuses, baby-step goals so you don’t end up an injured, burned-out exercise flash in the pan.
  • Set initial improvement goals for nutrition and exercise that are so miniscule even you couldn’t come up with a legitimate excuse for not achieving them. Maybe it is a reduction of one hundred daily calories and an addition of ten minutes of walking three times a week. Something so easy you are guaranteed to be celebrating success a week later.
  • Continue small incremental increases to your goals whenever you feel inspired to do so. Don’t ever push either goal to the point where you now have excuses for not meeting it. If you find you’ve pushed it too high, scale it back to the previous no-excuses level. Don’t worry; slow and steady does work. Just ask the tortoise.
  • Experiment with the optimal balance for quantity and type of calories and exercise until you have a sense of what works best to achieve your objectives.
  • Make sure you are paying attention to rest and play, not just exercise and burning calories. It is all about balance, harmony, and understanding. Find ways to delight and feed your other senses while exercising: enjoy scenic vistas while walking, listen to audiobooks, or watch a favorite video. Then when you exercise, you won’t think of it as work; you will think of it as stealing time to read a novel or watch the latest thriller.

In terms of setting your goals, an acronym from performance management consulting will serve you well. Learn to set SMART goals:

Set S-M-A-R-T goals.

  • Specific: What’s the first baby step to move you in the direction of your goal? What will you do, how much of it, and how often? Which foods, what types of exercise, how many ounces, calories, and minutes?
  • Measurable: For your initial baby step, how will you know you have succeeded? What will the quality or quantity of success look like? Inches or pounds lost, quality of calories consumed, minutes walking a certain distance. For what you have listed in the “specific” category, how have you qualified and quantified the measures of success?
  • Aligned: Are your initial baby step and overall goal aligned with your core values? I find this one to be the hidden saboteur. Not just the values you admit to. For example, if you come from a family of chronically obese or out-of-shape people and one of your family values is that you always stick together, you might mistakenly conclude that getting fit would run contrary to that value. If you swear you want to accomplish something but you keep missing the mark, get curious. Ask yourself, “How might achieving this objective be out of alignment with a hidden value?” Then focus on the fear-based lies and illusions concealed in that value and set about transforming them and boosting your motivation by fueling it with new, love-based truth and reality.
  • Realistic: Is this initial step really a no-excuses baby step? If you are a member of the club that always sets the bar inhumanely high, you may have a habit of sabotaging yourself right out of the gate. Make sure your goal is indeed a no-excuses baby step that is completely doable at this time in your life.
  • Time-Frame Anchored: Make sure your specifics include exactly when you will complete your initial no-excuses baby step. For example, upon arising and before walking, you will consume a 250 calorie breakfast consisting of a sixteen-ounce glass of water with lemon, one hardboiled egg, one ounce of string cheese, a slice of dry whole wheat toast, and a cup of black decaf coffee sweetened with stevia. Five minutes of walking every morning after breakfast and before you shower. Once this healthier way of living becomes a habit, you may find you can trust yourself to be more flexible about the timing. In the beginning, giving yourself structure helps support your success.

Be kind to yourself no matter what

What to Do When You Fall Off the Wagon

Absolutely no beatings or self-berating. It will not help you do better in the future. It will demoralize you into giving up for all time. Remember the attributes of constructive core energy: love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude. Reread chapter 4. You will know what to do.

Why Such Minimal Goals Work

Read chapter 7 on tools for fostering flow, especially the “baby steps” and “celebrate” entries. Substantial, sustainable improvement of any sort is usually grounded in incremental improvement, not rapid leaps and bounds. Celebrate every step forward, no matter how small. If you exceed your no-excuses goal, that will result in even greater celebration. Force and extreme deprivation are not necessary. Excessive goals result in disenchantment, illness, injury, and burnout. Easy goals lead to easy success that fuels lasting motivation for a lifetime of even greater success.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

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How Creativity Helps You Imagine and Manifest New Possibilities (Part 2 of 2)

In the previous sensory balance post we started exploring how our inner senses imbue our experiences with meaning. This post concludes our two-part exploration of the nature and role of the first of the four inner senses: our sense of creativity. So, how did execution of my plan to overcome my blogging blocks go?

Though my plan seemed brilliant, it neglected to consider one essential fact: it was my ego that was getting in the way of publishing with the regularity my heart desired. While this new plan was clever and mechanically sound—it could have produced the desired result—the reality is, it didn’t. That is because it didn’t do anything to deal with the very real issue of my fragile ego. Though the writing “assignments” were briefer, they were no easier.

Here are some of the many ways my ego showed up. First, my virtual best friend Cameron, the perpetually creative partner I was depending on for this escapade, totally let me down. I have read everything she has ever written. She has never failed to inspire me through any of her works. And yet she chose the day after I announced my new daily blog to become a lackluster writer. I would read her daily entry and say, “That’s it? You expect me to inspire them with that? You had to pick now to become a lousy writer?” (Somewhere, I hope Cameron is laughing along with you and me.) Realizing that it was risky to depend so completely on such an obviously capricious genius, I decided I needed to include other inspiring teachers and writers if I was going to publish daily with ease. Thanks to input from that expanded team, I made it through a couple more posts.

Why isn't this easier?

Over the course of the six entries I published on the new site, I found that while all of my teachers inspired me on a daily basis, I still couldn’t get that feeling out of my head onto the page. That, my friends, is because feelings don’t come from our heads; they come from our hearts. I was reminded of this truth at the time by a session with my own life coach during which we were discussing my theoretical resistance to publishing, which I kept insisting was not a problem (ha). My coach observed that, in the first forty-five minutes of our sixty-minute session, each time she asked how I felt, I replied, “Intellectually, I think …” Gotcha!

Like Jacob wrestling with the Old Testament angel, I wrestled with my ego every night. We managed to publish for five nights in a row with some difficulty but no big drama. It wasn’t proving as easy as I’d expected, but I thought maybe I just needed time to get into a rhythm. Are you counting the number of times I’ve used think, thought, or a synonym? Big clue that I still didn’t have a clue.

Which brings us to day six, Thursday, February 10, 2011. I awoke with many reasons to feel grateful for how my life was unfolding. Blessings continued to abound. Synchronicity without measure. Yet it was a harbinger of the day’s events that I began with a “pep talk” from the fear-driven gremlin aspect of Ella, the guardian on my personal board of directors (more on guardians and gremlins in chapter 6). “Well, darling, ‘love and curiosity’ is a cute little writing effort. But it is clearly blog lite compared to your other site. Less taste and less filling. Less effort, less prose, less inspiring, just … well … less. I’ll grant you that in some cases maybe less can be more (although I personally find that a lot more is always so much more). We both know if you would just buckle down and be a serious businesswoman again, you could do so much more with your life. Clients used to pay your consulting firms $750 for an hour of your insights. I find it so sad that this pitiful effort is what you’ve come to.”

Self-sabotaging voices in my head

I recognized my fear-gripped arch nemesis, Cruel Ella (aka Cruella) the moment she opened her mouth in my head. I told her to shut up, which she did. But remembering that she is really just part of me, I know that even when she doesn’t make a sound, if she’s afraid, that fear will be my undoing. It is no wonder I spent much of my day listening to Pema Chödrön lectures to counteract my gremlin’s subliminal nagging.

The time of my blog writing got later every day of the first five days. Day six continued the pattern; I didn’t sit down to write until 10:30 p.m. I was fresh off the exhilaration trail of listening to eight hours of Chödrön lecturing on meditation. She is brilliant, touching, and so very real. Her way of teaching meditative practice has helped me broaden and deepen my already eclectic and substantial spiritual practice. I even made notes during the day to make writing that night a breeze. I had ninety minutes in which to channel eight hours of Chödrön into three hundred to five hundred words that would transmit to all of humanity the essence of meditation and how meditative practice had transformed my life. A breeze? Not!

When the frustration level became unbearable, I considered ever more horrifying options such as just copying and pasting a few cool quotes from another site, declaring it a blog, checking off the daily box, and calling it a day. I began rendering that pitiful little solution right up to the step before pushing the “publish” button, when I pulled myself back from the brink in horror. Next I sat weighing the ethical ramifications of plagiarizing my own writing from my other blog site by pulling a clever paragraph from one of my previous posts there, pasting it onto the new site, signing it, calling it a blog, checking the daily box, and going to bed. No dice on that one either. At one point, I was so enraged with myself and the process that I considered obliterating the five existing entries and launching the site into blog oblivion (no issues with suppressed anger here). I stopped short of executing that one as well.

AARGH!

I know that whenever I create this much drama in my life, big lessons are in the wings. Stuff I need to pay attention to. The clock was running down. I had a little over sixty minutes before not publishing my daily blog that day would reveal me for the sham and lightweight writer I really was (so much for confidence in my writing abilities). All I had to do was convey the poignancy of Chödrön and the essence of meditation in three hundred words. How hard could that be? As it turned out, it was quite hard if I wanted to use only my head and not my heart to do it.

Because the resulting blog post is one of the most real and moving pieces I’ve ever written, I share it in its entirety in the “Tonglen” section in the appendix of my book. Here is the essence of the lesson I relearned on that particular leg of my journey:

  • I publish to touch others’ lives. Sharing my vulnerability and growth inspires hope and courage within my readers and listeners.
  • I don’t have to publish lengthy pieces to touch lives. I write from my heart, not from a production schedule based on elapsed time and expected volume.
  • I am the distribution channel, not the manufacturer, of my art. My role is to stay tuned to the Universal frequency of my endlessly creative Source and distribute what I am sent.

I close this exploration of your sense of creativity with an interesting client experience. Over the course of six months, my client had become committed to healthier eating and more-regular exercise with a personal trainer. While she had lost considerable pounds and inches at first, she quickly hit a plateau. Increased muscle mass wasn’t the culprit. She tried being even more ambitious about calorie counting and exercise. No luck. During a coaching session, we did a quick scan to identify any sensory imbalances that might be at work. She realized she had been starving her sense of creativity for years. When she started feeding her creativity again, guess what happened? She started losing more pounds and inches. Without changing anything else about her calories or workout, she started losing more weight. Other clients have experienced similar successes once they started feeding their sense of creativity or other starved inner senses. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Feeding my sense of creativity

One of my theories about why this works is that, because we are complex, interconnected systems, our bodies register deprivation of any sense as starvation. They then shift into survival mode by slowing down the rate at which we burn the resources we still have at our disposal. As a result, our metabolism and rate of calorie burn slows to compensate. Conversely, when we stop starving any one of our senses, our bodies register satiation and our metabolism returns to normal. I can’t prove this is why and how it works. I just know that it works. And that’s good enough for me.

It has been said that God delights in expressing all aspects of Itself through us in cocreative partnership with us. In each moment, the question concerning creativity is, “Are you showing God a good time?” When was the last time you fed your creative inner spirit with no expected commercial outcome? Try something fun; borrow your kids’ crayons, scribble a poem, organize your closet, paint a mural on your wall, sing a song, dance a jig, hit a bucket of golf balls, stick glitter stars on your ceiling, clean out your junk drawer, paint your toenails purple, just lie in the grass and dream as you watch the clouds go by. Your life is your greatest work of art. Expressing your unique self is why you are here.

In the next sensory balance post, we’ll launch a four-part dive into the nature and role of the second inner sense: vitality.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Creativity Helps You Imagine and Manifest New Possibilities (Part 1 of 2)

In previous sensory balance posts we explored celebrating our experience through our outer senses: see, touch, hear, smell and taste. With this installment, we turn our attention to how our inner senses help us imbue our experiences with meaning. Here is part one of two on the first of our four inner senses—creativity.

Inner Senses—I Imbue My Experience with Meaning

Having made real progress by feeding my five outer senses, sixty pounds into my eighty-pound weight loss, I realized something was still missing. Reflecting more deeply on my own experience, I discovered, once again, greater insight and opportunity.

As magical as our five outer senses are in celebrating our world, to achieve genuine comprehensive sensory balance, we expand our perspective to include the four inner senses, with which we imbue our experience with meaning.

INNER SENSES: Imbuing Your Experience with Meaning

Using the terms of the Discovery Framework, as the roof and outer walls of our energetic home, the outer senses are essential but will collapse if not supported by more than just our foundation of core energy. For long-term stability, they require the infrastructure and support of the four inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality, and belonging depicted in figure 8 above.

Creativity: I imagine and manifest. I am passionate about new possibilities. I reveal and advance the highest good.

Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way saved my life. My body, mind, and spirit began the journey to wholeness when I began living her teachings. I learned from Cameron that all of us are creative—not just those who call themselves Artists with a capital A. That our creativity is Divinely Sourced—as essential to sustaining life as oxygen, water, and food. Next time you are cranky or restless for no apparent reason, ask yourself the last time you did something that felt creative. If it has been more than twenty-four hours, there is a good chance that is the root of your discomfort.

We don’t need to learn how to be more creative. We are born creative; it is our nature. We need to learn how to recognize and transform the layers of fear and limiting beliefs that block us from freely accessing and expressing all the creativity we already carry within us. We are creating in every moment in every area of our lives. It is a matter of what we choose to create. When I cling to fear and limiting beliefs, I create misery and lack for myself and everyone I encounter with everything I think, say, and do. When I choose to embrace love, with its attributes of respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, everything I say and do creates a sense of generous, effortless, gracious flow filled with faith, hope, prosperity, peace, and joy for every being, encounter, and experience.

I am passionate about new possibilities

As Cameron shares in the February 17 entry of her daily readings book, The Artist’s Way Every Day—A Year of Creative Living,

“People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined. As we lose our vagueness about our self, our values, our life situation, we become available to the moment. It is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically. We may be enmeshed, but we are not encountered. Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows (2009).”

To begin the search for my long-lost authentic self, I primed the pump with immersion in a plethora of creative endeavors. I had no master plan. Only a vague recollection of feeling happy just to be alive when I was making art as a child. Art is the language our souls still speak when our brains and mouths can no longer form words to tell our stories. Through our art, we self-disclose without ever planning to, even when we try not to. We can’t stop our hearts and souls from speaking through our creations—whether we sing, garden, write, paint, cook, sew, repair cars, or fix computers. Always, and in all ways, we tell what longs to be told.

I found my authentic self three years into that search, living for the first time without other human beings in my home, and guided by love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude. Only then could I begin my first real connections with others. As Cameron observes, before that solitude, before that encounter with myself and my values, I was often, maybe always, enmeshed with others, but I never truly encountered them or they me.

Early in my experience as the Universal conduit for my blog posts, I learned the hard way never to force the writing on some arbitrary look-aren’t-I-prolific timetable originated by my ego. Cameron advises repeatedly in her many books on the creative life that our egos should never be allowed to vote on anything we do—not if, what, how, when, how much, and most especially not on how effective we are at doing it.

Tuned to the Universal frequency

One of the best ways to get our egos out of the way and relieve the pressure is to stop thinking of ourselves as the authors or originators of anything. We are the broadcast mechanisms for messages and inspiration from the Universe. Whatever our venue—writing, marketing, painting, architecture, quilting, legislature, musical composition, teaching, acting, child rearing, carpentry, singing—we don’t create anything in isolation. We are cocreators with the Divine. Our primary responsibility is to stay tuned to the Universal frequency; be conscious of the inspiration and life lessons we are sent; remain courageous about sharing them; and do it with humility, compassion, a sense of humor, and a dash of rigor. Your life well lived is your greatest work of art. It will feed your soul and the souls of everyone you meet.

I’ve also learned that when the Universe shows up with something important to say, do not ignore it. Do not tell Her you just published yesterday and hadn’t planned to write again today. Do not tell Her you have other priorities on your to-do list for today that you put off yesterday in response to Her call. Instead, respect Her wisdom on timing and topic, thank Her for continuing to consider you a worthy broadcast mechanism, and just do it. Don’t be especially wedded to what you thought She wanted you to communicate. Stay in receptive mode as you go, because She may take you down a bend in the road to a totally different destination than you intended. Trust Her; She knows what She’s doing.

My blog posting experience is a case in point. When I began, I published daily and then drifted to every few days, every few weeks, and finally months went by with no new posts. When I got curious about the decline in my rate of publishing, I realized it had little to do with busyness. Neither was it about having nothing to say or caring less about my readers. If anything, the reminders life had sent me concerning the fragility of our connection to people and things we hold precious had only deepened my compassion for all beings and taught me more that I wanted to share. What I discovered when I took a hard look at my relationship to publishing was that my ego was getting in the way. To address the situation, I decided I would find a way to make writing feel less monumental so that I would write more frequently, because connecting with humanity through my writing is an important way in which I realize my purpose on this earth.

One day, I got the bright idea to launch an additional blog (Love and Curiosity: Gems for the Journey) with the intention of publishing daily on that new site. My initial plan was to use the daily meditations from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way Every Day to create a very brief Deborah-and-Julia experience. I would expound briefly on one of Cameron’s many inspiring thoughts, thereby passing the inspiration on to my readers with the possibility that they might choose to purchase Cameron’s book and read it along with me. My plan was a lovely possibility for deeper connection with all humanity that warmed my soul. Cameron is an amazing writer. With Cameron providing guaranteed structure and inspiration, I would have tons of material to work with. Combined with the intentional brevity of my entries, I would leap gracefully over my writing resistance hurdle, publishing Gems for the Journey every day—no pain, no sweat. After all, I love writing and know I am an excellent writer. The day I found my voice again and began publishing the earliest content for this book online via my blog was a day of great gratitude and rejoicing for me. Now I had another cool idea for an easier and briefer blog. This should only multiply my publishing bliss, right?

In the next sensory balance post, find out how things unfolded as we conclude our exploration of the first inner sense—creativity.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

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How the Sense of Taste Adds Zing to Our Days

We pick up where we left off in the previous sensory balance post by exploring the opportunities to be found in our fifth and final outer sense—taste.

Taste: A diverse mix of flavors—salty, sour, sweet, bitter, creamy, crunchy, juicy—adds zing to my days.

I left the sense of taste until last in this exploration of the outer senses for a reason. It’s because so many of us gorge this sense with too much poor-quality food, hoping to distract ourselves or fill fear-shaped voids that overeating or consuming junk is never going to fill. By walking through the other four outer senses first, you are beginning to understand where and how you could better feed your senses of sight, touch, hearing, and smell instead of gorging your sense of taste.

If NASA employed superior design in building a state-of-the-art space vehicle and then cut corners by putting junk in the fuel tank, it wouldn’t matter how sophisticated the engineering of the rocket: it would never reach its destination. So it is with human beings. You are a unique and precious cocreative expression of the Divine here to do a big job: tuning in to the Universal frequency so you may channel love and light to reveal and advance the highest good for all, in all, through all. When it comes to food, it’s not about deprivation and starvation. It’s about creating the optimal rocket fuel for the rock star you are!

Our sense of taste adds zing to our days!

The key to achieving and maintaining balance in feeding my sense of taste, as with all of the outer and inner senses, is mindfulness in each moment. What’s my objective? What’s the optimal path? How am I doing? The five attributes of constructive core energy and all of the other inner and outer senses converge in the evaluation of each sense. Do my objective, path, and progress embody love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude? Am I employing all of the sensory tools at my disposal: a variety of nutrients, textures, colors, and scents? Is my presentation creative? Is my timing optimal? Am I demonstrating consistent commitment to my welfare by investing my energy in advanced planning, shopping, and preparation? Do I remain mindful and committed to fueling my sense of taste nutritiously at both ends of the emotional spectrum: celebration and disappointment?

There are scores of programs on nutrition and healthy eating. I was introduced to Weight Watchers in the 1980s when I wanted to lose ten pounds and they were using their original “exchange” structure. I had experienced anorexia in the 1970s and never wanted to go there again. Weight Watchers is not a fad diet for dropping pounds fast; it’s a way of life, one based in mindful self-care, not deprivation. Its focus is to understand the principles of balanced nutrition, figure out where and why your relationship with food has gotten off track, and determine how to restructure your partnership to support you in being healthy and fit for life.

It’s not about following the eating plan that worked for me. It’s about mindfulness and self-love. Invest the energy to figure out what works best for you. I was a sugar addict, so I now avoid refined sugar wherever possible. While not hypoglycemic, based on my chemistry and makeup, I find my optimal approach is eating small meals every two to four hours that combine lean protein, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, and fresh fruit and vegetables. When we go too long without food, our bodies’ primitive starvation monitors kick in and send the message to slow down metabolism for survival. It can take a while to get your rate of calorie burning back on track.

I discovered two additional reasons to drink lots of water, especially before and after meals. Sometimes when we think we’re hungry, even though we ate a short while ago, we’re actually dehydrated. This makes sense because our bodies use water to process our food. Try drinking a glass of water and see if the feeling you were tagging as hunger disappears. I also begin each day and each meal with a big glass of water with fresh lemon. It kick-starts the hydration, digestion, and fullness registration processes. One of the reasons we tend to overeat is because our bodies generally don’t register “enough food” and turn off the appetite switch until about twenty minutes after we’ve eaten. Starting with water, eating at a reasonable pace, and paying more attention to nutritional quality and portion size than how full you feel are great habits to help you avoid overeating.

Water fosters flow

A couple of years after I gave up refined sugar in my food, I also gave up alcohol. It was the right decision for me. It is essentially concentrated sugar, so it sent me up and down the glycemic roller coaster and continued to feed the sugar addiction I was trying to be free of. For me, alcohol had insufficient nutritional value; it fueled mindless eating, slowed my metabolism, and had always been a depressant. Even one drink could produce depression that would still be evident the day after. Add to that a family history of alcoholism and, as a therapist once warned, for me, taking a drink was like putting a loaded gun in my mouth. Unsafe, unwise, and unnecessary.

I am not against alcohol or sugar or any particular food or drink. I am for mindfulness and self-love. I trust and respect you enough to know that, when fueled by love, you’ll figure out what works best for you. Clear yourself of fear and trust your intuition. Once you are fueling yourself with constructive core energy based in love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude and you are feeding all of your senses in balance, you will find that what, when, and how much you eat falls into place just like everything else in your life.

As we bring this exploration of your sense of taste to a close, I’ll share an interesting aside. I have found that in terms of the members on my personal board of directors, it’s my muse, Bee, who has the greatest interest in food as a source of entertainment. When you learn more about the roles of the sage, guardian, and muse in chapter 6 of my book Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!, the muse’s perspective on, and potential obsession with, food will make greater sense. For now, just note that it is the muse who, if you are not feeding all of your senses in balanced ways, will sabotage the healthy eating process with junk food for the brief high it offers. Yet another reason to focus on feeding all of your senses if you wish to align your eating habits with optimal nutrition.

You matter. You are the only you we’ve got. Invest your energy in feeding your sense of taste optimally. You are worth the effort. There aren’t enough cookies or french fries on the planet to smother anger, blame, shame, and self-loathing. Nothing you can eat or drink will fill a fear-shaped void. The good news is that nothing tastes as good as being healthy and fit feels.

Trust your gut

In the next sensory balance post we’ll turn our attention from the outer to the INNER SENSES with a two-part consideration of the sensory balance opportunities of the first of our four inner senses—creativity.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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Posted in All My Blog Posts, Creativity & Self-Expression, Joy & Vitality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How the Sense of Smell Seasons Our Journey

We pick up where we left off in the previous sensory balance post by exploring the opportunities to be found in our fourth outer sense—smell.

Smell: An eclectic array of aromas—sweet, spicy, floral, fruity, earthy, pungent—seasons my journey.

When I began to be intentional about feeding all of my senses in a balanced way so that my sense of taste would stop leading me to fat-and sugar-laden foods in an attempt to fill sensory voids it could never hope to fill, I quickly shifted from being a sugar addict to being an aroma junkie.

Sense of smell is the mind-body interface

Based on the findings of The Sense of Smell Lab (2013), it’s no wonder aroma proved such a compelling alternative:

“The sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than any of our other senses. In less than a millisecond, just one whiff of a familiar smell can trigger memories of childhood, home, and family. Smell impulses travel faster than signals from sight or sound because the olfactory system is the only part of the brain that is directly exposed to the air.

The brain processes sensory information delivered through sight, sound, taste, and touch by identifying the incoming information first, which in turn generates an emotional reaction.

But our sense of smell is different. It does the opposite. The information of incoming odors is first processed by the emotions and subsequently identified. This places our sense of smell at the root of our emotional being.

Breathe in peace, breathe out love

Aromas delivered directly to the smell receptors in our brains have a powerful effect on behavior. Just think of your response to the smell of a cup of coffee in the morning or your reaction to a dead skunk on the side of the road.

Since birth, our smell receptors have catalogued every scent that passed through our nostrils in an area of the brain the size of a postage stamp. The average adult is able to process approximately 10,000 different smells, with each odor having the potential to evoke a memory.

Smell influences our moods, our emotions, and the choice of our mates. It is the main organ that contributes to our enjoyment of our sense of taste. Smells warn us of dangers such as fire, poisonous fumes, and spoiled food and give us awareness of our place in the environment.

Our sense of smell contributes enormously to the quality and enjoyment of our lives, our health, and our well-being. It is the mind-body interface.”

Yum-oh!

The persuasive power of our sense of smell is the reason some realtors bake bread or cookies just before an open house. Your special treat may be the scent of fresh flowers, evergreen branches, or citrus potpourri.

Many people who now find themselves living alone for the first time in their lives confess that they get into a rut of not cooking real meals for themselves. They feel the preparation time just isn’t worth the effort if it’s only going to feed one person. Like everything else, if you don’t cook because you don’t enjoy it and would rather invest your time in other activities, then love is the core energy under your decision. But if you adore cooking and routinely produce fabulous, elaborate meals for guests but feel you are not worth more than a microwaved frozen dinner, it may be that fear is underneath your choice. Get curious; decide for yourself. Because you do matter; you are always worth the effort.

Yesterday morning I cooked a batch of homemade vegetarian chili in the crockpot. It smelled wonderful during the five hours that it bubbled away while I was preparing and broadcasting my weekly radio episode, enticing me with anticipation of the wonderful dinner to come. The aroma continued to linger for hours after I had put it all away in the refrigerator, greeting me each time I returned home after running errands. A gift that kept on giving by reminding me of the love I had demonstrated for myself by investing a little extra energy to prepare a home-cooked, healthy meal just for me alone. I matter. I am worth the effort.

Aromatherapy oils proved very beneficial. I found I didn’t need to eat sugar cookies; I could be just as delighted by heating sugar cookie scented oils in my aroma burner. I became the queen of layering the same scent of shower gel, rich lotion, and eau de toilette on my body so the aroma lasted longer. I feed my passion for variety by switching styles every two weeks, rotating through sets that are sweet, savory, fruity, floral, spicy, and musky to keep my scent life interesting. The day Bath & Body Works came out with their limited edition iced cinnamon bun line of body care products, I was in ecstasy. So was everyone who encountered my sugar-and-cinnamon-drenched person. Total strangers, men and women alike, would stop me on the street and proclaim, “You smell fabulous! What is that scent?” Alas, in answer to your unasked question, that particular line is no more. But there are many other fruit-and food-scented options available in its place.

Scent influences our emotions

The same guidelines apply to sense of smell as the other outer senses. Be intentional; remember the findings of The Sense of Smell Lab. The scent of everything in your life matters: laundry soap and fabric softener, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel and bubble bath, dishwashing detergent and hand soap. Get curious and discover what works for you. Learning how to set and enhance your mood with scent is a skill you will be glad you developed. Calm, invigorated, sensual, or happy—there are aromas that can help you get there and stay there as long as you like. This applies especially to those of you who are highly sensitized and believe yourselves allergic to scent. Invest extra energy in figuring out what type and quantity of scent enhances your life. Your happiness matters. You are worth the effort.

In the next sensory balance post we’ll explore some of the potential sensory balance implications of our fifth outer sense—taste.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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How Touch and Hearing Intensify Experience and Empower Presence

In the previous post, we introduced the first in an extended series providing a deep exploration of the liberation to be found in fostering sensory balance.

To recap, sensory balance involves feeding all of our senses in healthy, balanced ways so that no one sense takes over trying to fill voids it can never hope to fill. This begins with mindfully feeding our five outer senses, through which we celebrate our world, and it extends to intentionally feeding our four inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality, and belonging, through which we imbue our experience with meaning.

The previous post explored the sense of sight in some detail to give you a feel for what’s involved. In this post we explore the second and third outer senses—touch and hear.

TOUCH: A broad range of tactile stimuli—hot, cold, soft, hard, wet, dry, smooth, rough, fuzzy, furry, fluffy—intensifies my experiences.

Touch

Let’s begin with temperature. Do you prefer feeling warm or cool, or does it vary? While there are many upsides physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to losing eighty pounds, there is one downside: I often feel cold, and I don’t like it. I want to feel warm and dry all year round. Over time, I realized feeling cold didn’t just have a negative physical effect on me. That chill extended to my mental, emotional, and spiritual state. For me, feeling cold resonates with deprivation, which vibrates with fear. So I live in a state of constant mindfulness concerning temperature. I always have with me many options for layering my clothing based on the environmental variations I may encounter during my day. While my delightful home state of Colorado boasts more than three hundred sunny days a year, it can experience wild temperature swings throughout any given day at any time of year.

I also invested in little electric fireplaces in the main rooms of my home. They are an inexpensive, attractive, and highly functional method of easily adjusting the temperature to nurture my body, mind, heart, and soul.

It took me a while to figure out where the potential thermostatic issues might occur and what to do about them. For example, in restaurants in the summer, I have learned to order iced tea with no ice (which is to say warm or room temperature tea). In the winter, no matter where I am, I always have a hot cup of something at hand.

What makes YOUR life feel cozy?

You may be one of those people who are always too warm, so you will be identifying ways to lower the temperature of your environment. Or your preferences may vary from warm to cool based on your season, activity, or mood. My husband likes to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but he always drinks his beverages nearly frozen. The point is to be curious about what feels good to you, respectful enough to notice how you’re feeling, compassionate enough to do something about it, and grateful for the opportunity to fine-tune your environment.

The same applies when it comes to the texture of your world. Clothing, furniture, bedding, flooring—each of these brings opportunities to explore what feels good to you and, to the best of your abilities, align your world with what you find optimal.

There are many more opportunities to nurture yourself by feeding your sense of touch: therapeutic massage, a hug, a hot shower, caressing the soft coat of your animal companion, a warm whirlpool bath, and rich body lotions to name just a few. If the lotions are scented, they offer the bonus of also feeding your sense of smell. Two of the most meaningful ways I demonstrate the depth of my love for myself take a total of ninety seconds a day. In the morning, after my shower, before drying off, I apply baby oil to my still wet body. It’s a quick, inexpensive, and incredibly effective method of sealing moisture into my skin. And morning and night, no matter how busy or tired I am, I always massage rich beautifully scented body cream into my feet before putting on my socks. These acts are my way of appreciating and pampering myself. My feet do so much to support and transport me; it seems a small repayment of the debt I owe them. This ritual doesn’t just nourish my skin; it feeds my heart and soul. It reminds me that I matter, I care enough to pay attention to what delights me, and I’m willing to invest extra energy to bring myself comfort and joy.

HEAR: A varied compilation of sounds—music, voices, nature, noise, silence—empowers my presence.

Hear

I’ve been singing since the age of two and a half and played musical instruments for more than twelve years as a child, so music features prominently in feeding my sense of hearing. One of the things I discovered during my recovery was that when it came to music I had been starving my sense of hearing for years. When I became aware of accompanying my activities with music whenever possible and fitting the style of music to my specific activity, my general sense of well-being increased dramatically.

If the sounds of nature nurture you, make it a priority to spend time outdoors in all seasons. Find ways to bring the outdoors indoors. I love the sound of running water. I’ve incorporated that soothing sound into my home through two filtered water fountains for my cats. Those fountains support optimal physical health for my cats while feeding my sense of hearing. The one in my bedroom soothes me while I sleep. The one in my main living space helps me foster a sense of flow throughout my day. There are music players and files that feature a variety of environmental sounds to help bring the outdoors indoors if that is your auditory cup of tea.

I also found that I wasn’t experiencing enough therapeutic silence. My professional consulting career was characterized by a noisy nonstop pace that left me feeling I never had a moment to myself and couldn’t hear my own thoughts. During my recovery, I discovered the immense therapeutic value of intentional silence. I realized it was just as important to preclude overstimulating myself as it was to avoid understimulating myself.

Listen to the sounds of silence...Love, respect, curiosity, compassion, and gratitude are the hallmarks of my approach when it comes to balanced feeding of my sense of hearing as well. The goal is not to feel compelled to replicate what I do. It is to use what works for me as a key to unlock the secret of what might work for you.

So far in this series on sensory balance, we’ve explored some of the many ways three of our five outer senses—see, touch, and hear—serve to fuel, enrich and expand our experience. In the next post, we’ll explore some of the potential sensory balance contributions of our fourth outer sense—smell.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

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Creating Balance by Feeding All of Our Senses

This is the first in an extended series of 16 posts providing a deep exploration of the liberation to be found in fostering sensory balance based on the principles shared in Chapter 5 of my book Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!

Like the framing in a home, our outer and inner senses build on our energetic foundation to provide the day-to-day infrastructure for a life of flow securely grounded in constructive core energy. Sensory balance involves feeding all of our senses in healthy, balanced ways so that no one sense takes over trying to fill voids it can never hope to fill. This begins with mindfully feeding our five outer senses, through which we celebrate our world, and it extends to intentionally feeding our four inner senses of creativity, vitality, spirituality, and belonging, through which we imbue our experience with meaning.

Outer Senses—I Celebrate My World

Though the nine senses overlap and interact freely to enrich our experience, for simplicity we’ll explore them one at a time, beginning with the outer senses. What role might balanced feeding of your outer senses play in finding flow and the journey to wholeness?

Using the terms of the Discovery Framework, figure 6 depicts the outer senses as the roof and outer walls of our energetic home. They are an invaluable interface for interaction with the external world. Built on the firm foundation of constructive core energy, when functioning optimally, they are able to transmit and incorporate what will serve the highest good while filtering out what is not beneficial.

Feeding Your Outer Senses

SEE: A vast cornucopia of sights—
color, pattern, movement, people, places, objects—expands my possibilities.

Feeding your sense of sight starts by surrounding yourself with colors, patterns, and objects that please your eye. Do you prefer variety or consistency? As an artist, I love every color in every shade imaginable. I use all of them in my art and my environments, but my favorite colors are purple, orange, and green. It’s uncanny how often they end up in my art, in my living space, and on my body without any conscious intention. In fact, even when I try to exclude them in a design, they sneak in no matter what.

Why? When I did some research, I learned that different colors vibrate at different frequencies and resonate to different themes and moods. If you are intrigued by the connections between color, energy, and mood, you will find copious opinions on the Internet and at the library. Figure 7 shows my quick version of how colors align with the chakras, or energetic substations of the body.

Chakra Summary

Purple, orange, and green represent spirituality, creativity, and love, respectively. In combination, they feed my soul. Pale tints in spring, bright hues in summer, dusty tones in fall, and darker shades in winter, they are always present. They comfort and delight me, providing a feeling of consistency and wholeness. What we love about the colors is not the colors themselves. It’s how we feel when we see them. That is true of all the senses. We don’t enjoy the stimuli; we enjoy how we feel in their presence.

Color affinities can be both indicators and influencers of our moods and intentions. As with most things, I begin by following my intuition and then, if my energy is flat or cloudy, I’ll apply reason and intention. Let’s use my eyeglasses as an example. I have five pair in five different colors. (Two are variations on purple. How unsurprising.) My glasses are often the first “clothing” choice of the day. Sometimes I just reach for a color instinctively and find that my clothing colors align. When I translate my intuitive color choice to the frequencies of the chakras, it’s uncanny how often what I choose fits perfectly with where I need rebalancing or a boost. For example, I instinctively pick my bright blue eyeglasses on a day when I have a lot of writing or public speaking on my agenda. In chakra terms, bright blue resonates to self-expression energy.

Other times, when no strong color is drawing me, I’ll reason out which colors I should include based on where my energy needs realigning or fortifying. Although the process may sound complicated, it actually takes only a few moments.

Changes in color affinities sometimes signal major events and shifts in direction. For example, as I completed my two iPEC coaching certifications, I was less consistently drawn to purple, orange, and green and often attracted to turquoise (self-expression), yellow (self-esteem), and bright pink (identity). I didn’t resist, just relaxed into this new color phase of my life and enjoyed the broader range of experience.

Color My World

Clothing is your portable environment. While I may be especially attuned to it as a fashion artist, it affects all of us. Clothing is the house we wear on our bodies and carry around all day. Try beginning each day by consciously selecting clothing that supports you in expressing how you want to show up that day.

An individual item may nurture multiple senses. While I’ve started by exploring a single outer sense, you can quickly see how interrelated they are. For example, clothing nurtures our senses of sight and touch.

Let’s expand our perspective beyond feeding ourselves with colors to include feeding ourselves with images and symbols. As you know by now, I love cats and live with three—SiddhaLee, Mortimer, and Maisy Jane. To be more accurate, they let me live in their house, sleep in their king-size bed, eat in their kitchen, and work in their office. We’re crazy about each other. I love the way it feels to be with cats. I foster that feeling by maximizing the opportunities to experience it. I season my environment liberally with images of cats—pictures, quilts, jewelry, and more.

I also love the symbolism of butterflies—patience and hope for the fertile possibilities of life transformation during incubation in a dark void. Their images are sprinkled liberally throughout my life, including serving as my primary life coaching logo. I love dragonflies—symbols of living in the moment, abandoning self-limiting beliefs, seeing the vast potential of the Universe, and the power and poise that come with the mental and emotional maturity of seeing the deeper meaning to life. I adore books too—the power of human thought shared. I love seeing them in my space, reminding me that even when I sit alone writing, I am not alone. I am surrounded by every person who has ever had an idea or experience and felt compelled to share it with someone else for the benefit of reader and author.

See

In the world of entertainment, pay attention to what you read and watch; the themes and messages affect your energy. Are you feeding yourself a visual diet of optimism and unlimited possibilities (love) or pessimism and scarcity (fear)? I have become very selective about books, movies, and television shows. My test for choosing what I consume is, “Will watching or reading this expand and strengthen my ability to fulfill my purpose or limit and weaken it?”

Don’t get hung up on my colors and choice of symbols; the point is to figure out the colors and images to which you resonate. While there are many books on standard energetic reactions to colors (blue is soothing, yellow is cheerful, red is energizing or irritating, black is depressing or stabilizing, etc.), we are not interested in standard reactions. What matters here is your personal reaction. Experiment and determine what unique mix is most beneficial in helping you live in flow.

Provide a pleasing visual meal in each room. Pay attention to portion control, avoiding the visual version of gluttony by overwhelming your senses with too much stimulation and thereby numbing them. Go for healthy, digestible meals that leave you hungry an hour later for more visual stimulation outside your home and work location. Include regular outings to places that augment your visual diet with special treats: botanical gardens, galleries, the mountains, book stores, pet shops, the ocean, museums, fabric shops, art supply stores—whatever delights you. I have a client who feeds her sense of sight by selecting fresh produce based on including as many colors as possible, which also happens to be very good for you nutritionally. On other grocery shopping escapades, she focuses on what smells good together, demonstrating once again the opportunity to have a single item nurture more than one sense at a time.

I’ve explored the sense of sight in some detail to give you a feel for what’s involved. In the coming posts, I will provide briefer descriptions for each of the remaining outer senses and leave it to you to fill in your personal details.

Excerpt from “Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!” © Copyright 2013-2019 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

Click here to explore Deborah’s book.

EXPANDED EDITION
in print, ebook and
audiobook

Explore Deborah's Book

FREE Coaching Opportunity
($250 VALUE)

FREE Coaching Session

Click here to sign up for a 60-minute
complimentary coaching session with Deborah.

Posted in All My Blog Posts, Creativity & Self-Expression, Joy & Vitality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment