Choosing to Embrace Life

It’s not complicated to embrace life. You just have to make the choice.

Faith Hill

Some days it seems that life is much easier when we pretend we don’t have choices. When we merely react to situations, not taking conscious thought that we have a choice in how we react, it’s easier to blame our happiness – or lack thereof – on external circumstances.

If good things come to us and life rolls along smoothly – we’re happy.

If appliances break, the car runs out of gas, children misbehave, spouses wander, or jobs threaten our sanity – we’re unhappy.

But I’ve learned that it isn’t so. I’ve met friends that have more misfortune and calamity in their life than I’ve ever wish for. Yet, they remain cheerful and optimistic, always choosing to see the silver lining that exists in every dark cloud.

I have other friends that consistently whine and belly ache about the horrible happenings in their life – never once realizing how blessed they really are.

It’s all a choice.

So, too, is our decision to embrace life. It’s a choice we have, to live life fully with exuberance and joy, despite the minor obstacles and adversity that enter our lives. We can awaken each day and deliberately choose to embrace life in all of its delightful aspects. Live life fully. Approach tasks and chores with energy and vitality. Follow your dreams, yet also live and enjoy each moment in the present. Fill your life with laughter, joy, and good friends. Love and appreciate your family. Love with an open heart and appreciate each day and the life you have.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Kindness Challenge: Week Two #RevofKindness

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This past week I started participating in a seven week challenge – a Kindness Challenge. We’re just starting into Week Two, which will focus on: OBSERVE KINDNESS AROUND YOU.

Go here to see details of the 2016 Kindness Challenge, hosted by The Richness of a Simple Life. (By the way, if you want to join the challenge, it’s not too late. You can join at any time during this seven week period.)

At the end of each week, we share a post with feedback about what we found out during the week. I share my feedback at Embracing Life Tribe. Here’s what I discovered during Week One, Start Your Day with Kindness.

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Wordless Wednesday

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2016 Kindness Challenge #RevofKindness

For the next seven weeks, I’m participating in the 2016 Kindness Challenge. This challenge is hosted by The Richness of a Simple Life. Here’s what the seven weeks will cover:

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Here’s what will happen:

Focus on kindness for 7 weeks following the guide below. At the end of each week, incorporate a post on your blog with your thoughts on the week’s kindness focus. Use photos, a poem, a journal entry, a video, write a song, whatever you feel comfortable using to express your reflection of the week. Not a blogger? No worries! Use your social media accounts to spread the kindness!

At the end of the week, I’ll be posting on my Embracing Life Tribe blog about where this challenge has taken me. Follow me there to see where this journey goes over the next seven weeks.

Want to join in the fun? It’s not too late, you can enter any time during this time frame. Check out the details and sign up here, at The Richness of a Simple Life.

Come check us out at Embracing Life Tribe. Better yet, join us as we make the world a better place, one kindness at a time.

If you participate in this challenge, post your link in the comments, either on this page, or on the Embracing Life Tribe page, so that I can follow your journey also.

Wordless Wednesday

I love This! Reblogging from Grace Upside Down.

Grace Upside Down

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Take a Rest

It’s the first of a new month! Happy May Day!

Usually on the first of the month, I’m a busy beaver, setting my plans for the upcoming month, doing my month end recaps, and finishing up the monthly newsletter (Back Story – you can sign up for it here). I’m typically raring to go on a fresh, new month.

But, after a busy month with the A to Z Blog Challenge, and totaling the words I wrote in April (a record 81,291 – far surpassing my usual 25-40,000 words)…I’m beat. I’ve accomplished a few tasks on my daily To-Do list. But I’m not going to worry at the items that remain uncrossed off. I’m going to rest this afternoon.

Rest – It’s good for the body, it’s good for the soul.

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Z: Zone Out (Meditation)

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Z: ZONE OUT (MEDITATION)

I’m back at it, meditating, after an eye opener.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down to work on an exercise about realizing my innermost dreams and setting intentions to meet my goals that are stepping stones to my dearest dreams. The first part of the workbook advised spending ten minutes in meditation before completing the exercises.

As I pulled up a singing bowl meditation on You Tube, to listen to during my contemplation, I realized how infrequently I’d been meditating over the past year. I went and pulled out my journals. When I’d meditate, I also journaled following the meditation time, which left me a good time stamp to follow. In 2012 and 2013, I was going strong, spending some meditating and journaling almost every day. Then I got to 2014 and 2015 where I came to a screeching halt. Months would go by in between my special sessions.

A memory surfaced about a conversation with a friend. Back when I was still regularly meditating, I’d told her how much better my life was, having this practice in it. I explained how things just seemed ‘to flow’. Life was smoother, less stressful, and opportunities and coincidences filled my life.

So I’m back at it. As of yesterday. I made a big sign and taped it up on the door in my writing room, to remind me.

So when I’m posting different A to Z techniques to destress and keep a smile on your face, meditation absolutely has to be in that list.

Meditation brings more benefits than merely reducing stress. Huffington Post has an excellent article, 8 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life. Their eight benefits are listed here. See their article for more information. (It’s a great piece!)

Meditation reduces stress.

It improves concentration.

It encourages a healthy lifestyle.

The practice increases self-awareness.

It increases happiness.

Meditation increases acceptance.

It slows aging.

The practice benefits cardiovascular and immune health.

And if you’re one that wants more scientific research about meditation’s benefits, see this article by Live and Dare, SCIENTIFIC BENEFITS OF MEDITATION – 76 THINGS YOU MIGHT BE MISSING OUT ON. There’s plenty of research to back up the claims.

Today I even got up an hour earlier than usual…on a Saturday morning! And I started the day with peacefulness and contemplation. Zoning out…sometimes it’s the best way to spend your time.

Y: Yoga

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Y: YOGA

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Yoga has moved from the woowoo realm of mystics and spirituality to mainstream America. Many small cities have private yoga studios now, even here in Texas, land of the cowboy and Long Horn steer.

I practiced yoga for several years and enjoyed it immensely. I felt more peaceful, flexible and connected with my body and inner spirit.

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The calm, meditative aspect of yoga is tremendous to combat stress and stress related issues. But besides the stress relief benefits, there are a host of other health benefits that yoga provides.

Yoga Journal has an article, 38 Health Benefits of Yoga, that discusses these benefits. See their article for more in depth information. Here’s a sampling of a few of the ways yoga can improve your life and your health.

  • Improves your flexibility
  • Builds muscle strength
  • Increases your blood flow
  • Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Relaxes your system
  • Helps you sleep deeper
  • Gives you inner strength
  • Keeps allergies and viruses at bay
  • Supports your connective tissue

See you in a bit! I’m off to dust off my neglected book of poses to see if I can restart my yoga time.

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X: X-ercise to Relieve Stress

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X: X-ERCISE

Yes, I’m fudging in looking for an ‘X’ word for the A to Z Blog Challenge.

Exercise is an important component of combating stress, something that far too many of us find in our lives. And no, it doesn’t have to be a life consuming, five days a week at the gym, working towards next triathlon exercise. A simple walk around the block (with your spouse or the family dog is even better), or even dancing around the house while you clean or cook dinner, will give you stress-reducing benefits.

The Mayo Clinic has this to say about exercise and stress:

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Have you ever used exercise to alleviate stress in your life? Do you have a favorite exercise activity that you like?

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