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Today’s post is bittersweet. I’m thrilled to be wrapping up the Write 31 Days challenge for the third year in a row, but I know I’ll miss the time dedicated to exploring words that are important to me. While I know that I've accomplished something, I also know that the real work is ahead of me. I’ve stirred up all sorts of internal stuff and the end of this challenge means it’s officially time to refine my life for the next decade.
I really enjoyed this year’s topic. Though I was unsure at the start, Simply 50 - refining life for the next decade was absolutely the right subject. I learned quite a bit about myself and what matters at this current place in my life.
As I look back over the past 30 posts, I can feel how powerful this project was for me. I hope it was for you, also. While I certainly would never presume that my words could change you, I fully believe that you can change you.
If you want something in your life to be different
...recognize that you have the power to change it.
Whatever it is...big or small...there is a way to refine your life for the better. We are never too old to learn something new or modify our methods.
On our kitchen counter we have a day-at-a-time Zen calendar. We’ve been enjoying these Zen calendars for about 12 years. Our home wouldn’t be complete without this small, square teacher facing us each day.
Most days this little calendar offers immense wisdom on its disposable pages. Today is no exception.
"I am afraid. Not of life, or death or nothingness, but of wasting it as if I had never been."
That’s it. That’s exactly where I am.
As the years continue to move past...not a single second to be reclaimed...
I am scared of wasting time.
I truly believe my life matters. So does yours. We are here to contribute something great.
Most of us hold back, fearful of shining too bright. I've done this for years. Well, I've reached the point where my fear has shifted. I'm now afraid I won't shine bright enough.
This four-week journey has taught me many things. None more important than this… I want more. More of the things that truly matter.
More out of my life.
For the next nine years and beyond, my soul will be searching...committed to seeking joy and offering compassion. As I look back over the list of words that I selected for this challenge, I realize I have some work to do. Several aspects of my life have been neglected for far too long.
A few words stand out as the best place to start. These words cover a lot of ground and they'll be my launch pad for a decade of refining.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. It’s my sincere hope that you've found some truth in this month of words. I appreciate all of the comments you offered when a post really resonated. I love knowing that we are all in this together. The human journey is a shared one. The more we connect with one another, the more powerful and complete the experience.
I honestly welcome your thoughts about this year’s write 31 days.
What did you like? What do you wish I’d done differently?
Are there things you’re hoping to refine in your own life?
Moving forward, I'm open to what you’d like me to explore in future posts. I’m delighted when someone asks me to write about a specific subject. My desire is to create a community where we can feel comfortable learning from each other, growing and improving in the process.
I'll leave you with this...
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver
That’s all for this year’s Write 31 Days. I’ll miss you all tomorrow morning.
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I’ve reached the end of the alphabet and almost the end of this year's Write 31 Days challenge. Tomorrow is the final day. It’s been an interesting month of digging deep and feeling all the feels. Today’s word is ZEAL - great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. This word was the ideal choice the letter Z.
I’ve often heard the saying, “How we do anything is how we do everything”.
Well, I want to live my life with zeal.
I want to feel a surge of energy for the big things and the little things.
I want to approach my days with excitement and a passion for making each day the best it can possibly be.
Challenges that seem too big to overcome and pitfalls that make it hard to stay positive are losing their power over me.
I am completely committed to the work of staying present and focused on the Now.
I believe that enthusiasm breeds more enthusiasm. If someone is super keen on something, that vibe is infectious. Others crave a taste of that powerful, positive energy and their zeal increases!
I’m going to print out a list of all of the words I chose to write about this month.
I plan to hang it where I can see it several times a day.
My hope is that the clear messages I’ve heard as I’ve written each post will begin to manifest in my life.
Here's the list, if you'd like it...
3. Be you
16. Meditation & Morning Pages
21. Refine, Rest, Right, Romance
27. Wisdom & Wonder
My sincere gratitude for your support as I’ve explored Simply 50 - refining life for the next decade. Thank you for reading.
See you tomorrow for the final Write 31 Days post.
After the challenge, my blog will resume its normally scheduled programming:-) That is to say, I’ll be posting once a week on style, wardrobes, simplicity, organizing, living in the present and creating a beautiful life!
I'd love to have you join me.
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If I have one mothering regret it’s that I didn’t say yes often enough. Looking back, it’s easy to see so many times when I could have said yes, but chose no. Yes was often the messier, louder, longer, more expensive, more exhausting option...but in the end, would that have been so bad? I don’t believe we should always say yes. I know there are times when no was the best response for everyone involved. But, I said it more often than necessary.
While I’ve missed a lot of opportunities when I could have said yes...it’s not too late to start flexing my yes muscles.
I have all three of my children at home for another 9+ months.
I plan to say yes more often.
I'm not proud of this...
With my children, I often have a terrible time saying yes joyfully. I find that I might say yes, but it’s uttered begrudgingly. It’s cluttered and colored by the huge to-do list in my head or the stress of something that has absolutely nothing to do with what they are asking me.
It’s clear to my children that I’m not happy about the yes I’m offering...so it negates that yes and makes them feel bad. As soon as I utter a miserable yes, I catch myself...but by then it’s already too late.
I am going to try to say a loving yes to many of the million little things I’m asked regularly. The rides to and from, last minute needs from the store, pleas for help in finding a lost article of clothing. I realize that I will dearly miss these opportunities to say yes when my children are grown.
Helping me to see the power of yes, is the adorable Kelly Jensen.
For those of you who are on Instagram but have somehow managed to miss this amazing lady, do yourself a favor and take a pause from reading this and go click follow on her IG account...@kellyejensen.
She’s the real deal.
Don't let her stunning appearance, adorable children, loving husband and incredible photos make you doubt her authenticity. I believe she truly lives what she shares in her squares.
Even now, in the homestretch of mothering, Kelly Jensen is changing the way I parent my children.
My children are narrowing in on adulthood, but I realize there's still time for me to adopt a yes attitude.
Enter...The Live List.
This simple concept is now taking the world of social media by storm.
Kelly Jensen has been creating a personal live list for 20 years. For the past several years, her family of 7 (that's right, she's the mother of five young children) has been committed to experiencing the benefits of a Live List.
To clarify, a Live List is a bit different than a Bucket List. A Bucket List is often considered a list of things you want to do before you die.
A Live List puts the focus on doing things- big and small -to enhance your life now.
The idea is to live your very best life by dreaming and stretching and growing through the items on your Live List.
Here’s the link to a short video of Kelly Jensen explaining the Live List.
Our first family Live List will be created this Sunday.
I mentioned the concept to my husband and children at last week’s family meeting. I think they are on-board. We'll each offer activities and ideas to be considered for the Cain Family Live List.
In addition, I plan to create my own personal live list and I'm hopeful that Matthew and I will create a couple's live list.
That's a lot of lists...but we have a lot of life to live!
A Live List is designed to encourage you to do things you love...and ultimately make life better...for yourself and for others.
The actions within the concept of the Live List...brainstorming, deciding, planning, anticipating and actually accomplishing...all work together to bring joy to the everyday.
I'm ready for more YES!
I promise to share more about our Live List after we begin.
I actually can't wait to implement this simple, yet brilliant plan! Thank you, Kelly Jensen.
How do you feel about saying yes?
Do you feel that you say it too often or not enough?
Thank you so much for following along. I’m going to be sad to see October end. This month of writing every day has been the best kind of challenge. I’m excited about what’s ahead….
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The X words are always the hardest. I gave this letter a lot of thought. I found some interesting X words, but none fit into my concept of Simply 50. Then, in a stroke of sheer brilliance...I remembered that X is the Roman numeral for ten:-) Problem solved. This is exactly the right ‘word’ for today.
Ten years = a decade. Perfect for a monthly writing challenge centered around refining life for the next decade.
As I mentioned a few days ago, I was really panicking at the thought of trying to refine so many things very quickly.
I was thinking I needed to make all of the changes immediately so I could have them all zipped up before I turn 51..in less than 60 days!
Thankfully, a dear friend stepped in and reminded me that this journey is about the ‘refining life for the next decade’.
If necessary, I can use all ten years to refine things!
Phew. That makes this undertaking much more bearable. My goal is to work at a steady pace and change what needs changing so I can live the benefit of those changes before my next big decade birthday.
Much like a haircut, once you decide you’re ready, you want it to happen immediately. I’m certain I'll enhance my patience practice in the coming months and years:-)
When this month of writing is over, I plan to take some time to map out the next decade. I’ve already begun to tweak the things that are easiest and most accessible.
Small, but notable changes...burning scented candles, listening to music, laughing more, reading The Power of Now and Vogue magazine...are making a delightful impact on my everyday happiness.
The next task is to set some real goals and fine tune the action steps so that they can be achieved in the coming decade.
My old self avoided goals.
My new self is actually excited about deciding what I want and declaring it. And then following through on the work so I actually reach those goals!
Ten years is a long time. I’d like to arrive at 60 feeling that I used the past decade very wisely and wrung every last drop of joy from each year.
It’s your turn...please share. I love hearing your thoughts.
How will you spend the next ten years?
How do you view coming next decade?
As always, thank you so much for reading. I can’t believe this month of writing is almost over. I’m already missing it...and also looking forward to what’s ahead!
When I’m not in the midst of a writing challenge, I share a new post about once a week. The topics vary, but usually follow these themes; personal style, building an awesome wardrobe, organization, minimalism, finding joy, simplicity and living in the present.
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Wisdom- At fifty, I finally feel like there are some things I know for sure. The ability to trust my own wisdom didn’t show up until recently. I’ve reached a place where I’m confident in the fact that I know some things. Five decades of life experience has provided me with a solid framework for making good choices and solving problems.
I now possess the knowledge that life often has a way of taking you off the path you’ve chosen and redirecting you in an unknown, but often better, direction. It feels good to have stockpiled some useful wisdom at this stage in the game.
I work with lots of younger women. I’m aware that in certain circumstances they might view me as wise...in a wise old owl sort of way:-)
I have double their years under my belt and that makes me the expert by default. I recall viewing older women this way when I was in my 20s and 30s. It was clear that they held broad knowledge that came from the passing of years. I wanted to learn from them. I hope I'm able to share a little wisdom with those in the decades behind me.
Wonder- There are plenty of things I know. However, what interests me more right now is waking up my sense of wonder. In the busy years of mothering littles and furthering careers, I think it’s easy to lose sight of the magic of wonder.
Whether it’s wonder by way of being in awe of something or the actual act of being curious…I want more of both in my life.
I’m not exactly sure how to begin this search for more wonder, but I’ll start by piquing my curiosity regularly.
I plan to investigate and pursue things that fascinate me. Learning new things by staying curious. I’ll definitely be exploring my surroundings and my soul for ways to incorporate a stronger dose of wonder in the coming days.
Are you comfortable with your wisdom?
Do you regularly experience wonder?
Thank you for following along with Simply 50 - refining life for the next decade. Only a few days left!
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Lifetouch loves me. Though I never display them, I always purchase my children’s school pictures. Every year since that very first order form came home with my daughter Greta in Kindergarten, I’ve chosen a package and written a check. Like the other parents, I then waited two months for the photos to come home, cut them out and shared them with grandparents.
My three children are all in high school this year. I continue to add to their school photo collection. The yearly envelopes are tucked away in the basement. Every so often, we pull them out and line up the photos of each child chronologically.
I’m always moved to tears when we do this simple activity. I’m overwhelmed by the fleeting nature of childhood and by how much they’ve changed since that first school photo.
However, what I find most amazing is how much my high school kids resemble their Kindergarten selves. When looking backwards, it’s so obvious who they were destined to become.
The age progression laid out on my dining room table tells me that these teenagers have been emerging since before they were five years old.
The essence of who they are today was there in Kindergarten and it is perfectly visible in hindsight. It’s profound to experience the reversal of time in this way.
By looking back from the present we can see that who we are currently has always been inside of us…
All of this is to say…
I’ve been reading Vogue magazine for decades. I was introduced to this fashion bible in the beginning of high school.
I don’t remember much about my first Vogue magazine, but I remember being in awe. I loved the weight of it in my hands. I loved the way it looked and smelled. I was intrigued by the idea of using clothing and accessories to alter our mood and appearance. It felt important and adult.
In college, I studied Fashion Merchandising. Vogue became required reading. I devoured every issue...my absolute favorite was a copy of French Vogue purchased on my first trip to Paris.
I collaged my walls and doors with images cut from the ever-growing Vogue tower that stood proudly in my room.
At that time, when I imagined my dream job, it was editor of French Vogue.
I didn’t push myself very hard in the direction of that dream job. Instead, I made a series of choices that led me away from my love of fashion and style. Due to several different factors, I began to view the world of fashion as silly and unnecessary. Frivolous and not important.
I ignored the essence of who I am.
How does this connect to my pile of Lifetouch photos?
When I look at my children’s current school photos...I now see the souls of my teenagers in their Kindergarten faces. I see that they have become exactly who they were meant to be at this stage.
Decades ago, as I flipped through the pages of that very first Vogue magazine, I knew that fashion and style were a fundamental part of who I am.
At the core, I'm still the same as my own Kindergarten photo. Though I haven’t asked her, I’m quite certain that my mother can see in my childhood photos the woman I am today.
I no longer want to be the editor of Vogue Paris. I am thankful I chose a different path.
I am exactly where I belong.
In the past decade I’ve begun to listen to my heart again. I’ve returned to the world of fashion, but this time on my terms.
We all need to get dressed daily. I’ve realized that by helping women feel beautiful, authentic and empowered through their wardrobes, I am able to share my real passion for style in a valuable way.
My hope is that my children stay true to who they are and follow the path that feeds their souls.
I’m excited about continuing on my own journey and holding tight to what really matters to me.
I’m going to start with some me time and this month’s yet unopened issue of Vogue.
What about you hasn't changed since you were a child?
Thank you for being here this month.
Miss a day or two? See them all here.
The universe continually performs some unbelievable feats. Our planet is home to over 7 billion human beings and each one of us is completely and utterly unique. We’re all aware that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, but the fact that there are more than 7 billion people and we are all different is utterly mind-blowing. Being unique is a fundamental part of being alive. We are each born with our own complex collection of stuff. We share many of the same qualities and physical attributes, but there is only one of each of us. No one else has the same exact make up.
We are each unique. Truly one of a kind.
Owning this fact is often difficult. We spend so much of our time trying to fit in and be like our peers. We want what they have.
Within our cultures and communities, the vast majority of us attempt to look alike, sound alike, think alike and behave alike. We often believe we’ll find happiness by imitating those we admire.
We stop marching to our own drummer and begin following another’s beat.
We work hard to cover up and diminish what makes us unique.
Occasionally, we come across someone who truly celebrates who they are, with no apologies. Those folks are usually referred to as odd or unusual...when really they are simply living out their birthright. Committed to being unlike anyone else on the planet. Committed to being unique.
I believe we should let our own special gifts, talents and beliefs shine. Rejoice in the fact that we are all so different. Let’s welcome and embrace what makes each of us unique.
How incredible that we are able to share the planet with billions of unique individuals. I’m going to spend some time finding ways to appreciate what’s unique in me and in others.
How are you unique?
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"If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day till eternity passes away, just to spend them with you...
But, there never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do, once you find them..."
I’ve heard the song a thousand times. I know every word by heart. Yet, I’ve only just begun to really feel the message in Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle.
Lately, there are days that I’d like to bottle and save because the clock seems to be moving way too fast. I’ve reached a place in my life where I can look back and clearly see how much time has already passed.
In hindsight, I see that much of that time was foolishly spent and carelessly wasted.
I find the concept of time to be incredibly interesting. Much like outer space, time seems elusive and impossible to truly explain.
Modern life is busy.
That busyness often makes it feel like there is simply not enough time. Our full schedules make us believe the common phrases like; the days are too short, there aren’t enough hours in the day, time is running out, time is slipping away, this month is flying by, I’m crunched for time...
I’m sure you can think of a few more.
Yet time doesn’t change. Ever.
A minute is always 60 seconds.
An hour is always 60 minutes
A day is always 24 hours...and so on.
Time stays the same. The seconds pass regularly and with precision.
Human beings are masters at spending time poorly and then trying to blame the clock.
We have little regard for the very important fact that we are not able to get back even one second of time after it has passed.
When I really consider that truth, it stops me cold.
Every single second that ticks past cannot be relived or retrieved.
What a powerful thought. This alone should have us all striving to improve the quality of our time.
Being 50 has shed some new light on my sense of time. I have a new appreciation for this swift moving gift.
I know I've reached at least the middle of my life. That's certainly an attention grabber. And, my three children are in high school. I am so acutely aware that our time together, living as a family of five, is limited.
If I was brave enough, I could actually tally up number of hours left before our nest is empty.
I’m not that brave.
Instead, I’ll focus on the importance of spending my time as wisely as possible.
Like a punch in the gut, I realize there will never be enough time.
I’m acutely aware that my time with the people I love will run out before I’m ready.
The only thing I can do is try to make every moment count.
That’s my plan.
From this second forward...I will do my very best to stay present.
Be in the moment and cherish the Now.
That’s where life happens and it’s the only time that counts.
Please share your thoughts on the mystery of time?
Thank you for reading.
Sensuality is the enjoyment, expression or pursuit of physical (especially sexual) pleasure. When I think of the word sensuality, I imagine things that are pleasing to the senses...satin sheets, beautiful fragrances, warm, soft knits, flickering candles, sumptuous meals, exquisite lingerie, intimate moments.
Unfortunately, I have a very hard time relating the word sensuality to myself. I’m not exactly sure why, but there is a definite disconnect between how I think of myself and sensual.
Wow. This month just keeps pulling out all the stuff! I didn’t realize how much there is in my life that I'd like to refine:-)
I’ve never felt particularly sensual. In addition, while I’m comfortable with my own sexuality, I rarely feel sexy. For a long time I didn’t really pay much attention to these missing elements in my life. I didn’t view sensuality and sexiness as something I could attain. Therefore, I dismissed them.
Looking back, I definitely felt sexiest and most sensual while I was pregnant. I’m not sure if that’s due to the fact that my body, usually straight and angular, was full and curvy or if it was the incredible empowerment that comes with creating life, but I felt vital and in touch with my sensuality like never before.
When my children were small, I struggled with where Mommy stopped and where Kristen began. It was difficult to turn off the parenting and tap into my sensual side...especially when it didn’t seem obvious to me that I had one.
At different times in my past, I've tried to identify my issues surrounding feeling sexy and owning my own sensuality.
The problem always comes down to a lot of mind noise. Internal feedback about body type, breast size, fitness level, beauty, age...this list is long.
And a bit ridiculous.
I’ve personally known women of all sizes and ages who exude a very definite sensuality. Their appeal is felt by all who come in contact with them. They give off a definite sensual vibe. It’s natural and compelling.
I want that for myself.
Internally and externally. I realize that I need to move away from the voice in my head (in so many ways).
I refuse to believe that it’s too late for me to feel sensual.
It’s time for a sensuality shift.
I’m hoping it’s possible to cultivate a sense of self-love that boosts sensuality as a side effect.
I have several women in my life who possess the quality I’m seeking. I’m hoping they’ll be willing to share the essence of their sensuality and sexiness with me...and that their stories will inspire me to make some internal adjustments.
Externally, I’m positive there are measures I could take that would make my surroundings more sensual.
Here’s where I’m starting...
I’ve begun to actually light the scented candles I’ve been hoarding for years. I work at Anthropologie for goodness sake...I always have access to incredible candles.
I plan to buy some rich body lotion, decant it into a beautiful dispenser...and then use it.
Our home needs a little sensuality upgrade. Again, Anthropologie has a huge selection of linens, blankets, pillows and towels that look and feel incredible. I need to explore my options and invest in a few items that will up the sensuality factor in our home.
I’m currently working on improving the sounds that surround me. My music library has needed an infusion of great music for too long. The time has come to tune into songs that improve the quality of my life.
Undergarments...this drawer needs some attention. For too long, I've ignored the importance of building a beautiful wardrobe from the foundation out.
Thankfully, there are some areas of my life that already feel sensual...
I’m pretty good with mood lighting (candlelight for dinner, every night) and delicious, beautifully prepared meals (Thank you, Matthew).
I could really use your help. If you have tips on feeling more sensual or sexy...please don’t hesitate to share.
Shy about commenting below?
Email me privately at email@example.com
I welcome your suggestions and insight.
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Another day, another R word. Resistance. This one definitely deserves its own post. I’m learning so much as I move through this month. There is no need for me to search for each day’s word. They are appearing with no effort. It’s as if they’ve been waiting to be explored. My soul is feeling heard and I love hearing your thoughts when a word resonates deeply with you. It’s a day-maker to read your comments. Thank you.
A little side note: In my recent NOW post, I mentioned my plan to read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. After reading that post, a dear friend urged me to purchase a copy instead of checking it out of the library. Trusting her and her passion for the book, I have done just that. Sitting next to me on my desk is my very own copy of The Power of Now. I’ve been reading it for a few days and wish for an entire afternoon to devour it! While I haven’t finished it yet, I can already tell that I’ll keep this one close forever.
Okay, now back to resistance...
A few years ago, I began using the Headspace app. This amazing meditation app combines founder, Andy Puddicombe’s soothing voice (think Jude Law) and straight-up simple guidance on the valuable practice of meditation.
Early in my Headspace journey, Andy Puddicombe mentioned something about our suffering being caused by us not wanting things to be as they are.
I had to stop and really consider his words at the time.
Surely, he must be mistaken.
Maybe I didn’t hear him correctly. There was no way that my suffering was merely the result of me wanting things to be different.
Or was he dead on? 100% right?
It seemed too simple. I struggled with this reasoning...certain that something else was causing the misery I felt in many areas of my life.
A while later, I read the following quote...
It may look as if the situation is creating suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.
There was that message again. Hmm.
Sometimes it takes a few thumps on the head before I actually wake up to a new idea.
I became intrigued by the concept of my resistance being linked to my happiness. Intrigued and a little skeptical. I pondered it with a ‘yes, but that doesn’t apply to the huge, ugly, unfair situation that I’m currently dealing with’ attitude.
The truth of the resistance concept continued to show up to me in brief moments of awareness. Slowly, I began to realize that yes, in fact, it did seem that by wanting a situation to be different, I created the suffering in my life.
I explored some of the common things that make me unhappy or stressed...
Physical pain or illness
I kept trying to find an area or situation where the resistance logic didn’t hold up.
At every turn, when I examined an issue I was having, it became clear that I wanted the situation to be different than it was. And therefore, I was unhappy.
This has been one of the greatest light bulb moments of my entire life...
I AM completely in control of my happiness.
I now realize that my mood, well-being and peace of mind are negatively impacted by my resistance to the circumstances I experience every day.
Awareness is the first step. Once I realize that I’m unhappy, I can look to see what I’m resisting. It’s become a game I play with myself...I feel the grip of my mind being unhappy or stressed and then I look for what I’m resisting.
I ask myself, “What am I wishing would be different?”
In some cases, I can then set out to make things different. In other instances, I have no way of changing a situation...so I’m learning to choose acceptance.
The act of acceptance is powerful.
It diffuses the anger or unhappiness and results in a sense of peace.
It is what it is.
That phrase always bugged me. It seems flip and dismissive. However, I’ve come to see that it speaks volumes. Very accurate volumes.
It is what it is works to remove the emotion and resistance from a situation. There is acceptance is the phrase...we are merely acknowledging the way things are...in the present moment.
This too shall pass.
I've never been a big fan of this quote either. (Obviously, I've harbored serious resistance issues:-) Lately my eyes are wide open to the truth in the message. After I’ve accepted a situation (especially one I cannot change or control), I can use these words to remind myself that this is only temporary. Everything changes...including any yucky, terrible, awful situation I may be feeling stuck in.
A giant shift occurs by simply by being aware of my state of mind and acknowledging my resistance to whatever I’m resisting.
Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. ~ Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
If you haven’t already experienced this aha moment for yourself, I urge you to read The Power of Now. Or watch The Peaceful Warrior.
Or at the very least...try to open yourself up to the possibility that your are causing your own unhappiness through your resistance to the way things are.
Once you deeply consider this truth...I think you'll have a hard time ignoring your own resistance.
What are you currently resisting?
Thank you so much for following along this month. I hope the words I'm sharing are giving you some food for thought as you move through your current decade.
Simply 50- refining life for the next decade