Just One Thing

This article also appears on the Huffington Post.

Hope is the sparkPerhaps you’re like me. It’s mid-January, you’ve made big plans and set sincere intentions for this bright, shiny new year and . . . you’re stuck. It’s like you’re in a hole and you can’t find your way out. Any spark of action or glimmer of hope is lacking and you find yourself overwhelmed by the day-to-day needs of your life, unable to start even one change.

That thought is what brought me here today: “start with one change.” What if I changed just one thing today?

This is the idea behind what the founders of Simple Green Smoothies did. Unhealthy, broke, de-energized, and not sure where to go next, Jadah decided to change just one thing. She decided to have a green smoothie every day. With that change, she started losing weight and had more energy; then she started working out and the momentum continued to grow. She changed one thing and the rest followed.

So I started to think of the 10s or 100s of things I’d like to change, what is one thing I can do to get to “better”? What is one thing that can help me out of the hole and lead me toward hope?

The first thing that came to mind was going for a lunchtime walk each day. For my project management work, my office is located two blocks from Lake Michigan. Can I steal away for 20-30 minutes each day to connect with a little nature and gently move my body? Can I do this one thing every day for a week?

Will there be barriers and excuses? Oh, yes. An overly packed meeting schedule is sure to be a hurdle. What if I put it on my calendar to make sure it’s prioritized? Will the weather be cold and nasty? Hey, this is Chicago, you can guarantee it will be. But I commute by public transit so I already have all my gear with me. I can handle the weather.

Then my mind chimed in some more: But, wait. Does this make sense? How does this get you any closer to those lofty and important goals and intentions of the new year?

Honestly, I have no idea, but I stopped the analysis. It’s just one thing. It is a change. It breaks a pattern. It facilitates a shift. It changes a behavior of overwork, under-thinking, and under-breathing.

Perhaps it will be the spark that leads to something else. Perhaps it will provide me with the mental space to make a bigger change. I’m not sure, but it’s just one thing, that I’ll do for one week.

Will you join me? What’s your Just One Thing that you’ll do for a week to ignite a spark in your heart? Let us know in the comments below.


~Wishing for you the spark that lights up your heart with hope.

Half marathon: I did it!

runnerI did it! Yes! Three cheers! High-fives! And all that! I completed my first half marathon this month! I also did it in a respectable finishing time and was still able to hike around the park in the afternoon and walk down the stairs at home the next day!

The preparation definitely paid off. For instance, I didn’t question my gear too much because I just went with what I normally wore during training runs. I knew in advance that my running buddy would be going for a personal record and we wouldn’t run together much beyond the first mile, so I added music to my plan. I normally run with others and talk or just listen to nature and my surroundings if I’m by myself. But, let’s be honest here, I was afraid I’d psych myself out if I didn’t have some music for mood management and distraction. So I started listening to the music at about mile 7. I had also been using Reiki and visualization the week prior to the race, which kept me calm and positive. My mantra, “I can,” was always there as was the knowledge that I had completed the mileage already in a training run.

The race itself was wonderful, on a beautiful course along the Illinois River. We were serenaded by frogs at one point, saw several great blue herons, and I even saw a bald eagle riding the significant winds around mile 10.5. The camaraderie on the run was great. It was an out and back and the people who hadn’t made the turn yet cheered on the others. It was inspiring to see the fastest runners speeding by as we trudged through the first part of the race. Then after I made the turn people would call out my name (as it was on my race bib), give high fives or just general cheers. It was great. That must have gotten me through at least 2 miles right there.

Writing about running seems almost to be a cliché in the blogosphere. As there are so many stories out there where people draw parallels between running and other of life’s challenges. Well, it’s all true – in running and in life:

  • set a goal,
  • create a plan,
  • make a commitment,
  • get other people’s help,
  • talk about what you want to accomplish with others who will support you,
  • think positive thoughts,
  • do the things that are on the plan,
  • engage in lots of self-care,
  • do it, and
  • celebrate!

It sounds so simple, right? Does this always work?  No way. Where does it fail? Well in life, things are often not as simple as in running. There are often way more factors involved and more things that are out of your control. However, I think it’s a wonderful place to start and there is a great boost from completing what you set out to do, even if you didn’t save the world in the process. Celebrate the successes, no matter how large or small and for the rest of it: just do it!

Wishing you abundant success in running, life, and whatever your heart desires!



Establishing a New Habit

puzzle habitIt’s March. Remember the glow of the New Year that we felt in January? Perhaps you’re also remembering a resolution or two that you set. How are those resolutions going? If some of them were around establishing a new habit – maybe it was related to exercise or healthy eating or meditating more often – it takes awhile for a new habit to take root. (In the popular self-help culture, people usually state that it takes 21 or 28 days to create a new habit.)

If you’re struggling to break through to the new you, it might be time to step back and evaluate what you’re setting out to do. Are you trying to change a lot of things all at once? If yes, that can sometimes be a recipe for failure.

Perhaps, instead try changing one thing at a time. In last month’s Yoga Chicago, Kali Om, wrote about a new intention or habit change each month. I really love this approach and have not seen it promoted elsewhere. To really focus on one change at a time for four weeks, is really helpful.

Some approaches that I have been through, like the Blood Sugar Solution, with a change happening each week, are too rapid. By the fourth week of the seven-week program, you’re so burnt out with trying to change things that you start ignoring the next recommended change. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Blood Sugar Solution and completely believe in this dietary approach, even for a short time, however, the habit change each week is demotivating. Just doing the dietary and supplement changes that are established early on in the program are enough to focus on and they bring about amazing results.

One can also use Reiki to establish a new habit. When we receive a Reiki session or practice self-Reiki, we can use the calm state that we achieve, to bring about mental clarity and greater focus. During this time of clarity and focus, we can visualize ourselves fully engaged in our new habit. Again, if we break this down to one change at a time, perhaps, one a month, then we can use that time, let’s say weekly sessions for one month, to focus the mind and align our personal energy around our new habit.

How are your changes for 2016 going? Please let us know in the comments below.

Having a vision for your life

Crazy Horse MemorialImagine having less than $200 to your name, a young family to take care of, and agreeing to carve a mountain to honor Native American heroes. No one was going to help you — it would be just you, the mountain, tons of rock, blasting equipment, and the occasional herd of mountain goats, but this would become your life’s work.  Through thick and thin and, I imagine, many naysayers, you would persevere because you have a mission, a calling, a vision, to honor Native Americans. Can you imagine having such a driving vision for your life?

Recently, my family and I visited the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota and we encountered the story of a man, Korczak Ziolkowski, who had such a singular and encompassing vision for his life. The Memorial is a huge mountain carving (larger than Mount Rushmore) and a tribute to one of the great Native American heroes. It is more than just a carving in a mountain though, it also has a significant museum about the Memorial and Native American culture, and the foundation has created the Indian University of North America that provides numerous educational scholarships to Native Americans.

The story of the creation of the Memorial, which Korczak Ziolkowski started in 1947, is truly inspiring. At the request of Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota Chief,  Korczak took on this task and had the vision to include in it a Museum and a University. Today, the carving and blasting continues on the mountain-side and the University is a work in progress as well.  Korczak and his wife had 10 children, some of whom still work at the Memorial. What struck me about them is how he was virtually broke and started this carving. He saw it as his life’s mission and he had a vision for his life.  That vision had three parts: the mountain carving, the museum, and the university.

Throughout our visit, I felt humbled by the vision and determination that it took to take on this task and see it through. The Memorial is completely privately funded from admissions and contributions to the Foundation. I kept wondering about what my vision is for my life. What is the big thing I am meant to do? Or in the words of Simon Sinek, what is my “why”?

Indeed I want to help people with Reiki and coaching. I want to make the world a better place, care for my family, run a few races, have some fun, and eat some great meals. But, why? What’s the big vision? What really great and powerful thing can I accomplish that will leave a lasting impression on the world — that will make the world at least a little better than it was before?

I’m not certain of the answer yet, but I’m enjoying the exploration of my vision for my life and my “why.” How about you? What is your vision for your life? How do you express it? And how does it shape your day to day life?  Please share your story in the comments below!

Just Give Up: On Surrender, Acceptance, and Being Driven

Photo by Janice E Lodato“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

True confession: I’m a very driven person. When I set my mind to something I will find a way to get it done. Honestly, this has not always been the greatest trait for building interpersonal relationships. I truly believe, “When there is a will there is a way.” Sometimes that has meant a greater focus on achieving a goal than it has on supporting a relationship. Even with this driven nature, I’m not naive. I know even when we push, even when we plan perfectly, even when the stars align and everyone is on our side, sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to.

Which brings me to the topic of surrender — to maybe just giving up. What if we just stop trying so hard. What if we surrender to God, spirit, universe — whatever you call the higher power in your life — and let it go.  Let go, let God. Can we do this? What level of acceptance does this involve? And, what level of personal responsibility remains?

For me, this always leads to me still doing the work. Still making the plans. Still trying as hard as I can because fate rewards the doer — at least in my book. While I’m busy doing, can I surrender regarding the outcome of my actions? Can I accept that though I’ve planned, acted, and did my best, that the result might not be as I want? Does that make the doing any less important? What if I just gave up? What if I focused more on being and less on doing?  What’s the saying? “You’re a human being, not a human doing.” This always strikes me as an incredibly clever saying but it leaves me empty existentially. What does it mean to “just be”? Can someone please show me someone who is being and not doing? If we’re honest, I think they are inextricably connected. I would be delighted to hear contrary evidence, and please fill up the comments with your stories, because I’m really puzzling over this distinction.

Ironically, however, I do have evidence in my life of times, especially in work settings, when I stopped trying so hard — felt like I had given up and wasn’t an A+ worker — and yet suddenly the rewards for that workplace setting started coming to me. One time after an extended vacation and months of “just doing enough” I received a lavish raise and a significant promotion.  Really?!  Okay, higher power, explain that one to me.

This isn’t a post with answers.  This is something I’m exploring and probably a dance I’ll partake in until I can see things differently.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.  How do you balance acceptance and being driven in your life?


Even Reiki Masters get the Blues

Image of man, depression, ReikiI wish it were true that Reiki is a cure-all for human suffering, but it’s not. Even practicing Reiki at the Master level, one still experiences the fullness of life with its highs and lows. However, the difference is that one is able to observe, manage, and detach from the experience of one’s emotions in a healthy way by connecting with universal life-force energy.

For instance, there are days when I am gripped by dark emotions and moving forward is difficult. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do to help myself feel better or what has caused me to feel blue. There is one thing that always helps me to ride the wave of the emotion and that is Reiki. By placing my hands on myself and accessing the energy of the universe, I am able to feel calm and connected. Then from there I’m able to do things that help me to feel better. For instance, I may call a friend, go for a walk, write in my journal, or practice yoga. The Reiki and these actions help me to start moving out of the dark tunnel and into the light of the day.

Reiki is a tool in your self-care toolkit. It helps you feel better and heal better. It helps you take on the ebb and flow of emotions and the injustices of the world and still be your best self. Reiki integrates easily into your life and can support all your goals, including your creative, athletic, relationship, financial, emotional, and health goals.

Try a Reiki session today or learn to practice Reiki by taking a class! Wishing you the love and light of the universe!

Happy New Year! Happy Resolution Setting!

It’s the eve of New Year’s Eve and like many others, I take this as a time of reflection on the past year and to strengthen my resolve for the new year. For me, resolutions are absolutely essential for focusing my energy and achieving the results that I desire. Without writing down resolutions, I often lack focus. Though things don’t always work out in the way I hope or at the exact time I planned, they are more likely to be achieved if I’ve taken these five essential steps:

  1. Reflect
  2. Align
  3. Write
  4. Share
  5. Act

The process goes like this: I reflect on what I’ve achieved and what I want to achieve. As you do this, remember to take credit for what you did well in 2014 and be thankful to others. Spend sometime in a reflective state of gratitude and get specific about the wonderful things that make up the gratitude that you feel. Remember the times of connection with others in 2014 and acknowledge the flow and change that is a constant in our lives. Then look ahead — what do you want to acheive in 2015? I try not to over-think this step and instead let my intuition lead me to the juiciest goals.

Then I utilize Reiki, relaxation, and visualization to see if these desires align with my values. I do this by imagining what I would look like, how I would feel, and what I would say to others when I achieve my desired result. (Sherold Barr has a lovely approach to this where you imagine yourself at the end result and write from that perspective.)

The third step is to write out my resolutions for the new year. Ideally, this gets very detailed with a breakdown of steps to take, timelines for each step, and a list of kindred spirits who will help me along the way. Scott Dinsmore has a great tool for going through the writing step. It may take some time to do this, but it is very worthwhile.

Thanks to Scott and others I have been tapping into the power of sharing my goals. As with any intention setting, it is like setting the intention an additional time. You’ve thought it, you’ve written it, and now you’ve spoken it. Plus, you’ve ideally shared it with a kindred spirit who will hold up your goal and help you to achieve it. Sometimes that help comes in the simplest form by listening, repeating, or an understanding nod. However, this support is absolutely essential for the healthy life of connected beings.

Then it’s time to act. I make sure that there are some tasks that I can start on right away. In addition, I mindfully review my timelines to make sure I’m not putting off too far in the future tasks that I perceive as difficult, weighty, or anxiety-producing. Those tasks need to be broken down and worked on “as soon as possible” otherwise they will wait for a lifetime. If they are aligned with your true self and your ideal goals, then there is no concern that they are the “wrong” ones, it just might be that they are the most life changing and therefore need to be bumped up in priority. Also, this process is ideally done in a circular fashion, that is, I need to periodically (usually monthly) check-in on my progress and my alignment throughout the year.

I’d love to hear what you have in mind (and heart!) for the new year. Please share your resolutions in the comments below.

My resolutions include some new offerings in 2015, including:

  • An online tool to request distance Reiki
  • Grief coaching + Reiki
  • Lots of writing and teaching, including an e-book, plus a larger book project
  • An offline support group for those who have experienced pregnancy loss
  • and more!


party glasses