Are You Growing Series, #5 – Faith

are you growing







 Whether you believe in God, a Higher Power or something else, exhibiting faith in something greater than our self creates security and gives us a purpose in life. Feeling an ultimate direction for our existence leads to happiness.


4 Things You Can Do This Week to Be a Happier Person



There’s more to leading a healthy lifestyle than following an eating and exercise plan. Finding happiness in your everyday life can also make a positive impact on your overall health. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, happiness has a positive effect in lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone that is related to health conditions like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune diseases. But if you aren’t feeling that happy on a daily basis, what can be done to change that?

Gabrielle Bernstein, New York Times best-selling author of May Cause Miracles, believes personal happiness — or as she refers to it, “miracles” — can be achieved through meditation. In her newest New York Times best-seller, Miracles Now, she writes that meditation helps “because it gives you time to reflect, bring inner peace, and make a true assessment of where you are in your life and where you can go.” Indeed, a study from JAMA Internal Medicine shows that meditation can help reduce stress and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are related to myriad health conditions.

Want to give meditation a try? Here are Bernstein’s tips for how to meditate your way to finding happiness daily, ultimately improving the quality of your life — and your health.

1. Make your first thought of the day a happy one. “When we look at ourselves in the mirror every morning and think of all the things we want to change, that’s a choice we make,” says Bernstein. “Make the commitment to think differently about yourself and make happiness the first thing of the day.” She recommends listening to music to begin your morning instead of watching TV. Create a positive, uplifting playlist to help boost your mood and brighten your spirit. If you have a few minutes, sit still and meditate while listening to a song or two.

2. Snap out of a negative mindset. Plagued by undesirable or destructive thoughts about yourself or others? Bernstein recommends employing her “Snap Out of It” meditation technique, in which you wear a rubber band on your wrist, and whenever you start to think negative thoughts about yourself or towards another person, flick the rubber band against your arm. This will literally help you “snap” out of the negative thoughts.

3. Unleash your inner child. Whenever you feel stressed about your responsibilities and commitments, unplug from the world, shut off your computer and phone, and tap into your inner child. When we become more childlike, we grow our capacity for curiosity and creativity. Bernstein recommends taking a dream break during the day, in which you sit alone and spend five to 10 minutes thinking your way into a cool experience you’d always hoped to have. “Open up to silliness and having more fun. That childlike energy brings us a much more positive perspective and releases tension,” Bernstein says.

4. Sleep to restore your mind. Sleep is essential to optimal health, but people often forget that it is also a spiritual practice that benefits us mentally and emotionally. Lacking essential shut-eye is another way we block happiness from our lives. To help you get a restful night of sleep, Bernstein recommends using this simple Kundalini breathing technique: Sit up straight on your bed and breathe in using a U breath (Pucker your mouth as if you were holding a quarter between your lips.). Breathe in and exhale through your nose. Continue this cycle of breath for one minute.

Tiffany Ayuda

The Power of “No”: Set Better Boundaries for a Better Life


“’No’ is a complete sentence.” ~Anne Lamott

When I went to counseling for the first time, my therapist told me I needed better boundaries. I had no idea what he was talking about, and although the book he lent me on the subject helped a little, I still didn’t really get it.
I tried here and there to integrate the few concepts I’d picked up from the book into my life, but mostly I stayed away from anything that could be considered boundary setting, as I still couldn’t quite figure out what it meant.
A decade after my first introduction to the concept, though, two life coaches I admire happened to be teaching a free class on the subject, and I jumped at the chance to take my learning to the next level.
After hearing what they had to say, things finally started to click. I began to understand that it wasn’t about trying to control someone else’s actions, but rather about being clear on what action I would take if and when my boundaries were crossed.
Still, it was hard for me to set boundaries, because I felt very uncertain of myself and my worth. Was it okay to tell someone no? Or that I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were?
Since the world works in mysterious ways, chances to test my boundaries continue appearing in my life whether I want them to or not.
Most recently, it came up with my child, an area where I’d never realized boundaries would be necessary (silly, but true).
My mother and I were out to lunch with my toddler, and I spent most of the wait for our food walking around bouncing my daughter, trying to keep her entertained. After the food came I was barely able to eat, because my little girl wanted to be held and would not stay in her high chair.
After that experience, my mom sent me an email. She thought I needed to start setting some gentle boundaries with my daughter, and was buying me a book that she thought would help. I burst out crying because I knew she was right.
As soon and I started reading the book, I finally got it. Everything that I’d been trying to understand about boundaries for the last fifteen years finally made sense, and I finally started believing it was okay for me to get my needs met, and that it was totally acceptable to say no sometimes.
This change with my daughter has come more easily than I imagined, and, thankfully, it’s starting to impact how I interact with adults, too.
I have a feeling I’m going to need another fifteen years to become an expert at setting boundaries, but here are some things I’ve learned so far.

1. Most of us are socialized to actively not have boundaries.

We’re taught that we shouldn’t say no, and that it would be impolite to ignore another person’s wishes.
This point was driven home for me the other day when I saw a kid’s TV program that made it clear that even the youngest members of our society are being taught they should always do what other people want.
In the program, one character (a bear) was watching TV, but then a second character (a little girl) came in and wanted to watch something else. She gave the bear big, sad, puppy dog eyes, and, even though he clearly didn’t want to, he gave up the TV.
As the girl watched TV, the bear paced back and forth, wishing he was watching his program. He kept hoping she would fall asleep, or go play outside, so he could get back to what he really wanted to be doing.
This is exactly how we start learning that it’s not okay to say exactly what we want. When we’re young and impressionable, we’re taught that it’s rude to be clear on what we do and do not like.

2. Not having clear boundaries keeps us in lives that are subpar.

In my own life not having boundaries has been a huge problem. It’s allowed me to stay in unhealthy relationships (both the romantic kind and the friend kind), made me a doormat, and made me anxious and unhappy.
Setting a boundary simply means saying no if I don’t want to do something (instead of feeling guilty and obligated). It means telling my husband what I need rather than getting mad when he doesn’t read my mind. It means only working the hours I’ve set for myself, rather than running myself ragged trying to do “enough.”

3. When you refuse to set a boundary, it leads to anger and resentment.

It can tear relationships apart, keep you in a role at work that doesn’t suit you, and cause you to feel badly about yourself.
Looking back on a relationship I had in college, I can see how not having boundaries set us up for failure. My boyfriend at the time was involved in a couple of activities that made me very uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t set a boundary with him, so instead I just lashed out with anger and jealousy, which just made things worse.
The healthiest thing I could have done for myself would have been to say, “I’m not okay with you doing that. If that’s something you’re going to continue doing, I am going to have to remove myself from this relationship.” I was too fearful of the consequences, though, so it took me a long time to end things.
One caveat when setting boundaries like this: You must be sure you’re not setting a limit in order to control or change someone. You must be truly ready to walk away from the relationship, and you absolutely must be setting the boundary from a place of love and respect for yourself, rather than a place of fear and control toward someone else.

4. Setting boundaries is going to be uncomfortable sometimes.

If you always say yes to everything, or let your parents or neighbors come over unannounced even though it really annoys you, or always clean up after your spouse because you don’t want to upset him or her by requesting they clean up after themselves, you’re going to have to take some scary steps to start drawing lines in the sand.
The uncomfortable feelings don’t mean you shouldn’t follow through with boundary setting, though. In the long run everyone will be happier if you set better boundaries, and if they’re not, it’s really and truly their own issue, not yours.

5. Boundaries are never about trying to change someone else’s actions or behaviors.

This one gets kind of tricky for me, but think of it like this: If you’re in the car and someone is speeding, your boundary wouldn’t be “stop driving so fast,” it would be “I am very scared that you’re driving this fast, if you’re not going to slow down, I need you stop and to let me out of the car.”
You’re not trying to make them stop speeding, you’re telling them you won’t allow yourself to be in the speeding car.
Boundaries are about getting your needs met, but not by getting someone else to sacrifice their own needs. You have to decide what you really want for your own life, and then go about setting limits that serve these goals.

Written by Jen  Picicci

Unexpected Joys; Traveling with Senior Parents

This past weekend I had the opportunity and the good fortune to spend time with my parents on an out of town trip. In my 46 years this was the first time we have done this. The concept of family vacation had eluded us. Anyway, it’s me, my two brothers, mom and dad, and our niece rolling to California to celebrate my oldest brother’s 50th birthday. Again, this is our first trip together ever and boy it was an adventure.

Our parents haven’t reached the age of 70 yet, so getting around was no problem and they have full mental capacity. I say that so you the reader can fully understand what I’m about to talk about. I imagine that your parents are like mine in that they have established routines and habits. They eat and don’t eat certain things. Local dishes be damn. If they don’t eat it, they aren’t trying it. Bedtime is bedtime. They would like to hit that time regardless of where they are or who they are with. The problem is us kids, we want to be in the streets, on the go, sightseeing, taste testing, etc. Taking it slow and easy is just not what “kids” do. In fact our facial expressions indicated a bit of impatience, but what do you do? I’ll tell you, you stay in your place and make haste in the direction mom and pops want to go. Parents rule, no matter how old we get they are in control. A question was posed one more morning; Are we having breakfast together? It was quickly recognized as a riddled, deciphered as, we are having breakfast together, let’s go eat. Up we go without a word.

My parents presence at the party was as impactful as the birthday boy being there. They were received with an equal amount of hugs and compliments from the friends and family in attendance as the man of the hour. They prayed openly in the neo-soul decorated lounge as if it were a sanctuary. They didn’t care if you liked it or not this is what they do. They are themselves all the time. They don’t put on ears, no showmanship, and no guessing of who will show up today, they are simply themselves all the time.

I dare not suggest that the younger folks (their kids in particular) can’t be themselves, but I will say the younger generation can come with less conviction. We may find it ok to break from our norm to conform. Parents however, remain consistent. Never deviating, no waffling, they are steady and you know what’s coming. No guessing. Unless of course they can’t decide on which restaurant for dinner. When that happened the air filled with moans and groans of fully matured, adult children, lacking in patience, opting for the thought of being delayed from getting that refreshing post prohibition beverage. I know I heard a faint cry of are we there yet?

I am extremely grateful that we had this time together. I look forward to doing it again very soon, perhaps with a bit more patience!

Author- David Bowman