pierdancers

Unpredict the Journey

pierdancers

 

There was no way to predict how the sunny afternoon would unfold, but I knew that I needed to take a break and get out into Nature. My recent relocation back to Los Angeles has been incredible, but city living is best when balanced with visits to mountains, beaches, and the fulfillment of longings for adventure. As it would happen, three schedules magically aligned, and I found two friends joining my impromptu journey after they learned of my plans to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway later that day.

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Armed with several sunscreens and a shared willingness to explore from a place of wonder rather than focused direction, we ventured out along the curvy ocean lined highway. The sun shone across the cool blue waters, and we settled into the rhythm of the unfolding road. Multimillion dollar homes smiled upon us from the cliffs above as we wound our way through Pacific Palisades and Malibu. After a quick seafood lunch by the ocean, we were back on the road heading up into the verdant Malibu Mountains.

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Tucked between the mountain ranges that separates the western coastline from the San Fernando Valley rests an idyllic little town called Topanga Canyon. Its vast green mountain ranges seem a sharp departure from the cement cityscape so near, and it was for this very reason that I detoured us in that direction. Ahhh Nature.

 

I directed us towards the hiking trail I’d visited last month. But adventures have their own ways of unfolding. When the street I sought eluded me for longer than was comfortable for my companions, I conceded, pulling instead into the next available left turn.

 

“It’s not a through street,” my friend pointed out. “Then, we’ve arrived,” I announced, pulling the car over and hopping out of the vehicle.

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We found ourselves on a creek-lined residential cul de sac, with tall eucalyptus trees growing beside cacti plants on the nearby hillside. One tree in particular called to me, and I clambered up the soft dirt hill to hug her. This was how the resident at the end of the street found me, arms wrapped gratefully around the tree.

 

“It’s okay,” he told me as I stepped back, an apology forming on my lips. “Nothing I haven’t seen before.”

 

He dipped back into his home, returning moments later with glasses of ice water for us all. “I put mint leaves and lemon slices in it,” he smiled. What? Gotta love Topanga!

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With a bit of inquiry about where we were from, he offered to show us around the vast property, sharing its remarkable history. The home had been owned by musical legends of the sixties, he explained, and many top hits of the era had been birthed and recorded at the home. Impressive names like The Mamas and the Papas, The Doors, and Willie Nelson, conjuring many memorable soundtracks of the peace-loving counterculture. Wow! We looked at each other marveling in the unexpectedness of our journey. A nearby sign provided an apt theme for our day: Unpredict the Journey.

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The sun’s dip along the surrounding mountainscape cast shadows marking time for our departure back down the hill to water’s edge. Resolved to visit the ocean before our return home, we parked and excitedly danced up the pier. And, because the day wanted to offer something new, different and obscurely awesome for each of us, a wienermobile drove up to the beach. Unpredictably bizarre, and exactly the thing for one of my friends.

 

“That just made my day,” she grinned. For some of us it’s seafood, or tree hugging, and others find joy in seeing a giant hotdog car cruising the beach. We all returned filled up with the nourishment of Nature’s beauty, the unexpected, and a needed shared journey.

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The Ultimate Diet Plan

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I didn’t realize that I was going on The Ultimate Diet Plan when I agreed to my latest adventure. I thought I’d agreed to care for a friend’s dog in Northern New Mexico for a month. Hey, this’ll be great, I thought. I can live in and check out the town I’ve been curious about for years (still hasn’t happened), and fulfill my dream of roadtripping through the southwest at the same time. What I didn’t realize is that my life was going to become very cold and supremely action-packed/turned upside down by a super clever, high energy nine month old Australian Shepard puppy with a Tiger-like bounce.

I departed from Northern California, where I spent the majority of my upbringing, leaving behind the arriving Spring weather with nightly lows in the forties. I traveled through Lala Land, smoggy but sunny Hollywood, where I’d lived for many years in my adulthood. I visited friends, and purchased a cute tank dress, deeming it my ‘lucky roadtrip dress’, which came in handy through the fiery Arizona desert, but would soon become featured only on a hanger in my closet in frigid New Mexico. My Cali girl mind didn’t quite get that my new home was a high desert valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains, where the daytime high would average mid-forties and the nights would often dip down to a single digit. Huh?

So, my (surprise) Ultimate Diet Plan begins each day when the puppy jumps on my head, usually around five thirty or six am. The sun won’t rise for a good hour yet and the temperatures are in the teens, if I’m lucky. I explain to pup that this is unacceptable behavior, in my strong Alpha voice, “No! Down,” to which she replies by licking my face and leaping about with talk of play time. I bundle in a coat, telling her how lucky she is that she’s cute, and securing her to a lead. Stepping into the arctic pre-dawn morning, I shock my system into submission, but find reassurance that she can’t be eaten by coyotes or wildcats while I make my morning cup of coffee. Back inside I (rarely) convince the puppy to wait patiently and not eat my clothes as I’m getting dressed into them. I layer every (supposedly) warm article of clothing I’ve brought from sunny California to avoid becoming a popsicle during her morning walk.

This is her favorite time of day, one she is excessively excited about, and is also the backbone of my Ultimate Diet Plan. I watch my new car’s temperature gauge drop as I pull out of the garage and head to the gorge. A quick check of the iPhone confirms that the temps are at a whooping 22 degrees as I step out of the car at the hiking trail and layer two down jackets on top of each other (it can be done). Adding my hat, gloves, scarf (partially over the face) and sunglasses, I feel both thuggish, and like the bundled up kid in the classic Christmas Story movie. I watch my new car rock as the pup hops around the back, squealing with excitement, hopeful that this means pupster can’t also be turning it into an expensive breakfast treat.

As an avid hiker, I’m surprised to find that the two to four miles up and down the hiking trail are oddly far more challenging here at 7,000 feet elevations, freezing temperatures, and the need for puppy vigilance. Worse yet, this is just a warm up to her, as she bounces over and herds the sage brush that grows across the dark red dirt as far as the eyes can see. If my body’s not burning enough calories hiking, trying to keep warm and supplying my body with oxygen in this thinner air, it can be assured an extra workout later in the day, when pupster gets her second (and third, and fourth) wind.

My (unexpected) Ultimate Diet Plan gets bonus burn points in the afternoon from chasing, checking on, and otherwise amusing the pup, while I down copious quantities of water to stay hydrated. Being ultra smart, she easily taught herself to open all of the doors in the house by jumping on the long horizontal doorhandles. So, I’m toning, tightening and losing weight while saving random items from being buried in the yard (a towel, a small rug, her hairbrush), and setting and (continually) reaffirming boundaries, “Keep your bone on your bed! Back on your bed,” or searching the three acre grounds for the bone she managed to smuggle off her bed while my back was turned. When she interrupted my work day with a suspicious amount of dirt on her nose (up to her eyeballs), I took her outside and taught her to fetch. Which worked great, until she ate the ball.

While I haven’t yet explored much of the new town beyond the grocery and pet (read feed) store, I am indeed getting whipped into shape quickly. I’ve had a few tastes of Northern New Mexico cooking (OMG, Caliente!), and I’ve hiked many many miles of trails. The puppy is one of the sweetest little things ever, and I’m grateful to be in a stunningly beautiful locale. I’ve even been avoiding potential writer’s distractions, like social media (too painful to see my Cali peeps in bikinis and sunshine), and finding inspiration in the most unexpected of places (puppy pain). My lucky roadtrip dress has been assured plenty of sunshine on the return journey through the desert. I just hope it still fits. ;) But for now, the puppy is sleeping, which is my cue to rest up too. Until the morning Tiger dance on my head summons another day in The Ultimate Diet Plan Roadtrip.

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Who have you decided to become?

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You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make the decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.

-Tony Robbins

 

Do you feel the stirrings of new beginnings that ask “who have you decided to become”? There has been a recent energy shift and many of us find ourselves moving into new territory in our personal and business lives. Reflecting on the poignancy of the time, the image of a spiral came into my mind. As though we’ve spiraled inward over the last couple of years, gathering information, and knowledge of our gifts, strength and wisdom. Now the shift arrives, and it’s time for us to take all of that we’ve collected inwardly and spiral it back out into the world- which is hungry for our offerings. This is that pivotal point, which is both exciting and scary as heck. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be scary, and it will be okay.

 

Trust the process, and yourself. I know it’s scary to move into new phases of life, but you’ve got this! The truth is, that inward spiral has been active for a long time, and you’ve been gathering the resources necessary for you to step into this from a place of your strength. This shift has arrived to allow for a new level of freedom we’ve desperately craved, but have been too fearful to believe could happen. What is most calling to you deep in your heart? What are you ready to release so you can finally live the life of your dreams?

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Every time one steps into new domain there are certain phases that come with it. There is a letting go of people, places and things, which cannot come with us. The last of the shedding of the skin, and those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are still feeling that cocooned essence that winter brings forth. This can lead to a feeling of rawness and discomfort. Fortunately we don’t have to do everything at once. Take that drive for expanding your horizons, and prepare yourself for what promises to be a very exciting and busy year ahead. The next month supports our doing the behind the scene’s work, and there are other ways to take care of yourself to allow these adjustments to be smoother and easier.

 

With any big changes comes the need for balance. Your authentic self and heart’s longings are going to have lots of opportunities to shine this year. Remind yourself of your goals on a daily basis, so distractions can’t throw you too far off from what you wish to achieve. Know that there may be a laying of new foundations before the big exciting stuff can arrive. Support your body with all of those loving tricks like eating right and drinking plenty of water, and if you’re not already, add a daily meditation practice and some breath work to your regimen. They don’t take a lot of time, but studies show how valuable these tools are for enriching your life. You’ll appreciate the extra energy these potent practices provide, and feel more grounded and in tune with the best next steps to take. Remind yourself that this is a process, and trust in the unfolding. You already have everything you need within you to succeed, and the perfect aid and support will arrive as the year progresses. Best wishes on the journey.

Success

Don’t Make Resolutions, Make a Game Plan

Success

Many people step into the new year with the best of intentions about goals they’d like to achieve, and most of them fail. While that sounds depressing, I find it encouraging to be realistic, looking at why this may happen and what can be done to shift the story to one of success. Why is it that year after year at least 77% of us who set new year’s resolutions- often to exercise, lose weight, or quit smoking or drinking- don’t meet the goal?

There are a lot of theories about why new year’s resolutions don’t work. I believe it has a lot to do with the need to implement well thought out stepping stones after taking time for reflective rest, instead of trying to conquer everything at once during a time when most of us are already depleted.

We have just completed not one, or two, but three big holiday festivities in a row, then we expect ourselves to jump into new life changes and succeed. It’s unrealistic, and downright unkind.  We’ve barely made room in the fridge for the Thanksgiving turkey before it’s time to head to the malls with tons of others for present shopping, then get them wrapped, juggle parties, cook, clean, entertain, and then stay up till the stroke of midnight declaring our intent to act in a disciplined manner to undertake monumental changes in our lives in the new year. Few of us have the discipline or reserves for such madness. How about we take a deep breath, some time for much needed rest and reflection, and think through an achievable game plan?

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Humans are creatures of habit, so by having a realistic plan of how to implement changes we’d like to make, we’re far more likely to be able to carry them out and maintain them. If you haven’t done so already, make a list of achievably challenging goals for yourself for the year. Break them down into smaller, doable steps. Don’t expect yourself to be able to conquer them all at once.

If there are habits you’d like to stop, decrease them slowly day by day, or decrease one at a time, rather than trying to give up alcohol, sugar and gluten all in one leap. If you’d like to lose weight and increase exercise, cutting calories and adding to your workouts gradually is easier on your body and far more likely to lead to long lasting success.

Life is change and growth. Wanting to make positive changes in your life is fantastic and commendable. Giving yourself the breathing room to reflect upon and slowly implement the adjustments necessary will increase your likelihood of experiencing the successes you desire and deserve. Make a game plan, remind yourself of the bigger goal and why you’re doing it, then execute it with slow precision. You’ve got this. May the new year exceed your expectations, and be a favorite for you, dear reader.

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Thrive Through Self Care

If you’re like most people in the Western hemisphere, you know you should be taking better care of yourself. It can be challenging to integrate new habits and self care rituals into your life. I know you have lots on your plate, and that just getting through the ‘To Do’ list can be enough to manage. Many of us run around sleep deprived, over-caffeinated, mentally and emotionally exhausted, and generally depleted. Our bodies, minds and spirits are crying out for loving attention.

 

It’s common in our fast paced society to stay busy just to keep up. Add to that our increasing habit of turning to distractions like television and social media, and it’s little wonder that self care practices get swept aside. We rarely feel charged, and can’t bring our best to anything we do.

 

Successful people have found balance by incorporating self care, and claim they thrive because of it. How are they getting the self love they need to replenish themselves? How do they prevent burnout? And, where do they find the energy to be fully present for the ones they care about? Top performers have learned that by incorporating certain caregiving techniques into their schedules, they’re able to become a better version of themselves and optimize their potentials.

 

Let’s look at what they’re doing.

 

They’re getting enough sleep. The body appreciates routine, and the more you stay on a consistent sleep/wake cycle, the more you’ll be capable of peak performance during the day. Harvard research shows that getting enough sleep leads to better health, longevity, and mental and emotional states. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

 

 

They’re blocking out time in their schedules for exercise. Exercise not only controls our weight and combats health problems, it elevates our mood, and boosts our energy levels. Even our first lady can find time to exercise, because, as she told Oprah, “ If I don’t exercise, I don’t feel good. I get depressed.” Exactly.

 

* They’re eating foods that nourish, energize, and optimize their bodies’ potential. Like exercise, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and good protein sources decreases the possibilities of health issues, manages weight, and increases energy levels. About her recent weight loss, Kelly Osborn said, “To be totally honest with you there’s no secret- it’s working out, it’s eating right.”

 

 

They’ve added meditation to their daily routines. Millions of dollars worth of research indicates that through incorporating meditation into your daily schedule you will reduce anxiety, stress and blood pressure, while increasing your creativity, attention span, and intellect. Maybe you want to meditate, but you aren’t sure how to begin. Methods of meditation are plentiful, so find one that works for you, and try it! Russell Simmons had this to say about his meditation practice, “It has given me strength, health, wisdom, and access to my own inner stillness, inner silence, inner bliss.”

 

* They’re their own cheerleaders. They trust themselves and their ability to turn challenges into learning experiences and even greater wins. As Richard Branson said, “I believe in myself. I believe in the hands that work, in the brains that think, and in the hearts that love.”

 

We know that our body, mind, and spirit need diligent care. In order to be present and lovingly available for others, we must first take proper care of ourselves. I’ll add my own favorite practice to the list- get out into nature! As Oliver Cromwell wrote, “Nature can do more than physicians.”

Find self care habits that help you to be your best. Then add them to your schedule in ink. Make these non-negotiable dates with yourself, and see how it changes the quality of your life. You’ll quickly notice the results. So, get started today. You’re worth it!

 

Love and Blessings,
Antonia