Category: Field Notes

Find the Good & Dance Away the Bad


In the David Lynch film Wild at Heart, the lovely Lula keeps searching through the car radio dial to find music but all she can find is bad news, bad news, bad news.

Fed up with all the sh*t she keeps hearing on the radio she demands that her sweetheart, Sailor, find some music for them to listen to!

Loyal Sailor pulls the car over, finds music on the radio, the two of them run out into a field and a frantic dance party ensues! Good for the soul – good call Sailor & Lula.

Sailor & Lula instinctively knew how to find the good & dance away the bad.

What can we learn here? When the world is feeling overwhelmingly negative, change the channel, find what’s good and dance off that negative energy.

We have a lot of choices about what we let in and if our Facebook feed is feeling toxic, we can choose to take a break from it or even un-follow people who relish pointing out the negative.

We have a choice.

If we are feeling overwhelmed by negative energy it’s important to expel that energy, even if it’s a little awkward or angry in tone. Lula asked for what she needed. She yelled, but she was clear. Sure, we’d like to be calm, cool & collected but sometimes you just gotta yell it to expel it!

Then together Sailor & Lula found what was good, the music and the dancing, helping to further release the negativity and embrace the beauty of life too!

Being mindful, practicing gratitude and all that good stuff is exactly that, a practice. It comes out in fits & starts, stumbles and bumbles.

But if our aim is true, if we practice with patience and self love, if we choose to lean towards the positive and away from the toxic and negative, life and all it’s beautiful music opens up for us.

How to do it –

Change the Channel:
When negative people / energy is getting you down, change the channel, find your supportive, uplifting friends, take a break or even hide/unfriend negative messages / posts.

Find what’s good:
Find your favorite music, an uplifting story, talk with an awesome friend, look at cute animal videos, count all the positive things that happened that day/week, listen to your favorite funny podcast!

Dance it off:
Expel the negativity by talking it out, dancing it out, making art, do what feels good to let out the bad.

Be patient with yourself:
This is a practice and it’s gonna be messy, imperfect and potentially filled with unexpected emotions, love yourself now more than ever.

[This article originally appeared in Blazenfluff on July 19th, 2016]


Appreciation- how it can help. Life is beautiful and frustrating often in the same day. When I get irritated, frustrated, fed up, pissed, angry, it’s time for an appreciation break. But it might take a while to get there.

First I need to let off steam. That usually means talking to a buddy, crying, taking my dog for a walk, or house cleaning. Move, express, breathe, connect with others.

Let the frustration, humiliation and anger begin!

Then, I have cleared enough out to make room for appreciation aka taking in the good aka a gratitude practice aka seeing what’s working.

For example: yesterday I was so frustrated by a technology snafu that I burst into tears and sobbed all over the house. I had worked all morning on a project and smartly asked for assistance from a “pro” when I got stuck using a new tool.

Still, things didn’t work out as planned and I inadvertently invited my entire gmail address book to a test invite that was supposed to go to six friends.

Let the frustration, humiliation and anger begin!

After I got my yah-yahs out with a good cry and reassuring talk with my husband I took a nap, went swimming with a friend then fueled myself with a tasty dinner.

But I’m just not there yet and that’s ok.

Then, and only then, was I ready to really take in the good. Ideally I would like to access my gratitude in the moment of my irritating experience “what lesson am I learning here”, “aren’t I lucky to have a job where I can promote an event I’m so excited about?” But I’m just not there yet and that’s ok.

This morning I’m ready to fill my heart and mind with all I appreciate and that starts with the littlest things.

I let my dog out into the back yard and saw the vintage stone pagoda we got at an estate sale a few months ago, it’s beautifully weathered. I noticed my dog jauntily exploring the yard, so damn cute! I made myself a cup of coffee, yum, yum yummy.

I was ready to take in the good. My body was no longer tense and tight. So the good soaked in with no resistance.

I feel good. I see what is lovely and I’m sure I learned something yesterday but I don’t even need to know what that was. It’s a practice guys, and I’ll just keep practicing, and sharing the process as I go.


How to Turn a Day Around

geegawLook at this goofy geegaw. I hope it makes you laugh. That’s one of the most powerful ways you can turn around a not-so-fabulous day, find stuff that breaks you out of your funk with a big fat guffaw!

My husband Brian & I love thrift shopping and when we came across this derpy dog sculpture I laughed so hard that I had to take a picture so I could access joy at any time by simply looking at his beautifully absurd yet earnest smile and bright green boldness!

This may seem trivial but it’s powerful stuff. We can get so wrapped up in our heads, thinking, thinking, thinking, planning, problem solving and stressing. To knock ourselves sideways with laughter is strong medicine. I’ve got a picture of the men from Bonanza shellacked on a wooden oval frame, a real 1970’s piece of kitschy goodness hanging right outside our bathroom. It always makes me smile and keeps me from getting bogged down in my own busy brain.

These are some ways I keep from taking myself too seriously in general. But on to the question at hand…

How do we turn a truly sh*tty day around? I think it’s a one two punch of self-compassion & appreciating what’s good aka a gratitude practice. What does this exactly look like? I’ll give some real life examples.

On a recent Sunday we all learned about a horrible mass shooting and like most people I reacted by feeling sad, angry, hopeless and also intense love and empathy. So I practiced a lot of self compassion that day.

Petting my dog, hugging my husband and going out to walk in nature, this is all good.

I thought to myself ” I am suffering, I am sad, I will let myself cry and grieve and feel.”

In the past I would avoid crying or try to move directly to sunnier thoughts but now I know how important it is to truly let yourself feel all the feelings and let them flow out of your system. Purge, cleanse, apologetically lose your shit!

Then, a little later in the day I could start accessing the second part of the equation- seeing what’s good. This can be all sorts of stuff. Petting my dog, hugging my husband and going out to walk in nature, this is all good.

Seeing people rally together in anger, laughter and camaraderie such as watching Actor & Writer Jefferey Jeffery Self throw together an impromptu telethon in his living room to raise money and awareness around gun control and gay issues. He rounded up his friends – musicians played, writers and actors answered questions written to Jefferey on Facebook – people sharing- being curious, being patient, loving, joyous – this is what is good. I cried a lot more that day, and for the next few days. I also experienced the warm and uplifting feelings of togetherness, beauty, friendliness and love. This was accomplished by being present and noticing those who do good, people who let me into the lane while driving, compliment my red hair, give me a big ‘ol smile. Being present and deciding to see what’s good is a choice and a practice. It’s deciding you’d like to view life through a lens of optimism.

It doesn’t mean blindly going through life ignoring grief and suffering but giving beauty and happiness equal or even more opportunity to be recognized and appreciated. It takes practice but the more you practice the more easily it comes.

Practicing Gratitude: A Beginner’s Guide

As a life coach, I’ve dedicated myself to seeking out the simplest solutions to common challenges that keep people from feeling happy. My coaching practice is built on the belief that we can all live happier, more fulfilling lives when we follow our intuition, stop censoring our true selves, and learn to see and feel how we are connected to everyone in the whole universe.

So, how do we learn to trust our gut, share our gifts and start feeling more connected? A daily gratitude practice is a great place to start. On a personal level, this simple practice has significantly decreased my own feelings of anxiousness, overwhelm, and general crabbiness. Professionally, my clients have reported that daily expressions of gratitude improves their mood, bring them into the present moment, and gives them a more optimistic view of their world.

Gratitude in Action

“But instead of running from the sadness and putting on a happy face, I allowed myself to experience the feeling.”

Yesterday I was sitting at one of my favorite restaurants waiting for lunch when I decided to check my email and discovered a message from my dad explaining he needed to cancel our plans for the next day. My heart sunk. He was disappointed and so was I. But instead of running from the sadness and putting on a happy face, I allowed myself to experience the feeling. “I love my dad, and he loves me. Plans had to shift and I am sad,” I told myself. Instead of moving forward to quickly, looking for the opportunity that our canceled plans would bring, I wanted to spend a little time honoring the simple fact that sometimes best laid plans get canceled.

After sitting with the sadness for a few minutes, I decided to shift my energy using the same strategy I’d suggest to a client: A gratitude inventory! I simply wrote a list of everything I was grateful for: Dad didn’t have any health problems, we would both make it a priority to reschedule, I was eating at my favorite spot where the staff was friendly and the music was awesome! I was grateful for the sunshine, the fun I had the day before with a wonderful friend, and the list went on.

After expressing gratitude on paper, I felt lifted–lighter and happier. This is why my clients, friends, and I love talking about and practicing gratitude. It’s simple and impactful and it really works.

Recent studies suggest that a daily gratitude practice can increase happiness by 25 percent or more, and that being thankful (and not comparing yourself to others who have it harder) continues to add to our level of happiness.

The best way to understand how powerful this practice is is to try it out for yourself. Here are five simple steps to help you launch your daily gratitude practice.

1 – Make the Time
As with any new practice, you’ll need to commit to making time for it, and five minutes is all you need to start. Set your alarm clock five minutes early, add a reminder on your phone, or write a reminder on a Post-It and stick it on your bathroom mirror to set yourself up for a success!

2 – Choose Your Method
Be as creative as you want to here. Write in a journal, send a text to a friend (get permission first!), or even start a gratitude tumblr and add photos like one of my clients did. Keep it simple and don’t feel you need to do it the same way every time. Experiment, have fun, there’s no wrong way.

3 – Start Small and Stay Present
For example, “I am grateful for the warm socks on my feet, for hearing the birds chirp outside my window, and the soft sound of puppy snores.” This brings to your attention the little joys in life. When people say “stop and smell the roses” or “live in the moment,” this is the awareness they are talking about. When you live in the moment, you aren’t living with the regrets or pain of the past or the unforeseeable and unpredictable future.

4 – Expand that Gratitude!
After you’ve practiced this for a few weeks you may feel you’re rehashing old territory. Don’t be disheartened; this is the perfect opportunity to find gratitude in unexpected places. Close your eyes, smell your breakfast, and find gratitude for your sense of smell! Think about the world you live in, what information you have access to. You can express gratitude for running water, the gorgeousness of blooming flowers, free wi-fi, and loving friends! These are just a few examples of how expansive you can get and how you can bring awareness to what is working and what is beautiful right now in your life.

5 – Be Gentle with Yourself.
This is a new practice so it may take a little time to become habit. No need to beat yourself up about it. If you forgot to text your friend in the morning, email her in the afternoon. If you didn’t feel gratitude when you sat at your journal, make it simple: “I am grateful I have a gratitude practice.” Remember, there is no wrong way to do this!

[This article originally appeared in Swell Magazine on June 20th, 2014]

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