Posts Tagged ‘conscious choices’

During a recent day of traveling, I found myself exhausted on the morning flight. It didn’t make any sense though — I awoke at the same time I always do and I wasn’t rushed to get ready, yet I couldn’t wait to close the plane’s window shade, shut my eyes, and nap for the duration of the flight.

I was stirred awake a few hours later and began reviewing the morning’s schedule for clues that might explain my exhaustion. That’s when I struck gold. To arrive timely for my flight, I had to get out of bed right away and immediately get ready to head out the door, whereas normally I Morning in bedam able to slowly wake, watch the news, read a few pages of my book, snuggle with my dog, and close my eyes off and on for a few minutes before actually rising out of bed and starting my day.

This relaxing routine of mine usually takes about 30 minutes, though sometimes it can extend to an hour. I recognize this is a luxury of being a self-employed writer who works at home. Regardless, this morning routine is exactly what I need to function properly each day. My body just can’t handle “abrupt wakeups,” as I call typical morning alarm-driven routines.

We all probably have some routine that calms and relaxes us, and we should take the time to acknowledge those needs and set aside time to achieve them. Maybe you relish the idea of reading the paper while savoring a cup of coffee, going for a run as soon as you arise, or listening to your favorite talk radio show. Whatever morning routine gives you peace of mind — and establishes a positive and happy vibe all day long — I urge you to allot enough time to realize it every day.

Next time necessity dictates my morning routine vary from the norm, I’ll be sure to respect my idiosyncrasies by adding enough time to slowly wake up in bed — and feel more balanced throughout the day.


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It’s official: I have become one of those people. Or at least that’s what my husband repeatedly tells me, with obvious disdain in his voice.  The annoying thing is that he’s right. I am constantly checking my smart phone for missed calls and e-mails. When I’m bored forCrackberry longer than three minutes (know how we supposedly live in an “ADD nation”? I could often be the posterwoman!), I whip out my phone to read the latest news headlines, check in with friends on Facebook, or play a game of solitaire. I must fess up — my name is Dina and I am addicted to the technology of a smart phone.

It all started so innocently. I promised myself when I purchased the phone (for work purposes, primarily) that I would not become dependent, engrossed, or driven by its advantages. I merely wanted to check e-mail as needed so that I was not tied down to my computer during the day. I envisioned the smart phone as freeing, granting me even more mobility with my freelance work.

But know the first thing I do when I wake up each morning? Check my phone for e-mail. First thing I do before bed? You got it, check my phone for e-mail. In fact, when the phone blinks an orange light to notify a new e-mail, voice mail, text message, or missed call, I check it every time — immediately. Sometimes I try to ignore the blinking, but it somehow tempts me with every blink of bright orange light: Message! Message! Message! I just can’t resist it.

I suspect that some may wonder whether this phone-checking habit of mine is of any real consequence. Our society readily embraces the idea of accessibility as an asset, and I am merely one more person taking advantage of our ever-ready communication abilities. Indeed, technology can be helpful, even life-saving at times.

However, I think the explosion of technology begs the question: Where is the balance? I’m not suggesting that we all toss our smart phones out the window, but rather, perhaps we should consider whether we could actually benefit from turning it off every now and then. Take some time just for you, your family, and friends. Allow yourself to be in the moment, be bored in the store checkout line, relax at a red light while driving.

One of my primary goals in life is to maintain a calm, balanced, and peaceful existence. However, if I am completely honest with myself, my recently excessive use of technology is incongruous with that goal. So I’ve decided to take a few steps to avoid becoming a slave to my smart phone, including placing it out of eyesight while working so that enticing little device of a phone can no longer bait and trap me into procrastinating. I also am creating a personal ban of any e-mailing or texting while engaging in other activities, such as conversations, walks, and drives.

Smart phones interrupt face-to-face conversations, quiet time, vacations, and relaxing weekends. We should use technology to enhance the balance and calmness in our lives — not infiltrate our lives with stress and less connection with other humans. I hope my new personal parameters bring about peace, or at least more balance, in a technologically-advanced, hurried world. And I can avoid the Crackberry Addict label, to boot.

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Menu planning2

Ever come home from a long day of work feeling tired and hungry, scan your cookbooks for something – anything – you can serve to your family for dinner, finally settle on a recipe, only to realize that you don’t have the needed ingredients in your house? Finding yourself back at square one, you reluctantly order pizza or other fast food, sabotaging your healthy diet efforts and feeling guilty for doing so.

This was a routine scenario in my household several years ago. My stomach growled louder and louder with each turn of the cookbook page; oftentimes, I gave up on the search effort before even choosing a recipe. I was just too fatigued and hungry to muster up the energy required to eat smartly. The idea of spending time selecting a recipe, gathering the ingredients, and cooking the meal was too much for my tired and food-deprived brain to handle.

All that has changed now that I plan a week’s worth of recipes at a time and grocery shop specifically for the necessary ingredients. This technique ensures my husband and I eat a variety of healthful foods, guarantees I have all ingredients on stock, and prevents desperate, last-minute hunts for dinner. I save money and avoid wasting food by not buying unnecessary ingredients, to boot.

My menu planning routine usually begins on Sunday, when I sit down for about 10 to 15 minutes with my cookbooks and other recipes I have collected, browsing them for appealing meals. I make certain the week’s dinners provide an assortment of nutrients and a variety of foods, including brown rice, whole wheat pasta, vegetables, and protein. Then I make an accompanying grocery list and head to the grocery store for the week’s foods.

Since this process can be a bit rigid, I try to inject flexibility wherever I can. If, for example, I am busy all Sunday, I allot another time to menu plan and grocery shop. If social plans arise mid-week, I save one of my planned recipes to cook at a later time. For just this purpose, I have learned to always include at least one recipe in the weekly list that does not require fresh ingredients, and I prepare the meals that do include fresh ingredients early in the week.

Now that I menu plan on a weekly basis, I am less stressed in the evenings – not to mention less hungry and, therefore, grouchy – which allows me to enjoy a healthful meal with my husband each night.Menu planning!

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new-years-resolutionsI don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions. But I do believe in periodically reflecting upon my life and then determining which conscious steps I can take to improve it.


This might sound like oxymoronic thinking, but consider this: We all know several people who have made a resolution, only to break it shortly thereafter, often within the first two months of the year. New Year’s resolutions are so popular that the federal government keeps track of the most frequently made resolutions. (I know you’re curious, so here a few of the most common choices: lose weight, manage debt, get a better job, quit smoking, drink less alcohol, reduce stress.) Yet a Google search on “New Year’s Resolutions” results in 2 million Web sites promising to help you keep that resolution. Why do we continue to make resolutions but always need help with their upkeep?


It’s my personal belief that New Year’s resolutions fail because they are made for the wrong reason – a sense of guilt due to societal expectations and pressures. People might say something like this to themselves: “I don’t want everyone else to think that I am not interested in improving myself” or “I don’t want to be left out of the resolution conversation among my friends,” thus leading to an arbitrarily made resolution. We may not consciously connect all the dots and follow that same thought process, but the end results are the same – empty promises made with no real intention, or desire, to keep them.


These resolutions are driven by an outside, unrelated factor of a new calendar year. But there’s no passion and drive to actually implement improvements because they are not internally driven and created after introspection and reflection. No one is going to successfully quit smoking or lose those extra pounds just because we bought new calendars. Our bodies don’t understand these outside factors and, as a result, our spirits won’t respond with the follow-through needed for success.


Instead, we should resolve to improve our lives, health, relationships, habits, and well-being – but only after being personally stimulated to do so. I make conscious choices to change my life for the better all the time, but never starting on Jan. 1. Just in the last year, I have started eliminating sugar from my diet and incorporated Eastern medicine and philosophy into my life, which are two changes that have drastically improved my quality of life. All of these decisions and improvements have been successful and fulfilling and were driven from my internal desire to create a change for myself. None of these resolutions began in January.  


So spend some time really analyzing what aspects you want to improve in your life, do some research to decide which methods or steps you want to take to achieve that goal, and then wait until you are spiritually motivated to act upon that desire. Then, and only then, will you be successful.

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