Welcome to the Soul Sisters Blog!

We’re three sisters on a mission to empower and inspire women everywhere to pursue their passions and achieve their dreams. Our story is probably not unlike your own; a tug at the heartstring, a feeling of wanting more from life, a desire to fulfill a divine purpose. It was these relentless yearnings that inspired the concept of Soulspring Groups.

When our souls open up (and they tend to quite often) we’ve got to share! We invite you to read our thoughts (and occasional rants) on women, empowerment, passion, destiny and life! Feel free to share your comments; we love to hear your thoughts (and rants) too! And, become an official follower! It's always fun to see the company we're keeping!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Your "Self"

In last week's post, "Women's Empowerment: What's Stress Got to Do with It?" we shared about how our perceptions and reactions to stress can leave us powerless. The good news is that managing stress may be as easy as changing our thoughts and reactions to what we preveive as stressful situations. 
 
Howver, what triggers a stress response for one woman may not for another.  To stay in tune with your own personal power and what triggers stress for you, it’s important to pay attention to the signals and cues of our  bodies, and to watch for stress related symptoms.

This week we offer an exercise to help you do just that!  Pretend that the letter below is a message from your "self".  As you read the words, be present and listen to what your body tells you.  Fill in the blanks as appropriate and see what your intuition has to say.

The Soul Sisters


AN OPEN LETTER TO YOUR "SELF"

Hi,

This is your “self”.  It’s been a while since we’ve connected.  I know you’ve been busy with work, the family, and all your volunteer projects.  Listen, I understand but what I have to say can’t wait any longer.

I’ve actually been trying to get your attention for some time now.  I’ve tried nearly everything; intuitive nudges, cravings, and even pain (yes, that was me).  There are times when I’m positive you’ve heard me, but then you just ignore my message and continue on with what you were doing.  Well, it’s my turn now.

You know what I’m going to say.  It’s been an issue between us for some time now, but we’re to a point in our relationship where we need to get honest if we are going to live on purpose.  We both know that if we continue living this way, our health and sanity are going to be affected.  That’s where I must draw the line.

Already we’re experiencing the telltale stress signals….
(Check all that apply)
  • Feeling irritable, frustrated and restless
  • Unable to concentrate, memory problems, and becoming easily confused
  • Negative thoughts and self-talk
  • Marked mood swings and emotional outbursts
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Not having enough energy to get things done
  • Feeling I can't cope
  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Generally feeling upset

Not to mention the problems this is causing us physically…
(Check all that apply)
  • Muscle tension
  • Pain in the low back, shoulders or neck
  • Pains in chest
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • Muscle spasms or nervous tics
  • Unexplained rashes or skin irritations
  • 'Pounding' or 'racing' heart
  • Sweaty palms and sweating when not physically active
  • 'Butterflies' in stomach
  • Indigestion and 'the gurgles'
  • Unable to sleep or excessive sleep
  • Shortness and holding of breath
  • Weight gain or loss

I know you think this is normal, and that we’ll be just fine, but two-thirds of doctor visits are related to conditions that are directly caused or intensified by stress, like heart and coronary disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease, insomnia, and multiple sclerosis.  Plus stress also leads to marriage breakups, family fights, road rage, accidents, suicide, and violence!

We mean too much to too many people.  Please, let’s not let it go that far!  It’s time to get these issues out in the open.  We both know that it’s not our long to-do list that’s causing the stress.  Our main issue, and one we’ve been avoiding, is the fact that ____(enter your main complaint here)____. 

But even that’s not our main issue.  If we break that down ever further we find that ____(enter your source of main complaint)____.    Yes, that’s what is at the root of our stress problems!

Resolving this issue is just too important to our happiness.  I know we’ve got it in us to face this head-on.  We just need to take it slow and steady.  A few small steps are all it would take to build our confidence and empower us to get on the right track to overcome this thing!  Here are some ideas I think would work for us:

What if the next time we felt stressed, we consciously paused and focused on what we were thinking about, and then stepped back from the thoughts and decided to find a new way of looking at the situation?  We could try to imagining an alternate ending that is happier and more positive.  Or how about letting our imagination think of some funny endings?  Or what if we just decide to be o.k. with whatever happens?

The simple act of changing how we think about our stress will give us instant relief and dramatically reduce our stress levels.

Come on, this little action step is all it would take to get us on a roll.  Let me know what you think and I’m behind you all the way!  You’ll know when I’m in agreement—I’ll give you the usual sign.

You know I only want what’s best for us.  We’re partners in this and we need each other.  If we can get through this, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish!

Love,

You Beautiful “Self”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Women's Empowerment: What's Stress Got to Do With It?

Type the word “stress” into Google, and you’ll get 162 million hits.  That’s a lot of websites focused on something that women face daily.  After all, how many times have you said to yourself, “Stress—I can handle it”?

It’s true that stress isn’t always a negative emotion.  Stress is sometimes the motivation we need to get things done.  And, without stress, we wouldn’t have the “fight or flight” to jump out of the way of an approaching car.  It’s when stress becomes prolonged and constant that it wreaks havoc on our health and well-being. 

What makes “stress” such a challenging issue first lies in our beliefs.  Most believe that stress triggers reside outside of us: the controlling co-worker, the rude driver, our financial problems, for example.  Placing the focus on these outside situations and circumstances is stressful because we don’t have any control over them.  We feel powerless.

However, it’s possible to take back your power by understanding a simple truth.  The truth is that much of our stress is actually related to our reaction or perception of these circumstances, and the good news is that managing stress around these situations is as easy as changing our thoughts, thus changing our reactions.

Still, what triggers a stressful response for one woman may not for another.  That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the signals and cues of our own bodies, and watch for stress related symptoms.  We need only take the time to focus in and ask ourselves what is causing our feelings and symptoms of stress and our body and spirit will usually offer a clue.

What messages has your “self” been trying to give you lately?  Don’t answer too quickly as the message coming your way in next week's post may have be meant for you…

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"Give your stress wings and let it fly away."  ~Terri Guillemets

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stephen Covey inspires "Habits of Highly Empowered Women"

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Stephen Covey last week at the age of 79.  We've been fans for years and avid readers of his books.  "First Things First" is a personal favorite and "The 8th Habit" confirmed for us that we were on the right track with Soulspring Groups.

Back in November he inspired one of our most popular twitter-series and blog posts, the title of which was a playful twist on his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People".

Seeing his book on the shelf one day prompted us to write our version, "The 30 Habits of Highly Empowered Women". In our post we asked, "What qualities do empowered women have in common?  What is it that sets these women apart from their counterparts?"

In memory of Stephen Covey, we invite you review our list and contemplate how you might accomplish your mission and leave the world better than it was when you got here.

The 30 Habits of Highly Empowered Women

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character...”  ~Stephen R. Covey

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Women's Empowerment Tip: Finding Passion Time

Today’s lifestyles don’t leave a lot of free time, and many women struggle to carve time out of their busy schedules to work on the passions and goals that inspire them.  Here are some ideas to help you find the time you need to put your passions into focus:

1. Cut back on T.V. time.  According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey, a year-long poll that involved over 13,000 Americans over the age of 15, women spend nearly 3 hours daily watching television.  Reclaiming just half of those hours would give you over 10 hours to dedicate to your passionate pursuits!

2. While we are strong advocates for the physical and mental benefits of sleep, many women find 3-6 extra hours a week by getting up 1 hour earlier in the morning, staying up 1 hour later at night or getting up at regular time, but letting the family sleep in, on the weekends.

3. Multi-task the right way.  Practice visualization while enjoying a bubble bath.  Listen to an inspirational book or podcast while working out.

4. Empower your family.  While they will surely complain about extra chores, if they understand the reason behind them kids and husbands soon become your biggest supporters!  Learn to be a bit more self-sufficient is a great lesson in empowerment for them, too.  Their not mind readers, though.  Delegate by giving specific requests, deadlines, and postive reinforcement for a job well done.

What tips do you have for carving out more "you" time from your schedule?  Please share your tips in the comment area below!

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of." ~Benjamin Franklin
 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Empowered Women Do on Vacation

Are you planning a vacation this summer? Hey, we all need a break from time to time -- getting away from it all is refreshing; but so too can time spent in self-reflection. 

We want to let you in on a little tip...the one thing that empowered women are sure to schedule while on vacation:  Don't forget to set aside some alone-time for a little personal reflection and contemplation.

The Soul Searching Questions below are perfect for this!  Surely you're found yourself more open and creative when you're on a break from your day-to-day responsibilities and routines.  That's why there's no better time to check in with you, to see how your feeling, doing and being.

This "Summer Break Exercise" will help you uncover what's "broke" (not working), where you need a "break" (take some time off or away) or where you just need to "brake" (stop or discontinue)! Such simple questions, yet sure to lead to a big vacation break-through!

  •  When I think about what's "broke" in my life, the first thing that comes to mind is...
  • When I think about where in life I need to take a "break", what comes to mind is...
  • When I think about where I need to apply the "brakes" in my life, what comes to mind is...

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking." ~Earl Wilson


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Through Rose-Colored Sunglasses

A few weeks ago, as my family was traveling home after an extended weekend get-away, I could not believe the sunset.  None of us had really noticed it until we turned a corner and there it was, smack dab in our line of vision.  It was seriously a top 5 sunset; beautiful colors of pinks, oranges, and lavenders filled the sky.  I went on and on, “Oh my gosh, isn’t this the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen?!  It’s gorgeous!  I can’t get over it!”
 
I continued to rave, as everyone else in the car looked at me with very confused looks on their faces.  As you can imagine, that was surprising to me…how could they not appreciate this phenomenal sight??  I lowered my sunglasses to get a better look, and that’s when I saw it.  The same lackluster sunset that everyone else was seeing.  I had no idea that the colored lenses in my sunglasses were what were actually accentuating the sunset’s colors.  But, rather than be disappointed, I just popped my sunglasses back on and appreciated the fact that I was the only one seeing the beauty.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I’m driving down the road with my sister.  We see one of those interesting Cube cars.  Their body style alone is enough to catch the attention of passers-by, but I could not get over the color of this one.  I went on and on about it, “I love that color!  It’s like a mix of copper and bronze!  I would love that color in my bathroom…”  Meanwhile, my sister is scratching her head…all she sees if a less-than-attractive funny mauve colored car.  Finally, I realized that my sunglasses are on; as I tilted them down I see the color that she was seeing.  I smiled to myself and pushed them back up…I liked the color of the car better that way!

Isn’t it funny how something as simple as your sunglasses can change the way you see things?  You’re given a whole new perspective.  Perhaps there’s something simple you can do in your life to change your perspective and turn the blah and ordinary into something spectacular?  Could your rose-colored sunglasses be an hour of alone time in the evening, or a morning walk, or a healthy lunch? 

When you feed yourself, it’s amazing how it can shift your outlook.  You easily see the beauty in the familiar, appreciate the simple things, and maybe even see more clearly when dealing with hardships.

One thing’s for sure…I’ll be keeping these sunglasses for years to come, and enjoying the magnificent views through them!

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:
“Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.”  ~Unknown

Sunday, June 24, 2012

7 Vacation Destinations for When You Can't Take One

I don't know about you, but there are some days that I could really use a vacation.  Unfortunately, our busy lives don't always allow us to take leave. 

First off, let us vehemently stress that we're the first ones to advocate going on vacation anyway; life's way too short and work will be there next week.  But if a vacation is really out of the question, might we recommend at least taking a break from your same old routine.

It's easy to fall into a rut.  After all, we have schedules to manage and tasks to juggle.  Keeping to a routine helps us to get a lot done in an efficient manner.  Unfortunately, following the same routine day in and day out gets boring fast.  When you are focused on your mile long to-do list, you might not even notice.  But if you really think about it, we're taking bets that you could probably use a little pizzazz in your summer right about now.

So if you can't sneak away for a week (or at least a long weekend) we're giving you a week's worth of tips to at least allow for a break from your dull, tedious, repetitive, habitual, standard routine (have we made our point)?

Vacation Day 1-Be a Kid Again:  Who says that just because you're an adult you can no longer play with toys?  We couldn't disagree more, and summer is the perfect time to put our theory to the test.  Fly a kite, play a game of hopscotch, throw the Frisbee, build a sand castle, or create a work of art on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.  Lose yourself in the activity and feel your stress melt away.  The experts call this Play Therapy and you will pay $75.00 per hour or more to play in the confines of their offices.  Playing at home with your own toys: Priceless!

Vacation Day 2-Mix up your Morning:  Do you wake up to the same radio station or alarm tone every morning.  Talk about a routine!  Mix it up by bringing your iPod and docking station or speakers into the bedroom and start your day off with something a little more spirited and unexpected.  Use your favorite upbeat tune or may we recommend the William Tell Overture!  Honest, it starts your day off with a smile!  Get ready to take on the day!

Vacation Day 3-Spice Things Up:  Something a little out of the ordinary is all it takes to transport you from everyday life.  Revving up your pedicure with a flashy fuchsia polish or experimenting with a new shade of lipstick might be all it takes to transport you to a different place and time. 

Vacation Day 4-Get Back to Nature: When was the last time you walked in the rain without regard for flat hair or running mascara?  How about lying on the dewy grass gazing at the star-filled sky?  Whether you take a hike or visit the beach, getting in touch with nature has an amazing and almost instant healing effect. Taking a 5 minutes break to just listen to chirping birds or a babbling brook will instantly take you away.  Go ahead; try it right now.

Vacation Day 5-Relive the Memories: Think of a time when you felt limitless and carefree.  What was it that inspired that feeling?  Maybe you must regress way back to your childhood and time spent pursuing a favorite hobby.  Perhaps it was just the experience of reading a romance novel on the beach. Would it only take hearing an old song or smelling a specific scent to take you back to that time?  Whether it's an old 80's tune or the smell of Love's Baby Soft, make an effort to make it happen.  Sometimes it's the trips back in time that are the best.

Vacation Day 6-Plan an Adventure:  So you can't jet to Paris for a week; what's stopping you from experiencing an adventure closer to home (or even in your own backyard)?  Plan a mystery trip to a local destination you've always wanted to visit but just never have.  Or pitch a tent in the yard and light a bonfire at dusk.  Tell stories and roast marshmallows; as darkness falls you will find yourself transported to the most remote of campsites without stepping foot past your property line!

Vacation Day 7-Expand Your Mind to New Ways of Thinking: Take a community ed or online course and learn something new.  Or read a book on a topic you've always been interested in.  You might just stumble upon an new talent and a virtual destination that can help you "get away from it all" on a more regular basis!

The Soul Sisters

Soulspring of the Week:
"More than just yearly rituals in which we connect with friends and family, vacations are also exercises in self-definition. In affording time away from the demands of everyday life, vacations disclose what people choose to do rather than are required to do." ~Cindy Sondik Aron

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Day We Honor Our Dads

It's Father's Day; the day we honor our dads.  The first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, the brainchild of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, WA, who felt that like mothers, dads a deserved a day, too.  In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared it a national holiday and in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed U.S. Father's Day into law, to be observed on the third Sunday in June.

There are approximately 70.1 million fathers in the United States. Surely like us their children are reflecting on them today, paying respect and celebrating the impact they've made on their lives.  Regardless of whether you had the "World's Greatest Dad", like we did, or an absent, abusive, or indifferent father, hopefully you can hold onto the positive life lessons that are yours as a result, as well as a few happy memories of your dad.

After all, we receive valuable takeaways from all the experiences of our lives.  The right, the wrong, the good and the bad; each moment shapes us and our lives, making us into the women we are today.  In recognition of Father's Day, we share a few past posts about what we've learned from our dad...

Life Lessons from Dads to Daughters: If you asked our brothers what lessons they’ve learned from Dad, you’ll probably get a different set of answers, but these are the ones that shaped us most

Tribute to Dad: Here at Soulspring we spend a lot of time and focus on women.  However, dads play an important role in our shaping our character, too.  It's our fathers who join forces with our mothers to teach us about the kind of person we’d like to grow up to be.

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way." ~Unknown

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Picture of Happiness

Would you look at the expressive face on this cutie! Obviously this little lady is having an amazing day...But, what is it that has surprised her so? What's filled her with joy to the point that her bliss runneth over?

Recently we did a little experiment. We put ourselves in her shoes (or should we say skates) and imagined the moment that this picture was captured...

“I did it!”
“Ice cream?!  For me?!”
“You’re here!”
“Did you see that?!”
“That was soooo fun!”
"Let's do that again!"

A funny thing happened as a result of this experiment. After imagining various situations, and enjoying some laughs in the process, we noticed our own moods being elevated to joyful levels! We donned big smiles, our hearts lifted, our souls jumped for joy.  Just goes to show, the happiness of another is all it takes for us to experience happiness, too.

Now you try it...imagine yourself in this picture. What was it that thrilled you to this jubilant state?  Feel the emotion and let yourself soak it in.  Feels great, doesn’t it?!

What do you imagine the story to be behind this photo?  How do you picture happiness?  Please post your scenarios below and share your joy and happiness!

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things." ~Henry Ward Beecher

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pinterest: Worthless Addiction or Passionate Pursuit?

Surely you've heard of the new Pinterest fad, and maybe you've even found yourself addicted, like we have?  For those of you who have yet to stumble upon this craze, let me explain...

Pinterest is sweeping the online world by storm!  We liken it to a series of online bulletin boards.  You can "pin" things you find while surfing the web to your Pinterest boards, and organize them into various categories.  Websites, recipes, images and ideas can be quickly "pinned" and easily organized, along with the link to the source for easy reference later, if needed.  You can also follow others (and they can follow you), and re-pin each others pins, growing your collection even more.

Pinterest is becoming a bit of a "guilty" pleasure in some circles, with many women embarrassed to admit how much time they spend pinning.  If you're a closet Pinterest fan, take heart.  As long as you're not neglecting your family, your work, and your own self-care, we've found it to actually be a fun and empowering pastime.  Let us explain...

Dreams: We all have dreams and goals for the future.  Think of Pinterest as an online dream board!  You can create as many boards as you like, and give them any title.  Your dream vacation can come alive, your kitchen remodel can start to take shape, and your bucket list can become more visual. The possibilities are endless!

Creativity: There are projects for DIY'ers of all skill-levels on Pinterest.  I used to be quite a crafter, but as so often happens with life, I had moved on to other interests.  Opening my Pinterest account woke up the crafter inside me.  The question now is what to create first?! 

Passions: The thing about passions is that oftentimes we're afraid to commit (and fail).  With Pinterest you can create your passionate endeavors in pictures first, explore them from a distance, and try them on for size.  Heck, Pinterest is a passion in itself!  When it feels right to take the next step in your goals, and eventually it will, you're ready to dive in and make it happen.  It may not be today, or even tomorrow, but when you’re ready the inspiration will be there! 

Inspiration: Speaking of inspiration, there's no shortage of it on Pinterest.  From art to fashion, decorating to photography...I say pin whatever speaks to you...The fun, the interesting, and the silly!  When you're feeling stuck or bored, visit your Pinterest boards and you'll feel energized, renewed and inspired by the pictures, colors and textures you love.

Self-expression: Whatever your interests, whatever you love, whatever catches your eye, can be pinned to your boards and shared with others via Pinterest. One popular item pinners pin is their decorating ideas.  There's also art, jewelry, fashion, and more.  Not only does sharing your personal preferences express your style to others, it clarifies it to yourself, too.  Turns out I like the warmth of wood floors and the casual feel of painted cabinetry. I prefer country living to city-life.  I'm a sucker for a good quote and baby animals.  How about you?      

Self-discovery: You might just be surprised to discover a new interest through Pinterest. For example, it had never before crossed my mind that it was possible to make your own cleaning supplies or personal care products.  Turns out there's people doing just that!  Whether to save money, or avoid exposure to harmful chemicals, many are pinning their recipes and formulas to their boards and it caught my attention.  It's something I plan to try soon and I'm ready with my instructions for an all-natural microdermabrasion application (guaranteed to make my skin glow), a natural body moisturizer (chemical-free, fragrance-free, color-free and preservative-free), and several recipes for homemade hand soap, window cleaner and laundry detergent.  A few less toxins on my body and in my house suddenly sounds like a good thing.

So don’t hide your passion for Pinterest, in fact, we say pin with pride!  And please follow Soulspring Groups on Pinterest for empowering ideas, inspiring words, our favorites from the web, and the products we love!  Feel free to comment, repin, and @mention us if you think run across something you think we’d love.

Kim,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:
"I pin because it makes me happy."



Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Most Important Thing You Can Do

I absolutely love when a life lesson jumps out at me during the day.  It’s like a little surprise; a gift that makes you stop in your tracks and brings you into the present-moment.  What sparks that moment is different for each of us…it could be a sight, sound, phrase, or smell that resonates with us and tugs at our soul.

I was lucky enough to receive one of these gifts a while back when I was watching an interview of Sherri Shepherd.  I was surprised to hear that she actually started out her career-life as a paralegal (yeah, took me by surprise, too!).  She shared how while in that career she felt stressed and unfulfilled, but didn’t really feel motivated enough to make a change. 

Then one day she receive that surprise “gift” I referenced above.  It came in the form of a story about a woman who was dying of stage 4 cancer.  The woman was being interviewed on Oprah and she shared that death is really the only thing that’s guaranteed, but how we live life is the most important thing we can do.  Sherri heard this and was moved at the thought.  We only live this one life; why would we choose not to live our dream life?

Sherri quit her job and pursued acting and stand-up comedy full-time.  

I love stories like that; a few simple words lead to an inspired moment and a leap of faith.  It’s fairly simple, yet not so easy to do.  We know we always have a choice…so why wouldn’t we choose to live our dreams?  Why would we wish for something other than our deepest passion?  Why wouldn’t we try with every ounce of our soul to make this life the life we want?

There’s no lack of excuses, but they all lead to the same regrets.  You know what you must do…It’s time for you to finally take that leap of faith; or at least a tiny step in its direction.

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:“You have exactly one life in which to do everything you'll ever do. Act accordingly.” ~Colin Wright

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Clutter and Chaos: Is Your Stuff Holding You Back?

For the last few weeks our blog posts have revolved around the theme of spring cleaning and clutter.  Spring is traditionally a time for clearing out the old and freshening up our physical surroundings, but what about our lives?  The unfinished, unused, unresolved, tolerated and disorganized in our lives can really weigh us down in every way, stealing our zest and enthusiasm for life and living, not to mention blocking us from our passions and dreams.

This isn’t a new topic for us, as we’ve shared about clutter and how excess physical, mental and emotional “stuff” can hold us back in life.  In keeping with the theme and the time of year, we share a few of our most read clutter and chaos posts from the past.

Enjoy,

The Soul Sisters

Stop the Clutter!: What clutter do you have in your life and what kind of impact would just 10 minutes make?  Read More>>

Spring Cleaning Your Life Continues with the Junk Drawer: Our lives sometimes become a “junk drawer”. We allow others to stuff us full with their schedules, their needs, and their plans. It's time to clear the junk.  Read More>>

What Does Your Purse Say About You?: The disorder that can pile up and make your life feel unorganized and overwhelming can be hiding in the most common places.  Let’s start with my purse.  Read More>>

Spring Cleaning Tip: A Lesson from a Diaper Bag: How a diaper bag inspired me to look at things in my house a little differently.  What are you holding on to, and for what reasons?  Read More>>


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Soul Searching Questions: Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Our regular readers are familiar with our Soul Searching Questions and the personal contemplation our questions can stir.  For this post we’ve designed a series of questions meant to encourage reflection of the items that surround you in your life. 

With our busy lifestyles and a trend toward commercialism, we buy, buy, buy and keep, keep, keep.  Soon we find ourselves surrounded by stuff and weighed down by our piles, disorganization and mess. 

If you are finding clutter to take a stronger hold on your life than you would like, work through these questions with a certain pile, collection or category of stuff in mind.  See where your answers lead...

  • Does it lift my energy to think about it or look at it?
  • Do I love it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Does it reflect who I am now in my life?
  • What positive and or negative thoughts, memories or emotions do I associate with it?
  • Does it need to be fixed or repaired, and am I willing to do so now?
  • If I moved tomorrow, would I take it with me?
  • If it is time to let it go, am I going to throw, sell, lend or give it away and when?

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough."   ~Author Unknown



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Cleaning and Clearing Life’s Clutter


In last week’s Soul Sisters Blog post we shared about how you can lose 10 pound fast by tackling the clutter in your life.  Timing couldn’t have been better; I don’t know about you but we’re in the midst of our spring cleaning!

So why are your Soul Sisters harping on you about your piles?  Clutter wreaks havoc on personal empowerment!  It makes life more chaotic, making us feel overwhelmed and restricted.  These feelings can lead into depression, guilt and loss of esteem and confidence.  Yes, clutter IS NOT a power-booster.

But one of the hardest things about clutter, which ironically also often leads us to fall into a cycle of chaos, is the question of where to begin.  In the above video, Ellen offers some tips: “Ellen Degeneres' Spring Cleaning Tips For People Who Aren't As Good At Spring Cleaning As I Am".  While it’s always best to start any difficult chore with a laugh, we think our tips might be a little more practical.  You decide...

Where to Begin
  • Understand what clutter is.  Remember, if you do not love it or use it, it's clutter.
  • Approach de-cluttering your environment with the right intention; as you clear the old, you make room for the new to come into your life.
  • Start small, with just one drawer, one closet, or one room.  See how it makes you feel, and how you begin to open up emotionally, as a result.
  • Give yourself a set amount of time and a deadline.  You would be surprised by how much you can accomplish in just an hour of focused de-cluttering time.
  • Sort things into categories (Keep, toss, donate, sell, etc.). 
  • Bless each item as it's put into its appropriate category.
  • Follow through with putting away, tossing, donating or selling each item within a week's time to avoid it turning into another kind of clutter!
  • If you find yourself struggling with parting with your things, don't be afraid to seek out the help of an expert.

Releasing your clutter allows you to let go of old life patterns that no longer serve you, and create new and open pathways for fresh opportunities and prosperity to come into your life.  Without the clutter, these new experiences can support who you are now and the woman you are becoming.

Clearing the clutter allows you to loosen the hold material things have on you, opens your energy and sparks a sense of freedom!

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"Anyone who has ever cleaned out a closet and taken stuff to Goodwill knows how liberating it is.   You feel lighter, your mind feels clearer."  ~Cecile Andrews

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to Lose 10 Pounds Fast

How would you like to lose 10 pounds fast?  I know, silly question; who wouldn't?

The fact is we can lose 10 pounds (and more) by clearing the clutter from our lives.  Clutter is anything unfinished, unused, unresolved, tolerated and disorganized.  In today's material world it can add up fast and create an emotional and energy block that affects our lives in a variety of ways.  Clutter can impact our ability to create a life of prosperity and well-being, and affect our health, relationships, creativity, spirituality and more.

Why is it that we hold on to all our "stuff" so tightly?  The most common reason is deep seated in "fear", mainly fear of the future.  You may even be thinking, as you read this article, that you couldn't possibly get rid of this or that because you might need it someday (even though you haven't used it in years).  This is precisely the fear of which we are speaking.  Holding on to material things that we haven't used for a long time, because we may need them someday, is a negative affirmation; a lack of faith and trust that you will be provided for in the future.  This belief is actually creating that which you are most afraid; a future of lack and scarcity.

The first step to de-cluttering your environment, is to get to the core reasons why letting go is so difficult.  Contemplate the following beliefs about clutter and ask yourself what your "stuff" represents to you:
  • Security: My stuff keeps me secure and makes me feel safe.
  • Habit or Inherited Pattern: This is how it's always been.  This is how my parents (grandparents) did it.
  • Evidence: My things are reminders of how I used to be, what I once was, how great things were then, etc.
  • Unfulfilled Dreams: I need these things for my future dream, of which I haven't yet accomplished but might still do, someday.
  • Sentiment: These items represent memories and better times.
  • Represents Self-esteem: My things make me somebody and show I'm important.
  • Responsibility: People (family) are counting on me to watch over this stuff and won't like it if I get rid of it.
  • Worth: My stuff might be worth something someday.
  • Environment: Throwing it away is bad for the environment.
Do any of these resonate with you?  We all have reasons for holding on to our stuff, and a few sentimental pieces tucked in a drawer to show the grandkids is harmless.  However, when the clutter gets out of hand and turns into messes, piles, disorganization, and the associated feelings and emotions that come along with it, it's time to get clearing.  After all, do you own your stuff, or does it own you? 

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
"A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”  ~ Victoria Moran

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Soul Sisters’ Book Review: Kristine Carlson’s “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms”

Through the power of social media, and a series of coincidences (if that’s indeed what they were), we were fortunate to connect with Kristine Carlson, wife of the late Richard Carlson who authored the best selling “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” books, three of which were co-authored by Kristina herself.  Her book, “Heartbroken Open: A Memoir Through Loss to Self-Discovery” has helped many cope with the grief of losing a loved one, members of our own families included.

So when we heard she was continuing the tradition of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” and writing a book for moms, we waited and followed with intense anticipation.  As followers of Kristine’s Facebook page we were continuously amazed by her deep, reflective, spiritual approach to life and living.  Authentic and vulnerable, she shares openly about the triumphs and tragedies of her life, spreading faith, hope, wisdom, and humor along the way.

We were fortunate to receive a pre-release copy of “Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms: Simple Ways to Stress Less and Enjoy Your Family More” and immediately knew it was a winner; hundreds of anecdotes, lessons, wisdom and advice written specifically for moms by a mom.  Nearly every aspect of mothering and family are addressed in the book in some fashion – from self-care and taking care of yourself first, to heavier topics such as the emotional safety of our children, to the more practical topics of living “green” and teaching your children financial responsibility.  What we especially love about the book is how Kristin broke it down into 100 short chapters…clearly as a mom, she understands that time is sometimes only available in small chunks.  “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms” is easy to pick up and read whenever you get a free moment.  Plus, all the advice is simple enough that it can be easily applied to our lives immediately.  Brilliant!

True to the title, Kristine puts all anxiety, stress and pressure about motherhood into perspective.  Throughout the book important themes repeat: It’s all okay, it’s acceptable and necessary to take time for yourself, perfection is over-rated, you can seek out help from others, etc.  As moms we tend to visualize the picture of that perfect mom in our heads, and we are constantly striving for that…it’s unattainable and leaves us feeling burned out, unhappy, and feeling as though we have failed. 

Finally, the significance, magnitude and understanding of what it takes to excel at motherhood has been eloquently translated into written-word.  It’s easy for mom’s to feel underappreciated by society, as was exemplified by the back-and-forth after Hilary Rosen’s comments in regards to Ann Romney’s decision to raise her five boys as a full-time mom.  It’s gratifying to see it in writing.  Moms are the heart of the home, the leader of the family, the orchestrator of the schedules…finally someone noticed!

But is motherhood everything?  As Kristine states, “I’m still devoted to family, but I am not confined by that role.”  Many mothers get themselves into trouble by placing their entire focus on family.  They are doing themselves a disservice by underestimating the importance of their personal goals, interests and passions.  Had Kristine subscribed to that philosophy, we wouldn’t have this amazing guidebook to a more relaxed form of motherhood. 

Early on in the book, Kristine shared the oxygen mask/flight attendant metaphor.  Anyone who’s flown on an airplane and has listened to the flight attendant’s instructions will relate; “In the unlikely event that air pressure drops within the aircraft, oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling.” You’re then instructed to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others, even your children.  The logic is clear; if you’ve passed out from a lack of oxygen, you’re of no use to the people around you.  This sets the stage for the rest of the book.  Over and over again she reiterated that we, as moms, need to feed ourselves first – create a special place for ourselves in our homes, take a “mommy time-out”, plan “rest” time for ourselves each week, etc.

As women, we often seek out the advice of other women.  Here, we are receiving the advice and wisdom of one of the most understanding and grounded moms out there.  You can feel her love, energy, and sensible style with each turn of the page.  She has such an amazing soul and even if a fraction of her advice and wisdom rubs off on us, reading this book and expanding our beliefs about motherhood will make us less stressed moms raising happier kids.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms” is for every mother.  The young moms will find the advice helpful in getting off on the right motherhood foot; asking for help when it’s needed, not holding yourself to crazy standards, and more.  For more experienced moms, it will remind them of how much of a feat being a mom really is and that they should be proud of their accomplishment.  It will also give them permission to reassess how things are running in the home and inspire them to make changes where they feel it’s needed. Practical parenting advice such as taking a breath before responding to a child who is testing your patience is a great reminder to all of us. 

Pick up a copy and learn for yourself how you can be happier and stress less as a mom.  Still not convinced?  Kristine had graciously allowed us to share an excerpt from the book, a portion of the chapter, “Empowered Mom”, as the feature article in our May Soulspiration e-newsletter.  We couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate Mother’s Day for our subscribers.  If you’ve yet to join our email list, please sign up today (and claim your free e-book, “50 Reasons to Believe in You”).

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:
Join the community of Don't Sweat Moms on Facebook!  Declare that you're a "Don't Sweat it Mom" here!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?

It’s the first day of April, and that day marks a rather strange holiday called April Fool’s Day; do you know it?  In the U.S., it’s a day to play practical jokes and pranks on others.  I guess there’s really no harm in a little innocent deception, as long as it’s limited to just one day.  It’s the other 364 days of the year that have us concerned.

Oh, don’t pretend you don’t know what we’re talking about...You can’t fool us!  There’s a lot of trickery going on all right, and unfortunately, we’re our own greatest jokester and the pranks are far less innocent because we’re playing with our lives.  The deceit can take on many forms including blaming, avoiding and tolerating, and it seems to be motivated by a single emotion, and that emotion is fear.

Before you write off this post as just another April Fool’s joke, are you fooling yourself with any of these?

It’s not my fault: That may be true, but it’s not anyone else’s fault either.  Aside from an act of God, we’re responsible for our personal circumstances.

Change is hard: Change is a choice.  How easy or how hard it is depends on our perspective.

I can’t: How often have you uttered this untruth?  Let’s get real here; it’s not that you can’t, it’s that you won’t.

It’s not really that important: Oh really?  Well, if it’s not that important, why does your heart leap with joy when you think about it?  Why have you been dreaming about it since childhood?  Why does a life without it make your heart break? 

It’s just how it is: It may be the current situation, but you have the power to take action and transform your reality into something better.

That’s selfish: It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about our energy, our time, or our money, if we’re depleted and running on fumes, we’re of little help to anyone.  Want to be the best you for your spouse, your kids, and your workplace?  It’s in everyone’s best interest to tend to your own needs first.

It’s time you start to see through the tricks you’re playing on yourself, step through the fear, and reserve those foolish antics for April Fool’s Day.

Kim,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:“The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid."  ~Richard Bach

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Warning! Dangerous Power Zapping Words

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon happening lately, and I’m wondering if we’ve got another epidemic, similar to the “I’m so busy” epidemic, on our hands?  This one goes by the name of, “Oh, you just wait”.

Over the last few weeks this has been happening more and more.  I’ll be chatting with a woman, catching up on what’s going on in our lives.  Unfortunately, the conversation begins to go as so many others do, and she’ll start talking about her troubles.  She laments about her achy hip, her crazy schedule of running her kids here and there, her husband that golfs too much, or her failing memory. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first one there for a friend in need, but when the same old story keep repeating itself, that’s when I know the real source of the problem.  And it’s bad enough to have to listen to the same victim story over and over again, but just recently I’ve noticed a new twist; the conversation concludes in a way that I find completely unacceptable. 

As their story comes to an end, they wrap it up with the words, “Oh, you just wait,” as if to imply that all their problems will soon be mine as I get older, as I am married longer, as my kids become teenagers.

The first time it happened I barely noticed those words, the next time I felt a subtle twinge in my gut, by the fourth or fifth time I knew we had a dangerous trend gaining popularity...some real personal-power zapping words!  I think this is ruffling my feathers for two reasons.  First, these women are giving away their power to make a change, believing that their current situation is just their luck and in no way a representation of past choices.  And second, they are attempting to taking away the power of another (i.e. mine); trying to persuade another to believe that they can’t have a different outcome for their life. 

They say, “Misery loves company,” and maybe that’s what’s at the core of this issue.  I would like your opinion...Have you been noticing the “Oh, you just wait...” epidemic spreading among the women you know?  How do you feel about what those words imply for your life?  Do you choose to ignore the phrase, or do you choose to respond, and how do you do so in an empowering way?  Please leave your comments and at the very least, consider yourself warned of these seemingly harmless, yet dangerous words, lurking among us.

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:
"Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself." ~Harvey S. Firestone

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Passion and Purpose: Isn’t There an Easier Way?

In this day of instant everything, so many are seeking a quick way to do, be and have it “now”.  As an organization that helps women find their passions and live life on purpose, we’ve heard it all…Isn’t there a book I can read?  Can I find it on Google?  Don’t they have an assessment for that?

Your passions and your divine assignment for living aren’t something you can learn in a book or find in an internet search, although clues can be found there.  Truly living “on purpose” is a process that requires commitment, self-reflection and determination.  You might even say that when it comes to passion and purpose, living your passion is equally important to finding it.  That adage, “it’s not just the destination, it’s the journey,” definitely applies.

You can’t wait for your passions to reveal themselves to you, or for your life purpose to knock on the door; it’s referred to “pursuing your passion” for a reason.   You have to get out there and try new things, experience different adventures, meet new people, and become aware of new causes, for every aspect of your uniqueness to come together in just the right way.  While this might sound complicated, it doesn’t have to be; with the right perspective, getting there is most of the fun!

It does take creativity though, and dedication.  It’s much easier to let the day-to-day lead you through life.  So, where does one find the inspiration to try new things on the journey to passionate, empowered and purposeful living?

The first place we recommend is your “bucket list”.  Soulspring Groups’ members have several pages in their Soulspring Journal which are dedicated to creating a list of things they want to do before they die (101 to be exact).  We’ve heard of women dedicating themselves to knocking one thing off their list every week!  That’s a pretty aggressive goal, but imagine the thrill!

Another great source can be found on Soulspring Groups’ Facebook page.  Each Friday on Facebook is Springboard Friday; a day where we post a simple activity to carry out (or plan for in the future).  We’ve provided the planning tools, too!  Followers of our page can download them via or Empowerment & Fun tab.

Past activities have included learning CPR.  It’s a skill we all should know and there’s a sense of security that comes with being prepared for an emergency.  Perhaps taking a CPR class could uncover a passion for emergency response?

We also suggested becoming more aware of the nighttime skies.  Learning about the stars is not only fun and interesting; a focus skyward gives us a sense of the greatness around us.  Perhaps being able to identify the constellations would inspire a passion for astrology, or spark a passion in your child for science and space?

Debating on where to go on your summer vacation?  One recent Springboard Friday post suggested throwing a dart at a map and traveling to that destination.  The map could be of your country or state, or even a local map that’s closer to home.  Who knows what you might stumble upon on your adventure…a new company or business you didn’t know existed, a historical site, a remote piece of nature…Each could be a doorway to a new purpose or passion for your life.

It’s time to stop your search for the easy way to discover your passions and the quickest route to your life purpose.  Instead put more attention on what is revealed to you along the way...Take some time to get lost and you might just find yourself.  The lessons, excitement and connections you make on your journey through life will reveal your purpose in due time…that is, if you’re willing to get your hands dirty and start really living.  You can get started right now by making a point to stop by Soulspring Groups’ page on Facebook this Friday for a new passion quest assignment you can get on the calendar for next weekend.

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.” ~Og Mandino

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Question Empowered Women Ask: What Time is It?

Did you wake up this morning with the same question on your mind as me (which, by the way, also happens to be the number-one ranking Google search for today)?  That question is...

“What time is it?”

In our part of the world it’s Day Light Savings Time and that means the first order of the day is to go from room to room and turn our clocks ahead by one hour.  While it means we’ve somehow lost an hour overnight, and we’ll be waking up in darkness tomorrow morning, we’ll benefit by receiving an extra hour of daylight each night (until we turn our clocks back by an hour this fall).

I’ve never really embraced the whole concept.  While you wouldn’t think an hour would make much difference, to my body it does.  Bedtime, and more importantly, mealtimes, don’t feel quite right for a few weeks.  Some actually refuse to make the change and continue to live life on “real time”, but to me it would be confusing to constantly have to convert “my time” and “your time” with every appointment and interaction (throw a different time zone in the mix and we would really be in trouble!).  No, this would never work for me.  I like to know what time it is.

So instead I use this time in the spring and fall to look deeper into that question.  I’ve decided it’s a question that every empowered woman should ask on a regular basis.  It’s actually quite powerful to be still, to get centered, to be open, and then to ask, “What time is it?”  I’ve often been surprised by the answer I hear within my body...within my heart...within my soul.

And so I would encourage you to ask yourself the same question this week.  Perhaps you’ll realize it’s time to...

Forgive and forget.
Stand up for yourself.
Do what’s right.
Ask for help.
Follow your intuition.
Choose a different path.
Say those words.
Make a change for the better.
Live out your passion.
Place that call.
Face your fear.
Give yourself a break.
Take a risk.
Go for it.

Kim,
Sister of Soul

P.S. For another prospective on time (and timing), read “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is”.  The hour of the day doesn’t really mean much; when it comes to time, isn’t “timing” more important?

Soulspiration of the Week:
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”  ~Steve Jobs

Sunday, March 4, 2012

How to Help When the Worst Happens

Life if full of blessings, yet one thing is inevitable; tragedies and challenges can strike at any time.  Financial challenges, the loss of a job, a distressing health diagnosis, or the death of a loved one, can be devastating for even the strongest and faithful of individuals. 

And when this happens to a coworker, family member or friend, the first question that often comes to mind is, “How can I help?”  The human spirit is amazing in this way; in the worst of times, something inside us stirs, and through this compassion we feel compelled to offer support, caring and love.
 
It’s a beautiful thing.  However, to actually make a difference in the life of another, it’s important to move beyond simply asking the “how can I help” question, and shift to taking action.  How do we do this when we truly don’t know what to do or what do say? 

Through our own experiences and mistakes, and the advice gathered from women who’ve been there, here are some tips for helping others when the worst happens.

Stay updated: If you truly care and wish to help, stay updated with the situation in any way you can.  Watch for updates on Facebook, and follow any websites that may have been set up to communicate the latest developments.

One amazing non-profit organization who is supporting families in this manner is CaringBridgeCaringBridge provides free, private websites, which can be used as a tool for families to keep everyone updated on a loved one who is experiencing a health challenge.  As you can imagine, this method of communication can conserve time and emotional energy when families need it most, saving them from having to make multiple phone calls to relay the same information and answer the same questions over, and over, again.
 
Take action: Imagine what you might need if your household was turned upside-down, and offer support at this basic level.  Provide a frozen meal, help out with the yard work, offer housekeeping services, run errands, or babysit.  Transportation to treatments can give main caregivers a much needed break.  It’s natural to ask, “How can I help?”  Yet, with so many questions that people must face during tragic times, one more question is not what they need.  You know what needs to be done; just do it.  If you’re staying updated, you’ll be surprised at the many opportunities for assistance that will arise, especially if you’re watching for them.

Give of your gifts: We’ve all be given unique talents and strengths.  It’s precisely in these difficult times that our talents can become true gifts.  Regardless of what it is you do best, there’s surely a way to offer support in a way that makes the most of your strengths.  It needn’t be anything big or complicated; the key is to offer support in a specific way.  For example you might say, “I know right now __________ must be a challenge and I’m good at that.  If you would like, I could help by handling _________?”

Offer specific prayer: “I’m praying for you,” is a common statement made during difficult times, and if you make the offer, give it real power by making it specific.  “I’m praying for your procedure on Thursday,” for example, makes your offer much more credible and shows that you’ve been making every effort to follow the latest developments as they unfold.  As small as this may seem, it’s an authentic demonstration of your love and caring.

Watch your words: Take great care in how you choose your words at this time.  “It’s God’s plan,” or “Everything happens for a reason,” do not offer comfort and can be devastatingly painful to hear.  Many who have been there confirm that actions speak louder than words in times like these.  And, listening can often provide more comfort than anything you could ever say.  When words are needed; “I’m sorry,” and “I love you,” while simple, often provide the most comfort and strength.

If you have any dos and don’ts, based on difficult times you’ve experienced, please share them in the comment area below as a way to help us all be the strongest supporters possible to those we love.  And, please print, bookmark, or pin this post for future reference.  You never know when tragedy will befall someone you care about and with this guide you can lead an effort of real and helpful support.

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”   ~Edward Everett Hale

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring Cleaning Tip: A Lesson from a Diaper Bag

We hit a pretty big milestone in our home last week; we threw away our diaper bag!  My 2 year old (soon to be 3) has yet to fully master the “big potty”, and apparently likes the freedom that comes with being able to “go” and play at the same time.  However, he’s taken to carrying around a little backpack, and in a recent light bulb moment, we decided that he could carry his own diapers and wipes going forward.  So, while cleaning his closet the other night, I took one look at the diaper bag and said, “It’s time.”

While to some this may not sound like a major event, but to anyone who’s lugged around the bottomless pit of necessities that accompany a baby will appreciate just how exciting this moment was.  This bag has been a member of our family for the last 3 years.  Wherever we went it had to also go.  It was our bag of “everything we will or might need to take care of our children (both of them) and any other child that might need something due to their parent being in-a-pinch”.  I was ecstatic to get rid of this thing and my husband even commented on the smile that couldn’t have been wiped from my face.  Tossing this bag was like lifting 5 pounds off my shoulder (literally).

Then the next morning, as I was taking something else out to the trash, I saw it there; all alone and cold in our trash can.  OK, so I got a little sad.  I mean this bag has been an important part of our family and has always been there to help us in our times of need.  The memories of this bag being at every major milestone for my son came flooding back; the hospital when he was born, at baptism, vacations, birthdays, holidays, and more.

So, no, I didn’t take the diaper bag out of the garbage (eww).  But, I did have to take a moment to remind myself that all those memories aren’t gone with the trash.  They are held in my mind and in my heart, not in any bag.  What I had thought was merely a milestone for my young son was a lesson of growth for me, too.  The incident inspired me to look at other things in my house a little differently – what else am I holding on to, and for what reasons? 

I have a new mental checklist while I’m cleaning now…Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Does it make me happy?  Perfect...Just in time for spring cleaning!

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”  ~Kevin Arnold

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What are the Stories You’re Telling?

You know the drill; it’s a fairly common occurrence: you’re walking down the street and you run into someone who you haven’t seen in ages.  You’re like, “Oh my gosh, it’s been forever!” and you give a quick hug.  They say, “Wow, it’s so great to see you.” And then asks…

“How’s work?”
“How’s your family?”
“How are you surviving this economy?”
“How have YOU been?”
“How have you been feeling lately?”

So what “story” do you tell?

Some tell stories of victory while others tell stories of being a victim.  We’re talking here about those stories that are more so half-truths and assumptions that are repeated over and over again – “I’m so busy.”, “I always have to be in charge.”, “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.”, “I hate my job.”, etc.  With any negative story that you’re telling, you need to decide to make a change – either with the situation or by changing the story.

So what stories do you find yourself repeating in your life?  What do you say?  Is it about time we take you from victim to victor?

Take some time to journal about how you’d rather feel (in relation to the stories you’ve been telling).  When you remind yourself how you want to feel, you offer yourself a more empowered option than the drama that you’ve been creating. Even if you can't get there right away, make sure you know that this is where you can be if you choose it.  So how do you want to feel?  Who would you be without this story?  How would it feel to be able to move forward?   

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspriration of the Week:
“As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”—as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.” -Byron Katie

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Selfish or Self-Care?

It's February, the month of love.  Of course our thoughts turn to our most precious of relationships: our spouse, our children, our parents.  But often we forget the most important relationship of all; the relationship with ourselves.

Just as our relationships with others take great care to remain strong, so do we need to show our own selves that same kind of care and compassion.  While you might expect me to suggest taking a long soak in the tub, which I must say is never a bad idea; the problem goes much deeper than that.

As women we are the nurturers, often putting the needs of others above our own.  We tend to make family and work matters our highest priority, thinking that makes us a better mother, wife, sister, employee, and friend.  The problem is that the longer we go without addressing our own needs, the more depleted we become.  Our dreams fade, our goals wither and our passions slowly dry up.  As you can imagine, this has a negative impact on us emotionally.  Often overlooked however, is the effect this behavior has on us physically, as research reveals more about the connection between belief, emotion, and disease.

What we as women need to understand is that there is a difference between "self-ish" and "self-care".  We have this one life to live and a purpose to fulfill.  By not pursuing our passions and dreams we are doing the world, those we love, and most of all ourselves, a great disservice.  That is "selfish".

By treating ourselves with respect, listening to the cues of our body, placing importance on our own dreams, and carrying out our divine assignment for our life, we are empowering ourselves at the deepest of levels.  That is "self-care".

Below are seven tips (an entire week's worth) for incorporating a little more self-care into your life this month.  Try one a day for seven days straight, and experience the difference a little self-love can make:

#1 - Know your limits.  One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to say "no".  Stretching yourself too thin and dividing your attention among multiple different tasks is not only doing a disservice to you, but negatively affects everyone close to you.  If everything is important, then nothing is important.

#2 - Live your passions.  Our passions are what make us feel alive.  If we're not devoting time and attention to those things that ignite and inspire us, our lives become dull and dreary.  Spending some time each day, even 10 minutes, on our passions or working towards an important personal goal makes us fulfilled.

#3 - Spend time alone.  How much time do you allow to just let your mind wander?  Probably not enough.  Spending time alone gives us the opportunity to let our imagination take new heights.  From what we want to do tomorrow, to what we want to do in 20 years, most of these realizations will occur when we allow ourselves time to get lost in thought.

#4 - Maintain healthy relationships.  Limit the time you spend with people who exhaust you (I think you know who we mean).  Increase the quantity and quality of the time you spend with the people who make you feel great; the ones who inspire and replenish you.  Build a supportive and positive network of confidants by starting your own Soulspring group or joining one today!

#5 - Live your values.  If we're not careful it doesn't take long before or own values are pushed to the side and suddenly, without realizing it, we begin to live our lives in alignment with the values of others.  This causes stress and we innately know something is amiss.  Make sure your own values are clear, practice them in your daily life, and consider them in your every decision.

#6 - Write in a journal.  Expressing yourself in written form can open up much clarity for us.  Take the time to write daily.  If you find it difficult to get started, use Soul Searching Questions (many can be found within this blog and we incorporate them into each issue of our Soulspiration monthly newsletter), to get you started!  Before you know it, the words with easily begin to flow.

#7 - Eat right.  What we put into our mouths is the foundation of our physical and spiritual selves.  Take care of yourself like the jewel you are; eat more fruits and vegetables and less fat, sugar, processed foods, and caffeine.

While you're showering affection on those you love this month, don't forget to give yourself a healthy dose of love.  You're definitely worth it and it is only then that you will have the energy, enthusiasm, and power you need to be and give all you can for yourself and others.

The Soul Sisters

Soulspiration of the Week:"The greatest love of all, is easy to achieve.  Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all." ~The Greatest Love of All (Performed by Whitney Houston, and in her memory)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

5 Ways to Live Life from the Front Row

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that grab your attention.  We posted this photograph and caption to our Soulspring Facebook page and were blown away by the response: 58 people liked it, 50 people shared it and 15 people commented!

The interaction caught our attention; clearly you were intrigued by the notion of living life out front.  By looking closely at this photo we uncovered 5 Ways to Live Life from the Front Row...

1.    Dare to take the ride: Don’t let fear, age, size, [insert your excuse here] keep you from the excitement of life.  Playing it safe is what the onlookers do--and surely you’ve noticed they’re the ones having the least amount of fun.

2.    Be the first one on: If you want to live life in the front row, you’ve gotta be the first one on the ride.  If you hesitate for even a moment, some other brave soul is going to take your place and have all the laughs.

3.    Take a friend along for the ride:  Who doesn’t feel a bit more courageous with someone they trust riding shotgun?  Grab your BFF and take on the adventure together.

4.    Let your hair get messy (and your skirt fly up):  I shudder to think of how many times I let an opportunity pass me by simply because I wasn’t dressed for it.  So what if your skirt flies up and your hair blows around; hang on to your hat and enjoy every minute.

5.    Be o.k. with the next best thing: When all else fails, and you miss your chance to be up front, don’t underestimate the fun and excitement of the second row.  From the looks of it, that’s the next best place to be.

Kim,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:
“The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”   ~Dale Carnegie

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Womanly Words of Wisdom: 25 Empowering Quotations for Your Life

It’s amazing the comfort that comes from a good quote.  They reassure us that others have been in the same place; physically, emotional, and mentally.  And when only a good quote can help us through a trying time, the right one appears, as if by magic, to inspire and cheer us on.

We are the product of years and years of wisdom from other women.  I can’t think of a better place to find advice, inspiration, support, or motivation than from their wise words.  Below are 25 quotes that offer general thoughts on life.  May the one that you need at this very moment find you…


1. “If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” ~ Gail Sheehy

2. “Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” ~ Betty Smith

3. “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.” ~ Margaret Young

4. “There are two ways of spreading light ... To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton

5. “Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.”  ~ Janet Lane

6. “The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” ~ Sonya Friedman

7. “The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

8. “You can look at a person's attitude and know what kind of thinking is prevalent in his life... It's better to be positive and wrong than negative and right!” ~ Joyce Meyer

9. “What a wonderful life I've had!  I only wish I'd realized it sooner.” ~ Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

10. “You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” ~ Erica Jong

11. “We never know how high we are till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the skies.” ~ Emily Dickinson

12. “Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” ~ Mildred Barthel

13. “Remove those 'I want you to like me' stickers from your forehead and, instead, place them where they truly will do the most good -- on your mirror!” ~ Susan Jeffers

14. “You never find yourself until you face the truth.” ~ Pearl Bailey

15. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” ~ Sally Berger

16. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” ~ Anais Nin

17. “Accept that all of us can be hurt, that all of us can - and surely will at times - fail. Other vulnerabilities, like being embarrassed or risking love, can be terrifying too. I think we should follow a simple rule: if we can take the worst, take the risk.” ~ Dr. Joyce Brothers

18. “You can't punish yourself into change. You can't whip yourself into shape. But you can love yourself into well-being.” ~ Susan Skye

19. “It doesn't matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn't matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years -- we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

20. “No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” ~ Barbara de Angelis

21. “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” ~ Margaret Drabble

22. “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” ~ Ellen Glasgow

23. “If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.” ~ Mary Engelbreit

24. “Don't be afraid to fail. Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It's OK to fail. If you're not failing, you're not growing.” ~ Anne Sullivan

25. “I have discovered that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” ~ Joyce Meyer

The Soul Sisters

Soulpiration of the Week:
“The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.” ~Isaac D'Israeli

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Living An Empowered Life Requires Asking the Right Questions

Last week’s post referenced an article entitled, “How Far Has Your Bottle Gone?”  Written by Ernest R. Stair, the article tells of a man who put a note in a bottle, asking whoever finds it to send him a letter revealing its destination.  He seals it up and tosses it in the ocean, imagining all the exotic places his bottle would go and all the adventures it would have.  He lived in anticipation, excited to see where the bottle would eventually be found. 

Forty-five years later, he received a note that the bottle had been found...mere yards from the spot where it has originally been thrown it in.

Are there goals in your life that haven’t quite gone the distance?  For most, it’s common to feel disappointment from not accomplishing the great endeavors you dreamed of as a child.  We have hopes of changing the world, traveling to every corner of the globe, being top-dog in our career, saving helpless orphans.  And, when we hit mid-life and haven’t achieved all we set out to do, we feel as though we’ve failed. 

It's an issue many Soulspring Groups members are quite familiar, and if these feelings are common to you, too, then perhaps it’s time to change your way of thinking.  Instead of asking yourself...

  • How much money do I make?
  • How many square feet does my house contain?
  • How will my job title sound at a high school reunion?
  • How many people report to me?
  • How many walls are needed to display my degrees, awards, honors, trophies and tributes?

What if you asked yourself...

  • How many times did I refuse to quit?
  • How many times did I learn from my mistakes?
  • How many times did I make a comeback?
  • How many times did I let somebody else have all the glory?
  • How many times did I take criticism gracefully?
  • How many times did I make someone’s day?

Notice how the first line of questioning has one thing in common; measuring your level of achievement based on other people’s opinions.  The latter set of questions inspires deeper answers.  Instead of basing our accomplishments on the size of your paycheck or the fancy options in your car, these are the true test of real achievement.  They show what is deep down inside, and that’s what matters most.

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:
“It has been said, ‘Accomplishment is socially judged by ill defined criteria so that one has to rely on others to find out how one is doing.’  It is our job to rise above it!” ~ Albert Bandura

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soul Searching Question: How Far Has Your Bottle Gone?

January marks the beginning of the New Year; that means it’s time for a life review.  Have you accomplished everything you thought you would in the past year?  Are you at the exact point in life you thought you would be?  If your answer is a disappointing “no”, and you suddenly feel a sense of failure sneaking in, wait... 

A Soulspring Groups member shared a wonderful article with us last week, “How Far Has Your Bottle Gone?” from the January 2012 issue of Toastmaster’s magazine.  In the article, author Ernest R. Stair writes about a man who put a note in a bottle.  The note requested that whoever found the bottle send him a letter revealing its destination.  He sealed the note in the bottle, tossed it in the ocean and began to imagine all the exotic places the bottle would go and adventures it would have.  He waited anxiously for word that the bottle had been found; excited to see where it would eventually turn up. 

Forty-five years later, his bottle was found, and he received a note from the finding party.  The bottle was found only several hundred yards from the spot where he had originally thrown it.  What a let-down...a great, big, giant failure; or was it?

While the bottle was found close to its origination there’s nothing to say that it didn’t travel the world before it came back.  Perhaps the bottle thrower was correct, and it traveled to every exotic corner of the world, saw great vistas, and met many hands that threw it back into the water.

Or, maybe the bottle did only travel a few hundred feet before coming back to shore, and spent the remaining 45 years right there on the rocky coast.  Imagine the sights of awe it must have experienced; the sunsets, the sunrises, the family outings, the fishing, the ships, the vacationers, the wildlife.

When taking stock of your life’s accomplishments, it’s inevitable to feel like you’ve had some disappointments.  Do your grandiose ideas of travel, adventure, and changing the world seem a little more out of grasp these days?  If so, perhaps you’re measuring the wrong thing.  Instead of measuring your accomplishments by the final goal, what if you took stock of everything that has happened along the way?  Isn’t that what’s really important anyway?

Becky,
Sister of Soul

Soulspiration of the Week:
“You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.” ~Georgia O'Keeffe