My first thought when approached with the subject of Creating Your Sanctuary was “easy peasy, I’m a designer at McCready Interiors, I do that for clients and customers every day”. I ask many questions to find what they want their environment to reflect, then select styles and fabrics or leathers that will be successful in creating that feeling.
A sanctuary is a place of refuge, a place of safety, a place to retreat, it should reflect whatever brings you a sense of peace and tranquility.
In reflecting and researching for my blog, I considered that my personal sanctuary actually changes quite often. My home is obviously a sanctuary where I retreat at the end of the day, but I soon realized I have many opportunities for a sanctuary; a walk in the woods, my gardens, a yoga class, even a visit to the home of my best friend since high school to enjoy the hot tub and catch up.
Your sanctuary may be the beach, an exercise class, a girls night out, or a space in your home you can make your own. It could be those moments when you have the opportunity for “no boys (or kids) allowed”, a big comfy reading chair or a place you can have quiet time to reflect, meditate, or just slow down to recharge.
As women, many of our lives are centered around taking care of others; we are nurturers, caregivers, helpmates. We tend to do for others before taking care of ourselves. When we give our all to everyone else, there is little left for ourselves. The importance of self-care is critical to our well-being. We must take the time to regard ourselves highly enough to carve out time and space to enjoy a sanctuary of our own.
Creating your sanctuary is simply making a space that gives you the opportunity to surround yourself with an area to take a breath and unwind.
If you are able to start with a blank slate space, select a wall color that reflects calm to you. Select pieces that avoid clutter and chaos, keep the space simple. This is an area you want to be able to completely relax in.
Carefully edit what you place in your sacred space, less is usually more when you are looking for a place for quiet or meditation. If nature brings you calm and joy, place greenery or nature-inspired artwork there. Position your comfy reading chair facing a window so you can enjoy the view. If the beach is your sanctum, use colors that reflect the sand, sea, and sky. Surround yourself with beauty and an atmosphere of calm. Turn off the TV and turn on your favorite music if you don’t want silence. I have many Pandora stations I can select from to enhance whatever mood or feeling I want to focus on. I choose Motown if I want to escape and maybe dance a little (when no one is watching), Glenn Miller if I’m feeling nostalgic, Eric Clapton or the Beatles for a variety of reasons, and slow smooth jazz or classical choices to for a quieter environment.
Candles whether real or the real-looking battery powered styles can set the mood with soft lighting. Many of us have essential oils and diffusers to provide soothing scents to help create the perfect environment.
When we make time to devote to ourselves and nurture ourselves, we become our better selves. A sacred space is a perfect place to let our best selves shine through. Creating a sanctuary isn’t difficult. Just remember to keep it reflective of who you are and what kind of energy you want it to invoke.
Laurie Beech has been a designer at McCready Interiors for nearly 18 years. She and her husband Tom have been married for 31 years and have no children. They purchased her grandparents home when they got married and she is 4th generation in that home. She has seven nieces and nephews and six great nieces and nephews that she loves spending time with.
Laurie is treasurer of the Ashland Chautauqua Planning Committee, a past vice president and current board member with the Mansfield Referral Association and volunteers with Young Eagles, an organization that gives children 8-17 free airplane rides.
I, too, yearn to live a wholehearted life, and according to Brené Brown, that means engaging our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage and compassion and connection to wake up and think, no matter what gets done and how much of it is left undone, I AM ENOUGH.
The achiever in me often thinks I HAVE NOT DONE ENOUGH, therefore I AM NOT ENOUGH. I’ve worked hard to set boundaries. The coach in me talks to clients often about not just “doing enough”, but “being enough” – choosing how to be as often, or more often, than choosing what to do. This is hard. This requires me to be vulnerable and not just do it to check another thing off my list.
Rising Strong was another affirmation for me that I can STOP. I can PAUSE. I can be. I can say I am enough and I’ve had enough. Being mindful and vulnerable is a journey. Many times I fail at it. That’s often my First Attempt In Learning.
Here are some of the tenets discussed in the book that I have been able to start or continue to focus on that resonated with me as I read the book.
Be a badass
I always wanted to be a badass. I love the words.
Badasses don’t blame others when things go wrong. I need to be less judgmental and do more of that.
I have to share the story I have made up and have those tough conversations that describe how I am feeling. I need to get curious about it and focus in on the assumptions that I have made that probably are not true.
I have learned that I can start a conversation by saying, “The story I have made up is… ” to better check in to assumptions versus blame.
Focus on compassion and cultivate trust
Dr. Brown’s research shows that compassionate people ask for what they need. They set boundaries. They ask for help and support. They give help and support to others.
They recognize that “no” is a complete sentence.
My high achiever often puts me in a state of “over functioning.” I won’t feel, I will do. I don’t need help. I help. I’m a mentor and a coach to many. I have started surrounding myself with mentors and coaches for me. I need them to help me move forward in my life.
I am learning that we don’t have to do it all alone, and I don’t think we were ever meant to. There is value to say what I mean and mean what I say. There is value in being part of a tribe.
I have started building trust by recognizing and owning my mistakes and apologizing. I give thanks more and catch people DOING THINGS RIGHT instead of catching them doing it wrong.
Many years ago I intentionally made the decision not to focus on regret or jealousy, two emotions that I thought I could live without.
What I have learned is that living without regret is living without reflection. Sure, I said I learned and could move on, but maybe that was just the story I was making up.
I have found that there are amends to make. There are opportunities where I could have been braver and more courageous in my life. There are times I choose to be liked versus defending someone or something or taking an unpopular position. There were times with classmates, friends, and strangers that I did not stand up for someone being berated, bullied, or abused.
I have done lots of work with my own values, and that is helping me to learn that living outside of my values is no longer for me.
“People who wade in discomfort and tell the truth about their stories are real bad asses.” Dr. Brown states that people learn how to trust based on how they see us treating ourselves.
Set boundaries and be good to yourself. Shit happens and I AM ENOUGH.
Cindy Biggs is a leadership development expert working as a certified coach, mentor, and trainer. She started her encore career in 2012, as President of C. Biggs and Associates (www.SEEBIGG.com) after making a commitment to follow her dreams to be an entrepreneur and focus her top leadership strengths. She was CEO of Planned Parenthood of NC Ohio, based in Mansfield, for 20 years and VP of Organizational Development for 5 years after architecting a 5-way merger in NE Ohio with 4 other women to create a large, regional non-profit, Planned Parenthood of NE Ohio in Akron. Her volunteer work focuses on women’s empowerment and leadership development with nonprofits, including Central America Medical Outreach in Santa Rosa de Copan and the League of Women Voters. She lives in Wooster and Howard with her husband Jeff and cat Colt.
The Mind Body Align topic for the month is Starting Over, Beginning Anew. The topic isn’t about wiping the slate of your life clean but allowing you to discover your life from a new perspective. What would you see if you could remove from your awareness the habits, beliefs and unrequited dreams that keep you stuck? I mean really, who would you be and what would you know about yourself? Perhaps there is a way to actively move forward in creating your best life by subtly shifting your focus.
Here is one way to begin: First – with colored pens and paper or chalkboard and colored chalks (I use lots of colors to make it visually fun), sit quietly in contemplation or listen to your favorite “feel good” music. Write everything you love about yourself. “I love my nose, toes, ability to relate to people, health, strong voice, etc.” Remember to focus on things you love about yourself”; listing things related to your mind, body, and spirit.
Second – on another sheet of paper or a different section of the chalkboard, note everything that you love about your life. “I love my spouse, children, time that I have to read, time and money that I have to travel, that people trust me, etc.” The key to being authentic in this list is that you feel love as you recall these people and life experiences.
Third – on the third sheet of paper or area of the chalkboard, select one person you love – again, you must feel the love as you recall this person – and list everything you love about them. Now, you have three different lists: love of self, love of life, love of an individual. Finally, ask yourself this question. What is one thing I can do that will bring even more love to this area of my life? Just one thing.
Now, here is a crucial part. This “one thing,” the one action you can create to bring even more love, must come from the heart or gut brain and not the brain in our head. Our thinking mind will look first, to what it doesn’t want and where you “aren’t good enough,” and second, to providing an answer for “improvement.” Are you following me? For this exercise to be authentic, you will want to allow the answer to unfold; to arrive in your mind while being immersed in the sense of loving and being loved. You will know the best action when the contemplation of it brings you joy.
So, let’s review:
What is one thing you can do to enhance what you already love about yourself?
What is one thing you can do to enhance what you already love about your life?
What is one thing you can do to enhance what you already love about your special person?
So much of who we are at this moment is a collection of habits and beliefs gathered throughout the years and decades of our life. I have found, through my own experience, that wiping the slate clean is extraordinarily hard. It’s too much work to make a change that rarely sticks. Real growth doesn’t have to be difficult, and living your best life can be achieved by shifting your focus, and actively moving forward toward love.
Are you willing to take a journey to discover yourself anew? I look forward to hearing about your experience.
Annamarie Fernyak, A certified Life & Mindfulness Coach and founder of Mind Body Align; a place which nourishes well-being, growth, and belonging through education, collaboration, and environment.
2018 is going to be an AMAZING YEAR! “8” is the number of new beginnings and there’s no better time to envision a fresh start than at the start of a new year. You might say that New Year’s Day represents a big Monday on steroids. Everyone knows that Monday is “the” day for starting new projects and that January 1st is “the” day to start becoming the “new” you. Perhaps it isn’t a “new” you that’s needed, but rather the unveiling of an “evolved” you.
Until your soul is quieted, it’s actually quite difficult to drill deeply enough to identify what’s holding the “real” you hostage. Every one of us is full of the genius necessary to live out our purpose on the earth and do so quite gloriously. Getting there is the issue. It’s a process of stepping into higher and higher dimensions of ourselves. We’re not ready day one, so our lives have a way of helping us if we’re paying attention. I must not have been paying attention.
It was a cold day in January
January 19, 2017, to be exact. One moment I was in motion and the next I was not. It was a hard and brutal stop. When the squad arrived, I was still “thinking” in slow motion. “What on earth just happened? How bad is it? I’m afraid to move. I hope the others are alright. I’ve got to call my office. This is bad. This is really, really bad.” Sirens fade in and out. Surrounded by comforting voices, I just couldn’t catch up with reality.
After doing all they could, the hospital released me into my parent’s care. “I don’t have time for this. Just give me a few days to rest, and I’ll be good as new.” After being bed-ridden for the 1st three weeks, I realized “this” is happening. By the end of the 2nd, I had to surrender to “it” or lose my mind. By the end of the 3rd three weeks, I found a way to embrace it. I had been given a gift; one that came swiftly, violently, and unapologetically. Although it took some time for me to embrace it, the “stillness” was exactly what I needed. I had several months of uninterrupted time to do some work, some real work.
I had increase on my mind
When our souls are quiet, we can reflect, reconsider and re-evaluate our lives. I thought I was “on track”, whatever that means. I thought I was doing okay. But in the stillness, I began to see truths that had eluded me. I began to see what was driving me each day. I connected with the knots in my stomach and the fatigue in my bones. I leaned into the weariness I’d been avoiding. I decided to face the truth behind these manifestations of misalignment. We cannot expect to grow, to expand, or to increase when we’re disconnected from ourselves? It was clearly time for a “newer” me to emerge from the rubble.
When I considered all that I wanted to accomplish, I knew I’d never make it if something didn’t change. I decided to drill down beneath every thought, attitude, and behavior that clearly wasn’t serving me. I focused on anything based in fear, doubt, or unbelief. I probed beneath anger and unforgiveness. I examined deeply held beliefs about life, love, and living in order to pinpoint why I wasn’t manifesting the life I really wanted. I challenged myself to adopt new ways of thinking. I looked at everything I was involved in and asked myself “how does this align with my values, my purpose, and my passions?”
By the time I returned to Mansfield, I knew it wouldn’t be business as usual for me ever again. I had to maintain my new mind-body connection. I learned to honor the limits of my humanity. I eliminated things that I secretly dreaded. I decide to let go of what I thought “had” to be and opened myself up to what “was.” I decided to live a life of infinite possibilities; to approach each day with gratitude for what would unfold, believing that I had all that I needed to live each day fully.
To walk in each new dimension of life, we must become a higher version of ourselves. Who we are is sufficient for today. Who we are becoming is necessary for our tomorrows. Transformation flows from the inside out. When you embrace a new “view” of you, you unleash the power to become a “new” you or, should I say “unveil” the next higher version of yourself. She’s already in you. Isn’t it about time for “her” to show up?
A dynamic speaker and community leader, Cheryl Carter is known for making impact. A former IT Sales Account Executive, Ms. Carter has spent the last twenty-five years speaking nationally and internationally to audiences on leadership, human potential and personal empowerment. Through the power of the spoken word, she inspires audiences to embrace higher dimensions of thought and action; leading to individual and organizational transformation.
Balance – One Version:
“A state in which two opposing forces or factors are of equal strength or importance so that they effectively cancel each other out and stability is maintained to form a harmonious and well-proportioned whole.” —Microsoft College Encarta Dictionary
So what does leading a balanced life truly mean?
Can it be defined?
Is it possible to arrange our life to be a harmonious and well-proportioned whole?
The answer is yes!
But, I know that for all of us, achieving this balance is a life-long endeavor. We are constantly on the go, eating in the car, on the phone, texting, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and etc. from one appointment to the next meeting, game and practice. We live in a time where excess is the norm. Very few people actually sit down, relax and enjoy life’s gifts often enough.
From my perspective, it seems that time management is one of the biggest contributors to a lack of balance. We have our day scheduled and interference comes knocking, disrupting any sense of normalcy we were planning. When obligatory deviations occur in our daily routine, it is important to stop, take a deep breath, remain focused and prioritize.
Know your limits
I have learned to say “no” more often (albeit not while shaking my head yes – I am working on that) and, “that will have to wait until…”, or “that does not fit into today’s schedule.”
Learning to plant your feet firmly on the tightrope and walk the line between balance and imbalance can leave one feeling like they are teetering over the abyss. I consider balance as keeping oneself in tune with what allows you to achieve your full potential.
So, ask yourself, are you achieving your full potential? What does that mean for you? Is it stretching your limits, stepping outside your “box”, rising to a challenge, living a healthier life, expanding your knowledge or helping others?
To view the glass as “re-fillable” instead of as “half-empty” or as “half-full” makes living a balanced life achievable. Wishing all of you peace, harmony and a well-proportioned whole life.
My education in the Equine world has been very diverse. While I grew up in the area, I spent my Junior years as a Working Student, showing, grooming and teaching in Indiana and Virginia. I was fortunate to work for some of the best in the business and I soaked in every bit of horsemanship knowledge I could. In addition to continuing to teach those who wanted to learn, I spent my 20’s and 30’s galloping, ponying and training Thoroughbreds. Working for some of the top Trainers with some of the top horses in the Industry as well as working for myself and family, I was once again exposed to immeasurable amounts of horsemanship knowledge. I settled back in the area in 2005 and began working at Raemelton in 2009. Having been exposed to the healing power of horses at any early age, teaching individuals with disabilities has always been a passion of mine. The rest is history as they say.
(PATH Intl., and EAGALA Certified, USEF-USET Professional Member)
When I was asked to write this blog about innovation, ever-the entrepreneur and rule breaker, I asked if I could actually write about purpose and meaning? Lucky for me, the answer was yes.
As chance would have it, while studying for my certification in Applied Positive Psychology in the last few months, I learned that having clear meaning and purpose is one of the most innovative ways to have a longer, healthier and happier life. This applies to companies too. Those with a very clear sense of purpose actually perform better than those without one.
During my own happiness quest, I came across this article about Viktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist from Austria who was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps for three years. The article suggests that deep fulfillment and contentment comes not from seeking happiness, but from seeking meaning through serving others. Frankl wrote that life offers you purpose and meaning, but it doesn’t owe you fulfillment or happiness.
Frankl believed, as do I, that most people no matter their age want to lead meaningful lives and contribute to causes that are greater than their selves. His seminal work, Man’s Search for Meaning references an early 1900s study of American university students, 78% of them said their first goal was “finding purpose and meaning in life.” This remains true today; a recent study found that the number one factor 21-31 year olds wanted in a career was a “sense of meaning.” Frankl didn’t think just college students were seeking meaning though. He thought that every one from juvenile delinquents to criminals to drug abusers were seeking meaning. And if we pre-suppose this is the case, then we will “elicit a spark from [them], and make [them] become what … [they] are capable of becoming.” Frankl is one of the reasons I am currently researching how the desire for meaning and purpose has driven some young people to join terrorist groups and gangs and why I think its important to develop alternative pathways to help these young people uncover their purpose and lead meaningful, constructive lives instead.
We know that meaning and purpose has clear health benefits not just for young people or juvenile delinquents, but also for those perfectly well adjusted folks in middle age and beyond. National Health Institute funded research suggests that you could live up to seven years longer if you have a clear and compelling purpose guiding you. Researchers have also found that a strong sense of purpose may actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, arthritis and stroke.
So, perhaps you buy into the fact that meaning and purpose is key to flourishing. Now, you may be asking how best to uncover your own purpose and meaning? And, how can you keep it at the forefront of everything you do?
For me, the core of purpose and meaning in life is about making a difference in the world. I believe that no matter who you are, where you come from, or where you’ve been- you have gifts, skills and abilities to solve problems in the service of other people. Some people will use this formula to derive meaning from a 9-5 job, for others it will be through the companies they build, and for others in the volunteer work they do or in how they show up for their families.
Ultimately, when you know and use your gifts in a way that lights you up and serves others, I believe you have found your reason to wake up in the morning—your purpose—and your life will be better and in fact, happier for it.
Heather Tsavaris is a strategist and doer focused on promoting empowerment, economic development and flourishing amongst young people, particularly those in vulnerable communities. She spent 10 years at the U.S. Department of State where she researched why young people joined terrorist groups and helped to create and contribute to initiatives that would stem this phenomenon. After obtaining her MBA from New York University, she began working in education through community colleges and in the K-12 space to continue her mission of empowering and educating young people.