Willpower Shmillpower

Anytime I have to rely on my “willpower,” I am most likely damned.

You see, willpower is a limited resource, and being the self-help junkie that I am, (please, some linguistically talented creature *cough* Dan Archer, come up with a new title for me), there is always something to be done, finagled into place, and added to my list to ensure a “wonderful life” or to “manifest my dreams.”

Of course though, life is life and things don’t really ever go as expected. (Thank Goodness, right?) So instead of relying on my willpower, I’ve been toying with creating a mechanism where it is impossible for me to fail.

For example, if I were a nutella addict, and I couldn’t buy a jar without diving into it and finishing it within 3 days and feeling sick later, (purely hypothetical, dear), then the best choice is to not buy it at all. Or! If you’re a compulsive e-mail checker like I am, best to take the Gmail app off your homescreen or leave your beloved celly in another room.

By putting myself in situations where I cannot, even if I tried, do that thing I have been trying so hard to stop doing, I’m a success. No willpower needed. ;)

This can also be utilized in a positive way to lovingly coerce yourself to do what you have been trying to do for ages. I’m always trying to walk more in Orlando aka car kingdom. Instead of trying to delude myself that I will log 10,000 steps into my pedometer by waking up at 6am and strolling the neighborhood, I just park my car really far from where I want to go, like, 5x a day.

Little actions such as these don’t take as much willpower or mental space, but still get the job done.

And that’s just what I need. :)

So tell me love, what are some of your lifey hacks to set yourself up for success? Share the smarts in the comments below :*

 

Hermione

Alia

 

 

 

Your Golden Essence

There was nothing to say.

Long stretches of silence filled the space between our awkward conversation. I was running the anger/inadequacy/sad tape in my head trying trying TRYING to avoid the discomfort of pending emotions I was feeling in the moment. But the discomfort just grew stronger and stronger, until…

Music began to play. Something sweet. I didn’t know where it was coming from, but it began to fill the room. Something in my heart softened, surrendered, and as we sat there listening to the emotion pour through the music, I began to cry. The music continued and carried me through the sadness I was so resistant to experience before. Thank goodness for his music.

After it finished, we sat in silence. Relieved. There was nothing to say. The music said it all.

This is the power of art. 

I’m all about self-development, affirmations, re-wiring your self talk, but sometimes it takes more than our logical efforts to heal. I’m talking about the things that touch us in ways that nothing else can: storybooks, beautiful pieces of music, a moving film, dancing with your girlfriends or at drum circles.

When I was in Spain, I took a class with a famous journalist who showed us the power of music in film. Without the music, the film felt like nothing. The music was the movement, the soul-stirrer. When I am sad, I crank up Adele in my car and sing along. Cinematic scores give me shivers. This one always touches me so deeply:

Have you ever seen a painting that stopped you in your tracks? Or watched a movie that expressed just what you needed to feel? Maybe it’s hearing a story of someone’s triumphs that makes you remember your Golden essence, stronger than the fires of Mordor.

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From “The Hobbit” directed by Peter Jackson. JPEG

I am always so moved by such expression and I think we could spend more time doing the things that heal us in that way.

What heals you? What touches you? How do you express yourself in a way that feels truer than logic? Send it my way.

xo

Alia

P.S. I was on a trip for the last few weeks and it was marvelous. Here’s a silly collage I made of my fave moments.

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P.P.S. Are you hungry for more artistic expression in your life? I am starting a uplifting supportive group in my 50 DAYS OF CREATIVITY project. Join us! You don’t have to be an artist, singer, or whatever. The point of the 50 DAY project is to gather people like you and me to express ourselves in a private community of friends. You choose your medium: painting, music, a video, a podcast, writing, whatever! We feature your project (the thing you’ve been meaning to work on or try out) on 1 day of the 50 and share it in the private community! If you’re interested, click here and I’ll add you to the list as it unfolds.

 

The Daily Practice That is Changing My Life

Every night, before going to bed, I’ve been making a list.  I use Regena Thomashauer’s BGD format, because I adore her.

It consists of 3 parts: 

Things I’m proud of and want to celebrate about myself or my day. (“Brags”)/ What I am grateful for. (“Gratitudes”)/ My deepest wants. (“Desires”)

Brags

An example from last week:

“I BRAG I built a vegetable garden today. I tilled the soil and pulled out all the roots and old plants. I scraped it down and filled it with compost. Aren’t I a hippy girl! Sofie made fun of me the whole time. I made a grid of 6 and planted cherry tomatoes, kale, spinach, rainbow chard, arugula, and mesclun lettuce. I did it with my hands and sprinkled water on the itsy bitsy teeny tiny seeds under the earth. It felt lovely and cool. I brag I got myself dirty, got outside and nurtured that part of me that needed to get OUT!”

(Sometimes you’ll have to settle for something simple.)

“I brag that today I am here, making this list.”

(Sometimes it’ll be something that you didn’t know you thought was celebration-worthy!)

“I brag that today, I got into a conflict with my boss today because I stood up for myself, even when he wouldn’t budge!”

This isn’t new. I’ve learned it from my teachers: Laura Fenamore, Louise Hay, Regena Thomashauer, Marie Forleo.

But it even dates back to ancient texts:

“In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you…”  (Thessalonians) 

“…Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul…” (Surah Al-Luqman) 

“Whatever I am offered in devotion with a pure heart — a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water — I accept with joy.” (Bhagavad Gita) 

I know you’ve heard this a million times, and the thought of a gratitude list is like, enough to make you puke. IT sure makes me want to roll my eyes. But let’s call it something different. Like, mining for diamonds! 

Miner_drilling_and_laborer_loading_-black_diamonds-_in_the_rough,_Anthracite_Mining,_Scranton,_Pa.,_U.S.A,_from_Robert_N._Dennis_collection_of_stereoscopic_views

Miner drilling and laborer loading “black diamonds” in the rough, Anthracite Mining, Scranton, Pa., U.S.A.

You don’t have to perform for anyone. It’s for you.

It’s just something you can do when, after a long day that might have been shitty and filled with begrudging thoughts, you can choose to remember the bits that were beautiful. Even if they were a second long.

“I am grateful for the candied violets in my tea.”

“I am grateful the way he looked at me when I blushed.”

“I am grateful for the way my little cousins ran into the rain with glee, while I cowered inside. It reminded to live a little. I am grateful for their vitality.”

And if you had an excellent day, even better. Because now you are choosing to receive. To let it in with open arms, a smile and some appreciation. To digest how good it all is. Because you deserve it.

Because life is made of those moments.

Now your turn, starlight. Share with me your brags, gratitudes, and desires! Or one ;)  My list is below. I swear, after doing it, my day went from mediocre-feeling to magnificent.

You know when sometimes you look at old photos of yourself and think “Wow, I looked HOT. I wish I would have realized it then!”? This is that. This is you realizing how fantastic your life really is. One brag at a time ;)

:* Alia

My Brags, Gratitudes, & Desires. 2.27.14

I brag that today, I spoke a little Portuguese.

I brag that I’m drinking root beer kombucha at a cafe I’ve never been to.

I brag I did something goofy today, because I wanted to. I brag I like to laugh at myself.

I brag I planned a surprise for my sister at a new frozen yogurt spot.

I am grateful to be warm and cozy on a wet and rainy day.

I am grateful to be young, optimistic, and full of ideas.

I am grateful that I am here, writing this post.

I am grateful for my phone’s GPS. Thank you.

I am grateful for S. who always calls.

I am grateful J. is coming.

I am grateful for all the people who express their souls with the world in the form of art and music. I am especially grateful for this song that touched me.

I desire glorious, laughter-filled time with girlfriends.

I desire to cuddle my cousins and savor the days of their childhood.

I desire to move to NYC when the time’s right :)

I desire to find ways to really GIVE.

Happy Ghosts.

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.

I have so many ghosts in my home: my body. I carry with me ghosts of shame, body-hatred, inadequacy. You know, the usual.

And it wasn’t until recently when I realized that I walk around and live in my body as if only parts of it exist. There are the parts that I love and sometimes even admire. And there are the parts that I disapprove of so strongly, that I pretend they don’t exist. As far as I’m concerned, on most days, I’m just a head with hands! Eve Ensler talks about this in one of her TedTalks:

So the question is, how to get into your body? To connect with your limbs, your muscles, your beating heart? Normally, we think of exercise.

I’ve talked about perfection a lot in my blog and a girlfriend and I were discussing how we sometimes don’t exercise because we get caught up in the ‘right kind’ of exercise. Like, we won’t go for a run, because we think it’s a waste of time if we don’t balance it out with squats and weightlifting. (This is all mental mind games of course.) And the prospect of doing ALL that is far too overwhelming and instead we numb ourselves out in front of the TV. After a day of working and then coming home to eat and sitting some more, our bodies are miserable and our minds are looping.

With all this pressure to exercise and do it right, we suck all the fun right out of it!

What if we treated exercise like we treat a delicious meal or the pursuit of sex? For our own pleasure?  (tweet tweet)

So I started doing an experiment when my mind was heavy and my body was pleading with me for attention. I started taking mid-day walks. Just walks. In nature is even better. And put everything away and focused on my body as I moved. It’s been beautiful. Such simple practice, with mindfulness on my body has opened up so many avenues to feel GOOD in my skin. And I think that’s where we begin to love and connect with our ghosts. Through pleasure, not endless mind toil about what went wrong to create that cellulite.

I found the most luscious forest while walking in a neighborhood. Who would’ve thought it was there?

Here’s the thing. When we think of being in our body, we think of exercise. Exercise has the connotation of being painful, sweaty, unbearable, hard-core, exhausting. Sometimes I want that! But most of the time I want something that fills me up, not depletes me.

What would feel really good to do in your body today?

There’s anything and everything. Here are some of my favorites: bachata, horseback riding, qoya, yoga, prancercise! ( hee hee ), burlesque dancing, pole, zumba, playing in the playground (monkey bars and all), hula hooping, jump roping, trampolining, rock climbing, or DANCING IN YOUR ROOM (my fave.)

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these boys rocked my world

When you think of being with your body in that way, it’s almost spiritual. And with a little practice, you will find yourself enjoying so much the skin you’re in. Today I went to a yoga class (for the first time in my months because it was in my pleasure, not pressure.) And then I sat in a hot wooden sauna for 20 minutes to soak up all the heat. It was wonderful, magical, spiritual. And I looked at my body and felt happy for all that she does for me, ghosts and all. Now that’s a start.

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Me in my pajamas on a bad day

On Friday, I was looking at a music video my sister’s friend Amy posted. It shows Hungarian pop-star Boggie undergoing the photoshop changes that are common when it comes to music video and print edits.

It’s a scary truth that most of what we look at these days has been altered, fixed up, and projected under bright lights to look a certain way. But this got me thinking: this isn’t just happening in the media, it also happens with you and me.

I realize today more and more, how much pressure we have these days to make it look like everything’s going GREAT. Not just having a hot physical bod (though, that’s where it starts) but also, we expect that people who have done well in life, should be HAPPY. They should be totally in love with their partner every day. They are BLISSED out in their job and wake up in orgasmic fits of joy to get to work.

Ha.

Maybe, I’m exaggerating, but have you noticed how much pressure there is to be happy all the time? To always look good, to have an abundant life, tons of friends, with a soulmate by your side?

Goodness! Life is wonderful, ecstatic, joyful, pleasurable, delicious, warm, and HAPPY!But reality check, boys and girls, let’s all admit that life can also be painful, tiring, drudging, exhausting, and plain SAD.

And by hiding behind fluffy sugar mounds of sweetness because we feel pressure to be HAPPY! 24/7, we forget to let ourselves feel. 

But here’s the thing, you’re gonna feel anyway. Even after you’ve found HIM. Even when you get that promotion. Even if you are the epitome of hotness and selling millions of albums a year (see Drake’s lyrics.)

I’m all about positive thinking and I consider myself an optimist, so you’ll still find me doing affirmations and writing in my journal and making huge desire lists of ridiculously big things. What I’m saying is that both sides have their beauty. Like photoshopping those already-lovely-as-they-are models, we’ve become intensely uncomfortable showing parts of us that are flawed, and instead try to make everything look perfect. But that’s Barbie, not you. Not sweet, warm, confused, powerful, vulnerable, magnificent you.

Yes, there’s so much more to this topic that I could delve into. Like learning how to feel without your whole world crashing down, or becoming a “feeling person” without being miserable all the time. Yeah, I get that. Those are challenges too, and totally I’m up to discuss it in another blog post. I just want to point out that this pressure for perfection isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

What if you could love and accept yourself wildly when you are feeling shitty, too? Or when you look fat and wrinkly? I think that’s a goal worth shooting for, better than anything Photoshop could fix. ;)

Bad Day Selfie/ Good Day Selfie

Bad Day Selfie/ Good Day Selfie

xo

Lali

FEAR/ Let it go.

I could go on for days about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing since I last wrote. 

But in short, here it is: 

Every time I’ve thought about posting, I’ve let fear win. Fear that I don’t have anything important to say. Fear that my blog isn’t good-looking enough. Fear that I’ll repeat posts. Fear that no one will read my words. 

My man has always said to me: 

“Alia, don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” 

PERFECTION! That’s my enemy right now. Whenever I want to produce, reach out, create, apply, (add proactive verb here), my perfection monster rears its head. It tells me: if it’s not perfect, why TRY? 

If I can’t run for 30 minutes in perfect work out clothes, and look hot doing it, why TRY? 

If I can’t show up and be in a perfectly good mood with all my friends at the bar tonight, why GO? 

If I can’t make a perfectly polished, shiny, effect-filled video, why POST?

That voice has kinda been running my life lately. 

So here I am, calling it out, exposing it to the bright light of the public. 
You don’t get anywhere by thinking your way to new ways of acting. You ACT your way to new ways of thinking. 

Let this be a call to action. Just the next step. Fuck perfect. Just ACT. 

Where are you holding back because you’ve analyzed it to death and paralyzed it with your spiderweb of perfection? Share here. And then go. freaking do it. 

Whoa

xo 
Lali 

 

Play Pretend

Sometimes I feel so saddened by reality. And then I remember that when I was a kid, I used to play pretend and imagine things all the time.

What is reality other than our rigid mental constructs ANYWAY!?

I’ve been dying to go to Ireland with my sister and am planning a potential trip in March. That seems far away by leaps and bounds (and by reality-standards.) So I tooke me a good trippe to that magical lande whilst working!!

I put on my headphones, closed my eyes, and let the music fill my spirit. And for just a few minutes, I felt that magnitude of Irish-inspired bliss I’ve been chasing with my vacation plans.

The ancient road that leads to an ancient stone circle.

The ancient road that leads to an ancient stone circle. PHOTO: Catriona Shatwell

What have you been dreaming of? Mmm, try imagining it for 5 minutes in a way that inspires you. (Music ALWAYS does it for me :)) And let me know how it goes! I’ll be sittin’ here with me pot of Gold!

Love,

Lali

 

 

Magic

Good Evening My Delicious Ones!

You are a divine creature with a marvelous life. But I’m sure you don’t always feel that way. So what keeps you from feeling the glow?

Sometimes we may feel stunted because of the world around us, sometimes its our ideas of where we should be at this time in our lives, and sometimes it’s just a negative belief or critical thought that’s relentless. (Ugh.)

I feel like we all have power over our thoughts, but sometimes, it feels impossible to push away the cruel words we tell ourselves. They’re so innate and built-in, how could we ever change them?

A few days ago, I was talking to my beautiful sweet friend, Veronica. She is brilliant and healing and such a beautiful soul. And she taught me something brilliant which I wanted to share with you!

If you want to get rid of something that’s not serving you, replace it with something better. (Tweet it if you wanna.)

Welcome to one of my favourite exercises in the whole world.

Re-framing. 

Ooh la la! So how does this work? There are a couple ways to experiment with it, but I’ll show you the most basic way to put it into practice today or this evening before you go to bed (which is my favourite time to do this.)

I have a magical, juicy, privileged, happy, wondrous life. I am aware of it 70% of the time. The other 30% of the time, I live in a world of my own bullshit, where I tell myself things over and over that feel sucky. So yesterday, I sat down and decided to make a list of 4 or 5 things that I tell myself that make me feel bad almost always.

Here are some examples:

1. I’m gaining weight. I’m going to get fat and miserable and hate myself.

2. My career is going nowhere, my job isn’t fulfilling

3. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?

etc.

etc.

Get the dark gooey bits outta there and get it on paper.

Now, take these statements and re-write them from a totally different point of view. The point of view that thinks your life is fucking awesome. I love this quote from Cheryl Strayed:

“Whatever happens to you, belongs to you. Make it yours.”

So you take these ‘truths’ and re-write them in a way that empowers you. In a way that still feels TRUE, but looks at it from an angle of beauty, as if your life was one fucking adventure.

#1 becomes:

My beauty is a secret I weave and unravel with each passing day, that grows richer and divine, like the most exquisite wine.

#2 could be:

I have the most incredible job on the planet: I GET TO BE ME.

#3 feels like being:

My life is as interesting and miraculous as the moon and the stars.

starry_sky_atacama

ESO

And then you burn up the shit-list with the negative junk on it that you’ve said over and over and over until you felt brain-dead (really, burn it :)) and you have this sparkly list which you look at and repeat to yourself like a mantra, until those are the new beliefs.

Voila.

Live Your Life Like It’s The Best One You’ve Got

Hey Friends! 

It’s been a long time! I’ve been MIA because I had a 2-week vacation with my most beautiful family from Chile. We travelled all over the US and when I came back home, there were some major responsibilities at home, so I was focusing my time, love, and energy on that.

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Thanks, Josh :)

I am so happy to be back :) Thank you for your sweet messages and pings to remind me to update! My brother always jokes that I have 80 blogs on the internet that all mysteriously end on a random post. Not this one, Rahim! 

This morning I woke up and checked my e-mail. I have this friend who is AMAZING and always doing amazing things and her life looks like a fairytale. 

I always tell myself “Oh, when I move to SF or NYC, THEN I’ll create that for myself.”

What a bummer. 

I keep myself from having fun NOW. I tell myself I’ll have lots more pleasure, beautiful instagram photos and a rockin’ workout schedule WHEN I MOVE. 

Yikes. 

So I called myself out on that shit this morning. And then I made a list of all the things I would do TODAY if my life were my “DREAM LIFE.” 

They are actually completely normal and lovely things (and really not that extravagant) so why the heck was I waiting? 

Where are you putting things on hold until your life is ‘better.” 
What is it that you are WAITING for so that you can live the juice, the passion, the fun, the self-care that you deserve now? 

Just a question… :) 

POST here with your comments! And a picture of your list! Here’s mine: 

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Oh yes, belly dancing is on there baby!

Love, 

Alia 

 

 

Being Fabulously Busy (and Biology 101)

Dearest Readers,

If any of you took Biology in high school, I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of a catalyst.

Thank you Wikipedia

Thank you Wikipedia

If not, no worries! I will explain it to you!

Today, I found myself working at fantastical speeds to get many things done. And the whole way through, I was flitting happily like a butterfly sucking sweet nectar out of each thing on my to-do list.

Does that sound juicy? Watch my video to find out more :)