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”)


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.

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.)


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.


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.


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