Something you can do to instantly make your life more enjoyable.

What is it?
Modify your cell phone usage.

When can you do it?
While you are enjoying food or drink with other human beings that you have chosen to spend time with because you love them and they make you happy. Think about it, anytime you are looking at your phone, you are doing one of two things: you are looking at something that has already happened (Facebook, text messages, voicemails), or waiting for something that hasn’t even happened yet (to get that return phone call, or text, or to get tagged in a photo).  How about the next time we are out to dinner with our loved ones, let’s put our phones away.  I know it’s hard, but if you are interested in giving it a try, please keep reading …

How to do it? 
Obviously creating seperation anxiety between you and your phone will defeat the purpose of enjoying the moment, so you have to decide which level option below is right for you to start with. Start slow and work your way to Level 3 over time. I promise you can do this.

Here are your choices: 

Level 1: For the truly addicted. 
Phone Interaction Level during Social Events = High
Social Event Enjoyment Level = Fair
Ability to be in the Moment Rating = Poor to Fair
Directions to Increase Social Event Enjoyment Level: Remove the cell phone from next to your plate on the table and put it in your lap, put it on vibrate. You can look at your phone 2x per hour and send a maximum of 3 text per hour and one email. I will even let you take one picture and post to Facebook (only one though). When you successfully complete a social interaction at Level 3, please move to Level 2 next time.

Level 2: You start to twitch if I don’t look at my phone at least once an hour.
Phone Interaction Level during Social Events = Moderate to High
Social Event Enjoyment Level = Good
Ability to be in the Moment Rating = Good
Directions to Increase Social Event Enjoyment Level: Leave your phone in your purse or pocket, and only allow a maximum of 1 phone check every hour and one text per hour. No Facebook. When you successfully complete a social interaction at Level 2, please move to Level 1 next time.

Level 3: You’re practically a hippie.
Phone Interaction Level during Social Events = None
Social Event Enjoyment Level = Amazing
Ability to be in the Moment Rating = Congratulations, You’re in it
Directions to Achieve this level of Social Enjoyment: Leave your phone in the car. Yes, this is possible.

Good luck and please let me know how it goes!

Amazing yoga teacher, stand-up-paddle-board-yogi, world traveler, who happens to love Chali 2na as much as I do … changing the world for the better one day at a time … Jenn!

You know those moments in life that just make sense and everything that happens, the people you meet, the discussions, where you are, all of it … is exactly as it should be. That was Bali for me (and if you have ever been there, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me the same thing about your time there).

We all have our “party friends“, our “work friends“, our “friends from high school“, “friends of friends, friends“, our “dear friends that no matter what you do, will always be there (thank God)” … and there are friends that you meet when you go to a place to experience yourself, to change your life, to become better, to create … even if you didn’t know you were going there to do any of these things … and when this happens, there is an instant bond that is created, one of authentic friendship, support and love.

I seriously cannot imagine meeting any other people during that particular time in my life when I was in Bali, than the one’s I did. They are amazing.

Meet Jenn!

To sum it up, the best way to describe my friendship with Jenn, well, we literally talk daily (sometimes twice … or three times). Best way to describe Jenn … ALIVE!  

She is one of the most positive people I have ever met, inspiring, honest, motivated (& motivating!), and her yoga classes will kick your ass (in a very blissful way) … and bonus, you get to listen to some awesome music in the process.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Jenn Perell!

Yoga is as Yoga Does

By Jenn Perrell via liveweal.blogspot.com

So there is this really old, really sacred and spiritual practice called yoga. And then all these people start practicing it and changing it, blending it, renaming it and calling it their own. People don’t learn it from their gurus anymore – they can watch a clip on TV or catch a class at the gym. There is an entire industry built around this ancient practice. A marketplace to purchase bliss? Some people think this is a load of cow dung, (calling stretching and sweating yoga) and some people just love it.

I figure: To each his own! Don’t give up faith if you are using your yoga to attain enlightenment. Don’t worry if you don’t know what enlightenment means. One of the many beauties of yoga is the inquiry it opens up! How could anyone serious about this path hold it against any one else who doesn’t share the same ideas as them? Who is to judge if someone else feels some benefit from yoga but maybe isn’t on a spiritual path [yet]? Who cares if people make products and buy products that enhance their practice? If you love Lululemon for their smooth lycra and reversible outfits, more power to you! And if you prefer to wear a loin cloth for it’s snug tuck, amen! One of the things I love about yoga is that it meets you where you’re at. I just returned from Wanderlust (an epic 4-day yoga throw down) in Squaw Valley. The  variety of people this throw down brought together was extremely diverse and entertaining (to say the least)! Lake Tahoe was vibrating this weekend, people! However yoga is unfolding in the United States today, yogis are a positive bunch with a lot of love to give. Check out this little clip from the weekend:

I returned from Wanderlust inspired and a little clearer on where I am on my path. While I do see my practice as part of my own personal spiritual practice, I also love to have FUN with it. This morning I blended yoga with one of my other loves: Surfing. Seriously? I’ve practiced plenty of different styles of yoga. Some traditional and some decidedly not so. They have yoga for pets these days! Naked yoga. Yoga where you hang from the ceiling. One of my very favorites is AcroYoga where you partner with someone for acrobatics, Thai massage, and yoga… I had a day tandem surfing just a month ago that gave me a taste of blending Acro with Surfing when I went tandem surfing with Bear Woznick:

Blending the things you love rocks. This morning, I got something new! SUP Yoga in Sausalito. Stand-Up-Paddle-Boarding-Yoga. A new way for me to get out on the water. A new way to practice yoga. A new way to find balance. A new way to find bliss… How are you following your bliss? Check out mine this morning. Good times.

Live. Laugh. Love. Jenn is a yoga instructor and life coach pursuing a master’s degree in Holistic Health Education. She is currently being showered with a wealth of knowledge and loves to share.

Visit Jenn @ liveweal.com - Health, Happiness, Prosperity, Well Being.

Surfer, writer, editor, amazing friend, lover of life & a seriously beautiful person … introducing Janna.

“Oh, my God, you are going to LOVE Janna”, my friend Amber said as she was telling me about all of the new people she had met over the past year or so that I was living in India, “Actually, you guys are going to love each other … you both are the same, you know, REALLY happy.”  

Well, my friend was right … Janna and I loved each other from the start. It’s so fun to meet someone and then instantly, you can’t imagine not knowing them (this has been happening to me a lot lately, which I think is a good sign). Janna is so full of life, and yes, as a big fan of laughing and smiling, having someone around that likes to do both those things as much as I do is a beautiful thing.

Not only have I become a fan of Janna, the person, I have also become a fan of Janna, the writer. Super funny, smart and ridiculously honest. Here is one of my favorites … enjoy!

The Awkward Hug  

By Janna Irons via Strange Musings, Awesome Humans, and Nonsense Spewing 

I’m usually pretty good at dodging awkwardness. Or maybe I attract it. Here’s the problem: In places like Hawaii, I run into people from all over the world, who I know with varying degrees of intimacy, who all have a different preferred greeting. People from Hawaii= one-cheek kiss (sometimes accompanied by a post-kiss hug, sometimes not). People from France or Tahiti: two-cheek kiss. Close friends: hug. Work-related acquaintances: sometimes a hug, sometimes a handshake, depending entirely on the situation.

So I run into someone from Tahiti, who’s been living in Hawaii for a while. I go in for the one-cheek/hug, while she opts for the two-cheeker, we kind of have a few awkward half-movements, we almost kiss, then simultaneously try to anticipate what the other will do next, end in a nice “Uh, oh, uh…sorry”, and try to move on without drawing too much attention to that weird excuse for a hello.


Then there’s the I-know-you-from-work-but-we’ve-known-each-other-for-a-while guys. The ones where I go in for the handshake, while he goes for the hug, then feels weird, extends his hand for a shake, while I switch over to hug-mode and he pokes me in the stomach with his outstretched fingers, and we do the weird what’s-going-on dance. It’s all very awkward.

Oh, and then there’s the group introduction to the person who I know pretty well, who I’d normally hug upon greeting, who is being introduced to my co-workers (which is accompanied by firm handshakes), and then it gets to me and I go for the hug, because a handshake seems too formal, but he has an arm outstretched, so I switch over, leaning back an extending an arm, but then he decides a hug would okay, and we do the weird ass-out-hug thing, and then, since we’re in Hawaii, he goes for the one-cheek kiss and it’s strange and ends up misplaced, landing somewhere near my ear, as I turn my head away. It’s usually inelegant and uncomfortable, and everyone is watching and wishing they weren’t, and then we all collectively try to pretend it didn’t happen.

www.jannairons.com 

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Super Mom/Wife, Entrepreneur, Photographer, Fashionista, Blogger, & lover of Fountain Drinks … meet Liz.

Let’s put it this way, there is a very good chance I would not still be in California if I never met Liz … honestly, both our lives might be very different.

Liz was the first friend I ever made in California … we worked together at a restaurant (she was the worst waitress in history; don’t worry, she is very aware of this) and instantly became best friends. We literally did everything together. Our most favorite thing to do was “take drives”. What that meant was get in the car, stop at some fast food place (so that she could get a fountain soda … which, she still loves to this day), then drive on the freeway (almost to Mexico sometimes), listening and singing as loud as we could to Sarah McLachlan … here’s a couple of our all-time favorites: I will not forget you …“To go back to the one who possesses your soul … I threw bitter tears at the ocean, but all that came back was the tide”, & Vox “In the desert of my dreams I saw you there” … or (our all-time), Hold On …”Hold on to yourself, this is gonna hurt like hell” … Holy God. We were dramatic, awesome … and extremely deep.

Long story short, we basically switched lives when we were about 25.

Through our various introductions, let’s just say, “I became part of the Carlsbad, California crowd” that she went to high school with, and she moved back to New York (where I am from) and became best friends with many of my high school friends … and later married Dan, a Long Islander.

I can’t really say what actually would’ve been different if we didn’t meet, but I can say this … I never would have lived on the beach with six of my girlfriends when I was 21, had, not one, but three of Carlsbad’s funnest parties, drove to Texas with an hours notice (I still feel bad for the guy that was with us on that drive … and sometimes wonder if he has recovered; 24 hours of straight Sarah is pretty major), allowed someone to convince me to skip a final exam so that I could go to Tijuana until 6am, or been inspired in every way by such a beautiful person.

Liz is not only raising two amazing children, has a beautiful relationship with her husband, cooks amazing meals, always looks gorgeous (well, maybe because she is, inside and out), and if that wasn’t enough, she finally decided to pursue her dream (that she has talked about since we were 19) of becoming a photographer.

Liz started Liz LaBianca Photography a little over year ago and is basically booked every day (you can see why, when you check out the pictures below) and also has an amazingly honest blog.

I had the pleasure of watching one of her photo shoots this summer, and I was in awe. There is something amazing about watching someone you love do something they love (something they are meant to be doing) … maybe it was because of all the Sarah we have listened to in our lives, but I actually cried.

Liz, I seriously couldn’t love you more or be more proud to have you as an inspiration & friend. ♥ … see, we’re still deep.

Please visit Liz’s website at www.lizlabiancaphotography.com … There is so much more to come!

Liz ♥

My friends are cool week continues … introducing Sara.

“I am totally moving to California for college, USC, I am so excited!” said Sara outside of our chorus room at Center Moriches High School (a small town on Eastern Long Island).

I totally want to too! I am totally going to do it!” I responded, “that will be so cool, we can totally hang out, go the beach” … I said as I imagined my life as one of the characters on 90210 – the original of course.

Well, good news is, we both did move to California, Sara that next year as planned, and me a year later. Although we don’t see each other as much as we thought we would, we have managed to stay in each other’s lives (thank you Facebook) and Sara has continued to inspire from a far with her achievements in media and through the various causes she supports.

Today, let’s just say, +/- 15 years later, I am very happy introduce you to Sara Tekula, and also to plant a wish, a movement that was founded by Sara & Joseph Imhoff (PLEASE check out her website for more information on this very cool project and upcoming film). Please enjoy a little sample from her blog and I encourage you to continue to follow her very busy and meaningful journey.

The Nature Effect: How a Walk Outside Could Improve Your Productivity

By Sara Tekula via her blog @ www.spectekula.com

Today was a day full of meetings. First, headed down to Pacific Radio Group to do an on-air interview on the Maui Breakfast Club Show to promote the upcoming Plant a Wish tour.

Second, had a long sit down at my house with Katie, the woman I am co-producing TEDxMaui with, which was great.

Before she left, we decided to take a short walk around the property I live on – it’s got a field full of beautiful, rare native Hawaiian trees of various ages, a mandala-shaped garden, and other sights. I pinch myself every day. We wandered for a while, filled up our senses and noticed aloud that we began breathing differently. We both had more work ahead of us for later in the day, but the walk felt necessary. Later, after we had parted ways to do our own thing, I noticed something. Even though I had been working from 8am until 5pm straight, the walk in nature allowed me another several more hours of productive brainstorming, some proposal writing, and social networking this evening. Heck, I’m here at 11:00pm writing this blog post, aren’t I?

I swear, I am totally going to bed right after this. However, I firmly believe that we should all take a moment out of the middle of our work day to stop, find a park, walk outside, get our heart rates and retinas back in healthy working order and bask in the natural world.

In Japan, its a prescribed treatment call that Shinrinyoku, or “forest bathing“. Have a look at this NY Times article that says that exposure to plants and parks boosts immunity. It also can help kids with ADHD, according to researcher Frances “Ming” Kuo of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Ming graciously granted me an interview for our  Plant a Wish film and is a huge inspiration for doing the project.

The conclusion? There’s world lot of good that happens to us when we’re outside with our feet on the ground. How often do you get outside during your work day? How often to you bathe in nature? How can you make a small change to make it a priority?

The 50-state tree planting tour project of people planting indigenous trees with their own hands in their own communities. www.plantawish.com

I write. I sing. I play. I work. Not necessarily in that order.

www.spectekula.com

“It’s like no time has passed”

Connecting with people from your past is such an incredible gift. It makes you realize how amazing it is that certain relationships in our lives are just, what they are.  When you are together, you don’t really have to do anything other than be yourself and enjoy each other. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, and no one is concerned with the fact that maybe you didn’t email or call as much as you possibly could have. Those people were brought into your life at one time, and now they are back, it’s like no time has passed … and it’s all good.

I was just talking to two of my girlfriends this morning about this … about how I feel very lucky that many of people from my past have been coming back into my life. I feel lucky for many reasons, but in particular, one reason that I didn’t realize until today.

My old friend from freshman year of college is in town this week, and we literally haven’t seen each other in over 15 years. Over the past week we have been catching up on what has happened in our lives since then, telling stories from college, some of which we both remember and some that one of us has to remind the other one of.

I was compelled to share one of my biggest memories of her and I (that I actually think about often, because to me, this is the moment we instantly become friends) about the time we were going to our first official frat party. There were about 10 girls that we had met the first week of school in our dorm and we all decided that we would go this is party together. We all got ready and walked out of our building in one line heading over to the party. I distinctly remember being really uncomfortable walking in with such a big group … and just as I was having this thought, my new friend turned to me and said “um, yeah, I don’t do the group thing” … I smiled and replied, “…um yeah, seriously, walking into a party with 10 other girls is really my biggest nightmare”. Rather than having a big conversion about why we don’t want to walk in with everyone else, or how snobby/bitchy we potentially sound in saying that, we just got it. We immediately sat on the curb across the street from the fraternity house for a good 30 minutes and talked … then went in when we felt like it, by ourselves. When I reminded her of this story, said “oh my God, I was always like that?” …. “oh my God, I was always like that”. “That’s totally me.”

Yesterday, this same friend was telling me about how she remembers me breaking up with my long-term boyfriend in college and putting this poem “about intuition, being true to yourself…I don’t know, it was about watering the flower or the garden or some shit” (lol) on my wall in a frame. About how I would reference it as I told my friends how important it was for me to take this time out for myself, and how important it was for them to trust their intuition as well. At first I couldn’t remember what she was talking about, then, I instantly remembered the poem, the frame, all of it … then I said to her “oh my God, I was always like that?” …. “oh my God, I was always like that … oh my God, I have always been this annoying?” – totally laughing at myself and realizing that the way I live my life now is not because I am older, that I lived in India, or for any other reason … it’s who I am.

When you haven’t seen someone for say, 15 years, obviously things have changed.  You feel different, you are different … but maybe, not as much as you think. The greater gift in connecting with someone from your past is when they remind you, despite how much you have grown, think you have changed, or experienced through relationships, marriages, divorces, careers, travel, kids, etc … that you, even back then, were always you.

“Blessed”

There is something in this world that is so completely powerful that the only way to explain it is to experience it. It’s actually so powerful, that being around it for a even for few hours (maybe even minutes) can instantly change your life and no matter what kind of place you are in (good, bad, ugly, really ugly), it brings you back to your goodness, back to your power, to your beauty, back to love, back to life, back to YOU!  

It’s not a guy (although, those are nice), a place or a thing … It’s your girlfriends.

I am so blessed to have spent this past weekend with some of my dearest friends … but overall, to have so many wonderful women in my life that support me, love me, and KNOW ME … and remind me of me when I forget … and better yet, let me do the same for them!

So, if you are reading this, reach out to your friends today that you love and love you, and send a little thank you for their support in keeping you, YOU. … Seriously, what’s better than that?!

“we started by asking what’s wrong with the world, & ended up discovering what’s right with it” – I AM (the film)

“Oh my God, that guy/girl still lives at home with his family? … you have to admit, if you live in the U.S., at one point or another you probably have either said this or heard someone else say this, and not in a positive way. 

When I lived in India (1,000,000th time I have said that! lol. I am THAT girl for sure!) my friends would often ask me “what’s the deal with everyone living by themselves in the U.S?” …. hmmmm. “Good question!” As you may know, most families in India live together and it’s kind of odd if a girl and her husband don’t live with his parents (or in rare situations, her parents). Of course this could be challenging, but there are so many cool things about it, many of which have been explained to me over and over by people who live this way. You are always supported.

In contrast, with regards to the “single living style” we have in the U.S. I would try to explain to my friends that for some strange reason if you live your parents after the age of 30 (maybe even 25) in the U.S. it’s almost like you are perceived as unsuccessful in a way and most people leave their homes at 18 (in some cases only to return on occasion for major holidays).  I tried to explain this in many different ways, but they didn’t understand … maybe because it doesn’t really make sense. Why do we think this way? What’s wrong with living with your family and getting the support that comes along with it on a daily basis? hmmmm. Nothing that I can think of! Wouldn’t it would be kind of amazing to know that you will always have love and support around … but somehow, this is considered unsuccessful? (One other side-note … In India, if your parents come to visit you, that usually means they will be there for 1-2 months. I also tried to explain to my friends that when any family member comes to visit you in the U.S. the max duration is between 5-7 days and any longer would drive most people crazy & would be considered inconsiderate… so silly!) 

Well, I saw the documentary I AM last night and the movie reinforced what people in India live by … that not only do we need people, but we are born to support and love each other … and we all so are connected …more than we even realize!  The fact that people in India (& people in many other parts of the world) choose to live with, create a community with, accept, support and love their family everyday (and welcome in other family members to enjoy the same things for more than 5-days at a time) is a pretty cool thing! … and guess what, it’s what we are born to do!

So, maybe moving back in with Mom and Dad is not the answer, but embracing your next family visit is a good place to start (& check out this movie!)… and remember, we are born to LOVE each other. That’s why it makes us feel so good!