Mindfulness Begins with Observation

The Little Things? The Little Moments? They aren’t little.

John Kabat-Zinn

Majority of our lives are made up of the small, the mundane, the unnoticeable. Hollywood and the shape of modern American society have set expectations that life is full of large noticeable moments. Imagery of sun glinting off our smiles indicate health and stress free living. I don’t know about you, but when I step out the door I am not taking any moment to pause. I typically am concerned with keeping the toddler from running straight across the street to pet the neighbors dog (cars be damned!) or the overzealous puppies from darting out the door.

Photography, videos and advertisements have taught us what perfection should look like. Social media has brands for all parts of life from hot mess moms to Pinterest moms. When is the last time you saw a mom with messy hair, sleep deprivation and pajama clad wandering the late night market for cold medicine for a kid on social media as the new trend?

I call bullshit. What all of that has done is set us up for unrealistic expectations so someone else can promote their thing (which I don’t fault anyone for promoting their thing). However, that is not an accurate representation of daily life. Life is messy, chaotic, confusing, and emotional. There are productive and focused moments. There are moments where you lose your train of though because the voices of Donald and Goofy float in from another room accompanied by a child’s giggles … this is a moment. A real, live beautiful moment. Did it derail my train of thought, yes. Is it worth hearing his laughter and joy? Absolutely.

When I was younger I was so into the flow of things that I got in trouble for being different. I wanted to sit and watch the sun on a leaf instead of being in cheer. That wasn’t the image for girls my age so off to cheer I went. Social Imagery has a powerful impact on perceptions and expectations. These perceptions and expectations can take the place of personal realities and norms if we are not mindful of our truth.

Gorgeous photography, trending news, apps and the like are fascinating. They serve as a distraction from our everyday and give us things to discuss with co-workers and acquaintances which can help with relationship building. However, the distractions can warp our perceptions of ourselves.

Mindfulness assists us in bringing us back to our life and our moments. When we accept that our life will have more small moments than large a relief can wash over us. Carrying a constant expectation that life is going to have a string of major changes/announcements/moments is asking ourselves to constantly be ON. Instead of being ON, be mindful.

Cultivating a practice of mindfulness will increase the likelihood of finding the opportunities that are in front of us as they are instead of looking for opportunities with a preconceived notion of how they should appear. The more we can focus on the moment and see it for what it is the easier our life will be. Removing preconceptions from our lives is a game changer.

Suddenly, we aren’t worried about doing things the way someone else said we should but finding the solution for ourselves that aligns or fits with who we are and how our life flows. Mindfulness matters. Mindfulness brings awareness to ourselves of what is or is not working. By identifying how we are feeling in the moment we identify what isn’t working. Once we acknowledge what isn’t working then we can make the shifts and changes needed for peaceful living.

Simple ways to begin mindful living:

  • Observe how you feel when asked to commit to something. What is the first answer that runs through your mind? What is the answer that left your mouth? Do they match?
  • Observe if you have a default answer to any commitment question. Are you the person that will always say yes or are you the one people ask for a short time and then stop because they know the answer is no? If you have an auto-default on answering, why is that?
  • Observe your physical body when speaking with people or doing tasks. Do some people leave your body feeling tight and sore? Are you relaxed with most interactions? What do you think your body is telling you about your interactions?
  • Observe your mental state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Does a task wear you out or leave you energized? Do you get grumpy and bitchy or remain calm? Is there dread or peace associated with this task?
  • Observe your emotional state when doing tasks or interacting with people. Are you worn out at the thought of having to interact with this person? Does a social event fill you with dread or peace? Do holidays have you buying a bottle of whiskey and making an escape plan before going somewhere? Does this invitation feel like an obligation you must do or fill you with joy?

Pick one place and begin your observations with mindfulness. No judgement just observe. I recommend that you take the time to journal your observations. This will allow you to notice trends and patterns.

Take a breathe. Reflect. Be Mindful and reclaim your life.

Mindfulness & Words

Just for today, pause before you say your words. Take one small moment to reflect on the words that are in your mind.

  • Do these words feel heavy or light?
  • What emotions do the words convey?
  • Are these words making you feel good about yourself?
  • If these words were said to you, how would you feel?

This exercise in mindfulness can change so much in your life. Words are the most powerful thing we have at our disposal. Our words convey emotion, truth, reality, perception and so much more.

Each of us has said something and instantly regretted it. If you had taken a moment to speak, would you have uttered those words or changed the way you said what you needed to say?

Words shape the world around us. Our children believe and internalize what they see and hear. What they hear you say to them, about them, shapes their perception of their self. This perception further shapes their self image and relationships with their self and others.

Your relationships are shaped by both words and actions. Do your words and actions match? Are you in alignment with your thoughts and expressions?

Taking a mindful moment before speaking to check in with yourself and see if what you are saying and what you are feeling match can change everything. If you are saying yes to a commitment, but your body and mind are screaming no through feelings such as anxiety, tension, irritability, etc. Then why are you saying yes?

Use these clues to find truth in your life. If each of us used mindful moments to connect with ourselves and consider how our words and actions do or do not match, the world would be a better place. We can start making profound changes with little moments.

Honest with ourself is the most profound change we can make. Understanding that we really do have choices and freedoms is profound. Matching our words to our actions is the best gift we can give ourselves and our society.

For one hour, I want you to practice mindful moments in speaking. This could be the most terrifying, exhilarating, freeing experience of your life. Be completely honest with yourself if your words and emotions line up.

If they do, great keep doing this and making sure you are living your most authentic self, but take the check in one step further. What are you conveying into the world? Is it anger and hatred or loving kindness and compassion? What do you want to convey with your words and actions? Hope or Despair? Change or compliance?

If your words and actions don’t match up ask yourself why you are not allowing that to happen? Change your filter and ask yourself why you do this? Why do you keep your words and your actions from matching? Journal. Meditate. Take a run. Do what you need to and dig into your truth. Discover the core reason you do not do this. Once you know the reason, then you can take the next step into making the change to bring your words and actions into alignment with yourself.

With Mindfulness & Words,

Mindfulness & Self Care

Today is interesting. I woke up feeling pretty wrecked from my monthly cycle, but still have to mom, teach school and coordinate life for three other humans. As such, I am trying a gentler flow for the day. We will see how it goes as focus is difficult with all the distractions and feeling pretty wrecked physically.

For those who don’t know what it is like for women or who are blessed to have gentle cycles; a bad month can feel flu like with the aches and pains, along with your lower abdomen constantly cramping and a tight lower back that feels like you worked out too hard or lifted something the wrong way. This is accompanied by headache, neck ache, moodiness and the constant feeling of having to use the bathroom. Then there is the expectation that you are to keep performing at top level instead of giving your body the rest it needs at this time.

However, since the current structure doesn’t allow for days off when we feel horrid mindfulness helps save the day. By being mindful of how my body is feeling I can review my task lists and see what I can rearrange. Today, physical labor is off the list. I will focus on the tasks that are gentle on my body and if things go well get to bed early.

Mindful moment. I pause to breathe and listen to my body. What is it telling me? I hurt, I am tired, my sinus’ are bothering me and I am thirsty. Okay, how do I remedy this? Thirsty, that will help with the aches and pains if I am properly hydrated. One of my favorite drinks is hot water with honey, fresh lemon and fresh smashed ginger. If I am not in the mood for something sweet I leave out the honey. So off I go to put the kettle on.

Teaching my children has revolved around the sofa and my heating pad. We are taking turns between group class topic discussion and individual time. A snack tray on the kitchen counter to handle the kids nibbles means that I do not have to get up every five seconds to feed someone. Now, art lessons give them a creative outlet and a break for myself.

Self care isn’t always easy, especially when we have responsibilities. Utilizing mindfulness can tell us what we need. Knowledge of our life and stepping back to objective in what we really need to accomplish versus what we feel we have to do can assist us in managing our day. This will help us with responsibilities and self care. Balance is hard. Sometimes we need to take it moment by moment.

While learning to embrace mindfulness and self care it is okay to take things moment to moment or task to task. Give yourself permission to be mindful and practice self care while you handle your responsibilities. Incorporating self care and mindfulness will slowly begin to shift your perspective, which will create subtle shifts in your life.

Cheers to self care and mindfulness,

The Art of Relaxing

Not everyone knows how to relax. For some, attempting to sit still, relax and enjoy a mindless activity like TV is absolutely anxiety inducing. The list of what we aren’t accomplishing is running through our minds and the fear of being unloveable, not valued, and useless rises within us causing anxiety and panic. There are a lot of reasons that this can arise in adults. Mostly, it has to do with your childhood and early relationships.

Fast forward years to decades later and you are an adult trying to enjoy some down time. It is impossible and causes so many side affects. Anger and resentment that everyone around you can chill out but you can’t. So you are working on chores and getting more and more upset that others are not seeing the messes because you don’t want to look too closely as to why you can’t do what everyone else does.

Learning to relax is a struggle. I resent that I had been taught that my value in a relationship is tied to what I do for others. It makes unstructured quality time so difficult for me. However, I am fortunate to have people around me who understand the struggle and why I have this problem.

Gently, my partner is helping me with this. for months he has been encouraging, sometimes pushing, me to take time after the kids are in bed for myself. Just a small amount each time. It hasn’t been an easy path to try and learn to just let chores go and focus on my wants and needs.

Being asked what I want to do for myself is so very difficult. I wait for it to be devalued, so sharing it is terrifying. This weekend my partner got me to admit something I had been wanting to do. I have been wanting to rewatch a lifelong movie series that I love, but I haven’t been wanting to say anything because I know that he dislikes the first movie in the series.

Support can be amazing. Being reminded you are loved is amazing. We started the marathon and will continue through the coming week. These little things can make the world of difference to someone who was taught that their only reason to be loved was in acts of service.

Life is about finding the peace within. Emotional healing is about understanding and finding the peace within. Mindfulness and meditation can really help to find those. Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes a day. Do breathe work. Take a long hot shower. Do one thing that you can focus on for that period of time. Notice how you feel. Make a note of any memories or emotions that arise.

One moment at a time healing can happen.
In Peace,

Mindfulness has helped me to learn about the things that bring me discomfort. By bringing awareness to my emotions and the source of said emotions, I have been able to make changes to bring peace to my life. Peace is a wonderful goal to have for our lives.

With peace I find clarity for my life. When I am in a place of peace life is less overwhelming. Less overwhelmed, means less anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms. Mindfulness combats depression and anxiety because you are focusing on the present moment; not reliving the past or worrying about the future.

Living in the moment is so very difficult. Corporate culture has us trained to multi-task. The school system teaches children to sit still, be quiet, and conform. Judgement surrounds us from all sources. Constant input is received from technology and noise. Expectation to be constantly available through technology makes it difficult to relax.

Prior to quarantine, I was finding myself overwhelmed with obligations and the pressure to stand up certain societal expectations. Quarantine forced a change in lifestyle that I welcome. I welcomed the chance to slow down, not the reason behind it.

This last year gave us a chance to be honest about what we were and were not missing from our lives. It gave us the opportunity to be very honest with ourselves about our wants and needs without judgement from others. There was a freedom and intimacy to that honesty.

Since then, we have had a cascade of changes in our lives that have brought about healing and growth. It has been a beautiful and difficult journey for each of us. Together, we have worked on ourselves and our family. Each day we grow closer.

This coming year will bring more changes, because that is what life does. Hopefully, we can continue to build on those changes and create the life that we want.


Finding my rhythm is a struggle. I struggle with what my heart tells me is right and true for myself versus the ghosts of the past and current expectations on my behavior and actions. Where do these expectations come from?

A lot of the expectations that I hold for myself come from the first two decades of my life. The vital time when we are experiencing loving relationships. How those relationships interact, communicate, and express love are fundamental to how we perceive ourselves and our relationships as adults.

As I try to live my authentic self and truly live my best life; I am haunted by voices, images and experiences from my past. I spent so much of my childhood being told that how I wanted to do things was wrong. The things I loved where ridiculed, put down as a phase or deemed inappropriate due to my gender.

My first marriage was horrible. I was pushed into marrying someone I didn’t want to marry to gain my families love and acceptance. He proved to be a controlling narcissist who gaslit me at every turn. Every time I was on the verge of making a dream happen I was either forced to walk away from it to prove I loved him or in the case of the books I had written, my computer suddenly had corrupted files.

During my childhood I lived in fear. I lived being blamed for my families unhappiness and being told I owed them certain behaviors because of their sacrifices for me. Fundamentally, I feel unloveable and guilt ridden if I do anything that is not of service to others.

Nine years into a healthy relationship, I am finally learning to sit down each evening for me time. Do I still feel anxious and guilt ridden? A lot of the time I do. I know that I need to fill my well to be healthy for myself and my family. Does self care come with great difficulty? Yes, yes it does.

I am determined to use the support I have to embrace my truth and my needs. The peaceful feeling of “I am enough” and/or “I did enough this day” is how I know that I am living in my authenticity and not acting or reacting out of emotions.

As people, it is so difficult not to get stuck in emotions. Feeling your feelings and acknowledging them are vital to understanding where you are in your current life situation. The difficulty is to not be stuck in a reactive or expectant mode.

I have been using the practice of mindfulness to bring me to a pause when I find myself overwhelmed or suddenly surging with emotions. Begin by taking deep breathes until that tightness in your body begins to subside and you no longer feel squeezed from all directions.

Then just observe what you are thinking. Are you thinking about what just happened? Is there a memory from your past pushing its way into the present? Do you hear the voice of someone criticizing or scolding you?

Breathe again as you make these observations. If you see the past coming into the present, acknowledge that you have some things to consider and unpack from the past that are affecting your present. If you have time writing in your journal or jot some notes down about it so you can bring your awareness back to this moment, but know you can make space to visit these memories later.

Now, what is happening in the present moment? Respond to the situation when you are not filled with overwhelming emotions. Emotions are wonderful, but don’t let them control you otherwise you will be in for a roller coaster in most situations. Honestly, emotional regulation or lack thereof is why we see such extremes in toddlers.

Make space for yourself to be. The more you relax then you can be yourself. Find peace. Enjoy happiness.

Dreaming the Dream

Being more self reliant and less reliant on big corporations has long been a dream of mine. One of the ways I am currently doing this is by making as much of my food as possible versus buying everything pre-made. Let me tell ya, having to decide if I want cookies enough to bake them certainly has curbed snacking. I am also reading to maximize the space I have for a vegetable garden this year. I have had small ones in the past and failed pot gardens, so this will be a new experience for me.

I had planned on getting into canning this year by taking field trips to the you pick farms. We would get a family fun day and then a couple of days of canning, baking and freezing. Which is more bonding and homeschooling. Hopefully, it will be safe enough for us to go to the you picks this year. Otherwise, I will see what the local farms are doing to sell their items and plan around that.

Eggs. I go through an insane amount of eggs; seriously I think we did 15 eggs for breakfast for 7 today, plus potatoes. Finding a local farmer to help us both out may be a good idea. I can’t do chickens where I am due to zoning and space issues. When I get the acreage that I have always dreamed of, then I can revisit the idea of chickens.

A Food Processor has entered my life. The adventure this week will be in learning to use it to full capacity. When I have used one before, it has been for making the baby food or salsa and dips. I have always loved working with good knives and cutting boards. However, there are certain things I want to do that this will help immensely; such as making my own flours. I had to go gluten free last year, so I am now ready to take my baking back. I have missed it, but didn’t do as much due to the differences in gluten vs. gluten free baking.

Embracing dreams one day at a time

Christmas season 2020

This has been a unique holiday season for all. While we have missed seeing relatives. We took advantage of the changesto evaluate what was and was not working for our normal holiday routine.

One of the things that has bothered me the last few years has been the pressure of gifting. A gift should be given because you want to give it not because you felt as though you had to purchase a gift. Frankly, a lot of what we had been doing felt like social obligation that I did not agree too.

The most difficult parts of the season was resetting the gifting expectation with family and friends.while we appreciate everyone, it was out of control. A hated feeling pressured to spend massive amounts of money, or that I was a bad parent for limiting the amount of stuff my kids received.

This year my kids got one big gift to share, then they each got a video game, a toy and a book. Plus, Santa stopped by and left a single toy per kid today. They were ecstatic with their gifts A huge boxes was noticing they were not over stimulated or overwhelmed by a ton of stuff. So their behavior wastheir normal selves.

After a difficult conversation of figuring out what we were doing out of obligation and truly considering what we wanted to do – an intense amount of stress came off of us. It wasn’t perfect, as we learned today when we found ourselves stressing over the perfect meal and perfect atmosphere. Changing a lifetime of habits and mindsets takes a bit of doing but I am proud of what we did achieve this season.

We truly began to create some family traditions, personal boundaries and communication about what we really want our days to look like. Each day is a new opportunity to evaluate our reality vs. What calls to our heart.

Due yourselfthe gift of self honesty. Stop moving from one obligation to the next as if you were an autopilot. Of an obligation does not bring you joy or better your life ask yourself: what would you rather be doing? Then embrace that.

Happy Holiday! Irisa

Winter Solstice 2020

It would probably be helpful to introduce the Winter Solstice or Yule. Yule originates in the Norse culture and is held around December 21st; astrological timings change this slightly.  Typically, this was celebrated over twelve days and oathing was common during this time.  A variety of deities were honored, the most common being Freyr, Thor, Odin, Baldur and Skadhi (ADF).

Modern neo-pagans continue to encourage the return of the sun during this festival.  This is often celebrated from December 20th through December 31st, some people practice for one day, others three and yet others twelve.  

As many secular religions do not work during their holiest of holy days, it is considered the same with Yule and modern neo-pagans.  Although, the structure of modern society makes it near impossible for modern neo-pagans to not work for an entire twelve days modern practitioners manage to find a way to balance the demands of life and the desire to spend this time with family and friends as was done in days of old.

For many modern neo-pagans this high day begins by celebrating Mother’s Night vigil.  This is an all night vigil that begins the honoring of ancestors.  Conversely, this high day celebration is often concluded on New Year’s Eve with a large party with friends and family (Hulsman, 2010).

Winter Solstice 2020 was the most unique one of my life. The energy was from an astrological event dubbed “the Great Conjunction” between Jupiter and Saturn. It was the first time in 800 years these planets have aligned. In the weeks prior to Winter Solstice I found myself returning to my spiritual practice in a way that soothed my soul.

After spending the day making incense and bath bombs with the kids, we lit our Winter Solstice candles. After inviting the return of the Sun into our lives, we spoke of the meaning of Solstice and traditions from different cultures. Then my partner and I cracked open a bottle of wine and sat by the fire reminiscing and sharing stories with our kids.

Later, everyone else slept and I did as much of a Solstice Vigil that I could. I am not a late night person, so staying up all night doesn’t work for me. Sleepy, but happy and feeling the hope knowing that the darkest of the season is behind us and the renewal of light brings rebirth to our world.

May the Solstice Season and Holiday Spirit find its way to you, bringing hope, peace, prosperity, friendship and love.

The Passion Project

Focusing on a niche for this blog has been extraordinarily difficult for me. The original intent for this blog was an outlet for my passion for writing. So, for the next turn of the wheel of time, I am going to focus on writing each day. I have a passionate soul with a variety of interests. I do not want to limit myself to just one for the moment. Mindfulness will still be a topic, as that is at the core of my personal ethics of “Know Thyself”.

I look forward to following my path of passion, exploration and personal journey for my writing. Lately, my mindfulness has taken me back to my love of culinary creations, baking (exploration of gluten free), homeschooling, suburban homesteading, DIY crafting, DIY home improvements, and motorcycle rebuilding to name a few.

Here is to following our passion and learning about ourselves,