The 30 Day Aloha Challenge

Keep-Calm-And-Live-Aloha-2About a month ago, a friend of mine had posted on Facebook that he was doing a “30 Day Aloha Challenge.”  Part of my friend’s long post explained the challenge, “I decided to create the ALOHA ACTION CHALLENGE. I am challenging myself to be more aware of how I put aloha into action each day for 30 days. If anyone else wishes to participate, please feel free to join me and share/post your experiences of Aloha or ways in which you or someone you know has put Aloha into Action! Feel free to tag me in your post, because I would love to read about the many ways that Aloha can be expressed and shared everyday! Aloha is a practice and a way of life, much like yoga, hula, meditation, tai chi, etc.”

So there it was, I didn’t think much of it at first.  I checked his posts the first few days, and soon I began to think about the Facebook challenges that I had participated in.  First, there was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and then, the 22 Push-ups for 22 days to bring awareness to those who committed suicide as a result of having PTSD.  While these challenges were great because they brought awareness to the need to find a cure, it didn’t involve any action on my part.  THEN, I thought, there really isn’t a good reason NOT to do it.  In the end, I decided to blog about this because it was easier than I thought it would be, AND the results were absolutely eye-opening.  Here are some highlights and insights that I gained from this challenge.

  • In just the first few days, I decided to focus on family.  I surprised my Grandma at the care home with a smoothie and surprised my son with an Icee.  Just to see the smiles on their faces from a small gesture felt great, it already made me want to do more.
  • Observing people who provide a service, cashiers, tellers, and waiters, made me realize that we take for granted that, most of these people, no matter what is going on in their lives, put on a smile and perform acts of Aloha everyday, all day long.
  • It makes a great difference when you smile and say, “hi” or “thank you” to someone who appears to be having a rough day.  They immediately seem lighter and a little happier.
  • When we have so many material things that clutter our home, a wonderful Action of Aloha is to share your superfluous abundance with others.   I cleaned out our bathroom with my kids and gave extra unused toiletries to the YMCA because they were collecting to make goody bags for the homeless.  Through this act, we uncluttered our space and helped another person out.
  • I started to realize that this challenge was helping me to look for the positive in the world around me and look for more ways to create positivity as well.
  • I often avoid homeless people, but one day, my husband and I ended up helping a very educated and polite homeless man while we were waiting to cross the street.  He was in a wheelchair and my husband gave him a push to the nearby library and I shared the breakfast we had just bought to take home.  He changed my views and showed me that there are as many nice and scary homeless people as there are nice and scary people who have homes to live in.
  • A very important Action of Aloha is to live joyfully.
  • In a situation where someone is annoying you or being rude, the best thing to do is to make the most generous assumption about the person and the situation.  For example, if you’re driving and someone cuts you off, you can assume they have to pee really badly.
  • Forgiveness is a valuable Action of Aloha.
  • Receiving the unconditional love of a dog is one of my favorite kinds of Aloha.
  • Taking care of a healing family member reminds us that we need Aloha from one another from time to time.
  • My kids have started to think of their own Actions of Aloha
  • When you are REALLY MAD &. FRUSTRATED, sing the intro to The Lion King at the top of your lungs!”NAANTS IGONYAMA BKTHIBABAAAAAA!!!”🦁
  • When Actions of Aloha becomes a habit, bad days don’t get you down because you know you have enjoyed so many days filled with ALOHA!

When I heard, “30 Day Aloha Action Challenge,” I thought it was going to make me tired sharing all this Aloha with everyone.  However, that’s not what it’s about.  It’s taking whatever you do everyday and making a conscious choice to just do it with a different intention in mind, an intention of Aloha.  I also learned that it’s not about trying to get attention for what you do, but thinking about what you are giving your attention to.  When you are trying to get attention for what you do, you are trying to figure out what others expect from you.  Conversely, I found it much more joyful to give my attention to Aloha from the inside out, simply sharing my own joy with others, independent of their reaction.  I found that most times, it makes them happy, at worst, you haven’t made anything worse than it already was.  I encourage you to try the challenge for any amount of days and see how it transforms your perception of yourself and the world around you.

The Healing Power of Writing

The Expressive Writing Workshop is a serendipitous manifestation of my authentic journey. In November of 2015 I was diagnosed with cutaneous lupus. It was prescribed by my doctor that I minimize my exposure to UV rays and manage my stress levels. As a result, I lessened my involvement at the family accounting firm to pursue my joy of writing. I had a rock solid plan! Well, I thought I had a rock solid plan. I was determined to send impressive pitches to local magazines and become a freelance writer. I had a few jobs, and then it was “crickets.”

I knew I had to keep creating, not just for the benefit of others, but also for myself. I googled “writing therapy” and spoke to a writer-friend on the subject. I found that Dr. James W. Pennebaker was the go-to expert on the subject. I immediately purchased his little book called Expressive Writing, Words that Heal (co-written by Dr. John F. Evans), and soon began to do the writing exercises in the book. The findings of Dr. Pennebaker’s 30 years of research validated why I enjoyed writing so much – writing emotionally AND physically improves overall wellness. Not only did I feel better after writing, but I also gained new awareness about some of the challenges in my life. My next thought was, “I have to share this with others!”

I began to read more books by authors that were in the medical, psychological, neuroscience, spiritual, and creative fields. I combined all of this new knowledge with my life’s experiences and accumulated wisdom from my childhood, living abroad, illness, and my most recent emergence as a writer, and produced a workshop that aims to assist others in mapping out their own struggles and finding new wisdom. As a result I created the following process:

Steps to Emotional Wellness

SHINE THE LIGHT ON YOUR INTERIOR LIFE – Go inward and identify what prevents you from thriving.

WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONS THAT NEED HEALING? Acknowledge and engage with these emotions. Tell your story of sadness, anger, frustration, resentment, guilt, hurt, jealousy, fear….Whatever! Write your story UNCENSORED.

RECOGNIZE THE BEAUTY IN THE STRUGGLE – What have you learned? How has it made you stronger? How can you do better? What do you want your life to look like going forward?

REPEAT AS NEEDED!

The above process could take 20 minutes for some challenges and 20 years for others. I’ve seen that, at first, there may be some very painful stories to face that we have not looked at for a very long time. However, over time, the more this process is maintained, the more of a habit it becomes to search for wisdom when we are faced with new obstacles. In other words, don’t expect life to get easier through this process, because, we can never predict the hardships that may come our way. Instead, you will habitually look for the lessons and wisdom when they do come or at least be able to stand in solidarity and compassion with others who share similar hardships.

Just like yoga, meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet, expressive writing is a another wellness tool to assist in taking care of our whole selves. This has become a spring board for many new projects I am creating to strengthen our emotional intelligence that involve taking this expressive writing into the creative genres of poetry and storytelling. It is the beginning of a brand new journey, and I am full of excitement to see what the universe has in “store-y” for all of us!

For more information and upcoming workshops go to the One Lucky Local Facebook page.

Weight Loss and Life-Long Health Goes Beyond Nutrition and Exercise

 

The Cabbage Soup Diet, Jenny Craig, The Hot Dog, Egg, and Some Other Thing I Can’t Remember Diet – like many women, I’ve tried all kinds of diets to keep the weight off.  Never being successful, until now, I learned the most important thing about losing weight and keeping it off.  I learned that no matter what, the change had to be made with my self-worth first.  I have to believe everyday that the work is done in this order – Spirit, Mind, and Body.  The body will reflect what lives in the spirit and mind. How I lost my weight and increased my energy has everything to do with habits I found necessary for me to live a happy life.  Here are some of the adjustments I made in my perspective to accomplish more than just weight-loss.

Goal Setting
The managing trainer (more like a life coach), Kimi Morton, at Egan’s Fit Body Bootcamp, says, “What you can measure, you can manage.”  In other words, we can’t just say that we want to lose weight.  If we say exactly how many pounds we want to lose, set a deadline, and detail what actions we will take to get there, we can be laser focused on accomplishing our goals.  Making it an easy bite size goal is important too, we need to be able to meet our goals because that is what is going to make us feel awesome and ready to set the next step to the ultimate “Big Dream” goal.  For myself, it was, I will lose 1-2 pounds a week to lose 5 pounds in a month by exercising at least 5 times a week.  My husband and I now do this for our financial goals by saying how much we will save per month so we can take a Japan trip with the whole family next year.  I also apply this to how many hours and pages I will cover in my study material to pass the CPA exam.  “Eat That Frog!” by Brian Tracy recommended by Kimi, helped tremendously.  I highly recommend this book if you want to learn to prioritize and have many things, like I do, that you would like to accomplish.

Have a Support Group and Surround Yourself With People Smarter Than You
I most certainly could not have met my weight loss goal if I didn’t have people to hold me accountable.  By having a small group of people after the same goal, you have no choice but to be accountable for your actions.  If you have to report to people about how much progress you’re making, if you stick to your meal plan, and they notice if you aren’t going to your workout, you will be less likely to fall off the wagon.  Also, by having trainers teach me about metabolism and protein and carbohydrate ratios was eye-opening.  

I work in an accounting firm and during tax season, I got smart and allowed others to help me.  Half way through the season I went for lomilomi massage treatment and hired a personal chef.  Just doing these two things lifted such a weight off my shoulders.  I was able to eat healthy with the help of the personal chef.  It was one of the roughest tax seasons we had in a long time, but I felt clear-minded and had enough energy to pull me through the season.  I used to pride myself in doing everything myself. Now, I know it is best for people to help one another by doing what they love.  I am able to share my light by helping people through my career in accounting and love of writing.  By allowing friends to help me with my healing and nutritional needs, I am assisting them in sharing their light as well.  This exchange of helping one another, to me, is the meaning of true abundance!
Reward Your Future Self
The wonderful side effect of proper goal setting and having a support group is being more productive without feeling run down.  I have also picked up a new favorite phrase that keeps me from procrastinating, which is, “reward your future self.”  I got this from Pualena Pakele & Cabot on her “Hot Better Pop” podcast with Kimi Morton (Check out this podcast if you’re interested in life hacks, nutrition, beauty, productivity, unicorns, etc.).  So now, every time I think I am tired and I can just do something later, for example, prepping my breakfast and the kids’ after school snacks the night before, I think about whether I’m rewarding or punishing my future self. This is usually enough to keep me from leaving it to be done the next morning.  This means I always have my 5 a.m. workout clothes on the bathroom counter so I don’t have to decide what to wear at 4:30 a.m.

Cheat Meals (Joy) Are (Is) Essential
That’s right!  I must have a guilt-free cheat meal or two on the weekends.  I LOVE FOOD!  I have certainly learned to love eating cleaner simply because it makes me feel better. However, my husband and I love good sushi, Italian food, and gelato! Not only is it better in the long run to have a sustainable diet that the body is used to, but it’s also necessary to have it as part of a joyful life.  Food is an important part of our culture, brings family and friends together, and used in celebrations.  Therefore, we have to be able to live with food and enjoy it without any guilt, otherwise, chocolates, wine, and pasta will not get the full attention and appreciation it deserves.  Now that’s sad!  So eat healthy and work hard, but balance it with decadence and play!

Bless EVERYTHING!
This is the biggest lesson of all.  Going back to Spirit, Mind and Body.  We can bless our spirit and mind through meditation and learning about things that bring us joy.  We can also bless our bodies through exercise and putting fresh, non-processed foods into our bodies.  It doesn’t have to stop there.  When, I do work for a client, cook food for my family, speak to another, clean my house, I stop and ask myself what kind of energy am I putting into my action and words.   We have a big house and I sometimes catch myself thinking that the cleaning is never ending.  So, at that point I switch my thoughts to gratitude, because when I do, I realize that when I am gratefully cleaning my home, I am blessing it, and when you clean a home that is a blessing rather than a burden, it becomes more beautiful to look at.  Now, blessing is slowly becoming more of a habit and suddenly grumpy clients are kinder, clothes get folded more neatly, food gets better prepared and my physical self is also much improved.  I’m still working on “blessing” our 6 bedroom house, or perhaps I just need to embrace the mess.  Anyways, everything is always a work in progress.  

So, I guess the moral of this story is, if you want to improve something, be grateful for what you have and BLESS IT!!
 Down 20 lbs.and 8% body fat