Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011 Hello 2012



This past year has taught me many valuable lessons and through it I have seen myself struggle, stumble, regain balance and grow. For all that has happened I am grateful. The challenges were daunting at the time, the lessons learned are priceless and will stay with me in all my years to follow.

Along with the challenges and growth there were many wonderful experiences as well to look back upon. Moving to Las Vegas has been a tremendous gift to me. There is so much more to living here than I would have ever imagined. Great trips to the strip - amazing hikes - making new friends - trying new restaurants and foods - the list goes on.

The mountains out here give me perspective and help maintain a certain mental balance. When I feel concerned about the future, or I get stuck dwelling on the past, it is time to take a good long look at the mountains. To remind myself that what I am thinking on is temporary, as most things are, and to let it go. To return back to the present moment, that everything will be just as it is meant to be.

-Nicola Byrne

Ask yourself this question:  "Will this matter a year from now?"
--Richard Carlson, writing in Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Morning Hike

I'm a big proponent of getting out into nature to feel more at peace. Today I went on a hike at Calico Basin near Red Rock. The hike was named Guardian Angel Pass. It felt appropriate this week ... 

When we reached the highest point in the hike, I saw several rocks placed on top of a boulder. The boulder was red so the white rocks stood out a bit. They were holding down a piece of laminated paper.


As incongruous as it may seem the piece of paper was a translation of the Buddhist Heart Sutra.


THE HEART SUTRA

Om Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom the Lovely, the Holy !

Avalokita, the Holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the Wisdom which has gone beyond.
He looked down from on high, He beheld but five heaps, and He saw that in their own-being they were empty.
Here, O Sariputra,
form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form ;
emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form,
the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness.
Here, O Sariputra,
all dharmas are marked with emptiness ;
they are not produced or stopped, not defiled or immaculate, not deficient or complete.
Therefore, O Sariputra,
in emptiness there is no form nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness ;
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind ; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind ; No sight-organ element, and so forth, until we come to :
No mind-consciousness element ; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to : There is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path.
There is no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment.
Therefore, O Sariputra,
it is because of his non-attainmentness that a Bodhisattva, through having relied on the Perfection of Wisdom, dwells without thought-coverings. In the absence of thought-coverings he has not been made to tremble,
he has overcome what can upset, and in the end he attains to Nirvana.
All those who appear as Buddhas in the three periods of time fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect Enlightenment because they have relied on the Perfection of Wisdom.
Therefore one should know the prajnaparamita as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth -- for what could go wrong ? By the prajnaparamita has this spell been delivered. It runs like this :
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.
( Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all-hail ! -- )
This completes the Heart of perfect Wisdom.
(Translated by E. Conze)


After continuing on we came to the Guardian Angel carved into one of the rocks. The hike leader says no one knows who did the carving and it is good luck to touch the angel. I am happy to have a little more good luck in my life.


It is amazing the variety of things there are to do living in Las Vegas. I feel very fortunate to live here.

-Nicola Byrne

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
--John Muir

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday's Sunrise

I'm starting out my day sitting at the kitchen table listening to Sixto make little huffy yaps at nothing, having a cup of coffee and looking at the sky change from night to day. It is a beautiful transition, amazing blues and pinks and yellows. A desert sunrise is a special thing indeed.

So is my the delicious pumpkin spice coffee from Trader Joe's that I get to enjoy this morning. I love October and the fall when flavors change to spice and colors change to orange and yellow.

Yesterday I thought I was going to have a very hard day, I woke up with anxiety and battled it with some cardiovascular exercise. There was a very challenging situation I had to work on and it was creating this anxiety. My inclination was to postpone the whole thing.

My friend would not allow that to happen though. Then another one jumped up to help as well. Thanks to both of my friends the three of us accomplished a huge undertaking in just a couple of hours. Afterwards I felt lighter, the anxiety was gone, my outlook was and still is so much brighter and instead of feeling trepidation I am filled with gratitude and peace.

Friends really do make the load lighter. Whatever kind of load it is be it physical or mental ... friendship helps you carry it and set it down somewhere else.

Today is going to be a good day.
-Nicola Byrne


If I had to sum up Friendship in one word, it would be Comfort.
--Terri Guillemets

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Today's Gmail Inbox Messages

Today I found an old email from Rhonda Byrne's site and a new email from Tut.com waiting for me. Having not had computer access somehow I missed the Rhonda Byrne site email until today. Or I was meant to see it today and not sooner.
From The Secret Daily TeachingsNever let a day pass without looking for the good, feeling the good within you, praising, appreciating, blessing, and being grateful.
Make it your life commitment, and you will stand in utter awe of what happens in your life.
 
May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne
The Secret... bringing joy to billions
Great timing for me to see that.

And from Tut.com in my inbox a cute message that made me smile:
How about, Nicola, next time you go to work, the mall, or a labyrinth,you glide, slide, and twirl a bit? Wink, smile, and wave? Dip, bend, and high-five?Strut, saunter, and beam?
Just a bit?
Teeny, tiny?
The Universe
There are lots of positive messages if we look for them. Some aren't as obvious but they are there as well.

-Nicola Byrne

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Starting Over Again

I'm starting over again ... in a new home - on my own. During this time when fears, doubts, emotional pain and confusion try to get a foothold I am grateful to have this blog to direct my focus elsewhere.


There have been many reasons I have been unable to post for a while. The silence did not mean I had forgotten. In fact often I continued to scan my day for things to write of. Experiences. People. Questions. Answers. Lots of ideas would come up and drift away.


Now however it is time to dust myself off, dust off my keyboard and start to focus on the good stuff again. I know I can do it and it is important I choose to do so. Sinking down into a state of depression won't help me and it is a very destructive state.

Here's to a new start ... an a new day. Every one is a chance to learn, grow ... and in this case to heal.


I'll end with some gratitude. We can never have too much.



  • I am grateful I came to live in Las Vegas.
  • I am grateful for all the friends and family that support me.
  • I am grateful to have a home.
  • I am grateful to be healthy and strong.
  • I am grateful for all I have learned and experienced.

Gratefully,
-Nicola Byrne


Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. 
--William Shakespeare









Monday, September 5, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Thirty-Seven ... Three Interesting Questions

I have had a busy and congested few days and there have been many, many experiences to be grateful for. Many people to be grateful for.

Listening to a CD about clearing negative emotions, letting go of negative feelings I heard the speaker ask three questions and as I pondered the questions I felt something I would call an expansive feeling of peace and unity with everyone around me.

What are we?

The questions are:

If I'm not my mind, and I'm not my body, and I'm not my ego, what am I?

My answer came easily. I'm not going to share it because I think we should all allow our own inner voice to provide the answer.

The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.
-Pema Chodron



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Thirty-Three ... Entitlement Versus Gratitude

I see a great many people struggling with life and some days I struggle with mine as well. I started working in Las Vegas September 6th as a personal trainer. My first job in the first place I lived outside of NY. I'm still there and rapidly approaching my one year "anniversary". I have seen 17 or 18 trainers (trainers only, there have been other coworkers leave as well) leave in that time.


Even outside of work I meet a great many people who are very unhappy with their job, their life, you name it. I hear it in conversations. I catch myself perpetuating it at times as well. Almost like a third person standing beside myself hearing words I'd rather not say, knowing as I say them that they do not improve my well being, state of mind or add to my happiness. On top of that they surely cannot add to the happiness of the person kind enough to listen to me. What does venting really solve anyway? Does having someone agree with you when you're upset at something or someone change anything?


Isn't it better to think of something good, and there is always something good, and let go of the negative energy? I said better mind you, not easier ... I know that isn't always the easy course.


There seems to be a rash of entitlement that is contagious. Entitlement is so very different from gratitude. When I hear people focusing on the negative, especially when I experience myself doing that, I want to give a nudge and point out that gratitude feels a whole lot better.


The reality is nothing is owed to anyone. We are given life but how we fill it is up to us. Waste it or experience it. Thrive or exist. Love or hate. Feel entitled or feel grateful. When I write in my gratitude journal at night I see that no matter how many opportunities or challenges the day is filled with, there is always a tremendous amount to be grateful for if you take the time to look around. This blog helps me take the time to look around. It is a great reminder.


After not having written for a few weeks I realized I was slipping. My attention wasn't scanning for good. I'd sit down at night and write what I was grateful for but the day wasn't filled with constant sifting of opportunities for blogging about.


I want to continue to grow as a person and continue to see the better side of all situations ...


When I'm angry at someone instead of airing it I want to turn my attention to someone who makes me feel good and thank them for it. That will feel better and it will also make someone else feel better.


When I have a challenging or stressful day at work I want to take the time to be grateful I have a job when so many wish they did. That switch can change the day, I know it can. I am so very lucky I get to help people every day and I get to meet the most spectacular and interesting people.


Instead of feeling sorry for myself for the things I may not be able to do right now I want to be thankful for all the amazing things I have done and the experiences yet to come.


 Expecting miracles,
-Nicola Byrne




There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle
-Albert Einstein

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Thirty-Two ... Getting Back to a Good Habit

After a few weeks of not sitting down and blogging it doesn't feel as natural to jump on the computer and do so. Seems it did not take too long to drop the habit. That surprises me.


Perhaps I just need to put a little more effort into focusing on the good stuff again. I am still writing all the things I am grateful for and have had many opportunities to write thank you notes. Good things to be sure.


Today I saw a wonderful affirmation on Facebook and that is what I want to share today:



Affirmation for the day: "My present happiness is all I see." (A Course in Miracles). This affirmation instructs the subconscious mind to select the perceptions and data that support your happiness. It is an exercise in positivity, which then attracts what it affirms...




I am going to try affirming that as often as I can think of it tomorrow.


Good night,
-Nicola Byrne


Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Thirty-One ... I'm Baaaaaack!

I'm back and I have an internet connection once again! What jumped out at me for today's blog was something I just received in my email box in a newsletter. It is priceless and something I was talking a friend about last night.

In a funny aside a week or so ago my husband was watching South Park and there was this episode where the entire town was without internet and everyone was going crazy and screaming. They were jumping into cars to drive to California to "find the internet". It really made me smile. While I didn't like the lack of internet I didn't go crazy, I did however read a lot. That was a very enjoyable trade-off for me.

And on to the story ...

THE STATION

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision.
We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the
continent.  We are traveling by train.

Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars
on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing,
of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke
pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn
and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and
rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination.
On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into
the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving.

Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come
true and the pieces of our lives will fit together
like a completed jigsaw puzzle.

How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes
for loitering - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

"When we reach the station, that will be it!" we
cry. "When I'm 18."  "When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes
Benz!"  "When I put the last kid through
college."  "When I have paid off the mortgage!"
"When I get a promotion." "When I reach the age of
retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station,
no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true
joy of life is the trip.

The station is only a dream. It constantly
outdistances us. "Relish the moment" is a good motto,
especially when coupled with Palm 118:24: "This is the
day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be
glad in it."

It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It
is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of
tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us
of today.

So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.
Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go
barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more
sunsets, laugh more, cry less.

Life must be lived as we go along.  The station will
come soon enough.

~ By Robert J. Hastings



Happy to have the internet once again!
-Nicola Byrne

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Twenty ... Recapping the Week

Our modem or something that connecting the phones and computer to the internet is not functioning, today I am at Whole Foods sharing their generous free WI-FI and a cup of delicious (but not free) French Roast Coffee. This is why the blogs have been non-existent. It is very difficult to do so over my phone which is surprisingly temperamental for such a little gadget.




Monday ... I experienced that letting go, not complaining, not forcing, and simple acceptance of the way things are can create the change or desired outcome I would like. Without any of the unpleasant boomerang effects of complaining, forcing or grasping. It was a powerful example of why swimming downstream feels better than swimming upstream.


Thursday ... Focusing on gratitude brings more to be grateful for. Last night Tom was given free tickets to see Viva! Elvis at the Aria. While sitting down in our seats, which seemed quite good to me, I was mentally saying a thank you to remind myself to put it in my gratitude journal. Next moment an usher came over and asked if we would like to move up a few rows. We said yes and he took us to the very front row. What an amazing way to see a fantastic show. I am grateful.


Friday ... Writing thank you notes is rewarding. Keeping in touch with friends and people who have had a positive effect and influence in my life is rewarding. It feels good and I am happy I am focusing on this.


The posts may be infrequent until my internet is up and running but I will be looking for things to post as I go about my days, as always.

Happy Friday,
-Nicola Byrne


See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little.
-Pope John XXIII

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Sixteen ... Progress Report

To recap my goals after completing "Focus on the Good Stuff" I chose to put into practice the following:

  • The Sunshine Folder for positive accomplishments, achievements, thanks you's, etc...
  • Writing in my gratitude journal daily
  • Practice changing my state when that state is less than I want it to be
  • Sharing gratitude openly
  • Making ME time
  • Choosing something about me to appreciate daily
  • Writing at least one heartfelt thank you every single week

It has been ten days after posting those goals and I think this is a good time to share a progress report. This is mostly for myself, to keep the goals fresh in my mind. All too often we set goals and they are forgotten within the week. New Year's Day Resolutions for example ... 

I have written in my gratitude journal almost without fail every day.

My sunshine folder is a large shoe box ... I am ever optimistic that a folder just won't be big enough ... And I already have several things in it.

I have been taking a lot of walks to change my state ... I find that appreciating nature is an excellent way to improve my state of mind and my mood. Even a good mood can become a great one with a nice walk and appreciation of all that nature has to offer.

I have given myself me time. A yoga class. Lots of reading.

Writing thanks you's has been so rewarding I actually think it should be considered me time as well.

I have practiced being more vocal with my appreciation of those I interact with. 

One more thing I am doing for "me time" is meditating 15 minutes a day. There is an application on my phone called Insight Timer. It has an assortment of bells to start and stop the sessions, a journal to write down your thoughts about it, and last but not least there is a community aspect to it. Everyone that meditates and uses this application is listed online as meditating or having completed meditating. You can have a profile and a phrase. I am practicing on increasing my mindfulness and have set my own phrase and mantra as "right here, right now, in this present moment". This application is available worldwide and I find it so interesting to see how many people are meditating around the world after I have finished ... and their own chosen phrases.

The one thing I have not had much success with is finding one thing to appreciate about myself every day and focusing on it throughout the day. I simply forget. It is possible there is nothing deeper to it than that. I just don't remember to start and if I do pick something I forget about it as my day progresses.

This does not mean I gave up on it. I have chosen a different route to accomplish the same thing. When I write in my gratitude journal I write down at least 5 things I am grateful for. Then I write down 5 things about a person I'd like to show more appreciation towards and catch myself thinking negatively about. Lastly I write down 5 things I either accomplished in the day or appreciate / like about myself. I believe that embodies the spirit of the activity even if it isn't the exact same step.

All in all I feel good about what I am accomplishing.

Calling it a night,
-Nicola Byrne

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
-Michelangelo


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Fifteen ... Getting Grounded ... Practicing Being Present ...

My cable modem is not functioning right which means I am unable to access the internet regularly now ... Last night I could not get on but while walking the dogs I had what I wanted to write about all figured out. Now that I have a connection ... if it lasts! ... I will write.


I watched a movie on Thursday night ... it reminded me to be more present.




I bought new shoes on Wednesday ... they have increased my awareness of being grounded.




The movie Peaceful Warrior is based on a true story and began as a book. I look forward to reading the book as well. It is a movie about living in the present moment, fully. A quote I particularly enjoyed from the movie and was turning over in my mind last night while walking the dogs is:
“There is never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments.”
 As I was thinking of it I became aware that I wasn't IN the walk. I was walking but I was not experiencing it. Then suddenly I heard the crickets, the sound of the cars, the clinking of Mugsy's metal leash, I felt the ground under my feet, noticed the lack of breeze and felt my breathing. I realized I had been distracted and was as far from being present as possible, and how much being present changed my walk. It was very revealing.


The shoes are new for me, they are Vibram Five Fingers and are basically like gloves for your feet with a strong protective bottom so that you can experience being barefoot without concern for injuring feet outdoors.  I am much more aware of how I stand and move in these shoes. I feel far more grounded than I have in any other pair of shoes and I am incredibly aware of my toes and using them. It reminds me a lot of yoga. I really love these shoes.


Practicing being grounded and present,
-Nicola Byrne


Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Knowledge is knowing, Wisdom is doing.
-Quote from Peaceful Warrior

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Fourteen ... Gratitude Quote

I am consistently making entries in my gratitude journal and it really does feel good. This quote sums it up I think:
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
 -- Melody Beattie (Author)
Grateful for another good day,
-Nicola Byrne

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. 
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Thirteen ... Proactive Acknowledgment

This interesting quote is from the Mike Robbins book I just finished. Yesterday I opened up the book to see if I had anything to add to my notes before I lent the book out. The quote jumped out at me and it is worth pondering some more.
"Remind  people who they are instead of just complimenting them on what they've done. Praise and acknowledgment is nice, but that's a bit like telling you dog that his tail wags really well. The idea is to focus on the person behind the accomplishment or problem. It's the fundamental distinction of who versus what. When you help the person get more in touch with who they are, they'll produce better whats. If you focus primarily on the whats you'll soon be expecting the tail to wag the dog."          -Thomas J. Leonard
Our modem is on the fritz and this quote was intended for yesterday's post. It was entirely too much to type it up on my phone's keyboard though. Instead I let it go and saved it for today.

Proactive acknowledgment is an interesting term to me. I make a point of expressing gratitude whenever someone does something nice for me. It is a newer concept to express gratitude for who the person is and their presence in my life. I am sure I have done that, but perhaps not consciously or with the intent to do just that. I can see it as spreading a bit of joy though and brightening up someone's day simply for who they are. Not for any gain whatsoever.

Something I struggle with personally is self-worth and feeling worthy in general. Worthy of anything. It was pointed out to me in the past that many things that I do for people is an attempt to try to make myself feel worthy of their friendship, love or approval. I can see where that is true. I can also see where proactive acknowledgment will go a long way towards helping someone else feel worthy without sending the silent and often unintended message that they need to do something in order to receive acknowledgment or be worthy of acknowledgment.

It is an opportunity I am happy to take on in the future.

One other note, I started my "Sunshine Folder" today and already have several things in there. Each thing I put in that folder made me smile at the memory. It will be a good practice to pursue.

What are you grateful for today?
-Nicola Byrne

By learning to see our challenges as opportunities, we take our power back from the situations, circumstances and outcomes of our lives. Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them and use them to our advantage, gives us important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious, deliberate and authentic way.
-Mike Robbins

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Eleven ... One Year

Today is a milestone for me, it has been one year since I moved to Las Vegas. What a year it has been. There have been many opportunities for growth. I am sure there will be many more opportunities to grow as time marches on. I am grateful for them. I feel as though I have certainly grown and this blog has been instrumental in it.


There have been days where finding something good to write about was a downright challenge. After doing so however my mood is miraculously improved. Perhaps that really isn't a miracle. Focusing on the good stuff, to quote Mike Robbins, just plain feels good.


I look forward to the next year in Las Vegas. So many things to see and do. So much more growing to do as well.

Thank you for reading,
-Nicola Byrne


The man who has done his level best, and who is conscious that he has done his best, is a success, even though the world may write him down as a failure.
-B.C. Forbes

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Ten ... A Baby Dolphin

Today we made an unexpected trip the Mirage Casino and went to Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden. There were tigers galore, beautiful tigers. There were dolphins. Very active and frolicking dolphins (I think this is the first time I have ever used the word frolicking ...). The big cats were knocked out from the heat and having a serious midday siesta. Cats are cats, whether they are two feet long or ten feet long, evidently.

Luckily, during the second walk by the white tiger area a couple roused and walked over to the water to play and cool off.

I have never before seen a baby dolphin. The amount of times I have even seen dolphins in person I can count on one hand. There are no dolphins shows at the Secret Garden. It is purely an educational facility and people can walk around and see them. We were fortunate enough to see all the dolphins out and about and very active. 

The Dolphins





The Big Cats







Seeing the dolphins and the tigers was a gift and a beautiful one at that. There is so much beauty in nature and a casino in Las Vegas was a surprising place to find it.

Good night,
-Nicola Byrne

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars... and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy.  Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance.  Look at the flowers - for no reason.  It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.
-Osho

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Nine ... A Gift

An unexpected gift came to me as I was sitting in work writing up a program for a client's workout this evening. Someone I worked with, a former client from several months back, came up to me with a present. She told me that she has been receiving more compliments and romantic interest in the past month from the opposite sex than she has in her life. I found that hard to believe because she is beautiful and so very alive and filled with happiness that I can't imagine anyone not finding her interesting upon meeting her.

However, that said she attributes her new found popularity to what she learned working with me and made me a gift. She made me a beautiful bracelet with green beads and a dragonfly, to match my tattoo. That was what I found especially touching and endearing. She paid attention, remembered my tattoo and created something unique for me. She spent time and thought doing so.

I am tremendously honored.

Smiling,
-Nicola Byrne


Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Eight ... A New Book

It took longer than usual for me to work my way through "Focus on the Good Stuff" by Mike Robbins but I did finish it. This was truly an excellent book with many useful and simple to follow steps to improve my appreciation of the world and people around me. I took notes and now have many great ways to improve my state of mind. It takes doing though, it is easy to take notes and then never look at them again. By doing I mean I need to follow through, it isn't enough to read the book, I need to put some things into action!

The particular suggestions I will put into practice are:

  • a sunshine folder - this is a folder where I can keep thank you's, awards, achievements, photos, awards ... and take it out and look at it when a lift is needed
  • a daily gratitude list - I have done it in the past and needed the nudge to pick it up again. It has been almost 2 months since I last wrote one in a notebook, until today that is!
  • changing my state - that certainly worked last time I tried it
  • sharing gratitude openly - this can be by sending thank you cards or verbally letting people know how I feel, the key is to express it and not only think it, to share your appreciation of others with them
  • creating me time - I identified the things I would like to do for me time as a manicure or pedicure, a massage, a walk a Pueblo Park or a hike
  • pick something about me to appreciate daily - something new every day and focus on it continuously during the day
  • write one heartfelt thank you every week
This week I've already written three thank you notes, so I am ahead of the game. Needless to say that means my gratitude list has also been written!

There where three other practices I would like to add to the list above but I felt resistant to starting immediately. Resistance, insecurity. They are something to work towards for me:
  • having an appreciation partner - someone to share what I appreciate with and to keep me focusing on the good stuff (technically I could say that everyone reading this blog is a sort of appreciation partner ... I just thought of that ... You're all hired!)
  • ask people what they are grateful for - I'm not sure I can greet people with "What are you grateful for today" and I'm not quite sure what reaction I may get if I did ... but this is something to aspire too. Mike Robbins shares in his book how his voice mail message asks callers to leave what they are grateful for today when they leave a message. I love that idea as well ... I'm sure I will be ready to do that one day!
  • transforming negativity technique - for now I will stick with changing my state, I am not sure I can do the entire technique just yet!
Now I have begun reading a very interesting book by Lynne McTaggart on quantum physics called "The Field". It has started out very entertaining yet it science based.

So ... what are you grateful for? (That wasn't so hard ...)
-Nicola Byrne

Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.
-Albert Camus

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Six ... Surprises

The past few days have been filled with lovely, unexpected events of generosity. Gifts really, out of the blue gifts that give me much to be grateful for.

I take this as a sign that the time spent looking for positives is working. As a result of that focus I am having even more positive events drop in out of the blue.

Perhaps if only one thing happened I would not draw such a correlation but I cannot help it when four things happen in three days. It is wonderfully significant.

What else with this week bring?
-Nicola Byrne

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.
-Francesca Reigler

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Five ... A Proverb

Driving to work today someone was driving recklessly and I felt myself growing irritated. As I was working on letting it go so the irritation did not stick with me I remembered this proverb that came to me via a newsletter in my email last week. It seemed appropriate and helped me set aside any irritation and move on with my day.
CARRYING BURDENS

Two monks were traveling together when they came to a
wide stream passable only by a deep ford. On the near
bank a beautiful young woman wrung her hands in
despair because she could not cross.

"Climb on my back," the older monk said to her, "and I
will carry you across." When they reached the other
side of the river, the young woman thanked the monks
and they continued on their way.

The younger monk was bothered by what had occurred.
When the two monks stopped for the night, he could no
longer keep silent. "Why did you carry that woman
across the stream?" he asked in a serious
voice. "Aren't we monks supposed to avoid all contact
with women?" "I set her down a long time ago," said
the other monk. "Why are you still carrying her?"

~ Buddhist Proverb
If I had not let it go then that short moment in time could have carried through my day bringing much negativity along with it. Our interactions while driving can really trigger a lot of negativity and I really work at staying calm and peaceful as best I can. Sometimes though ... it is a challenge.

Thankfully there are great quotes and proverbs all around me to show perspective.

Have a good night,
Nicola Byrne

The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.
-Henry L. Stimson



Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Four ... An Exercise

Tonight I was reading the book by Mike Robbins (almost done now) and there was an exercise in learning to appreciate yourself.

It is to make a list of your successes and accomplishments and strengths and qualities.

This was fun and entertaining and brought back many memories. The list was longer than I expected. It changed my mood a lot. For the better, of course.

What are your accomplishments and strengths?
-Nicola Byrne

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day One-Hundred and Three ... Quote of the Day

I was out all day yesterday working and after work celebrating a friend's birthday. When I got home at midnight it was late and way beyond my bedtime, however I am back to posting today.


A friend posted this quote on Facebook today and it was just what I needed to get me thinking and re-evaluating certain parts of my state of mind.
‎"All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy."

- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
I found this quote to be empowering. Everything is under our control. It is a message I see around me continuously, thankfully, because it has not quite yet taken roost. I need the reminders.


Happiness is an inside job.
-Nicola Byrne


The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs. 
-Joan Didion

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day One-Hundred and One ... Vegetable Heaven

I'm not a gardener and I don't play one on TV, but one day I really would love to grow my own produce. Until then though I have the orchard I can go to and pick vegetables to my heart's content.

I made a fun trip there this morning with my friend and stocked up on a variety of winter squashes. Delicata. Butternut. Spaghetti. Some yellow variety I cannot recall. I also picked some amazing tomatoes, okra and patty pan squash. Amazing!

It was the most therapeutic and relaxing part of my day. Nature soothes and adds perspective. It is so important to get outdoors and experience the wonders available in nature. I'm grateful to have so many opportunities to do just that here in Las Vegas.

Good night,
-Nicola Byrne

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.
-Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day One-Hundred ... My Top Five

Today's blog will be a simple one. I feel tired, maybe a little blue, and instead of giving in to that I choose to focus on the five things I am most grateful for right now:

  • I am grateful for my wonderful job.
  • I am grateful for my excellent health.
  • I am grateful for my adoring pets.
  • I am grateful for my supportive family and friends.
  • I am grateful to live near a farm where I can pick my own organic vegetables.

What are you grateful for today?
-Nicola Byrne


He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
-Epictetus





Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Ninety-Nine ... Emma's Birthday

Today my neice turned one. I have only seen her in person once since she was born, but I have been able to see her grow through pictures and videos. She is adorable and a complete joy to her parents.

I am so grateful for my neice, even from so far away just thinking of her makes me smile!

Happy birthday Emma!
-Nicola Byrne


Monday, July 25, 2011

Day Ninety-Eight ... Changing States

Today I got back to reading the Mike Robbins book "Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation". I did an exercise from the book to "change my state". It is one of the steps to banish negative thinking. The suggestions for changing your state are to:

  • get up and walk around
  • laugh out loud (Off the cuff? At will? Can you do that?)
  • yell at the top of your lungs (I'm having trouble picturing myself doing this ...)
  • do something physical
  • listen to uplifting music
  • look at something that makes you happy (a picture, or photo perhaps)
  • pray or meditate
  • think of someone/something you love
  • think of a specific happy memory

So there I was, sitting down reading, and starting to feel sluggish, even sleepy. I did not even feel like doing the exercise. Which, of course, meant it was doubly important to not pass it by.


I combined a few of Mike Robbins suggestions. I got up and went over to my rebounder where Trinity was sleeping on a big pillow. After petting her and listening to her purr I did some push-ups. Normally I would jump on the rebounder to get in some physical activity however, I did not want to disturb Trinity's peaceful napping. Or her purring, which is an uplifting or soothing sound to me all the time. I did some more push-ups because that definitely made me feel less than sluggish.


After I did those things I sat back down to note it all in the composition notebook I bought for working with this book. At the start I wrote down I felt sluggish and a little down. After the exercise I felt renewed. It worked. While I did not actually time it I believe that no more than three minutes had passed. I can't do that many push-ups ... 


This book really is a great how-to guide for changing your thoughts, your moods, etc. The greatest part though is as I read it there are so many coincidences ... Mike Robbins' mentor is Richard Carlson who wrote a book called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff". I have had this book for nearly ten years now and I cherish it, yet have been unable to read it because it was the last gift my Aunt Joni gave me before she passed away. It must be time to open it up now.


There are other such coincidences throughout the book that are fairly uncanny and it reinforces my desire to finish it and appreciate it while I read it.


I hope you'll try changing you state if you need to!
-Nicola Byrne


Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It's absolutely true that, "Wherever you go, there you are."
— Richard Carlson (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Ninety-Seven ... Should-itis

Some days I am not as productive as I would like to be. Yesterday was one of those days. It feels like there is just so much I want to accomplish on my day off and sometimes the desire to relax outweighs the need to get stuff done.

Then I start to disapprove of myself and heap "shoulds" on my head. I should be doing this, I should be doing that... The result of that being my rest is not as restful, because I end up creating guilt and stress instead of enjoying it.

Is getting rest procrastinating? Is taking a day off a big old form of putting off what can be done today for tomorrow? Usually I know better, but for some reason this weekend I feel like I should (there's that word again) have had more to show for my day than a trip to the farm and a great squash blossom frittata. Well there was the roasted garlic and squash too...

Cleaning and laundry did not make the cut ... but a nap did.

Today I need to remind myself to be grateful for the day of relaxation and fun. Every day does not need to have a list of accomplishments to have worth or meaning. Human beings, not human doings. I can get so caught up in lists and checking items off the lists that I miss the forest for the trees. Not always, but sometimes. This weekend was one of those times.

Letting go of the "shoulds",
Nicola Byrne

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.
-Spanish Proverb



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day Ninety-Six ... Appreciation

Another great trip to the farm today! I love the view, the experience, the fun of searching and picking my own food. The freshness is truly a change for me.

I am so grateful to have found this farm! It is a wonderful thing to add to my list of things to be grateful for.

Good night,
Nicola Byrne

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day Ninety-Five ... Another Oops!

Thursday night I, once again, hit the hay without posting my blog. I had a great topic too. We saw the movie "The Adjustment Bureau". It was absolutely fantastic and really drove home the point of striving for what you want, regardless of what obstacles may be thrown in front of you.

I won't go into tremendous detail because I don't want to spoil the movie for those that may not have seen it, but ... in sum it was a very good movie to see for renewed energy aimed at attaining a goal. Or several goals. To not allow others to define you or your path in life. Choose it yourself and jump over the hurdles instead of changing course.

It is funny how the most perfect quotes, movies, books, people, or situations come along right when they should. It is even funnier that I went to bed thinking about writing about the movie ... without doing it. I guess sometimes you just need a good nights sleep.

Back again, in spite of missing another day,
Nicola Byrne





The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence but by oft falling.
-Lucretius

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day Ninety-Three ... Rich in Friends

My entire life I have been tremendously blessed and fortunate to have such great friends. Today was another such day where I had the opportunity to reflect on how special it is to spend time with a good friend. My batteries are recharged and I feel refreshed.


I just want to say I am genuinely grateful to all my friends. Old and new. For all the laughter, conversations, sympathetic ears (and eyes too, thanks to email), support, trust, and good times.


Friends make good times better and tough times bearable.


With gratitude,
Nicola Byrne


Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
-George Elliot