Week 3 of Renewal: Getting Aligned

SOUL STUDIES: Prompts and questions to explore RENEWAL in your life, business and creativity.

This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


WEEK 3:

Getting Aligned

This month we’ve talked about embracing novelty in your life and your routines, and paying attention to your energy sources in an effort to stay fueled. 

Now I want to shift our attention to possibly the most important part of renewal: checking back in with your values to make sure your actions moving forward are in alignment with the life you want to design for yourself. 

I find that people often struggle with defining their values for a few reasons. For starters, if we’ve been living on autopilot for a while, it’s hard to discern what actions we’ve been taking to please other people and what actions we’ve been taking that stem from our core selves (and core desires). The latter is a more accurate representation of our true values, but we have to find a way to mentally separate the two to get to the heart of what we really want. 

Values are also difficult to unearth because they’re often intangible. They rest under the surface, and they're hidden in the motivations behind our decisions. In my experience, the best way to discover them is by looking for patterns in our behavior

What do we feel drawn to over and over again? What actions make us feel lit up on the inside — and, to go one step further, what is it exactly about those actions that resonate with our core selves? 

These are all questions that require a level of introspection, which isn’t always easy. However, I truly believe that the key to building a life that is deeply satisfying and rich is in understanding these values. Once you do, that’s when you can start to design your experiences around them. You can do MORE of what you love and less of what you don’t. More of what fills you up, less of what drains you. More of what brings you meaning, less of what feels empty. 

I’ve compiled 20 questions that I think will help lead you to your current values. I encourage you to download this week’s accompanying Insight Sheet — Defining Your Values — to try and uncover your current 3-5 values that you want to be guiding your next chapter. 


    As for me, I actually used this Insight Sheet myself to check back in on my own values. I discovered that right now, my top values are: flexibilityenergycreative growth, and stability

    It was interesting for me to go through the sheet because my answers were slightly different than times I’ve completed a similar exercise in the past. The biggest insight I gleaned was that I’m really craving stability this year, something I haven’t needed as much in the past. Maybe it’s from growing older, maybe it’s a natural evolution of my business — who knows! Those are questions I plan to dive deeper on. 

    The important part is that now, in this time of renewal, I’ve identified that I need to be taking actions that are in the interest of setting a foundation of stability, but also maintain a certain level of flexibility. The puzzle of trying to balance those four forces I mentioned above is the creative practice of life itself! It’s a challenge that I relish and that I look forward to. 

    I hope this week’s exercise helps you define your own values as they sit now, and I hope you’ll share them with me over in Slack! 

    Sending you light this week!

     
     

    Week 2 of Renewal: Lighting Your Fire

    SOUL STUDIES: Prompts and questions to explore RENEWAL in your life, business and creativity.

    This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

    So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


    Week 2:

    Lighting Your Fire

    This is Week 2: Lighting your fire. If you’re new to Color Your Soul, I recommend reading Week 1: Embracing the new first! 

    Energy plays a huge role in the art of renewal. After all, isn’t energy itself the thing we’re really searching for when engage in renewal?

    It’s our way of trying to recharge our batteries and refuel our souls, to approach life and our work with new vigor and enthusiasm.

    Well this week I want to dive even deeper into this idea of energy in the hope of helping you intentionally examine the ways you’re draining your fuel reserves or charging them up on a daily basis.

    Here’s how I think of it: my iPhone battery drains at a much faster rate when I have a bunch of apps open, so I quit my apps after I’m done using them and my phone lasts longer.

    And, on the other hand, when my phone’s low on battery, I put my iPhone in Airplane mode and plug it in, charging the battery at an even faster rate than normal.

    There are activities that disproportionately drain us and ones that disproportionately fuel us. Identifying those things can help us steer clear of the soul-sucking activities and intentionally move toward the replenishing ones, effectively helping us sustain this sense of renewal beyond the month of January.

    So, here are three energy-related question for today’s prompts:

    • What’s one activity that you continue to engage in that you know drains you?
       
    • What’s one activity that you know charges you up that you don’t make enough time for right now? 
       
    • When your battery is at 100%, how does it make you feel? What areas of your life benefit when you’re energized?

    To go into even more detail on this topic, use the Fuel Your Fire Insight Sheet in this month’s issue to identify specific activities that fuel your mind, body and soul.


      It’s this simple: living our best, brightest lives requires intention and applying intention requires energy. It requires vitality.

      “Recharging” doesn’t just mean working so hard we burn out and then binge watch Netflix for an entire weekend (though, let’s be honest, I’m not above that.) It means folding more soul-sustaining practices into our everyday lives. It means viewing our bodies and minds and spirits as things to nourish and protect.

      Wishing you a light-filled and nourishing day!

       
       

      Week 1 of Renewal: Embracing the NEW

      SOUL STUDIES: Prompts and questions to explore RENEWAL in your life, business and creativity.

      This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

      So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


      Week 1: 

      Embracing the New

      Hopefully you’ve had time to read the Note From The Editor in this month’s Renewal issue by now, but if you haven’t, I’ll give you the short version.

      I wanted to focus on Renewal this month because I think there’s a critical step of preparation that’s necessary when we move through any cycle of life. There’s a time to create, a time to rest… but there should also be a time to repair, reset and recharge. Time we take between rest and work that creates a foundation to get the results that we want. That’s what I think the month of January should be.

      If we assume the luster of the new year is enough to propel us through a year’s worth of work, I fear that we’ll be setting ourselves up for disappointment. So many of us make resolutions to ourselves (whether we call them that or not) but then we sit down at the same desk, move through the same morning routine, fall back on our same mindsets… and we wonder why nothing changes the way we want it to.

      That's why I think the first step to setting ourselves up for growth is to infuse our lives with novelty. We need to embrace the NEW.

      (ps. Novelty is actually scientifically proven to motivate us by releasing dopamine which sends our brain in search of a reward. That’s why visiting a new place, or rearranging the furniture in your living room, or starting to learn a new skill feels so invigorating.)

      Now the trick is to avoid the instinct to overhaul EVERY single part of your life in ways that you can’t maintain. There’s a balance to be found in sticking with what works for you but in shifting just enough aspects to your day to make it feel new.

      Here’s how I approach embracing the new:

      1. Start with your environment.

      This could be your workspace or your home. Typically these changes only require you to rearrange things or swap a few things around so there’s nothing you have to maintain. This alone could be enough to have you approach your work in a new mindset.

      2. Move to your habits and routines.

      These are things that are perhaps more regular and recurring. You don’t want to try to take on too many of these sweeping changes at once — just try one or two things to disrupt your own autopilot and see how it feels.

      3. Finally, try embracing new mindsets.

      This is possibly why setting a word for the year has caught on so much — it helps to embrace a new guiding mindset. I find that our limiting beliefs and mindsets are the hardest to change usually because they’re so deeply engrained in our psyche. However, by paying more attention to them and allocating energy to really approach situations differently than in the past, that’s when your life can really start to take on that new and novel feeling, separating it from your past.

      To dive into this idea of embracing the new more, you can check out the Insight Sheets associated with this week’s Soul Studies content: Let Go List and Change It Up.

      If you only have a few minutes today, try writing down ONE thing to change in each of the three categories above in order to set a novel tone for the new year:

      1. Environment change:
       

      2. Routine change:
       

      3. Mindset change:
       


        I can't wait to see what the new year brings for all of you (and for myself!) Today I'm moving back into our condo after being displaced for two months thanks to a flooding mishap. I'm doing my part to infuse the spaces of our home with tiny changes to make it feel new and to hopefully create a fresh mindset as I settle into 2017.

        Hope you're enjoying going through the new issue! 

         
         

        Week 4 of Wonder: Creating Wonderland

        SOUL STUDIES: Prompts and questions to explore WONDER in your life, business and creativity.

        This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

        So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


        Week 4:

        Creating Wonderland


        Merry Everything, my friends! 

        I hope your holiday season has been full of magic and wonder, especially with it being our focus for the month. 

        In this last Soul Studies edition of the month, I wanted to explore how we can extend that magic beyond the natural wonder of the winter season. 

        How can we create reminders and triggers to pull us back to wonder throughout the coming year, in effect creating our own “Wonderland” within the (at times) mundane patterns of daily life. 

        I’ve written my own recipe for sprinkling more magical “wonder-dust” on my own life and it’s in these three parts:

        Putting myself in the way of beauty. 

        Taking walks. Exploring nature. Paying attention to details. Spending less time on my phone so I can look up and SEE what’s around me. 

        Finding joy in the mystery of the unknown.

        Letting my curiosity linger before Googling something. Asking more questions. Not just accepting things the way they’ve always been. Using my imagination. Embracing fantasy. Building in time to let my thoughts wander. 

        Experience the joy of the world as a child. 

        Dance more. Laugh freely. Follow my inner silliness where it leads. Create experiences that put me in that joyful state of being. Do things the “wrong” way. 

        Interestingly enough, these three directives line up nicely with our sub-themes of awe, curiosity and delight — imagine that!

        Now your turn. Write down your own 3-part recipe for creating your own Wonderland. Keep it broad like I did above or make it more specific by writing down ways you can live out each part of your recipe in your life. 


        Remember, like any mindfulness concept, the transformative effect is only as strong as our willingness to be INTENTIONAL in activating it in our lives. That means taking action to fold it into our lives beyond just this month. 

        Looking forward to all that is to come with Color Your Soul in 2017 and I can’t wait to explore more of these mindfulness concepts that can add more vibrance to my life and yours. See you in the new year!

         
         

        Week 3 of Wonder: Practical Magic

        SoulStudies_header.jpg

        SOUL STUDIES: Prompts and questions to explore WONDER in your life, business and creativity.

        This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

        So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


        Week 3:

        Practical Magic

         

        For a few weeks now we’ve been bringing our attention to wonder in an effort to experience the world through a childlike lens.

        My original intent in choosing this theme for the month of December was to try and counteract some of the more stressful elements of the holiday season. I wanted us to try and balance the hustle and bustle with peaceful revelry in the magic that’s always surrounding us.

        The only problem with this approach? It’s all too easy to let wonder and magic fade to the background when it feels like you have a hundred things to do. Right? I mean, taking even just a moment out of your day to marvel at the vastness of the sky or to watch the delightful interactions of two hummingbirds... it seems a bit frivolous, doesn’t it?

        Even I have had a hard time keeping awe and curiosity and delight center stage as I finish up holiday shopping, mail off cards and wrap up 2016 projects — and I’m the one that picked the theme!

        So, in an effort to shine the spotlight back on the power of wonder again, I thought I’d offer up a more practical approach to WHY wonder should be a valued tool in our soulful arsenal.

        It starts with this fact I just learned: Curiosity actually changes the chemistry of your brain.

        Yep, it’s true. In this video, The Science of Wonder, the narrator explains that there is actually scientific proof that when your brain experiences curiosity, not only does it experience pleasure and reward thanks to a release of dopamine, but it also primes other centers of your brain to retain information.

        My practical interpretation of this study is that wonder not only makes us feel motivated, but it actually sharpens our wits too!

        That doesn’t sound frivolous at all!

        Wonder sharpens our senses and our memory. It wakes us up to our surroundings. It primes us for learning. As it turns out, wonder is quite practical.

        So, to put this insight into action...

        This week I want you to write down ONE way you can use this tool of wonder in your daily life in a PRACTICAL way.

        Here are some examples that might pique your curiosity 😉

        • Before starting a project or task that requires brain power or focus, try Googling something you’ve always been curious about to start your focus session by learning something new!
           
        • When you experience mental fatigue throughout the day, take a break to look out a window or go for a walk and see if you can notice something you’ve never noticed before.
        • When you’re meeting someone for the first time, challenge yourself to ask questions not based on typical small talk but on something you’re actually curious about knowing about the other person (bonus: it may just help you remember the conversation better!)

        Yes, I believe wonder is about removing the “film of familiarity” from life so that we can see the world with renewed enthusiasm. But, as it turns out, having a general curiosity about things can be used as a tool to give you a nice brain boost.

        That’s what I call practical magic!

        This month’s last Soul Studies message will land in your inbox on Christmas Day next Sunday, but I hope those of you celebrating the holiday will be too busy with family or friends to notice. :) I hope you’ll find time to read it before Jan 1st when the next CYS issue arrives, but if I don’t talk to you until then, please enjoy the rest of the season and whatever holiday traditions you celebrate!

        Look for the magic and let’s carry that brain boost right into the new year! :)

         
         

        Week 2 of Wonder: The Power of Questions

        Welcome to Soul Studies -- prompts and questions to explore WONDER in your life, business and creativity.

        This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

        So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


        Socrates said:

        “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

        When he said that, I believe he was specifically talking about our second sub-theme this month, curiosity -- the desire to know more, to understand.

        Cultivating curiosity about the world around you, about yourself, about other people… this can be the gateway to so many other beautiful mindfulness concepts.

        And what is the best way to cultivate curiosity? By asking great questions.

        For today’s Soul Studies prompts, I want to focus on asking some illuminating questions that might help you uncover new insights about yourself. Maybe they’re the types of questions you don’t ponder often, but in spending just a few minutes today they may lead you to some interesting places you’ve yet to discover within yourself.

        After all, the world may be infinite, but I believe our deep inner worlds are equally as infinite. There is so much to explore and hopefully these thought-provoking questions will help!

        • What’s the meaning of life? (JUST KIDDING! We’re going to have to get more specific than that.)

        • If you could only do one creative act for the rest of your life, what would it be?

        • What lights you up? What breaks your heart?

        • How did the way you were raised impact who you are and what you value today?

        • What limiting belief or negative “story” do you replay in your head most that you feel holds you back from your full potential?

        • What do you think makes a good friend and how do you try to embody those qualities with the people you keep close?

        • If you could inhabit any occupation (not your current job) for one day to learn what it’s like, what would it be?

        • What’s your most beautiful mistake -- the thing that didn’t turn out how you pictured but that you learned the most from?

        • What’s an element of your personality that you most identify with? In what ways does this trait help you move through life? In what ways does it hold you back?

        • What do you wish there was more of in the world?


        I could go on forever asking all kinds of questions, but I hope a few of these above helped you articulate and clarify certain aspects of your inner core, and maybe even had you thinking about things you rarely consider.

        People sometimes ask me how I come up with all the content I share in my newsletters or in my Instagram posts. I always tell them that my big “secret” is simply to look at the world around me as one big question mark. When I find something that piques my interest, I keep pulling on the thread to see where it leads. When I do that, life unfolds before my very eyes and, as Socrates said, I feel all the wiser for it.

        See if you can focus your attention on questions this week -- get to know yourself better, get to know others better, and get to know the world around you better.

        There is SO much wonder to explore!

         
         

        Week 1 of Wonder: Searching For Awe

        Welcome to Soul Studies -- prompts and questions to explore WONDER in your life, business and creativity.

        This is your weekly reminder to carve out time for yourself, anchor yourself to your values and contemplate how you can allow the monthly theme to permeate throughout everything you do.

        So… crack open that journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!


        WEEK #1:

        Searching For Awe

         

        Grand, sublime reverence. (Okay, I can work with that.)

         

        For me, I most easily access awe whenever I’m confronted with natural beauty. It may sound cliche, but there’s a reason they call them “The 7 WONDERS of the Natural World.”

        Maybe it’s the stark contrast that nature provides with my culture-saturated city life, but when I stand at the foot of a mountain or I walk through a dense forest, it’s like the superficial candy coating surface of reality melts away and I’m reminded of the more satisfying, rich chocolatey core of life. It makes me feel bigger and truer and more connected to the web of living things.

        The grand scale that nature often operates on is inspiring to me on the most visceral level.

        Jason and I try to travel to places where we can experience the awe of nature at least a few times a year. (In fact, as I send this today, we’re on our way to Joshua Tree National Park to spend a week at a house in the desert for this very reason.)

        But I recognize that not everyone has the means (or desire) to take a walkabout in the woods whenever they want to experience awe.

        So the question I want you to ruminate on this week is:

        Where and how can you access that feeling of awe in your life?

        What moves you in a way that makes you feel bigger? What kind of experiences melt away the candy coating for YOU?

        For many people I know it’s music. They feel so deeply moved by certain artists or albums, and it allows them to access this invisible connection to the bigger picture. (I once listened to this podcast episode featuring the band Cloud Cult, a band I had never heard of, and the music they played brought me to tears.) I think that is a kind of awe.

        It could be art or it could be cinema. It could be something grand, like thousands of lanterns being released into the sky, or something minute, like grains of sand being used to tell a story of love and loss.

        To get you thinking about this, write down three experiences that have conjured up that feeling of awe for you in the past:

        1.

        2.

        3.

        Now, write down one action you can take to seek out awe on an ongoing basis. (It could be to take one camping trip a year to sleep under the stars, or see a live dance performance, or visit an art installation in your town.)

        Look to your answers above for clues about how you connect to this powerful feeling, and make it a priority to search for moments and experiences that facilitate it.


        I believe that awe and wonder can contribute in so many positive ways to the vibrancy of our lives. I believe experiences that are inspiring, expanding and uplifting are typically experiences that lead us to a deeper understanding of our core selves and a widening perspective on the possibilities we see for our lives.

        That’s it for this week! Look out for a new installment of Soul Studies next Sunday!