Mindful Living: Be the Change You Want to See in the World

While I was reading Jolene Hart’s book, Ignite Your Light (2020), yesterday, I thought a lot about my personal energy, and how I influence others around me in my day-to-day life. I often wonder if I am the type of person who lifts others up or brings them down with my energy.

Jolene Hart stated in her book,

“I love Maya Angelou’s observation that ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ That feeling is energy. So, how do you make others feel? What energetic effect do you leave in your wake? Personal energy is a choice, one that you reaffirm hundreds of times over the course of a single day.”

Jolene Hart, Ignite Your Light

When I pondered the type of energy I wanted to cultivate in myself, I thought about my role as a teacher, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and human being. What is the first thing I want people to feel when they are around me? The answer came almost immediately.

Light and Kindness

I want to be the type of person who enriches others, and meets them where they are. Though I will not always agree with life choices or standards others may have, the one thing I can do above all else is stand by my beliefs in a way that isn’t toxic.

I don’t know how many people who read this are empathic but you may understand how it feels to be around toxic, negative, and overbearing people, whose energy takes over and drains you. I’ve been around plenty of people who find out I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and verbally attack what they think I believe or don’t know about my church.

When this happens, it is mentally and emotionally draining and damaging. If I’m not careful, the empath in me goes into overload, and it sometimes takes one to two days to slug all the energy off.

It’s dawned on me recently that I can be that type of person too if I’m not careful. These questions often pop up in my mind: Do I automatically bar my hackles if I find out someone is of a different religion? How does my opinion of someone shift if I find out they are gay, or have made similar types of decisions?

I can easily become a toxic and negative influence in the world if I make allowances for unkindness towards those who don’t believe as I do. That is the type of person I DON’T want to be. I feel there are too many instances on and offline where people find fault in others’ beliefs or opinions and brutally attack them for it.

For myself, I want to be the kind of person who people can turn to even if we don’t see eye to eye in everything. In fact, I think it would wonderful if those types of things didn’t matter.

Above all else, I want my energy to be like light filling up the room. One of my favorite literary characters is Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket (1998-2006). She is the type of person people want to be around because she sees them and loves them where they are. So many people change and grow because of her and not because she sermonizes or pushes them to. They change simply because she became the place they could go home to and feel safe. 

I’ll finish this post off with one last quote from Jolene Hart.

Spreading bright energy doesn’t have to be as involved as gifting a bouquet of flowers or treating a friend to lunch: you spread light simply by embodying it yourself.

Jolene Hart, Ignite Your Light

I hope the new year is treating everyone well! As many yogis around the world say, the light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.

Yoga Inspiration: Balancing Between STRUCTURE and flexibility

While I was doing a short morning yoga practice this morning, I found myself once again deviating from what the instructor told me to do. By nature, I’m extraordinarily obedient so if I don’t follow the sequence fully I feel guilty. I don’t know if any other yoga practitioners who read this have felt the same way, but it’s been a battle for me for the last few years.

This morning a thought came to mind that made me stop and ponder. Perhaps I was at a level in my yoga practice where I had a strong enough foundation to be flexible with how I followed along with instructor-led practices. Then another sobering thought came in succession. How did I get here?

Building a foundation in any field is difficult. It’s repetitive, painful at times, and requires a lot of personal dedication. It’s rare to have time to see myself progress far enough to see enough progress in a field to gain autonomy.

I feel incredibly grateful to all the instructors I’ve had in my and my past self’s stubborn dedication to building a strong yoga practice. I don’t need constant supervision or detailed instructions when I practice yoga. This means I can move beyond the physical practice and focus on strengthening myself on deeper levels.

eight limbs of yoga

I trained in Ashtanga yoga and have been trying faithfully to develop a physical, daily practice. This practice has shifted quite a bit over the years, depending on my work life and the time of year. All in all, it’s encouraging to see how I’ve grown these past ten years.

If you are currently starting yoga or feel discouraged, wondering if you’re getting anywhere in your practice there are moments like I had today where the clouds seem to open and say, “Look how much stronger you’ve become.”

Realizing this about myself, I finally understand how strength and flexibility work together on a physical and spiritual level. In the Book of Mormon, a prophet wisely said,

Now ye may suppose that this is afoolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by bsmall and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

-Alma 37:6, The Book of Mormon

I look forward to reading this in a few years and seeing how much more I’ve grown in my soul. Have a wonderful New Years Weekend!

Mindful Living: I Miss Living in a Forest

Before going to bed, I’ve been reading a book about forest bathing and it’s opened a chasm of longing inside me. One of my passions is being in and around trees, gardens, and flowing water. That sad reality is this. I live in a desert.

I used to live in Cloudcroft, NM, a village 9,000 feet above sea level. I went on random nature walks with our dogs almost daily and never really realized how lucky I was. That is, until I moved to Las Cruces, NM and wished almost daily I could go back on the trails around my house.

I’ve always been happiest when I lived in places directly connected to greenery and flowing water. I inevitability look for places near where I live I can ground myself in grass or near clusters of trees.

Now, living in Rio Communities, NM near Albuquerque I have very few places I can ground myself. I mean, it’s the very definition of a desert.

What is it people say about longing? That it begets discontent? For myself, if I find myself longing for things like being in nature it means I truly need it in my life.

So, with all this complaining, (sorry for that 🙂 ) what I’m truly trying to figure out is how I can e content with what I have, although circumstances are not the best. It is as they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Although I miss living in and near a forest, there is beauty to be found anywhere. Someday, I’ll most likely live in my coveted cabin in the woods. For now, I feel it’s important to find beauty and that connection to the earth in ways that befit the environment.

Who knows. Maybe someday I’ll long to be back in the desert for different reasons.

For now, I think I’ll explore the concept of Forest Bathing for my personal meditational study.

Mindful Living: Waking Up Energetically

I’ve missed writing blog posts on this website, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of me these next couple of weeks. I’ve been struggling balancing my day ever since this new school year started. I wake up around 6:00 AM so I can be at work by 7:30 AM, with a driving commute of about 40 minutes.

Normally, I like to start my day slowly, with yoga, a walk, and reading/ writing. However, this new schedule has terminated it. I could wake up at 5:00 AM but being a school teacher is exhausting and makes waking up that early anxiety inducing.

So, how do I want to wake up and spend my mornings? At my core, I find it’s important to do so MINDFULLY through:

  1. Movement
  2. Meditation
  3. Nourishing Meals

I don’t know how it is for others, but recently I’ve had nothing but negative emotions when I wake up each morning. It’s rather frustrating, especially when I compare these emotions to how I faced mornings only three or four years ago. I changed from a night owl to a morning person and I loved every moment of it. Now. . . mornings are a mere hurdle to crawl over every day.

But I want to change and gain back that love I used to have for my morning routines. I miss the feeling I used to have waking up every morning, like each day was a treasure. I know I can do this if I set for myself realistic and nourishing goals, despite my circumstances.

I’ve been reading Joene Hart’s Ignite Your Light (2020) on and off for the past few months and love the idea of igniting my life every morning, day, and evening in a way that nourishes my body, mind, and spirit. One quote that stuck out to me recently was,

As you open your eyes and regain alertness after sleep, concentrate first on a positive feeling.

-Jolene Hart, Ignite Your Light

So, I’m slowly but surely going to find a way to change this for myself, even through the gloomy winter months and monotony of work. The trick is, I need to do so slowly and methodically.

If you’re struggling with finding energy and purpose in the morning you are not alone! Perhaps we can figure it out together over the next few months. 🙂

I’ll leave you with another quote from Jolene Hart which I find is slowly becoming my mantra as the days go by.

Your body “hears” and responds to your mind energetically, giving even your unspoken thoughts, affirmations, and intentions power that can’t be overstated. In fact, your state of mind creates an energetic effect that sweeps over every cell in your body, producing dramatic changes in your personal energy. . . Practice making a wakeup routine that lets you savor that act of waking up, rather than rushing through it.

-Jolene Hart, Ignite Your Light

What have I been up to? March — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

Here we are again! I’ve done a lot of reading this month and not as much movie or show watching. It’s a rather beautiful feeling for me. Hope you find something new to watch, read, or see while reading! This is what I base my ratings on. No redeeming qualities whatsoever visually, aesthetically, or as […]

What have I been up to? March — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

Feel free to check this post out on my other blog, especially if you are an explorer like me looking for new things to watch and read.

A Month of Journal Tags: Day 2, If I could gain clarity about (Blank), then I would…

This will be a tough topic to tackle. I have so many questions, most of which don’t/can’t have definite answers right now. I’ll do my best to face the most difficult ones head-on, without judgment or anxiety.

Mindfulness is rarely a comfortable journey. THAT’s for sure.

If I could gain clarity about polygamy I would be able to look at different people who practiced it more gently.

Polygamy has never been a social concept I’ve handled well. Even imagining someone marrying a different spouse after their previous one has died gives me terrible anxiety. Movies like Sleepless in Seattle are most assuredly not my favorite in the world.

Over and over again I’ve gone over the issue in my mind, looking at it from a logical point of view and studying it out until I thought my heart would break. Intellectually, I can understand why God asked certain people to practice it. Emotionally, I fight it and outright reject it.

Even the thought of being caught in that kind of relationship is overwhelming.

The moment I can receive clarity about it is the moment I know I’ll be able to let go of prejudices I can’t seem to shake off against those who do choose it.

If I could have clarity about why I’m still single I would be able to better handle harder problems that will come in the future.

The fact I’m still single has been a burden from the time I was 18 years old. It comes with a plethora of old, scarring questions. “What is wrong with me?”, “Did I make a mistake in the past that has kept me from finding someone?”, “What is it I lack?”, “Will I end up an old maid?”, “Am I destined to be that one person in the family that never finds someone?” etc… (The list could go on, but you get the idea.)

I think the only thing that could bring clarity concerning this question is finding the right person to marry, or discovering a deeper purpose in life.

I know full well I’m not just my relationships, career, hobbies, or thoughts. However, there are times when I feel so lonely watching friends and family find happiness in marriage, pregnancies, and child-rearing.

I could talk at length about this subject, but I don’t like to dwell on it too long. It is painful to ponder, and I want to find happiness where I am now, despite not receiving answers to the longings of my heart.

When I reach a point in the future I can answer this question, I’ll be sure to write about it. I know there are more people out there like me who are lonely and wondering why love and marriage haven’t happened for them either.

If I could receive clarity concerning July 10, 2016, I would be able to put to rest the PTSD I’ve carried for five years.

I can’t go into detail about this particular topic because of its overall nature. However, there have been many times I’ve wondered if my experience was the way I thought. Sometimes I think I might have imagined something so profound could have happened at all.

For now, I choose to believe what I saw and experienced was real and I have the power to combat evil in my life.

Whatever questions I may have, or YOU may have as you read this, clarity comes as a gift to all in time. Perhaps in the near future, I can answer these issues I addressed in this post. Without fear, pain, or confusion.

Good luck to all and thank you for reading! If you like you can use this journal prompt for your own writing.

A Month of Journal Tags: Day 1, The little things I value most in my daily life are…

Sensucht (Dreaming) by Heinrich Vogerer

Journal writing is particularly hard for me because:

  1. I’m tired by the end of the day
  2. I don’t quite know what to say
  3. My thoughts are ALL OVER THE PLACE
  4. . . . I forget. 🙂

That being said, I do think journal writing is extraordinarily important. Therefore, I want to challenge myself! If you would like to join me on my quest to journal every day, feel free to copy, use, and tag the journal prompts I use.

Before I officially begin, the more I thought about what I value every day, the more I realize I love my life and what I have. Gratitude truly lies at the center of a joyful everyday life. Hopefully, I’ll be able to realize this more as days go by.

Let’s go! The little things I value most in my daily life are…

“He is not Here” by Walter Rane

God/My Spiritual Beliefs

My relationship with God and following my religious beliefs day by day is the foundation of my life. I value the time spent reading scriptures, exploring other religions to better understand others, meditating, and sometimes sharing what I believe with others.

I am truly grateful for the joy I receive every day because I’ve chosen to live a virtuous, kind, and thoughtful life.

“Christmas Homecoming” by Norman Rockwell

My Family

Whether I am calling, texting, and visiting with my family members, or even doing family history my connection with my family is precious. I have loving parents, six great siblings, five sister/brother inlaws, multiple nieces and nephews, two living grandparents, and many many other extended family members to love.

I know there are many people who do not know their family or lack a loving family environment. Therefore, my personal connection to such a beautiful family is one of the things I value most.

“Healthy Living” on Dreamstime

My Health

I am SOOO self-conscious of my health. How I treat myself through eating, drinking, and exercising has always been one of my top priorities. This also means I consciously work on my mental health. I value the relationship I have cultivated with my body. Because of this, I never need to worry about being a stranger in my own body.

“Fresh and Cold Soft Drinks” from Dreamstime


There was a poll on Facebook I randomly answered a few days ago that asked, “If you could have a lifetime supply of any beverage, what would it be?”. I chose WATER. I mean that. Sincerely. I understand what a blessing it is to have such easy access to clean water. I value every drink of water I have throughout the day.

“Grace Walking” by Penny Mirande


It wasn’t until recently I noticed how much my body was craving daily walks. I used to walk about 10,000+ steps per day because I didn’t own a car. I really miss the time I had walking, thinking, and connecting to my world. Walking may be slower than riding a car, but it is such a wonderful addition to my daily life!

Now, despite my crazy job schedule, I take time to walk around my neighborhood. It is how I take time to notice what a beautiful world I live in.

“Philosopher Reading” by Jean-Honore Fragonard


I am infinitely grateful for my college experience. My professors instilled in me a passion for daily learning. I’m constantly studying, reading, or listening to something throughout the day. Sometimes I write about what I learn. Most of the time I add it to my arsenal of knowledge I cherish.

Image via Dreamstime.com


From the time I stumbled across a random yoga video in college, I’ve loved how yoga makes me feel. Doing yoga daily helps me sort through my thoughts, burn off daily stress, connect to my body, and strengthen myself physically, spiritually, and mentally. It’s why I wanted to become a yoga teacher several years ago.

“John Lenon- Imagine” by Melissa McCracken


Listening to and performing music has been one of my greatest joys since I was a young child. I thought I would become a singer when I grew up. Now, I value any time I have with music even more because it took me a LONG time to overcome the personal trauma I experienced while studying music in college. I have quite an eclectic taste in music. 🙂 I’ll talk about it sometime in the future.

Nature Watercolor via HappyWall


I need daily grounding in nature. I have plants in my room, know all the nature hot spots where I live and am currently working on my backyard garden. If I could live anywhere I would choose a cabin in the woods in the mountains. Henry David Thoreau got it right in his autobiography Walden when he said,

Image via Dr. Tara’s Sunshine


I. Love. Eating! Food is one of my dearest daily joys. And not all food is created equal! One of my goals whenever I travel anywhere whether it be Europe, Albuquerque, or Orem Utah is to find delicious places to eat and remember. Anywhere I’ve lived I remember the delicious foods I found.

It was truly a joyous moment for me when I let myself enjoy eating nourishing meals and indulgences without guilting myself into eating more or less.

“Happy Birthday Miss Jones” by Norman Rockwell

My Job

Surprise surprise I truly value working as a teacher. My 24-year-old self would want to slap me outside the head but I’ve grown up since that time. I’m finally earning my own money and giving back to my community in a way I enjoy. Granted not every day is wonderful, or a picture-perfect Norman Rockwell painting.

What means the most to me is how much I learn and grow by connecting with children.

Thank you for reading! Again, feel free to use this Journaling Tag. Hope to see you soon!

Mindful Living: The Ukrainian Conflict

Image via Higher Self Yoga

My thoughts are a muddled mess right now. However, I want to write this post so I can let people know what I feel and am thinking about right now concerning the Ukrainian conflict.

War affects everyone differently. For me, I’ve become more and more withdrawn trying to deal with a plethora of emotions, fears, and grim thoughts. Hopefully, I can look back on this post in the future and be comforted.

From 2014 to 2017 I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the South Western part of Russia. This is a precious part of my life on which I reflect often because of the people I know and love there. I lived in Rostov, Krasnodar, Astrakhan, and traveled along the coast and even near the border of Ukraine.

So many people have asked me how I am handling the Ukrainian/Russian conflict. The short answer is. . . it’s a grief I never really thought I would have to face.

War is different when those you know and love are involved. I know many Ukrainians and Russians who live in the areas affected by this war and it’s heartbreaking to see Russia hated because of its leaders.

Gratefully, many Ukrainians don’t hate Russians for the hateful acts of their leaders.

I’ve been impressed by how Ukrainian President Zelensky has reacted and handled this war. His speech to the Russian people especially moved me a few weeks ago. It reminded me of two verses of scripture in the Book of Mormon.

46 And they were doing that which they felt was the aduty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: bInasmuch as ye are not guilty of the cfirst offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.

47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall adefend your families even unto bbloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.

Almas 43:46-47

When he talked to the Russian people directly he didn’t attack them or Putin. He simply laid out the facts and made it clear Ukrainians wouldn’t cave to Putin and his demands. It was a powerful example to me of what it means to fight for a good cause.

This is his speech to the Russian people

I hope his message, along with many others reaches the Russian people.

My heart is breaking, watching the Russian and Ukrainian people suffering so. Like I said before, war affects one differently if it involves people and places they love. And I know what I feel pales in comparison to the sorrow and despair of those living there right now.

I think I understand better the song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from Les Miserable. In the beginning line, it states, “There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on, empty chairs at empty tables. All my friends are dead and gone.”

I wonder if this is how my grandfather felt, fighting in a war against Germany. His father and mother migrated from Prussia right before World War II, leaving behind what would become part of Germany.

I wonder if he ever felt heartbroken at the thought of facing against and killing possible relatives. I wonder if his sorrow in losing so many of his friends felt more bitter because of his connection to Germany.

The people who suffer the most in war are the innocent, everyday men, women, and children forced to endure the tyranny of evil people.

I love Russia, but not for its government. Russians have suffered under bad leadership since their country’s inception. History books record Russia’s leaders, their beliefs, and goals but never its people; the heart and soul of the country itself. They are steadfast, resilient, kind, and generous. The people do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the country they live in.

It’s like Louis L’Amour once said in his novel Last of the Breed.

If our people and your people could sit down together and talk about our families, their farms, and their jobs, I think there would be no trouble. 

‘It is our governments that are continually fencing for position, each trying to gain some advantage.

Russia does not trust its own people. They have built a wall to keep them in …’”.

-Louis L’Amour

What I’m trying to say is I know Vladamir Putin is doing horrendous things under false pretenses. But there are really good people in Russia, many of whom are being arrested for publicly supporting Ukraine and protesting the war.

Perhaps I’ll post about this subject again, to release further feelings and reflect on what I’ve learned. For now, I pray in full sincerity for the people involved in this war. My heart is with them.

I don’t want to let despair rule my life, no matter how much grief I’m carrying. If this isn’t a test of courage and faith, I don’t know what is. Above anything, I want to say I endured this hard time in my life while focused on Christ, God, and their promises of peace and understanding in the future.

Thank you for reading.

Mindful Living: Burning Out

Image of Bugs Bunny from Looney Toons

I didn’t think I would feel the kind of tired I do now for a long while. In the back of my mind I knew being a teacher is tiring. But when I faced it before, like in college, I just shrugged it off and kept chugging along.

I sleep when I need to, eat as healthy as I can, and even regularly do some semblance of exercise. Yet here I am. . . exhausted and ready to sleep a whole week.

When stuck in the moment I wonder to myself, “How did this happen? I thought everything was alright?” Now, my burnout symptoms have crept up on me like a fiendish specter.

Here are the general steps to reaching a burnout. (Steps I hopefully noticed before it is too late.)

Has this happened to you? If you are not quite sure, here are some signs you might be at your limit. Burnt out. Ready to throw in the towel. . . etc. . . . etc. . . etc.

  1. Exhaustion- feeling you could sleep at least twelve hours and still not catch up.
  2. Isolation- Being sick of people and wanting only to be alone.
  3. Depression- Emotions have overwhelmed you to the breaking point.
  4. Dreading Work or Responsibilities- Even the thought of having to take on any work creates great anxiety.
  5. Irritability- Being easily overcome by anger or annoyance at the smallest things.
  6. Trouble Sleeping- Though the exhaustion has piled up, the brain takes too long to shut down and rest.

I actually think this list could go on for a long while. Each of us suffer differently when overwhelmingly exhausted. For me, I thankfully am able to sleep and function somewhat normally despite how much mental strain I’m under. But I recognize I could be in serious trouble if I’m not careful.

So, what do I do now? What does anyone do in this type of situation? I think it is vitally important to early on draw the line of how much you can take on. It is absolutely possible to be TOO BUSY. ALL THE TIME. Take breaks. Say no when you need to. Your health IS important and it does no one any good to sacrifice yourself needlessly for simple busy work.

Mindfulness and meditation are also key to catching ourselves before our exhaustion has gone too far. The more in tune we are to our emotions daily, the better we become at controlling and truly experiencing them.

For myself, I’ll soon be going on spring break. I’ll get a massage, go to the temple, read a lot, watch some shows, do some research, and go to yoga as much as I can. More than anything I’ll simple sit and do nothing blissfully and sincerely.

If there are any of you experiencing this, I wish you the best of luck! May we all stay healthy and in tune with our limitations.

Mindful Living: I Refuse to have a bad day!

Image via Ambitiously Cierra, Turning Around a Bad Day

I remember once upon a time my mother reading to me a book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. When I was a child I couldn’t understand why Alexander was so obsessed with only noticing the bad things happening to him. Perhaps I was still at the age when this was easy. If there is such an age.

Now, as an adult, I can relate to Alexander. It is SOOOO easy to have one or more bad things ruin what could be a perfectly wonderful or ordinary day. For example, yesterday I woke up tired because of daylight savings, just to find myself locked out of my computer when I got to work, “ruining” my lesson plan I had for first period.

I felt so frustrated and at a loss of how to combat the bad feeling I had. When I walked out of another teacher’s classroom, a substitute laptop in hand, I thought to myself, “Am I just going to have a bad day then?”

A far more striking thought entered my mind at that point. I thought, “Only if I let it happen. It’s all up to me and where my focus is.”

I kept that in mind throughout the day and eventually broke out of my slump. But it took a lot of work.

Building a positive mindset is NOT EASY. It’s almost as if we lead our natural emotions like a wild animal away from violent or brash behavior.

What it comes down to is daily mindfulness. It’s easy to give in and believe life is a series of terrible events. Every human being struggles against something. No one has escaped sorrow, anger, or making mistakes.

But it is as Viktor Frank once said.

I think it also matters a great deal what direction we ultimately WANT to go. And, if we find ourselves veering away from our goals and facing cloudy days, we need a way to pull back.

After I stopped and thought about how I wanted my day to go, I went into my classroom and noticed how beautifully the light shone through my window. I took a deep breath, as if drawing in its beauty into myself like liquid courage.

I am in no way a saint when it comes to this. There are times when I get frustrated, emotional, and even scared. But I hope I can draw myself back and believe life is more than just unhappy events.

If I’m not careful, I’ll miss beautiful moments of light, humor, and joy.

Thanks for reading! See you again!