Category Archives: Women’s Toolbox

Spiritual Pampering 101: 5 Ways To Rejuvenate Your Spirit

Life can pull us in many directions.  If we are not mindful, we soon find ourselves overwhelmed with obligations, impatient with ourselves and others, short-tempered, nutritionally challenged, and burned out. It’s important to take a break from the stressors of life so that the body can detoxify and relax and the spirit can expand and grow. If we are to be our best, we need to take time out of our busy schedules for some “me time.”

“Me time” is Spirit time. It is in no way a selfish act.  In fact, spiritual pampering is sacred work.  It is an act of self-care and self-love, and it is vital to our emotional and physical health as it helps to keep us balanced and connected.

BREATHE.  Life is absolutely dependent upon the act of breathing, yet it is a gift that is often taken for granted. Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere, at just about any time. Inhale all the way down to your stomach, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly. Repeat until you feel relaxed and relieved.

“MENDITATION.” Quiet meditation is a mental time-out to help us mend the mind and spirit. Guided visualizations are excellent mental escapes to help you focus your energies on more positive imagery. Picture yourself in a relaxing place like a palm tree lined beach, a desert oasis, or a forest path. You can also practice a moving meditation such as tai chi, qi gong, yoga, or simply walking, all of which will help you to connect with your inner resources.

YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE. It houses your Divine Self. Your physical body is the vehicle that has been loaned to you for you to live out your life while tending to the spiritual energies within. Love and honor your body, exercise, and give it the proper nutrition, rest and respect it deserves. Let nothing in that will desecrate it.

DISCOVER OR REVISIT A HOBBY. Hobbies provide a nice diversion from stress and help you to stay in the moment which helps to reduce tension.

A CHANGE OF SCENERY. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to get away from your everyday surroundings. It doesn’t have to be an exotic, expensive vacation. Take a day, a weekend, or longer and spend it in nature or go on a spiritual retreat where you can focus on renewal. If you can’t get away, designate a sacred space in your home to which you can retreat, and “train” your other family members not to disturb you during your “me time.” Create a personal altar, luxuriate in your tub, and/or light scented candles. Allow your mind to drift in peace.

There are many ways to recharge your inner battery, and these pampering breaks will make you feel better about yourself and elevate your mood and vibrational level.

Expecting The Unexpected — Embracing Unpredictability

The Boy Scouts have a mantra:  Be prepared.

While much of the beauty of life lies in the unexpected — finding $20 on the street or meeting someone who turns out to be the love of your life — there are some things you just can’t prepare for — like going through a break-up, losing your job, or being diagnosed with cancer.

We go from feeling elated to feeling deflated.

Photo Courtesy Google Images

Photo Courtesy Google Images

This is what happens when life throws us a curveball. When it hits, it can be a challenge to face. Turns of fortune, both positive and negative, require us to be flexible and to reconsider our plans and priorities, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

The ability to accept what is happening and let go of our original expectations is key when dealing with these unexpected turns.

We have a tendency to get stuck in our own heads.  We cling to ideas of how we think life should go, and when things don’t go as planned, we find it difficult accepting anything that does not comply with those ideas.

Curveballs are the Universe’s way of keeping us on our toes; it doesn’t want our lives to stagnate or to lose purpose and meaning.

What can be done?

Expect the unexpected.  Things will happen out of the blue and we can’t predict when they will happen.  Life is unpredictable, and no one is immune.  This does not mean to live in a state of fear or dread. Things happen, and it is up to us to create a context for meaning, if we so choose.  We can fear it, or we can embrace it.

This too shall pass.  It’s okay not to be okay…for now.  Feelings of despair are natural when difficult situations unexpectedly occur.  Know that these feelings are temporary as is the situation you’re in.  Give yourself time to grieve and process.

You’re not alone.  Tough times affect people from all walks of life.  We all find ourselves in situations we did not expect and are unsure of how to deal with them.  Talk with others who have faced similar situations.  Having a support system and coping mechanisms in place will help you grow through this.

Drop back and punt.  This is a time-out from what was originally expected or planned.  Take this time to reassess the situation.  This is not a time to cry, “Why me?”  No one is exempt from life’s unpredictability.  Reevaluate your expectations. Many times we allow our expectations to interfere with the joy a natural flow offers.

Change your course of thinking and you change your course of action. So, your party wasn’t the success you had expected. Do you fret over those who did not show? Or do you enjoy quality time with those few who did show?

Acknowledge what happened and keep on living. Take each day at a time, and in that day, take it hour by hour, moment by moment. Time is the best healer, especially in a situation you wish were different. What happened, happened, and you can’t change what happened. You can only move forward. Remember that you are in control of your life, and you can choose how to live in the aftermath.

Look for the “blesson.” Some would call this the silver lining in those clouds that sometimes overshadow our days.  As a friend of mine says, “There’s a blesson in it — a lesson with a blessin’ — and it’s for your highest good. Learn from it and then use it to bless others who are hurting.”

Curveballs are not seemingly random events in our lives.  Something led up to it. There is an order to the Universe of which we are a part, whether we realize it or not. We may not always understand the reason for certain unexpected things happening, but we can draw strength from knowing that there is a greater plan in play.  Things happen for our highest good, and when we align our thinking to this, then there really is nothing to fear.  The “good” will be revealed, if not on our timetable, on the Divine’s.

We always get (attract) what is best or right for us. Sometimes we may need to duck or dodge or alter our game plan when a curveball comes into our lives.  The rules change and so do our expectations. We get to see and approach things differently.  The next time one comes your way, take a deep breath, say thank you, and open your mind to a new opportunity.

Guest Blogger Milla Milunovich: Let Your Gut Be Your Guide

Our bodies are amazing. They feel. They grow. They move. They create.

But when the body is out of sync, it hurts, it bleeds, it oozes, it limps, it bloats, it aches, and so on.  When this happens, it needs to heal to get back into its harmonious rhythm and alignment.

Guest blogger and author Milla Milunovich, a practicing naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist, shares her thoughts about digestive health and what you can do to reboot your body’s natural rhythms.  Her new book Natural Remedies For Common Digestive Problems is now available.

digestive health

Photo Courtesy Google Images

milla - edited version Here’s Milla:

Let’s face it.  There’s nothing more uncomfortable than feeling sluggish, tired, and bloated from an improper diet. It limits what we can do and cramps our lifestyle, literally.

It takes the joy out of living.

There are so many digestive health problems that it is not possible to list them all. While individual symptoms can be similar, each case is unique.

A common and sometimes embarrassing issue that many suffer is constipation.  Technically, constipation is not a digestive problem; rather, it is an elimination problem. But in the context of all digestive problems, constipation is only one part of it, but it is a very important part.

Without proper elimination, the body quickly starts to exhibit “ill” symptoms: weakening digestion due to gut toxicity, improper absorption of nutrients, imbalance of gut flora, and stagnation of vital forces in the body.  The body’s natural rhythms get interrupted and do not work efficiently or effectively.  Such misalignment invites a host of other disorders and diseases.

The other day I read a mother’s story about her two-year-old child, who suffered from a severe case of constipation.  Her daughter developed this condition from the time she started solid foods and did not suffer from constipation while being breast-fed. The surgeon suggested that her daughter undergo surgery for constipation.  He said he’d remove her whole gut, feed her through tubes for six months, and then return it.  How extreme!

What this girl needs is a change in diet, not surgery.  She had developed a severe case after going on solid foods that were not natural. Food devoid of fibre and natural enzymes (enzymes break down 60 – 70% of ingested food) and loaded with sugar, salt, preservatives and additives leads to constipation and kills probiotics (good bacteria) that live in our gut. Without these we can not lead a healthy life or survive.

The body has been designed to eat, digest, and utilise nutrients in order to keep us healthy. Likewise, it has been designed to eliminate the remnants of food that we do not need.  If we eat highly processed foods instead of raw or lightly steamed vegetables and fruit, if we do not support friendly bacteria (probiotics), constipation occurs. Left untreated, it can lead to other physical, mental, and emotional disorders.  Sufferers can grow irritable, intolerant, and fatigued.  They may lack endurance and are frequently ill.  Some may start to fear evacuating what is meant to be evacuated.

To keep our natural rhythms flowing on a daily basis, it is important to:

  • Eat vegetables and fruits
  • Prepare healthy, home-cooked meals
  • Eat digestive protein and fibre
  • Eliminate preservatives, sugar, additives, and food enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and hydrolised vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Avoid processed, pre-made foods

Living consciously means making healthy choices for our bodies. If our bodies are out of alignment, our lives will be out of alignment, and we will miss out on the joy of living.  Let your gut be your guide.

More about this and other digestive problems can be found in Milla’s book Natural Remedies For Common Digestive Problems.

Please comment, share, or leave any questions for Milla in the comment section below.

milla profile pic Milla Milunovich is a Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Usui Reiki Master. Her practice allows her to work one-on-one with clients.  She also employs iridology and flower essences in her consultations. She is especially interested in digestive health. “I think the old saying ‘Death sits in the gut’ is very true — if the gut has problems, it will affect the whole body.” As an alternative practitioner, Milla says she respects science while also respecting spirituality and its effect on humanity as a whole.  “I believe that alternative health has its place with spirituality and conventional medicine to ensure a holistic approach when it comes to physical and mental healing and well being.” In her spare time, Milla likes to paint.  Milla works in Sydney, Australia.  You can e-mail Milla at

Milla’s book is a practical guide to natural remedies for common and sometimes embarrassing digestive health issues using modern and traditional treatments. Suggested remedies rely on a holistic approach utilizing herbs, vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and other ingredients to not only treat the observed symptoms but also resolve the underlying health problem. Order it here.

Compassion — Don’t Be An Idiot

I have a relative who has made some unwise choices in his life.  Those choices are now catching up to him.  The family has suggested changes and offered help that could improve his circumstances.  He says he understands and accepts, but it’s not long before he lapses into his old patterns of behavior, mystifying and hurting those who have offered to help him.

But what they call helping, I call enabling.

What they call compassion, I call idiocy.

When it comes to compassion, we are either wise or we are idiots.

Compassion is desiring that beings be free from suffering. As philosopher Ken Wilber says, “Real compassion includes wisdom and so it makes judgments of care and concern; it says some things are good, and some things are bad, and I will choose to act only on those things that are informed by wisdom and care.”  Wise compassion is skillful compassion; it sees the whole situation and aims to bring release from suffering.

However, idiot compassion, an expression coined by Buddhist meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, involves giving people what they want because we can’t bear to see them suffering.  We do it to avoid causing offense.  Rather than face any conflict, we give in to their pleas and allow them to walk all over us.  This is not compassion at all.  It’s an escape from our feeling of I can’t bear to see them suffering.  We do it for ourselves, not for them, and this kind of “compassion” ends up causing more pain to ourselves and others.  Such “compassion” stems from not having the courage to say no.

For compassion to be effective, we need to first examine our actions.  Are our actions going to be of real help and value?  Or will they actually be supporting an already unhealthy situation?  Staying in an abusive relationship is not compassion.  The compassionate thing to do is to leave, no matter how difficult.  The dynamic must change if healing is to occur.

We also need to be aware of the ego’s need to take credit for doing good deeds.  The ego has an appetite for looking good in front of others. It wants to be liked. It wants to be everyone’s friend. It fears being unpopular. This occurs when we give for our own benefit, not for the recipient’s. Our giving has less to do with what the other person needs, but plenty to do with trying to escape our own feelings of inadequacy.

It takes courage and wisdom to be a truly compassionate person.

As far as my relative goes, he needs to hit that kind of bottom where the people he loves stop giving him the wrong kind of compassion.  There will be pain, no doubt, but causing pain is not the same as causing harm. It’s the kind of pain that is needed in order for healing to occur. Boundaries will need to be set. Support structures will need to put in place.  It’s the kind of compassion that is a wake-up call for all involved.


The Wisdom of Fear

Anything worth doing is going to have some fear attached.

Think about some of the life changes you’ve experienced that brought up deep worries or concerns.

Having a baby.  Getting married.  Getting divorced.  Changing careers.

Big events invite big emotions. And fear can be the big bow atop the gift that awaits us. Do we dare open it? Or not?

Fear has a way of throwing us off balance.  When we tug at its bow, we get the sense that we are unraveling. It makes us feel uncertain and insecure.

We find ourselves questioning whether we really want the new life that these changes will bring. We may also find ourselves releasing and grieving for the past as a necessary part of moving into the new.  But fear is not meant to discourage us.

So, what is fear’s purpose?  And how do we respond to it?

Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, where we hang in balance between our old life and a new one.  Fear, in this sense, is not trying to hold us back, but move us forward to our highest expression.

Fear informs us that the change we are facing is significant, and so approach it with the proper reverence.  The more we learn to respect fear and even welcome it, the more we will be able to hear its wisdom. It lets us know that the time has come to move forward–or not.

We may never feel completely comfortable with fear, but we can honor it, recognize it, listen to what it has to say, and respect it as the bringer of transformation for our life.  Sitting quietly in meditation or journaling about your feelings can bring greater understanding of the change you are making and help you to hurdle any inner obstacles.

We can’t open a gift without first untying the bow.  While fear is a strong emotion, it helps to remember that it almost always comes alongside anything worth doing in our lives. When we work with fear rather than against it, we transform it into the gift of courage so that we can move forward to our highest and best self.


Are Your Maybes Holding You Hostage?


Consider the implications of this one word.

How many times have you said, “Maybe I will do that,” or “Maybe I like that,” or “Maybe later.”

Most of our maybes are another way of saying, “Um, I just don’t know.”  It reeks of hesitancy, and it’s another way of putting life on hold.

Of course, there are times when saying maybe is the exact non-action we need to take.  We wouldn’t want to jump into anything that would actually put our lives in jeopardy.  But we can only sit on the fence for so long before distress and confusion set in.  Better to decide and live with the decision of yes or no, or your maybe will hold you hostage until you take some kind of action.

Lingering too long in the purgatory of maybe slows our creativity.  Sometimes it stops our progress altogether.  At their best, our maybes are our future possibilities, but if we remain inactive or indecisive, those possibilities will remain unrealized.  The more we remain in the realm of maybe, the more uninspired we become.  This can lead to anxiety, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, addiction, and giving up.

Many times people use maybe because they don’t want to be held accountable for their commitments (or possible commitments). But living an authentic life, one in which you are true to yourself, means being ready, willing, and able to transform those maybes into nos and yeses. The moment we replace maybe with either a yes or a no, we generate movement. We become unstuck and our inspiration, creativity, and confidence begin to flow.

Transforming your maybes begins with some self-examination and internal spring cleaning. This can be as simple as making a list of maybes in your life.  Consider all areas (personal, financial, vocational, spiritual, physical, relational, etc.).  This means all the things you are undecided about, including any unfinished projects that are loitering inside your closets. Bring them all out into the open where you can face them head-on.

Decide what you are not going to give your time and energy to. This is where you will take action to dissolve any commitments that no longer serve your highest good.  If any commitment has resulted and continues to result in energy drain, it’s time to say no to it. Bless it as you release it, and give gratitude for it once having served you.

Now decide on what you are going to say yes to.  Be clear and open about it.  This means being conscious of what you are committing yourself to. Again, do what you need to do to renew your commitment to it, and begin. You will feel a sense of renewal within yourself, one that gives you the energy and inspiration to move forward.

As for any lingering maybes, give them a deadline, not too far into the future, when you will decide either yes or no.

When we are intentional and conscious about our nos and yeses, there won’t be any room for the maybes to hold us hostage.


Focus On The What, Not The Why

I once took a philosophy exam that contained only one question:  “Why?”

After thinking back to what we covered during the semester, I wrote:  “Why not?”

I got an “A” for the course.

The more we open ourselves to living consciously and creating our lives on our terms, we let go of any need to know the why of it all.

Growing spiritually requires a lot of internal work, but it is not an investigation into why things are the way they are — why so-and-so didn’t love me, why you keep repeating the same mistakes, why this or that happened or didn’t happen.

Focusing on the why is divisive; in fact, it’s part of the blame and shame game.  The why question really asks who is to blame.

When others ask us why, more often than not it feels like a threat.  Our defenses go up. We grow resistant to those asking us why we are the way we are or why we don’t do what they want us to do.  The moment gets robbed of its joy, and we interrupt our authentic living.

Note in your present conversations how often you ask why.  Note how it affects others when asked, and note how you are affected when you are asked.  Then work to release these whys.


By focusing on the what of it all.  Instead of asking, “Why did this happen?,” ask “What just happened?” or “What is going on here?”  Instead of asking, “Why did this happen to me?,” ask, “What brought me to this place in my life?”, or “What’s the relationship between the past and what’s happening now?” Rather than ask why you don’t have a particular something in your life, acknowledge what you don’t have, and then do the necessary work to create it.

In the course of a relationship, the whys and hows will pop up when we step away from our awareness.  When this happens, simply take note but move on so that you or the other is not left feeling victimized.

The why is really part of someone else’s story.  Why someone behaves in a way that is uncharacteristic or in a way that you do not understand is his or her story, not yours, and it is not yours to fix.  Be aware of your own story, and know that only you can take the necessary steps to change things for yourself.

When we know the what of a situation, we can use this information to heal and move forward in creating and customizing our life.



Honor Your Intuition

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

Intuition is our guiding inner compass, that “sense of knowing” without any logical explanation for it.

It provides us with an additional level of information that does not come from the analytical or rational side of the brain.

It’s that feeling that something’s either right or wrong, safe or unsafe.  You just know that you know, and you have no rational way of explaining it.

When we pay attention to it, it points us in the right direction.

But all too often, people miss their hits of intuition because they get too caught up in their own thoughts to recognize these hits.  When we are disconnected from our intuition, we find ourselves busily weighing the pros and cons, or thinking about the “how-to’s” and the “what-if’s.”

Einstein said, ” The only real valuable thing is intuition.”  This coming from a scientist in a profession known for operating from the left side of the brain.

Intuition is a gift that is available to all of us.  We each have it within us.  It’s a matter of recognizing and cultivating it.

To “hear” intuitive messages, you must first quiet your mind.  This “hearing” can come in the form of an image, feeling, sensation, even a dream.  If you’re caught up in the noise of excessive thinking, your intuition can’t come through.  A short meditation, some deep breathing, or taking a walk will help you to center yourself, but find what works best for you. A general sense of feeling neutral and calm is a good sign that you are centered.

This is a good time to check in with your body and energy.  If you pay close attention, you will feel your intuition in your physical body.  Think about a decision that’s been pressing on your mind.  Do you feel a sensation of physical resistance? Tension in your chest, neck, and shoulders?  A knot in your stomach?  This is your intuition saying “no” to a particular situation or decision.

Are you experiencing a feeling of expansiveness in your heart area?  Do you feel a certain lightness of being?  Do you feel energized?  Do you feel yourself being pulled in one direction? This is your intuition saying “yes.”

The sensations you feel in your body are a direct link to the answer that you are seeking.

If you go straight into your head, without considering what you are feeling physically, then connecting with your intuition will take some time.  Pause and check in with yourself; note what you are feeling and trust your responses.  If you’re questioning whether or not you really know something, then you are over-thinking it; however, chances are that if you’re not sure if something is right for you, the answer is probably “no.”  On the other hand, if you know something is right for you, the physical response will be undeniable because your senses will be automatically heightened.

After quieting your mind and checking in with yourself and your body, ask a specific question of your inner guidance system.  The more specific the question, the clearer your intuition will answer.  It’s best to focus on one question at a time.  This way, you won’t get confused about the intuitive information that you receive.  Keep it simple.  Note your impressions and/or feelings without analyzing or judging. The second you begin over-thinking or weighing your options, you’re just going to confuse yourself.  You may want to try journaling for clarity so that you get clear on what you do want versus what you don’t want.

Honoring your intuition doesn’t mean making drastic, sudden or risky changes.  Instead, ask your intuition, “What is the next step that is right for me?” Maybe your intuition is prompting you to leave your job or to change careers.  Rather than quit right away, take the time to gather information about your options.  Update your resume, explore other career options, enroll in classes, speak to others in those careers.  This helps you to honor your intuition, while taking the necessary steps toward the life you want.

Our intuition is what guides us.  It is energy, and energy is a flow.  This energy wants to move.  The more clearly it flows, the better.  It can come through many channels.  As we open our hearts, eyes, and minds, our intuition will move more effectively and quickly.  Our feelings are our feedback to the Universe, letting it know what we like and dislike and what feels good and bad to us. Connecting to what we are feeling allows the Universe to clearly focus its flow in the direction we want.


Living The High Life

Day 21 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages. 29 Days Template (19)

Today’s words of wisdom come from Leo Buscaglia, American author and motivational speaker:

The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.”

Many people think that living a spiritual life requires attending religious services, observing rituals, and studying religious texts.

For others, the spiritual life is not all about following traditional structures when it comes to the Sacred.

It’s not the kind of life that one leaves in the church pew at the end of the service or forgets about once the meditation session is finished.

The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower” may seem like a simple, ordinary act. The act becomes sacred because through it we connect with creation and Creator.  What was once ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The fact that I can…share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s” may seem like the typical process of education.  This act becomes sacred because through sharing we are giving selflessly to others.  What better way to share with others than to share a bit of knowledge that creates awareness for others so that they can plant themselves and grow.

The fact that I can…smile at someone and receive a smile in return” may seem like a simple, friendly gesture, but this act becomes sacred because through it we connect with others. A smile is something that is understood in every language.  It is universal.  It says, “I acknowledge and accept you as a sacred being.”

Spirituality is the kind of life that flows through all areas of our lives, connecting us to all that is around us and within us.

Everything we do becomes a sacred act.

Talk about living the high life.

A Toast To Presence

Day 20 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

We are either practicing the Presence of the Sacred or Its Absence.

29 Days Template (18)

There’s no middle ground.

How does this translate into daily life?

Ask yourself if you are content.

Are you?

Today’s tidbit of wisdom comes from Abraham Lincoln, when he says:  “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”

We are only as happy as we want to be.

Making up our minds to be happy means we don’t need to look any further than ourselves. Abe’s statement implies choice. Either we choose to be happy, or we don’t. Happiness is entirely up to us.  We are in charge of it, not anyone or anything else.

So, why do so many people feel that they just don’t have enough? Why isn’t enough enough?

Because they are practicing Absence rather than Presence.

They’ve latched onto attachment, and they can’t let go. Well, let me rephrase that. They won’t let go. They’ve become attached to being attached to outward things that they think, feel, or believe will make them happy.

Yet, when they attain those things, they’re still not happy (though they may be temporarily). When that temporary feeling wears off, they begin seeking once more. It’s an exercise in futility, not fulfillment.

Anyone in a state of seeking can never be truly happy; they’re so busy acquiring things that they don’t have the time to appreciate what they already have. Their minds are constantly focusing on the next prize. They get attached to the outcome. They get addicted to attachment. If they didn’t, they would be resting in what they already have; they would find that they have enough.

Practicing Presence is not about unnecessary self-denial. There’s nothing wrong with having money or possessions; although, some people do go to the other extreme, thinking that to be spiritual means living a life of renunciation, where they give up or avoid gifts, money, experiences, and people in fear of being selfish or attached. They become attached to not being attached.

Practicing Presence is about taking responsibility for our own happiness. It’s not about seeking happiness; it’s about allowing ourselves to be happy. If we are to be happy, then we are to do things that make us happy.  If we do things that contribute to our unhappiness, then we will feel it going against the grain of our core, and we will remain unhappy unless we make the necessary changes, whatever they may be. champagne glass

Practicing Absence leaves a void to be filled. Without self-examination, we find ourselves filling this void with things that do not last. We may even try to numb the emptiness with drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances or behaviors.

Practicing Presence fills this void with the champagne of joy that bubbles up from within and spills outward into our lives.  We find ourselves filled with gratitude for what we have and for who we are.  Our perspective evolves.  Our lives change.

When we choose to be happy, we practice Presence in our lives.  We allow Presence to work its mystery.  We allow it to guide us.  We allow it to create with us and for us.  We move from futility to fulfillment.

I’ll toast to that.