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3 Steps to Living a Purpose-Filled Life

3 Steps to Living a Purpose-Filled Life

For most of my life, I lived in darkness. I lived a life void of purpose and meaning. I chased outward success and thought that material possessions and achievements would bring me the life of happiness and joy I craved.

But I was wrong.

As the recipient of horrific bullying in middle school, I lost nearly all of my self-worth. My confidence had been so badly bruised and I thought that the only way to regain self-esteem was by attaining outward material success. And that is how I lived my life for two and a half decades.

I was out to prove the bullies wrong, that I was not the loser they said I was, and thought material possessions would be proof of my success, thus restoring my self-worth that had been stripped away from me years earlier.

The problem with this though was that I defined my existence through the eyes of the ego, as so many people tend to do.

And when we look at life through the lens of the ego, we measure our value from three pivotal viewpoints. First, what we have. Second, what we do. Third, what other people say about us.

The ego loves labels. And we fall victim to believing these definitions and living our life according to them. This inevitably leads to a life void of purpose and meaning. In fact, this will prevent us from ever discovering our true life’s calling 100% of the time.

For most of my life, that’s exactly what I did. I lived my life according to these definitions and labels. The problem was that each time I succeeded by material standards, I was left feeling even worse than before. My successes came and went. They were always fleeting because success gained on the competitive plane of existence is rarely, if ever,  permanent.

My life lacked meaning and purpose. It lacked pure joy. It lacked time with those I love.

And I reached a point where I just knew there had to be more to life than this. As a result, I started out on a quest to find out who I truly was and what I was put on this earth to do. I started questioning my very existence and in the process discovered many truths that were previously lying dormant in my soul.

See, I spent my whole life trying to BE ACCOMPLISHED until I decided to BE FREE.

What I discovered is that each of us comes into this life with a purpose, a dharma, and it is up to us to find out what that dharma is.

It is up to us to find out what we signed up for when we came into this human life. All too often people get sidetracked. They get stuck living a life they don’t love void of meaning and purpose. And then it’s too late.

Imagine if tomorrow was your last day on earth.  Could you comfortably say that you fulfilled your destiny? Or would you be filled with regret that you never did or accomplished what you really wanted to – what they knew you could do, what you know you were meant to do?

In her book entitled, “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying,” palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware,  interviewed her patients who were on their deathbed, literally, and asked them if they had any regrets.

The number one regret that most people had time and time again was not living up to their full potential and following their dreams.

And this is what “Don’t die with your music still inside of you” means, and that’s why living a purpose-filled life is so important

But what if you don’t know what your dharma is? How do you find out? Where do you being?

I have identified a three-step process to discovering your dharma and living a purpose-filled life.

Step 1: Turn Inward

To begin, you must first turn inward and connect to your true essence.

Discovering your dharma is an inward process. It must come to you rather than you going and finding it somewhere else, somewhere outside of yourself. The best way I know how to do this is to meditate. You must quiet the chit-chat of your own inner dialogue and let Spirit, Source Energy, the Divine, speak TO you.

When you listen to the Universe you will always be led in the right direction. It’s when we think we are smarter than Spirit that we run into problems. And when we meditate, transcend to Source, and allow Source to speak to us, many of our questions are answered.

Step 2:  Surrender

Second, you must surrender to the care of the Universe and let the Universe lead the way. In doing so you can feel confident knowing the answer will come to you.

“If you knew. If you knew who walked beside you at all times on this path that you have chosen, you could never experience doubt or fear again” says a Course in Miracles.

So be gentle about it. Don’t try to force it. Be gentle with yourself and let go and surrender.

Step 3: Enjoy the journey!

It’s all part of your Divine plan and the journey can be just as fun as the actual discovery itself if you allow it to be.

Remember the wise words of Buddha who said, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”

The Subtle-Yet Critical Distinction-Between Gratitude and Appreciation

The Subtle-Yet Critical Distinction-Between Gratitude and Appreciation

Gratitude. It’s a word we hear a lot these days. In most personal development teachings, we talk about gratitude and the incredible power that gratitude harnesses. In my book, Give A Shift: 10 Simple Steps To An Abundant Life, I devote an entire chapter to gratitude.

In this chapter, I go to great lengths to distinguish what I call “convenient gratitude” from “deliberate gratitude.” Convenient gratitude, I argue, is when people wait for major milestones in their lives before they stop and show their gratitude for what has happened. A new job. A new home. A new baby. A new relationship. You get the idea. These are the things that cause people to pause and recognize the wonderful blessings that have been bestowed on them.

This, I write, is in contrast to deliberate gratitude. Deliberate gratitude is training your brain to be grateful for the seemingly small things that we experience in our lives each and every day. These are not things that happen to us, but rather things around us. The miracles that surround us every day. The feel of the warm sun on our face after a long winter. The blossoming of the flowers. The magic of a sunset. The miracle of reproductionfrom plants to animals to people. And on and on.

When we stop and show gratitude for these miracles, more of them tend to show up in our lives. And the more we show gratitude, the higher we are able to raise our vibration and come into alignment with Source Energy.

As it turns out, this is only part of the story.

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend my first Abraham-Hicks workshop. It was more powerful than I could ever have imagined!

Not surprisingly, the idea of gratitude came up. But not in the way I thought it would.

Abraham said that most people approach gratitude from the standpoint of acknowledging what was previously missing from their lives. From this standpoint, they are putting themselves in a negative vibration. Wow! I had never even considered that. This type of gratitude is, in fact, similar to what I call convenient gratitude; the “getting” of things previously missing from one’s life. But I had never considered this a bad thing, but rather just not the only thing.

Abraham continued to explain that not only does this type of gratitude focus on what was or is missing and causing a negative vibration but that this negative vibration will only keep more wonderful things from happening – the exact opposite of what most people think would happen by showing gratitude in these situations, myself included!

Furthermore, Abraham said that gratitude in this nature is usually based in resentment. Resentment! I was trying to wrap my head around what Abraham was saying. Yes, I agree that this kind of gratitude isn’t the best, but mostly because opportunities to express gratitude in this sense are typically few and far between, not because the basis of it was resentment!

I needed to stop and think about this some more. And when I did, it all made perfect sense.

What Abraham was saying was that when we finally show gratitude like this, what we are really saying is, “I was waiting for this to happen because I wasn’t really happy without it.” Bingo. There’s the resentment. And with resentment comes the negative vibration. With the resentment comes more things to be resentful for, as the universal law dictates. You attract the very things that match your vibration. Negative vibration, negative experiences.

Instead of using the term gratitude, Abraham suggests we use the word appreciation or satisfaction.

When you show your appreciation for someone or something, it is not based on the prior absence of it. Rather, it is based in the true sincere recognition and enjoyment of it. And this stance is only one of positivity. And this, in turn, raises your vibration and brings your vibration in harmony with your Source thus attracting to you more things to be appreciative for!

I suppose this viewpoint is more in line with what I refer to as deliberate gratitude, but I still feel there is a subtle yet important distinction. Appreciation has a more positive sound to me. It just feels better. It feels more natural. Deliberate gratitude almost feels like work, not at all what I had intended.

Thank you, Abraham, for this critical clarification. I sincerely appreciate it!

How To Become The Best Version of Yourself With 4 Simple Steps

How To Become The Best Version of Yourself With 4 Simple Steps

In order to live your best life personally, professionally, and spiritually, you have to live what is called a God-conscious life. Don’t get thrown off by the term “God.” Call it whatever you want. The term refers to the invisible intelligence that created the entire universe–the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent energy that is the source of everything else.

But what does it mean to live a God-conscious life, and how can it help you become the best version of yourself you can be?

First of all, it is a way of life. In fact, it’s something the happiest, most prosperous people on the planet deliberately strive for each and every day.

Second, it is a state of being that gets stronger every day. It is not a chore or a task. Eventually, it will radiate from the inside out.

Third, it is not a destination that is ever actually reached. Rather, it is a path, a journey that you continue throughout your life. You will walk towards but never reach. Reaching it would imply an end and Source Energy has no beginning nor end.

But even if we can’t get “there”, wherever there is, it’s still a way of life worth pursuing. Why? Because it is from here that you can ultimately have, do, or be anything you want and it is from here that you will see miracles show up time and time again in your life.

The Tao Te Ching teaches us that there are 4 virtues to live from and Lao Tzu promises that if you live your life according to them you will live a God-conscious life.

In other words, practicing these 4 things every day will help you become the very best version of yourself you can be and live your very best life. Isn’t that what we all want?

1: Reverence For All Life

Having reverence for life meaning loving all life forms including all plants, animals, and people. We must revere all life forms and see all life as individual expressions of God. When you do this, you instantly remove all forms of judgment from your life which blocks the flow of the Divine Spirit from coming to you. Live from a place of unconditional love for all life, including yourself and watch the miracles start appearing in your life.

2: Gentleness

Gentleness is exactly what you think: being kind to everyone and everything and having a deep sense of compassion for others. Kindness, gentleness, compassion, and love are at the heart of this second virtue. And when you live a God-conscious life, you will always put gentleness above all else. This means letting go of false beliefs your ego wants you to hold onto, beliefs about right and wrong, good and bad, and so on. There is no room for being right when you live from a place of gentleness. When you have the choice to be right or kind, always choose kind.

3: Authenticity and Simplicity

To live our best life, we must be true to ourselves. We must live from a place of authenticity and simplicity. Don’t over complicate your life by trying to be someone you are not. At the same time, you must also follow through on what you say. Be the person you say you are; don’t be a phony. Walk the walk and talk the talk.

4: Service

This virtue teaches us to put giving and serving at the heart of everything we do. Each day, you must ask, “How may I serve?” And when you do so without expectation of reward, you are living from your highest self, and the Universe will respond by saying, “How may I serve you?”

If you look closely at all four virtues, and what it means to live a God-conscious life, it all boils down to one essential element: always choose love over fear.

To live a God-conscious life according to the 4 cardinal virtues you must let go of your ego, your false sense of self, and connect to your true authentic nature, your Divine source, your Spirit. And when you are connected to Source Energy, you become what I like to say is a magnet for miracles!

In fact, true God-conscious people actually become miracle workers themselves! They can create and manifest virtually anything they want. As Joel Goldsmith said, “In the presence of the God-realized, the laws of the material world do not apply.”

I encourage you each day to be mindful of these 4 virtues and live your life according to them. I promise you that when you do, your life will be overflowing with blessings and you will truly become the very best version of yourself you can possibly be! xx

 

 

700,000 Hours and Counting: 5 Things You MUST Do In Order To Reach Your Full Potential and Live Your Best Life

700,000 Hours and Counting: 5 Things You MUST Do In Order To Reach Your Full Potential and Live Your Best Life

It has been said that we are spiritual beings having temporary human experiences. And I believe this to be true. But have you ever thought about how temporary your human experience might actually be?

While this may sound depressing, it is actually meant to be quite the opposite. It is meant to inspire you to live your best life NOW so you can reach and unleash your full potential!

But let me ask you something. When you hear or read “700,000 hours” as a measurement of time, what comes to mind? I recently conducted an informal study of this very question. I asked my friends and family to try to translate that unit of time into something more relatable. How long did they think 700,000 hours was (without stopping to calculate it – just off the top of their head)? I asked them if it sounded like a long period of time or a relatively short period of time. Though their answers varied, one common theme stood out: most people felt that 700,000 hours seemed like a relatively short amount of time. Some thought it perhaps equaled one year, others said a few years and still others said around five years or so. Does this question have you wondering just how long 700,000 hours is???

Turns out that 700,000 hours is equal to 80 years.

Yup. 80 years! Think about it for a second. The average human life expectancy is around 80 years or only 700,000 hours! When you measure your human existence in terms of hours, it suddenly seems shockingly short! At 42, I have already lived over half of this timeframe so, in theory, I have less than 350,000 hours left to go (give or take a few thousand on either side, I suppose).  

Our lives are a gift, but they can also be shockingly short. I know it’s a cliche that people take life for granted, but it’s true. Most people do.

So, how can you maximize your human experience and live your best life, temporary though it may be?

I encourage you to live each day by the following 5 credos:

  1. Discover your dharma

 

In her book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, palliative nurse Bronnie Ware, tells us that the number one regret of the dying is that they wish they had had the courage to live their lives true to themselves, not the lives others expected of them. In other words, they wish they had had the courage to follow their dreams.

Each of us has a dharma, a purpose in life, and it is up to us to find out what that purpose is. In doing so, we will be able to truly fulfill our individual destinies and reach our full potential.

The majority of people never discover their true calling or have the courage to follow it if they do. Sadly, too many people die with their music still inside of them.

Don’t let that be you.

You must listen to your inner calling. Don’t ignore it! Let yourself be guided by God and don’t underestimate your intuition. Your intuition is your Source speaking to you, but too many of us think we are smarter than Source. We let our egos get the best of us and we let our egos rather than intuition lead the way.

If you have a burning desire, you must follow it. You must nurture it and give it room to grow and blossom. Fear stops people in their tracks time and time again. Fear of what others will think. Fear of failing. Fear of humiliation. Fear of not knowing if it will “work out”. But fear is nothing more than your ego telling you it is smarter than your Source. And as a Course in Miracles teaches us, fear is the opposite of love. Fear is the kiss of death to discovering your destiny and reaching your full potential.

To live a purpose-filled life, we must lead always with love and let love lead the way. Only then can we fulfill our destinies, reach our full potential, and live our best lives.

  1. Being a workaholic is NOT a prerequisite for success

In today’s society, hustling has become synonymous with success. “Hustle” has become today’s hottest mantra. If you've spent any amount of time browsing through online entrepreneurial or success sites, you've likely read countless tidbits extolling the virtues of hustling…

“Hustle until your haters ask if you're hiring.”

“Turn down your feelings, turn up your hustle.”

and, of course, “Good things come to those who hustle.”

At first blush, the hustle rhetoric seems harmless. After all, we all want to succeed! And, of course, hard work and dedication are a big part of building a business or a career, aren't they?

If you're like me, you probably grew up hearing about how success comes to those who put their nose to the grindstone. How life is a constant struggle and you need to stay focused and make the best of it. We're taught from a young age that work is SUPPOSED to be hard. My father used to tell me all the time “That's why they call it work and not play!” And that to reach the level of success you truly desire you must work long, exhausting hours to do so.

But what happens to people who buy into the idea of 24/7 hustle? Who work constantly and let stress, resentment, and negative energies build up in their bodies?

They get burnt out and they end up hating what they do, leaving them unfilled both professionally and personally.

In my book Give A Shift I discuss the fact that the hustle mindset is a consequence of a scarcity mindset. A reaction to the idea of constant competition, the idea that there is a finite amount of success available in the world and that those who don't work like crazy every day of the week will inevitably fall behind as others grab up the opportunities.

Total bullshift, if you ask me!

The truth is that there are an infinite number of opportunities available. Hell, you can even create your own! This idea of scarcity is exactly what's keeping most people locked up in their office and missing out on what the rest of life has to offer. Letting go off that mindset? It was one of the most liberating and freeing decisions of my life.

And now I have created the life I want by surrendering than hustling, by letting go rather than leaning in, and by discovering and using my Superpower to create any reality I wantand you can too!

  1. You become what you think about whether you know it or not

Oddly enough, thoughts are things most people never even think about. Strange, right? Human beings have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts per day and yet most people are totally unaware of the power of their thoughts and so do very little to guard them.

Rather, like many people, I had always let my thoughts control me. They came naturally, and I never considered the quality of my thoughts. I had never even thought to think about my thoughts. I believed my thoughts were mine alone, and that they stayed within the physical boundaries of my human head.

Because of this, and because of the competitive plane I existed on, I allowed myself to think anything I wanted without any knowledge of the implications. Sometimes, they were thoughts of envy or jealousy. Other times, it was criticism and judgment. Of course, good thoughts were there too: thoughts of love, happy and joyful thoughts, thankful thoughts. The problem was that every thought was random and just came and went at its leisure without any contemplation on my part at all.

But our thoughts are literally our Superpower. Our thoughts are like 3D printers in our subconscious minds printing out exactly what we put in.

You have—all of us have—a power so strong within us that it is literally like a magical force, like superpower quality! How cool is that? Yet how absolutely tragic it is that so few people even know they possess this superpower.?

Thoughts are vibratory impulses of energy and information. And, contrary to popular belief, these thought vibrations do not remain in your head. Rather, they are sent out into the universe as intentions, as your “wishes,” if you will. Thoughts control the entire vibratory quality of your being. They send out a vibratory signal and send back to you things that reside only on that same frequency.

And like with all waves—like sound waves and light waves—once thought waves have been created and transmitted out into the universe, you cannot take them back or change them. That would be equivalent to thinking that sounds waves could be reversed. Well, the same is true for thoughts. You cannot undo your thoughts or rewind them. You can, however, learn to control your thoughts, intentions, and feelings. And when you do, you can use your superpower to attract the means and methodologies you need to manifest all that you want in life, regardless of the years and decades of wrong thinking you may have had.

According to Charles Haanel in his book The Master Key System, “Thought is the plastic material with which we build images of our growing conception of life.” Thoughts, the energy waves that make up our thoughts, become building plans that manifest as reality. Legendary author Wallace Wattles said it perfectly: “As a man thinketh, so he becomes.” Try to grasp how utterly mind-blowing this is. Our thoughts literally control our destiny. And rather than this being some kind of wishful thinking, quantum physics is at the heart of it all. And though this is a gargantuan concept to understand, when you do understand it, it will be one of the most significant life-altering concepts you will ever come to know.

  1. You have the power to literally change the world

Let me explain how I can make such a bold claim. See, this is more than lip service. You literally have the power to impact and change the world because we all share one human consciousness.

Everything in life is made up of energy. Spiritual teachers have been teaching us this for thousands of years and now science proves this to be so. As such, we are also made up of energy that merely appears as individual forms. But our energy interacts with everyone else’s energy. And it doesn’t just and not only interacts with it but also impacts it. This is really powerful because it literally means we can live from higher and higher states of consciousness and raise the consciousness of those around usour friends, family, and communitysimply by raising our own!

One way we can continuously raise our consciousness is through meditation. In fact,

one form of meditation I practice twice a day for 20 minutes is Transcendental Meditation (TM). It’s been proven that TM can and does impact the planet at large. The “Maharishi Effect” is the term that refers to the fact that individual consciousness actually impacts our collective consciousness, and a large number of studies have been undertaken to prove this theory.

One such study was conducted in Washington, DC, in the early 1990s by quantum physicist John Hagelin. At this time, DC was riddled with excessive crime. The goal of the study was to show that if enough people practiced TM together twice a day, it would have a significant impact on criminal behavior. The hypothesis was met with much skepticism by many prominent professionals. However, much to the amazement of many, there was an unprecedented 23 percent reduction in crime during this time. There’s a practice called “Yogic Flying” which involves high brainwave coherence, and studies on this phenomenon have shown that 7000 individuals practicing it together can actually reduce violent and negative trends on a GLOBAL scale!

When we raise our own consciousness, we can literally transform the world!

  1. Nourish your body like your life depends on itbecause it does

Our physical bodies are miracles.  Even though they are temporary, they are miraculous. There are 6 trillion reactions happening in our bodies per second. Per second! And each one knows what the others are doing. Our cells dance in a perfectly choreographed arrangement all day, every day without any effort on our part at all. So, even though we are spiritual beings having a temporary human existence, our physical bodies are our soul’s temple, (at least for the time being).

We must take care of and protect these temples as if they are sacred and holy which they are.

When one part of our basic functions becomes disturbed, the entire being becomes disrupted. 

Most of us tend to take our bodies for granted, expecting them to just work perfectly without giving it much thought, until they suddenly experience a sickness, disease, or other illness.  Too many people beat up their bodies up year after year after year, and seem to have no regard for the miracle their physical body actually is.

My friend and mentor, Joe Polish sums it up perfectly. He always says:

“If you owned a million dollar race horse, would you feed it garbage and not exercise it properly? No, you would provide the very best of everything to keep the horse in optimal condition.”

The same is true of us. To operate at peak performance and become all we were meant to be, we must treasure our bodies and revere the miraculous wonders they are.

After all, these bodies don’t last forever, right? So to live your best life, follow these 5 credos every day so you can make the most of your own 700,000 hours.

 

The Real “Holy Water”

The Real “Holy Water”

Did you know that June 8 was World Oceans Day? According to worldoceansday.org, this day was dedicated to “Preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean.”

I refer to the ocean as my love potion. (I think that I first heard Dr. Dyer coin this phrase and it has stuck with me ever since!)

The ocean has always been a source of healing to me. It draws me in like a magnet: I live near the ocean, I vacation on the ocean, I need the ocean.

And I’m not the only one.

As a matter of fact, we all need the ocean. Life on earth would not exist without it,  yet we as humans give it such little regard that we are all but destroying it at an alarming rate. In fact, I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t realize how badly I was contributing to the problem until recently.

Did you know that approximately 16 billion pounds of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to Science Magazine?

That’s right, plastic. Something we have all grown up depending on. Something that is as ubiquitous to our everyday lives as watching television or brushing our teeth. Something we use in so many ways each day, without even thinking about it. And something that, while making our lives easier or more comfortable, has sickened our planet — in particular, our oceans, and the plants and animals that call it home.

The ocean covers over 70% of our earth’s surface. Its vastness is almost too great to comprehend. The majority of marine life, nearly 90%, has yet to be discovered or explored. And yet, garage patches in the earth’s oceans are growing at an astonishing rate.

These garbage patches collect in what are called the five gyres; five distinct areas in the earth’s oceans. According to National Geographic, a gyre is a large circular area of stationary, calm water. Picture a gyre as basically a swirling vortex created by the underlying currents of the water. While there are many smaller gyres across the globe, the five major ones reside in the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Because of the currents underneath the surface of the water, the calm water on top, and diminished winds, garbage and debris are drawn into the gyres and can stay there for years, even decades, building up over time.

The largest garbage patch is in the North Pacific Ocean located between Hawaii and California. It is often called the Pacific trash vortex or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It was first discovered in 1997 by oceanographer Charles Moore when he was sailing from Hawaii to back to California. He noted that “In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments.” This patch is now said to be three times larger than France!.

And this problem? It is only getting worse.

One reason for this is that people underestimate the severity of the situation, especially if they live inland away from the coast. Studies have shown, however, that inland plastics tend to wind up in our oceans anyway, making their way into rivers and streams and eventually being carried to the seas.

Another reason is that people put too much faith in recycling. Recycling, while a fantastic concept, often has severe limitations in practice that many of us are unaware of. The cost of recycling plastic is expensive and, without a profitable market in which to sell the recycled plastic, most recycling companies don’t even recycle it. Instead, they sell it to developing nations who in turn, don’t recycle the plastic either.

Many people also claim that they themselves don’t see any floating plastic and therefore conclude that it must not really be as big of a problem as reported. This is also a flawed premise. Aside from the vast masses of plastic that collect at the water’s surface, wind, waves, and other movement convert larger plastic material into microplastics which can be smaller than a grain of rice.

Good news, right? Wrong.

Plastic never “goes away.” It stays in landfills or oceans indefinitely. Just because the material changes into smaller particles doesn’t make it any less harmful to life on earth. Why? Because microplastics are either consumed by marine life or settle into ecosystems below, often destroying or severely impacting the marine life that makes these ecosystems their home. These smaller plastic particles are often called the smog of the ocean, if that gives you an idea of how unhealthy they are!

But enough of the problem. Let’s focus on the solution. As Mother Teresa said when she was asked to march in opposition to the war in Vietnam: “I will never take part in an anti-war rally but when you decide to have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

I have adopted that philosophy in my own life as well, bringing my attention and focus to what I want rather than what I don’t want. Remember, what you focus on expands, whether you know it or not; whether you want it to or not.

In this case, I want clean oceans, so let’s turn our attention there!

Green Ocean Wave

1. Reduce Your Use

The #1 thing we can do is to reduce the amount of plastic we use or buy. This was the most significant change I made once I learned of the devastating impact that single-use plastics have on our oceans. I now shop at stores that offer a paper bag option and use reusable bags whenever I can. Instead of relying on plastic sandwich bags, I reach for tupperware, especially when it comes to my children’s school lunches. This helps to teach them the importance of re-use as well!

I am also more cognisant of the amount of plastic used in packaging, especially toy packaging. I can think of very few toys that truly need to be protected as though they were a Tiffany diamond! Not to mention, so many of these packages are nearly impossible to open — it’s just such a needless waste of plastic! These days, I try to choose products with little to no packaging.

Things like drink boxes with plastic straws destined for the garbage or snacks packaged individually in plastic wrappers have just about been removed from our consumption (and, as an added bonus, we’re often eating far more healthily as a result!).

Lastly, my family and I now all have reusable water bottles for both hot and cold beverages. Now, even our Starbucks run is garbage free!

2. Get involved!

Partnering with organizations dedicated to preserving and protecting the oceans is something else I am now committed to — and you can join me! I’ll even help you get started — check out Coastal Living's 11 Amazing Organizations Dedicated to Saving Our Oceans.

3. Focus on Progress Not Perfection

I have adopted a “progress not perfection” mindset so I can feel good about the changes I have made and will continue to make as I focus steadfastly on protecting one of the most valuable resources on earth. I am committed to doing all I can in order to continue to bathe in the beauty of the oceans, my love potion, for years to come. Maybe it seems daunting to you, to make so many changes at once. Trust me, I get it!  But remember: you don’t have to be perfect, or 100% consistent, 100% of the time.

You just need to take the first step.

I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it…

I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it…

Last June, my Dad’s health took a major turn for the worse. My sister and I didn’t honestly think Dad would make it to see Father’s Day. My mom, sister, and I started planning for what seemed to be the end. It was excruciatingly painful.

But in classic Dad fashion, he found the strength to keep fighting and continues to grace us with his presence. In fact, Dad and I were even able to make our annual Christmas bread this year, something I honestly believed I would not get to do.

Making our Polish babka has been a tradition for decades. Dad learned the recipe from his great-grandmother and it has been passed down through each generation. When I was little, I would wait eagerly for the day my dad would finally make this delectable treat. Most of the time, I would just watch him and marvel at his concoction. And then as I got older, I assisted him with the baking. And now, because my dad is so weak, I have assumed the role of lead baker while still under the watchful eye of my dad.

The precision required for this bread is nothing short of an advanced chemistry experiment that you can eat at the end. As a scientist, this always appealed to my father. Scald the milk precisely to this temperature, set the proofing oven precisely to that temperature, and not a degree more or less, let the dough rise two times, and on and on. The details are exact, and the finished product is the most delicious bread I have ever tasted.

But this bread is more than just something tasty to eat for me. It’s family memories. It’s tradition. It’s the spirit of the Holidays. It’s joy, laughter, and happiness in every loaf. But most of all it’s LOVE. Love of family. Love of giving. Love of helping and serving. Love of tradition. Love of life. And the love between a father and his little girl…

I fear this was the last time I got to experience this magic with my Dad. Who knows, I hope I am wrong about this, but I don't think so. But no matter what, these memories with my dad will last a lifetime.

And so, during this Holiday season, whatever it is that you celebrate, I hope you will celebrate LOVE most of all.

Thanks, Dad. I love you more than you can possibly know.