Category Archives: Joy

Is Self Care Selfish?

Many mothers will tell you that they put their children and families needs first. Now while taking care of your family is and should be a high priority….taking care of yourself FIRST should be an even higher priority. Often our societal norms dictate that we should be selfless, and think of others before ourselves, that it is selfish to think of yourself.

I learned early on when I had young children that I needed what I called “mommy time” every once and a while. My mom or my husband would take the kids off to do something fun with them, and I could just BE. I didn’t have to do anything. In fact, just sitting on the sofa reading a book or taking a nap was heaven. This time was vital for me.

Now that the kids are grown, I’m finding a new way to have “my time” and it is essential. With the corporate clients I work with, there are so many who have calendars that are jam-packed. Recently in a meeting with an HR Director, she was trying to find a time for a follow-up meeting, and I saw as she scrolled through her calendar, that is was non-stop meetings from 8 to 5 every single day for weeks in advance. I asked her if she’s catching up on her real work after she puts her kids to bed and I could tell I hit a nerve. Yes, she was taking time after hours to complete what should have been her normal day-to-day tasks.

It is not an uncommon story. Unfortunately, I see it more and more and this is NOT sustainable. 

Scheduling time for self-care is not a luxury—it’s a necessity!

When you take care of yourself first, you are then able to give more to others. Why do you think on airplanes you’re supposed to put your air mask on first before your kids? Same reasoning. If you aren’t doing well, how can you expect to take care of others?

So drop the guilt or the shame or the overwhelm. Be selfish! Because it’s not! Block out time in your calendar if you have to. Otherwise, there’s a high risk that eventually you may burn out or that your body will give you a major health issue that will stop you in your tracks.

Discover the things that feed your soul and put them into your days and weeks regularly. It can be taking a walk, being out in nature, painting, yoga, meditation, biking, spending quality time with your best friend, dancing, skiing, whatever it might be. Just do it! You will be glad. Especially because it’s the things that recharge our batteries that will give us a life we love to live.

What’s Your Word for 2018?

Do you think of a theme or a word for each year? It’s a great exercise someone recently mentioned to me. I’ve decided that this year’s theme for me is evolution. It’s one of my core words anyway and it feels appropriate for this year as well.

One of my favorite sayings is “Life is change. Change is constant. Growth is optional.” I’ve lived by this for many years now. I believe that life happens FOR us not TO us. When we can make this mental shift, we drop the victim mentality and start to think that the Universe has our back, even through the challenges and tough times, which if you are breathing, you WILL have! It’s a part of the human experience.

It is often through the toughest times that we can grow and evolve the most. It somehow forces us to dig deep inside and find what we need to make it through the challenges. At least that has been my experience.

So choosing growth, choosing to evolve, and leaning into trust that things are going to work out for you in the long run, makes it possible to be strong and resilient through whatever life may throw your way. We ALL have an inner core strength of courage and those difficult times helps you to grow.

Growth of course can happen in good times as well. It seems like when you are reaching for goals, dreams, and desires that are outside of your comfort zone, you learn to expand your comfort zone to make it bigger. And guess, what? It stays there!

Two years ago when I released my personal story, 1,352 Days, I ended up all over the media in Sweden. I was on radio and TV shows, even LIVE TV, doing interviews in Swedish (holy cow!! that was a HUGE stretch for me!). For most of the interviews, I was pretty calm inside and the reason is because I was (and still am) very purpose driven. I knew that I had a message to share and get out into the world and if I could use my personal story of immense challenges to inspire others, and to share that no matter what happens, choose love over fear, then I was willing to expand my comfort zone as far as I needed. That was a year of huge evolution to me.

I believe that our world is going through a HUGE evolution right now as well. It seems like so many people I know are having to deal with their emotional baggage, issues that they might not have dealt with or wanted to deal with. But now is the time for each of us to do the internal clearing and healing. Watching what has happened with the #MeToo movement all over the world is both bringing up issues and (hopefully) healing for those who have experienced any sort of harassment.

It is time for us to embrace the changes, to consciously create the world we want to live in, and to take our power back—both individually and collectively. Together we are stronger. We have the opportunity to step into our best selves and we are evolving.

So what is your word for 2018?

3 Tips for Finding Joy in Change

Life is change. Change is constant. Growth is optional.

This has always been one of my favorite sayings and a mantra in my life. Just as the seasons changes each year, so does our life. We have cycles and patterns and it’s good to identify what those are because therein often lies important lessons for us to learn.

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in Sweden this month. Swedes have a great way of celebrating this milestone in a young person’s life. The day is a full day of activities and events all around celebrating the end of this phase of life.

As a mom watching this, I became very aware of my own feelings as well. It’s been a mix of happiness and joy, pride in her accomplishments, and an underlying sadness that has been hard for me to find words for. But I finally figured out what it is, especially for mothers.

We are the caretakers of our children for around 18 years on average (yes, I know kids are living at home longer these days for a variety of reasons but let’s stick to the average).  This has been one of my purposes in life—being a mom. It’s been one of my absolute favorite “roles.” And I see that soon, this role will be ending. I will never stop being a mom but I will no longer be the caretaker. My daughter is entering adulthood and will be taking care of herself. And I’m thrilled for that. My only hope is that I’ve equipped her well enough to manage whatever life might throw her way. And of course, I’ll be here always as her mom, as a support, and as a friend.

It’s fun to embrace life and to grow with the changes. And when you know that change is constant, it makes the ride all that more fun to be on. You can find that joy in all the constant changes. Because you never know what really might be around the corner. Science studies have shown that change is good for us. It stimulates the brain and helps keep us active.

Here are three tips that have helped me along my own journey:

  • Expect change and embrace it rather than being afraid of change
  • Trust that change is happening FOR you for a good reason. You are not a victim and there are always lessons in all challenges so look for that so that you can…
  • Learn to grow from changes. When you find those lessons you will naturally grow and evolve into an even better version of yourself!

So my reflections from this period in my own life are to love the moments. Seize those small moments that you love and try to fill your day with many of them. Because life keeps moving forward no matter what and it’s only up to us to make it an amazing journey!

Love With a Scientific Twist

Love is the essence of who we all are. It’s the one thing we all have in common that we want and need to have in our lives…and often feel like we are lacking the most. Love to me is an acronym: Living On Vibrant Energy. Because love is vibrant energy flowing through you and into your life.

In the Bringing Joy series of picture books, Joy shows how we can “plug” into Source energy, which is the same as love. When we are feeling like we are lacking in love, it is only because we are “unplugged” in some way from that vibrant energy.

We can’t see electricity but we know it’s there and that it words for us. It’s the same with Source energy or love. We can’t see it but we know when we feel it or have it in our lives.

The Institute of Heartmath has been studying the heart and its mysteries for almost 20 years. Their findings are fascinating. Did you know that:

  • The heart emits electromagnetic fields that change according to your emotions
  • The human heart’s electromagnetic field can be measured up to several feet away from the body
  • Positive emotions create physiological benefits in your body
  • You can boost your immune system by conjuring up positive emotions
  • Negative emotions can create nervous system chaos but positive emotions do the opposite
  • The heart has a system of neurons that have both short and long term memory, and that their signals sent to the brain can affect our emotional experiences
  • In fetal development, the heart forms and starts beating before the brain is developed
  • The mother’s brainwaves can synchronize with her baby’s heartbeats
  • The heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa
  • Positive emotions help the brain in creativity and innovative problem solving
  • Positive emotions can increase the brain’s ability to make good decisions
  • That the heart’s electromagnetic field is approximately 60 times stronger than the brain

The Institute of Heartmath is teaching about coherence and how to reach it. This is essentially when your heart is open and you are experiencing a state of love and gratitude. Love and gratitude are the strongest positive emotions.

Another book I highly recommend is Hidden Message in Water by Emoto Masaru. He looks at the world from the camera lens of capturing crystals as they are forming on freezing water. He has also discovered that love and gratitude create the most beautiful crystals.

It’s very exciting to see so much research happening about love, our hearts, our emotions, and how we can learn to use all this knowledge to better our lives.

Why Small Moments Matter

Reading up on the latest future trends and technologies, I can sometimes geek out. I’m fascinated to know what might be coming. We have entered a phase of accelerated change—things are going to happen so quickly and I do believe that many of the new technologies will be able to transform our world. The big key to all of this is to find your own inner peace and joy.

In all that I do, I have a core message that is simply choose love over fear. If you can live each day focusing on those small moments, looking for joy and all that is going well, you’ll find that at the end of the day, you can string these moments throughout the day (often bridging over the challenges and negativity) to realize that it was a pretty good day. And doing this every day means your weeks turn out pretty good, and in the end, chances are you’ll live a pretty darn good life!

This is a way of practicing gratitude very consciously.

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A concept I share regularly with others is that you need to watch closely what you “feed your brain.” It’s so easy these days to get bombarded with negativity. You really have to make an effort to counter balance all the negativity with a lot of positive information. One of my latest favorite tricks (especially on my Facebook feed) is looking at awe-inspiring images. I’ve liked several pages that just post amazing pictures so my newsfeed is filled with beautiful pictures. And it makes me feel joy!

Appreciation is one of the fastest ways to feel better too. Whether you are showing gratitude to others or for those small moments, it shifts your way of looking at the world. You see things from a more positive light. I’m not saying it’s always easy. It’s very similar to a muscle that needs to be trained. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. So make that conscious choice each and every day.

The last thing I’d like to share is how you can keep your own peace. Just imagine the eye of the storm. It’s always calm and lovely while there’s a raging storm going on all around. Be that eye of the storm in your life. Make that choice! Learn to not go into knee-jerk reactions but rather, put a pause in, a space, where you can choose exactly how you want to respond. You can do this through taking three deep breathes before saying anything, taking a walk, being very mindful and be aware of your emotions. Don’t let things get to you, keep that peace inside of you and you will be a positive force to be reckoned with that will help to calm others as well. I promise that!

You are welcome to download one of my favorite tools, the Joyometer, at www.KarinVolo.com to help you learn to manage your emotions.

There are so many tricks we can use to consciously work on gratitude. What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear about them.