Do Bad Things Always Happen To You? A Balinese Lesson In Embracing Negativity

How many times have you said, “Why do bad things always happen to me,” or, compare yourself to someone else saying, “Nothing bad ever happens to them”? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this at times. Many of us believe that in order to live a happy life, there can be no negativity.

But, what if instead of fighting the negative things in our life we embraced them?

That was a lesson I learned during my most recent trip to Bali. Our guide took us to the Tirta Empul (Holy Spring Temple) near Ubud where we watched locals go through a series of ritual baths. As we walked around, the guide explained the significance of the various baths, alters and areas of the spiritual compound. At one point I was asked to tie my hair back so as not to be confused with Rangda, the demon queen who has wild crazy hair. I obviously obliged.

Later, I saw a statue of this demon queen and people leaving offerings the same way they were for Barong, the leader of the hosts of good. Confused, I asked our guide why people were praying to this evil spirit. “It’s important to recognize and praise both the good and evil in our life,” he told us. “Life doesn’t come without negativity and without it, we wouldn’t be able to recognize all the good. If you fight Rangda, she’ll get fiercer. But, if you acknowledge her, she’s not as scary.”

He was so right. So often when bad things happen or negativity comes into our life we try to fight against it through anger and fear. If we instead simply acknowledged that bad is just as much a part of our life as good then it can prevent us from falling into the rabbit hole of “everything bad always happens to me.” There will always be ebbs and flows, highs and lows; none of us are immune. But, rather than make things harder when those lows do happen, simply acknowledge the negativity, pay it some respect, and know positivity is not far behind.  

‘Project Runway’ Judge Nina Garcia’s Healthy Travel Advice: ‘Learn From The French’

Nina Garcia is one of those enviable women where you have to ask, “How does she do it all?” The 51-year-old is the Fashion Director at Elle and Marie Claire magazines, and has been a judge on Project Runway since its premiere season. Here career and personal passion for travel have brought her all over the world (she just traveled to both Peru and Paris) and the fashionista seems to do it all with ease. Luckily, she opened up to me recently about her secret to staying healthy (and sane) with seemingly no free time. Hint: her dog has something to do with it.

Q: You travel so much, how do you stay healthy on the go?

A: That is a great question that I think many people struggle to find the answer to. Here’s what I’ve found works for me: walk as much as possible and don’t give yourself a chance to fall into the slump of jet leg. The best cure for tired travelers is to hop on a treadmill and get that blood pumping. Otherwise it’s a downhill battle.

Q: What’s the hardest part about traveling and staying fit?

A: That’s an easy one. All the eating. Who doesn’t want to eat all of the amazing fare when they are traveling? Certainly, I do. Since I usually cook at home with the family, it is disruptive to my diet and my overall health. But I try to make up for it by doing some extra walking around the city.

Q: How has being on the road so much changed your health routine?

A: It’s changed it quite a bit. I’ve learned that it’s okay to get on the health wagon and occasionally fall off from time to time when you find yourself in a new place with amazing food and little time for a formal workout (it’s hard to justify not taking a bite or two). But I’ve learned that we can use technology as a tool to help us keep track of our overall health. When I was in Peru, for example, I wore my Huawei Fit [a light weight fitness smartwatch] while I climbed Machu Picchu. I never would have guessed that I was capable of taking that many steps.

Q: Have you learned any wellness advice from other cultures?

A: Yes, the French. Everything in moderation.

Q: Where are some of your favorite places in the world and what’s still on your bucket list?

A: It’s too hard, even to name a few - I really love exploring and seeing new places. Last year was filled with some incredible trips. I went to Alaska, Macchu Piccu and Cuba. Every place was breathtaking. I’d love to visit Africa. Going on a safari sounds like a dream. Patagonia is on my list, too

Q: What about when you are home, how do you maintain a healthy regimen?

A: I got Titan, a golden retriever, in March 2016 and he has been a huge part of my life. Titan has actually made my whole family healthier because we all get out and walk him together. Any pet owner knows that it’s all about routine, and dogs absolutely must get their exercise. It has also been great for my sons to feel a sense of responsibility for him as well. It keeps us all on track.

3 Life Lessons From A Peruvian Shaman

Machu Picchu is one of those destinations that has been on my bucket list likely since birth. Ranking in my top three places I must see ASAP (the others are Antarctica and seeing molten lava), I knew I had to book a trip sooner rather than later. That’s exactly what I did last month, but kicked it up a notch.

For starters, instead of just taking the bus up the mountain to see the incredible ruins, my husband and I opted to hike from kilometer 104. If you’ve ever considered going to the ancient site yourself, I highly recommend this trek. It’s the perfect middle ground if you like a bit of a challenge, but prefer not to sleep at smelly campsites when doing the five-day-long Inca Trail hike. You get the experience of the trail with a comfy hotel bed at the end (my idea of camping). Bonus: you get to see other Inca sites only reachable by foot like Winaywayna.
Next, wanting to fully take advantage of Machu Picchu, we decided to go back up the mountain the next day. This time with a Peruvian shaman. The Sumaq Hotel in Aguas Calientes offered this incredible opportunity to have a mystical tour of the grounds and learn about magical connections with Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the sacred temples. It is called the Sacred Valley after all!

Though we had been there the day before, it was a completely different experience arriving at sunrise with the shaman. He took hours explaining the history and meaning behind the many different parts of Machu Picchu. But, these were the biggest (and most practical) lessons I learned.
1. Big Ideas Start Small

While we were walking around, the shaman stopped at a rather unassuming wall (see picture above). He explained, with the help of an English interpreter, that the wall was built strangely with smaller rocks on the bottom supporting the large rocks on top. This was meant to signify that it’s the smaller ideas that allow our grand ideas to come to life. It’s a reminder to embrace and nurture our everyday thoughts to create support for our bigger, more creative thoughts of the future.
2. Slow Down
With many tour guides, their goal is to get you in and out as quickly as possible. At the end of our tour, the shaman took us to a grassy spot overlooking Machu Picchu and told us just to sit in silence and take in the moment. We could meditate, we could keep our eyes open or closed, we could lay down, we could do whatever we wanted, as long as we just soaked in the moment. How often do we have people instructing us to slow down? Usually it’s quite the opposite. The handful of minutes (I’m not even sure how long we sat there), gave me time to reflect on my goals for the future while appreciating the present.
3. We Can Rid Ourselves of Negativity
While the shaman went through a whole purification ceremony using crystals, coca leaves and other cosmic offerings, it was really the instruction of thinking about the negative energies in my life that left me feeling lighter. Before blessing us and using what looked like a handcrafted wand to whisk away negativity, he instructed that I think about the things bringing me down and how I wanted them to change. It was giving myself this time for some self-reflection that helped me work through some issues causing me stress. We don’t need a healer or magic wand to rid ourselves of negativity. We just need to devote the time to knowing we want a change.

Feng Shui Works. Find Out How To Make It Work For You.

If you read through all 30 of my health lessons I learned before I turned 30 (SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER HERE), you may have noticed one of the items was "Feng Shui works." Well, guess what? It does!

Feng Shui is a practice that I've learned over the years from my mom who just so happens to be an expert on the subject. I got so into the ancient practice, I began to research it more on my own and implement into my own life. Don't believe me? Listen to this story.

I had set up my money corner (check out he bagua map above to see where it is in your home) according to the principles of Feng Shui, but I felt like I was stuck in terms of increasing my income. So, I went over to that area one day and noticed the piggy bank was so full I couldn't put in any more money. I swiftly took that piggy bank to the bank, emptied it out, brought it home and put new money in it with the intention of I wanted new money to flow into our lives. Within a week both my husband and I got raises. 

Convinced yet? 

The practice of Feng Shui is often shrouded in confusion or is simplified to just cleaning up your home. Many people think of it as some kooky, munchy crunchy thing that hippies do. So, I figured I'd take one step with this newsletter to break through that misconception.

I promise there are no sacrifices or weird rituals you need to perform; just some simple changes in your space and you'll see a world of difference. 

While that basic idea does have benefits, there are some better and more surprising ways to take that energy flow a step further. "Feng Shui, particularly Holistic Feng Shui, goes beyond organizing your space because its not about moving your couch and getting rich" Laura Benko, author of the book The Holistic Home: Mind Body Spirit Space, told me. "It's connecting the dots between the challenges in your life and how they can physically manifest in your environment." 

Here are five simple Feng Shui tips you can implement right now to feel a difference: 

1. Take Command of Your Life By Moving Your Bed or Desk
As humans we spend most of our time at work or asleep in bed. So, how the energy flows during those precious hours can have a tremendous effect on your life. If you're feeling vulnerable or out of control, start by moving your bed or desk. "Most people don’t give much thought to the connection between how a piece of their furniture is located and how it can broaden a perspective, boost confidence and facilitate goals," says Laura. "But, one of the main tenants of Feng Shui is about the power of position." For example, if your back is to the door at work or you cannot see who is approaching your bed, you are not in command. "Give yourself an advantage by positioning yourself in the commanding spot wherever you can," says Laura. "If it's structurally impossible to situate yourself in this way (let's say your desk is a fixed cubicle or a commanding wall in the bedroom is impeded by a closet, radiator, etc) then set up a mirror in front of you so when you look in it, it reflects the entrance behind you."
 2. Check Your Mirrors and Décor to Break Bad Patterns
Major common issues like feeling stuck, having a fear of commitment or feeling like you don't measure up can all be stemming from the positioning of items in your environment. "Your home can reveal your subconscious issues," says Laura. "For example, if you haven't updated your decor in eons, chances are you are living in the past in other ways too." If you want to move forward you have to add new elements to your space and get rid of items from the past that could have a negative connotation.  If you feel like you're constantly not good enough your mirrors could be positioned too high. To change that perception, make sure to have a full-length mirror where you can view yourself frequently. Having mirrors that cut off the body can create a disconnect between your mind and body and distort how you view yourself. "The good news is, once you are aware of the connections, the fixes are easy and when your adjusted environment is in alignment with your goals, your mindset will follow."
3. Adjust your Nightstands and You'll Have A Better Relationship
Relationship problems are probably one of the most common concerns for many of us. A lack of balance between a couple can lead to arguments and even breakups. And those seeking relationships can find it increasingly more difficult. "The most common issue I see is a lack of balanced nightstands which inevitably mirror a lack of balance in a (romantic) relationship," says Laura. "The don't have to be match-matchy, just make sure that they are equal in height and quality. Nightstands are like energetic anchors in a relationship."
4. Clear Your Bedroom For A Better Nights Sleep
 Does your bedroom also work as your occasional workspace, workout room, library or electronics center? "Get rid of anything that is a reminder of tasks, exercise or a To-Do list," says Laura. "Place your bed in the commanding position so that you subconsciously feel empowered and not easily startled and you'll sleep better." And while it might be nice to catch that late-night show from bed, Laura suggests that you get rid of electronics in the bedroom. "Electronic pollution impedes a peaceful nights sleep."
5. Ditch Your Decorator
 It's considered a luxury if you have an interior designer or fashionable friend to decorate your home. Though your house may look like it's out of a magazine, it can affect your overall well being. "Being surrounded in a home that is filled with choices that are not your own can have a significant impact on your own inner voice and your confidence to share your opinions," says Laura. "Go over every item in your home and ask yourself 'Do I love it? Does it represent me? Will I use it?' Fill your home with items that you judiciously edit, that hold significant meaning and make you happy." When you create your home what you want your want out of life can more easily happen.
6. You Don’t Have to Use the Color Red
Red is a very powerful color in Feng Shui as it carries the energy element of fire. Many basic articles or books on the topic suggest using this color because it can spark passion, wealth and luck in your life. But, if you don't like the color, you shouldn't use it. "If you don't resonate with it don't do it because you think it will bring you luck," says Laura. "Your discontent will beget itself and put you into an awful mood. And that is not good Feng Shui!"