Conscious Living

Making choices that are good for us, our animals, and the planet

By Janice Brown

ConsciousLivingIconThe way we live our lives is a reflection of the things that are important to us. Every day we are faced with choices that create a ripple effect—sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Like many of you, I am a busy woman who does not always have time to research the most eco-friendly, economic, sustainable, fair-traded, organic, local option when making a decision. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed attempting to “do the right thing,” but that doesn’t mean I stop trying.

In addition to the internal struggle about our choices, there is also external social pressure to contend with. Statements such as: “How can you be a vegetarian and wear leather shoes?” or “I can’t believe you are so involved in animal rescue but you still eat meat,” seem so judgmental to me. Why does it have to be all or nothing? It’s this kind of thinking that can discourage people from continuing down a healthier, more conscious road—feeling like a failure or a fraud if they don’t give up all of their worldly possessions and move off the grid. It doesn’t have to be that way. As the old Chinese proverb states: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a signal step.”

We’re introducing our new “Conscious Living” section to bring our animal-loving readers information about experiences, products, services, etc. that may not focus solely on pets, but align with the TAILS mission at large. I believe that generally speaking, people who love animals are more inclined to care about the environment, healthy living, and social issues.

For our first column, I’m sharing something that has been a part of my life, in one form or another, since I was a teenager: Exercise.

Until a few years ago, I sought out physical activities I could do while listening to music or watching TV, so I could tune out and make the time pass more quickly. Then, three years ago, I took my first Bar Method class. It totally changed my life. This self-declared “nonmorning person” began waking up at 6 a.m. and attending classes on a regular basis. After the first 30 days I saw huge results, and I was hooked. And of course, the benefits were not just physical. It was just the thing my mind needed, too.

In my 20s, I was a personal trainer. I would remind clients about the announcement we hear on the airplane prior to takeoff: “If you are traveling with small children, place the oxygen mask over your own mouth and nose first, before assisting others.” It makes so much sense. How can we take care of anyone else if we do not take care of ourselves first? With all of the different roles I play—mom, wife, pet parent, business owner, friend—taking that one hour just for ME helps me to create balance in my life.

Any exercise is great. But I have stayed with the Bar Method because it encourages me to tune in to my body. The small, repetitive, intentional movements focus my attention on my posture, breathing, and muscles—which means worries about my to-do list, kids, and job deadlines can’t swirl around my brain and distract me.

Having a place that is all my own keeps me healthy and strong, both physically and mentally. I am a better mom, wife, boss, friend, and woman when I take care of myself, and in turn I can better take care of others.

Self-care is not selfish. It is a key ingredient to health and wellness for you, and ultimately for those you love. When you are radiating positive energy, it shows.

If you don’t believe me, watch your pet. Their innate desire to run, jump, and play allows them to release stress and stay in balance. Pets teach another lesson, too: Don’t forget to nap after all that playing!

Whatever your form of exercise or self-care, make the time to do something just for YOU—you deserve it.


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