Category Archives: Books I Love

Minding My Business: How I’m Making 2017 My Year

I don’t know about you, but right about now I’m more than a little concerned about the state of our country and our world. There are any number of terrifying scenarios that can (and do, sometimes) keep my brain running late into the night. At times the heaviness mounts to a pressure that threatens to crush my little spirit. How can we make a difference?
In these moments, especially, I lean heavily on my self-rescue toolbox. I push the pause button on my fear and I practice what I preach. I take a deep breath and channel Byron Katie: What’s my business? And I start there.
Some may wonder: How does this help? 
Well, let me tell you. When your airplane is going down and your cabin is losing pressure, you just must absolutely put on your own oxygen mask first. There is no way to be a hero, no way to comfort those around you, no way to make one smidge of difference until you are breathing yourself.
And so, here we are. In our plane which some might say is dangerously close to going down….and I’m putting on my mask.
What does that look like? You ask.
I’m happy to tell you.
Getting a Brighter Focus: Self-Rescue Blueprint
 
When I’m in need of a recalibration, this is my jam. There are probably millions of billions of ways to do each of these steps, so that’s where your own unique creativity comes in. Play with them, make it an experiment, and let me know how it goes!
 
  1. Get Quiet
  2. Think Big
  3. Start Small
  4. Give Thanks
Get Quiet
For me, this requires taking intentional space and time, alone, to just breathe and be. I absolutely must by comfy, so you’ll likely find me in slippers, soft pants, and a hoodie. I suggest you do the same. I might be biased.
Bre comfy
Spend some time, in this quiet alone space, with your breath. You might meditate. You might light a candle and sit in the dark. You might lie on your back and stare at the ceiling with your hands on your belly. You might be in a hot epsom salt bath. Whatever it is, just tune in to yourself and relax. Whenever I do this, I’m astonished by how much tension my body carries out of habit; and as soon as I notice it I feel it start to melt away. It is so magical, and so worth the 10 minutes!
During my quiet time I experiment with fun ways to help me get in touch with my spirit and the loving nature of the Universe. Pick one and start there. Some of my favorites right now:
sticky note affirmations
Think Big
 
Once I’m centered in myself and feeling calm and good, I want to take full advantage of the theta waves I’ve produced. I get to work. What to do while in this headspace?
Start Small
 
After getting all creative and big picture, it’s time to break it down. Teeny tiny bite-sized chunks is what we’re going for here. Whatever it is you just thought Big about, come up with the very smallest, very first thing you’ll need to do to scooch toward it.
Ask: What is the very next step?
 
And now, the hard part: Do that. At the very least, make a non-negotiable date in your calendar to get it done.
Give Thanks
 
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on all that didn’t go right, or what we wished we had, or on all that we’ve lost. When we can shift our focus, even just the tiniest bit, to what we do have, what went right, what gifts the challenge brought us, then a magical thing happens. We begin to take control of our own happiness. We transform our reality by changing our take on it. And it feels really fricking good in the moment. So now’s your chance…try it.
Ideas for finding gratitude:
i am only one
This process could take days or weeks, or it could take minutes. If you’re pressed for time, but committed to shifting your energy and effectiveness, make friends with your timer.
Let’s make 2017 the year we did not refuse to do the something that we could do. Will you join me?
 

Spring-Clean Your Self-Care

Spring is a time of year for renewal and new beginnings. Whether it’s by planting your garden, decluttering, cleaning house, or just opening up the windows, this time of year beckons us back to life. Around our house, kids can be found playing outdoors in the late evening sun, bags of clothes are being passed on to friends, and the bathroom is getting a deep clean.
spring
After a long dreary winter (especially here in Portland), our psyches & bodies can accumulate just as much dust as our windowsills. This could feel heavy, tired, or like you’re emotionally stuck in quicksand.

Here are 3 easy ways to spring clean your self-care, to blow the dust out of our chimneys, open all the windows, and let the light stream in.

1. Hydrate
A super easy way to help our bodies process and purge the harsh leftovers from our winter indulgences is to up our water intake. You don’t need to drink so much that your bladder feels like it’s going to burst every 5 minutes, just enough to really get things flowing for a few days. When I’m trying to flush my system, I aim to drink enough that I pee every hour. I also like to up the detoxifying effects (and make it super yum) by adding a drop of lemon, lime, or grapefruit essential oil (just make sure it is certified pure!).

2. Take Time for Yourself
Contrary to its name, ‘Me Time’ isn’t selfish, it’s actually one of the most sefless things we can do. As natural givers we are often serving others and helping to meet their needs. In order to do this with authenticity and love, we must be taking care of ourselves regularly. This spring, commit to adding one small act of ‘Me Time’ to your daily routine–and if you don’t already practice it, make it a Morning Ritual.

A Morning Ritual is a bit of time that you devote to your own self-care (and if this is a new concept to you, read this awesome book!). You may do some yoga or stretching, read a passage from an inspirational book, mindfully make a cup of tea, sit quietly in reflection, write in a journal, or any practice that connects you more fully with your own aliveness in the present moment. It can be as little as one minute (seriously), but I promise you will be amazed at what a difference it makes to your day!

A good morning. #affirmations #doterralove #morningritual

A photo posted by @breanacrosshall on

3. Sweat
Any way you do it, movement that raises your heart rate is an excellent way to release the bad stuff we’ve stored up and make more capacity for the good stuff. Start with 5 minute segments: power walk around the block, hula hoop, jump rope, dance to your favorite song, have a horse stance competition with your kids, or plank. The increase in oxygen and blood flow, and the endorphins that exercise releases will turbo charge your next several hours…it’s a better high than coffee!!

Do you have a self-care habit you’d like to share? Please leave it in the comments below!!


If you’re in need of a more serious self-care intervention, check out this post. 

And if your body could use some extra help coming back to life, join me for a free essential oils class (in person or virtual) to learn about my favorite natural way to supercharge my health. Just shoot me a message here and we’ll work out a time to talk!

Hope you feel the vibrancy & aliveness of this magical season!

My Best Year Yet

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver

fall leaves road

Every fall I spend a night or two away, alone, gathering the highlights and disappointments from my previous year, extrapolating lessons learned, re-committing to my values and the roles I play in my life, and setting goals for the year ahead. This process is outlined in Jinny Ditzler’s book Your Best Year Yet, which is a contender on my shelf of Top 10.

Best Year Yet by Jinny Ditzler

This tradition began for me in 2008. Embroiled in the not-so-easy task of raising small children, continuing my work as a sign language interpreter, managing rental properties, and being a stellar wife, my then-husband Rich and I adopted the practice of stealing away overnight to clarify and re-commit to our values and priorities. We worked through this process individually and then shared our highest hopes and deepest intentions with each other, lending support and accountability and in the process strengthening our own resolve. This process became a centerpiece of our year, and we would return rejuvenated and inspired with a clear and do-able action plan for the coming weeks and months.

Breana at Best Year Yet 2008

Breana at Best Year Yet 2008

When I came out in 2010 and Rich and I ended our marriage, this practice became my lighthouse–keeping me anchored in my values, successes, and intentions even as the seas raged around and within me and my world felt so very vulnerable. Taking the time to be still and quiet, to reconnect with all I held dear, was an act of faith and self-love.

Today I spend much more than one night a year alone and contemplating these foundational structures of my life. I take time every morning to nourish myself and affirm my vision, and yet, this special weekend remains a touchstone–a time to be quiet and still in nature and to get a bird’s-eye-view on this one precious life I am living.

Hank at the beach

Hank in heaven

This morning Hank and I woke in the dark to the tinkling melody of raindrops on the tin roof, cuddled up in a sweet cozy trailer on the Oregon coast, with nothing to do but play, ponder, and write. As the wind smacked wet needles across our cheeks we headed to the beach and played fetch in the flying sand, watching the sky lighten around us. On this beach 100 miles from my bed, from my kids and work and partner and friends, I get to take a good long look at what I’ve created and then etch the intention on my heart for what will come next. In this trailer I take complete responsibility for the beauty and the disappointment in my life, and I employ my boundless creativity to make it exactly as I envision. When I return home this evening I will have a single-page outline to guide me into this coming best year, my well overflowing, energized and ready to serve.

From this carved-out space between days I send up a flare to you, dear reader. How will you claim a sacred moment for yourself to make the most of your one precious life?

 

 

I Don’t Buy Books

9.8 times out of 10 I check out a book from the library before I’ll consider buying it (I’m so in love with the Multnomah County Library‘s digitized catalog and hold-placing system…ask me about it sometime!). I check out the book and read it before I ever think about buying it. Sometimes, if it’s really good, I’ll get a chapter in and know that I want to own it so I can highlight, sticky-note all my favorite pages, write in the margins and take it everywhere (aka: get sand, coffee, and water on it). Other times I read the library’s copy all the way through and then I buy it and read it all over again.

There are about a dozen books that have been super influential in my growth and development as a whole human who feels capable, confident, and happy on a daily basis. These books have shaped the way I think about myself, how I relate to others, and how I approach the work in my life–all things that contribute to making good stuff happen.

And you know how I know these are useful, inspirational books that I will refer to again and again throughout my life? I own them. Those are my criteria for buying a book.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Getting Things Done by David Allen: Mr. Allen’s theory is basically that we don’t do our best, most creative work if we are trying to remember all the many tasks we have on our plates. His book helps you to create a system for capturing all those things you are trying to remember, putting notes up on your fridge about, and leaving out on the counter and table to remind you. It changed the way I think about planning and moving through a project, and made my life a billion times simpler.
  2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: I haven’t read this book in 15 years but it had a profound effect on me back then. In fact, flipping through it again I have just made the decision to put it back at the top of my “to read” list. Some of Covey’s successful habits: begin with the end in mind, put first things first, seek first to understand then be understood, and sharpen the saw. Such good stuff.
  3. Loving What Is by Byron Katie: I think you all know how I feel about Byron Katie. In this book she teaches the basics of her inquiry process, The Workwith lots of stories to bring the process to life.
  4. Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver: While spending the week in the hospital with my partner, Bekah, and her broken leg, I devoured this book. I might make it an annual January read, as Tosha has a way of putting my heart in just the right space as to see synchronicity, support, and love everywhere. This is a shiny gem of an uplifting book, and not only in a fluffy way–but in a real, make-you-trust-the-universe-in-your-bones kind of way. This book had a profound effect on my own experience of spirituality.
  5. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: This is one of those “one-week-in” books: I just started it, but I already know it is going to be transformative. Julia Cameron teaches that in order to get creatively unstuck, we are invited to clear blockages daily by writing our “morning pages” and alternately fill up our creative well by taking ourselves on weekly “artist dates”. She then provides lots and lots of prompts for creative exploration and expression along the way in this 12-week book program.
  6. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez: To say this book fundamentally changed my relationship with  money is an understatement. The most lasting way is in my understanding both on a conscious and on a physical level of what “enough” feels like–a key distinction in their message that living within our means, having enough money to sustain our lives and take care of us in our old age, and to give back are all doable if we can stay really in tune with what expenditures of our life energy brings us pleasure and what ones are just too much.
  7. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port: Although my business is built on my passion for serving others, people can’t find me or connect with me if they are not clear on what I do. In this “marketing” book, Michael Port breaks down the keys to getting your message out there and changes the face of “selling” into a model based on being exactly who you are–your best most authentic self–and attracting exactly the clients you are meant to serve. I loved reading this book.
  8. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: A sweet collection of essays by one of the most honest and encouraging voices I have read. This book gives me hope about writing.
  9. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön: A contemporary spiritual teacher, Pema Chödrön gives us advice for not only dealing with the most difficult times in our lives (she does that as well), but the everyday difficulties too: the things that throw us off track, keep us stuck, or distract us in ways we haven’t been able to understand. She helps us to keep opening our hearts so that it is our love that is leading us forth instead of our fear.
  10. Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic by Mike Dooley: From the author of Notes from the Universe, this book on using the laws of the universe outlines exactly how to harness the natural laws that govern our world. From “understand your power” & “chart  your course” to “engage the magic” & “adjust your sails”, this book teaches solid strategies while inspiring.

And 2 bonus books…cause I just couldn’t stop at 10:

Anxious to Please: 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice by James Rapson: Most of the pain in my life up until my early 30’s stemmed from the belief that I needed the acceptance of those around me in order to be ok. This book, which I quickly followed with Byron Katie’s, radically shifted the way I saw myself and my relationship to others. Learning to really take care of me by being trustworthy and kind to myself and the realization that, no matter how smart I think I am, I am not in control of other people’s feelings set me on a path to feeling healthy and happy in my skin nearly 100% of the time.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: I am including this book on reputation alone…I haven’t even read it yet! But based on my own journey toward a life of more mindfulness and presence, I have to agree that this is the single most important factor in happiness, clarity, and success. This is the next book on my list to read, so I’ll let you know what I think.

So, what books are on your Top 10 list??

Breana 1

With love and bright focus,

Breana