Stop the Soul Ripping

Using structure and direction to give yourself inner peace

So, I want to apologize for my breakdown in my last post. I don’t know what happened. I honestly don’t. I was good and happy and then I wasn’t.

Well, I have an idea of what happened. Do you ever see someone’s life and they are happy and pursuing their dreams and you ask yourself why can’t I figure my life out? That’s what happened in my last post.

Although I’m happy when I see others with their lives figured out, I kind of fall apart because I don’t have my life figured out.

The chasm I talked about in my previous post — between who I am and who I want to be — is created by my personality type. I am not 100 percent certain, but I believe I fall into the INFJ category. That means I use logic and intuition in equal parts — analytical and creative at the same time. That means I use both sides of my brain, usually at the same time.

In some ways that sounds wonderfully balanced. Some ways it is wonderfully balanced. In other ways, it’s a tug of war. When it comes to life decisions about following your heart or your head, it’s not so pretty. The logical side tries to analyze and justify everything, even less traditional, less logical options. Rationalizing matters of the heart doesn’t always work very well, unfortunately.

When both sides of the brain are pulling your heart in different directions, sometimes the whole self just splits down the middle. That’s what I just experienced. My need to do something more creative pulled against my need to be responsible and pay my bills to the point that I split.

So I gave myself a break for a day. A break from thinking about my situation and where I’m going to go. I went to bed early. A good, long sleep can help quite a bit. It always seems to help me.

I woke up this morning in a better place. I’ve devised a plan for myself. I’m not going to talk about it here. I’m kind of superstitious and I worry that I’ll jinx something if I state it out loud. This plan, however, does allow both sides of my brain to feel happy.

I know some folks in this world (in my life) won’t necessarily like this approach. They want to see me make a full jump into one area or another. But this is not their life. I have to do things my way. I have to feel comfortable. I’m moving in a different and better direction for myself, but it’s my process. I have to do it my way … even if it’s slower and it takes me longer to get there.

I also don’t expect it will be my final destination, but it is the next step. That’s what I’ve been struggling with. I’ve been making my next step my final destination in my head. Thus, the extreme tug of war with both sides of my brain.

I will say that my plan includes a creative option and a practical option that I will pursue simultaneously without overwhelming myself. I’ve been doing that anyway, but I’m formalizing it now.  In fact, I’m going to write it down and set up a schedule to make it happen. I’m going to put time on my calendar each day to remind myself of these goals and to set mini-goals for each day. That’s the J part of the INFJ personality. I need structure and I’m trying to also improve my self-discipline.

I will have to put a few other things I’ve been working on to the side for a short while or at least limit my activity with them. That’s why I’m writing this post. I’m not closing down my blog, but I am going to spend less time on it while I focus on these other activities.

I still believe in the purpose of this blog. And in some ways, I am working toward that same goal in my new plan, but I have to focus. I’m spread too thin right now. I’m forcing myself to have more direction. Eventually, I will at least try or possibly incorporate all the things I want to do with my life. I just can’t do them all at one time.

I have to stop ripping my soul apart and move in a direction. And I have to do it in a way that gives me some peace while I move through the process. That’s my plan, so until I post again … peace, y’all.

Tornado Phases

A shout out to anyone dealing with life changes

For a while, I had recurring dreams about tornadoes. Usually, there were herds of tornadoes coming toward me. Is there a group term for tornadoes? I like herd. It felt like a stampede in the dreams.

These went on for about 6 months or a year. Not every night, but consistent. In one dream, an unearthly sized tornado picked up my childhood home. My entire family was inside, including me. At first, there was a lot of rocking back and forth, and then suddenly, everything was still and quiet.

We were all sort of floating within the space of the house. It had a feeling of weightlessness. Similar to being in space, I assume. It was strangely peaceful although I was thinking we were probably all going to die. It was silent. No one spoke. We just looked at one another as if in some way to say goodbye. Strange feeling. I still recall it although it’s been a few years ago since I had the dreams.

At the end of the dream, my dad disappeared from inside the house. I don’t know what happened or where he went, but I looked around he was gone. The rest of us were still there in the house in the eye of the storm.

That’s all I remember about that particular tornado dream. It stuck with me, though. I suppose because a year or two later (I can’t recall exactly when I had these dreams), my dad passed away.

I probably wouldn’t have thought there was any tie to my dad’s passing and the dream had I not had another set of recurring dreams just before cat passed away, which happened just a few months before my dad’s passing. The year leading up to my cat’s death, I had recurring dreams that he kept getting under the house (a house, not always mine) and getting lost. He always found a litter of kittens in every dream, but one. The last dream, he didn’t run away or get lost. He spoke to me in that dream. He was unfriendly in that dream, like he didn’t feel well or was upset with me. At the end, he told me I cared only about him until Charlie came along.

I didn’t know who Charlie was even in the dream. Charlie didn’t exist in my life in that dream. Charlie was someone I was going to meet later. In fact, I was going to the back of this extremely ‘70s beach house to meet Charlie. I woke up as I walked into the room where Charlie was supposed to be … somewhere in the future room.

My cat passed away soon after that. So, recurring dreams are not usually good signs for me. I’m not saying I predict the death of loved ones, it’s just maybe some trigger in my brain knew that day was coming someday.

I digress talking about my dreams, though. The point of bringing up the tornado dream with my dad was that feeling when the house was lifted into the tornado and we were just floating. Anticipating the future, not knowing what’s going to happen. How bad it’s going to be or if we’re all just really lucky? Except for my dad, who disappeared.

That feeling is the feeling I’m having with my life right now. It’s not a bad feeling, but uncertain. Trying to remain calm in the uncertainty.

The beauty of being laid off from my job is that it has given me the opportunity to reflect on life more than I do when I’m working. I know I want to make changes in my life. I am working toward those, but I’m not sure if any of them are right. It’s not bad or good, just uncertain.

The other uncertainty is how much change can I make at once? Can I go all out and change my entire life? Or do I find a bit more stability in a job that fits my experience and training and then make small changes. I have tried that a few times in the past with not a lot of success. That’s why I feel pressure, within myself, to make bigger changes while I have the opportunity.

Income is such a pain in the ass, isn’t it? If it wasn’t for needing to pay the bills, all of these decisions would be so much easier. I have no fear of trying something new or going down a different path. I fear not being able to make ends meet. That wouldn’t be a fear if I could find part-time work. It’s not happening, though.

Is it failure if you can’t make all the changes you want to make at one time? Does it matter if it’s failure? Failure isn’t a bad thing.

I’ve never failed. At anything. Ever. I mean, I’m a terrible public speaker. Anything I set out to do, I did. And, if I say so myself, I did it pretty well most of the time. I’ve always received good reviews. Positive feedback.

Until this last job. I received good reviews. Raises. After my third boss in three years, though, I was told I couldn’t write. That was my job. It’s been my job my entire career. Then I was laid off with several other people, but the rub of it was still there.

it shattered my entire being. Normally, in the past, I would have taken that in stride and kept going. But, I had already been looking for a change in my life. I wasn’t happy with my work. I knew I needed to change. I don’t know. I tripped.

It’s funny when I think about it. Never really failing. Never getting laid off. It’s not from staying in the safe zone. I’ve changed careers. I’ve changed jobs (fairly frequently the last few years). I changed majors six times in college. I’ve tried so many new things. Gone to countries where I didn’t speak the language and still had a good time.

But I never failed. Then I did. Now I know I want to make changes, but I can’t quite figure out what the changes should be. How far out there should I go? Do I take a small step and try to be a creative writer and get a part-time job? Do I go all out and change everything? Go back to school or learn a new skill? But then how do I pay the bills?

The eye of the tornado. It’s not the same feeling as the spiral of the spiritual journey. Well, it is, I suppose but at 180 miles an hour instead of a slow pace.

Dealing with your first failure while trying to change your life is a bit of a challenge? You have to overcome the insecurities that being laid off gives you while convincing yourself you can do anything you want. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when you don’t know what exactly it is you want. I go from being a life coach/health coach/nutritionist to therapist, to musician, novelist, poet, herbalist, pilates/yoga instructor and more. The other day I tried to determine if there was anything close to being a professional student? I haven’t identified such a career yet.

Each day passes without income and I can’t determine how to move forward. I realize I need to just devise a plan and stick with it. As soon as I do, though, I’m not sure if it is the right way to go and I change gears. Eventually, I will run out of time, unemployment benefits.

At the same time, I see all the opportunities available to me. I can go in any direction I want. That gives me joy. That peace I felt in the dream. The calm in the center of the tornado.

Given, I spent the first three months of my unemployment incessantly looking for new jobs instead of moving in a new direction. Well, besides the pilates certification. I wasted some time, but that’s what you do when you’re laid off. Looking for a job is your full-time job, or so they tell you.

How do you take risks? Big risks? I take small ones. Calculated ones. Big risks scare me. Is it even that big of a risk to go down a different path? Not really. Not if you can find income. Maybe I do Uber or Lyft for a while. Make a little money try to do something else.

I don’t know. I would love to hear if others have thoughts on this? If anyone else has gone through this and what did they do? Did you change or stay on your regular path?

What is the point of this post? To learn from others. It’s for me. It’s selfish in that sense. And to let others know it’s OK to question your life. To question if you’re heading in the right direction or if you should jump on a different path. And, since I know some many folks who have recently been laid off, you’re not alone. We all deal with these same questions and being laid off does suck in some ways and is very good in other ways.

I read a book a while back called Guitarlo by Arlo Hennings. It is an entire book of going through these tornado phases. He always followed his heart, though, and the doors always opened. It’s rather inspiring story if you ask me.

My problem is finding what’s in my heart. I can’t seem to nail that down. Again, if others have suggestions on how to identify what’s in your heart, finding who you really are and why you are here, I’d love to hear about it. Or do you just do what you love and not care about purpose so much? That has always been a stumbling block for me.

And if you don’t comment here, that’s fine. But if you know someone going through this process. Whether they are laid off or not, but especially if they are laid off, reach out to them. Let them know what you think they are good at, what their good qualities are. That’s what I’ve been seeking without an answer. That’s the difficult part for me. I know it’s supposed to all come from within, but hearing something from without helps. It just does. It confirms something you already knew or it opens up a line of thinking you had never considered before.

If you do that, it may help them to make that decision. To make the big leap … or take the small leap. Either way, it’s good. It’s helpful. Either way, their house gets placed gently back down on the ground when the tornado passes.

Peace, y’all.

She-serpent Rising

Using Kundalini Yoga to remove obstacles and build confidence

kundalini yoga

She-serpent rising … sounds like a Doors song, right? That’s not my imagination, is it? I’m keeping it as the headline for that reason.

Now, what am I talking about when I say she-serpent rising? I’m referencing Kundalini which, in the yoga world, means a spiritual energy located at the base of the spine, represented by a coiled serpent.

Why am I referencing it? Because it’s friggin’ awesome, that’s why. The first couple of times I tried it, I thought, “This ain’t yoga.” It’s not calming, per se. It’s not quiet and relaxed all the time. Not chill like most yoga is chill. Frogs will make your legs burn. Check ’em out.

It definitely has its purpose, though. I mentioned a few posts back that I was laid off from my job. I was cool with it the first few weeks, but now I’m in unemployment for a month and it’s kind of sucking. I hate interviewing. Hate it.

I know, look at it as an opportunity to grow. I do. Growth isn’t always fun, though.

Anyway, I digress. Kundalini yoga. It’s good stuff. Here’s a good little article to help explain it in proper terms.

“The purpose of Kundalini Yoga is to provide a modality by which people can achieve their maximum creative potential, free themselves from Karma (the lasting effects of past actions) and realize their life purpose.”

This stuff works. I mean, all yoga works. It does. It just works. If you get in the habit of doing it every day, you’ll see. These past few weeks, though, when I do Kundalini Yoga, it has helped in multiple ways.

This is when I first noticed the impact. I’ve been doing yoga every morning for a while. I wanted to try something new, so I found a Kundalini class to try it. It wore my butt out.

Here’s the difference, though. I had an interview that day. In-person, real-deal kind of interview. Normally, I fret a little over those … especially now with unemployment and all. I had been on a few interviews, and nothing was panning out. I felt a little depleted, you might say.

I did a Kundalini class and noticed the difference immediately upon the class ending. I felt calm but energized and confident. Something about the breathing and moving and sometimes chanting just pulled it all together for me. It focused me in a different way than yoga normally focuses me.

I read somewhere that Yoga Bhojan, the person who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the U.S., said this type of yoga helps people deal with the everyday — work and stuff we don’t always enjoy. It’s considered a practical form of yoga, by some. It blends physical activity, breathing, mantras and meditation into one big, wonderful practice.

It made me feel superhuman in some ways. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not entirely. I’m a fairly laid back, quiet kind of person. Something about that practice fired something up in me.

Now every time I do a Kundalini practice, I feel a little stronger. A little braver. A little better about myself.

Lesson 1: If you’re feeling down or depleted, try Kundalini Yoga to build fire and confidence.

There’s something else I have noticed, too. Kundalini is said to clear blockages in your chakras — if you’re into that sort of thing and don’t just do yoga for stress relief and strengthening. I’m totally into that kind of stuff.

Prior to being laid off, I had been moving toward changing my life. I started ironing out steps to get where I wanted to be. A few weeks of constant interviews and rejection, my dreams took a back seat. You know when dreams take a back seat, the mood sinks a bit.

So, for several days, I focused on Kundalini practices. I did one recently that was spectacular. It was called Manifestations: Kundalini Chakra Series with Gloria Latham. I’m told I can share this link with as many people as I want, so I’ll share it here.

This was the most active routine I’ve done to date. There are some that you do seated almost the entire time, but the kriyas — I don’t know how to explain it. The rapid breathing, pumping your stomach in and out just works. Plus, I noticed my skin looked pretty awesome after oxygenating myself like that.

Sometimes you twist back and forth really fast. You may get a little dizzy — I do anyway. When you stop, though, you really feel a difference.

Back to my point, Kundalini helps remove obstacles or blockages in your chakras. You may not believe in that sort of thing, but I think if you give this a try, you may start. I’m sure there is some scientific what-not that explains it all, but I don’t really care about that. What I care about is how it made me feel, and I want others to feel that same way.

After this practice, in particular, but doing other Kundalini practices over the past couple of weeks, my dreams are coming back to me. I’m opening myself up to other possibilities career-wise that may give me more opportunity to pursue what I want to pursue.

I’ve started teaching myself piano. I just happen to buy a piano before losing my job, along with a brand new car — thus my worries about being a month into unemployment. Real piano lessons will commence once I have income again.

Still, this practice is helping with all of that — the uncertainty, the confidence, everything. It’s giving me the will and the strength to consider other roles that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered if I was employed and occasionally looking for a job.

Lesson 2: Kundalini Yoga does what it says it will do. It can help remove blocks in your energy and re-focus your drive to “create your reality.”

It’s changing my entire perspective. It really is. I’m not just feeding you a line of bs. Even writing this blog, I feel more empowered just talking about it. It’s kind of weird — I’ll just say it, but it’s true.

Try the Manifestations practice I shared earlier. See how you feel afterward. I’m interested to hear what you think. Give it a go, and drop me a note in the comments. Tell me if you feel the she-serpent rising. I hope you do.

Peace, y’all.

Single, Unemployed … and Kind of Grateful

Using life’s upheavals to find yourself and peace

IMG_4624

Well, my friends, life has sent me another curve ball. I’ve recently been laid off from my job. It’s the first time since I was 17 years old that I am unemployed. At first it was a shock to my system. Panic. Anger. Sadness. All the normal feelings came up. But now that I’ve had a few days to wrap my arms around it, I’m at peace with it … at least for the time being.

That is why I recommend yoga, exercise, journaling and meditation. I truly do. All the things that I have done over this past year to improve myself has actually made dealing with this situation much easier than I think it would have been if I was the same person I was last year. It gives some structure to my day. Let’s me focus on myself rather than any challenges I may be facing. It allows me to let go of the negative feelings.

Lesson 1: When life throws you a curve ball, your daily self-care routine grounds you.

I’m practical, as I’ve said many times on here, so I’m still pursuing roles in my current profession. But, I’m also opening myself up to a lot of other possibilities. I don’t think I would be in that mindset if I hadn’t been practicing self-care over the past year or so.

Everything happens for a reason. It usually drives us in some better direction — even if we can’t see that right away.

Gratitude journaling helped me over the hump of this perhaps more than anything. I didn’t do it the same night I found out that I was being laid off. I wasn’t feeling very grateful that day, I’ll admit. But, I started a couple of days later. I basically forced myself to look at the positive side of this situation. Sometimes we have to do that. Sometimes it’s just a choice we have to make.

I wasn’t happy in my role, so I was grateful for not having to get up and go into a job that I didn’t love. It made me realize how much I wanted a job that I do love. You start to realize how much time you put toward things that don’t bring you joy, and that’s not the way life should be lived.

But back to the gratitude journaling. I give thanks for the things that are positive about the situation — the release of stress from dealing with some folks, the free time to look inside and determine what I want to do. More time to take care of myself. I can be much more conscious of what I eat — choosing lower-cost fruits and vegetables rather than more costly items or going out to eat. Those are all good things and they are all part of getting laid off.

Lesson 2: Gratitude journaling forces you to look at the positive regardless of the situation. Try it … that’s all I’m saying.

When I do gratitude journaling, I also incorporate some visualization. I’m just starting to hone in on some key components of my dream life. This helps me let go of the emotions around being laid off and move toward something more meaningful in my life. There are all kinds of tips out there for gratitude journaling. Here are a few articles that may help you start this ritual, but if you Google it, you’ll find tons more:

I don’t know where I’m going right now, but I know I’m going to start down a new path. This situation and the journaling that followed has led me to the realization that I don’t want to spend my life doing what I’m doing any more.

Now, I’m not going to look back at all the time I have spent doing it in the past, because that doesn’t serve me.

If you believe in messages and signs, the world has been filled with them today. Almost every post I’ve seen on social media is about life being a dream and we are the creators of that dream. How can you deny that kind of message? Especially when you’ve seen it at least 10 times in the same day.

In fact, I just finished a book last night that I will recommend to everyone here that kind of coincides with everything I’m talking about here. The book is called Love The Beat Goes On  by Lynda Filler.

She was diagnosed a with a form of heart disease that is usually fatal. She was told to get her affairs in order. Talk about putting my lay off into perspective — that certainly did. I’m out of a job … she was on the verge of dying. Big difference. I think I got that book just when I needed it. I believe in synchronicity if you can’t tell.

Back to the story. Basically, she refused to die. She used positive thinking, shaman work, journaling, gratitude — all of the same things to heal herself and beat the odds of this disease. It’s inspirational, but it also has some tips at the end to help you live the life you want. She’s not perfect and she doesn’t have everything she wants, but she believes these things will come her way. In my opinion, she’s living in Puerto Vallarta writing poetry and taking photos, so she seems to be doing something right. And more power to her.

The funny thing is that she also mentioned dreaming your life — you know using vision boards. Creative visualization. Positive thinking. Manifestation. Whatever you want to call it, she’s an example of how this can work. I’ve done it before and made things happen. I think I will try to do it again.

Just today I’ve been thinking of my own passions. Yoga and music and somehow wanting to combine the two. Then I was followed by a group called Yoga Vida Festival. Their theme? Uniting people through yoga and music. What are the chances, right?

There is something about putting vibes out into the universe. I’ve seen it happen. Magic can happen.

Lesson 3: Magic does exist. It’s inside us. Be positive and focus on what you want. Dreams can become reality. 

And would I be feeling this way or seeing these things syncing up if I was going to that same job, complaining about the same things, and doing the same work I’ve been doing for the past three years? No. I would be working and complaining and coming home to veg out like I normally do. Where I may let a bit of panic enter my being when I think of finances from time to time (damn that practical side of me), I’m not focusing on it and I’m feeling pretty good and hopeful.

I think I’m even going to start painting and maybe do more amateur photography and poetry. I might even share some of it on here. Hell, maybe I’ll throw that into my dream life/career, too. Why not? If life is but a dream, might as well make it a good one, right?

Peace y’all. Make magic happen.

Lurking Behind the Curtains at the Talent Show

Self-care provides the tools to dig deeper into mental health and mental well-being.

IMG_4550

Can the problems of the world be solved with self care? Right or wrong, I think they can. Not in the “let’s get a mani-pedi kind of way,” although that has good points, too. No, I’m talking the soul searching kind of self-love.

The tragedy in Florida last week highlights a couple of things for me. We ignore or misunderstand mental health issues, and we have a tendency to latch onto fear and hate when we’re lost and searching for ourselves. Had the young man experienced a world that was more filled with love rather than the hate groups he associated with or had he be given tools to deal with his thoughts — like meditation and journaling — would this tragedy have happened?

Perhaps, but then again, maybe not. We’ll never know the answer to that question. But we can create a world where this sort of event happens less often.

I’ve said many times on here that if we love ourselves then we’re more loving to those around us. It begins to permeate our environment, and it’s a good thing when it does. This entire blog talks about how self-care allows us to be more loving and understanding.

One thing we don’t talk much about in the self-care realm is mental health. Sure, we talk about mindfulness. Inner peace. Calmness. Those are all positive features of mindful self-care and mental well-being. As I’ve said a few times on here, though, sometimes to really have an impact, self-care needs to dig a little deeper. We need to get to know our shadow selves.

I wrote previously that to truly love yourself and care for yourself, you have to accept your whole self — the good, the bad and the ugly. Self-care, when it’s done right, opens the door to let that happen. It gives you the tools to cope with things you don’t like — even if those things are within you. It allows you to look at them honestly without judging yourself. From there, you have the true ability to move forward, to grow or to heal — whatever it is you may need to become a healthier, stronger person.

Self-care has helped me in my own journey in understanding my shadow self. I’ll admit that it has taken some time, but I’m making progress. I fought it in the beginning. Things started coming to light that I didn’t believe or maybe I just didn’t want to believe.

At some point in the process, when I had gotten my body to the place it needed to be, my diet where it needed to be, I was able to open up and investigate the shadows. I began to talk to a counselor to deal with some of the emotional challenges I have had in the past.

I figure if I put that much work into improving the outside, then I need to put at least as much effort into improving the inside. Otherwise it’s just a good paint job on a jalopy.

Now from the beginning, my self-care has included mindfulness and trying to achieve inner peace. Now, it’s going deeper.

My journey has brought to light that I was traumatized in some way. I’ve also learned that I’m not alone. We all suffer some trauma. You simply cannot get through life without it. Human beings are flawed, they make decisions, and sometimes those decisions impact those around us — positively or negatively. The impact varies from person to person and so does the level of trauma, but we all experience it.

Lesson 1: Self-care lets you embrace all aspects of yourself and to accept your shadow elements without judgement.

I’m still in the discovery phase of all this. It seems to be more small, ongoing things instead of some large traumatic incident. Trauma is trauma, though — no matter what form it takes.

I’m not sure how much detail I will share here — I’ll figure that out as I go. What I will share, though, is how self-care is helping me cope with the process. How it led me to a path to improving myself on a level I didn’t even realize I needed.

Trauma, you see, works on the subconscious level. I’m learning that I have developed behaviors (don’t know what those are at this point in the process) that affect various aspects of my life that I’ve struggled with. Where I thought I just had bad luck or that God didn’t like me very much or I had done something that resulted in some very bad karma, I’m starting to see it’s my shadow self lurking behind the curtains at the talent show sabotaging my performance.

Self-care will never erase trauma. I will never fully understand my subconscious or what’s buried there. But I can start to see the emotions certain things bring up and see what behaviors I present as a result of some subconscious messages. From there, I can manage my emotions more. I can change my behaviors. I can grow as a human being, and maybe by sharing some of this, I can help others grow. You see self-care has also given me the strength to be more open about this and try to help others cope with whatever they need to cope with.

Lesson 2: Self-care doesn’t erase trauma, but it can help you manage emotions and change behaviors that result from it.

And although I think of myself as a loving person, I hope this process allows me to become even more loving. If it helps others do the same, then it’s even better. See, I want us to be more than just a loving world. I want the world to be one giant support group. To be a world that loves and cares for one another without preconceptions and judgements rather than just a mass of people who happen to inhabit the same planet.

How to Jump Start Your Brain

Taking a short break from self care is a form of self care.

IMG_4535

So much about self-care focuses on routines. Make time for this, that or the other – plan your mornings, plan your evenings. Sometimes, though … sometimes we just need to step out of that mindset. Leave behind all of our routines and try something new.

Humans, in my opinion, need variation — at least every once in a while. Some may need it more often, but we all need it on occasion. It jump starts our brain when the battery stalls. Makes us appreciate life again. Helps us grow.

Self-care, as wonderful as it is, can start to feel like a rut. I get up at 5, drink my lemon water, do yoga, eat breakfast and take supplements. I go to work, workout on my lunch break, and eat a protein-packed lunch afterwards. I have healthy snacks at certain times and come home to cook myself dinner. Read a little, meditate (although I’ve fallen off the wagon on that one recently), do my skin care routine and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

It’s a decent life. I ain’t going to lie, but this time a year — these claustrophobic, death mimicking winter months can make even a good life feel less than fresh. That’s for sure. My routine lost its freshness right around Christmas and developed a grungy funk by January.

What my soul needed was to shake things up. I tried changing my daily routine, but that didn’t cut it. I needed a shakedown — a de-stagnation of my life force.

Is de-stagnation even a word? I don’t know. I’m making it word because that’s what I needed. I needed to ditch my well manicured self-care routine.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten deeper into self-care is that I need to challenge myself more. Push myself harder when I exercise. Read more. Meditate more. I want to grow. Staying the same isn’t an option any more when you focus on yourself. What I knew was that if I didn’t get out of my routine for a day or two, I was going to start falling off the wagon more.

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to take a short break from your self-care routine. Done mindfully, it can actually help keep you on track.

Come January, I was ready to grow. So I did something I’ve never done before. I booked a short little vacation on my own. I used to travel for work alone all the time and thought nothing of it. It was work, I had to do it, so I did. Never, however, did I travel alone for me and I decided it was about damn time I did.

Now a logical person would have booked a trip somewhere warm and tropical, but I decided on New York instead. Go figure. I had been there once for work, but never for pleasure. New York, though, has always held a special place in my heart.

See, when I was a wee child, I wanted to move to New York and be a dancer. When I hit my teen years, I wanted to move to New York and be in a band. Then I was going to attend college in New York. All because, well you know,“New York City is the place where they said ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.’ ”

Yeah, well I’m not very wild these days — you read my routine. Still, New York is electric. It has that current running through it that other cities don’t have, ya now? It’s sexy and sleek and punk all rolled up into one. Anything could happen there at any given time. It’s an amalgamation of humanity, and that’s what I needed. I needed vibrancy — not peace and quiet.

When I got to the airport, I realized I hadn’t traveled in so long that I had forgotten how to travel. Somehow I got passed TSA without going through TSA and decided I needed to go back. If I could remember how I did that and wrote that little trick down, though, I’m certain I could sell it.

I had also forgotten what it felt like to take off and land in a plane. Most people don’t even acknowledge it, but maybe that’s where some of my mindfulness and presence kicks in. Taking off in one city and landing in another is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world to me. God I love that feeling. Love it.

Lesson 2: Mindfulness, when practiced regularly, eventually finds its way into your way of being without making an effort.

I had no plan what so ever — there was only one thing on my agenda. I had a ticket to see a singer/songwriter/poet/artist that I like. Until the doors opened for that show, I was going to explore the city. And like every city I visit, I got lost. Completely and utterly lost.

How did I get lost in this world of mobile phone apps that tell us everything? My phone died. Completely and utterly died and my charger was back at the hotel.

I didn’t even know where I was. I walked for 3 hours in 3-inch heels in 30-degree weather.

And it was spectacular.

Everyone’s heard to make lemonade when life gives you lemons. For a few minutes, I’ll admit, I was sucking on that lemon with a puckered face. I was pissed about my phone. I had no idea which direction I was heading. And then I paused. I took a breath and told myself that I was just going to have to talk to people.

Once I relaxed, I got into the groove of it. I stopped and asked several people for directions, which I normally would never do. I got to see several different neighborhoods in the city. I walked right through the middle of some random fashion show on the street. I watched photographers taking photos of trash cans, stopped at falafel stands, and saw that weird steam that blows out from underground that you think only happens in movies. It doesn’t — it actually exists.

I saw old buildings with fire escapes. I adore fire escapes. They’re terribly romantic and nostalgic. They’re part of my ideal vision of New York life. Hot summer nights sitting on the fire escape talking to your neighbors, hearing the city life all around you. That’s part of what I wanted growing up.

I made it over to the Hudson River and walked along the piers — port cities are my favorites. The temperature dropped a couple of degrees out near the water, but I had never loved cold weather so much in my life as I did at the moment. When I hit the end of the pier, I turned and saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time in my life. It caught me by surprise. I didn’t even think about seeing it and had made no plans to see it. But, that’s what New York is all about, ya know? It’s what America is all about, and I’m so glad I saw it.

And yes, I made it to the show. It was out on the piers at night. City lights all around, reflecting on the water. Good music. Good conversation. Good food. It was an intimate venue where you sat with people you didn’t know. The performer was close enough to touch. The view was beautiful. I spoke all evening with a woman who sat at my table, and yet I never caught her name. I even met the artist — you know anything can happen in New York.

The entire trip was magical. It wasn’t just out of my routine, but it was out of my imagination. All those times I thought about moving there, that trip gave me a taste of what I had always imagined. It made those dreams come to life for a very brief moment. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

And you know what, I didn’t exercise once during that trip. Well, if you don’t count the three-hour hike. I ate exactly what I wanted to eat. I went to bed with my makeup on — or maybe not, I can’t really remember that part. But for a couple of days, I completely ditched my entire self-care routine. And now, I’m back at it better than before.

Lesson 3: Make breaking out of your self-care routine part of your routine from time to time if it will help you grow and refocus.

I needed the break as a readjustment. I needed to branch out and do something different just for a day or two. I needed to grow, and in all honesty, helping yourself grow is the best part of self care. It’s the whole point, really. And if you’re someone who absolutely must have a routine, then think of this way. Make getting out of your routine part of your routine from time to time. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Peace and love, y’all.

2018 (or Today): New Dawn, New Day

Use every day & every second to begin the life you want. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s.

New Life

I’m not one for resolutions, but I do believe in new beginnings. 2018 is just around the corner. It’s an opportunity for all of us to start a new year with a new attitude and new goals.

I suggest not thinking of January 1 as the day you start a resolution for the year but rather a new beginning of a new life. And if things go right, well maybe we’ll have a better year and a better world to show for it.

In fact, you’ve heard it before, every day is a new day. We don’t have to wait until Monday to start fresh. We can start today. This minute. This very second. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see happen?

Write it down. Start moving toward it at this very moment.

Lesson 1: Don’t wait until New Year’s. Move toward a new life every minute of every day.

Not to sound too sappy, but let’s face it, we’re all sappy sometimes. Let’s make 2018 the year we begin to love ourselves and spread that love to everyone we meet. This past year had its ups and downs. But, for me at least, I feel like I’ve made progress on myself. Yoga, meditation, journaling, eating right, exercising regularly.

Putting effort toward myself, as I mentioned a few posts back, has set me on a new path. It made me realize that I want to give back to the world more in some way. I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter. Who really does in the long run?

Now, I look to take my journey out into the world. Involve others. Find ways to give back. Love back. Make the world beautiful and caring again. Connect to nature. Connect to others. Connect to the universe.

Lesson 2: Taking care of yourself connects you to your purpose and to others. Make the most of it.

I will share the thing that I think has had the most impact on me this year. Hopefully it will help you move toward a new, freer and happier future. Adding just 20 minutes of yoga to my morning routine has made a huge difference in my life.

If you’re like me and you’re not very flexible and you hadn’t done yoga in a while, it can be a challenge. You may not be so sure about going to a class. I wasn’t. So, I started at home. I joined Gaia. I did the basic plan to get me started. It’s cheaper than a single yoga class, and I got more routines that I can complete — and for all levels. It gets you started in yoga at your own pace in your own home, so you don’t mind looking like a fool when you tip over.

But if you don’t want to spend money, look on YouTube. There’s all kind of free content out there. Find an instructor you like and follow them.

Why yoga? I’m not sure I can even answer that question. For me, it just had a huge impact. I feel more connected to my body. I focus more on what I want in life and what I want to let go. Perhaps it’s because many of the practices start off with that question — what do you want to bring into your life and what do you want to let go?

You don’t have to ask yourself the question. Someone else does it for you.

Lesson 3: Yoga connects you to yourself and your goals. If you can, add it to your self-care toolkit.

Plus, as an added benefit, it has sculpted my body more than any resistance training or cardio that I do. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is.

I hope to expand my yoga routine. Become more flexible. Stronger. More open. And I want to use that strength and power to create a new life for myself. And a better world for all of us.

Let’s make 2018 a year to remember. Hell, let’s make today a day to remember.

Happy New Year, everyone. Happy day, as well. Peace, y’all.

The Importance of Authenticity — The Cornerstone of Everything

Caring for yourself means staying true to yourself

True self image

Authenticity has been on my mind and what it means to self-care and loving yourself. There is no greater self love than being true to yourself. It’s difficult sometimes in this world of uber personalities and striving for a million viewers. But it is very necessary. Perhaps, if the world is to be a better place, more necessary than ever.

I came across this little article on Inc. regarding authenticity. It’s simply a list of quotes about being authentic, but they are meaningful. Powerful.

Authenticity has been part of my struggle with writing this blog. To be honest, I have felt a little like a sham. I feel like I’m writing as if I know more than my readers. The truth is that I don’t. I tried to portray that a bit in my post “No one knows anything about anything.”

I don’t feel that I quite made the point I was trying to make. But now I am. With this blog, I am going to take the role of humble teacher. I am humble because I am learning with you. We’re on the same journey together. I am open to others’ ideas and opinions. I plan to share some things that I enjoy and work for me, but I encourage you to comment and do the same. We will learn from one another.

Not saying this — that I’m not the highest authority of self-care — has been holding me back from posting. I wasn’t being authentic with myself. Sure, I realize that I may never get a huge book deal or be a successful blogger for owning up to this, but being authentic is more important to me.

I want to make being authentic more important to you, as well. It is critical to loving yourself and caring for yourself. It’s the cornerstone of everything.

Lesson 1: Authenticity is the cornerstone to self-care and loving yourself.

When we aren’t authentic, we lose ourselves. We become a shell of who we really are or a ghost of our true selves. There but not truly there. That’s not good for anyone.

So how do you become more authentic? Well, there are many ways. Each centers primarily on knowing yourself, asking yourself questions and acknowledging when you don’t live up to your true self.

Writing this blog, for example. I sat down recently and I asked myself a few questions. Why was I struggling with generating more content? Is it out of alignment with my core values or is something else holding me back?

I went through a litany of questions. I journaled because I journal about everything. I pondered this question during meditation.

Through questioning myself and identifying exactly how this blog is aligned with my true self, I realized that I am on the path I want to be on. So, then, what was holding me back?

I asked myself more questions. Read back through some posts. Finally, I realized the issue came in my presentation, not in the content or the message. The presentation felt as if I am an authority. I’m not an authority. I don’t pretend to be.

Lesson 2: Question yourself when you struggle with anything. Any struggle will likely lie in a misalignment with your true self.

I have a goal of improving the world one person at a time by helping them practice self-care and mindfulness. Am I the be all and end all of self-care, self-love, mindfulness knowledge? Absolutely not. I’m learning with you. And I simply needed to state that. Not stating it made me feel inauthentic. I was me, but not me.

I won’t go over this in each post moving forward. But it was important for me to state it. To be truthful with you, my reader. Otherwise, I felt inauthentic. And being inauthentic is a roadblock for me. And in reality, it should be for all of us.

It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, however. Sometimes getting back in line with your authentic self means acknowledging a small aspect — that little pebble in your shoe — and removing it. Sometimes, it’s as simple as making a statement.

So I have made my peace. I removed the pebble from my shoe. I can walk forward with greater ease now. I probably will add a statement to my About page. That way I will feel that I have put it out there for everyone to see without having to dig through the site to find this one post.

Lesson 3: Sometimes authenticity simply requires you to state your peace before moving forward. Don’t over-complicate it if it’s not necessary.

If you are looking for more authenticity in your life, here are a few ways I question myself to better align with my true self.

  • Meditate. Meditation is more than quietening your mind. Sometimes it is focusing your mind or diving deeper into the mind. At least once a week, while you meditate, get in touch with your values and beliefs. Consider how you have lived up to these values (or not) over the past several days. What is required to readjust?
  • Journal. Journaling is one of the easiest ways to get answers — at least for me it is. You can ask the same questions as the meditation above. What are your values? Do you live these values each day? If not, how can you incorporate these values more fully into your day-to-day activities?
  • Post your core values. Keep your core values close by and on hand. Post them somewhere that you can see them on a regular basis. Whether you print them out and put them in your cubicle, put a note on your phone, make it a screensaver on your computer. It will serve as a reminder when you least expect it or you can use it to focus yourself when you are struggling with something in your life. Look at it and ask yourself how the situation is not aligning with your core values.
  • Forget perfection. None of us are perfect. We never will be, no matter how hard we try. And some of us try very, very hard. Humans aren’t perfect. To be authentic, remember this. Remind yourself of it when you’re trying to do something perfectly or beating yourself up because you didn’t.
  • Be honest. It seems like a no brainer, but sometimes we forget this simple step. Of course, we’re all going to tell a white lie here and there to spare someone’s feelings or to ease ourselves out of a difficult situation. That doesn’t mean we can’t be honest most of the time, especially if not being honest starts to cause you anxiety. Breath, take a moment, and think of a diplomatic way of saying what bothers you without being offensive. There is usually always a way to do it.
  • Be yourself. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that there is no better way to connect with people and find peace than simply being comfortable with who you are and let that shine. Don’t feel the need to soften your post or make your life look perfect on Facebook or Instagram. If you feel uncomfortable being honest on public forums, don’t share on public forums. It’s not a requirement although sometimes it feels like it is.
  • Don’t worry about what others think. I struggle with this one a bit, although I hate to admit that to myself. I sometimes feel that I’m letting others down if I am my true self — by saying no or disagreeing with them on key issues. Not my close friends, but acquaintances. I care too much sometimes what others think of me, especially those I don’t know very well. But worrying about others’ opinions is one of the quickest ways to lose authenticity. Don’t let it happen.

These are just a few tactics that I use. There are others. I would love to hear how you stay true to yourself. What advice do you have on being authentic?

 

 

Black Hole of Self Discovery

night swimming

So my journey is taking another turn. Not a whiplash-inducing turn, but a turn nonetheless. As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve taken a leave of absence from this blog for a little while. See, I went into this black hole of self-discovery. I wasn’t sucked into it. No, I jumped headlong into the abyss.

I’ve been trying to find myself for years. I’ve struggled with my purpose, where my career should go – those kind of things. I have dipped my toes or waded into my waist just to turn around when I couldn’t find answers.

This time, I’m not giving up. This time, I dove into the darkness and, I have to say, I’ve been lost there for a few months now. Searching, floating, but still lost. I’m starting to the see the light. I’m starting to come out the other end of the wormhole. Finding my way to the surface.  The yoga and meditation that I started at the beginning of this year, this journey, helped significantly.

It’s been painful. I’m not going to lie. I’ve had to come to some realizations about myself that quite honestly I wasn’t happy about in the beginning.

See, I decided to see a therapist since I’ve struggled so much with this over the years. Beat myself up because I couldn’t figure it out. Part of that process was taking personality tests. I’ve taken them before many times. I got similar responses. I’m creative. I’m an artistic type. A good writer.

So, that’s how I’ve seen myself over the years. This creative type in a non-creative job. Or semi-creative job, but not the job I wanted. I’ve started writing a million books. I’ve started several screenplays. I’ve written bad poetry. Songs. Taken music lessons. Considered taking dance lessons. Bought paints and charcoals and pastels. Watercolor paper and sketchpads. Year after year. Looking for something that I felt passionate about. Something that stuck with me. Something I felt like I had to do … if I could just find it.

Then came my therapist’s question, “Do you try to be unique and cut options off?” No, of course I don’t do that. How do I present myself as unique? I’m a communications professional. Manager level, not even an executive. I get up and go to the same job like everyone else. I wear clothes from discount stores. I don’t try to be an artist. I don’t try to be special and unique.

Then today it hit me. Today I broke through. Today I cried like a baby. See, in my head, I did see myself as unique. In my head, I was an artist or a writer or a poet. But I’m not. That’s why those things didn’t stick for me. That’s why I started so many things but never finished them. They weren’t my calling.

In my head I thought I had this gift somewhere in me waiting to come out. I just couldn’t find it. And maybe that’s what was meant by a struggling artist. But no. I’m not an artist. Or a poet. Or musician.

I’m just me. I’m average. And when I realized that I cried. A deep, heavy cry. I have put pressure on myself to be this thing. To be some version of creative and it’s not me.

What I am is a doer. I move. I like physical activity. That’s why yoga has been so beneficial for me. Art is doing. Writing is doing. Poetry is doing. But it’s not what I do. It’s not my coping mechanism. That’s what I’ve learned. My way of expressing or getting the angst out of my system isn’t producing art, or writing or poeting … shouldn’t poet be verb? I feel that it should be a verb.

I realized today that I inherited my father’s innate sense of restlessness. I kept talking about feeling trapped to my therapist. To my friends. All my life. Trapped. I felt trapped in jobs. I felt trapped in hobbies. I felt trapped by home ownership. By responsibility. Trapped. Caged. Burdened and restricted.

Why? Because I’m restless. I need to do. I need move. I need to go places. I need to take action. At least some of the time.

So this journey is changing a bit. I’m still focused on getting in touch with oneself and taking care of yourself, but I’m focusing more on yoga and meditation specifically. These things not only get you in touch with your body, push it to do things, make you aware of your body, but they prepare me, at least, for the other “doing” that I must do in life.

I think at the beginning of this blog I mentioned having another blog. A blog about politics. I’m cause oriented. That I’ve always known. I tried to work that aspect into my creative endeavors unsuccessfully. That’s how I struggled. I tried to write with this subtext of politics. I tried to change the world through a poem. And that is all entirely possible. It is. Just not for me.

Writing is the same as talking for me. I’m not much of a talker. I like results. I like to see things happen. I’ve been a writer all my life and that’s why I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. Because it’s not action. Not my action.

Yes, I think I just said it. I’m a woman of action.

So I’m seeing a new life for myself right now. A new direction. Something that ties my need to voice an opinion and protect things I care about to my restlessness. I don’t know where it’s heading to be honest. I’m seeing travel opportunities that incorporate yoga and mindfulness with conservation efforts. Retreats where groups can go and wake each morning to do yoga and meditate, to connect to themselves and then connect to the world around them. Planting trees, taking care of animals, protecting habitats. And it’s part of a vacation. Vacations with meaning. Evenings my include enjoying local cuisines or local arts. Because all of these things are important. I need to feel them. Be a part of them. Experience them. I need to do.

I worked for a nonprofit once. I truly cared about the cause. But I sat in an office and did communications all day. I was still unsatisfied. Because I was still trapped. I wasn’t moving and doing and achieving.

So look for this blog to change a bit. Look for more focus on yoga and meditation. Look for discussion on how getting in touch with ourselves can help bring more meaningful change to our world. Look for discussion on conservation and activism because right now those are the things that I’m focused on. Look for thoughts or opportunities on combining these things. I still want to make the world a better place. I still think we do that one person at a time and it does start from within.

Peace y’all.

A Pretty Good Start

Using self-care to help you find your purpose in life

yoga at home

Do you struggle with finding your purpose or is that just me? I know I’m not the only one, but I don’t know how many struggle with it and for how long. I have always struggled with it. I’m one of those people who try so hard to figure it out that it depresses me. That’s why self-care, for me at least, may be the best thing I could do for myself in terms of finding my purpose.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still looking for my purpose. I have looked for it my entire life. I grew up feeling like I was meant to be doing something … I just haven’t quite figured out what it is.

Still, self-care is helping me. I haven’t given up this time around as I’ve done in the past. I take breaks, like I have the last few weeks from this blog, but I’m getting back into the swing of things. But the breaks are part of my self care — allowing myself some room to breath for a little while. It’s important to do that if you need it.

You see, my workout instructors (all of them — I take several different classes) keep telling me I’m intense when I exercise. I suppose I’m the same way with finding my purpose. When I look back, in reality, I’m that way about most things once I set my mind to it.

When I don’t see the level of progress I want in the time frame I want, I kick up the effort a bit. And I keep ratcheting it up until eventually I snap. Or more accurately, crash. That’s when the depression sets in.

Intensity. It has good points. It’s great for research. It’s great for focus. It’s not so great with nebulous things that may take some time to work out. Honestly, finding your purpose may, in all reality, be a lifelong process. I keep telling myself that to re-frame my thinking. It may always be evolving. I think perhaps it is — at least to some degree.

Needless to say, the last few weeks I have really struggled. Work has been difficult. My job was “restructured,” meaning I have a different job now than I did three weeks ago. It’s more stressful. Job security is not great. The company is going through many, many changes. I could go on.

As a result, I’ve been extremely focused on finding my purpose. You know how it is. Things get rough at work, suddenly your purpose is the most important thing in your life. That’s where I am.

I don’t want to keep hopping from one job to another, which has been the case in my recent past. I’ve decided to hold on for a while and hope I can at the very least figure out the next step in reaching my purpose.

I want to change my life. I want to have meaning. I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same way. I’ve come to realize it’s time to do something else. It’s figuring out the something else that’s the struggle.

The last few years, when I get to this point, I have changed jobs. Then I settle into the new job honeymoon for a few months. Followed by the, “Well, I need to stay here for a little while” phase. Then I start the whole process over again. And I never truly focus on my purpose — not the way I should.

Self care has helped me put a stop to this vicious cycle. Exercising every day helps me set aside any issues at work. I workout on my lunch break, so it’s a good way to break up my day and give me a good push to make it through the rest of the day.

I meditate in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings. I’ve added in yoga a few times a week. All of this helps me focus on what’s important (my purpose) and not on my daily challenges.

I journal, which helps in two ways. One, I try to do some gratitude journaling to help me hone in on the good things in my life. I forget those very quickly when I’m stressed about work. Making this a daily practice (or near daily — I’m not perfect) really helps re-set your frame of mind about things.

In fact, my most recent gratitude entry was about being thankful for my ability to change. Thank God for that, right? I wrote about fear of change being the root of many ills of the world right now. That same fear can wreak havoc in your personal life too. So I am extremely grateful I can change.

So keeping a gratitude journal is helpful. If you want tips on gratitude journaling, here’s a good article from Greater Good Magazine.

The second way journaling helps me in this process is by allowing me to really dig down and discover some things about myself. This helps in both trying to find my purpose and in just understanding myself and some of the things that trigger me or give me a sense of purpose.

I don’t actually write about my day-to-day activities. I really try to figure something out about myself. I try to take a real objective look at myself and my ways of thinking. Eh, intense self care … it’s what I do. But it works for me.

Journaling has also led me to try several new things in my life because I repeatedly expressed an interest in it. Or I rediscover some old things I enjoyed and want to try again. Some of those may become part of my overall purpose and some may not, but it keeps me on my toes and my life more active. That’s always a good thing.

But finding yourself and finding your purpose can take a toll on you. Some people are lucky. Some know what they are supposed to do from the time they come out of the womb or close to it. I’m not one of those people, unfortunately. And if you’re not either, then I highly recommend incorporating some self care techniques into your life. It keeps you on the right path toward discovery, and it reminds you to take a break when you need it.

By taking breaks and trying new things — even if they don’t seem to lead anywhere — help you stay more fluid. You don’t get as bogged down.

Remember my lesson from the very beginning of this blog? My first post was about going with the flow. I’ve forgotten do that myself … as I often do. Try to remember to let things happen, be in the present moment. Whatever road you’re on appeared for a reason.

I went from starting one kind of blog to another and then starting a novel in the process. As you change and you change paths toward your purpose, you realize you couldn’t have gotten to point b without starting from point a. Or, you may realize that all the points along the way will add up to a very unique purpose specific to you.

For me, what I’m discovering is that helping others learn self care is part of my purpose. I’ve started down the road of becoming certified in some fitness programs and looking at certifications in other areas.

Plus, I hope by sharing some of my own experiences in this blog, you can relate to my struggles — which are very real and, I believe, very common. Hopefully, you will also see how self care can help you deal with similar problems in your own life.

Still, my ultimate goal is to make the world a better place, but if we’re all living a purposeful life and loving ourselves, then that’s a pretty good start.