Hanging On

Day 15-21

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As I finished my last 21- Day Meditation Experience I began to reflect on the reasons I wrote this blog in the first place. On the last day of the Experience Deepak said “Letting go is a choice. If you can forgive, you can trust. Clinging to the past is your separate self.” And the most powerful statement to me.. “Forgiveness is the natural state of a self aware person no longer burdened by the past.” Forgiveness does not come easily to me. I tend to hang on to grudges until they eat me alive. Deepak says “When remembering the past, you relive it again. If you are present that won’t happen. Old hurts feel toxic in our expanded awareness. Forgiveness stops being a problem because there is nothing left to forgive.” It took me such a long time to figure out that when I stayed angry at someone for something they did, I wasn’t hurting or affecting them in any way. It just ate at me, not them. This is something I work on all the time. I tend to be highly emotional so everything I feel is at a very high level. The good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t hide emotions well. If I’m feeling it then pretty much everyone around me is clued into how I feel. When I realized I could learn to “let go” of those past hurts that really opened me up to how much better I could feel. And isn’t THAT what this journey of mine is all about? Feeling the best I can and living my life! Why would I want to hang on to all that STUFF? Do you ever notice how you feel when you relive a moment from your past? It’s like I’m there all over again. The pain, the tears, a knot in my stomach. It’s awful. There are positive outcomes to these events. I know that my ability to be self-sufficient and have a strong work ethic all came out of how early I was making decisions for myself. Which was about 18 years old. I didn’t have any financial ties to my parents so I was making all the decisions regarding college, where I lived, my healthcare, where I went and what I did, everything. Most decisions were not good by the way! Ha! BUT I know that my work ethic is 100% from how I grew up. So, there is good that comes from every situation! The point is not to dwell on the hurts of our past, but to forgive and look for the good that may have come out of it.

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Do you find it difficult to forgive? Try to let go of those feelings and see how it feels. I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks for being here!


Like a Roadmap to My Life

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Day 5/6

“Fear of accepting that I’m just not as “book-smart” as some others.” This was what I wrote about myself on Day 5. Not having a degree would sometimes make me feel like an outcast in social situations where I live, as we have the most degreed population in the country. It gets very uncomfortable. Especially depending on the crowd I’m around at the moment. Deepak says “true self esteem means to rest in the self.” Our self image is built over the years and to the ego our self image is everything.

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Next I was to make a list of positive attributes about myself. Don’t judge! This is just the feelings I had at the time and based on my life experiences.

Motivated
Organized
Honest
Caring
Green Eyes
Pretty/Nice Figure
Reader
Varied Interests
Take Good Care of Myself
Good Mother
Responsible
Empathetic

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Making a list like that was not something I’d ever done before (or since!) It does make you quite uncomfortable to start. What great things can I say about myself?! Not something I do! But why not? Just looking at the list I feel proud of who I am. Ok, so I don’t have my degree. But that does not mean I’m not intelligent. Life circumstances stopped me in my tracks while I was in college and I never finished. Life changed again and a few years ago I did earn my Holistic Health Certification and I’m really proud of that. When I finished my certification I was overwhelmed with ideas of what I wanted to do. I wanted and still want to do it ALL!Should I pursue a job working for a doctor? Should I do one-on-one coaching? Should I do group coaching? Seminars? Or online coaching? The list goes on and on. Then during this mediation series I had an a-ha moment where I decided what I wanted to do first was write a book and tell my story. I wrote in my notebook:

“I feel the need to get it all out there to help others. I dream of being an author and someone that can help others with my story. I have no experience in writing but I’m doing it anyway. I just have this pull to do it and get all the words out. There is a story there. Write a book and share it on my blog.”

Well, there is it. I had my answer of what I was going to do! These meditation experiences have been revolutionary and truly life changing. It’s made me think through every problem or opportunity in my life. Working through the journaling at the end of each session really got to the core of my BEING. And the words would flow out like a roadmap to my life. I really believe that.

This week try making a list of all of your positive attributes and see how it feels! I’d love to hear how it goes! Don’t forget to comment! Thanks for being here!


Self

Day 4/5

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There is a lot of talk about self care these days. And for good reason. I think as a society we are starting, very slowly, to realize that how important self care is and that “busyness” should not be a badge of honor.

Usually when we think of self care we think of exercise, spa treatments, meditation, sleep, etc. but Deepak asks us to think about where we put our attention. He explains that our creative energy come from joy. So, I asked myself “What brings me joy?” and do more of that. Pretty simple. It’s basically the same principle as The Happiness Project. (Read more on The Happiness Project here www.gretchenrubin.com. I knew I was on the right track. This lesson just reinforced what I already knew I had to continue doing.

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It feels really good to value myself enough to make my own happiness a priority. As a mom, I put myself second. For everything. I lost myself so completely during my kids younger years I don’t remember doing anything for myself outside of the occasional trips to the salon. I never pursued my hobbies and interests, I didn’t read as often I as would have liked, I didn’t go out with friends very often and I didn’t volunteer outside of my children’s school. My world was small. It was all for them and that’s perfectly fine. I choose it and I WANTED it. But looking back, I could have stayed home with them and kept my sense of self by pursing some of these other options for myself. Maybe the build up of fear and anxiety wouldn’t have happen or at least not to the extreme that it did. Who knows. Lesson learned. The HARD way.

Are you finding joy in your every day life? Are you pursuing your interests and the things that give you the most joy? Try the following:

Try a Happiness Project! It’s a GREAT way to find and rediscover what you love. I have a series of posts about my Happiness Project. Check it out!

Please comment with your thoughts! Thank you for being here!


Say Yes to Life!

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Today focuses on playful manifestation. Deepak talks about “saying yes”, which is one of my happiness goals that I wrote about earlier. Here I got a much better understanding of why this is so important.

According to Deepak, “To be carefree is to trust the universe to take care of everything.” For an Upholder like me this seems to be an impossible task. I like controlling situations. Being “carefree” was not in my vocabulary. To be honest, I spent my whole life up to this point doing the exact opposite. Never in the flow, always worrying and trying to control outcomes. Desperate and uptight = disappointment. There’s a slogan for your fridge! And a good reminder!

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Deepak says when we let go of resistance to life it amplifies the law of attraction. I find this to be true. Letting go is a constant struggle for me, although I am MUCH improved. For example, as I write this my 19 year old son is planning his 4 month study abroad trip to Prague. The old me would be literally SICK with worry. All of the horrific scenarios worked up and spinning through my head on a daily basis. I would have been losing sleep, researching the area intently and constantly “talking” it over with my husband. I have done NONE of that. I’m trusting that things will be just fine. Because, if I was to apply my ABCDE strategies here, I would come to the conclusion that the facts would be on my side and I didn’t have much to worry about. That being said, as we get closer, I will have a talk with him about safety and we will be sure he has everything he needs. And then I will let go! Life is so much better this way. Both physically and mentally!

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Are you someone who is naturally carefree? Do you aspire to be so? Try saying yes to whatever comes your way and see how your life opens up and the law of attraction starts working. Try letting go of controlling outcomes and situations. Let me know how it goes! Thanks for being here!


The Law of Attraction

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Day 6

“What you dwell on is what you receive” according to Deepak Chopra. It was clear to me if I continued to sit around dwelling on how much pain I was in and how I couldn’t do the things I used to do, I was just going to attract more of the same. Deepak says our power comes from our attention. This is so true. What we pay attention to does indeed grow. He explains that desire needs nourishment in the following ways:

  • Have a clear intention (no excuses)
  • Have positive emotions
  • Believe it will be beneficial for you
  • Prepare for any response. Be flexible.
  • Confident aid will come from the universe
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Having a clear intention daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.. however you want to do it is a gamechanger. It’s a complete mind shift. This is why a lot of yoga classes start with setting an intention. It’s a reminder for when you start thinking about other things. Just like a meditation and coming back to the breath, but in this case it’s coming back to the intention. When we choose an intention we are choosing to manifest something, on our mat, or in our life. Having intention is been so helpful for me. Needless to say, in my former life I did the opposite of having intention. I just was free wheeling and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t recommend that way of living!

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Having positive emotions and believing it to be beneficial falls back to my work on my ABCDE strategies. (See previous posts) My former self would be in a negative mind set. This is our human default. We have a negative bias as protection. You must learn to counteract this with positive feelings and emotions.

But, what I needed to work on most was to “prepare for any response.” Like I said, I was one who loved to control outcomes. But you really can’t control outcomes. All you can control is your reaction to the outcome. I’d been screwing that part up all my life. No longer. I’m so self aware that I have learned how to be more in the flow. I even bought an intention bracelet with the word “flow” engraved on it as a constant daily reminder! It’s that important to me that I correct this behavior!

If you would like to focus your intentions to attract the things you want in your life, try the steps above to start changing what you dwell on and where you give your attention.

I would love to hear your comments! Thank you for being here!


Past Hurts

Day 8

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Today goes a little deeper into last week’s thoughts on old regrets. I said that I didn’t tend to do this as much as the other two, and that is true, but when I DID let my brain wander this way, it was not good. Deepak says “Old wounds get a new life when we think of hard times in the past.” I experienced this when thinking of painful traumatic events from my childhood. I had some not so great years growing up. Sometimes these memories creep up at the most unexpected times. When they did I was literally reliving them and I would get nauseous and get an uncomfortable feeling in my body that is hard to describe. This also happened when I would think about the occasions in my teenage years, some very death defying, scary times, and suddenly my body is reacting. It’s an odd feeling if you’ve never experienced it. According to Deepak these experiences can be healed by being in the present moment.

Broken relationships was another area of reliving old hurts the would come back and haunt me occasionally. Something would trigger a memory and suddenly I’m back in that place reliving an old hurt. Sometimes they feel like they just happened even though it happen over 30 years ago!
And of course the old hurt that was the most recent and most devastating was the injury itself. I wrote the following in my notebook:

Drug reaction/physical pain/missed years

There was a lot of sadness and anger in those words. So much time lost with my kids, family and friends. And time lost from doing all the things I loved. I could not, and would not dwell on this old hurt. I know now, I can write about it and tell my story without being there.

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These experiences all had lessons to teach me. In the case of my injuries, I had to learn it twice. If you read My Story, you know that I had TWO episodes that took me out of commission for extended times. It was like I didn’t learn it well enough the first time around so the universe said “let’s try this again!” I got it now, I promise. Because after the first time, I realized it was a half ass recovery really. I was physically a little better, and I learned a little about being appreciative of life, but not the total transformation that happen the second time. There were more lessons to be learned. I can see that now.

I would love to hear your comments! And don’t forgot to subscribe to my blog! Thanks for being here!


It’s Not Me Talking

Day 7

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Pretty sure that’s an 80’s lyric that I dug up out of my brain! What I’m really talking about is Deepak’s teaching about the ego. Today’s lesson in my 21 Meditation Practice was still focused on the present moment but now also talking about being the observer of your own thoughts. Years ago Oprah did a online course with Ekhart Tole on A New Earth. This was my first forte into learning about the ego. Once you learn it you can’t unlearn it. I see it EVERYWHERE. In myself, in others and people I don’t even know. I hear the ego speaking. If you recognize this voice as your false self you can see that you are the observer of your thoughts. Deepak says “we are not our thoughts”. That is so true. Having this awareness was so enlightening! It just drives home the idea that my true self is in my awareness, not my thoughts. If my thoughts are taking me down the road of worry and past hurts, that takes up my present time. I needed to learn how to be in the present as much as possible to keep stress and worry at bay. Deepak says there are three things that take up the present moment.

Dwelling on old regrets

Anticipating the future

Worry as protection

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I did all of these on a regular basis. Dwelling on old regrets was something I did occasionally, but not as much as the other two. Anticipating the future!! All the time. This was where all my “what if something happens to my kids” worries lied. And until I heard this I never thought about worry as protection but that’s exactly what it is. It’s like preparation for disaster. I would say to myself “if I think about it enough, it won’t happen”. It’s exhausting really. I DO NOT want to live that way ever again. And I’m happy to say I don’t. At the moment, I have a parent who is dealing with some health issues. I’m even surprising myself at how well I’m handing it. I’m not up all night with worry, I’m not projecting the future, I’m not thinking about it nonstop. It’s truly incredible. The old me would be stressed to the point of not eating, (a hallmark indicator of my stress levels) talking about the “what if’s” constantly and obsessing over any information I could find on webmd. I’m tired even reading this. No wonder I felt the way I did! Like I said before, meditation carries over into real life and I’m living proof of that! Staying present is a part of my practice.

Do you find yourself not in the present moment? Think about trying the following:

Remember that only the “now” is real.

If you find your self talk is focused on old regrets or worry about the future, recognize this as your ego (your false self). You are not your thoughts.

Please comment below! Thanks for being here!


Living in the Now

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Day 3

Did you know if you are living in the present moment there can be no anxiety? How about that?! If you are dwelling on the past or projecting into the future and it’s making you stressed, focus on being right where you are in the present moment. You can read more about the science behind this here. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201807/5-truths-about-anxiety-help-you-stay-present Once I had this awareness, it helped my stress levels tremendously.

For years I spent so much time worrying. Mostly about my kids, but somehow over the years, my anxiety levels grew into fears that weren’t there before like flying or going to the doctor. It’s like I was so hyper aware of everything I needed to do as mom to keep my kids safe, it bled over into everything I did for myself. Suddenly afraid of so many things I wasn’t before. I spent A LOT of time worrying about the “what if’s” with my kids. What if my son didn’t get selected for the team he wanted to play on, what if my daughter’s audition didn’t go well, what if a stranger approaches them, what if they get hurt, what if they get sick, what if, what if, what if… It’s enough to drive a mother mad. We all do it. I mean, we love our kids and are going to protect them. Period. But living in the fight or flight mode all the time will destroy your health. I simply could not continue that way. I think by the time I got to my own health problems I was at such a high stress level and then getting a lot of “I don’t know what’s wrong with you” from doctor’s, it just made me project more into the future. I can see that now.

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Dwelling on the past is just as destructive. Reliving old hurts does not help anyone. Do you know that your mind doesn’t know the difference of whether you are actually experiencing these moments or are just replaying them in your mind? The result is stress either way. Deepak says “I restore inner balance when I live in the now”. Yes, so true. And to do this it’s as easy as a one minute breathing meditation. There are guided meditations out there to use when you are actually experiencing a stressful moment and you need to bring yourself back to the present. I list some helpful apps below.

It’s a mindset I can see now, looking back, that was affecting my health in many ways, slowly over time. I’m happy to be out of that place! I’m not saying I don’t have fears now, but if I do, I have ways to work through them now without just getting upset or working myself up into a frenzy.

Do you find yourself living in the past or future? Is it causing unneeded stress and worry? Try the following:

Download a meditation app. I like Insight Timer, but there are many (Calm, Headspace) and use a guided meditation to bring you back to the present moment. Choosing just a one minute breathing awareness meditation can be so helpful. You can always choose a longer one if you like.

Make this a practice you use in your life and you will find yourself to be in a much calmer state of mind.

I would love to hear how it goes! Please comment below! Thanks for being here!


Spirituality

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At this point, one thing was clear. I needed a jumpstart on my spirituality practice. Over the years my practice changed. As a child, I had no practice whatsoever, coming from a home of agnostics. Even that has changed as my parents and our personal journey has evolved. But I’m not here to tell their story, only mine. My husband was raised Catholic. We did not discuss religion much at all when we were dating. I was pretty clear about my agnostic ways, but there was no real discussion there. Until, we were expecting our first child. Suddenly it was very important to my husband that we raise our children Catholic and that I also convert. I agreed to take the classes. I actually found myself drawn to it. Looking back I probably would have been drawn to any spiritual practice at that point just because I was a little starved for it but didn’t realize what I was missing. So, for years we went to our local Catholic Church, enrolled the kids in CCD classes and I joined a playgroup with the moms of the church. There was a lot of good that came out of those years. I certainly needed the moms. As a new mom not knowing many women in my neighborhood (as I was working up until my pregnancy) I needed their help and support. I was the only new mom of the group. I got recommendations on preschools, advice on parenting and the friendship of seeing these women every week for about 2 years. Over time though, my husband and I came to have dissatisfaction with organization as a whole and could no longer stay. We then attended a local Methodist Church for a few years which all of us really liked. I found it VERY welcoming and even joined a ladies bible study. It was at this time that I began a daily spiritual practice of praying everyday, reflecting upon my day and bible readings. Over time, the leadership of that church changed and our kids were much older and slowly, we stopped going altogether.
I continued my daily practice for a few years after we stopped attending church service. As I was suffering through all the pain of my situation, I continued this practice but I was craving so much more. With this in mind, I devoted a month to Spiritually.

Spirituality

My Quotation: “Spiritual growth involves giving up the stories of your past so the universe can write a new one.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Pray Every Day

Gratitude Practice

At the time, that was it. My practice would grow tremendously over time. I would now include my meditation under spirituality because I don’t feel like they should be separated. At the time though, this seemed right.

I feel like prayer comes in a different form for me today. Every morning I start my day with a 10-20 mediation. Sometimes it’s another gratitude practice. Thanking the universe for what I have. Prayer can be my walking meditation in nature or the quiet moments in yoga when everything is coming together and I’m being extremely mindful. These are all spiritual practices to me. I will go much deeper into this later when I began to grow in my journey.

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I’m sure you have heard the miraculous changes that occur with a regular gratitude practice. I desperately needed this. When I sit down every night to write my five things I’m grateful for that day, it is nearly impossible to be upset or wallow in my own misery. There are ALWAYS things to be grateful for. Even when things aren’t going well. There is always something. Some days are harder than others to find those things I’ll admit, but they are there. Even if it’s just the beautiful birds at my feeder. I don’t find myself wanting more stuff anymore. That desire is gone. I have plenty. When you start to be grateful for what you have everything shifts.

If you want to know more about how a daily gratitude practice can be beneficial for your mental health, you can read more here. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

Do you have a spiritual practice? If you would like to begin I suggest the following. This is not a one size fits all situation. It’s very personal, so do what you feel is best for you. Some things to explore.

  • Your local church
  • Daily prayer
  • Daily Gratitude Practice
  • Meditation

Please feel free to comment below! Thanks for being here!


Do for Others

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Did you know volunteering has many health benefits?  Not only are you helping someone or a cause in need you are also receiving as much as you are giving.  Studies show volunteering improves the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, lowers levels of depression, decreases risk of heart disease and increase longevity by up to 10 years! That’s quite a list! Read more here. https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/helping-people-changing-lives-the-6-health-benefits-of-volunteering

Again, why would I not do this? This was another mental health/coping skill I was determined to work on.  For years, I did some volunteering.  I was very active in my children’s schools, with PTA and in the classroom and I would donate clothes and food to various organizations.  But I never volunteered for something I was truly passionate about.  Obviously, I cared about my children’s school, but I needed to do more. This month’s resolution was:

Do for Others

 My Quotation: “Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person”

Daily/Weekly Tasks:

Volunteer

Simply volunteer, but in a BIG way.  Later in my journey I work through how I came upon a lot of the groups I’m involved in now and how that became a HUGE part of my life. I will explain that more later.  But at the time of my Happiness Project I immediately thought of working with seniors in some way.  I had met quite a few seniors in my time at the exercise classes I was attending.  They are the most caring, honest people I had ever met.  I loved them!!  So, I researched some opportunities within my county and found a meal delivery service for seniors that cannot get out to a senior center for lunch.  I signed up to deliver meals once a month to start.  This turned out to be just what I needed.  Volunteering is another stress reliever.  I was still in quite a bit of pain at this time and driving was uncomfortable.  But I put it aside when I was delivering.  I loved meeting all the seniors and having a little chat with them about their day.  And I was being USEFUL.  They were helping me and didn’t know it.  Volunteering has come to mean so much more to me now.  I have a greater awareness of myself and my purpose.  At the time, this was just the beginning.  I was thrilled to be doing anything other than focusing on my body and pain. 

Volunteering can be contagious too I think.  Shortly after I started, my Dad then began delivering meals as well and then my mom joined the Red Cross and started working blood drives.  All positive effects, on me, the people I was helping and in my immediate family.  Looking outside myself and my own problems is huge.  When you are volunteering, you are distracted and you thinking of others.  The other benefit for me was the social interaction.  I had interaction now, more than the year before, but I knew I needed more.  This filled that need as well.  Social connection is another indicator of longevity.  We are learning now that low social connection can be as detrimental on our health as smoking or being obese!  Volunteering gets you out into the world for the benefit of all.

Have you thought about volunteering more? Try the following;

Research your local government website for opportunities

Think about what you are interested in and research from there.

Are there opportunities at your church? Or school?

I’d love to hear about how you are volunteering! Please comment below!  Thanks for being here!