Category Archives: Bravery

Primary Caretaker – Me time

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Me time

Art from lineleoff.com

 

Over a 25 year period, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate self-awareness workshops. What I found is that there are countless numbers of us, both women and men, who have taken on the role of primary caretaker and as a result have put aside our own self-nurturing and self-care. This is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to develop a life lived with joy.

In some of these workshops, taking care of oneself seemed an almost alien concept to some. “What do you mean by self-nurturing?” They would ask. We raise our children while maintaining a healthy environment for them. We promote education, gently guiding family members in particular directions when a talent is recognized. We are there to “lift up” our spouses, significant others, friends and colleagues when they’re blue. We rise in the morning thinking of others. We go through each day, each hour, sometimes each moment planning how we will care for our family members, friends, or coworkers. We are the nurturers of the world!

I am mother to five children (now ages twenty-one through thirty-eight). When they were younger, I remember getting up in the morning before anyone else was awake heading for the shower already thinking of the dentist appointments, what to cook later for dinner and when? How would I get my then sixteen year old to a German club meeting and still get to the event I had volunteered for? Mind moving on and on, all of these thoughts occurring within a moment or two’s time… once resolved, I moved on to the other challenges I’d face that day.

Back then, time for my own interests was difficult to find. Whether to begin doctorate work became an anxiety ridden decision. Who would help with evening homework if I wasn’t home? Would my sixteen year old bring a troop of friends over while I was out? How would I prepare any kind of meal before I left for the evening? And finally, was the coursework something I even wanted to do? Or was I feeling pressured by my peers and employer? Talk about stress. One simple decision became a masterpiece of confusion and anxiety.

Does this sound familiar to you? Knowing how to care for ourselves, how to journey through each day being gentle on ourselves, being just as considerate of our “self” as we would be toward a family member, friend, or coworker… this is what we need to work toward and maintain. From a young age many of us were taught to be caretakers, we were conditioned to believe that it was our responsibility to care for others while our own needs were put aside. Today, many of us are caring for children or young adults, while very possibly caring for aging parents at the same time.

When you have a few minutes, try the following activity. What are some of the things that you do for others on a daily basis?

DO: List what you do for other people on a daily basis, right down to the smallest detail. 

Here’s an example of what a typical day looked like for me while raising my children and working a full time:

  • Cooked breakfast before school and work
  • Cleaned up the dishes and started the dishwasher
  • Made school lunches and my lunch for work
  • Threw in a load of laundry in both the dryer and the washer
  • Made beds
  • Worked all day at the office
  • Fed the birds
  • Paid Bills
  • “Helped” the kids do their chores
  • Took recycling out to the garage
  • Did the banking
  • Helped my oldest write his resume
  • Called a friend in need
  • Stopped at the store to pick up household goods
  • Worked on insurance benefits

My list was for a full day and I’ve most likely forgotten several things since that time. When you listed your day, you probably found your own list growing longer and longer with responsibilities that you typically do on “autopilot” and promptly forget. What I ask you to do next is more of a challenge. How much of your day is spent doing something for yourself, something rejuvenating or stress relieving? Something educational or a hobby you enjoy?

DO: List your own self-nurturing activities now.

I know you listed fewer activities. And you’re not alone! The majority of the people that have attended my workshops have had shorter lists as well. If you aren’t nurturing yourself, if you’re operating on overload… Not caring for you can lead to stress-filled days, resentment toward others, and finally burnout. What I’m suggesting is that you take the time to attend to your own well-being, just as you do for so many others.

Are you over-doing? It’s time to take steps toward self-nurturing. You are worthy of the same care you provide to others. You are just as important… just as special. Incorporate a reality check into each morning of your day. Evaluate what you want to happen in the day and how you’ll put some “me” time into your schedule. Set that time aside and stick to it as much as possible. Check it off at the end of each day. It doesn’t have to be some long impossible list. Here’s an example of my activities list. I would choose one or two from the list to incorporate into the day:

  • Work out
  • Spend time walking in nature
  • Sit at the local bookstore and sip tea
  • Read for 30 minutes after dinner
  • Write uninterrupted for one hour
  • Answer friends e-mail
  • Lunch with a friend at work
  • Sketch in my journal
  • Read and post affirmations
  • Attend a cooking class
  • Join a book discussion club
  • Have friends over once a week to just sit and gab
  • Refurbish a piece of furniture
  • Garden
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate

What did you put on your list? Choose one activity close to your heart and begin incorporating it into your day or week. Make it formal by putting it on your calendar or daily schedule. Block the time out for you! I’d love to hear some of the activities you’ve incorporated into the day or week just for yourself.

Next week: “You are the Hub of the Wheel,” an activity that helps create a visual snapshot of your life activities and responsibilities. Have a fabulous week!

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Conscious Decision Making

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Life By Design nl

 

In February 2013, I had a lucid dream experience where I was consciously creating in the fabric of space and time. I was present before the canvas of matter creating images with thoughts and gestures. Since 2013, there have been many mornings when I’ve actually awakened with my arms and hands up in the air gesturing as if I am still creating from the “other” side of the fabric, spirit body on that side, physical body on this side. I know that with regular practice through meditation, lucid dreaming and conscious awareness, I can change day-to-day physical reality creating a more desirable, joy-filled life-path. As a mystic, I know that we are, we live, simultaneously as both source-self (spiritual being) and the physical manifested self, experiencing life. One might look at the physical self as an avatar of sorts, a vehicle that allows us to experience living out all sorts of adventures through a physical body! In short, we live between two worlds.

Naturally and unconsciously through choice, we have created daily experiences using thought and action. However, many of us are thinking, acting, and creating experiences running on “autopilot,” allowing life to occur, to just happen… and as a result, often left wondering why things aren’t quite the way we’d prefer. How do we create change?

The simple answer is to turn off the autopilot. To be mindful of thoughts and consequent actions. To take responsibility for, and examine the choices made… and then choose differently where possible. We can create a new reality, with conscious mindful thought, conscious mindful decisions, conscious mindful planning, and conscious mindful action.

Will daily life then be picture perfect? I can say from experience that it will not because some of the choices made up until now have resulted in the experiences each of us are currently living through. However, I can say it will be better and that circumstances can be changed. Life is better because you will have become fully engaged. Daily life events are no longer just happening to you because you will have become a conscious, mindful, active, participant in its creation.

How to start? Over the next couple of months, each week I will introduce a set of self-exploration exercises to assist in becoming mindful of current life situations, where your focus has been, where it’s at today, how to make time for self-nurturing, and how to manage time and plan mindfully. These simple no-nonsense self-discovery activities are meant to be used over and over as you cycle through decisions, discover new facets of self, choose goals and take steps toward change. These activities have been used in workshops for over twenty years, basic, tried and true.  They are focused, personal, and will nudge you toward self-nurturing, as well as personal and spiritual growth. Next week: Module One – “Primary Caretakers.”

Soul Family

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soul family

 

Where do you find your strength? What moves you forward, upward, onward, possibly inward despite what’s occurring on the day-to-day life path? Who or what inspires you?

At any point over the last several years. I might have given up, stopped working completely, crawled into a hole, thrown in the towel on every day life, surrendering to the debilitating physical illnesses that insidiously sideswiped me, throwing me off my comfortable life-path. I crashed, but didn’t burn. I refused to lay there and got right back on life’s roads… repeatedly. Wouldn’t have any of it. No. Wouldn’t given in, wouldn’t give up. But I wasn’t alone, my “soul family” walked beside me.

Reflecting on what occurred over the last several years, the people I came into contact with, those family and friends that continue to be present… all has been instrumental and necessary. Looking at it all from a different, big picture perspective has provided insight. The insights as a result of my experiences were waiting in the wings whispering for attention. Some so in my face and obvious, I missed them completely! Other lessons quietly moved me from one step to the next and the next and the next, where then… a destination magically appeared, perhaps not what I expected or what I might have chosen, but a destination nonetheless. Then. When I’d land, and think o.k. I’m all right for now, surprise! A vortex of chaotic activity appeared again swirling into yet another series of events.

I learned patience and true self-care. As a result of dietary and nutritional changes, my overall health improved. I learned how important it is to get the sleep my body requires (not what I thought I could get by on). Much of my life I’ve acted as if I were Wonder Woman, able to face and overcome any obstacle at any time, doing whatever it took. Now I understand this is an unreasonable demand on the mind, body and soul. Wonder Woman behavior can cause what I call “body crash” and “soul disconnect,” something I’ve experienced first hand and continue resolving today. I now realize and accept healthy limitation. Each day I am better and better in every way. Progress has been a little slower than I’d prefer, even so it has appeared and I’m a grateful.

Soul family members walked this path with me, sharing in the experiences… my adult children, siblings, friends, work colleagues doctors and other medical professionals, throughout the toughest times, they held me in positive thought and supported me with encouraging words and actions (for which I am ever grateful). We’ve talked and shared what it means to truly practice care for the mind, body, and soul. The health challenges I’ve faced have brought about large life change, change I know I would not otherwise have made. The challenges have been the impetus for action, new ways of doing, thinking, behaving, and believing… All of which unfolded working hand-in-hand with others. We all played a part in the unfolding of increased wellness… without them, without my soul family, I would not be where I am today.  You know who you are, Thank You!

 

 

 

 

Never Broken, She Persisted

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Centered

I am a vivid dreamer, able to fill dream journals with pages and pages of dreams, many about myself, sometimes about others, and still other dream stories are about the country or world events.  When I have a particular dilemma or question about life, I will write it in my dream journal and wait for an answer.

Recently without prompting or questions, I dreamt that I was working with a team of people creating life experiences for a woman.  The events were meant to challenge her in every way, experience after experience, one after another, sometimes more than one occurring on top of another.  Layer after layer, one upon another, complex and highly intense. Each experience meant to peel and pull, to break away the characteristics of the woman… Until she was clean… Until she was clear and transparent… Ready to begin again.

The woman was never broken, instead she persisted.  She allowed and accepted.  She went through the experiences one after another, layer upon layer from the beginning to the now. Throughout the peeling and pulling breaking down process she came to be free… Free from the burdens each experience had brought forth in memories.

Now, she appeared before us all like calm waters, crystal-clear and accepting… Childlike in that she was now a vessel for what newness would begin. As I rose from the dream feeling indifferent, I thought it was just a dream about a woman.  But it wasn’t about just a woman.  I realized it was me.  I am this woman.  I am naked, clean, soul stripped bare, transparent, empty and calm, ready for the new beginnings that lay ahead.

Yes, I am — Let it begin.

Only one world… It’s now

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josephine wall tree of life

Tree of Life by Josephine Wall

If you’ve followed my blog, then you know the stories of my living between two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. Sometimes I’m dreaming or visioning or learning with non-physical spiritual teachers, sometimes I’m all about living in the physical and taking on day-to-day challenges. Well, the worlds have blended, there is no other world anymore, no “there” and no “here.” It’s just one place. It’s now, in this very moment.

Conscious that we are living representations of our source or spiritual self, I realize I am that spiritual self. I am not two separate beings, one spiritual, one physical. Knowing this means recognizing the divinity in all others just as much as being fully conscious of my own spiritual origin. When a colleague walks into my office, aware or unaware of their own source consciousness, aware or unaware that we are more than this, I know it is my responsibility to listen with discernment. There is a lesson in what is unfolding. There is a message in the sound of the words. There is an agreement between us as a Collective Whole to experience as they are, as I am in these moments, in each moment unfolding throughout the events occurring.

Excitement and an ease of living comes with this knowledge. There is a peace that permeates with the recognition, with this conviction and knowing that there is an agreed upon blueprint of some sort. All we need do is step into the flow as the moments, minutes, hours, days, years of the print unfold… and trust that as a member of the Spirit Collective all is well and as it should be.

No one knows better than I how frustrating physical existence can be. Before Grace gifted me with this awareness and conviction, in the grip of illness and physical pain, I called out, I felt persecuted, I felt as if I were a failure. Me, the meditator, the empath, the teacher, the spiritual mentor. I was sickI was sad. I was struggling… How could this be? How had I come to be in such a place?

Much farther down the road, I now very clearly see how each event, each experience has been important, has carried weight, has led to another step to some next place in time, in some cases to intersections and new life choices, even during states of illness and struggle or contentment and joy. I am not alone in this endeavor. There have always been fellow travelers on the life path. Fellow “tribe” members. We have agreed to be here intersecting in space and time, having the experience.

There are still days where I feel ill, or too tired to keep going. There are still times I struggle with situations, however I know with certainty that I will make it to the next moment. And that moment may be very different from the previous moment. I know with certainty that I am never alone, that I walk in strength of companionship with all others, be they unaware or aware. I know that beyond the physical, those who do not manifest in the body also walk with us. And it’s good, and all good. Answers to questions are delivered, resources supplied, even to the smallest degree. We just need to pay attention to the moment.

More to come fellow traveler. Peace.

We are more than this…

She Lived

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Etching by Gustave Dore

Etching by Gustave Dore

 

A dear friend of mine passed away a week ago after an 8 year struggle with cancer. She has gone beyond the veil. I was fortunate enough to have spent some long periods of time with her this year. I realized this morning that during these last few months, with health and abilities declining, she didn’t lose her “spark.” Because of this, I actually missed the fact that she was losing the battle with cancer. My first thought… I was in denial. However, reflecting on our conversations I see now that yes, her body was declining, but she was the same person she had always been, loving, caring, joyful, positive, conversational and very funny. Her body changed but she didn’t, so I didn’t see that she’d be leaving us soon. I missed it completely.

We worked together over a period of ten years, developing a friendship after she resigned due to cancer treatment and declining health. When we spent time together, she would catch me off guard with her humor talking about “this cancer” or life events that had occurred. Life events that would have thrown most of us into a deep dark tizzy she handled with calm grace. I learned from her. The gracefulness, trust and humor illustrated in her words and actions quietly, without notice, sifted into my own approach to life. Gifts I didn’t realize she’d gently passed to me. I wonder if she knew herself? If she saw the change…

What I will remember most from our time together over the last five years is the laughter, the stories and memories we’d share about the old workplace, family or pets. She’d have this grin on her face, and sometimes would stop talking altogether because we’d think the same thing… pause and wham!  We’re both laughing to the point of tears. What a hero! … I miss her already. Thank you dear friend for sharing your life-journey with me. Thank you for laughing and crying with me, thank you for showing me that we are more than these bodies, more than the events that make up our lives, that we are indeed living spirit experiencing life and most of all that we are more than this… Life’s journey is a workshop for the Spirit!

We will see each other again.

We Are Heroes… Magnificent and Courageous

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We are heroes, strong and courageous. Warriors of the day and sometimes the night. Life events unfold, some so good, others just tragic, through youth, young adulthood to adult, to middle age, and elder years. Good childhoods, not-so-good childhoods, wonderful home life, so-so home life, broken homes, great parents or broken parents. We get married, maybe stay that way or later divorced, sometimes face the challenges of being with a partner who has addictions, or maybe we deal with that challenge ourselves. Sometimes we stay single, or sometimes we lose our partner well before their time and we are alone. Children come along, or sometimes they don’t… but if they do, along with them is another set of life events that intersect with our own. We choose careers we love… or hate, sometimes just in-between. Our health is good, or not so good, or maybe absolutely horrible, but we move on moment-to-moment, day-to-day, year-to-year, fighting the good fight… being a hero.  We are heroes… life-path warriors.

This is how I’ve chosen to see living. As a person of courage. How else can such human life tragedy or joy, despair or all-good be fittingly described? In seeing myself as a strong, heroic, capable being, I am better able to face any particular moment as it unfolds. I am a hero.

While driving to and from the office, just me and my thoughts, I’ve reinforced this glorious hero perspective by listening to inspiring, epic music. Some composed by Audiomachine, their songs Blood and Stone, Hope and Glory, Solstice Sun, Army of Kings,  Existence: Beyond the Clouds and Rebirth are my favorites. Violinist Lindsey Stirling also has some amazing send-shivers-through-your-body compositions such as Transcendence, Elements, Song of the Caged Bird and Assassin’s Creed Theme. I get in 60 minutes every day of “I can conquer the world” hero-rousing tunes. Some bring memories of getting through a particular life event that left me broken way back when, bringing on tears but also feelings of gratitude for having bravely survived what occurred. Grateful for the courage that has kept me going.

We are amazing creatures. Perfect beings in our imperfections. You are courageous. You are magnificently brave. Choose to recognize the hero that you are. And so it goes, and so it is, and so it shall be. All said. We carry on. Peace dear reader, and much love to you for the journey.