Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fresh Start: Be Your Own Guru!

  Part Four:

Meet your body exactly where it is right now.
If you can't pencil yourself into your own life, then where can you?

I think one of the most difficult parts of the healing journey, but arguably the most important is the willingness, and the necessity of meeting your body exactly where it is right now, and not allowing yourself to be long-term discouraged by its current limitations, but also recognizing the need to not push your body to do what it simply can not in the moment (which is the surest path to burn-out).  Often times when people are ill or overwhelmed, you'll hear the advice "slow down" thrown around with abandon, but what many well-intentioned, able bodied, or physically well people who impart this wisdom forget or simply don't understand is what an utter hellscape the notion of "slowing down" seems like.

There are few things that sound more nightmare-ish than that to someone who's ever been bed ridden, or housebound for any length of time due to insufficient health, and just now feel like they're coming back to life out of some pseudo-zombie-state.  "You can't be serious!  IF I MOVED ANY MORE SLOWLY, I'D BE GOING BACKWARDS!!!" is how I think a lot of people feel when confronted with that particular piece of advice, and I also think it throws a little undue mental anguish into the mix on top of already being unwell, which I believe makes it easier to slip into depression, feel frustratingly discouraged, deflated, and adds to the difficulty of getting oneself on a path toward total wellness.  Which, if you've ever experienced anything that had you laid up, a mystery illness you've had to unravel, or simply had shoddy healthcare that kept you in a holding pattern of sorts, you know full well how tremendously terrible a set-back like that can feel, and the toll it can take on an already delicate physical state.  Naturally, when working on clawing your way out of the grips of a health scare or crisis, we can expect a certain amount of the doldrums to hit us from time to time, but keeping yourself from spiraling into severe depression can feel like an exhausting full-time job sometimes, and it's incredibly easy for something so small, and spoken in complete innocence to disrupt the delicate balance we've been able to miraculously achieve.

It's for these reasons that I prefer to approach my wellness by respecting my body, and its wisdom by bringing it a question instead of a direct order, and why when your feet hit the ground each morning (or not, depending on your situation), I think you should ask yourself "What am I going to do today?" and let your response back to yourself be, "I'm going to meet my body exactly where it is, right now," and whatever, and wherever that place happens to be, I hope you will remember to bring the gift of kindness for yourself.

Monday, June 4, 2018


It's back!  The Worldbuilders Market has kicked off its week-long Summer fundraising event with all proceeds from sales going toward humanitarian efforts around the world through programs like First Book, Mercy Corps, and Heifer International (read more here).  This year, instead of hosting the fundraiser through Indiegogo, Worldbuilders has brought Geeks Doing Good to its own website, and created a convenient shopping page stocked full of goodeis, and pre-orders for fresh gear you can't find anywhere else.  So, if you want some new swag, why not help people in dire circumstances while you get it?

Last year's event raked in $239,872 USD in just seven days with regular people giving what they could to make someone else's life a little bit better.  It's not exactly a bad way to celebrate Pat Rothfuss' birthday if you ask me.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Tick, Tock...

There is no such thing as "bad timing" -- this phrase spoiled, all-or-nothing hearts are wont to hide behind.  When you crave someone enough; when you can taste the life you're meant to live you will move heaven, and earth until it is yours.  Time be damned.

Sometimes circumstances arrive that can keep us physically apart from those we love.  There are also times when prioritizing something else above romantic desires must take precedence; a sacrifice for the greater good, as it were, but make no mistake there is always choice involved.  The act of removing the notion of choice from the narrative you construct for yourself, of willfully ignoring that you've had any part in designing your own list of priorities is naïveté on parade at best.

"Bad timing" is a lie we tell ourselves to feel better about the decisions we've made, assuage our guilt, protect our egos, or even keep ourselves firmly planted in denials we're not ready to address, but I've yet to be convinced it actually exists.  

I think it's dangerous to lie to ourselves, especially in this way -- to manipulate our own emotions, and shield ourselves from possibly uncomfortable realities because it makes us feel icky.  I think practices of this nature have an incredible ability to arrest our development.  This idea of inventing a pseudo-reality to escape the actuality of the moment is the equivalent of the closed-eyed toddler, fingers firmly shoved into ears, howling and wailing trying to drown out the word "no".  When carried further (and embarrassingly unchecked) it can become the building blocks of the good old fashioned privilege the ruling class gets to enjoy; the fantasy that so many marginalized groups have never been fortunate enough or deluded enough to go along with, having lived lives full of too many truths to believe in such fanciful notions of making up cute platitudes to improve one's emotional footing.

To me, blaming the things in your life that didn't work out on "bad timing" falls as flat as being "too busy" all of the time.  It keeps us from having to face what kept us "too busy" to do all of the things we told ourselves we wanted to do, as well as keeping us from admitting that timing, bad or otherwise had nothing to do with something not coming to fruition.

In relationships if we don't pin it all on bad timing, then our defunct default is typically "I'm not good enough", and once those words are uttered the only thing left to do is put the final touches on the guest list for our pity party.
Let's face it, keeping ourselves trapped in suffering is so much easier than owning our junk, or peeling back the layers to discover deeper truths of a situation.  
Maybe you are the most perfect person in the whole wide world, but the other person's path was taking them in a different direction, and they chose the path they're supposed to walk instead of the one you thought you were meant to forge together.  Did they choose something over you?  Yes.  Does it hurt?  Probably!  Rejection rarely feels good.  Does it have anything to do with you?  Probably not.  However, it seems our only popular option these days is lie to ourselves, or start the downward spiral of emotional abuse, and self-hate when things don't work in our favor.  What kind of crap is this?

How sad is it that we ALL know pain, but how many of us really know what it feels like to be contentedly thriving?  Is it because we opt for the wrong thing, or the painful thing because it's familiar, and at least we can find some comfort in that?  Are we afraid to feel anything better because trying something new is more terrifying than staying put -- whether that's in an unhealthy situation, environment, relationship, or frame of mind?  What on earth is the root of that kind of fear?  I sometimes wonder if it is actually a form of self-hatred that keeps us locked in crippling fear.  Clearly there are many forms of fear, and in this case I'm not talking about the kind of fight or flight fear that you would experience with a huge, frothing-at-the-mouth wild animal chasing you through the woods.  I don't think in most cases self-hatred would keep you from running like hell from that situation, or fighting for your life, however, there are always exceptions.  No, what I'm talking about is the fear that runs like a low-grade fever in your life keeping you from making the changes necessary to thrive.  I think the pervasiveness of that fear depends on the health of our self-esteem.  Don't get me wrong, we all experience fear -- people who love every aspect of themselves aren't magically immune to fear, it just means that the more comfortable you are with yourself, and the more love you show yourself, the less fear has the power to rule over your life. 
How is it, then, that self-hatred can show up as fear?  
There's no need to over complicate it, really.  Fear shows up every time we think we are too fat/ugly/weak/sickly/etc. to try something new, or different.  On top of that, what's the point of learning new methods or processing information that will elevate your life if you're too "stupid" to figure it out, or you're too something to apply what you learned, and just lazy enough to let it all fall apart, or fail in the end anyway?  All of this stuff keeps us down, and feeds the feeling that we don't deserve anything better.  Think of any negative self-talk we engage in.  It's ALL feeding fear in our lives.  I think once we can address that fear, and the root of it, and are willing to dissect it into whatever sized pieces we need to until the truth is exposed, we'll be well on our way to living the lives we actually want to live.  What I believe I know for sure is that whatever our root cause for doing, or not doing something, we need to not lie to ourselves about it, no matter how well intended,  and stop filling our lives and awareness with useless adages that keep us from uncovering what needs our attention most urgently, and keeps us separated from those who love us most.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fresh Start: Be Your Own Guru.

Part Three:

"When you truly understand that your food choices are powerful and life affirming, you can exercise control and restraint without deprivation."
- Marlene Adelmann

I begin each one of the posts in the Be Your Own Guru series with "Fresh Start" because I believe every single day is an opportunity to begin anew.  No matter where you are at in your journey, each morning your eyes open, and you have breath in your lungs you have the power to continue, or begin living the life you imagine for yourself.  I also use it as a personal reminder, and motivation for myself!  Believe me, when I'm posting I'm doing it for myself, it's great if other people find something worthwhile around here, but I'm actually (selfishly) leaving myself a bread-crumb trail, and also attempting to hold myself accountable, I'm not just sitting here screaming at strangers, and trying to dictate their lives.  I'm really just talking to myself, which is either incredibly healthy, or ... not, but if you find something that resonates with you, you're always welcome to come along!

One of the most powerful lessons I've been able to learn when it comes to my health, and food choices is perfectly stated in the quote above.  It took me a long time to get here, but once I got it, I finally felt liberated.  I'm one of those weirdos with a long list of allergies, and food sensitivities, like, looong (several sheets of printer paper long, in fact).  We didn't find this out until I was about twelve years old, or so, all my family knew was that I was skinny, and sick or in pain all of the time.  When my test results revealed what I was allergic to was the same foods I'd been fed nearly everyday my entire childhood my parents were horrified.  Things got really difficult when we noticed the foods on my list weren't exactly obscure, they were everywhere, and ingredients in everything: wheat, rice, sugar cane, chocolate, peanut, soy, egg white, beef, dairy, just to name a few.  Try eating something in 1992 that doesn't have one of these things in it.  At the time, my list of known foods I could eat looked like a ghost town (tumbleweed blowing across the deserted streets and all).  So while my food issues may not be exactly like your food issues, and your food issues are different from the girl down the street, it doesn't matter what your personal obstacle is, if you've struggled with the feeling or notion of deprivation, we've all had the same struggle.

I spent far too much of my life grieving over the foods I could no longer consume.  I had to say goodbye to all of those familiar, and comforting side dishes and meals I'd grown up on in a time when alternative cookbooks didn't really exist, and if they did, everything inside them tasted like garbage, or mildly garbage-flavored cardboard.  In order to ultimately bring healing to my body, I've had to completely throw out, not just everything I can't eat, but everything I thought I knew about food, cooking and meal planning - which you think would sound totally bad-ass, and exciting!  Who doesn't want to write all of their own rules?  Isn't that what we're dying to do from adolescence onward?  But for me, this new found freedom was actually overwhelming, and frightening until I learned to shift my focus off of what I can't have, and shine it hard on everything I can have.

Once I was able to open myself to the abundance I had refused to previously acknowledge in my adult years, everything changed for me.  I mean, right now in my life it's pretty hard to feel deprived when my meals taste like dessert, and I can eat as much as I want until complete satiation at every meal and snack throughout the day knowing that everything I put into my body is nutritionally sound, and healthy for me to consume.  For me, control and restraint lie in all of the foods I used to love that I know will hurt me, for others control and restraint may be overcoming the urge to binge on foods that are unhealthy for your body to be burdened by, and for others still, control and restraint may be wrapped up in keeping yourself from purging your body of foods you currently or have previously feared.  So while everyone out there is likely dealing with their own unique set of circumstances, there is common ground to be found, and I think it helps tremendously when we don't feel quite so alone on the paths we walk throughout our lives. 

Be kind to yourself.  Meet your body exactly where it is right now, and make choices for it that empower you both physically, and emotionally.  We all deserve to be treated gently and with love, and I believe that should begin with how we look after ourselves.  It can be difficult to dismantle the mega amounts of shame that we as women have heaved our way, but remind yourself often that taking care of yourself and making healthy choices for your skin and body isn't necessarily a practice based on vanity or some inability to age gracefully - to be perfectly honest, I have no problem looking or feeling like a 37 year old woman, it's the possibility of looking like a 37 year old leather handbag, and feeling like a dumpster fire inside, that I take issue with!

A great way to upgrade your personal mindset toward yourself, and your current situation is to introduce small, inexpensive, and even free "luxuries" into your daily routine, and get used to cherishing and making time for yourself.  With the temperatures rising, I've included one of my favorites below!

Rosy Cheeks Toner:
1 oz. witch hazel (preferably alcohol free)
2 oz. rose water
10 drops palmarosa essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil

Combine in a small glass jar, or bottle (spray or otherwise) of your preference, and store in the refrigerator for several weeks.  If you're trying to live that preservative free life, make smaller batches of rose water, and in turn, smaller batches of toner to reduce wasted product. 

How to make Rose water:
Remove petals from selected flowers, and rinse with room temperature water.
Bruise petals either by tearing by hand, or gently mashing with mortar and pestle.
Place petals in saucepan or pot large enough to hold all of them plus enough water just to cover them.
(This is when you add the distilled water ... just enough to cover).
Over medium-low heat cover, and bring to a simmer.
Let simmer 30 minutes until petals have lost color.
Strain & store liquid in a glass jar.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mistress Mary

Her garden may grow with silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row.  But mine has neon leaves, moonbeams, a few weeds, and ivy covered fences.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Eevie, Ivy, Over

Skipping double dutch
from shadow to burst of light
City, my playmate

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Meta Mix-Up

One of my favorite personal lessons from last year was becoming aware of the messages I'm sending about what I need, want, and intend to manifest.  After I read the line, "Stop sending mixed messages to the universe," from a piece of Denise Duffield-Thomas' work, I started seeing them everywhere.  You know the whole, "I want this, but I'll be happy with that," or "I need, but I'll settle for..."

When we make bargains with ourselves we don't get our highest desires, or needs met, and I quickly realized I'd been low-balling myself, and when I'd get exactly what I asked for, it wasn't the universe's fault that I wasn't happy with the results.  Okay, no, I'm not so daft that I believe if the words are spoken, that things will just magically materialize in my life (or not), I do believe in the power of suggestion, and that our subconscious mind has a funny way of taking us to task, and shaping our behavior, but stay with me, because never has this lesson been more clear than when I watched it playing out before my eyes on social media.

As I was becoming increasingly aware of my own mixed up habits, I ran across a glaringly vivid example at the beginning of last year when an old college pal was desperate to find a kidney for her mother.  Apparently, the mother's blood type coupled with a rare condition, it makes finding a match incredibly difficult.  So her daughter (my friend) went on a social media crusade to find this organ of mythical proportions.  She went so far as to hire a photographer to shoot her toddler holding a sign advertising the family's plight -- because we all know nothing grabs attention or sells quite like babies and animals, and all the stops were to be pulled out for this -- picked the perfect photo, wrote a long, emotional letter, and after many sad, and alarming posts, published her masterpiece with the rallying cry for all of her friends to make it go "viral".  The problem was, every post she begged for her audience to "make viral" was set to private, or for her friends only ... A few hours later, after no shares and hardly any likes, she posted one of the nastiest rants I've ever seen, calling out all her "phony" friends and family, and berating everyone for their lack of support.  Soooo, I kinda had to (gently) mention that the privacy settings she'd chosen coupled with the site's algorithm had the potential to obscure the post's visibility, and asked her if she didn't want her posts public, if she'd mind if we just circulated the photograph of her child ourselves that displayed all of the family's contact information, and if she didn't mind us spreading it on other platforms (twitter, ig, etc.) thinking that in all her (understandable) emotions she'd forgot to adjust her settings.  Several people had agreed with me, and were rallying around her to show their support in the thread, encouraging her to guide us to do whatever she needed.  The next day the rant was gone, and none of the settings on the posts advertising the need for the new organ were changed.  Flash forward to the winter of 2017, and the long suffering mother is STILL no better off finding her organ.  Even so, they were able to miraculously find 28 potential donors who were all rejected due to her condition, but I imagine her donor list could've been much longer had the daughter not been sending out these incredibly mixed messages.

Not that her friends list is the entire Universe, but thousands of friends and contacts who, in turn, each have hundreds, and thousands of their own contacts, and so on?  We were perfectly poised to canvas a rather large swath of the population, and yet none of us really knew which were the appropriate steps to take, and with no true communication with the woman organizing the effort very few of us, if any, took steps at all.  Many people have no qualms circulating tricky posts via copy + paste or screenshots, but when it comes to publishing photographs of another person's child when the main privacy settings are confused, I'm always going to err on the side of caution, and I think that attitude is pretty common among most grown folks.

Moral of the story:  The Universe can't make a private post "viral".