Life in All Its Bits and Pieces

A few years ago, around 2008, I took on a side business of creating websites for small business owners. At the time, I was working full-time. So it ended up to be too much for me. So I stopped offering my services as a website designer. From the few clients I worked with at that time, two remained clients to this day. Over the years, the programs that I used to design graphics and websites became obsolete and no longer were upgraded. It came a time when I could no longer maintain these websites. So I ended up redoing these two clients’ website using WordPress. Actually, it is a total of four clients if I count my husband and myself. You are welcome to visit these websites if you are so inclined. Just click on the pictures below.

Here’s a bit of trivia. Did you know that WordPress is “The largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.”? It is estimated that 18.9 % of all websites are WordPress sites. This means about 74,652,825 sites. Isn’t that quite something? That does impress me! So WordPress is a very good choice when it comes to creating websites and it is easy to maintain and update. Its blog function is invaluable as well. This blog/website is a WordPress site.

Now that I’m retired, getting back to website design is one of the options opened to me. It seems that life is leading me in that direction again. A bit over a week ago, a friend contacted me asking if I would be interested in working on a website for her.  Then a couple of days later, I was talking to another friend and I offer to help her with her website. This is what I have been working on for the past week. Once this website is complete, I’ll be sure to share it here.

I’ve also started to upgrade my skills in terms of graphics and website design. Things have changed a lot since 2008. I mean a LOT! I have kept abreast of some of the changes but there is so much I don’t know. My goal is to learn to do websites from scratch. This is so that I can fully customize my designs. I think it could also be fun (yes, I did write fun!) to design my own WordPress theme and sell them. But I’m getting ahead of myself. One thing at a time.

It’s been interesting observing myself as I’ve returned to doing websites. I’m definitely learning things about myself. One thing about me is that I tend to go at a task till it is done. Things, like eating, going to the washroom, etc., are interruptions I can do without. In fact, I sometimes resent those interruptions very much so! This isn’t so bad if the task is a small one, that might take an hour or two or half a day, When the task is huge, though, as it is with doing a website design, it becomes unhealthy for me and those around me. Many of times, in the past, I have snapped at my husband for disturbing me with life’s necessities. This week, although I have not snapped at my husband, I have found myself obsessing about this website doing very little else. And you know what? That does not feel good! It feels very unbalanced in fact. Life goes on and all of its bits and pieces are worth living, not just some parts of it. So hmmm… I’m listening. Life in all its bits and pieces is a gift. It is all the bits and pieces that make life worth living. It is in making space and time for all these bits and pieces that I feel grounded and balanced. When I obsess over one of those bits and resent all the other bits for interrupting this obsession, I feel disconnected from life and from myself. This is so important for me to know this about myself. It’s empowering. It gives me the opportunity to tweak things. This is a very good thing.

I’m happy to have resumed my love affair with website design. I absolutely love the aesthetic of website design: the colours, the textures, all of it! The artist in me is over the moon with that. It is now up to me to see how I can incorporate this in my life in a way that is healthy and nurturing. I’m pretty sure I can figure this out!

Home is Just a Breath Away

Stillness, the way HOME. There is no greater gift I can give myself that time to just be, to experience the nothingness of all there is. There is no place like this space within myself, within my soul. To allow myself time to visit there is like a taking the freshest of deep breath, to dive into the clearest and bluest of water. This is the only way I can experience the now moment. It allows me to get off the hamster wheel, physically and mentally. It allows me to experience the true gift of this now and it is a gift, always! To be home at last… there is no better destination to reach! Home is just a breath away.

The Call to Slumber

I have not written for four days. Hmmm… What is this about? I felt I had nothing to say. Nothing to say that had an inspiring note at least. I kept thinking about it but couldn’t get anything juicy enough. On the surface, that looks like a legitimate reason for not writing. It is true that what I want to share here has to be inspiring, to have a positive message. It’s important for me to be real about what is going on with me, in my life, but at the same time, I don’t want this blog to be a dumping ground for my crap. So yes, on the surface, I had a legitimate reason for not writing.

Something hasn’t been sitting right though. So I decided to get curious about what that’s about and how the past four days have been for me. This leads me to realize that I have slipped back into patterns that are not healthy for my wellbeing, for my mental health. Once again, I’ve succumbed to the ‘call to slumber’.

The call to slumber is so enticing! Slumber is comfortable in the moment and muffles everything around me and most importantly, it numbs me. Slumber comes to me in many forms, although compulsive/binge eating is definitely my sleeping drug of choice, it also comes in the form of too much Facebooking, game playing, online shopping and Netflix watching. Slumber to me is anytime I am not consciously living my life from day to day, hours to hours, minutes to minutes. It is anytime I’m letting precious time be sucked in by activities that are hurting me whether physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or spiritually. This is not to say that these activities are bad. However, when these activities are out of balance, it is being hurtful to me in some ways. The way it is hurting me the most is in the way that it is sucking my time, leaving me with very little to no time for activities that really nurture and feed me physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually such as movement/exercise, time to prepare nutritious meals/foods, quiet time to centre myself/meditation, quality time with my husband and with family and friends and last but not least, time for creativity. All these activities make my whole person soar to great heights and the bottom line is that I do deserve nothing less.

So once again, I gently shake myself awake. I remind myself that life requires my attendance. I smile … Ah yes! Right away! I’m on it!

I messed up!

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

I messed up! I’ve let myself down! Last night, I binged. I had not binged for days. I binged. And I lied to myself. I told myself that it didn’t matter. I had been good, right? I was actually hungry. It’s alright to eat. It’s ok, just one bite. Just this time. I binged and I lied to myself. I messed up.

I went to bed bloated. I couldn’t sleep. When I binged, I snore and sometimes very loud. I couldn’t sleep. I was worried I would wake-up my husband, that he would know that I binged. When he left the bed at 2:30 am, I finally went to sleep but I slept poorly. The worry about snoring was replaced with the worry about getting leg or feet cramps. This happens if I ingest too much salt. So I slept poorly. I eventually got up at 9 am. I don’t feel good when I get up late, no matter what time I went to sleep.

Shame. Disappointment in myself. Self-loathing. Feeling sluggish. Tired. Shame.

BUT WHAT IF … messing up was an opportunity to practice self-compassion?

It’s easy to talk about self-compassion and be self-compassionate when I’m doing well. However it seems that when I’m messing up, not doing so well, I’m there with the beating stick! Beating the crap out of myself. Every hit of the stick hammering shame, self-loathing, disappointment, etc. deeper into my being. Every hit of the stick letting me know that it is true. It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.

WHAT IF messing up was an opportunity to practice self-compassion?

This is the path I chose this morning, the path of self-compassion. I stood at the beginning of the path and unclenched my hand and let my beating stick dropped to the ground. I took a step and another and as I did, I was flooded with sadness. Sadness for what I was doing to myself. It does matter. I do matter. I deserve a healthy body. I deserve a good sleep. I deserve fulfilling relationships. But foremost, I deserve my own love and compassion.

I’m human. I’m not perfect. I have a long history with food addiction. But when I beat myself for the poor food choices, the binges, and all the other things I judged myself for, I’m perpetuation the cycle of shame and self-abuse. This is not the path to freedom. To the contrary, it is the path to enslavement. This is not what I want for myself. I deserve so much more. I’m worth so much more. The path of self-compassion is the only path that will lead me there, one step at a time.

I’m incredibly grateful right now for having taken those first few steps.

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I’ve been listening to some of the interviews from the Self-Acceptance Summit presented by Sounds True and I’m really enjoying it. Today is day 3 of a 10-day summit. There are 3 interviews a day and they are available for 24 hours. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I really love Sounds True. So much, in fact, that I will have to see if they have an affiliate program. It offers products that are good for my soul.

One of the interviews I’ve listened to is Fierce Authenticity with JP Sears. Some of you might be familiar with him. He is the “Ultra Spiritual’ guy on YouTube. If you don’t know him, you got to check out his “How to be Ultra Spiritual” video. It is quite funny! I like his satirical comedy and have listen to many of his videos at some point. So I got curious as to what he had to offer to this Self-Acceptance Summit. Well, I had the pleasure to meet the other side of JP Sears, his serious side. Here’s something I didn’t know, JP Sears is an Emotional Healing Coach and Teacher. How cool is that! An Emotional Healing Coach. I love that! So it turns out that he had a whole lot of goodness to offer to the Self-Acceptance Summit.

There were numerous gold nuggets in what JP Sears shared. All were very powerful! I want to share this gold nugget with you all. I think this so important to know this. So important!

When we are busy trying to be who we think we need to be, we are simultaneously rejecting ourselves.

Wow, right? That makes a whole lot of sense to me! Of course! If the truth be known (and let it be known!) I’m very good at self-rejection! Every time I think that I’m not doing enough, that I’m doing too much of this or that, that I need to be this way and that way to be evolved, spiritual, a better wife, a better mother, you name it; I’m telling myself that who I am – right now – isn’t good enough and that I’m a failure. In essence, I reject myself. I reject myself! This realization brings out real sadness in me. I do this to myself and that is very sad.

After I moved away from the toxic environment I grew up in my early 20s,  becoming a better person became my guiding light. For the first 5 years, I became very religious. I was Catholic at the time and at some point, I attended daily church services. Through this I gathered a huge lists of ‘do and don’t’ on how to become a better person. Then I moved away from religion and dove head first into self-help through reading, courses, retreats and psychotherapy. At that point, I had let go of some of my ‘ do and don’t’ from my Catholic list of how to be a better person and that was definitely not a bad thing. However though my foray into self-help, I gathered an even longer list of ‘do and don’t’. Unfortunately, I can see now, that my list of ‘do and don’t’ on how to become a better person has been instrumental in perpetuating the rejection of who I am.

At this point, I’m not sure what to think of the self-help movement. With the passing of Louise Hay, one of the fonder of the self-help movement, I’ve had the opportunity to think about this. I guess it is like everything, it has a light side and a shadow side. The bottom line is that as long as we are pursuing our ideal of a better self through our list of ‘do and don’t’, we are negating and therefore rejecting the person that we already are. We are negating and rejecting the person that is already the best he/she can be in this now moment.

Yes I am sad at the realization that I have rejected myself over and over again through my ‘do and don’t’ list.  But now that I know this, I can make different choices for myself, choices that convey love, self-compassion and self-acceptance to myself. I deserve this! I’m worth this! Thank you JP Sears!

Recovery One Breath at a Time

I have just finished listening to “Recovery One Breath at a Time” by Kevin Griffin. This is a program I have purchased from Sounds True. I really enjoyed listening and studying this program. I’ve taken many notes. Kevin Griffin has a very gentle approach, which I like very much. I thought I would share some of the information that has struck a chord with me. Even though this program is geared towards recovery from addiction, I find that the information shared by Kevin Griffin Could be of value to anyone. And as someone wrote lately, aren’t we mostly all addicts to some extent?

Kevin shares a lot about mindfulness as a way to recovery. I really like his take on the practice of mindfulness: “The mindfulness practice is about discovering what life really is rather than what we think it is.” He furthers goes to say that “Mindfulness shows us that our existence is actually made up of just a few things: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and thinking. If we don’t engage these six sense experiences, we are missing out on life.” For most of my life, I lived in my head mostly unconscious. I now understand the value of engaging my senses in my life experiences, day in and day out. This also apply to my thinking. Although I spent a lot of time in my head, most of the time, I was not truly conscious of my thought processes. This is something I’m definitely working on at the moment.

Kevin goes on to say that “Fundamentally, all we are looking for is happiness.” and he then stresses the importance of being clear about what we want and to take full responsibility for achieving whatever it is we do want. So first of all, what is happiness? In Kevin’s words: “Happiness is about feeling fully connected, fully alive.” This is happiness! With this in mind, we must ask ourselves what is it that makes us happy. What will bring more happiness into our life? This is a very important first step. I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life and as such, I’m not entirely sure what truly makes me happy. Oh, I know how to make others happy! This is where I get lost. So one of my challenges, at this time, is to find out what makes me happy and commit to this for myself. Because in the end, true happiness comes from within and I’m the only one that can nurture this happiness.

Kevin talks about the importance of meditation and that meditation is a practice in mindfulness. That is an important tool in changing our relationship to our thoughts and in turn, this allows us to let go and trust in the process. He recommends starting with 20 minutes a day, or to have shorter meditation sessions throughout the day. Simply breathing in and out, being conscious of our breaths, is all that is needed. Thoughts will distract us but we just need to bring ourselves back to our breathing without judgements. Over time, this practice will become more effortless. It does take practice. I’ve been doing about 15 minutes every morning for about 10 days now. My thoughts are all over the place. I keep bringing my attention back to my breath, mentally saying ‘in’ as I breathe in and ‘out’ as I breathe out. The thoughts return and again I bring myself back to my breathing. It is far from effortless for me right now. In the past, a couple of meditation sessions would found me quitting. However I have realized that I need to keep this practice going.  I will get better and better over time. This is what practice does.

Kevin also says that “We are not bad people trying to get good. We are people who got stuck in negative patterns that need to be changed. Recovery and addiction are both about action and intention.” We are not bad people! We are not bad people! I’m not a bad person! This is so important to remember. We are not bad people. We never were! This shifts things for me. It shifts me from victimhood to empowerment. Through this shift in thinking, I can stop victimizing myself. If I’m a good person, why would I treat myself so poorly? Why would I allow negative patterns to lead my life? I’m a good person and I’m deserving of goodness. We all are.

One last thing I would like to share. Kevin talks about the importance of working with difficult emotions. One emotion he gives example of is worry. If we are charged up to worry about something, even though we stopped thinking about what worries us or we might have figured things out, this worrying energy takes longer to dissipate in the body. So it is important to work through the emotion in our body so as to release that energy completely. If we don’t do this, that energy will cause us to worry about something else and on and on it goes leaving us in a constant state of worry. The same applies to anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, etc. The way to work through the emotion in our body is to bring our attention to our solar plexus area, our guts, and feel what is going on there.  Not think about it but feel it. To really feel it and breath through it. This will release the energy which will allows us to truly move on from that emotion at that particular time. I’ve put this into practice last week and that really helped me in releasing some anxiety I had about something. It allowed my mind to clear and solutions that I had not thought of popped into my mind. It was quite powerful!

This program has so many gold nuggets throughout. I’ve only shared a few of these here. I most definitely recommend “Recovery One Breath at a Time” by Kevin Griffin from Sounds True to anyone. I’m not being remunerated in any way for writing this. I just enjoy sharing good stuff with you all.


Food and Groundedness

Today I want to talk about… food. You know? the stuff that nourishes our body? Yes, that stuff! So much time in a day is spend on food, thinking about what to make, preparing what we have decided to make, eating what we made, then cleaning up the mess that was done while we made it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to eat? Yes maybe.

Not really. Not for me. Putting time and effort into preparing foods that nurture my body is very grounding. Of course, it can be something I do because I have to do it, rush through doing it so that I can be done quicker and then move on to better thing. Interestingly, when the food addict part of me has control, nothing is about being grounded or about nurturing my body. It is all about what is readily available, high processed, fat and salty foods and sometime sweet foods and I don’t want to be cooking it! But recently, the healthy eater part of me has taken charge and that is a totally different story.  The healthy eater part of me loves making deliciously nutritious foods filled with goodness. I really love it when my healthy eater is in charge.

As I mentioned earlier, putting effort into preparing foods that nurture my body is very grounding to me. To nurture my body with nutritiously healthy foods requires mindfulness. It is much easier nowadays to go for the not so healthy stuff. The grocery store is full of unhealthy options. The lure of these is strong as it can save me time, time I would rather be doing something else. However, I find that my health is worth the time and effort investment. It is a matter being mindful and setting priorities. When I’m in my healthy mindset, that time and effort is so worth it. I feel good about myself. I feel good about doing something from scratch as opposed to purchasing all ready processed food. Not only it nurtures my body but it nurtures my mind and heart as well. What can be better than that?

I’m cautious though. I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of person and that has gotten me in trouble many times. I intent to heal the split in me whereas my healthy eater and my compulsive eater can finally reach a peaceful understanding and join forces. Right now, it feels like I’m on the right path and that feels good, very good! It is a good path to be on. May I remain on this path.

Art and Me – Reunited!

I had a art date yesterday with my very creative friend, Rosann of ARTs Story and it was great! I think it had been at least 3 months since the last time I did any kind of art. Hard to believe! At first, it wasn’t much of a priority. I gave my resignation at work and then we decided to move and we did. For a couple of months things were busy and the first things I packed was my art supplies because, I have so much of it. After we moved and my art room was set-up, I didn’t get back into doing art. This is quite normal for me. If I’m away from doing art for a while, it is very hard for me to get back to it.

So when Rosann suggested an art date, I said yes. It’s a nice way to visit. I did get anxious about it though. I’m not very good at doing art with someone else. I like it. Don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t my most comfortable way to art. I think it is because I go into a sort of trance when I do art. Or maybe it is because,  I have a tendency to compare what I do with what the other person is doing. Or it could be for Or, who knows! Also my place is quite small so I wasn’t sure where we both could art together. I didn’t think my art room was big enough. Well it turns out that I could move my art table in the middle of the room and that worked really well. It was definitely a very pleasant afternoon spent with a wonderful friend. We’ve decided to do this every month, sometimes at my place and sometimes at her place. Very cool!

At first I thought I would work on a mandala. It felt less ‘threatening’ for a first art session after not having done art in a long time and also because of my unease of doing art with someone else. After Rosann did a bit of flip through of the art journal she is working in right now, I decided to jump right in and get my art journal too. When art journaling, I usually go for acrylic and an array of other supplies. This time I decided to go with limited supplies and I’m glad to have done so. It shows how little supplies is really needed for art journal.

Here is what I used:

  • Art journal – of course!
  • Magazine images and words. I have a supply of these that I have collected over the years and ready for me for when I’m in the mood for collaging.
  • Watercolours
  • Watercolour paint brushes
  • Water
  • Washi tape
  • Black Pentel EnerGel pen

And that’s it! The end result is an art journal page that is simple and was fun to make. It isn’t a masterpiece in any way, shape or form. But this is the beauty about art journaling. It isn’t so much about the end project, as it is about the process of creation itself.

It feels so good to have broken this 3+ month art abstinence stretch. My art table will be seeing more of me now, for sure! Thanks Rosann for giving me that nudge I needed.

Emotions and Body Consciousness

As part of my morning routine, most mornings during the week day, I incorporate what I have termed ‘spiritual study’. I’m a big fan of Sounds True. Sounds True’s mission is ‘to disseminate spiritual wisdom’ and it does that exquisitely well. Over the years, I have ‘compulsively’ purchased diverse programs and I have listened to only a tiny fraction of these. Now that I have more time and that I’m willing to dive in deeper, I’ve started listening to these. The one I’m listening to right now is “Recovery One Breath at a Time – Mindfulness practices for overcoming addiction” by Kevin Griffin. Very valuable information, practices and tools!

Yesterday I had a huge aha moment. It is not that I didn’t know about this intellectually but yesterday it landed at a deeper level. Kevin Griffin talks about the importance of working with difficult emotion, and even the not so difficult emotions. He goes on to say that it is the underlying emotion that are triggering trains of thoughts in our minds. So when I notice that I’m thinking, it doesn’t stop the thought because the thought is being driven by an emotion and my emotions reside in my body. I feel anxious, angry, excited, sad, not at ease., etc. My tendency might be to intellectually try to figure things out, to talk myself out of feeling what I’m feeling. Sometimes I might be fooled into thinking that I have ‘figured things out’. But unless I go into my body to feel the emotions, the feelings, I will never really truly have worked my way through that emotion. The result is that another worry will surface, another thing will trigger my anger, the feeling of unease will return, etc. and the cycle will continue to the point where it becomes an over encompassing state of anxiety, depression, anger, etc. The energy of the emotion has to be worked out through the body, not the mind.

That is very interesting. It is a fact, that most of us live in our head most, if not, all of the time. I definitely do. So it is important to become more body conscious. It’s interesting that our body has so little say into our lives. There is great wisdom that resides in our body. Yet most of us are afraid to journey there. As British Political, Andrew Bennett said “The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.” That is so true!

How do we do this? It can be something that is done during meditation if one meditates. Or it can be done at anytime when we feel the unease, the anxious thoughts, the anger, etc. The simple practice of sitting in silence; bringing our attention to our body, to the solar plexus area of our body, our guts; to feel what is there; and to gently breathe through the sensation, the tightness, the unease. To make this a dedicated practice can do wonder to how we experience our lives and our capacity for happiness and joy.

I was feeling ‘off’ this morning when I woke up. I have started a morning ritual of meditation, movement and study and I did not want to do any of it. I knew it was important to go forward and keep this commitment to myself, to my wellbeing. During meditation, I brought my attention to my body, to my solar plexus area. I knew I was anxious about something I had to do today. I’m not used to connecting with my feelings, my emotions I could hardly ‘feel’ anything there. There was just a tiny flutter, tightness there. I breath through it. Nothing else. I just brought my attention to this area and breathed. Interestingly, it is like clarity entered my mind and a solution to what I was anxious about popped into my head. The way I felt before and the way I felt after my meditation time was very interesting. I didn’t know this before but it became clear after. Before doing that exercise, it’s like my thoughts was a wild animal and was stuck in a cage and was frantically trying to find a way out. Whereas after, it felt free and could be itself. I hope that makes sense. This is definitely something I want to incorporate in my day as needed, not only during meditation.

I love those aha moments!