Step 79 - "Slow down you move too fast, gotta make the morning last"  Simon and Garfunkle Feeling Groovy,  1966 ,

This week I had an epiphany and taking my own advice,  I stopped creating pressure prompted deadlines for myself.  The deadlines have been a force of habit for way too long, taking me out of the moment, creating unhelpful moments of panic about "gotta get it done".

Of course for us all there are tasks and things that do have to get done but in some cases we create tasks and fill our lives with them, that are simply meaningless or to do not enhance our relationships with ourselves and others.  It is no accident that so many epitaphs written by those who die young or in middle age talk abut the things they wish they had made time for rather than the chores they had filled their time with.

One thing I am "guilty of" and I appreciate about myself,  is that I am good at self care.  I can happily leave an untidy kitchen to take the children to the beach, meet a friend or read a book.  No one dies and it does get cleaned up later on .......:-)

The pressure deadlines I recently created were around writing and commitment to writing. The writing part is good but the deadlines were actually getting in the way of creativity and motivation.  The more pressure I put on myself the less I could write. So I chose to take a break.

I made space for cleaning up areas in the home that have been neglected, creating a sanctuary in my bedroom, a sewing space for my oldest teen and a comfy rec. room for movies and relaxing.  We have planted containers and cleaned up the patio.  None of those chores were on my to do list - yet allowing myself to organically spend time where my energy wanted to go was relaxing. I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that I don't get when I have the "have to get this done today" message in my head.

So if you are finding yourself rushing through life with a long list of things to do, take a moment to take a break.  Slow down, you will  have more energy and will get a lot more more done that makes you and others happy.

Exercise - take a moment to watch Simon and Garfunkle performing the 59th Street Song "feeling Groovy".  As they say the world IS a beautiful palce.  This clip is a little cheesy but I love the facial expressions - and my, how young they look. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBQxG0Z72qM&feature=player_detailpage

Sucsesses....

Back to Curves and maintaining past weight lost. 
Commitment to starting on a cleanse with my neighbours Isagenix product this week to re-kickstart more weight loss.
Art Therapy online

Challenges

Managing a professional "attack" from an unknown to me professor in the UK - just plain weird
Still saving for the UK trip


Namaste





Step 78 - "In my opinion when we write we write the dreams that we have forgotten"  Carlos Fuentes

http://www.npr.org/2012/05/18/152828601/a-conversation-with-carlos-fuentes

Carlos Fuentes is a wonderful example of the power of one - this amazing man, activist, writer, leader packed so much into one life time.  He was not afrraid to speak up for what he believed and his writings both fiction and non fction packed a powerful punch.   The world will miss him.

I like that he talks about how his dreams were in Spanish and that the insults of the French and the English could not be felt.

The 2005 conversation on CBC with Eleanor Wachtel will be repeated today and on Tuesday 22nd. 

If you don't know Carol Fuentes work or have not listened to him speak I would highly recommend listening as an inspirational and motivational experience.

This week has been personally very rewarding and I have been blessed with peace and the ability to let go of many small and some larger niggles about my life and how I had come to expect so much of myself.  The expectations that get in the way of dreams becoming reality because of the "to do" list I had created in my own mind.  What I realize now as the important thing is to take a small step each and every day and to be thankful for being in that moment. 

I received a rather large cheque in the mail on Friday.  My reaction was to be shocked.  It is the amount -almost - for three tickets to the UK and I had a hard time accepting that this was in fact my money.  Turns out it is a tax adjustment from overpayment for the last couple of years.  It couldn't be more timely and certainly I had been saying to myself that the money for our trip will come.  When it did - I was shocked.  And there, my friends,  is the rub the self created barrier that we create each and every day in our lives when we say we accept, but really do we? Doubt and self doubt is often so much stronger than faith.   Christians say God works in mysterious ways, and in secular or other spiritual terms oftentimes how we see the plan is not how the plan turns out.  It doesn't mean it is not the right plan.

If Carlos Fuentes had accepted his lot in life, not listened to and written his dreams , campaigned for social justice and spoken out against injustice the world would be a poorer place.  Where is your voice, where is my voice?  Let us be heard - let us write,, sing, paint and dance our dreams, bringing joy to ourselves, our families and the world.  Let our voices create freedom for those who are not free.  By taking this step you are closer to your own inner Fiji.

Exercise - Create Word Art

Find a frame in your home or at the local dollar store and create a piece of word art to hang.  Choose words or a phrase that echo your dreams and beliefs or values.    My word art says:  "Sing with a Joyful Heart and is collaged onto a picture of a giraffe in Kenya.  My second piece says - "I am grateful for the air I breathe, the water I drink, the food I eat and the earth I walk upon"

Record you successes and challenges.


Namaste.



Step 77  - Focusing on what the future can bring you.  "HOLDING ONTO ANGER IS LIKE DRINKING POISON AND EXPECTING THE OTHER PERSON TO DIE" Buddha

One of the most common barriers to changing behaviour and optimising a different future, I encounter in myself and in the work I do with others, is constantly looking back.  Whilst it is really important to live in and enjoy the moment, setting goals and focusing on things that we would like to do is a positive health benefit.  Recent research suggests that creating goals and partcipating in activities can stimulate, delay or prevent the possibility of dementia and encourage longevity.  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/713649967 and http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Prevention/21105 reference research with small study groups. 

The merits associated with setting goals is to increase our value within community and the value of ourselves, rather than thoughts of the diminishing value of self that can occur in later middle age and senior years.  

As an older woman I have often found myself thinking that I am invisible.  Interestingly when I was young I felt invincible!  Invisibility becomes self fulfilling when I do not participate actively in social and professional relationships or community events.  Other friends have also stated their sens of"invisibility".  Yet, when we look at the communities in which we live, the numbers of youth, young, middle age and seniors are all present.  Oftentimes seniors and middle aged outnumber younger families and youth.  Certainly the baby boomer demographic is evident in many communites on Vancouver Island. 

Perhaps the sense of invisibility is a white North American or British phenomenon that has to do with social discrimination and circumstances.  Our lack of respect and inclusion of "the elder" and availability to be involved with multi-generational and diverse socio economic events. 

I experimented last week with being "off-line"for the most part.  I wanted to see if and how the use of my time would change and whether I needed to re-structure my time and efforts writing and engaging socially on-line.  We also had some year end school and dance recital activities so there was, in fact, a lot of social time spent outside of the home and less time indoors.  That naturally happens too when the Spring/Summer season gets into full swing.

What I noticed was that when I was alone I became mentally and intellectually foggy, I was not challenging myself and I slumped into watching late night TV, which is an old habit that I have pretty much managed to get out of.  So, for me online writing, blogging and engaging in positive activities stimulates my mental energy and promotes health and wellness and brain activity.  Of course, it is important to balance that with physical activity and that happens when I feel positive.

I also noticed that I became a little crankier and focused on things that were not going so well or had not gone so well in the past.  Then there was the little friend "historical anger"  beckoning me to start down the path of resentment.  Not good at all!

Whatever it is that motivates you - creatively, physically, spiritually, these activities are essential for good health and well being.  They feed each other, the more alert we are the more physically active we become and so on.

Exercise for step 77:  Review the activities you do on a day to day basis - what seasonal activities do you enjoy - do you permit yourself to engage in them?  Are you locked into a habit that creates a mental or physical fog?  Create a collage with activities that you enjoy and have in the past or plan to include in the future.  Use words and pictures.  Date and name the collage.

Record your successes and challenges.....

Namaste!





Step 76 - Self Care.  “[G]rowing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is. (267-268)” Victoria Moran, Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit

Whether you are a full time worker, a part time worker, retired or a stay at home mum or dad, taking time for self care that puts you first is very important.  For sure, eating, sleeping, rest and physical exercise are part of self care but taking time to do something that is just for you is part of balance and the way to effectively maintain good health and happiness in your life.

This has been an extremely busy week at work, supporting familiies who are facing some very challenging and heartbreaking circumstances caused by mental health, poverty, domestic abuse and violence.  In order to be able to continue to effectively support families professionally as well as take care of my own family, self care is essential.

As Victoria Moran writes, self care takes practice and dedication. Oftentimes we have the thought that to care for ourselves above others is selfish and so we put our own needs on the back burner in order to serve others.  I am not being sexist when I say that women are most guilty of this, but in my experience it is true.

This quote by Brenda Ueland summarizes the point well:

“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability)for others and never antyhing for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid--because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. [...]"If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; 'Mother is working on her fice-act tragedy in blank verse!' you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”
Brenda Ueland

About a year ago I attended a writing workshop at Vancouver Island Scool of Art www.vancouverislandschoolart.com .  The writer, a male stated that to be a successful writer it was important to be selfish, one had to close the door and write.  He is maried and his wife takes care of him and their child.  I am single mother, so I am "i"t when it comes to taking care of people and  earning money for rent, groceries, hydro etc. etc.

However, I have managed to adapt his advice and accommodate writing into my everyday life which, as I have stated before, has led to increased health and vitality.  I did this by trading how I spent my former "self-care" time and not vegging in front of the TV, being more disciplined about boundaries around work and other professional commitments and diarising writing time.  I also listen to my body more and when it tells me that I need to rest/take a walk/take a bath/have a glass of wine or coffee with a friend/meditate I do it.  I don't ignore it.  I make time and  I do at least one of those ativities every day.  Interestingly the more time I give myself, the more time I appear to have.

When I - or anyone - does not listen to their personal needs and act on them resentments fester and grow, relationships suffer and weight, mental health, physical health and potential relapse back into addiction are the likely consequences.  Take care of yourself - YOU are worth it.

Step 76 Exercise.

Review the week to come.  How balanced is your life?  When do you make time for self care?  What does self care look like to you and how can you incorporate it into your schedule.  What is your mind/body/spirit asking you to do?

Some self care activities - suggestions for things you can do that are mostly free and that will incorporate better overall health:  

Physical:  
Dancing/running/walking/martial arts/climbing/skipping/punching a pillow or a bag/drumming or playing another instrument/swimming

Emotional/Spiritual: 
Singing/smiling/meditating/walking/praying/crying/breathing/taking a bath/reading a book/writing/journaling/painting/drawing

Social Needs:
Meeting a friend for coffee or appy's/Going to see a movie or a show/taking a workshop/visiting your favourite store for window shopping or a small treat if you can afford it.

Don't forget to record your successes and challenges - here are mine:

Successes

Taking "me time" to rest in a bubbly bath after very hard days at work and getting lost in a book (Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope http://lizam1.hubpages.com/hub/Friday-Night-by-Joanna-Trollope)

Managing not to eat "junk food" and to maintain weight loss despite the stress of this week

Creating a yummy breakfast shake - almond milk, banana, strawberries, spoon of peanut butter and some flax seeds.

Not pushing myself into activities on days when my head was too full and giving myself permission to read/relax.

On-line art therapy sessions with new clients via skype.  For more information visit:  http://lizam1.hubpages.com/hub/Art-Therapy-On-Line or contact me at liza.miles1@gmail.com

Challenges

Money matters and savings for the UK

Housing and expenses

Understanding internet whys and wherefores

Accepting past mistakes and letting go of self-blame


Be well and treat yourself kindly