What Does Your Mental Diet Consist Of?

Many of us are fairly aware of and put some thought into what types of food we put into our bodies, whether we make changes or not. What about the material we feed our minds with though? We are exposed to a great deal of negative material on a daily basis. The thing about it which disturbs me the most is that so many have become desensitized to violence, negativity and hatred. Even further, many have adopted it as a normal part of their own interactions with the world at large.

I stopped watching the news for the most part years ago. I try to take a quick glimpse at headlines now and then to see what might be happening in the world so that I know where to send loving thoughts and energy, but otherwise I avoid the news. For a long time, I was in the habit of watching it daily and after a while, found it too disturbing/depressing. It was impacting the way that I viewed the world and the people in it-and I didn’t like it. Getting rid of the news habit was a good move for me mentally and spiritually. It eliminated a great deal of stress and feelings of fear/distrust when I stopped consuming a regular diet of “what is wrong” in the world. I’m not asking you to agree with this-just sharing something that was better for me personally.

Now, I find myself at another crossroads when it comes to my mental diet. Lately I’ve been increasingly avoiding one particular social media site due to the amount of negativity, violent attitudes, and hate speech that is becoming more and more common. Each time I sign in, I find myself cringing at the amount of hatred that I see being disseminated. It isn’t that I think that it’s wrong to dislike something or the way that a person conducts themselves. What is becoming too hard for me to swallow is the way that our society has seemingly confused voicing an opinion and being outright hateful and sometimes threatening.

The questions that all of this raises in my mind are these:

Have we become so accustomed to this type of speech and behavior that it has become the new norm?

If this is true, what can we do about it?

I realize that I cannot change anyone other than myself. So, the conclusion for me is to eliminate another source of disturbing material from my consumption. It is my belief that what we focus on becomes our reality, and what I’ve been seeing on an ever increasing basis in my feed is not acceptable for me as a reality. So, my quest is to find the best solution in making sure that I will be exposing myself to the material and people who feed the loving and joyous parts of me-that are catalysts for positive change as opposed to dissension.

I’ve been asking myself more and more lately about my intake, actions and thoughts to see what changes need to be made in order to create a more positive and compassionate world. I’ve found several things which I’m working with now, and am looking forward to the shift of my personal reality as I continue making these discoveries and changes.

The reason that I’m writing about this is to help create more awareness around what we are feeding our minds with on a regular basis. Simply ask yourself if the things which you are exposed to on a regular basis make you feel positive or negative. You will gain incredible insight as to whether your mental diet is a healthy one for you. This isn’t about finger pointing or judgement. It isn’t my job or desire to do that. One of the things which means a lot to me, and always has, is the importance of bringing people together. It is our thoughts and mental attitudes which have the greatest power to accomplish this, and that is what this post is about.

 

 

 

 

 

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One of Those Days

Nope, not one of those days-I’m having one of the kind of days that could easily be spent doing little more than lying in the window watching it rain while sighing wistfully as “Big Jet Plane” plays softly. The pull to stay in bed in my pajamas clutching a mug of coffee so strong that I even jumped off the prompt train for NaPoWriMo today and mused about doing just what I’m (still) doing. It’s the perfect day for it-quiet, misty, and the xx Radio channel on Pandora. What more can a girl ask for on some days?

There are tasks waiting for me out in the living room/office/art studio, but for now I can’t be bothered to move. Only problem is that my mug is empty and my robot servant is in the shop. Confession time, the draw of the coffee aroma overpowered me. Fear not, I’m ensconced back in my lovely nest. Later this afternoon I’m allowing a friend to tempt me out of my pajamas to go to a salt cave-ahh-if you’ve never tried it and there’s one near you, I highly recommend it. Now, I think it’s time to get to the point of this post, lest you think I’ve slid down the slope of complete narcissism.

There are times when days like this are not only enjoyable, but necessary. When we’ve been pushing too hard for too long, in times of high stress, when the creative mind is asking for new inspiration, and countless other reasons including just because-the nicest thing that we can do for ourselves is to take a time out. It’s good for the body, mind, and spirit. For some, this is hard to do for various reasons ranging from kids to the drive to always be productive. Yet, carving out blocks of time dedicated to the fine art of doing jack shit is crucial to well being.

For those of you out there who are creative types like myself, I’m sure that you understand the necessity more than others. Plus, my friends with chronic illnesses will also understand. Those of us with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME and other conditions such as autoimmune issues or others, no matter what they are, have to have our me time or the well runs completely dry, and it isn’t pretty.

I decided to write about this today because I am taking a time out before I am forced to. After all these years, I’m learning to listen to what my body and spirit need before it gets to the point that I have no choice. While mastering this is not something that I can claim yet, I’m getting better at it and I wish to encourage others to allow themselves to take care of themselves without guilt.

This part is a note to those of you with conditions. Never, ever feel inferior, or like you are less than anyone else for tending to your needs, or sometimes having no choice but to stay on the couch all day because you are in a flare up or have overdone it. There’s no shame in this, no matter how hard the world works to convince us otherwise. You still have so much to offer to the world right from where you are. Even on days when you are back on the couch, you are still important to this world-you matter. When you feel like you aren’t offering anything to anyone (trust me I’ve been there), jump onto an online petition site and find some good causes to support. It takes seconds and doesn’t cost a thing. Take a moment to compliment a friend for something on social media. You never know, they could be having a complete crap day and your kindness could be the thing that pulls them back up from the dark places that we can go to sometimes. I know that there are days when even that is too much energy to muster. On those days, send a prayer or energy or good thoughts (whatever you call it) into the Universe for those who need it or for the planet-whatever you choose. It matters.

For my fellow creatives-don’t you feel guilty either. This world of ours needs more beauty and inspiration. For you to take the time that you need to have a conversation with your muse is to benefit more than just yourself. No matter your form of creativity-art, music, the written word-understand that there is power in it. Power to touch lives, lift hearts, to help people know that others relate to their feelings through your own expressions-how can you not see the value in that? Helping someone else to feel that they aren’t alone or a misfit or perhaps bringing a smile to their lips is a real gift. Since the beginning of time humanity has connected through the arts, even when they were nothing more than cave drawings (which are awesome by the way).

My friends, won’t you join me soon in having one of those days? Trust me, you’ll like it here.

Take The Selfish Out of Self Care

If you’re anything like me, you were taught that making self care a priority was a selfish act. At the same time it was likely ingrained in you that you should always bring the best you’ve got in you to the table of life. Let’s take those sentences apart for a moment.

Self care is selfish.

Bring the best you’ve got in you to the table of life.

Notice anything? Those two sentences contradict one another-and not just a little bit. It isn’t possible to bring your best to the table if you’ve been neglecting yourself, and sadly that is what many of us do for not just years, but decades and entire lifetimes. There are a few facets of self care that we’ll focus on for this week’s post.

Self care not only keeps us energized and healthy, it keeps us on track with our purpose. That might seem strange at first glance, but think about it. If you are always on the go and busy, even if you’re doing good things with your time, there’s no time to tend to your own stuff. How are you to know what makes your soul sing if you never take the time to ask it what it wants? It is important to understand that we are of better service to the world and others when we are clear about and within ourselves.

The reason for that is that many of us distract ourselves from the issues that we desperately need to face and clear by staying too busy. Part of self care is the tending of our innermost being. When we do this, we are able to truly know love and compassion because until we experience it for ourselves we cannot completely understand how to help others to find it. Sometimes facing the things that need facing is extremely difficult, but take it from me-they do not go away by trying to ignore them. Not only that, but you find out what it is that you truly wish to be doing with your life, as opposed to what you’ve been told that you should want.

The second facet of self care that is so very important is the joy part. Allowing yourself the opportunity to relax and do things that bring a smile to your face is not a waste of time. It creates a more well rounded foundation from which to fulfill the missions that we set for ourselves. Why? A happy person acts out of a sense of true desire and passion instead of a begrudging feeling of responsibility. Sometimes we need to say no to a request for help from someone in order to take care of one of the facets of our own self care, and that is perfectly okay too. Seriously, do not feel guilty for this.

My own experience has taught me over the course of a few decades that my willingness to always say yes to a request for help wasn’t a positive thing. The first was that I avoided dealing with the issues which were keeping me from growing into my genuine self. The second was that by always saying yes, there were times that I didn’t allow the other person an opportunity to learn how to handle things on their own.

By no means do I advocate a life of complete selfish hedonism. It’s just vital that we all know that self care is not a luxury-it is a necessity, and that we know that not all requests need be granted because at times to do so is a detriment to self and to the other party. Believe it or not, allowing yourself to practice better self care helps you to be able to know the different types of requests and how to deal with them all in the most loving and helpful way possible (even when you deny the request).

So, what I would love to ask of each of you who reads this is that you do yourself a favor this weekend. It can be something big, or something as small as taking a few minutes here and there to simply stop and take a few deep breaths in the most quiet space that you can find. Do something you love. Read, listen to your favorite song while dancing in your bedroom, take a walk around the block or in the woods, dust off your paints and paint a little, write in a journal, meditate, get out your old woodworking tools and fire them up or just go out and gather some materials, watch a funny movie, hell-watch a scary movie (that makes some of us happy)-you get the point. Each of us has varying amounts of time that we can devote to self care. The important part is to start somewhere. As time goes by, you will find that as you make it part of your life, more opportunities will present themselves.

Some of you will say that it’s impossible. For those of you thinking that-I will leave you with an example. There is a woman who lives in my building who is utterly miserable every day and she loves telling anyone who will listen all about it. Just yesterday, I was on my way out to go grocery shopping, and this woman was sitting by the entrance waiting for a pizza delivery.

Her spin on this was that she was ordering pizza because she simply didn’t have the energy to cook that day. She said it with such agony that it was painful to watch. My reply to her was, “Well then, looks like you are listening to your body. Enjoy your treat and the time you’ve made for yourself to relax”.

She did not like this reply at all and said, “If only I were young again I could enjoy my life”.

My response was, “Enjoy yourself today. Get that pizza and go watch your favorite movie”.

Nope! She still wasn’t buying it. She said, “It isn’t possible for me to have fun and enjoy my life”.

At this point, I decided that I wasn’t going to continue to feed her negativity and said, “You know what? You’re right! You can’t have any fun at all-because you said so”.

With that, I wished her a good rest and a delicious pizza and went about my day.

The point? What we tell ourselves becomes the truth. Have a wonderful weekend, doing something just for you. I’ll be beginning National Poetry Writing Month tomorrow which is an absolute joy for me. It makes April one of my favorite months of the year. The rest of this weekend will be dedicated to giving my achy muscles a much needed rest, working with some crystals, and curling up with a good book.

Feel free to share your enjoyment with the rest of us! Seeing other people listening to their souls and bodies uplifts us all-well most of us. The remainder are in more need of self care than they probably realize. What pops into your mind as something that you can do for yourself this weekend?

 

 

Importance of Taking Time Out

Taking time out for ourselves is something which many of us struggle with. Between professional and personal demands on our time and energy, it is all too easy to get lost in the shuffle. Even when a person has a logical understanding that carving out time just for ourselves is very important, many people still feel…or are made to feel…as though they are being selfish.

Not only is making time for self care important, it is crucial to our health and well being. After all, it’s impossible to get a drink from a dry well. Remember that…it’s not possible to get a drink from a dry well. This is why it’s vital to not just try to make time, but to make it a priority. Having your energy stores depleted is a very unpleasant position to be in.

What happens when we don’t take time for ourselves? We run ourselves down to the point of exhaustion, compromise our immunity, allow others to manipulate us or control our time, our priorities fall to the wayside, and needs do not get met…just to name a few. These consequences impact not just our own personal well being, but our ability to truly be of assistance or service to others.

Each of us has an inner voice which lets us know when we need to slow down. This inner voice tells us lots of other things too…important things. Listening to this inner voice is often discouraged or dismissed. We are told the we are being silly, selfish, judging a book by its cover, and countless other things. This inner voice should not be ignored or dismissed, because it is the voice of our higher selves…guiding us toward what we need or away from what isn’t in our best interests. Do not permit anyone to make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

While this is true for everyone, I wish to add a little more for those who are empaths, introverts, and sensitives. Not taking time to rest and recharge is especially dangerous for you. As much as you desire to be there for others, as much as you feel as though you aren’t being nice when you need to say no…you cannot nor should you expected to be there for everyone at the expense of your own well being…nor should you feel as though you should say yes to everything. You have a lot to offer to the world, and you have your own unique set of talents and requirements. Respect yourself, and expect respect from others in regards to your own value and needs.

No matter what your personality type or set of attributes are, the key is to ask yourself regularly if you are taking good care of yourself. Those who would discourage you from doing so are trying to fill a hole within themselves. This is not a judgement. It is actually something to be compassionate about…without falling prey to it. Being a good partner, friend, service provider, boss, teacher, or whatever else you might fill in the blank with is not to be equated with turning yourself into a sacrificial lamb. Listen carefully to that little voice of yours…it’s a lot wiser than many people would like you to believe.

Special thanks to the person who inspired me to write about this topic. I’m so grateful. You know who you are.

When Things Are Spinning Too Fast…

When things are spinning too fast, sometimes the best and only thing that we can do is to just stop for a while.┬áThere are times in everyone’s life when it becomes necessary to take a breath and settle into the moment. Little by little, I’ve been learning that there is a big difference between literally doing nothing and having nothing which is visible from the outside to show for our time. This week and several others in the past few months have been those kind of weeks. Nothing to show externally…no fun art work…no brilliant writing…no big progress on a few major projects.

During these externally quiet weeks however, there has been a lot going on. I’ve been sadly witnessing my father’s health fading, watching another family member be wracked with severe pain which to date has little to no relief, dealing with my own health issues, working my way through a few healing and growth programs, putting together plans for new programs and classes of my own, as well as refining the way that I work as an intuitive. What I have come to accept is that I simply need to put everything on hold at times of high stress and take care of myself more..to let┬ástress melt into the background for a while and allow myself to relax and enjoy life a little. I’m also taking much better care of myself these days, as far as nutrition and getting adequate rest go.

As I’ve been lovingly and gently reminded…these standing still times are the times in which we are growing inside in order to manifest even better things on the outside. I know this to be true. I can much better serve others if I practice what I preach by taking care of myself, with no guilt for doing so. That is just what I’m doing right now. One of my favorite things to do lately is to sit in the open window on my yoga ball at sunset/dusk and breathe in the fresh air while visiting with the birds and sometimes the neighbor’s sweet cat or to sit on a wall in the alley to enjoy the breeze on my face as I watch the sun slip over the mountains.

I had much grander plans for this week, but there have been a few curve balls. So, I’ve managed to keep my appointments, but had to put said grander plans aside while I’ve dealt with other things and made more time to rest. My online time has been practically non-existent, which makes it tempting for me to break my internet free weekend rule…but I will not do it. I made that rule for an important reason and I’m sticking to it. As a matter of fact, it is imperative this weekend that I stick to that rule and simply recharge after a week of hard hitting stress. It is my hope that I will have a more outwardly productive week ahead. It pleases me to say that I will be perfectly fine if it isn’t too!

Are you remembering to take care of yourself?