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Ten Thoughts on Whole Living

21 Mar

My favorite magazine of all time was called “Body and Soul”.  I say was because I have not seen it anywhere this year, I am thinking they might have discontinued the publication (if anyone knows differently please let me know!).  I’ve searched all my usual magazine haunts, Walgreen’s, Rite aid, Walmart, Target, nada.  Makes me really sad because a dear friend (hey giiiirl), about two years ago, showed me a copy and it was instant love.  Not only was “Body and Soul” filled with yummy healthy recipes and tips on easy workout routines, it addressed the mental part of well being.  Whole living as it is very appropriately called.  It’s not about strict diets and vigorous physical and mental challenges.  It is about getting back to basics, simplifying, redirecting your priorities.

The page I am about to share with you is one that I ripped out of my magazine, and it has been center stage in my kitchen, right on the fridge, for the past year and a half now.  I always glance at it when I go to prepare something and it is such a sweet, non-intimidating reminder to taking care of yourself and your life.

Ten Thoughts on Whole Living

by Terri Trespicio

1.  See your mistakes not as personal flaws but as the source of your most valuable lessons.

2.  When it comes to living greener, a little planning goes a long way.

3.  Explore gentler, more natural remedies

4.  Authenticity means acting like the kind of person you most want to be.

5.  Explore locally grown foods, and discover the people and resources behind what you eat.

6.  Experiment with exercise that soothes as well as strengthens.

7.  In refusing to forgive old hurts, you live them over again.  Learn to let go.

8.  Think of each breath as an invitation to wellness and balance.

9.  Cultivate a few practices that keep you whole

10.  Toss the old ideas you have about yourself and discover the real you!

Balance

28 Feb

In my adventures becoming a Yoga Instructor, I have done a lot of personal research, not just to become a better teacher but a better person as well.  So much I have learned through yoga echos what I believe in religiously and has really opened my mind with clarity on certain areas of life.  The effects have been quite amazing and for this I am grateful.  I can see myself becoming calmer, less panic attacks (or freak outs as I like to call them) and, while becoming more hands on with the positive choices, things that can cause stress and drama I have become more detached.  The joy of becoming more detached with the chaotic aspects of life is that I am finding more time for myself and for my loved ones.  Time to work on projects, time to spend out walking with my dog, time for more baking!  Its astounding the amount of time we spend on a daily basis worrying about things that really don’t need a second thought!

I wrote this little piece to tie in with one of my classes, a sort of meditation piece to open with and give students something to reflect on while they are working through their asana’s.  It is based on some of the teachings of the famous yogis, B.K.S Iyengar.  Now you don’t have to be a yogis to reap the benefits of yoga practice, a lot of it is mental well-being.  I believe God has many tools and platforms with to which he can reach His children in a way befitting their unique minds, Yoga is that tool for me and maybe it can be yours as well.

Balance
 
  Balance is something we all struggle with, whether in our physical yoga practice or simply in our everyday lives.  Every living thing around us strives for balance.  However, change is what disturbs balance and of course life being the curious thing that it is, change is the one thing that is constant in this world.  Do not fret though, without imperfection or imbalance, life would be dull.  It would be meaningless!  The struggle for balance is a dance that is essential to Life!
 
Imagine a tree.  A tree is  strong, the trunk is hard and dense, giving it a good foundation from which to grow.  Yet it is flexible, able to sway in the wind.  If the wind counts as change and the tree wasn’t able to move with it or, “go with the flow”, the dense foundation would mean nothing.  The tree would eventually break and fall.  So to be flexible or, “dynamic” adds to the density of the tree, making it that much stronger and amazing.  However a tree wants more from life than to be strong and sway in the breeze.  It wants to grow, to reach for the sun, produce leaves and fruit.  It loves to give shade and protection, to be a home.  This is what gives a tree luminosity.  With its protective quality, the tree is tranquil.  The gift of leaves and fruit is a quality of alertness.  The continuing quest to reach for the sun, is clarity.
 
Using a tree as an example in the strive for balance is the perfect example.  As we go through life or work through our asana’s, we want to be as strong in our foundation as the tree, but we also want to be dynamic and flexible.  For us, using the breath as a tool for this is much the same how the tree uses the earth, drawing in what we need for our minds and bodies.  Lastly, in our quest for balance, we involve our minds, to stay alert, yet more importantly, calm and accepting. 
 
It is a struggle, a dance we will forever be learning, but enormously rewarding.  We may never find perfect balance but isn’t it said that the journey, not the destination, is what matters most?

A Clean Slate

8 Jan

Last year I was exhausted.  Exhausted by all the activities I tried to commit to, the projects I picked up, old projects I had worked on for ages it seemed.  Busy, busy, busy, but I never seemed to ever catch up, I couldn’t get anything done.  I would sit down to work on one project and my mind would be racing in so many directions, all the ideas I had and wanted to bring to life, that I usually ended up getting nothing done at all.

I am happy that I am an ambitious person, full of creative ideas, crafty, and filled with excitement, but what good is all that if I am overwhelmed and hunkered down on the couch because I can’t handle how full my plate has become?  This new year is about embracing everything I love about myself, and learning to manage it.   Simplify, relax,  realize everything has a time and a place, and keep in mind that multitasking is completely over-rated.

I came across this article in “Yoga Journal”, a really amazing magazine.  It was written by a published author Helena Echlin.  It just made sense to me.  The article was all about how our true happiness is so hard to find because we are constantly filling our lives with things that only bring instant gratification, and not putting in the time to figure out what we truly need, versus worldly wants and desires, that leave us wanting more, rather than satisfying us.

In the article, Helena, states that simplicity means focusing on whats vital in your life and deciding what truly matters to you as a person.  Steer away from a more commercial lifestyle filled with mindless acquiring of possessions that usually have no true connection to you as a person.  To figure out what you truly value and what you can live without, Helena writes:

  • Identify what gives you energy
  • Talk about it
  • Slow down
  • Confront the numbers
  • Visualize the simple life

Focusing our time on something or someone who gives us energy, instead of taking away from our precious store, is key to happiness.  When we are energetic, we are optimistic, cheerful, ambitious, excited about life.

Talking to someone who you trust is important, ( I definitely don’t always know how I think or feel truly until I sit down and hash things out, with my husband, or family, or my dearest friends).  Talking is a way of thinking out loud, we hear our own thoughts, receive honest feedback and are face to face with things we don’t always notice by ourselves.

Slowing down is an amazing thing that can do wonders, ( I don’t really absorb anything when I am rushing around like a mad woman), just like when you eat too fast you aren’t really tasting all the flavors of your food.  Life is full of flavors and experiences, just waiting to be noticed.

Confronting the numbers, something everyone is scared to do, me especially.  Think about it though, how many of us are weighed down by money issues, trying to spread out every dollar, working extra hours so that we can have more of it.   Maybe the issue is not that you need more money but that your money is going towards things that don’t actually give to a lifestyle that is conducive for happiness.  Go over your bank statement and divide everything into groups such as groceries, activities, bills, entertainment, clothing, etc.  Then do the math, how much do you spend in each group?  Ask yourself the hard questions, is it worth it, is it contributing to my true happiness,  is this a necessity or something I  can do without?  Who knows, maybe you actually do have the money to take up that sewing class, or start a garden fund, or a vacation fund.

The last, visualizing the simple life, might be the hardest of all.  You need to be truly honest with yourself.  Make two lists, one filled with everything you don’t like or want to change about your life.  Things that you waste hard-earned time, money, and energy on.  Things that might not make you unhappy but don’t really give in a positive way.  The second list should be filled with everything you really want to do, or have, or be, that hasn’t happened, simply because of lack of time, energy, or funds.  Now compare the two lists, see how they can be merged together to create the life that is truly you.  Sometimes we can’t do everything we would like too, but by cutting out some unnecessary things, we are making room for something that wasn’t fitting before.

When I read that article, it was a total “light bulb” moment.  For me, life is finally becoming life again instead of just being something to get through.  It’s nice when these little bread crumbs show up, beckoning the way we should go.  Now I just have to man up and put in the work.

Story Time

26 Dec

Still on Christmas vacation at my mum’s house, but I thought maybe you would forget about me if I stayed away too long. Christmas, by the way, was amazing and still is, enjoying every minute at home with my mother, all my siblings, and a gaggle of nephews.

So tonight, we are going to have story time. The short story I am about to share was written by a dear woman named Lucy Maud Montgomery , from her book, “At the Alter” (I know a couple of my blog friends are clapping their hands in excitment). Enjoy!

The Pursuit of the Ideal

Freda’s snuggery was aglow with the rose-red splendour of an open fire which was triumphantly warding off the stealthy approaches of the dull grey autumn twilight. Roger St. Clair stretched himself out luxuriously in an easy-chair with a sigh of pleasure.

“Freda, your armchairs are the most comfy in the world. How do you get them to fit into a fellow’s kinks so splendidly?”

Freda smiled at him out of big, owlish eyes that were the same tint as the coppery grey sea upon which the north window of the snuggery looked.

“Any armchair will fit a lazy fellow’s kinks,” she said.

“I’m not lazy,” protested Roger. “That you should say so, Freda, when I have wheeled all the way out of town this dismal afternoon over the worst bicycle road in three kingdoms to see you, bonnie maid!”

“I like lazy people,” said Freda softly, tilting her spoon on a cup of chocolate with a slender brown hand.

Roger smiled at her chummily.

“You are such a comfortable girl,” he said. “I like to talk to you and tell you things.”

“You have something to tell me today. It has been fairly sticking out of your eyes ever since you came. Now, ‘fess.”

Freda put away her cup and saucer, got up, and stood by the fireplace, with one arm outstretched along the quaintly carved old mantel. She laid her head down on its curve and looked expectantly at Roger.

“I have seen my ideal, Freda,” said Roger gravely.

Freda lifted her head and then laid it down again. She did not speak. Roger was glad of it. Even at the moment he found himself thinking that Freda had a genius for silence. Any other girl he knew would have broken in at once with surprised exclamations and questions and spoiled his story.

“You have not forgotten what my ideal woman is like?” he said.

Freda shook her head. She was not likely to forget. She remembered only too keenly the afternoon he had told her. They had been sitting in the snuggery, herself in the inglenook, and Roger coiled up in his big pet chair that nobody else ever sat in.

“‘What must my lady be that I must love her?'” he had quoted. “Well, I will paint my dream-love for you, Freda. She must be tall and slender, with chestnut hair of wonderful gloss, with just the suggestion of a ripple in it. She must have an oval face, colourless ivory in hue, with the expression of a Madonna; and her eyes must be ‘passionless, peaceful blue,’ deep and tender as a twilight sky.”

Freda, looking at herself along her arm in the mirror, recalled this description and smiled faintly. She was short and plump, with a piquant, irregular little face, vivid tinting, curly, unmanageable hair of ruddy brown, and big grey eyes. Certainly, she was not his ideal.

“When and where did you meet your lady of the Madonna face and twilight eyes?” she asked.

Roger frowned. Freda’s face was solemn enough but her eyes looked as if she might be laughing at him.

“I haven’t met her yet. I have only seen her. It was in the park yesterday. She was in a carriage with the Mandersons. So beautiful, Freda! Our eyes met as she drove past and I realized that I had found my long-sought ideal. I rushed back to town and hunted up Pete Manderson at the club. Pete is a donkey but he has his ways of being useful. He told me who she was. Her name is Stephanie Gardiner; she is his cousin from the south and is visiting his mother. And, Freda, I am to dine at the Mandersons’ tonight. I shall meet her.”

“Do goddesses and ideals and Madonnas eat?” said Freda in an awed whisper. Her eyes were certainly laughing now. Roger got up stiffly.

“I must confess I did not expect that you would ridicule my confidence, Freda,” he said frigidly. “It is very unlike you. But if you are not interested I will not bore you with any further details. And it is time I was getting back to town anyhow.”

When he had gone Freda ran to the west window and flung it open. She leaned out and waved both hands at him over the spruce hedge.

“Roger, Roger, I was a horrid little beast. Forget it immediately, please. And come out tomorrow and tell me all about her.”

Roger came. He bored Freda terribly with his raptures but she never betrayed it. She was all sympathy–or, at least, as much sympathy as a woman can be who must listen while the man of men sings another woman’s praises to her. She sent Roger away in perfect good humour with himself and all the world, then she curled herself up in the snuggery, pulled a rug over her head, and cried.

Roger came out to Lowlands oftener than ever after that. He had to talk to somebody about Stephanie Gardiner and Freda was the safest vent. The “pursuit of the Ideal,” as she called it, went on with vim and fervour. Sometimes Roger would be on the heights of hope and elation; the next visit he would be in the depths of despair and humility. Freda had learned to tell which it was by the way he opened the snuggery door.

One day when Roger came he found six feet of young man reposing at ease in his particular chair. Freda was sipping chocolate in her corner and looking over the rim of her cup at the intruder just as she had been wont to look at Roger. She had on a new dark red gown and looked vivid and rose-hued.

She introduced the stranger as Mr. Grayson and called him Tim. They seemed to be excellent friends. Roger sat bolt upright on the edge of a fragile, gilded chair which Freda kept to hide a shabby spot in the carpet, and glared at Tim until the latter said goodbye and lounged out.

“You’ll be over tomorrow?” said Freda.

“Can’t I come this evening?” he pleaded.

Freda nodded. “Yes–and we’ll make taffy. You used to make such delicious stuff, Tim.”

“Who is that fellow, Freda?” Roger inquired crossly, as soon as the door closed.

Freda began to make a fresh pot of chocolate. She smiled dreamily as if thinking of something pleasant.

“Why, that was Tim Grayson–dear old Tim. He used to live next door to us when we were children. And we were such chums–always together, making mud pies, and getting into scrapes. He is just the same old Tim, and is home from the west for a long visit. I was so glad to see him again.”

“So it would appear,” said Roger grumpily. “Well, now that ‘dear old Tim’ is gone, I suppose I can have my own chair, can I? And do give me some chocolate. I didn’t know you made taffy.”

“Oh, I don’t. It’s Tim. He can do everything. He used to make it long ago, and I washed up after him and helped him eat it. How is the pursuit of the Ideal coming on, Roger-boy?”

Roger did not feel as if he wanted to talk about the Ideal. He noticed how vivid Freda’s smile was and how lovable were the curves of her neck where the dusky curls were caught up from it. He had also an inner vision of Freda making taffy with Tim and he did not approve of it.

He refused to talk about the Ideal. On his way back to town he found himself thinking that Freda had the most charming, glad little laugh of any girl he knew. He suddenly remembered that he had never heard the Ideal laugh. She smiled placidly–he had raved to Freda about that smile–but she did not laugh. Roger began to wonder what an ideal without any sense of humour would be like when translated into the real.

He went to Lowlands the next afternoon and found Tim there–in his chair again. He detested the fellow but he could not deny that he was good-looking and had charming manners. Freda was very nice to Tim. On his way back to town Roger decided that Tim was in love with Freda. He was furious at the idea. The presumption of the man!

He also remembered that he had not said a word to Freda about the Ideal. And he never did say much more–perhaps because he could not get the chance. Tim was always there before him and generally outstayed him.

One day when he went out he did not find Freda at home. Her aunt told him that she was out riding with Mr. Grayson. On his way back he met them. As they cantered by, Freda waved her riding whip at him. Her face was full of warm, ripe, kissable tints, her loose lovelocks were blowing about it, and her eyes shone like grey pools mirroring stars. Roger turned and watched them out of sight behind the firs that cupped Lowlands.

That night at Mrs. Crandall’s dinner table somebody began to talk about Freda. Roger strained his ears to listen. Mrs. Kitty Carr was speaking–Mrs. Kitty knew everything and everybody.

“She is simply the most charming girl in the world when you get really acquainted with her,” said Mrs. Kitty, with the air of having discovered and patented Freda. “She is so vivid and unconventional and lovable–‘spirit and fire and dew,’ you know. Tim Grayson is a very lucky fellow.”

“Are they engaged?” someone asked.

“Not yet, I fancy. But of course it is only a question of time. Tim simply adores her. He is a good soul and has lots of money, so he’ll do. But really, you know, I think a prince wouldn’t be good enough for Freda.”

Roger suddenly became conscious that the Ideal was asking him a question of which he had not heard a word. He apologized and was forgiven. But he went home a very miserable man.

He did not go to Lowlands for two weeks. They were the longest, most wretched two weeks he had ever lived through. One afternoon he heard that Tim Grayson had gone back west. Mrs. Kitty told it mournfully.

“Of course, this means that Freda has refused him,” she said. “She is such an odd girl.”

Roger went straight out to Lowlands. He found Freda in the snuggery and held out his hands to her.

“Freda, will you marry me? It will take a lifetime to tell you how much I love you.”

“But the Ideal?” questioned Freda.

“I have just discovered what my ideal is,” said Roger. “She is a dear, loyal, companionable little girl, with the jolliest laugh and the warmest, truest heart in the world. She has starry grey eyes, two dimples, and a mouth I must and will kiss–there–there–there! Freda, tell me you love me a little bit, although I’ve been such a besotted idiot.”

“I will not let you call my husband-that-is-to-be names,” said Freda, snuggling down into the curve of his shoulder. “But indeed, Roger-boy, you will have to make me very, very happy to square matters up. You have made me so unutterably unhappy for two months.”

“The pursuit of the Ideal is ended,” declared Roger.