September 19, 2017

the tug of doing or resting...

As I (slowly and gradually) combine my blogs again and move posts from my Subtle Harmony site to here, I'm at the point of this post - which I'm moving here and re-posting below, because although it was written in mid-September 2015 there are so many things that apply to right-now-time too.

Like the new moon energy (we have a new moon this week too).

And how I was doing some decluttering because the donation truck was coming through the neighborhood and we wanted to have some boxes of donations ready to be picked up (and yep, that happened this week too).

And how I was wanting to work on work/site/shop/moving-posts stuff (I'm doing the same thing again, now and over the next few months, making changes yet again - different changes, but still changes, and in the same areas as I wrote about in the post I'm re-posting below).

And - the tug of doing or resting. Yes, definitely I'm feeling that right now!

Coming across this post again, this post from almost exactly two years ago, has been like deja vu for me (except for the weather)... as well as being a reminder that sometimes self-care means not doing. 

Here's that blog post I wrote, originally published on September 15, 2015...

Do you ever feel a tug between doing and resting?

I think we all have times of experiencing this.

It can happen when we've got a ton of stuff to take care of, and we feel like we need to get it done...and yet we also long for a nap or relaxing with a good movie.

It can happen when our mind is flowing with new ideas for projects or plans or redecorating a room...but our body is telling us to slow down, take a break, rest.

Sunday evening was like this for me.

The new moon - and its energy of setting intentions and looking at beginnings. The air cooler than it's been here in months with the hint of the first taste of autumn on the way - and the freshness of the fall-like soft breeze stirring my own energy to do.

A part of me wanted to get to work on the beginning steps of shifting my blog to a new online home, craft more items for my Etsy shop, and declutter closets to gather things for the donation truck coming through the neighborhood this week.

And another part of me wanted to simply sit and breathe in the cool air. Relax.

Not do.

I knew my body needed rest. Rest, for me at that time, was more important than site work, crafting, or decluttering.

So, with windows and patio door open to let in the almost-autumn breeze, I diffused bergamot and frankincense in the oil warmer, lit candles, turned on fairy lights. And let myself relax.

In that moment, this was self-care for me.

Self-care is different things at different times. It's not always resting and candle-glow and essential oils. Sometimes it's being active, doing a certain something, eating a specific food.

The important thing is to check in with yourself, be aware of what your spirit is telling you and what your body is telling you - what do you need in that moment? What is self-care for you at that time?

That's true self-care.

It's not the same for everyone. It's not even the same for you all the time.

And sometimes it's doing - and sometimes it's not.

September 15, 2017

something I know for sure...

Sometimes it feels like my life is lived out in this quote:

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” ~Michel Legrand

So today's prompt/nudge from Effy's blog-along - What’s something you know for sure? - got me thinking about this quote, because while the above quote is true for me, there are also some things I know for sure.

To keep it short and simple, I'm going to mention just one thing, something I made into what was one of the first art journaling spreads I ever did, several years ago.

Even though I have times when I doubt this, even if I sometimes think this can't be true after all, deep down this is something I know for sure:

I know it for sure about me.

And I know it for sure about you.

(I wrote more about this here. And - I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)

September 9, 2017

autobiography and creating...

I've had a few days away from blogging during this month's September blogging challenge as my energy has been taken up with weather and family and personal happenings.

As soon as it became obvious Hurricane Irma would mean evacuations for some of my family members - including my 88-year-old mother who lives in an assisted living facility on an island off the Atlantic coast - weather once again became a focus for me.

These days I give myself a lot of room, a lot of space, a lot of permission, a lot of grace, to release things, or back away from things, when that's what I need to do for my self-care, my joy, my well-being, and/or my life-stuff-happenings.

Before deciding to do the blogging challenge, I gave myself lots of gentle permission to skip days if needed, or stop altogether... just taking it day-by-day for myself. And that's what I'm doing.

Today I'm still texting and talking with family and friends who are in the path of, or being impacted by, the storm. I'm still keeping an eye on the weather news. I'm still wondering how our weather here will be effected. We don't get hurricanes where I live, but our weather can be impacted by them (with rain, high winds, tornadoes) and sometimes we'll end up with a tropical storm or tropical depression from a once-hurricane... and that's looking increasingly possible for us with Irma.

What's going on with the weather is very much on my mind and in my heart.

But I'm back to the blog (at least for today), and I'm posting something about today's nudge/prompt:

Share something you’ve created that feels like it’s a part of your autobiography.

There are several different things that fall into this category for me - things I've written, things I've painted, things I've made - but the first two things that immediately jumped to my mind are two particular paintings. I couldn't quickly find a photo of the full canvas for the first one (part of it can be seen as the header/graphic on the home page of my Subtle Harmony site), so I'm going to share a bit about the other one.

This one...

The photo was taken at the beginning of February 2015. Some of the painting was done in the weeks of January and first few days of February that year, but most of the many layers and components of the painting were painted in 2014 over a period that spanned much of that year.

That year was a year of dealing with the grief of my father's death in 2013, and the change and grief of my mother's move several hundred miles away and her entry into the world of an assisted living facility, and the grief of the changes in some family relationships.

That year was a year of a long physical recovery after a fall in January 2014 injured my right hand (and I'm right-handed) and my leg.

That year was a year of facing more losses-to-come as my beloved brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. (He passed away 14 months ago.)

Painting, and especially painting on canvas as I stood in front of my table-top easel, was (as it continues to be) solace for me and joy for me... even though sometimes there were so many emotions and tears spilling from me that didn't exactly feel joyful. Still, though, painting was where I turned. Painting was one of the main things helping me keep myself together.

There was a period of time that year when I couldn't do much painting because of my hand injury. During that time, I tried to paint with my left hand, or tried to find some way to hold my brush for at least a little while, or sometimes just painted with my fingers.

It was a few months before I could actually wrap my fingers around a brush (or pen or pencil) again, but still I found a way to paint. And once my hand was recovered enough to hold objects like paintbrushes again, I painted more and more.

This painting is autobiographical for me because it encompasses all of that for me: the memories, the grief, the injury, the tears, the trying to heal (emotionally and physically), the processing of all the feelings, the trying to be okay in the midst of everything, the giving myself permission to paint just because I love it and no matter how it looks, and the wanting to believe that all will be well.

The paintings I do on the canvases at my table-top easel are intuitive paintings, and I just let myself do whatever comes. Whatever color seems to want to be painted. However and whichever way the brush (or my fingers or whatever) seem to want to move.

I don't paint at the canvas for the painting to look a certain way.

I paint at the canvas for the process of it, for the doing of it, and for joy of it (even if I'm releasing some tough emotions at the time).

This painting holds the energy of that time, that year, in my life. It holds my energy. It holds my tears and my hopes.

And that's why it feels like it's part of my autobiography.

(I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)

September 5, 2017

what makes me feel weird or different or isolated...

Today's prompt/nudge from Effy's September blog-along is: What is something you struggle with? What battles are you fighting that most people know nothing about? What’s something about you or your life that makes you feel weird, or different, or isolated?

My past few posts have mentioned a few things I struggle with (such as my severe anxiety), and battles I'm fighting that most people know nothing about (such as the impact of my health issues on my life), so I thought I'd go to the last question in the mix: something about me or my life that makes me feel weird, or different, or isolated.

Actually, there are a few different things that make me feel weird, different, and isolated.

My extreme degree of introversion, for example, combined with being shy (which isn't the same as being introverted) and having social anxiety disorder.

My spirituality of being not either/or... which means I'm a blend that makes some people shy away from me because I'm a Christian but makes certain Christians claim I'm not really a Christian. And it can be hard, and feel lonely, to be in this space.

(For the record... I consider myself Christian because of my lifelong, and very present and strong, relationship to Jesus, not because of any particular church-going-something-or-other. If I had to choose one single "label" to place on myself about my spirituality, it would be to call myself a mystic Christian.)

And then there's the thing the above quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson means to me...

"I dip my pen into the blackest ink, because I'm not afraid of falling into my inkpot."

To be honest, I do have times of being afraid of falling into my inkpot, of falling and not making it back out.

But the main thing - for me - about this quote is the meaning I give to it about going to the dark and the deep places.

I'm not afraid to go deep.

I'm not afraid to explore and examine the shadow.

I'm not afraid to take a good honest look at the difficult questions and the difficult stuff.

I am afraid of bad things happening, and my fear and anxiety can have a big impact on my life.

But in terms of my life, I'm not afraid to do hard and honest self-reflection.

I do shadow work as well as light work.

I have tough conversations with people in my life when it's time for those.

I sometimes say the things no one else in the room wants to say.

(And this can surprise people sometimes, because for so much of the time in my life I've been, and often still am, the "quiet" one.)

I'm a truth-speaker.

(And sometimes that means I become the scapegoat.)

I value deep and true authenticity to such an extent, that I'm willing to risk losing and letting go.

(This means I've paid a price and lost relationships and let go of friendships.)

I'm willing to look at the deep recesses of my own self and my past, and feel the pain - looking the ugly stuff in the eyes, remembering the things I'd rather forget, and finding ways to heal all of that crap.

All of this can make me too much for some people.

Too intense.

Too sensitive.

Too rebellious.

Too eccentric.

Too difficult.

Too emotional.

Too hard to get to know.

Too hard to relate to.

Too weird.

Because of all of this, I do often feel isolated... especially since my extreme introversion combined with social anxiety, can lead to somewhat long hermit-like times in my life.

But one thing I've learned - and I try to remember, although sometimes it's easy for me to forget, especially when I'm feeling too isolated or alone - is that there are more people out there who are like me.

And I've also learned that we all feel weird or different, in our own ways.

We're all in this together.

(I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)

September 4, 2017

caring for myself when I'm really stressed out...

I'm an anxious person (and I'm talking big-time anxiety, with a few different "officially" diagnosed anxiety disorders, I take medication for it, I see a therapist...) and stress makes all of this worse for me, and there are some things in particular that can really stress me out.

And when I get stressed out, my anxiety can sky-rocket. Sometimes this is a gradual, creeping-up-on-me process, and before I know it I've spiraled into an anxious mess of myself. Sometimes my anxiety is at panic mode, or close to it, faster than I can blink an eye.

When something happens to a loved one, it can really stress me out...

Like in late July, when my husband's co-worker called in the middle of a Wednesday to tell me that my 66-year-old husband was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Like when my 88-year-old mother, who's in an assisted living facility and had a stroke in 2013 that has impacted her cognition and memory, had to be evacuated because of a hurricane (last year, Hurricane Matthew). Things like that.

Because one of my hugest anxiety triggers is healthy anxiety (not hypochondria but different), the health issues I've been dealing with can really stress me out.

When I watch or read an extra-for-me amount of news, it can really stress me out. It feels like a constant balancing act I do in trying to be informed but also not go into overwhelm and fear.

So those are some main examples.

How do I care for myself when I'm really stressed out?

Well, I've blogged about this a lot over the years, on this blog and my blog at Subtle Harmony, because dealing with anxiety and stress, and tapping into self care and soul nourishment... that's been a big focus of what I do and what I've shared in my work. So for anyone who has been familiar with those posts or my newsletters, pdfs, 15 For Me, Joy Connections, etc., this might sound like I'm being a broken record... but I believe it's so important to find what helps us deal with stress (and it can be different things at different times, so it's good to have a big toolbox to pull from), this is something I'll probably always be talking and writing about, broken record or not.

Here are a few of my go-to helpers when I'm feeling stressed out and caring for myself in the midst of it (which is the prompt today for the September blog-along I'm participating in with Effy)...

Getting grounded.

Whether it's going outside to stand, feet on the ground, or touching a tree or plants, while breathing in some fresh air - even if it's only for a few minutes - this can help me get grounded and centered. It can help me pull my energy from the anxious thoughts in my head, the stressed-out knot in my gut, and get more rooted and calm.


I'm a big believer in the helpfulness of essential oils for physical, emotional, and mental benefits. I put a calming, stress-reducing blend in a diffuser (whether a tealight oil warmer or a cool-air electric diffuser), or sometimes simply open a bottle a take a good whiff.

There are blends I use from various companies, and often I just blend my own - some of the oils most helpful for me with calming are frankincense, sandalwood, ylang ylang, lavender, bergamot, chamomile, neroli, melissa, vetiver, valerian.


I'm also a believer in the energy of crystals to help us. When I'm feeling stressed out, I often hold or carry (even if it's in my pocket) or wear certain crystals and stones that help me feel more grounded, centered, and calm - which, for me, translates to helping with anxiety and stress that I'm feeling.

Some of my favorites for this are black tourmaline, smokey quartz, rose quartz, lepidolite, and red jasper... although there are many others that help with this too.


Connecting with my creativity can help me when I'm feeling stressed. There have been times, especially last summer, when literally the only thing that completely helped the stress drain from me was standing at the canvas and painting.

Just chilling out.

Piling up on a big stack of pillows in bed and relaxing with a book or Netflix or dvds. Letting myself relax and get lost in a story I'm reading or watching. Letting myself not think about anything else. (Or doing my best to let myself.)


Yes, breathing. Because, when I'm stressed or anxious, I can realize I'm barely breathing, almost holding my breath, or not really exhaling.

So I bring my attention to my breath, I sometimes place my hand on my heart or my solar plexus, and I do some nice slow inhales and slow exhales.

And I tell myself that, in this moment, I am okay. And I tell myself all will be well. And I try to bring myself to a place of trust. And I breathe.

Spiritual connection.

Praying. Meditation. Spending time in spiritual communication and feeling that Divine presence.

Sometimes this can be a fairly lengthy stretch of time, but sometimes it's simply on-the-go as I'm in the car or in a moment.

(Whether it's this or something else I have or haven't mentioned, I think it's important to remember that there are so many things that can help us with stress that don't have to involve taking huge amounts of time away on our own - because sometimes, due to whatever else might be going on, we're not able to take a lot of alone time on a given day or during a given period. Also, there are so many things that can help that don't involve buying/spending.)

There are other "tools in my toolkit" but these are some of the main things I do to ride the wave, to get through stressful moments or weeks, to help myself when things start feeling overwhelming.

How about you? What helps you care for yourself when you're really stressed out? Leave a comment below if you'd like to share - I'd love to hear from you! ♥

(I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)