September 27, 2017

a pace that feels right...


Sometimes it seems like I'm not productive. That I move like molasses. Or that I need to do nothing but rest (because spoonie).

Then there are times like this week, when I'm working on creative projects and house tending, and the novel-writing is happening and I'm painting every.single.day and I'm getting things done - BUT - I have this feeling inside like I need to hurry, go faster, get things done more quickly.

Feeling like I'm in some sort of race.

Only I'm not. My time on earth can end any day, as is the case for anyone and everyone, and so if I'm in a race, it's a race against time in that way.

But otherwise, I'm not in a race with anyone or anything.

And usually, when I feel this way I know it's my anxiety at work.

Also... even though there are times when I truly am in a race against time, that's not the way I want to live my day-to-day life. It does amp up my anxiety too much. It does feel uncomfortable for me.

My natural pace is not (usually) a quick-and-fast pace.

And that's okay.

Except when the comparison-itis kicks in, which it sometimes does, especially if I look around too much online at what others are doing and posting and producing and being-successful-at.

So then I once again remind myself: going at my own pace, at the speed and time that suits me best, really is okay.

It is okay for me to go at my own pace. It is okay for me to go slow, to not rush. 



Last night I sat with the three wisdom cards I made, an exercise in an artist-and-monk class I'm taking.

When I made the cards, I asked the questions, I painted watercolor backgrounds, I chose and glued some collage elements... And then, when all were finished, I turned the cards over to see the questions - and see how each front spoke to the question on the back.

I finished the cards several days ago and I keep returning to them, sitting with the questions, sitting with the answers.

The living of those answers is guiding my days.

And the living of those answers reminds me that it's okay to go at my own pace.

Last night I painted, playing with watercolors on a journal page. And earlier in the day I wrote - because I'm finally (finally) focusing on one novel instead of the back-and-forth starts-and-stops I've had all year with so much indecision of which book to write next.

I had to choose, because I was getting no more books written otherwise.

But now that I've chosen, and now that I'm writing this story, I don't have to rush or hurry. I'm doing my best to ignore the go-faster feeling I'm starting to feel when I sit down to work on the novel.

I can go at my own pace. With writing. With painting. With the house-tending.

With everything.

Time here on earth is not limitless, but it's better for me to go at my personal pace than to try to rush.

It's okay to go at the pace that's best for us.

It's okay to just breathe and create and wash dishes and laugh with a friend - and not rush.



(I've been blogging along with Effy this month! (although I haven't been blogging nearly everyday - but that's okay!) Want to check it out? Just click here.)



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.



(I've been blogging along with Effy this month! (although I haven't been blogging nearly everyday - but that's okay!) Want to check it out? Just click here.)



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.

Aromatherapy.



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.


Crystals.



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.


Creativity.



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.)


Breathing.


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.)








September 3, 2017

passings, memories, and the soundtrack of life...


The first news I saw this morning was that Walter Becker, co-founder of the band Steely Dan, had died.

I've written before (a main example is in this post) about the power of music and memories.

And as I - and the singers and songwriters and musicians I grew up listening to - get older, and the years and the decades pass, there are more and more deaths of people who have been part of the soundtrack of my life.

In just the time between the beginning of 2016 and now, there have been several (not a complete list by any means):

Prince. George Michael. David Bowie. Maurice White. Leonard Cohen. Al Jarreau. Leon Russell. Glen Campbell. Paul Kantner. Gregg Allman.

And Glenn Frey.

I mention Glenn Frey separately because the music of the Eagles has been extra-huge in my life. And...  it was after watching the documentary History of the Eagles on Netflix shortly after Glenn's death in January 2016, that I felt compelled to finally do a final revision of one of my novels - In New Harmony - and publish it. (You can find it right here.)

Watching that documentary, which I've seen several times now, simply does something to my creativity, especially when it comes to writing fiction.

Watching that documentary makes me WANT to write - and, specifically, write fiction - so much that my fingers start to almost physically itch to do it.

Listening to Eagles music does something to me very similar to how I feel when I watch that documentary. For the past year and a half, I've come close several times to writing a blog post with the title "the Eagles are my spirit animal" (and I think I've even said those words, even hashtagged them, on instagram at some point) but as I wrote a couple of days ago, I simply haven't been blogging much the past couple of years, even when I've had the urge or the nudge.

Probably, though, I'll still write that blog post. I'm just not sure when.

Music is a muse for me.

And music is a memory-holder and time-traveller for me.

That's why when there's news like today's passing of Walter Becker, I feel an impact.

Steely Dan's music has definitely been part of my life's soundtrack. I'm 55, so the music of the 70s and 80s will always have a unique and special place in my heart and my memories, and Steely Dan songs are part of that for me: junior high and high school in the 70s, beach trips with my friends, going to see FM on a Friday night at the movies.

When I decided to post on facebook this morning with a link to a youtube video of a Steely Dan song, I had trouble deciding which song to choose. I finally decided on "Deacon Blues."

As I said in that facebook post: Someone else in the soundtrack of my life has passed. I always feel sadness along with the nostalgia... and I always feel so grateful for the music shared with the world.

RIP, Walter Becker and so many other song-makers.

And thank you for the music.






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




September 2, 2017

what I really want...


There are so many things I really want... World peace. Inner peace. Good and wonderful things for my loved ones. Joy. Happiness. Creative and spiritual connection.

But when it comes to a just-me-myself-and-I personal level, and if I break it down to one thing I really really want right now, it would be this:

I want to be healthy.

What used to be a once-in-awhile thing became, a couple of years ago, an almost-daily thing, which led to many doctor appointments and all sorts of tests (everything coming back normal), and is now apparently a chronic new-normal for me.

I mention it at times, usually referring to it as "my balance/equilibrium stuff", although it's sometimes much, much more than that. But very few people know how often and to what extent this impacts my life in big and small ways.

My ego accepting the use of a cane was a small thing. (Although I won't lie - it was a thing for me.)



Other stuff... Well, some of them are much bigger things.

I sometimes have trouble accepting these changes in my life, this change in my health, the way that I sometimes feel so awful, the way I sometimes have such trouble moving around or being able to do things I love to do.

And I sometimes especially have trouble accepting them with grace.

I rail and I fight and I pray.

Sometimes I sob in private with grief. Sometimes I yell at God with anger. Sometimes I tremble inside with fear at what might be ahead with my health.

And when I have days - or even minutes - of feeling well and good, or at least not feeling so bad... I'm so incredibly grateful I can't even describe the depth of it.

Gradually, I've been learning to accept my new-normal more, rail against it less, and make adjustments in my life to do as much as I can.

I find inspiration from people who deal with far more challenges and struggles, and do it with more grace than I often summon.

I continue to work on becoming healthier, and to maintain the health I have.

And if I could be truly healthy again? Yes, please. I really want that. 

But if it doesn't happen? Then I want to live as best I can, and I want to do it with grace.

It's a good bet that this is part of the reason embrace grace was the guiding phrase that came forward for me this year.

A reminder for me to open to receive grace.

A reminder for me to give grace to others.

A reminder for me to give grace to myself.




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




September 1, 2017

bloggin' along...


For quite a while, I've been in an in-between space, a time that's felt like waiting but also having a lot happening, a time that's been not-quite-sure or clear.

Blogging has been one of the things trapped by my time of in-between.

So often, I've wanted to return to blogging more regularly and consistently, to share my thoughts and my words online in a way I used to do so much.

And yet... so often, I've felt an inner need to be more quiet online, not only with blogging but in all online spaces.

But Effy is facilitating another blog along - and I decided to join in.

I participated in Effy's blog along back in 2013 and enjoyed it immensely, although I didn't blog every day... That month, my father's health failed at a faster rate, and later in the month the decision was made that it was time for hospice, and then he died on the 25th of that month. He passed away 4 years and 1 week ago, exactly, and it still sort of blows my mind that time has seemed to fly so fast since then and I'm not quite sure what I have to show for it.

Those blog posts from 2013 live in various places now... maybe one or two here at this space, a few on my Subtle Harmony site, most converted to draft status until I move them here, some only live now on my computer or personal files.

For the next year I continued to blog (although not every day or even every week) until the following summer when I did a personal month-long challenge of blogging with the theme of journeying with joy.

After that, I still blogged... but it became less and less often.

And the spaces where I blogged changed, as my site shifted from one place to another, and then split into two blogs which are (slowly) shifting again into one blog.

It sounds, and sometimes feels, confusing and unfocused. But where I "live" online is one of those uncertain things in my life. It's one of the things that feels like a waiting-time, a time of in-between.

I still have my Subtle Harmony site. I still have my Etsy. I still have this little blogging space right here.

I'm just not sure where I want to be with all of it at the moment - or even what (or whether) I want, when it comes to online.

I'm online less often in general than I used to be. One reason is an increasing need the past couple of years or so to pull back from social media and from the online world. Another reason is due to physical happenings that inter-relate with some eye stuff, and looking at computer or phone screens - or reading anything, for that matter, including books - can be difficult some days or can cause the problem to flare up at other times.

So I've been focused on more one-to-one, or in-the-flesh, or internal-with-me stuff.

I've focused a lot on my own creativity... writing and creative home-tending and paint-play.



I'm curious to see if I blog consistently during this blog along.

I'm curious to see what might happen between now and the end of the month.

I'm curious to see if returning to blogging more often will help me find more clarity.

I'm curious... and trying to rest and trust in this time of waiting and in-between.


(Want to join in on Effy's blog along this month? Just click here to see what it's all about!)