Mindfulness has helped me to learn about the things that bring me discomfort. By bringing awareness to my emotions and the source of said emotions, I have been able to make changes to bring peace to my life. Peace is a wonderful goal to have for our lives.
With peace I find clarity for my life. When I am in a place of peace life is less overwhelming. Less overwhelmed, means less anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms. Mindfulness combats depression and anxiety because you are focusing on the present moment; not reliving the past or worrying about the future.
Living in the moment is so very difficult. Corporate culture has us trained to multi-task. The school system teaches children to sit still, be quiet, and conform. Judgement surrounds us from all sources. Constant input is received from technology and noise. Expectation to be constantly available through technology makes it difficult to relax.
Prior to quarantine, I was finding myself overwhelmed with obligations and the pressure to stand up certain societal expectations. Quarantine forced a change in lifestyle that I welcome. I welcomed the chance to slow down, not the reason behind it.
This last year gave us a chance to be honest about what we were and were not missing from our lives. It gave us the opportunity to be very honest with ourselves about our wants and needs without judgement from others. There was a freedom and intimacy to that honesty.
Since then, we have had a cascade of changes in our lives that have brought about healing and growth. It has been a beautiful and difficult journey for each of us. Together, we have worked on ourselves and our family. Each day we grow closer.
This coming year will bring more changes, because that is what life does. Hopefully, we can continue to build on those changes and create the life that we want.
Finding my rhythm is a struggle. I struggle with what my heart tells me is right and true for myself versus the ghosts of the past and current expectations on my behavior and actions. Where do these expectations come from?
A lot of the expectations that I hold for myself come from the first two decades of my life. The vital time when we are experiencing loving relationships. How those relationships interact, communicate, and express love are fundamental to how we perceive ourselves and our relationships as adults.
As I try to live my authentic self and truly live my best life; I am haunted by voices, images and experiences from my past. I spent so much of my childhood being told that how I wanted to do things was wrong. The things I loved where ridiculed, put down as a phase or deemed inappropriate due to my gender.
My first marriage was horrible. I was pushed into marrying someone I didn’t want to marry to gain my families love and acceptance. He proved to be a controlling narcissist who gaslit me at every turn. Every time I was on the verge of making a dream happen I was either forced to walk away from it to prove I loved him or in the case of the books I had written, my computer suddenly had corrupted files.
During my childhood I lived in fear. I lived being blamed for my families unhappiness and being told I owed them certain behaviors because of their sacrifices for me. Fundamentally, I feel unloveable and guilt ridden if I do anything that is not of service to others.
Nine years into a healthy relationship, I am finally learning to sit down each evening for me time. Do I still feel anxious and guilt ridden? A lot of the time I do. I know that I need to fill my well to be healthy for myself and my family. Does self care come with great difficulty? Yes, yes it does.
I am determined to use the support I have to embrace my truth and my needs. The peaceful feeling of “I am enough” and/or “I did enough this day” is how I know that I am living in my authenticity and not acting or reacting out of emotions.
As people, it is so difficult not to get stuck in emotions. Feeling your feelings and acknowledging them are vital to understanding where you are in your current life situation. The difficulty is to not be stuck in a reactive or expectant mode.
I have been using the practice of mindfulness to bring me to a pause when I find myself overwhelmed or suddenly surging with emotions. Begin by taking deep breathes until that tightness in your body begins to subside and you no longer feel squeezed from all directions.
Then just observe what you are thinking. Are you thinking about what just happened? Is there a memory from your past pushing its way into the present? Do you hear the voice of someone criticizing or scolding you?
Breathe again as you make these observations. If you see the past coming into the present, acknowledge that you have some things to consider and unpack from the past that are affecting your present. If you have time writing in your journal or jot some notes down about it so you can bring your awareness back to this moment, but know you can make space to visit these memories later.
Now, what is happening in the present moment? Respond to the situation when you are not filled with overwhelming emotions. Emotions are wonderful, but don’t let them control you otherwise you will be in for a roller coaster in most situations. Honestly, emotional regulation or lack thereof is why we see such extremes in toddlers.
Make space for yourself to be. The more you relax then you can be yourself. Find peace. Enjoy happiness.
Being more self reliant and less reliant on big corporations has long been a dream of mine. One of the ways I am currently doing this is by making as much of my food as possible versus buying everything pre-made. Let me tell ya, having to decide if I want cookies enough to bake them certainly has curbed snacking. I am also reading to maximize the space I have for a vegetable garden this year. I have had small ones in the past and failed pot gardens, so this will be a new experience for me.
I had planned on getting into canning this year by taking field trips to the you pick farms. We would get a family fun day and then a couple of days of canning, baking and freezing. Which is more bonding and homeschooling. Hopefully, it will be safe enough for us to go to the you picks this year. Otherwise, I will see what the local farms are doing to sell their items and plan around that.
Eggs. I go through an insane amount of eggs; seriously I think we did 15 eggs for breakfast for 7 today, plus potatoes. Finding a local farmer to help us both out may be a good idea. I can’t do chickens where I am due to zoning and space issues. When I get the acreage that I have always dreamed of, then I can revisit the idea of chickens.
A Food Processor has entered my life. The adventure this week will be in learning to use it to full capacity. When I have used one before, it has been for making the baby food or salsa and dips. I have always loved working with good knives and cutting boards. However, there are certain things I want to do that this will help immensely; such as making my own flours. I had to go gluten free last year, so I am now ready to take my baking back. I have missed it, but didn’t do as much due to the differences in gluten vs. gluten free baking.
Embracing dreams one day at a time
This has been a unique holiday season for all. While we have missed seeing relatives. We took advantage of the changesto evaluate what was and was not working for our normal holiday routine.
One of the things that has bothered me the last few years has been the pressure of gifting. A gift should be given because you want to give it not because you felt as though you had to purchase a gift. Frankly, a lot of what we had been doing felt like social obligation that I did not agree too.
The most difficult parts of the season was resetting the gifting expectation with family and friends.while we appreciate everyone, it was out of control. A hated feeling pressured to spend massive amounts of money, or that I was a bad parent for limiting the amount of stuff my kids received.
This year my kids got one big gift to share, then they each got a video game, a toy and a book. Plus, Santa stopped by and left a single toy per kid today. They were ecstatic with their gifts A huge boxes was noticing they were not over stimulated or overwhelmed by a ton of stuff. So their behavior wastheir normal selves.
After a difficult conversation of figuring out what we were doing out of obligation and truly considering what we wanted to do – an intense amount of stress came off of us. It wasn’t perfect, as we learned today when we found ourselves stressing over the perfect meal and perfect atmosphere. Changing a lifetime of habits and mindsets takes a bit of doing but I am proud of what we did achieve this season.
We truly began to create some family traditions, personal boundaries and communication about what we really want our days to look like. Each day is a new opportunity to evaluate our reality vs. What calls to our heart.
Due yourselfthe gift of self honesty. Stop moving from one obligation to the next as if you were an autopilot. Of an obligation does not bring you joy or better your life ask yourself: what would you rather be doing? Then embrace that.
Happy Holiday! Irisa
It would probably be helpful to introduce the Winter Solstice or Yule. Yule originates in the Norse culture and is held around December 21st; astrological timings change this slightly. Typically, this was celebrated over twelve days and oathing was common during this time. A variety of deities were honored, the most common being Freyr, Thor, Odin, Baldur and Skadhi (ADF).
Modern neo-pagans continue to encourage the return of the sun during this festival. This is often celebrated from December 20th through December 31st, some people practice for one day, others three and yet others twelve.
As many secular religions do not work during their holiest of holy days, it is considered the same with Yule and modern neo-pagans. Although, the structure of modern society makes it near impossible for modern neo-pagans to not work for an entire twelve days modern practitioners manage to find a way to balance the demands of life and the desire to spend this time with family and friends as was done in days of old.
For many modern neo-pagans this high day begins by celebrating Mother’s Night vigil. This is an all night vigil that begins the honoring of ancestors. Conversely, this high day celebration is often concluded on New Year’s Eve with a large party with friends and family (Hulsman, 2010).
Winter Solstice 2020 was the most unique one of my life. The energy was from an astrological event dubbed “the Great Conjunction” between Jupiter and Saturn. It was the first time in 800 years these planets have aligned. In the weeks prior to Winter Solstice I found myself returning to my spiritual practice in a way that soothed my soul.
After spending the day making incense and bath bombs with the kids, we lit our Winter Solstice candles. After inviting the return of the Sun into our lives, we spoke of the meaning of Solstice and traditions from different cultures. Then my partner and I cracked open a bottle of wine and sat by the fire reminiscing and sharing stories with our kids.
Later, everyone else slept and I did as much of a Solstice Vigil that I could. I am not a late night person, so staying up all night doesn’t work for me. Sleepy, but happy and feeling the hope knowing that the darkest of the season is behind us and the renewal of light brings rebirth to our world.
May the Solstice Season and Holiday Spirit find its way to you, bringing hope, peace, prosperity, friendship and love.
Focusing on a niche for this blog has been extraordinarily difficult for me. The original intent for this blog was an outlet for my passion for writing. So, for the next turn of the wheel of time, I am going to focus on writing each day. I have a passionate soul with a variety of interests. I do not want to limit myself to just one for the moment. Mindfulness will still be a topic, as that is at the core of my personal ethics of “Know Thyself”.
I look forward to following my path of passion, exploration and personal journey for my writing. Lately, my mindfulness has taken me back to my love of culinary creations, baking (exploration of gluten free), homeschooling, suburban homesteading, DIY crafting, DIY home improvements, and motorcycle rebuilding to name a few.
Here is to following our passion and learning about ourselves,
There are rare moments in life that capture the fairytale portraits of life that we see in film and magazine. Today, we are fortunate to have one of those moments with beautiful white fluffy snow falling from the sky. My children and I played for a bit outside, visited the creek that is beginning to freeze, and came in to have lunch by a lovely fire.
I am filled with gratitude with that we have a home surrounded by nature and a fireplace in our home. Mindfulness, aides in noticing what is happening at that time. This, in turn, helps to live in the moment and seize these opportunities.
As you practice mindfulness, notice changes in yourself. There will come a time that the urge to play begins to surface … careful now, the may be an ingrained tendency to push that away; stifle or squash even. A voice saying unkind things about an adult playing or time wasting or some such rubbish.
Play is essential to our well being. It relieves stress and connects us with others. It allows us to be create, to breathe and just express ourselves. If you take the time to play, a shift begins to happen. With children, you begin to connect on an entirely different level.
With play, you find your imagination coming to life. Then, when you go back to your adult responsibilities you may be surprised with the new views that you bring to your daily activities.
Be mindful … follow your instincts … play … create … and journey into yourself to create a new world outside of yourself.
This year has been unlike any in my nearly 50 years. A global pandemic has forced the world to halt, then change. During mandatory quarantine I witnessed a shift within myself, community, and relationships. Without the daily rush, we were forced to see what was in front of us. To confront our lives, instead of burying ourselves in work, school, and obligations (self-imposed) or otherwise.
In America, the world watched as tragedy brought Black Lives Matter to global attention; followed by the increasingly publicized divide among American citizens in politics and social behaviors and attitudes. These matters, along with quarantine behaviors, thoughts and attitudes regarding the pandemic dramatically shifted workplaces, families, and friendships.
One cannot go through all of this without impact on the mental, emotional, and physical levels. Personally, all of this brought me back to a mindfulness practice. It was my way of coping with the overload and being able to guide my frightened children through this year. Stripping away our schedules, changing how often we have all been together, and stepping away from social pursuits and obligations has brought massive change to our lives.
This has been an emotionally and mentally raw year for me. The quiet has allowed my inner voice to be heard. Change in how time has been spent allowed each of us to show and share our vulnerabilities. Being in the same space each day gave reflection on whether it felt like a sanctuary or a burden. Behaviors and attitudes came forward regarding how each of us felt about the changes in our lives and routines.
Mindfulness, has been the saving grace for me. I would love to tell you that with mindfulness I have not had my anxiety and depression flare; but that would be false. What I can tell you is that because of mindfulness I am fully feeling the feelings and allowing them to naturally process. It has not been pretty, because raw emotions never are. However, as I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest, I have seen beauty in my closest relationships. They have comforted me and allowed me to see their raw vulnerability and personal struggles. As these have emerged, each of us has worked on communication and support with each other.
We are far from perfect, far from healed in some instances; but we are growing together. Being away from our obligations and usual calendar of events gave everyone time for reflection. This reflection gave amazingly honest conversations about wants, needs, likes and dislikes. It also has shown each of us what is really important to us and what we want to get back in our lives, what we can live without, and where the adjustments work just fine for us (such as telecommuting, homeschooling or some distance gaming). Each member of my family surprised me with thoughts and actions. Social behaviors during the pandemic showed me where my values were the same or different from those who touched our lives in some way.
Our connection to nature and our spiritual path has also been revealed to us. We missed being outside all the time at the parks and spent most of the year turning our backyard into a sanctuary. Missing our spiritual friends has been strong and recently we have been better about a home practice; instead of waiting to be with our spiritual community in person.
Hobbies and interests that reflect our personalities have emerged even more; especially with mom making the electronics be put down. New ways of communicating and connecting with loved ones have emerged for each of us as well.
Saying I love you has always been important, but now more than ever. Fear of loss is as real as loss. Living with a shadow of fear from an unknown, unseen source will shape each of us, but especially our children. Teaching ourselves and our children to continue to move forward with life and love, to move through that fear and find what love, beauty, grace, and gratitude there is in life despite the fear is important.
Today, I ask you to reflect on what you are grateful for. It can even be the lessons or conversations that your anxiety or depression has taught you. Find something joyful to reflect on, even the hope things will change in a better direction for you. Hold onto that and breathe into that. Give yourself a moment to relax and release the emotions of 2020 so you can create space for whatever the next year will bring us.
Gratitude, Thankfulness and Peace are on the top of my list today. In the United States it is Thanksgiving. We have a family practice of focusing on gratitude and spend time with family and friends. As this is the year of the pandemic, we are keeping with those living in the house; but like many holding close those we cannot see or speak with this year.
This is a dark difficult year and we could all use some help. Mantras are wonderful for helping us be in alignment with mindfulness. When the darkness and fear of this year feels all consuming, try a Gratitude Mantra.
You may be wondering how to do a gratitude mantra. Breathe and focus on the mantra. It can be said out loud or to yourself. This can be done simply standing in the place you are or you can set up a room of candles, incense and comfortable seating; in the bath or with kids and dogs crawling on you. They are versatile, simple and powerful.
Mantra: I feel Gratitude … Dhanya Vad (dahn-yah vahd)
Mantra: I am Gratitude … Kritajna Hum (Krit-ah-nah hum)
Another gratitude practice is the gratitude journal. However, I prefer a twist to mine. Instead of this private list I add what is called a behavioral component. Express gratitude for someone each day of your life.
To each of you I wish peace:
sarvesham svastir bhavatu … May there be well being for all
sarvesham shantir bhavatu …May there be peace for all
sarvesham purnam bhavatu … May there be wholeness for all
sarvesham mangalam bhavatu … May there be happiness for all
Deep peace and gratitude to each of you for stopping by,
This is for you, a reminder that you are valuable …. you have worth …. these emotions that you feel as you practice mindfulness are necessary. These emotions tell you where you currently are, you are not stuck here, you do not need to reside here. This is not your life. This is your moment. Breathe.
Mindfulness is an exquisite practice, as I hope you have discovered, but what we learn about ourselves and the situations and relationships in our lives may not be equally exquisite. I am here to remind you that it is okay if you don’t like everything that you see and here at this moment.
The mindfulness you have been cultivating, the observations you have been making are important. These emotional, physical and intellectual insights that you have cultivated about your life are the catalyst for you to create a life that you adore.
Creating a life you adore does not mean there will never be parts you don’t like. We are humans interacting with other humans in a money based society filled with a plethora of wants, needs and desires. That recipe does not make for non-stop happiness.
However, continued mindfulness will be the greatest too you can have to navigating both the immediate and larger world around you. Change what you can to make both better. Embrace your dreams and find or create the opportunities you need to be the best version of yourself.
Embrace your growing pains and know that this is not permanent. You are moving forward every minute of your life. Continue being mindful, embrace the knowledge and blossom into a life you adore.