Drawing by Sheree O’Dea
“You don’t care what you do to your body.” Neale Donald Walsch’s words smacked me in the face, like a prize-fighter clipping me on the chin, slapping me brutally into reality. I have been reading Walsch’s book ‘Conversations with God’ in an unorthodox way over the past 3 months, choosing pages at random. My mid-week random choice rang with a truth I really needed to hear. In the section I selected God talks about our relationship with our bodies, how we ignore it and on most occasions treat it poorly. He reflects on how we treat our cars in better ways and for me this doesn’t say much; I have a new car that has a bonnet covered in bird poop, a boot that’s messy and carpet that is covered in sand and leaf litter. So what does this say about my body, you can only imagine. To be honest, the God in Conversations with God was right about me. My body has been gently saying for years that I need to make some changes in my lifestyle and eating patterns. I’ve been politely ignoring it, “I’ll be right thanks”. It has only been in the last month that my body has started yelling at me, “Enough, ENOUGH! I’m important please listen you’re hurting me!” You would think a trip to the emergency room to deal with some digestive issues would snap me out of my eating patterns, but it didn’t. Why do I do this? Walsch’s God puts it down to having a will to live. That if we treat our bodies well this is directly related to a strong will to live and that the opposite is also true. This thought brought me to tears. I lost a partner many years ago when I was a vibrant, energetic, athletic and healthy 26-year-old. Through my grief I have often said I wanted the life my partner and I had together. That the life I found myself in has never felt right. Could the way I treat my body and my current health issues be directly related to my unwillingness to live this life to the full? I don’t know the answer right now but my heart is saying it’s worth a try. I’m saying it to you all, I want this life and I’m going to live it! Body, I’m taking this first step for you and sorry you had to yell for me to listen.
What’s around the corner… Art by Sheree O’Dea
While I was picking out colours for my drawing I got to thinking; we never know what’s around the corner in life. It’s something we say in hard times and something I have been reminding myself of lately; as I edge closer to 40, a single woman who always thought she’d have a family by now. My Mum often says to stay positive and stresses her favourite word, hope. Have hope. I do agree with her, but with life experience I also know it’s important to feel the bumps along the way. When I write feel, I mean feel whatever feelings come up no matter what colour they are; to not dismiss or push under the carpet or rush to feel something different right away. On our path through life we’ll pass through many different shades, some bright, some dark, some murky, some clear, some we may hope to pass through quickly and others we wish would stay around to colour our life forever. What works best for me is to feel fully. Not to dwell or obsess, but to give emotion attention. Give it a little time and space for itself, without judgement, without labelling feelings as bad or good. Emotions provide us with information about ourselves and help us to move forward. They can give us insight into what we really care about and what is important to us.
I haven’t always felt this way. In the past I have placed emotions like grief, sadness and anger into the negative palette and felt frustration when these emotions came up. I would try to shove them away, in favour of other more positively perceived emotions. It was always a surprise and overwhelming to me when grief and sadness would come knocking asking, well on most occasions yelling, “remember me”.
I can now say I’m not afraid of or concerned about any of my feelings. They come, I feel, I listen.
It’s been well over 10 days since I started my Take10 program and I have been ridiculously unsuccessful in sticking to my ten minutes a day. In fact I’ve only finished 4 of the sessions. So much for creating a consistent ongoing habit!
I think my main problem has been finding a time of day that suits me best and setting aside that time as a priority (or perhaps it is my knack for finding excuses). This is not a new problem for me.
A screenshot from Headspace
Even though I’ve only finished four sessions, I can definitely see the benefits in the app and the strategies it teaches.
I’ve found the key messages of Headspace to be really useful – and they’ve offered me a different perspective from previous meditation programs. For me the stand out point they’ve made is that the goal of mindfulness is observing our thoughts rather than trying to resist or change them. Instead of chasing after feelings of happiness or running away from sadness or frustration, we should sit back as an observer and let them occur and pass naturally.
Noticing sounds or sensations as we meditate is not a bad thing as they ground us in the moment. This has been a real relief for me, as usually when I meditate I have tried so hard not to focus on external distractions. Overall I’ve found the program quite positive – not as exciting as some other guided meditations I’ve used – but very productive.
On another note – a new Deepak and Oprah 21 day challenge is beginning in early November and the theme is “Energy of Attraction”. As Oprah would say “I’m exciiiiteeeed”. These are my favourite. I hope to be a lot more disciplined with these than my Headspace program, and will aim to share a bit about my experience on here.
I just had to share the joy of this chocolate
It is good for your soul.
I downloaded the Headspace app months ago, with the intention of creating a regular meditation routine. In the past I’ve really loved the Oprah and Deepak 21 day meditation challenges, but I tend to not stick with a routine once they’re finished. In case you’re not familiar with it – Headspace is a mindfulness meditation app – with the goal of teaching you how to create a healthier mind space.
A funny story, around the time when I first downloaded the app I had just done a big cull of my email subscriptions as I was finding it hard to keep up with all the junk emails I was receiving. Having to delete them all so often was driving me a bit bonkers. So when I started receiving regular emails from Headspace, it was yet another list I needed to unsubscribe from.
Unfortunately there was no simple ‘unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of my email. Well they must have caught me on a day when I had little headspace (it was before my morning coffee) as I promptly sent them a curt email demanding that they please take me off their subscription list, and providing some ‘customer feedback’ suggesting that they include a clear ‘unsubscribe’ button on their emails, or at minimum a simple way to remove myself from their list on the app or even the website as I had failed to find any of these things in my frustrated state!
I am sure my frustration seeped through my words despite my attempt to be polite. Somehow an app which is meant to teach me mindfulness, patience, and the power of calm was really sending me into quite a fluster! The irony wasn’t lost on me. Fortunately they were very kind to reply to me with an apology and a ‘thank you for the feedback’.
Well fast forward about 6 months, and I’m finally getting around to actually giving the app a go. It has sat unutilised on my phone since that day and there seems to have been a significant update. The app starts with a free Take10 program which requires you to listen to a guided meditation for 10 minutes each day for ten days.
These sessions are supposed to teach you the basics of meditation and I suppose get you into the habit of taking time out each day to meditate. Additional features include a personalised progress page, reminders, rewards for regular meditation, and even a buddy system so you can pair up with a friend and motivate each other to keep with the challenge.
So today I will start this ten day program with the goal of creating an ongoing habit of meditating daily – if not at least most days. Wish me luck! Hopefully I can report back on my success throughout the next ten days!
During the week I started reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and it had my dormant inner child all a buzz.
I officially start the course to discover/rediscover my creativity this Monday but I couldn’t resist having my first ‘artist date’.
The artist date is about setting aside 2 hours a week (or more) to do something that nurtures your artistic/creative side. It can be anything, cooking, outings, something traditionally arty etc., but it has to be something you do by yourself to inspire your creativity. I decided to do something that was straight out of my childhood.
I woke up pretty early for a Sunday and turned on my favourite music (loud) and danced like no one was watching (other than my cat who looked on, ears pinned back, puzzled wondering what alien being had taken over his usually quiet human). Oh my goodness did I feel alive!! I had so much fun. I moved like I was 7 again, letting the music and my imagination guide me. Give me a hairbrush microphone stat! My body felt great and my mind felt clear and happy, which after 3 weeks of dealing with a bully at work was a blessing.
I’m so excited to get stuck into this course now. My inner child is wide awake and ready to help guide creativity back into my life.
Bring on the finger painting!
I’m not a big believer in New Year resolutions but I’ve always been a fan of goals, so with the start of a new year I began making a list on my iPhone of the things I would like to accomplish this year. Big and small, before I knew it my list was longer than I expected but it really had me excited about 2014. I’m not finished adding to my list yet, don’t expect to get through all of it and I won’t be guilting myself over any I don’t even start, its all about inspiration and the ongoing improvement of my wellbeing and those around me.
Here is my list so far…
– Learn Spanish
– Exercise regularly (at least three times a week) and get fit
– Complete a course in Life Coaching, develop my concept for a small business
– Meditate every other day
– Try making my own health smoothies and juices
– Eat healthier
– Canoe the Katherine Gorge again – this time with the kids
– Explore new music
– Create a garden I’m proud of
– Try new recipes
– Read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and The Power of Now (thanks for the suggestion Sheree).
So far I have found an exercise routine which suits me and joined a gym near my work, I have begun going during my lunch hour. I bought myself a smoothy/juice maker and I’ve been having fruit smoothies with skim milk and ice for breakfast every morning. I have been focusing on my food and discovered some delicious healthy snack ideas for work. I’ve downloaded a Spanish course on my iTunes U (has anyone else discovered this? I love it, I’m also currently doing one on Positive Psychology).
Have you made any New Years resolutions or goals? I also love Sheree’s concept of having one or more focus words for the year rather than resolutions or goals. I look forward to hearing all about how this goes for her.
Today I am grateful for my husband. He is so patient, generous, thoughtful and considerate.
I have been feeling a bit tired, grumpy and out of sorts the past couple of days. I know this can’t be pleasant for my husband as it usually reveals itself in short tempered outbursts, snipey remarks and eventually dramatic long winded explanations of why I “just can’t take it anymore!” (Whatever “it” may be at that point in time).
You see other than my own mind my husband is the only person who bares the full brunt of my craziness. And yet he does not judge me. He has never once suggested I’m over reacting. He never smirks or rolls his eyes. He doesn’t give me even a faint sense that he is just appeasing me until the storm has passed.
He listens, he sympathises and he tells me we will get through it together. He is quiet when he knows I need it. At times he has been known to leave me alone in our room, only to enter quietly offering refills of wine with precision timing.
He never holds a grudge over anything I say. And he’s always ready to ‘take me back’ with open arms like nothing ever happened when sane Stephanie reemerges.
I don’t know how I got so lucky but I’m so grateful and I’ll never take my husband for granted.
Today I’m grateful for my dog and all the other dogs who warm our hearts and love us unconditionally.
I was in a terrible, horrid mood this morning. It was a Monday after all. When suddenly we pulled up next to this fella at the lights. I couldn’t help but smile with him, and the change in my expression cracked my grumpy mood immediately.
I sometimes wonder if humans have this same gift to brighten our hearts with their amazing energy.
Today I’m grateful for all the teachers in my life. They come in many forms and teach in many ways. But they have all shaped me to become the person I am.
The people who have taken their time to demonstrate skills or impart knowledge. The authors and presenters who share their wisdom and passion. Those who make me react in ways which cause me to reflect on how I want to be.
Parents, school teachers, friends, foes, professors. For everything you have taught me I am grateful.