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Activating Other People’s Pain (It’s Not You!)

Today, something happened that I would have (and have) reacted to differently before. I went to a shop and bought a whole bunch of art supplies. I know that creativity needs to be a part of my life and I feel like visual expression is one of its rawest forms… I just want to express myself. So after completing a big project today, I treated myself to some supplies, a few different things to try out.

When I paid at the cash, there was this unmistakable “look” from two of the people there. This look of measuring me up and down and deciding that I shouldn’t be on this side of the counter buying a whole bunch of stuff.

Now, this was a study day for me. I had curly hair, no makeup… I didn’t look like your regular twenty-something these days, and I know that people give themselves to judge others, especially women, based on appearance.

This type of look: the “you don’t deserve this” look is one I used to get ALL the time when I lived in a beautiful apartment with an underground pathway of shops I used to visit frequently (for daily shopping needs). I would get these bitter looks all the time, and I remember almost feeling sorry that I was in what they perceived to be such a much better position than they (and honestly, things were amazing for me, so I probably was).

I would go to the point of avoiding one of the shops where I would buy makeup/hygiene products because of the bitter looks by a group of women who by then recognized me.

When I got that same old look today, I realized what it was. It was me activating someone else’s pain system, someone who lives in a dark loop of deserving/non-deserving, someone who is necessarily not filled with their own life…

And I made the conscious choice not to let anything other than love enter my heart and to let it go. The idea that someone else might not deserve what they have, the idea that we might be more deserving of what someone else has… What are these dumb ideas?

We are all deserving…

I also took this as a chance to see whether there were any parallels in my life, and there were. There have been times when I’ve seen someone and in my distorted judgment I’ve thought, she/he doesn’t deserve what they have.

 

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Life · Uncategorized

Turning Away From Toxic Relationship Patterns.

I read and watch and listen to so many high-vibe living blogs and Youtube channels and podcasts. And I always wonder: why is every single segment or topic about how something is wrong and what to do to fix it? How is that possible when this person claims to live a high vibrational life filled with good things and contentment?

Well, I am in that boat now.

And let me tell you, it’s because every day I find a new way to expand and live a better life, and it’s usually as a result of overcoming something new. And all of the things that have led me to live a better life, ever, have really been about overcoming. Overcoming a limiting belief, my own emotions, etc.

There are so many angles from which to write about this and they are all so important.

So in short, that is why! But don’t fret. I must have thanked God at least 20 times just today, genuinely, from the bottom of my heart. Life is so good. So with that, let me finally get into today’s post.

It’s about the toxic relationship patterns.

You know when someone brings out something in you that you thought you’d already kissed goodbye. Some behaviour pattern maybe or some way of responding that just belongs to your past (or maybe you feel it doesn’t belong to you at all), but somehow, being around this particular person long enough just brings it out!

So what gives?

What gives is validation. Ugh, the v-word, I know… It’s like, haven’t we been over this already? Yes, yes; we don’t need validation, etc. But there’s more to it, I think. For me, validation is a part of most healthy relationships. To see the truth of who you are in that moment seen and accepted by another person even as it contrasts with theirs is such a beautiful and healthy thing. It’s part of what makes life, relationships, friendships so juicy!

And I think we all subconsciously know that’s part of the beauty of a relationship. We know it’s part of that juiciness, so we’ll go a ways to find it! We’ll make sure our manners are squeaky clean and we’re showing people our best sides, we smile when we don’t mean it sometimes, we show the most “acceptable” parts of ourselves to others, etc.

And then there’s that one person! We do everything and more and it just doesn’t work. Our best self, the most angelic we can be, just doesn’t cut it with this person. In fact, in my experience of somebody who has been in my life, my highest vibe self was rejected and looked down upon.

Every time I was happy, this person was clearly not happy for me. Every time I talked about something I was grateful for, they were only half listening. You get the point.

And then I discovered something else. If I indulged this person with gossip and judginess about others, if I gave into the arguments they picked, I suddenly had that validation. Gossipping about another human being, or better yet outright putting them down, got me their undivided, positive attention.

And I found that, with enough time in this person’s presence, I would crack and give in to the need to be validated. I spoke badly about shared acquaintances or even family members that I love. I truly love these other people… As I spoke about them, I felt I was telling lies and getting away from my own truth. But even as I felt dirty, I kept doing it, time and time again.

One day it dawned on me why it was happening. I was looking for the validation. I felt I needed those moments of undivided attention… It felt like water to a plant. And gossiping and judging others was just a hoop I was jumping through to get it.

Except it wasn’t… I was giving up my integrity, and feeling terrible for a really long time each time it happened. What I did for the validation simply was not worth it. The awareness of why this person brought out “the worst” in me made all the difference.

Even as I have felt tempted a few times to “give in” again, I now am keenly aware that I simply don’t and can’t have that deep connection with that person at this point. I have turned away from that part of our relationship lovingly. The experience has been humbling; it’s been about recognizing the boundaries I need to draw to protect my soul and psyche while at the same time recognizing the other person’s free will.

Does this expand your understanding? Let me know with a comment.

 

 

Uncategorized

Mental Health Talk: 3% Love and Peace

I have been naturally growing and moving away from the compulsive desire to share (on the internet/social media) and to be seen/validated by strangers, or even people that I do know. That is one of the reasons this blog has sort of sputtered… However, it’s the third time I open the editor to write this post; I really feel a call to do it. So I’m giving in. 🙂

This is a gentle reminder about making the best choice we can when we feel pain, nerves, anger, frustration, stinging nostalgia, etc. Anything heavy. So much of all of those feelings is not by choice or intended to happen at any moment by us.

Most of the experience of emotional pain feels as though it’s just happening to us, especially in the moment. Even if in truth there are frames we use to see the world that affect how much something might affect us, that knowledge is not useful in the moment, once the feelings are in.

But even in moments of overwhelm, when it feels like every inch of our emotional plane is under assault by a feeling that is completely outside of our control, we can look for the sliver of space, just a crack. One millimeter of space is enough… This is where we can respond.

By placing our power in the sliver of space, by focusing on cultivating love and peace in that tiny part of us where we have control, we can coexist with our emotions while allowing them to run their course.

My experience with working within the sliver of space, the 3% of my emotional space, has been that eventually, the intensity of the 97% diminishes and what’s left is the peace and love.

Try not to judge yourself and just understand that we are each born within family, friendship and social systems that indoctrinate us with a variety of thought-patterns. Some of them create pain… It’s okay. All you need to build your peace is space as wide as a single strand of hair.

 

Life · Uncategorized

living free. (online dating.)

We live in such a wonderful age of possibilities, of new connections with like-minded others at the tips of our fingertips, one swipe away. I have downloaded an online dating app, and I have been exploring the world of virtually meeting others—before meeting them in “real life.”

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It has been an illuminating experience. Tucked into the comfort of my favourite nook in front of the television, or picking up my phone on a break from projects through the day, I have been surprised to find how energetically affected I can be by coming into contact with just photos of others on a small screen.

Mindful online swiping has become nothing less than essential. Here are a few things I try to keep in mind before opening my app… I strongly encourage you to consider these points. They can make all the difference.

  1. Feeling happy and self-validated: It’s easy to turn to external sources of validation, and what is both immediate and “fulfilling” in that sense other than an online dating app? Yet seeking this type of validation can quickly become a drain on our inner source of strength and diminish our ability to self-validate and take stock of ourselves for who we truly are in the context of our alignments and experiences. It is for this reason that I make it a priority to only turn on my dating app when I feel good and happy within myself.
  2. Five swipe rule: With what seems like countless “options” all available in successive swipes, an online dating app can turn into a black hole. Yet, as the app user, that facet is completely in my control! I have made it a point to not “swipe” more than five people at any given time, and I usually don’t turn my dating app on more than once or twice a day. This keeps me from spending precious time during my day distracting myself, instead of focusing on what brings me joy, and it also stops me from treating other beautiful humans as commodities available for consumption at the touch of a button on my screen (more on this).
  3. Other people’s beauty: Online dating has brought me virtually face-to-face with people from all walks of life. I have been gifted with glimpses of some of these strangers’ best memories (photos) and bits of their lives, favourites lists, etc. It can be tempting to want to judge someone before pressing x (or swiping left for a no). But prodding into my mind, I’ve found that this need to justify comes from a sense of guilt… And yet, there is supposed to be no rhyme or reason for why we’re attracted to some people and not to others. Love is not a set of cold, emotionless mathematical equations, so don’t feel pressured to judge those who simply don’t inspire an aspect of you… This is just part of being human. There is still a 100% chance you are both looking for love, fulfillment, happiness, safety, and healing, and have more in common with each other than the minutes in a single lifetime would allow you to share. Forgive yourself for not wanting to love everyone romantically and never forget the humanity of the other people on the screen.
  4.  Your own value: Just as you let yourself like who you will, let others like who they will, too, without judgment towards them or yourself. It’s very likely that the true reflection of who you are cannot be glimpsed in five pictures and twenty-five words in addition to your job title, but if it was, remember that not being someone’s cup of tea romantically is not a judgment towards you or your value as a person, or even as a partner. We are all ever-changing, magical beings in different stages of self-realization, some of us better at manifesting the pure truth that lies within all of us than others. None of that is a reflection of how good we are or who we are. If you find yourself delving into self-judgment, put your app to sleep and turn on your newest favourite song, turn to a creator that inspires you, close your eyes and breathe, do five minutes of yoga…whatever it is that puts the magic back into your heart.

This human experience is so temporary and there will literally never be a point where your outside experience matches all that you are and feel inside, for you will always be more than it is. And that is okay; it’s part of the deal! You are an infinite being on a blip of a beautiful human journey. Take the quirks but never let them suck a single ounce of joy from your beautiful heart.

 

Uncategorized

Strength.

 

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Weeks ago, I sat on my bed, fear pouring through my veins like poison, devastated by the number on the scale. I spent 2018 challenged in most ways, but not in this one… I worked harder than I ever have in school, confused about work and money, making sacrifices and hard decisions in relationships, and I lost my alignment more than once. But I always got it back. My stable weight was a cocoon of safety I could hide within…

During those times when I lost sight of the path, of my gifts and ability to do one thing, anything, it would take just one look in the mirror to find proof of my own personal effectiveness. Evidence that I weighed 35 pounds less than I had before, proof that through vision and faith, I had been able.

But in 2018, the scale crept up. A few, less than a handful.

It was higher than it had been for years… I decided on a strict diet and exercise regimen, public accountability, these would be good things to change the course of events. I wrote a blog post announcing my intentions and got to work. I really did.

Except that as I tried to restrict my calories, I felt ravenous with hunger. I thought about food all the time. In two weeks, I gained half a pound more than the few pounds I had put on in the eight months prior. This is what had driven me to my campaign of public weight loss.

This was a nudge to squint and shelter my eyes with a hand from the blinding light, the flood of emotion and events, and really see where my strength comes from. It was never sourced or shielded by my weight.

The source of our power is invisible in this physical world, and it is one of the reasons why it’s so important to remain in alignment, or know to strive for it, at all times. Who we are and most important what we can do is not determined by what we have done in the past or what we look like, how we have succeeded or failed, or anything else.

The best way for me to go back home to myself, authentically, has been solitude. Listening to a lo-fi jazz playlist, or jazzy coffee shop music, and get flowing on my mat. Singing, writing, closing my eyes and just surrendering are all ways I’ve been able to find a thread back to myself again.

People may see us through the limited physical expression of our potential, but we each owe it to ourselves to remember not to limit our own understanding of who we are to that, to not close the door to all that we can experience.

I learned that counting what will always, naturally be a  changing reflection as the source of my inalienable inner strength was unhealthy. By doing that, I had abandoned my inner sight and knowledge of my self in exchange for the limited and limiting gaze of others who had not met their selves. People whose fears are reflected, affirmed and expanded daily by billion-dollar marketing campaigns and people who inadvertently begin to think they are right to bestow a gaze of judgment on others and false narratives that spread brokenness instead of healing.

There is nothing to be afraid of.

I am choosing to embrace and love my new form, to focus on all that life has to offer through my being here. I love movement, yoga, my Tone it Up trainers and all that they do for me. I have momentarily traded my love of salads for the comfort of heavier, warmer winter foods that keep me grounded.

I look forward to exploring this new love and desire for grounding, varied meals by exploring it and cooking new recipes instead of running away from it.

I am choosing to trust the inner twinkle of light that lives within me, to surrender to God (I know this is a loaded word) and to the peace that dwells within me when I surrender to the moment, when I open my heart and say yes.

Weeks ago, I sat on my bed, fear pouring through my veins like poison, devastated by the number on the scale. I spent 2018 challenged in most ways, but not in this one… I worked harder than I ever have in school, confused about work and money, making sacrifices and hard decisions in relationships, and I lost my alignment more than once. But I always got it back. My stable weight was a cocoon of safety I could hide within…

During those times when I lost sight of the path, of my gifts and ability to do one thing, anything, it would take just one look in the mirror to find proof of my own personal effectiveness. Evidence that I weighed less than I had before, proof that through vision and faith, I had been able.

But in 2018, the scale crept up. Just a few pounds.

It was higher than it had been for years… I decided on a strict diet and exercise regimen, public accountability, these would be good things to change the course of events. I wrote a blog post announcing my intentions and got to work. I really did.

Except that as I tried to restrict my calories, I felt ravenous with hunger. I thought about food all the time. In two weeks, I gained half a pound more than the few pounds I had put on in the eight months prior. The less-than-handful of pounds that had driven me to my campaign of public weight loss.

This was a nudge to squint and shelter my eyes with a hand from the blinding light, the flood of emotion and events, and really see where my strength comes from. It was never sourced or shielded by my weight.

The source of our power is invisible in this physical world, and it is one of the reasons why it’s so important to remain in alignment, or know to strive for it, at all times. Who we are and most important what we can do is not determined by what we have done in the past or what we look like, how we have succeeded or failed, or anything else.

The best way for me to go back home to myself, authentically, has been solitude. Listening to a lo-fi jazz playlist, or jazzy coffee shop music, and get flowing on my mat. Singing, writing, closing my eyes and just surrendering are all ways I’ve been able to find a thread back to myself again.

People may see us through the limited physical expression of our potential, but we each owe it to ourselves to remember not to limit our own understanding of who we are to that, to not close the door to all that we can experience.

I learned that counting what will always, naturally be a  changing reflection as the source of my inalienable inner strength was unhealthy. By doing that, I had abandoned my inner sight and knowledge of my self in exchange for the limited and limiting gaze of others who had not met their selves. People whose fears are reflected, affirmed and expanded daily by billion-dollar marketing campaigns and people who inadvertently begin to think they are right to bestow a gaze of judgment on others and false narratives that spread brokenness instead of healing.

There is nothing to be afraid of.

I am choosing to embrace and love my new form, to focus on all that life has to offer through my being here. I love movement, yoga, my Tone it Up trainers and all that they do for me. I have momentarily traded my love of salads for the comfort of heavier, warmer winter foods that keep me grounded.

I look forward to lovingly mapping this new desire for grounding foods through by cooking new recipes instead of running away from it.

I am choosing to trust the inner twinkle of light that lives within me, to surrender to God (I know this is a loaded word) and to the peace that dwells within me when I yield to the moment, when I open my heart and say yes.

food · Uncategorized

Weigh-In Sunday: 132.6

Hi, all! Something a little different on this blog. I am shifting my weight a little, and I thought I’d track what I am doing and my progress on this blog through a weekly check-in post. At the moment, I expect to want to reach 115 or so pounds, which is a 17.6 lb weight loss. For reference, I am about 5′ 6″ tall. I am 28 years old, female, and have no children—if those things matter.

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There are a few good reasons to make this change. I am definitely not overweight, but I know that healthier eating and exercise patterns in my life would naturally lead to a much lower weight than the one where I sit at the moment. So I am pursuing that because I’ve witnessed how much havoc eating too much or making unhealthy choices can bring to how I feel inside.

The reason I am tracking this here is to benefit anyone who is or will embark on their own weight change journey. Sometimes inspiration from others who’ve gone before you or who are walking the same path as you can be worth so much! And I feel like providing that in this small way can be a great opportunity for me to do something good with this platform.

Thanks to the fact that I’ve already developed some great habits around food and exercise (generally) I expect that “systemifying” and intensifying those habits will be the main challenge for me, and frankly I expect that to be really easy. I feel confident and totally capable of making this small change in my life, and I have bigger, more beautiful and fulfilling challenges happening all around me every day. So this will be a super small part of my journey!

Movement

I have always been a huge cardio person, jogging outside, going swimming, and cycling indoors. I will be ramping this up and substituting my jogs with elliptical sessions, since on most days at the moment, it is far too cold to actually go running outside. But no promises, I may still sneak in a run or two here and there.

In addition to cardio, which is my strength point and what I don’t really need much inspiration to do, is my Tone it Up studio regimen. If you don’t know about Tone it Up Studio, let me tell you about it. It’s an app with a paid subscription option that posts a new toning workout each day. The length of these workouts is between 20–30 minutes, and they are really effective but 100% doable.

I plan to do between 3–5 Tone it Up workouts each week, hopefully closer to 5, but in the months I have already been doing TIU (since November), I know that my body can get really sore with the 5-day schedule.

Diet

My diet is also more or less on track, and like my current exercise regimen, it just needs a little bit of refinement. My intention is to eat much smaller meals and more frequently. I can get away with eating fewer total calories this way than I could if I were to rely on two or three bigger meals, even though that’s definitely my body’s “natural” eating preference (skip breakfast and eat a really big lunch and dinner).

I eat a mostly plant-based diet, about 90% of my meals are vegan, and I plan to continue eating this way.

I expect to lose 1–2 pounds a week, but experience tells me that our bodies go through ups and downs, life hands us more temptation on some days than others, and sometimes we can get just too busy to keep up with our intended routine. So of course I am going to be flexible: this is not the biggest priority in my life. I work, I am a student, I have hobbies, I want to have time for fun, etc. This is a minor side project, and it really doesn’t need to be anything more than that in order to be effective.

Post Format

The format of my posts will be casual and flexible. You can expect a recap of my exercise routine AND a little about how exercising that much made me feel. Part of the natural process of intensifying one’s exercise routine is fatigue and tiredness.

In addition to this, I will share what I eat for my meals and any ups or downs with regard to my process. I will also be sharing my Sunday morning weigh-in results with each post.

Change is easy with confidence and the right attitude! Have you ever been at a point in your life where you wanted to make a change? How did you start?

 

 

 

food · Uncategorized

How I Proactively Prevent Stress Eating and Choose to Thrive Instead :D

Over the years, I have become very good at managing my mood-induced eating. I personally think I am a great candidate to write about this topic because I am emotional and I do have a history of emotional eating. I’m not the type of person who can really go any amount of time (days or weeks) sticking to a perfect planned diet. That’s because I do use eating to cope! I mean, I could technically go all healthy, if I had nothing else to do, but what I mean is that it would affect other areas of my life.

Lately, I’ve noticed the urge to cope with food more strongly. This is because one of the courses I am taking is really personally triggering. It’s something I haven’t dealt with before… School on its own can be stressful if we don’t have a good method for managing time (something I’ve worked on and thankfully have!) but this is a whole new type of struggle. The actual content of the course is triggering to me.

Since I’ve taken notice of my new food issue, I’ve been working to be really mindful about the choices I make, and I wanted to share some of my tricks. They’re really common sense, but they work. As well, I will be making a list of other coping strategies for this particular problem in a later post, but the purpose of that is to ease the burden and not rely on just ONE way of coping, especially one that can have health consequences.

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One of my strategies is to take the time to really check in with myself before making the plunge into eating. Historically, one of my worst food choices for emotional eating has been bread. Bread is high in calories, low in nutrition, and for me, it takes quite a lot of it to “hit” the spot and give me the soothing that I look to feel. So I try to stay away from bread when I do emotional eating.

If you are in a situation in which you feel that food might help you to cope, take several deep breaths with your eyes closed and try to really visualize and taste what will help to soothe your emotions and your struggle in that moment. Maybe it’s a burger and fries. Whatever it is, take a sensory survey of it in your mind’s eye. Then move on to the next thing; what else would help your emotions? Maybe it’s a falafel. Do that as many times as you can and try to give your choice a health rating. in the end, find the least harmful thing of the bunch that is still very satisfying and get that.

For me, today, it was dark chocolate chips. They are creamy, sweet and satisfying, but also relatively low in calories (I don’t need too many to feel good) and chocolate is thought to have health benefits. When I arrived at the bulk foods store, I stepped in with intention. I analyzed the food labels and chose to purchase 100 grams of their best dark chocolate chips. I am particularly satisfied with this choice because, only for these chocolate chips, the ingredients list begins with cacao rather than sugar.

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Something else I do is to try to combine health with tastebud stimulation. I’m genuinely a health-food nut, despite being an emotional eater, so I really have to keep an eye on my budget and stay away from a lot of goji-berry type purchases that can run pretty deep into my pockets. But when I feel the stress of emotional eating, I know that not only for my health but also the ensuing extreme guilt that a cycle of unhealthy eating would inspire, I need to indulge my tastebuds in some of the fun healthy foods.

One of those treats for me is dried apricots. Okay, stay with me. My favourite way of eating dried apricots is first thing in the morning. I prepare them through the night by placing five or six in a bowl and filling the bowl with boiling water. I cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I eat the rehydrated apricots and drink the apricot-water. Literally one of the best treats I can think of! So delicious.

This is not a call to start soaking apricots, by no means. Rather, I’m trying to encourage you to explore the health-food aisle snacks before reaching for a bag of Lays or turning up at your McDonald’s drive-thru window. There are many healthful, plant-based yummy snacks and treats by companies that are genuinely trying to create something healthy. Let yourself indulge in those mindfully.

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Another strategy that makes me less likely to “go off the rails” in times of emotional difficulty is to add variety and excitement to my meals. As a mostly plant-based eater, my diet consists of a lot of rice-and-bean type dishes, with a side of steamed veggies or salad. They’re super healthy and yummy, and there’s nothing wrong with those choices, but they can also get boring to the point where while the meal is physically satisfying, it’s not emotionally satisfying.

Tonight I decided to make something that would be more fun for dinner. I blended a large banana with pea protein, spinach, plant milk, ice cubes, and some peanut butter and garnished a smoothie bowl with some of my favourite toppings (goji berries, shredded coconut, and the chocolate chips).