The Art of Loving Yourself.

The Art of Loving Yourself.

I haven’t been able to blog as much as my heart desires lately. Learning to become a broker has been a time consuming task but very fulfilling. I did however get a blog request! Today I am going to be talking about affirmations, healing, and balancing yourself. I am by no means an expert on any of the above, but I have spent a great deal of time researching and practicing affirmations and techniques to find peace within myself while I heal. Everyone needs to heal and balance at all times in our life. You might not have experienced any sort of traumas or even feel the need to work on healing yourself, but we have all experienced pain and stress in our life. You would be surprised how long you can subconsciously carry around past hurts and how abusive you can be to yourself without even realizing it.

Generally people are familiar with affirmations and the purpose of them.  For those who are not, here is the definition of an affirmation taken from http://www.mindtools.com

Affirmations are positive, specific statements that help you to overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts. They help you visualize, and believe in, what you’re affirming to yourself, helping you to make positive changes to your life and career.

There are limitless ways to practice affirmations. Here are just a few. Try them out and see what works best for you. The key to remember is that you MUST believe the affirmation. If you don’t at first keep telling yourself it over and over until you do, or perhaps try rephrasing it.

Write it down: many people practice the post it notes on the mirror affirmation. It is self explanatory.  You write it down and stick it where it will quite literally stare you in the face. I have attempted this method before but find it does not work for me. It becomes too easy to start overlooking it when you get used to it being there. For this to be effective, you may try posting them different places every few days. Your front door, on your coffee pot, the fridge, etc.

Say it to yourself: we all have an inner voice. You are probably reading this in your inner voice and then your thoughts speak back to it. I fully support talking to yourself. It has gotten me through so many hard times in life. I am at a point where I truly believe I have my own back and can overcome anything just by talking to myself. I will get into speaking to yourself in more depth when I get into the healing aspect of this blog.

Journal it: this is a more involved method of writing it down obviously. The part I like about having an affirmations journal is you can go back and read them. It can serve as a subtle reminder how far you have come on this journey through life. What you wanted to overcome 6 months ago you may look back at and realize how trivial or unnecessary it was to fret over it. Or you may realize how much your confidence in yourself has grown. Personal reflection is an important part of life and I find myself frequently re-reading the many journals I own. It can also help you get into more of a routine. If you are only speaking them to yourself, you may get lazy and I believe affirmations should be an important part of each day. You wouldn’t go to work without brushing your teeth would you? Your soul deserves to be nurtured and cleansed too!

So now you are on the way to kind self talk and building yourself up with affirmations. Shit happens in life though. Sometimes, you need an extra push to get you out of a rut. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a big believer in our chakras and energies. This is why I started the study and practice of Reiki. You don’t have to know reiki though to cleanse and balance your chakras. Even if you are not a huge believer in energy, you will find that taking time to relax your mind and body has extreme benefits. I have never once sat down to meditate and got up and said “that was bullshit I am so much more stressed now.” Meditation is a wonderful tool, that when used correctly has many benefits. It also requires practice. A common misconception is that your mind needs to be completely blank for meditation to work. This is not correct. In fact, that is impossible. That inner voice I spoke about earlier is constantly humming along. I am going to give some pointers though on how to make your meditation session more effective and explain different types of meditation.

Guided Meditation: I am fairly well practiced at meditating, but sometimes I can’t be bothered to even put effort into meditation which is essentially, not very difficult. I have an app on my phone that provides guided meditations. There are a lot of different apps you can use. Most of them have soft background music and a soothing voice of a woman guiding you through the steps of meditating. I use guided when I am feeling very high strung, can’t sleep, or am anxious. It allows me to rely on someone else and solely focus on relaxation.

Chakra Balancing: Again, there are multiple methods of doing this. Each person has their own preferred way. You can find a ton of methods on the internet. This is the way I like to do it…I encourage you to try many different ways until you find something that feels the best for you. I have a massage table I use for Reiki, so I set that up but you can do it on the floor, a bed, a couch…wherever you feel the best. Lay on your back with your eyes closed and take a few deep breaths to start. Imagine one at a time the energy swirling inside of you where your chakras are. Start at your crown and work your way down to your root. If you are not familiar with them, here is a chart

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I like to place a corresponding stone or crystal over each chakra for healing and balancing. You don’t have to. You can simply focus on balancing out each source of energy. Sometimes you may find you only need to focus on one or a few that might feel out of wack. If you aren’t sure what chakra is out of balance but you know you aren’t feeling right, you can look up how they effect your mood and feelings. I have a tab also on this page that goes into more depth (click on crystals). This will also tell you which crystals to use for chakra meditation. I do this form of meditation anywhere between 5-30 minutes. If I am doing Reiki on myself it’s a little longer.

Something important to remember in all forms of meditation is that thoughts will come into your mind. The correct way to to handle them is to imagine them floating in and out. Or even if they stay, focus on not being bothered by them. They are simply with you. Meditation is a treat you give yourself to relax so your thoughts should not be given any allowance to bother you at this time.

OK! So now you have worked on speaking kindly to yourself and treating yourself to some relaxation but what about the things we cannot control? Like how others speak to us? We might not be able to control what others say, but we can control how we internally react. I am a big into beating myself up if someone brings toxicity into my life. I take personal responsibility for it which is not fair to myself. Here are some methods of coping with toxic people and how to not let it undo all the hard work you have put into your internal peace.

Speak to your inner child: This is perhaps one of my favorite methods of overcoming pretty traumatic experiences like breakups, fights with friends, or problems with family. That little inner voice I was talking about earlier comes into play here. I imagine myself sitting in my elementary school library (somewhere inner child loved). We are sitting together on the steps where the librarian used to read to us. Big me and little me. I always start the conversation with “hey little, how you doing today?” and little will respond. At first you may feel silly, but eventually you will be surprised at how much you may have been suppressing. You may find that little you is pissed off at big you. One thing I often have to say to little is “I’m so sorry you feel I have abandoned you in the past, but I am here now and will take care of you from now on.” You can speak to little even if you aren’t going through anything. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a conversation to tap into how you are coping with life in general.

Bounce off method: This is learned in therapy and it is highly effective if you are like me and take responsibility for everyone else’s actions. Allow yourself to reflect on what a person has said to you. Then ask yourself “does this have to do with me? Am I the cause for this person’s behavior?” Sometimes, you might be. If you are, you need to take responsibility for it, yet allow yourself to learn from it and grow. Take the steps needed to correct the situation. Many times we are not the source of a person’s bad mood though. If the answer is “No, I am not the cause of this” imagine the words sliding off you or like you are in a bubble and they are bouncing off. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to move on. We take on so many burdens we do not need to. Another person’s bad mood should not be one of them.

So that is how I get through life and I am still learning how to do these things everyday. We need to be kind to ourselves. If no one has told you today: You deserve to be at peace within yourself. You deserve the love you have. You deserve happiness. You are allowed to eat the cupcake or buy the shoes.

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Finding your Fun in Recovery

Finding your Fun in Recovery

In the beginning of recovery it can be very difficult to find things to do with your spare time. You spend most days trying to cling to sobriety like your life depends on it because it does. Stepping out into social situations is difficult because you have probably spent the majority of your adult life doing so under the influence, or your idea of fun was alcohol plus whatever event was going on…with alcohol taking center stage. Once you get some time under you, you realize that you are ready to venture out into the world again. Dipping your toes back in the social life pool…only to find a lot of your peers have vacated. Or you have found yourself in an entirely different pool that is very empty. This can be a very depressing transitional period for those in recovery. It becomes easier to recluse and spend time with a book or your a mate because that doesn’t require staring down a bottle of jack with beads of sweat on your forehead trying to hide your angst. It doesn’t put you in the corner as the “weird girl who doesn’t drink”. But it is VITAL to have fun, socialize and participate in life outside of recovery while still working your program.

This is something I am still working on. For that I am thankful for this weekend. I have a double date tonight with accepting friends who understand my situation, a movie date tomorrow with my boyfriend in recovery, and football with my family on Sunday. Surrounded by safe people and enjoying life in sobriety.

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Smashing September’s Goals & Accountability

Smashing September’s Goals & Accountability

I am a person that has to hold myself completely accountable or all hell breaks loose. If I don’t plan ahead, make goals, to do lists, mark calendars, and set alarms it just won’t get done. This being the last day of the month of August I wanted to compile a list of my goals for the upcoming month so I can start putting the work into motion. NORMALLY, I would write up a spread sheet, print it out, and it would get stuck to my fridge under pizza coupons. I truly want this month to turn in my favor, so I am putting it in a place that will hold me more accountable. It would be interesting to see some other’s lists as well – if interested, use the contact button and share with me. We can be accountability partners 🙂 It doesn’t matter what your goals are, sometimes you just need a buddy to check in with to get the gratification of saying “Hey! I marked ____ off my list today!” Here are mine divided by life categories:

SPIRITUALITY/MENTAL HEALTH 

  • Work on steps, AA literature and journaling once a day.
  • Meditate/pray once a day at a designated time each day to get in the habit (6:30 AM)
  • Get back to moon journaling and research
  • Attend no less than 2 Women’s AA meetings a week and reach out to AA friends periodically for any, little, or no reason! Keep the fellowship network strong
  • Branch out to new meetings to grow network in AA

CAREER 

  • Attend each sales meeting with brokerage
  • Complete MLS training
  • Send out first mass mailing
  • Order self help real estate broker book and READ IT (do not add to the dusty stack of books in the corner!)

HEALTH 

  • Stay sober
  • Start getting active whether its the gym, walks to the beach, weekend hikes
  • NO MORE SUGAR FREE RED BULLS! La Croix, coffee, tea, fine…but no more red bulls!
  • Eat your veggies (and no that doesnt involve dousing it in melted cheese) and stop cutting off the crust on your bread, you aren’t 5 anymore.

OVERALL TO STAY ON TRACK 

  • Create a new vision board with updated goals
  • journal, blog, journal, blog- track your progress (ups and downs!)
  • Make at least one accountability buddy to check in with!

I am really interested in hearing from you! Feel free to be as candid or closed off as you want. It’s your list and can be as vague or in depth as you want.

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Back on the Grid.

Back on the Grid.

It is good to be back in the PNW! I always have this vision of coming home from a trip well rested and ready to commence with life, but somehow I always feel like I need a vacation to re-coup from a vacation. I feel tired and oddly depressed. Change has always had that effect on me.

We had a very lovely time in Iowa spending time with my boyfriend’s sons and his grandchildren. We packed a lot of driving and a lot of adventure into our short time there.  We didn’t have any service so I hardly got to communicate with any of my support network unless I hit a random spot of service then my phone would blow up and I realized how much I love and need my friends and family I talk to regularly. It goes without saying there was some emotional times and being the empath I am I have soaked it all up and feeling the weight of it. Of course I would never in a million years take it back or not go to support him, but I definitely feel the effects of it.  On top of the emotional stuff, my boyfriend and I left the PNW fighting some sinus issues. I haven’t felt entirely better once and then something we ate didn’t seem to agree with us and we spent our whole first day back fighting over the bathroom. Tempers were running high and energy was low at that point but we seem to be on the upswing minus a neck ache from extreme vomiting (Mercury is in retrograde after all…).

The only cure for these types of blues is getting back into the swing of life. Tonight I am attending a birthday meeting (woo hoo cakes and coins!) and it will be really good to see all those bright, shiny and familiar faces!

I am going to sort of be going “off the grid” this week and weekend but not in the forced sense that Iowa made me. I am going to put my phone down more and pick up my self-help books, get into the gym, and center myself. Before I left for the trip I was on a fast track to a burn out. I had bags under my eyes from lack of sleep and over working and was taking on way too many burdens, many of which I didn’t even need to take on. I am going to work on some self care and try to connect with my higher power on a desperate level because I cannot allow myself to sink into this black hole

Relax.

Relax.

You would think I would learn my lesson on burnouts after having caused many in my lifetime…but here I am completely running on fumes.

6 years ago I went and saw an ear, nose, and throat doctor and they performed allergy testing on me. The conclusion of the test was that I am allergic to literally everything, except for dogs and cedar. They advised me then to promptly start immunotherapy allergy shots. I had a consultation with the insurance gal at the office and my eyes bugged out of my head. For a girl who could barely pay her rent at the time, I couldn’t fathom spending $50/week for injections plus some $700 every few weeks for my serum to be made. They had also done a CT scan and showed that my sinuses under my eyes had completely sealed themselves off, which is my I kept getting reoccurring sinus infections. At one point I was on 3 rounds of antibiotics for a month and steroids. I was miserable but hopeless that I could afford the treatments I needed. Fast forward to last summer. The symptoms were excruciating. I went to a new ear, nose, and throat doctor and got tested for allergies again. They had gotten even worse. Not only that but I was diagnosed with asthma. I finally relented and started the shots plus a Kenalog (steroid) shot every 3 months to help with my breathing. Again, finances got the better of me and I had to stop the immunotherapy shots. Not only were the finances difficult, but the debilitating anxiety I felt getting the shots. I had to sit and be monitored for 20 minutes to make sure I wouldn’t go into Anaphylaxis. I did the shots for a few months but after I swiftly racked up a $1000 bill I quit. Here I am today on the heels of a VERY busy week. I work two jobs now, attend AA meetings, do step work, have a social life (even that is laughable because I have hardy any time), had some visiting time with my nieces, lunch dates for business, cleaning and maintaining my household, training to be the best broker I can be, and collapsing into bed at night to sleep a few hours and do it over again. The result is I am very sick again. I had an almost 102 degree fever yesterday. I was shaky and sweaty, my sinuses were in pain, and my lymph nodes in my neck were painfully swollen. I had to miss work and I had to reschedule an MLS class I had signed up for. I also couldn’t go to my usual Monday night AA meeting. As much as I wanted to get up and get things done my body was stubbornly telling me NO!

To me it was the universe’s way of saying it’s time to slow down. Find a balance. I am a Libra, therefore I NEED BALANCE or I feel depressed or out of wack. I have been also suffering from little bursts of depression that sap me of my energy and will to get all the things I need to done. I think its because I haven’t really done anything for ME lately that doesn’t involve work. I did get my hair done on Friday and it gave me such a little boost of energy to be able to relax and enjoy some social time with my friend, but that is a once every 6 months deal. I have so many things I love to do for myself spiritually and mentally that keep me energized and healthy but I have been too focused on working and other things. Its led me to a burnout, which I always come out of on top. On Thursday we leave for Iowa to visit my boyfriend’s kids and his grand baby. It will be a nice way to unwind from all the stress we have been going through.

We should never get so busy living that life starts to pass us by…or worse starts to take its toll on our health. My ENT advised me that without sinus surgery and shots I would be susceptible to getting sick, and getting sick often. With self care I have managed to avoid surgery and getting sick, but  when all you do is grind, its inevitable that you will wear yourself down. Do something to relax for your mind, body, and spirit. I know that tonight I am going to make meditation and relaxation a priority. This is why we have the phrases like “take time to smell the roses” because it is TOO easy to get caught up in a cycle that leaves us worn out and wanting more from life. Take care of yourself. Be kind to your body and soul. Take a deep breath and RELAX once in awhile.

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Fragments.

Fragments.

Do you ever sit and take an inventory of all your broken hearts, all your low moments, all the times grief has stricken you down? I do. Sometimes I sit in stillness and the wounds open up and pour back into my heart and into my head and make me believe I am not worth anything. As far as flaws are concerned I have more than I care to admit. I try to right them and then life comes and kicks me down. I haven’t ever really been one to stay down for long but maybe, just maybe, I should have stayed there awhile. Maybe, I should have rested while I was down. Processed. Healed. Mustered my strength then got back up. Instead I stood on a twisted and broken soul and took off running and now I don’t know if I can repair it. I did the same thing to my right ankle. I tumbled down a mountain with a snowboard strapped to my foot and got up and kept snowboarding and walking on it despite the protests it was giving me. Now I can’t rotate my right ankle. I still haven’t gone to a doctor.

I guess another flaw I have is taking all my time healing others and never putting myself back together.  I guess I just hoped the fragmented version of myself would suffice to get me through.

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Things Are Different.

Things Are Different.

Today things are more different than they have ever been in my adult life. For a gal that hates change I am surprised to find comfort in this.

Today I have 30 days of sobriety. 30 whole days of abstinence from any mind altering substances. Everything that my being touches is different now because of it. My relationship. My joys. My sorrows. My friendships. My day to day schedule. Everything. Where there was once chaos, restlessness and despair there is now stillness, contentment, and warmth. Sobriety alone does not give stillness, contentment, and warmth. It comes to you because you no longer forget what you have said or done the night before. You no longer wake up with shaky hands, heartburn, and dizziness. The warmth spreads to you from the hugs of the friends you have made who are also following their faith and the AA program to live a life worth living.

I no longer have to run away or escape my own mind. I can sit in stillness with myself and sort through thoughts and feelings without self loathing and anger. Of course 30 days is a tiny amount of time sober in the grand scheme of things so imagine how much better it will be in 60, 90, 1 year, 2 years….When you have willingness, drive, and faith while working the program IT WORKS. Not like the saran wrap shit you buy on Facebook to make you “skinny”. When I say IT WORKS I mean “it works, if you work it and we are all worth it”. Just like your physical fitness it takes blood, sweat and tears. There is no saran wrap that will make you skinny and going to meetings won’t cure your disease alone.

Although I do not need to explain to people how or why this thing works or what it means for me and my future…I understand the natural curiosity of it. So I thought I would delve a little deeper into what I have learned about alcoholics as a whole my 30 days in the program. I will tell you that although the big book and the twelve steps and traditions books have helped educate me greatly, it was the stories and women that have shared that have taught me more than anything. Here is a little FAQ and answer for y’all who still can’t quite grasp the concept of “never drinking again.”

Q: So you’re never going to drink again? Ever? Not even a little sip?

A: The short answer is no. I am not. No communion, no champagne toast at my wedding, no celebratory shots at a bachelorette party…never. That is the goal anyways. We do not live by the motto “for the rest of my natural life I will not drink” in the program. We say “one day at a time.” Why? Because have you ever thought about taking on a lifelong commitment and freaked the fuck out about the monstrosity of it and felt like you needed a drink because SAME. We don’t put that kind of pressure on ourselves…24 hours at a time is a lot easier to tackle than a lifetime.

Q: Why can’t you just drink a little?

A: I have answered this before but my understanding of the disease has grown and so therefore my answer has expanded as well. We alcoholics consider that we have an allergy to alcohol. A lot of people have a hard time believing this or wrapping their heads around it…but let me explain in a way that makes sense. A normal person eats a shrimp and they go about their day without a second thought. A person allergic to shell fish or shrimp takes a bit and they react. They can’t breathe, they itch, they swell, their whole day is FUCKED. A normal person drinks a beer and goes about their day. An alcoholic drinks a beer and they react. They OBSESS on needing more. They drink a six pack and REACT in a way that is not normal- anger, sadness, aggression, etc. YES, normal people can react the same under the influence of alcohol, but a normal person can stop well before that point where you will find an alcoholic cannot.

So someone was asking me about the above and I thought I was phrasing it in a way that would make sense. I asked “would you ask a heroin addict if they would shoot up again?” thinking that made for a very clear and concise answer that I intend to not drink again. It didn’t. So let me set the record straight on that. ALCOHOL IS A DRUG. It is legal, it is socially accepted. No fuck that, it is socially worshiped….but I can assure you its effects are quite as powerful as heroin. Just because you need less heroin to get fucked up than you need vodka does not mean that it’s power over the addict is any weaker.

 

So what is next? I don’t know. All I know is what I am doing in this 24 hours….I am spending the evening with my sponsor and my home group and tomorrow making banana pudding cupcakes. It might not sound like much to you, but to me it sounds like peace….stillness…serenity.

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