Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Mantra: The Limits We Place On Ourselves

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: If you want to be free, be free

Freedom is a state of mind

Every once in a while I find myself facing a self imposed limit that I've put on myself for no solid reason at all. It can be anything from reaching a certain number of travel destinations to when I think I should be married and having kids. It's easy, oh-so easy, to get caught up in all the different timelines. Those timelines - those limits - that come from outside pressures or beliefs, not within, are the ones that will get you every time. They've certainly gotten me.

When I was four, I told my mom (with all the seriousness my little four year old self could muster) that I would not be getting married or having kids until I was in my 30's. I was dead set on this. Young love hit me hard and fast, though. I got engaged in high school (we eventually broke up) and got married in my early twenties (we eventually got divorced).

So why didn't I listen to what I always knew, deep down inside? Limits. Stupid, self imposed, not-paying-attention-to-my-gut-instincts limits.

I got engaged when I was a teenager because it was romantic and yes, we were crazy in love, but also because it seemed like this was just what people did. I lived in a small town. Everyone I knew was either getting engaged or getting married as soon as they graduated. I placed a limit on myself - tying myself to what I knew - because everything outside of what I knew was too scary to face. Being on my own was scary. College was scary. The big city was scary. Everything was absolutely terrifying. I let that fear limit me until one day I couldn't take it any more.

The beauty of getting past your limits is realizing how strong you are. How truly incredible your life can be if only you'll let it. If the Me Right Now, right here typing this, could travel back in time to Small Town Me of my high school days, well, let's just say I would shock the heck out of myself. Not only did I leave that small town behind (don't get me wrong, I'm very fond of it and I visit often), but I learned how to take care of myself without needing anyone else. I learned how to be okay being alone. I learned that not only was I wrong about the big city, I was wrong about the world. It was not so terrifying after all. In fact, it was fascinating. So much so that I've traveled all over it. Places the younger version of me would never have dared to dream, never have ventured. All because of self imposed limits.

Lessons aren't always learned the first time, though.

In my twenties, when I did get married, it was for a variety of reasons. Sure, there was love, but there were other things too. For one thing, we'd been together what felt like FOREVER and marriage just seemed like the next logical step. On top of that, my grandfather had died just a few months before the proposal and I felt my family slowly disappearing into the ethers. That, tied with how very conscious I was of my grandmother, how long she had left to live - this person, who I loved more than anything or anyone, the most important person in my life, with her words to me so many years ago echoing in my mind: "I want to live to see you get married" - of course, this all weighed on me too.

I took every fear and every doubt and turned them into prison walls. When I should have said "no" and when I should have continued on, I didn't. And yes, even then, deep in my gut I knew what I'd always known: I was taking a huge step off of what was really my path. In fact, my inner wisdom was so sure I was making the wrong move that I cried, I kid you not, through my entire engagement. I had one day where I totally broke down and still, I pushed through. These are the lessons we learn the hard way. I wish I could have shaken some sense into 20-Something Me. Told her the man she was meant to be with was waiting for her, and would be there, all those years later. That when he and I got to the right points on our paths we would meet, we would laugh, we would love in ways 20-Something Me could never fathom. He and I together would be exactly what Four Year Old Me always knew existed, and who always knew along would have to be much older and wiser and yes, in our 30's.

If there's anything I've learned for sure in this life it's that you have no idea what lies ahead of you. You have no reason to limit yourself to anything that doesn't fit your genuine, intuition, know-it-in-your-gut wisdom.

Do not limit yourself because of fear.

Free yourself in spite of it.

Do not limit yourself because of doubt.

Dare to go beyond what you know.


Let your inner compass guide your steps. The life you lead is limitless.


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: I Know

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
I Left my Heart in Switzerland
Society 6

I know

In my dreams I see a field
Of a land that’s far away,
In a country I have been to,
In a place I long to stay.
Where my daydreams often wander,
Making my pulse race and rise,
Everyday I’m closer, closer
To the soil I desire.

In my heart I feel a sorrow
That I’ve buried deep below,
For the past that I have chosen
And the seeds that I have sown,
In my prayers I ask for answers-
What to do next, where to go,
How to break free from the prison
Where I’ve locked away my soul.

In my mind I know my purpose,
Though my logic makes me question
Such a reason for my being,
Why I feel I need permission,
Though this passion burns inside me
Thoughts of leaping leave me waiting,
Every moment spent in wondering
Is a moment I am wasting.




Monday, February 23, 2015

In the World of Wellness: What in the World is Leaky Gut?

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" in those ways and also as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.


In the World of Wellness: Leaky gut is bad for more than just your belly


You may have leaky gut if you experience any of the following: Unusual weight gain/loss, gas, bloating, headaches, runny nose, fatigue, even depression. Of course, food intolerance's/allergies fall right into this group too.

If you were to be diagnosed with leaky gut you might start Googling it, trying to figure out just what it is.

That can lead to a mess of information, everything from WebMD telling you it's a mystery to others saying it's specifically this, this, and this.

Well, hey, that's not confusing at all.

To sum it up as best as it can be summed up by what is known: It's when your intestines leak food particles into your blood stream causing a whole heckofalatta problems.

Why do they do this? A number of possible reasons exist. Poor diet, stress, imbalance of good bacteria vs. bad bacteria in the gut, and toxins (found in food, the environment, your lotion and shampoo and...you get the idea). Even eating too much of the same foods over and over can cause damage because your body need variety to thrive.

I've had to think this over quite a bit myself due to my new and oh-so wonderful food allergies. As much as I'd like you all to think I'm perfect (just kidding, I would hate that) I'm so, so not. Stress? So, sooooo much last year. Poor diet? As much as I hate to admit it, there was far too much ice cream in my life last year too. Too much of the same foods? Totally. I love coconut and spinach and bananas and I ate them too frequently. Like, every single day frequently.

Let's say you've been diagnosed with a leaky gut, like me, and all the lovely things that go with it. Now what do you do? Well, it's much like the treatment for food allergies. You must remove all the bad (or what your body has deemed as bad) and replace, renew, rebuild.

First, if your doctor did a thorough check, which they should have, you will have to avoid all the foods your body has deemed as bad. All of them. For at least two months, if not longer. Avoid sugar at all costs. I mean it. No honey, no maple syrup, nothing. We all know sugar is bad for us, but in this case, it makes everything that much worse.

You'll also need to work on the stress in your life. Really, really work on it. Get more sleep. Go for a walk every day. Work your 8 hour shift and then go the heck home.

Then, you need to look at all the toxins in your life that you do have control over. What can you remove or improve? Maybe swap your chemical filled shampoo with a natural one that consists of words you can actually pronounce and that you know the meaning of? Perhaps.

During this time you'll need to rebuild your intestines with probiotics and certain digestive enzymes, which your doctor should give you guidance on. They will probably give you a powder of some kind (many varieties exist for healthy gut rebuilding, but I like Intestamine the best) that you'll need to drink every day. It won't taste amazing, but it will help you. There are other supplements you can take, such as licorice root, which makes a big difference and that you should start taking on a fairly regular basis from here on out. Talk through all the options with your doctor. If you see a naturopathic doc, you'll probably even get more out of that conversation only because these types of supplements rule their world.

Leaky gut happens. It just does. But it's not the end of your life and everything happy in it. Give yourself the time needed to revitalize your body. Keep working at a healthy lifestyle and you will overcome it.


Friday, February 20, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Calm

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Calm
Society 6

Calm

Ever calm, serenely balanced
Nothing phases you that passes,
Change will come and change will go
But you don’t flinch within its hold.

All my plans destroyed and ruined,
Blue skies darken to my bruises,
Anger and frustration setting,
All my work is now unmending.

Holding my hand, gently, calming
When I know the sky is falling,
You open my eyes- try to show me
Nothing’s actually unfolding.


Monday, February 16, 2015

A Rant: 50 Shades of Infuriation

Photo Credit: I survived domestic violence

I've been trying to think of something good and decent to write for an entire week, but this is all I can wrap my head around right now: The insanity that is 50 Shades of Grey.

First and foremost, let me set the stage for this post. 

If you A) Read this book and got some kinky sex ideas and/or had a sexual awakening of some kind and B) Realized this is nothing more than a horribly, horribly, horribly written story about two completely fictional characters, while understanding that C) In the real word, Christian is a stalker/jackass and Ana is in a domestic violence situation basically the entire book, then this rant is not for you. However, I implore you to at least try and find an erotica book that is written well. Or at least better than this one. Surely, one must exist, but maybe that's wishful thinking. Let's be honest, this is basically a script for a porno. And we all know those aren't about the writing.

Now, on the other hand, if you (or someone you know) A) Read this and wished you were in a relationship just like this or B) Decided Christian is your dream man/the most perfect man in the world or C) Thought Christian was "a little" messed up but then Ana "fixed" him and they lived happily ever after, then it's time to talk. 

Why? 

Because tens of millions of these poorly written books sold and created tens of millions of fans and some (not all) of the fans actually think this is a healthy, good relationship that they should strive for in their own lives.

No, no no no no no no no no no.

Several years ago a friend told me to read this. I never made it past the first few chapters because I couldn't get past hating Christian and his domestic violence/insane stalker ways. Plus, I felt like my braincells were dying with every paragraph. Then, I heard the movie was coming out and there was all this uproar, so I decided to try and finish the first book and see if I had just been wrong. Somehow. Really, really wrong.

Nope. 

Now, let's clear up a few more things.

First of all, sex isn't a bad thing when it's with two consenting adults who respect and care about one another and who feel safe with each other. Love is also (in my personal opinion) a great thing to accompany it, but I get that not everyone agrees with that. BDSM sex- also not a horrible thing. It's just what some people are in to and what others aren't. No big deal. I also don't think that the author knowingly wrote a domestic violence trilogy. I think this is her personal interpretation of BDSM, however wrong it may be, and that she was going for nothing more than a kinky book series.

The problem, however, is that far, far too many people have read these books and now think this is what BDSM sex is and this is how one should be treated (Ana, in this case). The glamour of this wealthy fictional man and his good looks dulls the actual underlying inaccuracies of the books. Do any amount of research on BDSM and you'll learn how off the books are. Christian crosses line after line after line that would otherwise not be allowed in a real life BDSM situation. That's just one problem, though. The biggest and baddest issues lie in the way Christian treats Ana. 

I've been reading articles on this exact concern with the 50 Shades series. In one of them, a 16 year old girl (she said she was 16 in the comment) writes how much she loved these books and how perfect Christian is and how she wants a man just like him. This is where we have a problem. She clearly lacks the knowledge around what a healthy relationship looks like. Unfortunately, there are men like Christian (albeit, probably not mega-millionaires) in the world. Men who are attractive, alluring, and predators. Men (and women, let's be fair here) who will take advantage of people's weaknesses, praying on the fact that they don't have the knowledge to prevent them from getting into a messed up relationship where one person is a controlling psychopath and the other is the victim.

What needs to happen is this: First, we all need to quit being so weird about talking about sex. We're making it worse by overreacting about talking about it, about learning about it, about it in general. The more educated you are, the better- bottom line. Second, we need to help people understand what a healthy relationship is and what an unhealthy one looks like. If you have a friend in an unhealthy relationship, tell them. Yes, they might not get it. Yes, they might get mad at you. But one day, one day, they'll understand and they'll remember that you tried to be there for them when no one else did. You might even just save their life.

Here's one article about the 50 Shades concerns that I found really well written, thought out, and appropriate to the subject. Long- yes, but worth the read.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: When You Search For Me

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Society 6
Melia Metikos
This is a song I wrote (I call these my "Written to a Tune" poems), which I would sing for you, but because that would cause me to die of incredible embarrassment you'll have to live with the beautiful, music-less lyrics.

When You Search For Me

I love the way you smile even when you’re scared,
I love your heartaches because you care,
I hate the moments you crumble and break
But your love and compassion can’t be taken away.

I made you perfect all the way through,
I made you special, there’s no one like you,
I gave you life and I gave you choice - 
Sometimes disaster helps you find your voice.

When you search for me,
When you look to me,
Some answers you seek
Aren’t the answers you need,
Your strength is determined
 You’ll find your way through
When you search for me,
I will find you.

I love the way you think life is too hard,
And I love the way you need to take charge,
I love your passion, your desire and drive
Because you know the value of love in this life.

When you search for me,
When you search for me,
Close your eyes,
I am here, I am what you need.
When you search for me,
When you look to me,
Those are the moments
I know you believe.

I love the way you never give up,
When push comes to shove you give all that you’ve got.
I love your secrets, your wishes, and dreams
And the way that you search for the meaning of things.

When you’re feeling weak,
When you search for me,
When your questions need answers
That won’t let you sleep,
When there’s more to the task
Than what’s given at hand,
You believe in me
And I’ll show you the plan.

When you search for me,
When you search for me,
In your moments of frailty
I see you believe.
When you search for me,
When you look to me,
Close your eyes, I am here
I am what you need.

I am here by your side
And you'll find your way through,
When you search for me
I will find you.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Mantra: Things I Cannot Give Myself ---> Revelations

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: Let your inner ponderings lead you to new revelations

Society 6
The greatest power a person possesses is the power to choose.
- J. Martin Kohe

Last week I had a few moments of pure and complete frustration with my life. My continuous struggle for, like, ever has been determining how to live a life doing the things I love. Because I do believe in following your dreams, but I don't believe in becoming bankrupt in the process or in not having multiple backup plans to protect yourself.

I wrote myself this note, below, and then something wonderful happened: I saw my way through the bars that had been holding me inside my own personal cage.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Things I Cannot Give Myself: Freedom

I'm studying something in school that doesn't ignite passion in me, yet I'm afraid of going to school for things I might love doing because I don't want to be caged in by definitions and dimensions that other people have decided. I'm afraid I'll never have a life doing a job that I love, truly. How do I give myself the power to be a traveling-photographing-writer who does interior design and studies French and medicine? How do I give these things to myself and still make a living? How do I make a life, I suppose, is the real question?

I do not know, yet, the answer to this.

I do all of these things, but in fractions of moments rather than fully and completely.

I admire the dreamers, the pursuers of passions, the people who give it everything they have. I also fear them, fear their decisions, fear the failures of everyone who did not make it, everyone who tried and lost. I am equal parts dreamer and realist and those two battle it out regularly. I know too much to be completely wild and abrupt, yet not enough to stop me from trying. I walk a very tiny tight rope in-between both realms of my person.

Is this life enough? Will this satisfy my soul?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It turns out the answer was yes. And no.

I couldn't stop thinking about the decisions I've made that have led me to this life, this path that I'm on now. For two days I went over each of my career dreams - the things I could very well do, given the right amount of time, money, and dedication - and the dreams that are probably attainable in some way, yet seem so unattainable, like being my own version of Elizabeth Gilbert. I mean really, who doesn't want to be like her?

Anyway, I graduate with a degree in business this year. It's a helpful, good, very wise choice that I made, this business degree. But it does nothing for my soul. It does not ignite a fire within my heart...and that bothers me, haunts me, even.

So I thought about all the things I love doing or wish I was doing full time in a way I've never quite allowed myself to think before.

A. Writer/traveler/photographer 
- Do I have an outlet where I write now that brings me true inner bliss? Yes 
- Is that enough? For now
- Can I accept "for now?" I guess so
- Will I continue writing whether or not I ever "make it?" Yes
- So why isn't this enough? Oh....It is. It totally is.

- Would I love a job where I could travel around the world all the time? Yes (but I would miss my baby Bean a lot)
- Will I be satisfied continuing on my own travel adventures as long as I put the same dedication I've always put toward them? Absolutely
- Then, do I really need to have a "travel job" to feel complete when I've already promised myself the world? No

- Do I really want to be a photographer if that means changing what and how I photograph (the world vs. people, weddings, etc.) Not really, not really at all
- Am I happy being able to take the photos I do now and be good with that and nothing more, nothing else? Yes

What have I learned? I have an incredibly blessed life to be able to do all of these things I love. No matter my circumstances, I will always pursue these. They will always be with me.

B. Interior designer
- Do I have the patience to follow someone else's directions for this (in school)? No
- Have I proven to myself that I have what it takes to be a great interior designer, degree or not? Yes
- Would I really be happy having other people tell me what to do vs. seeing out my own visions? Probably not

What have I learned? Flipping/remodeling/redesigning would become far less appealing if I had boundaries to hold me in. Having this as an outlet, a hobby, is fulfilling in ways it would not be otherwise.

C. Naturopathic doctor
- Do I love holistic medicine? Yes, so much, yessss!
- Do I have 4-5 or more years of school in me to become a doctor? Dude - probably not. I need to have babies (actual people babies vs. my dog babies) one day. And, you know, sleep.
- Is there another way for me to incorporate holistic health into what I do? Hmm...possibly...

Which led to...

D. Psychologist

And there is was - option D.

I'd put aside the idea of this for years, even though it's the one thing I've studied without hesitation my whole doggone life. When I was 12, I was going to be a psychologist. When I was 14, and 16, and 21, I was going to be a psychologist. My associates degree is in psychology. I've studied it my entire school career and yet, for some reason, it used to seem so impossible, like it would take me a century to do this, and even then, it wouldn't be enough. It got mixed in with all the other dreams I carried in my heart and buried away.

I can be all of the things I want, in all of the ways that work best for me. I can have a holistic minded approach to my psychology. I can decorate and travel and write until happiness pours out of my ears. I can do all of this because I let myself find a way to do it.

Why did I just share this really long story and the weird thoughts in my head with you?

Because maybe, just maybe, you know exactly what this feels like.

I know people who knew what they were going to do with their lives when they were 5 and they went on to do those exact things. But I know a lot of people like me, like this. Overwhelmed by possibilities mixed in with uncertainty and so, so many dreams.

Maybe, just maybe, we have to let ourselves have each and every one of those dreams. And in doing so, maybe we try on different dream hats, living our dreams out in different ways until we find what works for us. And maybe, because of that, one day we understand how it all fits together.

It took me two days after I forced myself to sit down and write this all out. Two days to go from being on a kind-of-sort-of career path to knowing exactly what I'm going to do, how I'm going to do it, and what it's going to look like.

I know one thing for sure, one thing we should never do: give up. We should never stop dreaming, settle, give in. We follow what makes our hearts happy until we find a way to make it all happen.

Until the revelation is revealed.

Until you realize you can give your dreams to yourself.


Friday, February 6, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: With Everything

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments



                                           With Everything

                                                      With every touch,
                                                      With every kiss,
                                                      With every moment filled with bliss,
                                                      With all I’ve got, with everything
                                                                   I’m loving you.

                                                      With every laugh,
                                                      With every grin,
                                                      With every moment I gave in,
                                                      With everything, with all I know
                                                                  I’m letting go.

                                                      For all you’re worth, for all you do
                                                                  I’m loving you.