Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Mantra: An Appetite for Distraction

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: What I desire must not destroy me. What I desire, I must earn.
Marco Melgrati
The first job I ever had taught me the value of my time and effort, which resulted in the benefit of a paycheck. As tired as I was after each long day, the feeling of earning something was undeniably awesome.

Working out, for me, yields those same kind of feelings. I might not love every moment, but knowing I've worked hard (whether it be for a treat or my abs) always leaves me feeling good mentally and physically.

I started pondering this concept last week - the idea of effort, of value, of earning something - when it comes to other areas in life, like playing on a cell phone or watching TV. How this, too, can be seen as something that's more fulfilling when earned instead of when overused. However, we rarely treat technology as something to earn. Because it's limitless, we spend unlimited time using it.

The internet was a completely new concept when I was a teenager. Because of that, I had time on my hands to kill. While I spent plenty of time on normal things like watching what was the WWF and kicking some serious Bowser ass, I also spent a lot of my time reading, writing, taking long walks or drives, and thinking. I spent countless hours thinking. It was my favorite thing to do.

That's the piece I feel like we're missing the most these days. Of course, we think at work and school and most of the time naturally. But we've lost the time when we thought just for fun. When we would sit on a stair step and ponder life. When we could get lost for hours inside our own heads on adventures we would create, instead of getting lost for hours on our phones.

I don't want to villainize technology. It's useful, it's fun- I get it. I use it. I'm using it right now. But many of us have forgotten what it felt like before. Many of us don't even know what it was like BT (before technology). Before we had something that could keep us entertained literally any minute, of any hour, of any day without any effort. Back when we had to entertain ourselves on our own. Back when we had to work a little harder to earn that entertainment.

For example, I'm a huge fan of The Walking Dead so I get really excited for that one hour every week when it's on. I look forward to it and, in certain ways, I earn that hour. I get all my activities done during the day, make dinner, clean up, and then sit down to indulge in my hour of apocalyptic entertainment.

I've also done the opposite. I've overindulged in Netflix marathons and found myself wondering what day it was. While it starts out fun, I never feel great after the fact. Because I, like all of us, have these things called responsibilities, when I spend endless hours being lazy watching TV I don't feel fulfilled.

Once that fun and/or entertainment threshold has been met, it's done. No matter how much more TV time you consume, you can't reclaim that feeling you had at first. This is why you end up feeling lethargic, drained, and, for some people, even out of touch with reality. It's similar to the science around sugar; the first few bites are amazing, but then you're just trying to recapture that feeling as you continue to mindlessly consume.

It makes me wonder about today. About all of us that overindulge in technology. About the difference in what it feels like to earn something instead of just taking it because we can, because it's there. What that does to us, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. How that affects our outlook on life. How that affects what we expect from life, other people, experiences. How altered things can be because of something so small and seemingly simple.

It makes me wonder about what the world will look like five years from now, ten. Will we be better? Or worse? Will we become so enthralled with entertaining ourselves in every spare moment that we, instead, end up losing ourselves? Have we already done that? And, if so, are we capable of overcoming what we've done to ourselves? The more telling question of the times: Do we even want to?

As always, the universe must have been listening in on my thoughts because I ran across the excerpt, below, which I stole for your reading pleasure from Jedidiah Jenkins' Instagram page (follow him- he's amazing and brilliant and compassionate. Also, yes- I see the irony in where I found this information based on what this post is about). It's incredibly eye-opening, friends- and true at this very critical moment in life of what's happening in our world, on our phones, on our TV sets and, ultimately, in our brains.

"We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and [George Orwell's] prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

From Neil Postman's 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. Written before cable news. Before the internet.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Right the Wrong

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Doorway to Nowhere

Right the Wrong

"I'm right, you're wrong."
"This way, not that."
Believe this lie,
Fall in this trap.
"This way is right.
It's true, it's just."
All other views-
clearly corrupt.

"Don't you agree?"
Don't dare decline.
Don't stand your ground-
"We'll all be fine."
Eyes down, heads down;
Let's think alike.
"Don't question them."
"It's not our time."

If we give in,
If we let go,
Of what we feel
Of what we know,
There will not be
A safe place left,
We must not waiver-
We must not shift.

We know the truth,
We know what's right.
It's why we rise,
It's why we fight.
It's why we bleed,
It's why we die.
We know the truth.
We know what's right.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Mantra: Self-mastery

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: Self-mastery: The power to control one's actions, impulses, or emotions
Society6Svetlana Kornelluk

I want to see beauty in the muddiest time of my life. I want to know that one day, from that same muddy soil, a beautiful flower will grow.

I want to sit with myself and know my truth, no matter how scary, strange, or wonderful it may be. To know myself is to understand my heart, and to understand my heart is to be at peace with my soul.

I want to stand at the edge of a lake looking out at the possibilities of my future. Instead of a feeling of fear arising at what might lurk in those still, quiet waters, I want peace of mind knowing that a boat is safely docked, ready and waiting to carry me out to the shores of my destiny.

I want to remember the freedom of childhood. To run through a meadow, scattering dandelions in the air. To find adventure in an ordinary day. To speak my truth because I know no shame of my own thoughts, and to live in the world without knowing its weight.

For my purpose is not to seek out the greenest grass, but to simply enjoy its softness.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Romeo and Juliet

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Romeo and Juliet

We will part; this time it's defined
By the hatred I have that's growing inside.
Just when I thought the sky was so blue...

You gave up.

Then I gave up too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

In The World of Wellness: Everything Healthy Ever

In the World of Wellness: Do what works best for you
I was talking to my friend the other day about how unrealistic, and often overwhelming, it is for people to try and be healthy when health is defined in a multitude of ways. Are you healthier if you're vegan, paleo, gluten free, gluten filled? If you only take vitamins that fall within the first part of the alphabet? If you oil pull, drink apple cider vinegar three times a day, and eat nothing but raw foods?

It all seems rather contradictory, overwhelming, and impossible.

Here's what your day would look like if you actually tried to follow everything you hear about:

1. Upon waking up, stretch.
2. Meditate for at least 15 minutes.
3. Make yourself a warm glass of water with lemon OR be sure to drink an ice cold class of water. Maybe both, why not? You have plenty of time in the mornings, right?
4. Before brushing your teeth, oil pull for 20 minutes.
5. Dry brush your skin.
6. Have at least one cup of green tea, preferably matcha, made with the perfect temperature of hot water and steeped for an equally perfect time.
7. Eat a well balanced breakfast: Cooked foods or raw vegetables, grains or no grains, eggs or no eggs. Oh, and by the way, make sure it's your biggest meal of the day.
8. Take all vitamins with letters A - Z, take some probiotics/prebiotics/raw enzymes, and coconut charcoal.
9. Drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day. More is better. But not too much, because you can kill yourself.
10. Have a sensible gluten free/meat free/dairy free/grain free/cooked/raw meal for lunch.
11. Do not drink liquids while you're eating because it cools down your inner body temperature making it harder to digest food.
12. Every 20 minutes, get up from your desk and stretch/walk around. Work can wait.
13. After work, go work out at the gym. Make sure you do yoga/weight lifting/cardio/HIIT, and don't forget to stretch before and after. Also, don't do too much cardio because you'll burn muscle.
14. Take a shower and get clean, but make sure you hit yourself with ice cold water for a few seconds before you get comfortable in there.
15. Spending quality time with your family is also important to a healthy lifestyle, so make sure when you get home everyone goes outside and enjoys the weather. Maybe go for a walk or ride a bike (but not for too long because, you know, the whole cardio thing).
16. Prepare your own meal using the freshest produce you can find. Again, make sure it's a raw/cooked/vegan/paleo/gluten free meal cooked only in coconut oil/olive oil/avocado oil. Make sure you're avoiding all the high sugar fruits and the night shade veggies and only eating super foods and super grains. Everything else is crap.
17. Are you sure you drank enough water so far today? Have two more classes, just to be safe.
18. Before bed, dry brush one more time, then lather up your entire body, including your hair, with coconut oil/grape seed oil/magic potion.
19. Make sure you haven't looked at any electronic devices at least one hour before trying to go to bed.
20. Don't forget to read before bed. It makes you smarter!
21. Also, make sure your bedroom has no chance of any light getting through. We're talking pitch black, like your bosses soul.
22. Now that you've put in a full day of good health, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep. But don't sleep on your side because you'll get wrinkles.

I'm tired just from writing this list and it's only a fraction of what we're told to do.

Now, if you have a job or are a parent or are, you know, normal you won't be able to do this. Not ever. You would have to stop living your life, which defeats the entire purpose of doing all of this for a better quality of life.

What you should do is this: Stop listening to absolutely everything you hear and then trying it, whether or not it makes sense to you and for your lifestyle. It's good to be informed. It's good to be open minded. It's good to learn new things.

It's not good to drown yourself in so much information that you never even have a chance to swim.

Lasting health starts with you - here, now, always - paying attention to yourself. It starts with you deciding what you want and need. Ignore everyone else. Their needs are different.

I know it can be overwhelming, friends. Start small, work up to more, and don't think you have to do everything. No one can and no one does. In the end, it's the little changes that add up over time with consistent practice.

Find what YOU need and do it.

You've got this.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: The Ticket

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Ticket

With this ticket,
I thought I'd find my way.
My life would be a piece of cake,
I'd know just what to say.
I'd never have to worry,
It all would turn out fine.
I'd know exactly what to do-
My choices would be mine.

I'd make others happy.
Their wishes could come true.
I'd make sure they never felt
The fear that I've lived through.
If only I were psychic,
This guessing game's too hard.
All I really want from life
Is just to leave my mark.


I try and try, again, again
But never do I win it.
Too bad I thought I'd find my peace
With a lottery ticket.

A little #FBF to seventeen year old me, who was terrified to venture out into the world on her own. Reading my old poems helps me to remember this very important fact:
No matter what life throws at you, you will always find your way.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Mantra: Complementary Contradictions

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: "Everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but every good there is a little evil...nothing in the universe is simple." - The meaning of Yin Yang
Splashy Art
In the last couple of months a lot of wonderful things have happened in my life, along with plenty of irritating and not so great things as well. For instance, I got married, I went on a great honeymoon, I got to spend quality time with the people I love. Additionally, I got the crazy dizzies (read all about it here), my former tenants moved out of my rental house and left it a gross mess, and I got in a car accident. Good and bad. Love and hate. Yin and yang.

I've been trying to be positive about the negative, but it's been hard. The thing I struggle with the most is the people aspect. Specifically, the people who lack common decency to take responsibility for their actions.

With my former tenants, we had a great relationship until the end, when they were moving out and I saw the state they were leaving my house in, a state they thought was acceptable. There was trash all over the back yard. The carpet had bright pink and red stains in almost every single room. There was food and candle wax and who knows what on the walls. The bathrooms...the toilets...heaven help us all.

So, of course, when I told them this was a problem and I would need to use the deposit to take care of this and hey, the deposit might not even cover what I needed to do for the house, they got upset. They got upset, after I let them break our lease agreement and leave 30 days early because they'd just bought their dream home that they'd been working towards for years and I didn't want to hold them back. I wanted to do right by them. They couldn't be bothered to do the same, apparently.

Then, to top off that awesomeness, someone hit my car in the parking lot while I was grocery shopping and broke part of my bumper that I JUST got fixed from my car accident. No note, nothing.

Needless to say, I've been a little ticked off at (some of) the human race. These two items, in particular, were getting to me far more than they should, so I had to do something about it.

I had to find empathy for these people in these situations. Not for them, but for me.

Maybe the person who hit my car got scared. Maybe they couldn't afford insurance and didn't know what to do. Maybe they didn't even realize what they'd done.

Maybe my former tenants were embarrassed and didn't know how to handle the situation. Maybe they truly believed it was clean.

Maybe all of these people are assholes.

Sorry, sorry. I'm still working on this empathy thing.

When I get to this point, where my thoughts deviate back to the negative, I think of Judie, my car accident buddy.

Typically, in a car accident, things get heated. You never know who you're dealing with or how they'll act, so it can be a awful scenario on top of an already horrible situation. Somehow, though, I hit the jackpot in the Good Human Being category when Judie hit my car.

The first thing we both did was make sure the other person was OK. (Tip: This should ALWAYS be the first thing you do in an accident, my friends.) We asked each other over and over again, "Are you okay? Are you sure? Does anything hurt? Are you sure?" and then we hugged each other like we were long lost friends. Judie apologized at least seventeen more times and then we hugged some more.

Two hours later, her insurance company called me. They took full responsibility for everything, set me up with a rental car, and told me everything would be 100% covered. Judie sent me texts here and there checking on me to make sure I was fine and I checked on her too. It was the best car accident I've ever gotten in, and that's not something you can typically say. No one got hurt, we all genuinely wanted the other people to be OK, and each person took proper responsibility for what happened.

Judie, though she doesn't know it, gives me faith in humanity, in all kinds of ways.

She is the light to the dark, the good to the bad, the yin to the yang. She is the reason I still believe there are good people who won't let you down. Good people who will choose to do the right thing.

Thank you, Judie, wherever you are. The world needs people like you.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Wicked Love/Poison Apple

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Wicked Love/Poison Apple

Temptation calling,
I am falling,
Following the path of longing.

Needs a plenty,
Seeds a plenty,
Fill me up and find me empty.

Red delicious,
Empty kisses,
Sinister in all your wishes.

You took your time,
Poisoned us;
Gave me all your wicked love.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Wonderland Wedding (Sneak Peek!)

Hi Friends! I didn't want to leave you hanging today, so here's a little sneak peek of our beautiful wedding pictures. More pictures and details to come later from our Mad Hatter themed wedding!

We're All Mad Here.