We Are Who We Are, Aren’t We?

we are who we are

For as long as I can remember I have experienced a range of feelings that made me feel  like I was missing out on life. Social anxiety, self-doubt and criticism, anger, fatigue, fear of failure and, at times, self-imposed social withdrawal. I had so much to be grateful for, but I never seemed content for very long.  I felt that this was my lot in life.

After all, we are who we are, right?

I think that so many of us feel that it’s impossible to make big changes and we just hunker down and “armor up,” as Brene´ Brown would say. Rather than focus inward, which is too painful and overwhelming, and wade through the heavy fog of emotions that never really seem to lift, we distract ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, social media, work, over scheduling, and by accumulating, organizing and maintaining more and more stuff!

There are some bright spots along the way, but the years pass and we never seem to be able to lift ourselves completely out of the fog.

After all, we are who we are.

Well, I disagree!

Change is possible! But in most cases, things just don’t get better. We have to make an effort to work through what we’re not satisfied with in our lives.  We have to get to the point of being so sick and tired of hearing ourselves complain about the same things over and over again in order to take action.  Or, as was the case with me, we get a major wake up call. A big life change (or many smaller ones) or trauma can cause a shift in our thinking, feeling, what we choose to let into our lives and what we choose to eliminate.

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I’ve been on this journey for two years now and I have discovered so many things that have helped me be who I WANT to be. There are books, blogs, and e-courses that have inspired me whose authors range from everyday people, like Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker, to research psychologists like Brene´ Brown and Kristin Neff  (ALL superheroes in my opinion!). I’ve shared some of my favorite reads below.

Other things that have helped me greatly and which have become part of who I am are yoga, meditation, writing, nature and outdoor activities (especially hiking), minimalism and nutrition. These things help me focus on being present and positive and make me feel so alive! I am extremely lucky to have a supportive group of family and friends who love me unconditionally and who I can rely on for encouragement. I am so grateful for them!

It’s been a slow, DELIBERATE process of trial and error. It literally started with going outside on a daily basis and gardening- planting, repotting or even just weeding. I’ve tried many different activities and if I enjoyed them, they felt good and they fit into my lifestyle, they became part of my routine. If not, I moved onto something else. I’ve read things that have been extremely helpful and even life changing, and other things that have not really worked for me.

I realized that things weren’t going to change unless I put down the armor and started to move forward and pull MYSELF up out of the fog.

I want to encourage you not to give up! If you are not happy or satisfied and you feel it in your bones that there has to be a better way, then take action! Big changes can come from small steps you take on a consistent basis.

Try something different today. Take a walk, read a helpful book or blog, meditate for a few minutes, stretch, do yoga, go for a hike or run, paint, write or draw, eat better, or just sit in the garden and put your hands in the dirt. Start small. Baby steps. Slow and steady. If it doesn’t feel helpful, try something different. If it resonates with you and makes you feel good, keep doing it, until it becomes part of your daily or weekly routine. Once it becomes habit, experiment with something else.

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You might even try something called, “habit stacking.” Courtney Carver explains this as the pairing of two new habits each for brief periods of time, like a few minutes. Over time, you can extend the amount of time spent on each of these. I started with a short meditation (3-6 minutes) followed by a journal entry where I wrote 2 brief statements: a gratitude statement and an intention for the day.

Before you know it, you’ll have several things in your self-care arsenal! You can pick and choose which will be helpful to you on any given day rather than fall back on old habits that were more numbing than healing.

Reach out to positive, encouraging people who will support you. Embrace change!

I used to think that there was some secret to peace and happiness, but what I’ve discovered is that these things are well within our reach. We just have to make an effort to move in a different direction. Just like the lotus, we may have to go through some mud before we can rise above it.

My journey, with its twists and turns, achievements and setbacks is what life is all about and I’m glad to finally be in the game!

Here are some inspiring reads that have helped me along the way:

The Gifts of Imperfection-Brene´  Brown

Daring Greatly –Brene´  Brown

Rising Strong-Brene´  Brown

The Four Agreements-Don Miguel Ruiz

The More of Less-Joshua Becker

Buddhist Boot Camp-Timber Hawkeye

Faithfully Religionless-Timber Hawkeye

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself– Kristin Neff

http://bemorewithless.com/

http://www.rowdykittens.com/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

http://www.timberhawkeye.com/

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Life Imitates Nature

I really enjoy being outdoors-hiking, walking, gardening and just observing. So often I’m able to make sense of things that I’m thinking and feeling when I take a cue from nature.

I think we all strive to be the best we can be. We all have room for growth and it makes us feel good to learn new things about ourselves. When we know better, we do better, and when we do better, we feel better.

Perhaps you are working on simplifying your life, focusing more on a healthy lifestyle, improving your relationships, having more patience or compassion, sticking to a self-care routine or stepping out of your comfort zone.

Let’s face it, growth and change is work, and we all have our days, and even weeks, when we just don’t have the energy to move forward. There are some days when, rather than meditate, go for a walk, prepare a healthy meal or catch up on some reading for a great e-course on how we can be more self-aware, we may just opt to eat a bag of chips and take a long nap. Sound familiar?

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I think we all need a restorative break from time to time. Maybe we had a particularly difficult day or it has just been one of those weeks (or months)! Although we may feel as if we had a minor setback in reaching our personal goals, it doesn’t mean that we are any less committed, courageous or enlightened.

We can move on and pick up where we left off when we’re ready and continue on our path.

It’s been a rough Spring for my majestic Magnolia tree. Its sweet-smelling, pink flowers just started to open up when we had a hard frost. The buds never fully opened, they just shriveled up and turned brown.

I reflected on how I’d been feeling the past few weeks as I looked at the brown leaves. My tree wasn’t at its best and I didn’t feel I was either. I felt like I didn’t have much energy or motivation, and I wasn’t making the most healthy choices. I hadn’t meditated in weeks and just couldn’t get moving. Whatever I was experiencing had thrown off my momentum, just like the hard frost had done to the tree.

After a few weeks of observing the shriveled up brown leaves, I noticed a change in my tree! The beautiful, bright green leaves had started to sprout and open up to the warmth and sunshine!

And just like that, the journey continues. I think I’ll go for a walk.

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Love, Light and Positivity (Mostly)

How do you know that being all there is actually working and having a positive impact on your life?

Personally, I’ve noticed that I’m less anxious and more plugged into life and people, in general. I’m more patient and I feel that I’m able to focus more on people’s good intentions rather than get frustrated by some of their behaviors. A few days ago I was checking out in a craft store and before I knew it the cashier rang me up, my husband swiped his card to pay, and the transaction was over. It was actually TOO FAST for me!

Not too long ago the world was moving way too slow for me. Cashiers, drivers, the internet, the workday, etc. just weren’t fast enough.  I was so taken with this realization that  I didn’t even mind that I didn’t have time to present my teacher ID to receive a discount. I’ll be prepared next time!

I’ve noticed that I have some periods of time when  I’m able to focus on the present, incorporate my self-care routine regularly, and I feel pretty positive. But there are also times when I have to work extra hard to stay on track and not get dragged into the past or carried away by the future, especially when there are several different factors present that can potentially impact me negatively.

Beginning of Fall

I went back to work recently, had to say goodbye to my summer vacation and all of the time spent socializing that I cherish so much. The weather will be getting colder soon, the days shorter, and I’ll feel less inclined to spend time outside. I’ve noticed that I’m dwelling more on personal relationships and hurt feelings (yes, I’m still sensitive). Rather than surrender to these feelings, I’m choosing to do the best that I can to continue to use what I’ve come to realize are my coping skills.

I can really identify with this quote from an article I read recently by Bhava Ram:

“Negative emotions are like splinters. They pierce your consciousness, inflame your mind, and consume your thoughts.” – See more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/how-to-cultivate-positive-thoughts-in-negative-situations#sthash.85NkWkx6.dpuf

 

I felt pretty overwhelmed and emotional yesterday, but instead of sleeping all day, I lit a candle, did some yoga, went for a run (and then took a nap). I was really tired! Even though  I’m finding it more difficult to be present, I’m still meditating, journaling, reaching out to others, practicing forgiveness (and asking for forgiveness, when necessary) and eating nutritiously, because I know  from experience that these things will help me feel the best that I can.

Yoga Space

Even though I’m not full of love and light lately, I’m mostly positive, and that’s good enough for me!

 

 

 

Easy Guided Meditation

Meditation may be challenging at first, but keep trying and it will get easier! I’ve been talking to many friends and family members about the benefits of meditation and I know from these conversations and personal experience it’s not easy to get into it, at first. Here are a few articles I think may help, as well as my guided meditation audio (reposted). Feel free to add some background music if you’d like. Find what works for you and give it another try. You’ll be glad you did!

https://shar.es/1vsGdS
http://t.co/56UflCBq50
https://shar.es/1vswug

Be All There

Meditation

Meditation is part of my self-care routine and I try to do it every day. I find that it’s very calming and centering and it also helps me to be present at other times during the day. Over time I’ve been able to put some space between my thoughts andreactions, so I’m much less impulsive and more clear-headed.

There are definitely days when I fall short of my daily meditation goal, but a change in environment doesn’t deter me, since meditation can be done anywhere. I have a favorite spot at home, but I’ve also meditated in a parked car and on vacation! All that’s needed is about 10-15 minutes and a comfortable, quiet space. I use the timer on my phone to signal when I’m done so I don’t have to worry about watching a clock or wondering how long it’s been.
When I first started about a year…

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Funkytown: Just Passing Through

I’ve been working really hard this past year to combat mild depression and anxiety by adhering to a self-care routine that includes healthy eating, exercise, yoga, meditation, minimalism and a creative outlet. These lifestyle changes have made a big difference in my outlook on life, and have essentially changed my life.  I’m more present and less regretful or anxious about the past or the future. But I am not without moments that I veer off my positive path and into Funkytown.
Sometimes, a thought may trigger a past situation or I might get caught up in the “what ifs” ahead. My glorious, soul quenching summer is coming to an end and I’ll soon be back at work, waking up to the cold, dark mornings (yuck)!
I could easily dwell on these things and get myself into a funk. But I’ve been to Funkytown and I don’t like it! So I’ve decided that I don’t need to stop in Funkytown, I can just pass through. I can notice my feelings, but I don’t have to dwell on them, and I have developed the coping skills to help me do just that!
I’ve found that just being out in nature helps me get out of an imminent funk and that my overall self-care routine keeps me focused on the present on a daily basis. The more I practice, the easier and more natural this becomes.
Have you developed a self-care routine? If not, it’s never too late and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time! My (almost) daily meditation and journaling take about 15 minutes. You can listen to a guided 5 minute meditation in my last post:
I would love to hear about your self-care routine!
Thanks for reading!  Please comment and share freely.

Easy Guided Meditation

Meditation

Meditation is part of my self-care routine and I try to do it every day. I find that it’s very calming and centering and it also helps me to be present at other times during the day. Over time I’ve been able to put some space between my thoughts and reactions, so I’m much less impulsive and more clear-headed.

There are definitely days when I fall short of my daily meditation goal, but a change in environment doesn’t deter me, since meditation can be done anywhere. I have a favorite spot at home, but I’ve also meditated in a parked car and on vacation! All that’s needed is about 10-15 minutes and a comfortable, quiet space. I use the timer on my phone to signal when I’m done so I don’t have to worry about watching a clock or wondering how long it’s been.
When I first started about a year ago, I really had no idea what I was doing or if it would make me less anxious and more focused. I listened to a recording someone shared with me of her voice talking me through the 5 minute process. It was quite difficult for me to sit still and focus on my breath for any length of time, at first. I started with about 5 minutes and, with practice, I’m up to 10 minutes now of pretty peaceful meditation.
If you’d like to give it a try, I’ve recorded a short audio piece to guide you through a simple meditation.  I hope you find it helpful!
Find a quiet comfortable spot in a chair or on the floor where you can sit with your hands at your sides. I’ve seen people sit with their palms facing up, but I don’t think it really matters. When you’re seated and comfortable, listen to this recording:

 

Passion for Presence!

I’m excited to share my passion for presence with you and I’ve changed the name of my blog to reflect this passion.

After my last post, I realized that I was very passionate about what I had learned over the last 10 months, and I wanted to share it here with you. I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it has been about many different things in my life.

All along I was searching for something that I could offer you, a way to be of some help to others. Little did I know that in helping myself, I had learned how I could help others.

I think we all strive to be present in our everyday lives. The busier we’ve become, the loftier that goal may seem, but I’ve learned that there are several ways to Be All There for our families, our friends and ourselves.

There are many pathways we could take to being more present, but for me it’s been a gradual process of integrating several different things into my life. You can read about what I’ve been doing here https://beallthere.net/2015/06/20/be-all-there/.

What I’ve learned from personal experience is that it can be done and it feels great! I’ll share what works for me (and what doesn’t) as I continue my journey. I hope you’ll join me!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment and share your experiences with what works for you to Be All There.

Jeanne