A Letter to My Daughter…

My youngest is a young teenager and is going through a lot of the typical issues that face young people today. She is a very sensitive soul and wears her feelings on her sleeve most of the time. She has been the target on and off for most of her educational experience of bullying, which is far more prevalent than most of us realize. Where we live, the school systems are not very proactive in dealing with these issues although they tout anti-bullying campaigns that encourage students to report such incidences.

My sweet girl has her own style which is very opposite to the general style most in this area wear. We live in the midst of the bible-belt and her choice of clothing and makeup is generally viewed as someone who is into evil things. Labels- always a label for everyone and everything. As humans, we feel that this helps us be safer and make better sense of the world around us when in fact not only does it not make us safer and place logical sense to things, it ends up alienating and degrading others. It is little wonder then that the rates for suicide for girls ages 15 to 19 doubled from 2007 to 2015, when it reached its highest point in 40 years, according to the CDC. The suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 increased by 30 percent over the same time period. We not only have to deal with bullying in person but now online as well.

It’s time to change the tide- we need to teach our children to look at the person, not their outside apparel, not their social status, not their religion, and especially not their disability. Respect for both sexes needs to be taught. Our girls need to be raised to be themselves and shine for who they are and our boys the same. They need to know the value of the other- to care and treat one another as a valuable person- because they are!  If they don’t like what they see- move on. For a lot of us, the change needs to start in ourselves so that we set the right example for our children.

Below is the letter I wrote to my baby girl- straight from a mama’s heart!

My Beautiful, Intelligent, Amazing Daughter,

I wanted to tell you how incredible, powerful, and capable you really are.

YES- YOU REALLY ARE!

 I know that you may not feel that way sometimes- maybe even most of the time. You are a brave young woman- you have your own style and are not afraid to express it. However, you do allow those around you with lack of understanding affect your self-esteem- your view of yourself, your essence, who YOU really are. It is a normal feeling to want to fit in. It is human nature to be social as it is also human nature to fear what you do not understand. That fear is what you see when others stare with judging gazes, when they make off comments about what you are wearing or the beliefs that are commonly attributed falsely to your style. You walk with your head down, hurt and confused. My darling, DON’T! Walk with your head up, with confidence! Smile when others stare and move on!  You are unique just as everyone is- society teaches that we are to conform to the trends of the time, to what is popular in the area you live. Some of the greatest inventors and activists of all time stepped out of the box- they shined in their own unique way- they didn’t conform to everyone’s popular thought at the time. They had ideas and inspirations that were ahead of their time. No, they were not popular at the time- they often faced harsh criticism and rejection from their peers and even their communities. But, because they stuck to their beliefs and ideas, we are enjoying many products and freedoms that we would not have otherwise had.

I tell you this so that you will embrace yourself – be true to who you are, love yourself wholly, and walk tall and proud of who YOU are!  Your tribe will come to you- they will be your closest confidants and stand proudly next to you as well. People will be inspired by your confidence- it will make them want to be themselves as well.

Depression and anxiety are things that everyone goes through at one point in time or another in their lifetime. I can relate to the feelings that you have- I went through the same at your age. I struggled with my identity and when I expressed myself I was looked at as “weird” or “strange”. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mom that was so tuned in to what I was going through- I don’t want you to feel that way and know that I am always here and will always do my best to help- to listen. I found my savior for the intense emotions and circumstances that I faced at your age- and that was music. I would play the piano for hours sometimes, especially after a bad day, and would find release and peace in it. It was something that got me through those hard years and helped me cope tremendously. Even with all that was going on, I didn’t lose my ability to care for others, to help when I saw it was needed- to do my part, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I did not allow others to dull my light- yes it hurt when I saw their judgmental stares and whispered words-but I pressed forward knowing who I was and knowing that I most likely will never see these people again and that what they thought really didn’t matter. I needed to be ok with me- to love myself and in turn that would radiate to others and make their day better.

It pains me to see you struggle, to see you so negative and moody. It hurts to see you hating school because of what people say and do- your education is more important than you realize right now and will give you the foundation to having a wonderful life- even better than I have had. You are a loving, caring person- please don’t let others steal that beauty and uniqueness away.

I love you so very much and want to see you succeed- to be yourself- a strong, caring, beautiful, independent woman who knows what she wants from her life and goes for it with gusto. One who lives her life to the fullest, confident with who she is.

I Love You,

Mom

What is Living High-Vibrational?

As humans, we are infused with energy and vibrate at unique levels. These levels can range from high to low and are influenced by our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. The higher our vibrations, the more positive we are and the better we manage stress.  This also applies to our spiritual life- the more in tune with our spirits we are, the higher we vibrate and the more we grow and become self-aware. Whenever we are vibrating at low levels, we are more stressed and burdened by life’s misgivings. These vibrations are caused by negative thoughts, which in turn attracts negative experiences and emotions such as fear and anger. It is a well-known fact that our thoughts and emotions influence our overall health in all areas of our lives including our mental health.

In living a high-vibrational life, we are attracting positive experiences, improving our health, and living a happier life. We connect deeper with the Divine and live in the light. Light pierces through the dark and offers those seeking their way in life hope and healing. We can make a positive difference in other’s lives as we share the light and serve others- this in turn positively influences our lives in many ways.  Being more mindful of our daily experiences and focusing our energy more on the positive aspects and experiences will draw more of these experiences into our life.

Different ways we can raise our vibration are-

  • Eating whole, healthy foods and doing so mindfully
  • Practicing gratitude daily
  • Gentle exercise outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Be open to a higher power
  • Get enough sleep
  • Meditation- even if for only 5 minutes a day
  • Practice self-love- this is not selfish, if we cannot love ourselves how can we love others?

By incorporating these practices into your life, you will be well on your way to living a high-vibrational life of purpose and service- making a positive difference in this world!  How do you live a high-vibrational life? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Chronic Illness – The Roller Coaster Ride That Never Ends

This week I want to share something that is personal to me and is something many people have a hard time understanding. I have a chronic illness- a silent stalker that I never know when it may pounce. An illness that causes many bad days and, at times,  leaves me practically bedridden with fatigue and pain. I push on through as best I can – I fight the fatigue that overwhelms me, I down copious amounts of over-the-counter painkillers to get through the demands of day-to-day life. I have been on an endless list of prescription medications that either made the issues worse or did nothing at all. I am a busy mother of two who is in school full time pursuing a double bachelors degree to not only help my family advance further but also to serve others and make a difference in their lives. Many who are aware of my condition have never been able to comprehend it. I got the usual “You don’t look sick” comments and pushed harder by employers that feel my condition is just an excuse not to get 110% done. I have Fibromyalgia- a condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, “brain fog,” and a myriad of other issues that can come on with little to no warning. I have had this condition since I was a young child. Some days I have a decent day with low pain levels (and when I say low, I mean a 6-7 on the pain scale doctors use) and although fatigued, I at least manage to push through part of my to-do list. People with Fibromyalgia suffer from what is caused “flares”- periods of time where symptoms are most active and debilitating. In fact, I am in the midst of one particularly nasty one right now. I have only been out of bed to go to the restroom and grab a bite to eat. Just doing that has been exhausting.

But, in spite of all this, I wake up every day, and I start my day with expressing gratitude. Gratitude for what I do have- my family, my spirituality, even my coffee. I greet the sun, I hug my cat and remind myself of what I am pressing towards. I have hope- the hope that one day, I will find what works for me and pass it on so that others may have another option in their battle. In the meantime, I keep researching; I keep trying different therapies, I keep smiling. I keep reaching out and encouraging others whether in person or through my writing.

We all have a special purpose in this life and we all a very special in our own unique way. Find what makes you smile-what makes you feel whole and loved. Whether it’s a good book, community service, or a walk on the beach- embrace self-love and love of community. Know that you are not alone in your journey and that there is always hope no matter how dim your circumstances seem.  Are you or a loved one living with a chronic illness?  What treatments have you/they tried? I would love to hear about them in the comments!

English Comp- or, How NOT to Make an *** Out of You and Me

I am currently in college pursuing a double bachelor and my current class is English Composition. Approaching this class, I thought “No problem, I’m a good writer, this will be easy!” The style, of course, is academic and I have to complete a critical essay of considerable length. This week, rough drafts were due and I was smacked with a surprise- which should not have been because I have access to all the expectations for this paper as well as resources to help me understand and execute at my fingertips. I assumed I knew what those were, apart from actually reading them. When I received my feedback, I had to go back and do some major revisions- this time reading the expectations and making use of the resources I have available to me.
I share this with you to make a point- Knowing what you are getting into saves time, headache, and heartache! This principle can be carried over to any area of life and in any situation you may face. Don’t assume (we all know how that breaks down!) you know what is going on just because you skim the surface. The same applies to missed opportunities as well. By skimming the surface and, again, assuming we know what we are looking at, we stand the chance of missing out on some pretty awesome opportunities and experiences.
Funny thing is- this is not the first time I have done this! I have rushed into or bypassed situations assuming (there goes that word again*groan*) that I understood what they were about. I then see in hindsight (which is always 20/20) that I missed a great opportunity or fell into something I am now regretting.
Slow down, follow your intuition, know what you have in front of you, and know you will reap the benefits versus looking like an…..well, you know.
Have you ever had an experience like this? I would love to hear about it and what you learned from it! Leave me a comment below!

What is True Self-Love?

Self-love- it’s a concept that is getting a lot of attention these days. There are many articles and blog posts out there that address the need for it in our lives. It is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “Regard for one’s well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic)” (1).  Your Dictionary defines self-love as “Self love is the belief you hold that you are a valuable and worthy person” (2).

Healthy self-love is the ability to see yourself as good enough, right where you are. There are many cultural mindsets that portray this concept as “selfishness” or a “form of narcissism.” Although there is such a thing as being plain out vain and self-consumed to the exclusion of others, the form of self-love I am talking about here goes to the core of who we are. It celebrates the wonderful, beautiful, unique you. It’s a you that employs healthy boundaries with others while maintaining your essence- who you are- and standing in your power. Too often we give our power away to others to the point that we lose our identity and become just “another face in the crowd.” We follow whoever, whatever, never identifying our value set and living by it.

To be able to live with purpose and intention, we need to reel in our power- bringing it back to ourselves- and take the time to define our values, what we stand for and what is important in our lives. Once we dig deep and define those values and then begin to live by them, then our lives transform, and we become people who live with purpose and intention. Self-love helps us to stay true to our values and intentions, and no matter what the circumstances are in your life, you will fly above and beyond them, staying true to you.

When you practice self-love, you are not only empowering yourself to live your best life, but you are also better equipped and able to be of service to others. So you see, the actions of self-love are not selfish at all- it is a healthy mindset that not only serves your highest good- but the highest good of those you serve!  What things do you do to practice self-love? I would love to hear about your practices in the comments!

 

 

 

References:

  1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/self-love
  2. http://www.yourdictionary.com/self-love

No is Not a Curse Word

Why is it as women we have such a hard time saying no? Is it the nurturer in us? Is it a mindset instilled in us in childhood? We wear many hats- mother, sister, co-worker, friend the list goes on. I once sat down and made a list of all the roles I fill and stopped at 30- that’s a lot of responsibility! Some feel like it is expected of them, some do things from their hearts, and still others do things out of guilt. We need to be needed- but where do we draw the line? We seem invincible to those in our lives (and sometimes we revel in that just a bit- it makes us feel special) and if we flounder it’s like the world is ending. The pressure to perform and achieve is great, but we are only human- we can only do so much. Let that sink in a bit, if you, beautiful, incredible you, are from this planet (and don’t have a superhero suit hiding in your closet somewhere) then you can only do so much. We cannot be all and do all 24/7! The stress this creates is detrimental to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

Yes, I realize that we are in the twenty-first century and life is chaotic- there are activities that the kids go to, work deadlines to meet, and bills that have to be paid. Not to mention helping your friend arrange her daughter’s tenth birthday party, helping your other friend with their taxes, babysitting for the neighbors in the evenings, working on that extra project the boss dropped on you last-minute, and, oh, don’t forget hubby needs you to run his suits by the cleaners and gives you weird looks when you are at the dinner table and announce your must-dos for the evening- which doesn’t happen to include him. Your kids haven’t seen you all day apart from riding in a vehicle to activities while you are on the phone adding more things to your already insane schedule. So, yes, they are eyeballing you as well. Notice that the list doesn’t include anything about you specifically. Take a look at your own schedule- jot down what your average day looks like. Does your schedule include any time blocked out for you? If it doesn’t, then you are in trouble!

It is not a selfish thing to take some time doing things you enjoy. Whether you are reading a book, meditating, or taking a long bath while listening to your favorite music. It is imperative for you to block some time out each day to just be you. It is ok to say no to extra activities. It is ok to say no to always being the one who is arranging and being the consultant. Make that time, pare down your schedule, eliminate what doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Know that your kids do not have to be involved in every available activity. Not only will you be freeing up more family time, but you are teaching them the value of taking time for themselves. An empty cup cannot provide anything, but by taking that time to recharge and renew yourself, you will not only become that full cup again, but you will be more empowered, liberated, and in touch with who you are again.

Take a step back and evaluate your life. Take an honest look at your motivators. Journal your thoughts and feelings and see where you can make positive changes. Make time every day for you activities- even if just for an hour. By digging deep and being honest with ourselves, we can turn stress into bliss! I would love to hear what your favorite you activities are! Please let me know in the comments- and as always- I am here to answer any questions you have!

Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety

In an age where science is aligning more and more with alternative therapies, we are being provided with more options than ever to help control symptoms of chronic issues and, in some cases, heal them completely.  With anxiety disorders coming in as the number one mental illness in America, the effects of our stressful modern lives have reached epidemic levels.

As a person that has an anxiety disorder myself, I am always looking for ways to keep my symptoms in check without the use of conventional medications. I have already been down the road of trying just about every anti-depressant and anxiety medication out there- with little to no results. The side effects and long-term effects of some of these medications were enough to make my anxiety worse! My current regimen is aromatherapy with essential oils and mindfulness meditation. I will do a post at a later time on essential oils- for now, I am going to focus on mindfulness meditation(pardon the pun).

Mindfulness meditation is actually quite simple to do- the hardest part is keeping focus. This is why you would start with short sessions of five to ten minutes and work your way up gradually as you are comfortable doing so. First, find a comfortable position, whether this is sitting on the floor with a pillow under you or in a chair- whatever is most comfortable for you. Laying down may or may not work as you could fall asleep in the middle of meditating(if you do this before bed and fall asleep-then this would be a good thing). Begin to take slow, deep breaths in through the nose, hold momentarily, and exhale through the mouth. Do this several times, then let your breath come naturally. Focus on your breathing- how it feels entering and exiting your body and any sensations you feel elsewhere. If your mind wanders, just acknowledge the thought and let it pass. Gently bring your focus back to the breath. Continue this for the time you have allotted, then gently come back into the present.

You can do a shortened version of this when you feel anxiety creeping up. Take five slow, deep breaths – focusing on your breathing and envisioning breathing in peace and calm and breathing out anxiety and stress. This can be done anywhere, anytime to help relieve anxiety and modulate the stress response of your body. Here is a link with more information on practicing techniques-   https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-how-to-do-it/.

It will take persistence and practice to improve your focus. Always be gentle with yourself and move along at your own pace. Try to practice around the same time each day(I like to practice first thing in the morning- it sets a positive tone for my day as well as helping to keep my anxiety better controlled). Give it a try for a week and let me know in the comments how it worked for you!

Living With Purpose

   Have you ever found yourself asking the question, “Am I living the life I always wanted?”  You may have grown up in a supportive home, went to college, entered a career that you thought was “the one” for you, only to find down the road that maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe you like what you do yet feel like something is missing. You may have grown up in less than desirable circumstances, going from job to job just to make ends meet, knowing that there must be more- but what and how to get there?

   Our lives are constantly bombarded with distractions and obligations. Before we know it, we are 10, 20, or even 30 years down the road looking back and wondering “where did the time go!?” We all enter a place in our lives where we get introspective and question our progress, what differences we have made, is this really where we want to be in life- are we truly happy and fulfilled?

   It’s never too late to make adjustments- however small, however big- to align ourselves with the lives we have always wanted (the oldest person to graduate from college was 99 years old!). Taking even small steps can get you started on your journey!

  • Think about and write down some goals you’d like to achieve- start with 2-3 things. They can be as simple as getting up 15 minutes earlier to do yoga to taking a course at a local or online college. Set a reasonable timeframe to complete these goals (i.e. in 3 months I will be consistently getting up earlier to do yoga four days a week). Who do you have in your life as a support system? List any hinderances or blocks that may get in the way of you accomplishing your goal- then research and think of ways to overcome those obstacles. Once you’ve achieved your first list, start another.
  • Find ways to give back to your community. Volunteer to pick up trash at your local park, help in a soup kitchen, donate time at your local Boys and Girls Club. Your positive influence will not only lift the spirits and inspire the lives of those around you, it will also encourage you as well!
  • Explore your spirituality. What teachings are you drawn to? Explore different trains of thought, find what resonates in your heart. A solid spiritual foundation will help create a more purposeful life and add meaning to your journey.
  • Take time for self-care- this cannot be stressed enough! Taking time for yourself, even for 10 minutes a day, can make a big difference. Do something you enjoy whether it be reading, taking a bath, meditation, or indulging in your favorite hobby. Taking that time keeps you in touch with who you are, replenishes your energy, and keeps you motivated to keep moving forward.

      You may find yourself encountering obstacles along the way, don’t get discouraged! Find some positive affirmations and keep them where you will see them regularly. Create a vision board to help encourage you and get you through the harder days. Before you know it, you’ll be living YOUR best life!