I am Enough

I am Enough
  1. I am grateful we are able to book our summer vacation today.
  2. I am grateful I feel so good today.
  3. I am grateful to be at home with hubby and Kiara.
  4. I am grateful for my job and my great boss. I am blessed because I know many are not so fortunate.
  5. I am grateful we are one day closer to spring!

I decided to put more effort into a bigger garden this year. I ordered seeds online and they came in yesterday, so this weekend I will be getting them going. Tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, spinach, three bell peppers (yellow, orange, red), and carrots. Also going to plant lettuce and herbs, but not sure if they’ll be in containers or out there with everything else. It feels wonderful knowing I will be free to spend more time on this. In the past I was always consumed with whatever side gig I was trying to do, so gardening was seen as more of an annoyance. I will enjoy the process of tending to the garden – such a meditative process really.

Since letting go of the need to actively pursue a full-time art career I feel so much lighter. I feel calm. I am genuinely thrilled at the thought of just taking an afternoon to read. I am delighted to be able to draw and paint without the pressure of having to get it right, or to hurry up and produce as much as possible. I am genuinely happy. Letting go has opened my eyes to the world around me instead of the narrow focus of me and only me and whatever “dream” I was chasing. I place dream in quotations because with each endeavor I have undertaken (the writing, the t-shirt business, the need to pursue a full-time art career) I labeled it “my dream” when in reality none of these were what I was after at all. What I really wanted was financial freedom, along with be able to do work I found intellectually stimulating. I thought by working for myself both of these desires would be met. I thought by forcing them they would come true. Not so – at all. Being an entrepreneur may bring financial freedom at some point, but there is a whole helluva lot of work to get there. And the work really never ends. The truth is my current job already does provide me financial freedom. I do very well for myself already and I’d be a fool not to be grateful for it. And for the intellectually stimulating work, while my current job may not always provide this, I am now free to engage in all kinds of learning. I LOVE learning! There are SO many things I want to do in my life, so much I’ve put off in pursuit of someone else’s dream, that learning all things that interest me will provide all the brain food I could ever want.

But the biggest lesson learned since letting go of my dying “dreams” is that I am enough. I am enough as I am right now. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I don’t need a thousand likes on social media to tell me I’m good enough. I don’t need the approval of strangers to tell me I’m talented, or that I have a great life. I know these things already. I am enough – the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned.

Peace, love, happiness, and harmony always.

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Practicing Patience

Practicing Patience
  1. I am grateful to be watching birds feed outside my window right now. So peaceful to observe.
  2. I am grateful to have made more progress on setting up my studio space in the living room.
  3. I am grateful for making baguettes for the first time yesterday. What a long process! (More on this below.)
  4. I am grateful I had a peaceful weekend.
  5. I am grateful to be back into practicing mindfulness.

One of of the things on my “must-do”list is learning to make perfect baguettes. One of my absolute favorite pleasures in this life is a fresh-baked French baguette. Crispy on the outside but delicately soft and chewy on the inside. Some of the best I’ve had were while vacationing in St. Maarten (second to those in Paris many years ago). I found this recipe while browsing through Pinterest and decided a slow Sunday morning was the prime time to give it a go. What unfolded was a true test of patience and an unplanned lesson in mindfulness.

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Getting all the ingredients ready.

It’s a called a “Four-Hour Baguette” and it took every bit of four hours from start to finish. I tip my hat to all the hard-working bakers who start their day in the wee hours of each morning to prepare and bake all those delectable sweets and breads we love so much. It’s a lot of hard work! Combine the water and yeast – then wait. Mix the flour and yeast water – and wait. Knead the dough for at least ten minutes, then place in a covered bowl, then place in a cold oven – then wait. And so it went. I found myself at times being tempted to swear off ever making the recipe again because it was taking too long. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Simple enough question, but for someone who makes it a habit to rush through nearly every single thing (who grows impatient at the slightest delay), it was a question forcing me to be truthful with myself. What was the rush? The truth was there was no rush. There was nothing else that HAD to be done. There was nothing more pressing hanging over my head. The only thing on the agenda for the morning was baking baguettes. For years I’ve held goal after goal, one grand expectation after another, over my head. I worked a full time job and had to complete my college degree in record time (while maintaining a high GPA). I graduated and then HAD to learn the publishing industry and write the perfect first novel. After that, I HAD to come up with an exciting and profitable business idea that would make me financially independent. But no one was forcing any of this – it was me against myself. I was my own worse enemy. True, I learned a lot during those years. One of the greatest lessons: if you keep pushing yourself nonstop with over-the-top expectations, you will suffer. Your health will suffer first. Then your closest relationships. Your happiness will be non-existent. I am way overdue to live according to my own natural rhythm.

My natural rhythm is this: slow and steady. A frenetic pace stresses me out. And believe me, all those years of essentially working two full-time jobs was frenetic and stressed me out: tightness in my chest; constant shallow breathing; constant stomach upset with additional GI issues; headaches; and moodiness (just ask my hubby about this one). I was, no doubt, slowly killing myself. I started practicing mindfulness within the past year, but found it taking a backseat to the demons rattling my mind (or what I sometimes refer to as my monkey brain). Fear and doubt are slick little bastards – it only takes a sliver of opportunity for them to set up shop in my head. But here on this Sunday morning, having to commit four hours to making bread, was what I needed to practice mindfulness once again. And it is a practice. It doesn’t come overnight – it’s a constant effort to practice in order to eventually become a master (same applies to meditation). So when it was time to knead the dough, I narrowed my thoughts to my hands working through the dough. The only thing that existed at that moment was my breath, my hands, and the dough taking shape within my hands. For ten minutes these were the only things that existed in my world.

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Making progress (both with the bread and myself).

Afterwards, I felt calm. It was an extraordinary practice in patience. This is how life is meant to be lived – one single moment at a time. Not rushing from one place to another, or from one goal to the next. Learning patience, mastering mindfulness is my destination. Nothing else. It will help me be a better artist, a better wife, a better friend. It will help me stay healthy. It will lead me to great places that rushing would have never taken me. I am grateful for the continuing lesson. I am ready to just be. All that is good and abundant in this life will comes to me with ease. I am at peace with myself – I am enough. And for this particular lesson I am forever grateful.

Today is a great day.

Let’s Start Over…

Let’s Start Over…

Rethinking the format of this journal. By week’s end last week I was emotionally exhausted and I attributed it too a lot of things, one being putting my personal thoughts “out there” for the world to see (even if only one person read it). I believe I will keep the gratitude portion, but then focus more on creativity. Need to put some thought into it.

Peace, love, happiness and harmony always…

My True Self

My True Self
  1. I am grateful for my overall great health. Despite this hip issue and my arthritis, I have it pretty good compared to others.
  2. I am grateful for discovering new artists – they light my way.
  3. I am grateful for my perseverance. I may get down still from time to time, but I am able to keep moving forward. I refuse to let depression shackle me.
  4. I am grateful for all the wonderful people I have met online – I have met my best friends this way. Sometimes the internet is a great place.
  5. I am grateful it’s Friday! I know, this one is kind of lame, but so true. May I get to a place soon where days of the week are totally irrelevant.

    This morning was a struggle to come in here to share my daily post. I am an introvert through and through, so I have struggled in the past (and now) with continually putting myself out “there”. This is why I loathe the idea of hustling, of the idea of having a blog and constantly updating social media in order to gain a following. It’s not that I don’t want to connect with like-minded people – I totally do – but I love my private world. I prefer to reflect internally rather than externally. To publicize my feelings and thoughts is a pretty big hurdle. But, I will at least make an effort. I need to make the conscious effort to rein in my brain to keep it from running away with me (“Check your stats! Is anybody reading? More! More! More!”).

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    For real. (credit to Copyblogger for this image)

    And this act alone is exhausting. For real. However, I am, without a doubt, WAY happier these days and a truly optimistic and positive person, but I’m also over denying the existence of my true self. My true self IS a quiet woman. My true self IS a thinker, a learner, someone who will think through her thoughts before speaking. My true self DOES get exhausted constantly being around others. My true self relishes silence over noise. I love my true self, even when others don’t understand (usually the extroverts – which includes the hubby). My true self cares deeply for the causes she believes in. My true self is seeking absolute fulfillment in life, which includes the career. I dismiss the notion that this isn’t possible. It is. And I am going to make it happen.

    Today is a really good day. I will focus on being relaxed, on being the true me. It’s the only reality I will embrace.

    Peace, love, happiness and harmony always.

Change and Fear

Change and Fear
  1. I am grateful for really good pasta. Seriously love the stuff.
  2. I am grateful for my childhood. It was wonderful in so many ways – I often feel bad for those who didn’t have the same experience. My memories are something I cherish every day.
  3. I am grateful for the guidance my Aunt Marian provided me after my mom died (when I was 14). She taught me the virtues of being fiercely independent, strong, and to travel, travel, travel. Material items come and go, but travel experiences create lifetime memories. It’s what the soul craves.
  4. I am grateful for the no-nonsense way I was raised. Coming from a working-class family (dad worked and mom stayed at home), I was taught to take pride in my work, that there is always something that needs to be done (I drive hubby crazy with this), and that hard work really does pay off. Dad taught me that the only person you can rely on is yourself. This lesson alone has gotten me to where I am today.
  5. I am grateful for my artistic ability. Not sure where it came from since no one else in my family is artistic, but I embrace it as a gift, whether I ever make money from it or not.

Today is an experiment – instead of handwriting in my spiral-bound notebook first and then copying the text here, I’m just typing it here first. May work out better for me since my right hand really doesn’t appreciate all that writing (thanks to previous carpal tunnel and now arthritis). I avoided doing this for the longest time thinking I would miss something by not handwriting first (what that something is I really don’t know). So far, so good – not missing a thing! 🙂

I love Martha Beck, and in her books she discusses the importance of analyzing dreams. At first it sounded SO cumbersome, but I recently started doing it. It’s very strange to be honest. Patterns start to reveal themselves, and when you think on them for awhile, you start to see what your unconscious mind is trying to reveal to you. Many of my dreams have a repetitive pattern: I’m often lost, trying to find my way “home” or to some specific location and I spend a great deal of time running in circles or facing one obstacle after another. With me is a family member who is always thwarting my progress. I want to reach home, yet don’t want to leave their side. And in each dream, I ultimately run into some individual who shows me the way home. I had a really weird dream last night that included my mom and dad (both deceased) and the family moving into a new home. My room was upstairs (it was an older house) and I noticed a small locked door (like the size of a window) on the far wall and a large wooden cross was leaning against it. I was terrified because I didn’t want to stay in the room by myself because I feared what was on the other side. It had to be something scary or demonic for the cross to be there. I left the room, and when I came back the door and cross were gone. Now covering the window opening was wrapping paper of some sort (Christmas?) and there was light spilling through the edges (like there was a television playing on the other side) and I heard voices. I felt scared, but rushed over and ripped the paper down and on the other side were two women and a little girl (no idea who they were – their faces weren’t clear). It was just a room (not sure if it was another house, apartment, or what), and they seemed happy. One of the women came to me smiling saying that it was okay to come over, it’s “safe here.”

That’s all I remember. I’m no professional dream analyst, but this dream, I believe, is trying to tell me that change can be scary, but I do need to push past my fear of the unknown because what is waiting for me on the other side is not so bad. It’s really good, actually. The lost dreams are ways of telling me, “You know the way, you really aren’t lost, trust in yourself and stop sacrificing yourself for the needs of others.” I came into 2016 knowing in my heart, feeling it in my bones, that it was a big year for change – positive, abundant and happy change. The type of change I’ve been craving for years (to move, to obtain a truly fulfilling career, to travel often). I know the time is now. It is scary, but unbelievably exciting too. However, I am allowing the universe to guide me. I am refusing at this point to set rigid goals or definitions of what this wonderful change will be because doing so in the past hasn’t worked for me. And I’m tired of being so rigid. I trust the universe will deliver me to exactly where I need to me. At the right time. It’s so liberating to let go and have faith.

Today is a great day! It will flow smoothly from one segment to the next. I am happy, I am focused. I am at peace with myself. I am living in the moment. I am wide-awake, refreshed, and ready to go! I have an abundance of energy! (Note: these energy affirmations seem to be working – doesn’t hurt to keep them going.)

Peace, love, happiness and harmony always….

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Waves of change – flow with them.

Living My Way

Living My Way

My daily gratitude:

  1. I am grateful my brother is coming back into town this weekend.
  2. I am grateful for my OCD (sometimes). It makes me way more productive and focused.
  3. I am grateful for how easy my day job is so that it allows my mind to be calm and better able to focus on other things that matter to me.
  4. I am grateful for Skype as it allows me to stay close to my hubby when he is away and to stay close to my soul sisters.
  5. I am grateful for my skin clearing up! Sucks that I can no longer use lemon (the acne trigger) in my tea, but it’s worth it.

I really didn’t think over my top five “Must Do’s” from yesterday. I think I’m just going to leave them be, soak them up, and cross them off as I go (from the top 20). Sounds better to me. The picking of a top five was something I read from someone I follow online, so really it was their idea/advice and not mine. So with living authentically (my theme for 2016) – screw that advice. I don’t want to pick a top five, so I’m not! And that makes me happy.

As each day passes I bristle more and more at anyone dispensing advice or ideas that are meant to propel me forward or do the “right” thing. Most are well-intended, but at this point in my life I know what works best for me and what doesn’t. I know what makes me happy and peaceful. If I feel like I need guidance I will seek it out (which is why I love reading nonfiction). End of story.

I must also remember to pull back on the reins when I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. Yesterday I started to get too wrapped up in this website (i.e. thinking of ways to improve it) and found myself getting tense and getting that familiar tightness in my chest that signals I am getting stressed. I’m grateful to have recognized it and immediately shut the computer off. Wisdom – eternally grateful for it.

Today is a great day! Calmness and serenity rule the day. Peace, love, happiness and harmony always….

No diving
Know when to heed advice, and know when to walk away. Trust yourself!