Tag Archives: self-care

the cult of positivity

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I’m sure I’ve blogged about this topic before, or carried on about it on Facebook.

I see constant anecdotes and photos reprimanding us…

…that if we were grateful enough, we would never be lacking for anything

…that while we are blowing hot air about our particular misery du jour, others are taking their last breath

…that were we to count our blessings, we’d realize how damned lucky we are and stop that complaining shit stat

And I get it. Some people never stop complaining, even when every little thing in their lives is the way you or I would wish ours to be – they are still snivelling bags of misery (and that does, in fact, get old).

There are times, though, that even if you are fully cognizant of the fact that people are starving in Africa and you happen to be fortunate enough to have sufficient food in your pantry to feed a whole small third world village for a month, you still feel pretty down about the things that are happening in your life and being reminded of that tidbit of information does nothing to spike up your happy meter.

Instead you feel even shittier for having your “first world problems” in the first place, and feel guilty for being so (apparently) ungrateful for what you have.

Here’s the thing. Inner unrest is almost always a signal that your intuition is trying to tell you something.

Sometimes it’s because you have stopped listening somewhere along the way and are functioning on auto pilot without really paying attention to what you are doing.

Inner unrest niggles when the situation you are choosing to engage in goes against the grain of your fundamental values and principles, and you are choosing to ignore the little red flags that are popping up as you are going along because you’ve gotten so used to being comfortable in your discomfort.

Then there are times when we go through some major transitions in life, and while we humans are certainly equipped to deal with transitions (seriously… we would have died out millennia ago had we not been an adaptable species), our instant-presto society expects us to pop up like a freshly thawed toaster pastry mere days after something life-altering has occurred.

That can be even the good stuff… a promotion, a newly-tied knot, a long-desired move to a new place, the purchase of a new home… or the obviously less positive stuff… like losing a job, having to move without notice, the end of a relationship, health challenges, children moving out (i.e., an empty nest), the loss of a loved one (whether expected or not).

All change, to some degree, causes an anxiety reflex. Some of it merely heightens our awareness so that while we are in a new situation we adapt as quickly as possible – but it is exhausting, even if it is exhilarating.

The more painful sort of change grinds us into the ground and pulls us along by the ankles through the raw and painful grieving process. There is much out there on the different stages of grieving, so I won’t discuss it in detail here, but what I do want to note is that the process takes inordinately longer than any amount of time typically allotted for it by our western society.

People are patient for a week or two (if that), but after that if your performance isn’t back up to pre-trauma speed, patience with your process starts to dwindle and whatever progress you might have made in the interim is largely interrupted by the added pressure that is now placed upon you to be back to “normal” again. Many people either have never experienced grief before, or have conveniently forgotten what it was like to be in its throes – sort of like the purported denial of remembering childbearing pain.

The key to survival is to seek out qualified support to help you over that hump, because once the funeral is over, and the condolence notes stop coming in, or you are two months in to flying solo after a twenty year marriage, people forget that things were ever different, and that can be hugely difficult to deal with on top of the ongoing grieving.

Whether the life change is big or small (and it’s all individually relative), self-care becomes primordial to the survival of our hurting soul bits. In the end, these very same things are what help me keep my sanity even when shit isn’t hitting the fan.

So… what to do?

1. Schedule in time for your Self.
Learn to gauge to what point you can push yourself before a melt-down is impending. It will change over time, and it will be a trial and error process for a while. If you feel that once a month you need to work in a mental health day just to stay sane, plan it ahead of time. It will be something to look forward to and the break in your normal routine something that will be akin to that light at the end of the tunnel when you start down sliding. The waiting between breaks will help you build up resilience and allow for the incorporation of healthy coping mechanisms in the meantime, which will make everything go more smoothly. Determine what your daily, weekly, monthly needs are, and have an action plan.

2. Practice radical self-compassion.
Like it or not, things will not always go according to plan. Something might happen that will throw you off kilter despite your best efforts. You may not, on a daily basis, be functioning at 100%. One of the best takeaways for me from The Four Agreements (if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it) is to do your best, whatever best means on any given day. On some days your best may just be to roll out of bed, get dressed and make it in to the office, while other days it will be to blaze through a week’s worth of work in a single afternoon. It may vary that drastically. Respect the variance. Respect your willingness to show up, in whatever capacity that you are able. Be gentle with yourself. Afford yourself the same compassion as you would extend to another in your situation. You deserve to be treated kindly, even by yourself.

3. Establish good boundaries.
People mean well… they do… but sometimes their “help” does more harm than good. Learn to be specific about your needs, if you ask for help with them, as well as to gracefully express when someone is triggering all of your defence mechanisms. Deftly extricate yourself from the situation or the ministrations and be sure to let them know to be more mindful of the way in which they communicate with you going forward. Relentlessly cut ties if they have a track record of not positively supporting you.

4. Have a support system in place.
Know who you can call on when you are on the verge of a melt-down. Have an escape route in place so that you can go some place private. If you are seeking the help of a professional counsellor, have your appointments set up on a regular basis in accordance with their advised schedule and make additional appointments if you feel you need them. If you need to be assisted chemically to find better balance, explore the most personally comfortable way in which to achieve it.

5. Spend some time, daily, checking in with yourself.
Whether that means doing it while sitting on a meditation cushion, as you move through the asanas in yoga class, during a walk around the block, while soaking in the tub or lathering up in a shower, when putting in miles on the treadmill at the gym, or at the table with your journal or art supplies. Make real or mental notes on how you feel, how you’ve improved in the last while and think about how you want to feel. Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map helps siphon down our focus to what she calls our Core Desired Feelings and keeping those in mind while we do our inventory check can pull us back to center even when we’ve skidded off the road.

6. Nourish yourself.
That means feeding the body, mind and spirit, daily. Plan meals ahead so that you take the guess work out of daily cooking chores – chances are you will be eating more healthfully or regularly. Take vitamins and minerals as recommended by your physician. Spend some down time with a book, crossword puzzle or other mind-feeding endeavour. Honour and connect with your spirit, in whichever way you feel most comfortable.

7. Move.
Spend some time getting physical. I have found that when I’m hurting emotionally my tendency is to avoid being embodied. I become this untethered soul hanging on to my bodily connections by mere shreds. Exercise gets the endorphins pumping and even if my heart is heavy with grief, my body feels lighter after it’s been fully exerted.

8. Rest.
Fatigue is a by-product of depression and the carrying of the burden of stress. Without adequate rest the body simply can’t perform its regenerative functions, whether for the physical body, the mental body or the emotional body. Eight hours of sleep is the generally established minimum, but more may be required during more taxing times. Honour your body’s signals and allow it the rest that it needs to heal itself.

Enacting these things may take some effort, especially at first. I know that when I’m newly grieving, I’m like a dazed zombie and barely functioning. If you have someone close to you (a spouse or a partner) who can help you over the hump, you are ahead of the game. Otherwise you may well have to wait until the fog lifts before you will be able to begin fully implementing these self-care steps.

But for the love of all things holy, don’t let the bastards get you down… you are worthy… you are worthy… you are worthy.

Adriane xo

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a photo and a poem

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…both started this morning and, in the wake of today’s neural collisions, completed as I lay in bed this evening pulling at my edges, urging myself back to equilibrium.

So here it is, as yet untitled:

I greet the day naked, soul bared even as my flesh clothes itself in the hot tendrils of a shower. Cool, cedar-tinged air flows in through the open window. A wood spider has been busy overnight, weaving a fine mesh from window to face cloth to conditioner bottle and tighter still within the frame.

I ruin its efforts with handfuls of water, flung as though I am pitching for the Redsox. I saw it last night, and yesterday morning, too, up at the edge between the ceiling and the wall, pale green and waiting. This morning the only evidence of its presence was the web. It made me think of Clotho.

Wrapped in yellow, warm and wishing for coffee, I attend to the drying and lifting of limbs, the glide of deodorant in pursuit of curved underarm. I admire, briefly, the small parts of myself that I bear witness to and incrementally appreciate more as time passes. Some parts ask to be admired, since the whole is so difficult to embrace fully, little curves that a Conté crayon would swoop in if it were to capture this fleeting monument to human form.

(c) 2013 Adriane Giberson

nothing doing

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Sometimes doing a whole lotta nothing is what is needed. This weekend I knitted, watched the rest of season 3 of Drop Dead Diva and read through The Prisoner of Teheran so I could return the book to a friend today. I also rewrote the notes from my first and second sessions with Joel Brass after relistening to the session recordings. I’m thankful for having found such a wonderful therapist… it was long overdue.

Earlier in the week I’d come down with a cold and it seems that advanced R&R was in order. This morning I awoke early, vacuumed and cleaned out the litter box (all before 7) and then proceeded to drive in to work, as I had a parent-teacher conference at my son’s school later in the afternoon. The normally hour long drive doubled due to traffic snarls, and my day did not get off to a good start.

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By the time the evening wound back around, I can only say I’m ready for some tea and an early night. We picked up some new boxes of Stash’s teas and this Yumberry Blackcurrent tea is YUM. Now for just a bit of reading and then I think I’m going to call it a day.

Creative chaos…

A little upheaval going on here these last few months… major changes (I changed workplaces and am still adjusting)… successive visitors from Canada, which was a real treat, because I got to hang with my buds and took some time off from work during the second visit, which was of a little longer duration than the first one (I’ll post some photos from each in a little while). All this to say that my art “stuffs” have been suffering somewhat… little time and energy (and hence not much motivation) to sit down and play. Frankly, I’ve been in this strange nesting mode (and it’s not because I’m pregnant, so scratch that thought), straightening up and clearing out, and organizing, and cleaning… up to the point, of course, when the energy gives out. I feel like I’m anemic again (chewing on the ice cubes is a good indication of such) and so I’ve begun popping slow release iron again, which I invariably forget to take or tire of taking (I worry about taking too much of it, over time… it IS a heavy metal).

In any case, I started playing with this month’s postcards, whose color theme is “salmon and turquoise.” As you can see, I’ve not got very far with the experimenting, but I’m a bit slow on production these days. My workbench has been piled so high with “stuff” that there wasn’t any room to work on it, so I’ve had to extend my work space with another little table. Wish I had a studio space to work in, but alas, it’s not going to happen in our little two-bedroom apartment.

Changing… shifting… into self

 

Not yet completed entry from Moleskine Journal

I have been listening to Rick Jarow’s The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide: The Inner Path to Finding Your Work in the World  in which he says that in order to effect change, one must get angry enough. Perhaps I have not quite gotten there, but I feel it simmering just below my surface. I believe that the anger must be strong enough to overcome the fear. I am almost there and ready to plunge into my destiny.As a trained SoulCollage facilitator, I received the most recent newsletter in which founder Seena Frost commented on how it is her hope “…that SoulCollage has the capacity, through all of you, to awaken people to greater consciousness. I hope that by balancing chaotic energies within one’s personal soul, this soul will go on to help balance chaotic energies in families and communities and even administrations!” She goes on to say that she will be listening in to the Oprah/Eckhart Tolle Skype discussions, which debuted on Monday. I also listened to this talk after the fact and may well listen in to the rest. My feeling was that the last thing I needed to do was to read another book of this type. There are so many already out there, and all of them simply rehash the same concepts and present them in a different manner.

My thoughts on the awakening of the soul is this: there has to be an innate desire to do so, and if a person is not “ready” to receive the information, it will all seem like so much mumbo-jumbo. I believe that people are either born with the capacity for a higher consciousness or they are not, or that some life-altering event triggers something in the soul and makes them so. I think that the broad reach of many of these lines of thought is wonderful, and exposes people to new possibilities who would perhaps not have been exposed due to the cultural or social conditions they live in.

I find human nature disturbing. Not the various parts of ourselves, which through SoulCollage many (myself included) are able to reintegrate into themselves and honor, instead of disown. How much better each of us would be if we recognized within ourselves all of the different aspects of ourselves and acknowledged them, seen who was showing up and were able to greet them with familiarity and respect? Perhaps all of our parts would behave at a higher level then, not just acting out like ignored children yearning for attention, but as honored guests who know they can contribute something worthwhile.

But all of this work takes immense courage, the courage to delve into the messy middle of ourselves, and those who dwell on the surface of themselves… their lives… simply do not want to undertake the expedition. Some are busy being victims and victors, and are so exhausted from their daily battles that taking on the task of excavating themselves is simply overwhelming. Others simply go about with a sort of head static interrupting the soul’s signaling for expansion. They are the judges and jurors… the pigeon-holers… the ones who criticize everyone they come into contact with and yet are unable to recognize their own inadequacies, but will justify their behavior, good or otherwise, because they must in order to ignore the inner gnawing that occasionally manages to emerge… to tell them that something is off. These are but a few examples of many possible variations.

Perhaps there is a sense in all of us of a great, impending change that must occur soon, and because change is perceived as a bad thing and triggers the reflexes that reverts the brain into a rather primitive state, there is a scramble for upholding the status quo until the very last moment. It will get uglier before it gets better I think. And we are back to these wonderful tools that are available to those who are ready to make the shift… to go within… to look at the world from the inside of themselves before turning their eyes outward.

Sniffle-y… snivelling…

I have a cold but hopefully am on an upswing now. I’m really excited about the writing workshop I’ll be attending in San Diego this weekend! I’m ready to get lost in my imagination! I’ve had “one of those” weeks, particularly the last couple of days. Human nature throws me for a loop each and every time. I often feel like an alien trying to live on a planet that is not my own, and people’s behavior’s are so different from my own planet’s populace, that no matter what I do, I do it “wrong”… or not like what would be expected of a proper citizen of this world.

This business… this corporate WORLD that I work in, must immerse myself in on a daily basis, feels like that alien world. I can’t seem to get it right, and even when I wear the right clothes, do the work… try to be “professional”… I still don’t fit in. It’s the pettiness… the lack of empathy toward others… the inability to shift paradigm to see another person’s perspective and say… “I understand”… those disturb me. They disturb me on a level that I can’t even begin to explain with words, but of course, I will try.