Healing Silence

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”

– Caroline Myss

creek

Silencing the mind can be one of the most difficult tasks we as humans have to undertake. It sounds simple yet, if you are anything like me, the brain is usually swimming with “stuff”.

I honestly don’t recall a time in my life when I have been pulled in so many directions at once like I am at present.

Silencing the mind feels like an insurmountable quest lately. When things become so overwhelming I just want to escape, that’s exactly what I do. I find myself walking or surrounding myself with nature in some form or another.

There is nowhere indoors that can possibly come close to the uplifting and enlightening experience of being immersed in the great outdoors.

I feel part of a whole when I am outdoors. Infinitesimally small, yet connected to a web that’s never-ending.

Mother Nature instinctively wraps her loving arms around me and settles my heart and instantly quiets my mind.

It is in this peaceful embrace that my soul begins to heal.

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Kindness Inspires Kindness

Photo - rishikajain.com

Photo – rishikajain.com

 

 

Something happened a couple of days ago that got me thinking about how people treat each other. I had taken a detour to the grocery store after a scheduled meeting on Monday morning. I had planned on picking up a couple blocks of butter to make some more ghee. I hadn’t thought of purchasing anything other than butter…until I had made my way to the back corner of the store where the butter is located. Then I made the fatal error of looking around. Sales were abundant and they enticed me. Now, remember, I had only run in for butter so I did not grab a buggy or a hand basket at the store entrance. As I made my way to the checkout I kept spotting sale items that I could use. I ended up juggling a tower of items in my arms plus my giant purse slung over my shoulder while wearing a bulky winter jacket. Not good planning on my part. As I approached the chosen checkout line the man in front of me saw my near-to-toppling tower and came to my rescue. He pushed his purchases forward on the counter and unloaded my arms for me while we both had a laugh about my conundrum. He guessed correctly that I hadn’t figured on picking up much when I originally entered the store. He informed me that he had done the same thing far too often and therefore always stops and gets a buggy since he knows he purchases impulsively. Another laugh was had over this awareness of his purchasing style. I, on the other hand, made it a habit when my kids were very little and my budget was incredibly tight to only purchase what I could carry to avoid overspending. I guess old habits die hard.

 

 

 

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

 

This experience with another individual that gladly helped me made me appreciate the small windows of kindness that frequently pop up when I least expect them. There was no incentive for this man other than the feeling of helping someone. No reward other than a thank you and a smile was necessary. I frequently hear older people bang on about the rudeness of younger generations. Makes me wonder why those same individuals don’t hold doors for others or say thank you when you help them. It is almost as though they feel it is somehow owed to them. Is this not the real issue? That somehow society feels others owe them in some way, whether they are young or old. The feeling of entitlement has no age limit. Then there are many others that are simply kind and lend a hand when needed or offer a kind word without expecting anything but kindness in return. This brief moment at the checkout counter made me think about how often I would do something similar. I felt good knowing that I automatically step up and offer assistance without a second thought or speak to others or smile frequently. I have noticed that the more I put myself out there, the more I notice others that do the same. Perhaps it is some sort of chain reaction. When someone is kind to us, it feels good. We offer kindness to someone else because of it and what do you know, we feel good yet again! Plus, we made someone else feel warm fuzzies too. Let’s all spread a little kindness wherever we roam to make the world a whole lot nicer for everyone!

 

 

 

 

” Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”  – Princess Diana

I Am Enough

This has been a tumultuous year for me. There have been far too many bumps along the road for my liking. For the most part I have managed to keep my chin up and smile even when I feel like crying. To be strong not only for myself but for those around me. This is exhausting, let me tell you. I know it’s okay to let down my guard and cry – I do. I am not without emotion. If anything it’s quite the opposite and I wear my heart and thoughts on my sleeve maybe a little too often. My close friends know instantly when I am struggling internally and call me on it. For these friends I am ever so grateful. We all need great and caring people in our lives. Friends are essential for a feeling of belonging, wellness and joy as well as a sounding board that we can truly trust. One thing though that has become clearer than a full moon on a cloudless night is that we need to be our own best friend first and foremost.

 

“I exist as I am, that is enough, If no other in the world be aware, I sit content, And if each and all be aware, I sit content.”  – Walt Whitman

We have ourself and only ourself at every given second during our lifetime. Yes, people come in and out of our lives. We have families and friends, coworkers and acquaintances but only I am with myself all of the time. I needed to learn to love myself. To be my own best friend. Sometimes reaching within is the best resolution.

 

 

This journey to becoming my best friend hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been painful either. I think if I could capture the essence of learning to befriend myself in one word it would be sublime. When I altered the way I thought about myself, things became either intensely clear or absolutely unneccessary. Learning to befriend oneself isn’t conceited or narcissistic. It’s about finding your self-worth and trusting yourself with your thoughts and actions. I have discovered that the more I trust in who I am, the more I enjoy those around me. I don’t feel like I need to compete for attention or gain recognition. I have become happy just being Me. Growing up and maturing isn’t something that happens overnight, it is a process.  When I was younger I always struggled with self-worth and self-confidence, concerned that people would think I was a snob or conceited if I ever patted myself on the back. I thought I didn’t care what others thought of me but it was all just an act. A decoy for self-preservation, if you will. One thing I learned from this is that when we build walls we can’t see very far. My world was small. I have stumbled upon something magnificent. When you are your own best friend, everything you do becomes an experience and a reason to feel loved. Loved by someone who truly cares about my well-being…me.  Greater, more intense living and appreciating others is easier when you are present.

 

 

“Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.”
– Honore De Balzac

Inner Wisdom

night buddha

snowy buddha

 

 

 

“You are far from the end of your journey.
The way is not in the sky.
The
way is in the heart.
See how you love.”
– Buddha

Why look outside ourselves for direction on how to live life when our heart and Soul already carries this wisdom?

Bring It On!

I have reached that point. You know, the point at which change is essential. Like a craving that the Soul needs to quench. I can’t shake it. I am trying to use this motivation for newness in a positive way. I am climbing the walls for some fun and adventure. What to do, what to do?

 

 

This started simply with the funk that settled in around the last post (February Blues) and morphed into the need to be surrounded with fresh energy. The craving has escalated to an  unprecedented pitch that has me almost tearing my house apart in need of a change of scenery. This week I have tackled closets, cupboards and my pantry-o-doom. A total overhaul was desperately needed but up until the past few days I just haven’t had the motivation for anything but putzing around. This January and February have been brutal on my peppy personality. I can now rejoice! I feel the pep returning. It has become my shadow that is stealthily waiting to pounce. I am ready…bring it!

 

 

This morning I decided, spur of the moment, that I had enough and got my hair cut. Five inches, at least, fell around the chair as my Inner Diva grinned like a madwoman. Some of the winter doldrums has been shed – I left it at the stylist. What a great relief to finally say farewell after fighting with it far too long. I was sick of rolling over in bed and pulling my own hair. Not a great wake up call, let me tell you. I haven’t caught my hair with my armpit in the last couple hours, nor have I dragged it over the dirty dishes while loading the dishwasher. I know, such hardship. Last week I had my kids in hysterics at the dinner table when I noticed as I cleared away the dishes that I had a noodle threaded into my hair. Lovely.

 

 

 

Now that I am primed and ready for the change that is in the air, where do I start?  I have so many things on my list!

 

 

 

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective,unstoppable determination.” 

– Ralph Marston

 

February Blues

Never be afraid

This morning I needed these words of wisdom. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being strong not only for myself but for those around me that I lose track of where I’m headed.  The everyday mundane stuff creeps in until it takes over. Just when I think I know myself and what I want from life a giant bird of prey swoops down and clutches my resolve in its sharp talons. Today I feel “ho-hum” and sort of bumbly. The February blues caught up to me early this year for some reason. I don’t feel depressed, per say, just kind of blah. I’m sure it is the lack of being outdoors that is bringing me down.

In an attempt to perk myself up I cranked up some Buddy Guy on the stereo and am relaxing to the raw sounds of Buddy and the driving rain outside. I know that my dear friend Crystal (Change My Body, Change My Life) would tell me that I have some work to do on myself right now. I think I will listen to her words of wisdom. Today I will focus on my dreams, desires and who I am becoming. Life is constant change.

I need to give my head a shake, open up my umbrella and breathe in some fresh air. I do my best thinking out-of-doors.

“Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.”  – John Steinbeck

Blanket of White

Yesterday morning as I started my day with a steamy mug of coffee, I pondered all of the things I could possibly do over the weekend. Then I cleared my mind of its swirling chaos, sunk back into the couch and watched the snow swirl and dance as it floated down to earth while I savoured my caffeine fix. The snow storm we had been promised had arrived…with a vengeance. School was cancelled due to the weather conditions so we were all moving like sloths. We had at least a foot of snow by the time I finally stepped out the front door around noon into a swirling mass of blowing snow. Each winter our front walkway becomes a wind tunnel for blowing and drifting snow since it faces North and is flanked on one side by the house and the garage on the other. In the summer it creates a nice shady, cool space to enjoy a beverage while in the winter the wind seems to lay in wait for me to open the front door to slap me in the face. Actually, truth be told, I kind of like getting an icy blast when I step out the front door. By the time I make it to my car I am acclimatized to the wind. Good morning!

Our super handy neighbour that helped me prep my garden in the Spring (see here for details) noticed me shovelling and swung his snowblower around to assist me. Sweet. I was only shovelling for a grand total of about 10 minutes! With a wave of thanks I darted back inside for a refill of hot coffee. Mmmm…

The rest of my day was spent organizing and cleaning. Some things just have to be tended to. Thursday I assembled a shelf and desk that my daughter received for Christmas. I should have known by the instructions clearly depicting an “x” over one individual and then indicating two people were needed for this task that, perhaps I should employ a helper. In typical Me fashion I went ahead thinking, “No problem. I’ve got this.” As I fought with the final screws in the shelf I realized that I should have heeded the pictorial warning.

Four hands are better than two.

Four hands are better than two.

I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the remainder of my day except to say that I delighted in the gorgeous snow drifting and blowing to the point it seemed as though it would never end. I managed to hunker down inside all day except the brief foray into shovelling. The best part of the day? Why, enjoying the fire that I started in the fireplace and reading a book as the snow continued to fall. Divine.

We have more snow now than we have had in the last few winters combined, I think. I love the fresh look of a blanket of clean snow. Interested in how much of the white stuff we were blessed with? Here is a article from a local media source.  It seems as though we have more snow in our neighbourhood than any of those pics show. I took this pic while staying cosy and warm inside. This was about an hour after the neighbour and I had totally cleared the driveway but you can’t even tell where it is anymore. As you can see from my car in the driveway I have some work to do before I can go for a spin. My Mazda wasn’t going anywhere too quickly, that’s for sure.

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

I love the pace that a big snowstorm sets. Everyone slows down a fraction. Neighbours help each other shovel. There is no intense pressure to run around all over town. We simply adopt a slower rhythm as our ancestors did before us by instinct.

” The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found.” 

– J. B. Priestley

Dirty Ol’ Me

The gardening season, or work season in my world, came to an abrupt ending a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t already know this about me I shall give you a bit of history as to  the work aspect of my existence.

I come from a family of non-gardeners. Those that appreciate beautiful gardens but don’t really relish digging in the dirt like I do. Like my Gemini nature alludes to, I have dual aspects to my Being. I am a bit of a “girly girl” so to speak. I love bling, shoes, and cultural outings. I also love to get dirty. Say what?! Let me rephrase that…I like to put on my work boots, work up a sweat, seem to often have disheveled hair and dirt caked on me somewhere. That’s during the working seasons of spring, summer and fall. Now that winter is here I have morphed once again into purity itself (snicker, snicker). Ok, I am at least not covered in dirt at some point during the day.

I am a Horticulture Technician, or so my college diploma tells me. I have worked in many different areas of horticulture including landscaping, gardening (yes they are very different specialties), florists, greenhouses (both ornamental and agricultural), retail, integrated pest management and (shudder) chemicals.

When I started my college courses eons ago, I was asked constantly if that meant I was a gardener. For some reason this used to irritate me to distraction. I would nearly snap people’s heads clean off! My, how my world has changed! I now love telling people that I am a gardener. Things seem to have come full circle for me. I attribute it to the fact that I am now truly comfortable with Me. I no longer feel the need to impress anyone but just be myself. I really, REALLY love being a professional gardener. There,  I said it.

What it really boils down to is that I have found, or maybe we found each other, an amazing group of strong, powerful women that welcomed me into their “family” like no other people I have ever worked with have. The company is run by one of THE most spectacular women that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I love her charisma and zest for life…and good food.  Sure, I’ve always got along with most of my co-workers over the years but nothing like the way this group has bonded. We all look after one another. Don’t mess with us…seriously. We are all well-educated women that are conditioned to succeed in a feminine, no-fuss way. If there was such a thing as roller derby gardening we would be beside the definition in the dictionary.

I think I may be getting off track slightly.

Anyway, over the last few weeks off work for the season I have missed my friends/co-workers greatly…until last night. It was Christmas Party night! Woot-woot! It was great to be with them all again (minus one whom we wished had been there). Laughing at the past season’s shenanigans and catching up with one another. I feel refreshed.

I am a firm believer that we come into contact with those that we are meant to learn from. Those that have an impact on us and vice-versa. This amazing group of ladies has reminded me  about not only how hard work is greatly therapeutic but that human compassion is a wonderful thing. There is something to be said about the sisterhood of women. Strong, supportive women encouraging each other is an incredible gift shared the world over.

There is a whole lot more to me and “what I do”…but that’s another story, as they say. I will share that at another time.

The night came to an end all too quickly, but have no fear…we still have some Holiday partying in the not-so-distant future!

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” – Coco Chanel.

Clearing the Cobwebs

creek

In my last blog post, I mentioned heading out for a walk to clear the cobwebs before getting busy with my holiday baking. Along the way I stopped often to enjoy my surroundings, the fabulous weather, and to take a few photos. Join me on my walk, won’t you?

The water in the creek was very clear. It was wonderful to just stand on the bridge and watch  the water as it gently made its way through the rocks.

burr

There is something so incredible about burrs. They are nature’s little hitchhiker. Most of us were first introduced to them as children when they were stuck in our hair and clothes. Although I have spent countless hours plucking them from my children’s and my own clothes I still find them fascinating. The natural world is so full of wondrous specimens.

pear tree

There are a grouping of old gnarly pear trees along my route. I am always drawn to these trees. They have so much character. Over the last few years a few of them have died off and been removed by city workers. This is one of the few left standing. I stood under this tree for a few minutes to enjoy the visual contrast between the rough, dark texture of the bark against the velvety blue sky as the clouds drifted past.

path

Occasionally while I am walking I tear my eyes from the plant-life around me long enough to look up ahead to where my feet are leading me.

up we go

Almost to the top of the hill! There was a refreshing breeze here that made my hair dance around me. Such a great feeling to have the wind in my hair – so rejuvenating.

looking ahead

I love the way the sun was creating pockets of warmth…the temptation makes me step a bit quicker.

fallen tree

The cycle of Life always amazes me.

oddity

Surprisingly, I have never noticed this particular tree before.

dry docks

I had no set destination in mind. The warm, fresh air was so welcoming I wasn’t ready to turn for home yet. So I kept walking…and walking…and walking. I stopped for a few minutes to check out the happenings at the dry docks.

Canadian Coast Guard at the dry docks

At the moment there is a Canadian Coast Guard ship docked here.

canal and reservoir

On this day the reservoir beside the canal is full. During the summer months it was as dry as a bone. The sun was shining so bright that I couldn’t see to take this pic. I was squinting like crazy at this exact moment while a man walking his dog stood behind me watching while I took pictures. No idea why but, oh well.

anchor

While leaning on the fence, I noticed the anchors built into the design. A nice touch, in my opinion.

the road ahead

With the sun beating brightly down, warming my Soul and my face, I head for home.

” Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” 

– John Lubbock

What IS Health?

I have been doing some deep thinking as of late. Thinking about quality of life in regard to health. What is health, I ask myself. How does my idea of being healthy differ from how others define this state. This forced me to dig a bit deeper as to what being healthy means. I came to the conclusion that being healthy is a compilation of many things. It is not as simple as “feeling good” since that state can be attained by unhealthy means in some cases. So, what have I come up with in regards to the definition of being healthy?

 

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”~World Health Organization, 1948

Proper fuel:  Without proper nutrition we become run down quickly and in some instances cause much more harm than good. I am of the train of thought that the closer to nature that we eat , and supplement, the more our body has to work with. When we pollute ourselves with junk food, our body spends time trying to deal with the invading pollution instead of necessary maintenance and renewal. By ingesting mainly quality fuel we are being diligent in preventing many conditions that are food-related.

 

Movement:  Just move it! The more I move, the better I feel. It’s not rocket science.  Every little bit counts. I move a lot as a gardener when I am at work so I count these hours as part of my physical fitness time. I certainly feel way better lifting heavy objects, digging, planting, dragging, stretching, and so much more than I do when I am being stationary. Hard work is good for the body…and the soul.

 

Brain games:  Exercising the brain is essential to being alert and “with it”. Reading a lot keeps my brain active as well. No fluff reading here – I want solid material not the literary equivalent of a wet paper bag. I would hope that word and math games assist my brain in being in great shape. I would like to think of my brain as pumped, not limp.

 

image courtesy of Yahoo images

 

Spiritual practices:  I consider myself a spiritual, not religious, individual. Spirituality is unique to each individual and very personal.  I am not a fan of debate in this area for this reason. Spirituality is not about foisting your beliefs on someone else, it is about believing in something bigger than yourself and being a part of the flow of existence.  Being spiritual is instrumental to great health, I think. It encourages us to not be solely self-focused which can become detrimental to many other areas of our lives. Being in Nature helps me feel centered spiritually. All around us there is incredible life  going on in nature instinctively.

 

Positive thinking:  This is one of the greatest predictors of  being truly healthy. How we view everything around us or the things that affect us can either cause negative, stress-inducing reactions or positive  response. Stress = discomfort. No thank you! You know me – I love to try to stay positive!

 

Love:  Yes, I said love. We kind of throw the word around a lot. For instance “oh, I love that dress!” Not exactly what I had in mind when I said love. Love connects us to others through emotional channels. When we open our hearts by loving another we feel positive and joyous. Love can also be felt as a peaceful acceptance of existence. Allowing our soul to be in the moment and our thoughts to be gentle and accepting without being  judgmental. When our thoughts are bathed in loving energy we allow ourselves  to love and be loved with less resistance.

 

“The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around…. Throughout history, “tender loving care” has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing.” ~Larry Dossey

Down-time: No person is an island, or something like that. If we are constantly running around stressing ourselves out we are not allowing ourselves the down time that we need…or deserve. I am not suggesting that becoming a couch potato is where it’s at, I am merely promoting some time spent relaxing.

 

Friendship: Feeling connected with others is a wonderful feeling. When we surround ourselves with others that are caring, fun individuals we gain the great benefit of camaraderie. The spirit of friendship  is a healthy state to find yourself. It is therapeutic. Next time you are feeling stressed out, have a friend or two over and be silly…you will feel like a weight has lifted. There is a special comfort zone with a fabulous friend that you just won’t find anywhere else. Your health depends on close friendships with others.

 

Life-long friendship is a gift.

 

Play: Please include play into your personal health regime.  Jump in a pile of leaves, go bowling, see if you can still jump rope like you used to, have a snowball fight…whatever you feel like at the moment. Laughter keeps us youthful and in touch with who we are. No need to be all stiff all the time – smiling and laughing makes everyone more beautiful; inside and out.

 

Yes, that’s me having fun, fun, fun!

 

In my mental quest for my personal definition of health, these are the areas I feel are imperative. I am certain that more will be added along my life path and my hours of mental musings. So, enjoy great health by giving your body, mind and spirit the respect they deserve. Health isn’t merely being free of disease – it is about living each moment to its fullest and being proactive!

 

 

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”  – Mahatma Gandhi