Tip to Self: Remember to Have Fun along the Way

So I am not sure if you are aware or not, but I no longer live in the state of Illinois. In fact, I have moved out of the Midwest to live life in the Pacific Northwest with my boyfriend, Tom. Just two weeks ago, we packed up our cars and drove about 2,000 miles to Seattle, Washington. We are both starting new chapters in our lives. He is attending Bastyr School of Naturopathic Medicine, while I plan to develop my career in Interior Design.

Even though I am an efficient planner, organizer, and manager, moving to a new city can frazzle the best of us. It is stepping into the unknown with the hope and inner wisdom that it will all be worth it in the end. These past two weeks have weighed heavily on my stress and emotions. I’ve even broken down in a Wholefoods, which seems to be a theme in my Seattle Wholefood experiences. I wish I could blame it all on the full moon, but I had a realization that I am just someone who likes ‘knowing’. This whole ‘stepping out into the unknown’ has put my desire for peace, order, and control into full-drive and my sanity can only take so much…

We are at the stage now of organizing our apartment. Usually, I like organizing, but it’s quite a challenge when you’re trying to fit three cars worth of stuff into 325 square feet of space (I guess my dream of ‘tiny living’ is coming true). Anywho, I’ve gotten to unpacking my crystals. Maybe it’s the energy, I don’t know, but unwrapping my earthy beauties from their newspaper packaging filled me with the feeling of Christmas day as a child. All the excitement and joy I got when I got to touch and see them made me relax, and for the first time in a while, I was calm. I wasn’t thinking about the millions of things we still need to do. I was living in the moment. I was having fun.

This experience made me realize that I need to have more moments like these. That I need to allow myself more moments like these. Yes, I am someone who likes order and having a plan. But I also need to have fun every now and then. Sometimes I think of fun as childish, but sometimes being childish is the key to a happier and healthier self. Note to self: Act more like a child.

Reflection: A Balance of Self-Improvement and Self -Acceptance

Hello Blog World!

Sorry that it’s been a while since I last posted anything. Recently I have been focusing on getting my business and lifestyle blog, Honey Lune Hivery, off the ground. Every now and then though, something occurs in my life that connects to the growth of mind, body, and soul, which is what Tortuga de Lune was established for.

Probably the other reason that I rarely post is that honestly, life has been pretty good to me. All aspects of my life are for the most part, balanced and at peace. Because of this, I have not been consciously focused on the tasks I once did regularly to strengthen my mental well-being. Don’t get me wrong, I am not totally slacking, but I’ve been focusing my attention on other self-improvement activities.

Tonight though, while I was doing my restorative yoga, my mind started to wander off and reflect. I reflected about myself. I thought about how far I have come as a person, my achievements and growth. I also started to think about what improvements I still would like to make. This sort of lead into a slippery slope of then thinking about my flaws. The Virgo that I am, I started to analyze and criticize myself, thinking about the things I needed to work on to make me an even better person. I had to stop myself.

Oddly enough, reflecting on reflecting, I realized that it was something, while beneficial for self-growth and happiness, could also lead to my anxieties of inadequacy. There needed to be a balance of knowing what I needed to work on, but also knowing and accepting some of my “weaknesses” as they are. I am not perfect, and despite my Virgo mentality of striving towards perfection, I will never BE perfect. Realizing that I am only human, I can accept that I do have “weaknesses”. That being said, I know that I can improve my weaknesses if I am conscious of them and mindfully try to work on them each day. If I slip up, it is not my job to reflect about my faults in a negative manner, but instead to focus on the positive goal of trying again the next day and never giving up.

Like I said, reflection is a great tool, but tools can be used in different ways. The goal is to balance the duality of ourselves. The positive and negative sides of reflection. The self-improvement vs. the self-acceptance. As everything seems to be, it all comes down to balance.

Namaste.

How to Achieve Balance within Your Life

As a child, I excelled at balancing. Climbing trees, doing cartwheels, and dancing all helped in this natural ability. Despite this physical capability, I had a hard time in balancing aspects of my life. I would spend hours watching TV, or way too much time on one portion of what made up my life. This unbalance infiltrated in my mind, which led to the coined term “black and white thinking”. My thoughts and views were on the extreme ends of the scale. They was no “grey ground”. Because of this, areas of my life suffered. I was unproductive, unhappy, and unhealthy.

When I started my own journey on self-healing, I focused on bringing balance back into my life. In return to gaining balance, I found myself becoming happier and healthier. In my discovery of balance, I gained my own personal tools to achieving harmony.

YOGA

Yoga is more that just physical balance. It is a disciplined practice that involves stillness and strength of the mind. These two opposing ideas blend together in holding poses and focusing on the breath and body. Yoga showcases determination and calmness. It is a gentle power with in us emerging. I realized this power within me when I first started yoga. From practicing poses and counter poses, as well as this balance of yin and yang energies, yoga was a gateway into bringing more balance into my life.

ROUTINE

While it is not good to get stuck in a rut because of it, having a routine was something that helped me in physically balancing out the aspects of my life. By following the guidelines of a daily list I set up for myself, I was able to be more productive, and my health and happiness improved. Everyone’s routine is different, but for me, my health was very important. I had neglected that for such a long time, that it had become my top priority. Each day, I make a goal to myself to do something that helps my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

MINDFULNESS

Another helpful tool, mindfulness was so beneficial. Being aware and conscious of when I was off balance, I could refocus my attention on how to harmonize this. I looked at the balance around me, through yin-yang energies, the sun and moon, light and dark, earth and sky. When I noticed the balance around me, it made me see and want to achieve the balance within myself.

I had finally found balance in my life. Noticing that like the scale that often tips, our lives are not always going to be “in-balance”. We too may “tip” slightly every now and again, but by learning about balance, we can more easily help in reharmonizing our scales.

Subtracting an Addiction

In our society, when the word “addiction” gets brought up, it is most often associated with the extremes of drugs and alcohol. Truth is, anything can be an addiction:  sex, shopping, working out, food, it is an addiction if it is habitual and is used as a means of escape. That escape is different for everyone.  Both internal and external issues that are avoided can lead to addictions.

I have had my share of addictions throughout the course of my life, both personal and through friends and family. I can say that my eating disorder qualified as an addiction. I was obsessed with counting calories and working out. I needed, I craved that fix because I had low self-esteem and used this addiction as a means of control in my life. I dated an addict whose fix was marijuana and sex, both used as an escape for inner issues. I have had friends who were deemed “shopaholics”. My grandfather was a recovering AA member for over thirty years. I wasn’t kidding when I said I have come in contact with a lot of addicts. But this isn’t shocking. A large portion of our society has an unhealthy addiction of some sort that is causing them unhappiness. These problems aren’t easy to overcome. They can have physical and psychological side affects and more often than not, the addict is in a state of denial about even having an addiction, or the severity of their problem, even when the problem festers and spreads to one or more areas of their life:  career, friends and family, romance, etc.

A key to identifying and working on one’s addictions is self-awareness. Ask yourself, when I am having negative thoughts and feelings, what do I turn to as a means of relaxation? Is this healthy? Why do I do this? Is this because of problems at work/home? Low self-esteem? Asking yourself these and other internal questions can help pin-point the addiction and reasons as to why you are turning to this unhealthy coping device. Self-awareness should be a daily task. It may take a while for your brain to get use to asking yourself questions and reflecting, especially if you’re not used to doing so, but like every skill, it takes practice and time, so be patient with yourself!

When you start realizing you are turning to your addiction, it is important to replace this unhealthy coping strategy with positive ones. When I was feeling depressed/anxious, instead of turning to my addiction, I started writing my feelings and thoughts in my journal, going on walks in nature, painting, and crafting. These were healthy ways to release my negative emotions and I felt better when I used these coping skills than when I turned to my addiction and was left with the guilt and shame afterwards.

A part of my belief is that, while making the shift from unhealthy to healthy coping skills is a positive change in overcoming an addiction, it is still a coping skill used to avoid an issue (just in a better, less destructive way). I am not saying you shouldn’t have positive coping skills, I am just saying recovery doesn’t stop there. You must figure out what these problems are that you are avoiding. Time for more self-reflecting! Figured out what causes you that discomfort? Time to take action and face your problems. Easier said than done, believe me, I know. It took me about three years of battling an addiction and trying to recover in the process. I didn’t do it alone. I had the support of my loved ones and help from professionals to get to the healthy state of where I am today. I’d recommend counseling or further help for anyone struggling with an addiction. It can be a tough battle to overcome alone, but it is worth it to keep fighting. You are worth it! When we overcome our addictions, we are balancing our root chakra, thus allowing us to move up in working on the other aspects of ourselves, which brings us closer to bliss, happiness and enlightenment. It all starts somewhere, why not start today?!

We numb ourselves from our struggles, fears and problems. So many repress these issues and turn to addictions to numb our minds from our troubles. But the thoughts always return. No object is going to make how we feel inside or our worries go away. Finding peace within yourself takes courage. It takes strength to face your fears, to look within yourself and find acceptance. Only then will the pain stay away.

-Journal Entry

Peace and love in your recovery process.

Creativity: The Power of Self-Expression

One of my many creative outlets is art. This was the start of one of my collages which expressed my whimsicality with fancy folk, mushrooms, and randomosity.

One of my many creative outlets is art. This was the start of one of my collages which expressed my whimsicality with fancy folk, mushrooms, and randomosity.

I am very blessed to have been born into a creative family, or at least a creative mother. My mother graduated with a degree in art. She implemented arts and crafts into my childhood, some of which included drawing and painting. This was the start of me unleashing my creative powers. Being artistic and being creative are slightly different. I think a lot of people can become good at something if they put in enough practice, such as learning to play guitar or taking cooking classes, but it is another thing to think up an original, unique idea. Having a wild imagination helped me as a child come up with new ideas, which I expressed through the form of creativity. Creativity has been something that has helped my mind and my soul, sparking a passion within me and increasing my happiness.

The big thing that creativity has done is that it has been a tool of self-expression for me. I know far too well now that it is unhealthy to keep emotions locked up inside me. I am after all a sensitive person who needs to express all my feelings in order to be healthy. Even though I have always been creative, I never realized how beneficial it was for my overall health until I started to reflect and analyze myself. If I feel sad, I write poetry to release these sad feelings in a healthy coping strategy. If I am angry, I dance my butt off. I don’t just emit negativity and hurt through creativity, but I also bring positivity and joy when I am creative. I watercolor, draw, dance, and cook to release happiness. It works both ways: releasing positivity and/or negativity. It is the perfect tool!

Another reason why creativity is so important to me is because it is connecting to my heart. Similarly to how being creative is good for expressing emotions, or my mental well-being, it is also a reflection onto my soul and spiritual wellness. When that creative fire fuels me, I am nourishing my soul and putting a part of myself into my work. When I do something creative and with passion, my energy is magnifying, and I am radiating from my heart and emitting love into what I am doing. It allows me to use my imagination also. I had to throw that one in there because I never want to lose that part of me. Having an imagination is something that keeps my young spirit alive and brings joy into my life.

Whatever your creative outlet maybe, musically, artistically, through writing, cooking or crafting, I encourage you to tap into that and notice how it makes you feel to do those things, to make something unique, to give a bit of your soul into a form of expression.

Relax…Nothing Is In Our Control

Having anxiety for most of my life, the worst possible advice I got was “relax”. Ummm….how?! The idea of relaxing confuzzled me (side note, I make up my own words. Confuzzled (adj.), a blend of being confused and puzzled). My mind was always racing and thinking of the millions of possible outcomes and scenarios to a situation or problem. These “what ifs” toyed at my mental ease and lead me to severe anxiety. Studies have linked worry to high intelligent individuals, so there’s a silver lining to my struggle. Actually, I have gotten much better, and have made huge strides of worrying less ever since last year when I started my recovery process. I still do worry, but not as much and not about little things that were hypothetical situations I made up in my head of things that hadn’t even happened yet. I have sort of come to this realization, through retraining my brain, that there are events that happen in life that are just beyond my control. I just have to let them be and realize that everything in life happens for a reason. I am learning to remove the worry and fear that has been in control of my mind for so long, and have taken back that control, conquering and taming my anxiety. It wasn’t easy, and it isn’t over, because overcoming a mental disorder isn’t easy (another side note, I hate the term mental disorder. We are all different, as are our brains. It is just a struggle/life hurdle some of us have to go through). Here are some great tools I used to help ease my anxiety:

WAYS TO REDUCE ANXIETY

1. Mindfulness-Through stopping and being aware of myself and environment, I am concentrating on living in the present rather than inside my head. I have practiced mindfulness through meditation, yoga, and just sitting in a quiet spot out in nature to listen, watch, and engorge my other senses.

2. Listening to Music-Another one of my posts discussed the benefits of music. One of these benefits is to decrease depression and anxiety. Rocking out to your favorite jam can lift your mood and forget about your worries.

3. Question your thoughts-Debate yourself when you start to worry. Ask yourself, is this true? What is the likely-hood of this happening? Why am I worrying about this, and what steps, if any, can I do to ease my worry?

4. Exercise and eat right-Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercises, such as running, can help reduce levels of anxiety. Also, your diet is important too. Eating foods with Vitamin B has been linked to reducing depression and anxiety. Also, eating complex carbs and whole-grains helps regulate our levels of serotonin, otherwise known as the happy mood regulator.

5. Deep Breathing-Learning to take long, deep breaths when we feel anxious can help calm us down through the extra oxygen our brain is getting during these stress-inducing times.

6. Do relaxing activities-It’s good to unwind and declutter your brain. Focus on activities that shift your attention away from your worries, such as hobbies or even pampering yourself to a lavender scented bubble bath (the scent of lavender has been linked to reducing stress).

If you have any other healthy ways that help with your anxiety, feel free to share!

Peace and love

Live From Your Heart

I am a very mental person. Okay, not like THAT mental. No straight jackets and padded rooms for me thank you. I am just very logical and analytical. Give me a good crossword or brain teaser to make my brain happy. I love to learn and I absorb knowledge like a sponge. Intellectual conversations give me a mental orgasm. But this post isn’t about my brain. It’s about my heart. For a lot of my life, I was so caught up in my brain and my thoughts. They caused me such anxiety and depression. My perceptions of reality became warped. I let mind control me. Now for a while, my brain was very unhealthy. With cognitive behavioral therapy, my brain healed, and so did my thoughts. But like I said, this isn’t about my brain. Okay, so why do I keep talking about it? While I was healing my brain, I started to focus on my heart as well. My heart is where I rediscovered my interests and passions. Where I found joy and love. Joy and love. These two emotions were something I had not felt for years of my life. If I were to feel these feelings, they would have to be caused my some grand stimuli, such as good grades or something else that I had to work towards in order to feel this.  It also needed to be within my control. Like I needed to plan out my happiness. I realize now that my brain’s thinking was prohibiting me from living through my heart. I was amounting these emotions into some logical formula. Work towards something I desire + me controlling the situation = joy and love. But the heart isn’t the brain. You can’t tell it what to do. It is guided by feelings. I had numbed myself to feelings for so long, that once I started following my heart, I was able to reopen my emotions and find what I loved, which in return gave me happiness and joy.

We as humans often get so stuck in our minds. We calculate our decisions based on what is “practical”, what is “safe”. We get jobs we may not be passionate about because they pay well. Or we may pass up that opportunity to talk to that cute guy because our minds fear rejection. We let our minds control us, rather than having a coexistence with our hearts. By following my heart more, I am not having to control my happiness or work towards false joy. I find it everyday by following my heart. Wearing what I feel like wearing, despite the societal pressure of fashion trends. I put on a full blow lip syncing performance in my car even though I know people are probably looking at me at the stop lights. I am living from my heart. It brings me daily happiness and even though I am caught up in my mental ways of thinking (I am a Virgo after all), I will always fall back on my heart.

The Wisdom of TEDTalks

Tonight I decided to watch a TEDTalk….which turned into me binge watching around six. TedTalks range on a variety of topics, but I focus my viewing attention more heavily on Talks dedicated for the mind, soul, happiness, and positive change in our society. The videos usually are no more than half and hour, which is just about the amount of time my attention span can allow. Each Talk is filled with such knowledge and wisdom, I take something meaningful away from each video.

Watching TEDTalks have been a great way for me to not only evolve mentally, but spiritually as well. I don’t watch a lot of television anymore. In my younger days, I would spend a good chunk of my day watching mindless television just to kill time. Now since I have evolved spiritually and mentally, when I decide to watch something, I prefer it to either be mentally stimulating or emotionally profound. TEDTalks are a good mixture of both. More often than not, I need to grab a tissue mid-talk because listening to the speakers share their stories and lessons, I am filled with empathy and moved by their words. I get filled with the warm and fuzzies at the end and crave the next TEDTalk…hence the binge.

So trying to get back track here, TEDTalks have been something that has helped me through bettering myself. I am learning new methods that I can implement into my daily practices, or just learning about new things in general and expanding my mind. It creates more of an awareness of issues in the world, socially, environmentally, mentally, etc. Like I said, there are so many TEDTalk topics out there, finding something that resonates with you isn’t difficult. I’ve compiled a brief list of some of the TEDTalks that I have personally enjoyed. I’d love to hear what other TEDTalks have inspired, motivated, or just touched you!

1. Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed CoAmic

2. Monica Lewinsky: The Price of Shame

3.  Courtney Martin: This isn’t Your Mother’s Feminism 

4. Liza Donnelly: Drawing Upon Humor For Change

5. Andy Puddicombe: All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes

6. Zak Ebrahim: I am the Son of a Terrorist. Here’s How I Chose Peace

Facing Your Fears

I have always been one for hope. When I was in high school, I hoped for happiness. I hoped that things would get better, that I wouldn’t feel so depressed all the time, that I would live the life I wanted for myself. It’s great to hope…it is what kept me going most days, but since all I was doing was just “hoping” that my life would be different instead of making changes, I continued to feel sadness. I continued to struggle. I realized that I had to DO something other than just hope that my life would get better. I needed to face my fears. I could of opted for the easy route, to sweep my problems under the rug, worry about them another day or whenever they came up again, but that would not change anything. Facing your fears can be scary, especially for someone with anxiety. Shoot, facing your fears is scary in general! I kept being afraid to fail. I hated that feeling of defeat, the trying and falling down. But you know what,

The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell.

That quote is a great reminder to myself every time I am scared. Most of the time, my anxiety gets the better of me and the thing I was so scared about wasn’t so scary at all. Other times though, I do fall. Currently I have been struggling with being assertive. I don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, but I also don’t want to become a doormat and get walked over. I have been learning to find my voice this past year. I still have a way to go, but I have also come a far way from when I started. True, I did stumble a few times, and I felt defeats at points, but I know that crawling back to where I was would ruin all the progress I have made, so with hope and determination, I keep pushing forward, maybe a bit slower since I fell, but I am still going. My fears are getting smaller now that I have been exposing myself to more and more of them. I have also taken lessons from the moments that I have fallen. I learn what not to do, or how to prevent this situation from happening in the future. Just because I slip up every now and again doesn’t mean that it was all for nothing. I learn and grow from these blunders. I take this as an opportunity and not a set back. There are still scary things that I have yet to face, but it’s a process and the important thing is I am trying.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.

Music Is My Favorite Mistress

Know those lyrics? They’re from the song, “Music is my Boyfriend” by CSS. A little Forever 21 Pop-ish from my younger days.  I am not someone who is cut and paste, “I like pop music” or “I’m into rock music”.My taste in music is very diverse. Some days I feel like reliving the golden era of jazz with Frank Sinatra and Cannonball Adderley, some moments it’s some Latin flare, other times, it’s EDM (Electric Dance Music). I’ll rock out to iconic AC/DC and Queen, or live it up with some unheard of indie bands like The Score Official and Freelance Whales. I basically listen to whatever catches my attention and resonates in my heart. I’ve noticed that whenever I have music playing, I am instantly in a better mood. Music has this amazing ability to release emotions: sadness, happiness, anger. After these release of emotions, I feel great! I get lost in the melody and get this big smile on my face and I can’t help but to move to the beat.

Listening to music has shown to reduce stress and relieve symptoms of depression, which is why I am talking about it in today’s post. While I am sure many of us enjoy listening to music, we may not be making an effort to incorporate it into our daily life. We may just turn on the radio in the car, or listen to it while working out. Something that I have done to add more music to my life is expanding my music library, through Pandora and Soundcloud. Discovering new songs and artists makes me excited to turn on my ipod and jam out to something I haven’t heard of before. I also keep the music flowing through out my house, car, on my walks, and where ever else I have the option. Music has also helped me while practicing yoga and meditation. Since I am a sensory-oriented person, having some zen music to listen to helps put me into a relaxed, meditative mindset. It’s also great for a workout! I’ll blast a song and dance my pants off. It’s awesome cardio and you get that release of emotions as well. Sometimes, I’ll even use music if I’m already feeling blue and need a sad song to get me to cry it out. Whatever it is, music is such a positive tool! So go find a jam, and excuse me while I go rock out myself 😉