Kristy, Au Naturale: “The Road to Serenity is Ahead” No Judgement Journaling

*Explicit language warning ūüėÄ in this post…

IMG_9854I don’t feel like I am alone in this when I say that I have the best of intentions when it comes to making the time to write in my journal ¬†all my journals. Mustering the courage to write my truth has always seemed too daunting a task. Faced with a blank page and SO MANY FEELINGS?

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so many journals, so little time

But… where do I start? What do I say? Somehow, my therapy via written word always finds a way of brushing itself aside with “I don’t have the time right now. Maybe later” and “Its 2:38 am, I should sleep. Ok, now its 3:02, 3:15, I’ll totally fall asleep because I’m so tired.”

Or, the all time most frequent anti-journaling monster…..distraction.

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Why should I journal anyways?? Before I got myself on the journaling wagon, I read a bunch of information about the benefits of journaling in PsychCentral.com articles, books and even Huffington post. Why bother? Here’s a few reasons:

  1. Writing can be an impressive way of challenging the mind to find words that otherwise may not be used in your everyday speech. Thus, expanding your vocabulary and your brainpower. (higher IQ levels for the win)
  2. Writing can also help boost your memory by actively beckoning the mind to remember events or ideas and then recalling them to the present.
  3. Bringing you into a state of mindfulness, journaling can create a level of self-awareness of just how deeply an issue, situation, or an emotion is felt. It helps you truthfully live in these experiences, so that you may be able to relate more appropriately to others.¬† Empathizing can be a powerful tool in emotional development. Being in the present moment, as well, can help to subdue the gravity of worries of the past, or the fiery pangs of the anxious ones to come. In essence, it’s helping you figure out your sh*&, so you can learn handy tools in dealing with your well-being going forward, and stop lamenting the worries of yesterday. (see what I did there?? I never use “lamenting” when I’m speaking to people. BRAIN BOOST POINTS)
  4. Others benefits, according to the PsychCentral.com article, can be related to problem solving, clarity of thoughts and feelings that can help you to know yourself better, and improving your interpersonal relationship communication.
  5. Sleep!!

So I touched on sleep above. Err, lack of sleep, rather.¬† Has anyone had those glorious nights where your kids are happily nuzzled cozy in their beds and sleeping all night, yet YOU can’t sleep because your mind is running around anazlying and worrying about everything and anything?

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The process of journaling has also been found to decrease the stressors that typically affect one’s ability to rest peacefully through the healing power of RELEASE. Dr. James Pennebaker authors a book titled,¬†Writing to Heal, in which he expresses the true art of unblocking emotional barriers and traumas. We can give them a voice to be heard, understood, and therefore not over analyzed¬†in our minds. He explains that writing exercises can

leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world, and the ability to accept that life can be good–even when it is sometimes bad.

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I know all this and yet…. Think of an excuse, and I’ve said it to myself to avoid journaling my thoughts and emotions that cause me stress and at their worst, keep me from sleeping. Truth is, if I just took five minutes out of my day to write that “thing” that is sucking my awareness into it down on paper, the huge monstrosity of looped thought may just exit my brain altogether. And hopefully, for good.

Here is the kicker: Journaling is also an awesome lesson in self-discipline. And with self-discipline, practice makes perfect.

I’ve admittedly been highly unsuccessful at keeping up with any journal.¬† It wasn’t that “I sucked at journaling” self judgey much? I just felt so overwhelmed with it, that I never even began to try. Frustration would set in before any therapeutic benefit could be reached.¬† The answer was that I hadn’t yet been connected to a journal that fit my personality/emotional needs.

It was through a gift from a dear friend that changed my perspective on that feeling. Suddenly, I was given a daily theme, a dated logbook with meditations, and small practical guidance to look within myself.  I found the points above were key factors in my adherence to writing behaviors. Helpful and simple tools, like this one below, are very powerful.

So, going through these insightful motions of jotting down my physical, emotional, and psychological thoughts for that day and relating them to an intention was my Aha! moment. I loved it, and looked forward to the time in bed right before I fell asleep when I could journal.

So, to Recap what we have learned:

  1. Keeping a journal is a healthy and awesome way to release emotional blockages and enhance your super smartness (which you already have a level of that for reading our blog;))
  2. You’ll need to find a journal that excites you, enticing you to make the time to use it as the tool it can be.
  3. Start slow. Pick a theme or an emotion to narrow in on in order to really understand it.
  4. Write quickly, without judgement, and in a space that can feel private and safe.
  5. Enjoy the process of opening up to yourself. You might be surprised at how in tune you become with your inner workings.

I’ll use my current theme as an example.¬† It is related to one of my favorite books, the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck The title speaks for itself. Buy it. Read it. Live it. You will thank me.

The Journal, also a gift, called “Zen as F*CK” A Journal For Practicing The Mindful Art of Not Giving A SH*T”, has me laughing like an awesomely carefree mad scientist and I am 514B7Y42PML._AC_US218_LOVING it. Each page can take less than 20 minutes. I find myself smiling when I am done, accomplished in my mindfulness task for that day.

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One of the factors that I never found in my research about writing therapy, was the amazing affect it has had on my hopefulness.¬†In the last 2-3 months since beginning this practice, albeit not daily but almost, I am slowly rediscovering who I was always meant to be. I am finding a woman who knows how to be confident in feeling happy, kind, warm, and balanced. Oh, and hilarious. Definitely hilarious. (if you can’t laugh at yourself, right?) And to think, it wasn’t that I found any old journal and started writing.¬† This all started to happened because,

          a journal helped me find my way back to me.

-Psssst, and I totally dig this new me. She’s kinda awesome.

I hope you take this time to rediscover you through the art of writing. Because chances are, you’re freaking incredible. Have an amazing voyage!

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, mom of 2 and homesteader in Virginia.

Sing Peace: The Power of Positive Intention

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Our scene opens to an Amphitheater. Its Grandparents Day and its my son’s first year at this Montessori School. I am excited to show my Father in Law and his wife how AMAZING this school is. It’s reputable accreditations, top notch facilities, child led education model, etc. Then the kids come out. They get in their positions for a song. Then the music starts…

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way ’round the world

Light a candle for me, light a candle for you

That our dream of peace, will one day come true

Sing peace around the world.

Goosebumps. Tears.

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I am utterly inspired by this song that my son’s Montessori Primary class is singing. Mesmerized by the message, I soon forget about all the impressive outward characteristics that the school offered. They, in front of my eyes, are showing me that they are teaching the kids about world peace.

What a notion! Light a candle for peace? Is it really that simple? Can I really believe that me lighting a candle for peace for all, will be enough to actualize that peace?

Yes, the power of positive intention is exactly that. Amazing, untapped, raw, power. 

“This morning, in this room, these children are using their power to change the world.”

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Many folks ask me whether or not I’ve heard the latest on local, national, or world news.¬† The many tragedies that happen daily, the “government’s latest screw up” and “this party is responsible for the demise of all humankind”. For those who absorb and feel energy,¬† frequently called Empaths, these types of things go beyond effecting just their thoughts. We feel this sort of devastation viscerally, which is why it can be hard for us to stay “up-to-date” with current events. It physically and emotionally hurts….quite literally.

There is a feeling of hopelessness that comes with constantly being bombarded with the negative things that go on in the world. It is not that we wish to remain ignorant, it is that the physical and emotional pain of feeling it becomes too much, and we must protect ourselves from it in order to live our best life.

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I know, kid. I feel it too.

Within the last ten years, I have developed a ritual that helps me feel the power of proactivity within what feels like a muddy bog of the energy of today’s world. When I feel taken by the overwhelming feeling of the worlds tragedy, I stop and light a candle. This grounding technique helps me to send up a prayer of protection for myself and the world. I take one moment to speak aloud my intention for that day. “I intend to live today happily and in gratitude” or “I intend to offer a feeling of peace to all whom I encounter.” Walking in that truth, I believe, has the power to effect maybe even ONE person. If I can effect one person, then the ripple effect can begin.

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I feel as though it is safe to say that most of us have heard of the Power of Intention. Ever heard of the book, The Secret? Oprah has!!!!

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Whaddup Oprah’s Book Club List?

The book explains that in the theory of Quantum Physics, everything has an energy; including thoughts. If we think about all that we have to be grateful for, we tend to open our hearts and minds to attract MORE of the same. This goes both ways. Both negative thoughts AND positive thoughts attract one another. Relying on this can have profound changes on one’s life. Simply speak your intention until it ultimately becomes your reality. In the book, that can mean financially, spiritually, romantically, or anything you else can imagine. We are, in essence, limitless.

After all, we’ve heard this same notion since we were littles ourselves.

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.”¬†

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Nice one, Jimminy. Thanks.

And why the heck shouldn’t they? If we are all individually powerful enough to make this happen,

imagine the potential energy of the collective?

The mountains of positivity that things like The World Kindness Movement can move.

An example lies in yesterday’s stresses I faced.¬† For me, they were almost too overwhelming for me to function. Money, parenting, and hormones (TMI? ah, lighten up;))got the best of me. So today, I woke up with the intention that I would feel nothing but butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. (photo below) I even dressed the part as a reminder. Needless to say, I had an amazing day today in that I could see the good, the fun, and especially the hope in all the things that had stressed me the day before. Had I not intended to live differently today, I would have most likely felt the same stresses take me over. Silver linings are just that. Shiny lines in the proverbial sand that let us choose whether to stay on the side the negative, or to choose to see the positive.

There are ways you can get yourself involved bringing kindness to the world. The Random Acts of Kindness Organization has plenty of ideas, lesson plans, and even motivational quotes to help you on your way. If you’d like to keep it simple, then just smile at a stranger every now and again. It is said to be hella contagious:)

Or, be like this kid,  Maurice Adams, Jr..

We can all learn from Maurice. Well done, good sir.

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over¬†1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down!¬†I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for¬†bats¬†to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house.¬†Bat¬†houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.¬† NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.¬† To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies.¬†2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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Essential Oils 101

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So what is Aromatherapy? Do you ever think back to a time before modern medicine? Before the time that the answer to everything seems to be to pop a pill? Well, before we had pills, the people¬† looked to the earth for help (sure, a s*$t-ton more folks died back then, but also nobody was willing to scrape the mold off cantaloupe and stick it on a festering wound either….but I’m splitting hairs. ).

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, derived from plants, roots, flowers, and saps and adapted into a concentrated oil to be used as aids in wellness of mind, body, and spirit. It can be inhaled indirectly, like in a diffuser( This one is super zen. ), via direct inhalation like using an Essential oil in your bathtub or an inhaler, or can be applied directly onto skin (be careful to be under direction of someone who is certified and knows about oils before you do this) via carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil.

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In my massage practice, I am certified to custom blend about 21 different oils. I use these blends for each client in a room diffuser. My favorite way to wear them daily for my own personal sense of zen is via my Essential Oil Necklace.

“Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Even the oils from varieties of plants within the same species may have chemical compositions different from each other. The same applies to plants that are grown or harvested in different ways or locations.” Says this article published by PubMed. This is important to remember when using oils for their medicinal properties.

Blending Smells

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Since the olfactory nerve can be sensitive to the chemical properties of the oils, it is best to smell each oil when pairing oils together. Each blend should have three different components. A top, mid, and bottom note.

Top notes are oils such as citrus oils: lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, being good examples. These top notes have the properties to “lift” up a mood. These oils are well known for the antidepressent qualities.

The Mid note is an oil that functions to balance out the blend. Lavender calms and sooths, eucalytpus balances and flows, and geranium is said to help regulate hormonal imbalance. There are many more, these are examples of the ones that I use frequently.

The Bottom notes are important. These are your saps, resins, barks, and some plants. Thick and earthy smelling, these function to ground you. They have very great propensity to help with sleep, anxiety, stress reduction, and overall centering.

Creating a delicate balance of chemical properties is important when blending oils. Smelling each oil one at a time can help you determine if the chemical properties of the oil are something your body can handle at that moment. For instance, you could think you LOVE lavender, but today you smell it and it smells awful! There are many other oils with soothing properties that may be less offensive to your nose, so move on to the next!

It is good practice to smell your blend and add ONE drop at a time per oil so you can be wary of the strength of your blend, and customize it directly to you!

Tips to remember

  1. Never put an oil directly on skin without a carrier oil as a base. Some oils (especially citrus) are phototoxic (breakdown in the presence of UV light) and will make your skin super susceptible to burning in the sun.
  2. Since oils are heavily concentrated (about 200lbs lavender flowers go into making just ONE lb of lavender oil) try to never blend more than 4-5 oils together.
  3. Make sure your oil is pure, in a blue or brown glass bottle that has been shipped and stored in a cool dry place (these are organic matter essences and have a shelf life) To tell if it is pure, you should see its latin name as well as its country of origin written clearly on the bottle. StillPoint Aromatics is a company that I like to recommend .
  4. Please DO NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER ingest essential oils. Unless you are under the direct care of a clinically trained Aromatherapist (not corporate trained), you should avoid ingestion. Like I stated above, these heavily concentrated oils can eat through surfaces like wood. Imagine what it could do with a stomach lining or liver!
  5. Be careful and do not use oils if you’re pregnant! Again, it is earth medicine and needs trained minds to approve before use.
  6. Have fun with it! It can become a very awesome ritual if you let it!

Here is an excellent guide!

 

Essential Oils Guide

Friday Feels: Dealing with Adult Bullies

Ever hear these lines?

“It’s not about you, it’s about them.”¬†“Take it as a compliment that she is so focused on you still after all this time.”¬†“Just ignore them.”

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These are all things other people will say to you when you are the target of an adult bully. These are what they will tell you to think to yourself as you take deep breaths and¬† “let it go” (thanks Elsa). But, the ugly truth is that engaging in this calming behavior, while helpful to you, doesn’t help address the continuance of the behavior of the bully.¬†

Someone very smart once told me, “power and insecurity are a dangerous combination.” Power comes in many forms – physical size, career position, money, and/or social influence, to name a few.¬† (Political power is the form currently reflected in the administration of our country, but I won’t get into that right now). This is the common ground underlying bullying whether age 2 or 92.

So, since I like to focus on solutions, I want to talk about things you can do to attempt to curb the behavior without sacrificing your own integrity and sanity (and ultimately avoid becoming a revenge-bully yourself).  But first, a little bit of background:

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I personally have been the target of a bully.¬† This person has spent the last two years telling people various inaccurate and reputation-damaging stories about why I left my previous career to become a full-time financial advisor. More than a dozen people have told me some version of her story after they heard it.¬† I won’t bore you with the details, but the most alarming untrue story she likes to spread is that I had post-partum depression due to my daughter’s emergency surgeries and couldn’t face returning to work.

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It shouldn’t have surprised me, really. She had said rude, untrue things about many other people in my presence, and you know what they say – if someone talks sh*& about others, they will talk sh*& about you too. And even though I hope that the majority of people she said these things to realize there was no truth to them, the bottom line is: they might wonder if there is a kernel of truth in there. And as Se√Īora Gibson told us all in high school, “You only have one reputation. Protect it with all of your might!”

So, what actually works to combat a bully?

Here are my tips:

  1. Find compassion. Remember that at the root of the bully’s behavior is insecurity. Start fresh with this thought, “I want to see this person for the first time.” (thanks Gabby Bernstein). Allow compassion to be your starting point. This won’t stop the behavior (remember, you can’t control what others do, only your own actions), butsad mean girls GIF-source.gif it might prevent your blood pressure from rising or result in screaming in their face like you want to.¬†¬†People who are happy and secure don’t feel threatened by other people’s success. They don’t find pleasure in or feel compelled to harm others or put them down.¬†¬†Picture them as a child themselves, experiencing bullying or their own trauma. It will potentially shift your view enough to give you the space to find empathy instead of anger in a challenging moment.¬†¬†¬†
  2. Let go of the “why”.¬†Asking, “Why??”¬†is a waste of energy. We often create these stories in our minds about other people that are not helpful. There is a great kids book called Have You Filled A Bucket Today?¬†that breaks it down. The basic storyline is that everyone carries an invisible bucket around with them, filled with love and happiness. Bullies have empty buckets. They think that by emptying other people’s buckets they will fill their own, but the truth is that every time they are mean to someone else, they not only empty that person’s bucket but they also empty their own as well. You don’t need to know “why” their bucket is empty. All that matters is that you remember that the bully’s behavior isn’t about you.¬†
  3. Confront them calmly and kindly¬†(over and over again if needed). Have patience and remember that this is a process. I confronted this bully after this first began and asked her kindly to stop spreading misinformation. She denied it washappy excuse me GIF-source.gif¬†happening and carried on. No surprise.¬†Doing it once usually doesn’t do the trick but you have to start somewhere. You have to be consistent and clear. Every time they say something rude or condescending to you, respond with a simple “What do you mean by that?” Interestingly, this usually stops them in their tracks (I swear, try it!). In a situation where they are forced to explain the meaning behind their comments, you will usually find that they backtrack or walk away altogether.¬†If they alternately, explain an explicit threat – you then have grounds to take more formal action. Write it down immediately with date and time.¬†This works in the workplace, in social settings, and at home.
  4. Be mindful of the record.¬†If they send you something mean or rude in writing (like an email), do not respond in writing. If you feel you must, keep it short, without malice, and consistent with other communications. For example, “I am not sure exactly what you mean by this. However, I would prefer a face to face conversation to prevent any miscommunication and feel confident that you will treat me with respect.” Set the tone proactively.¬†¬†Stop the cycle of condescension.¬† 30124233_2081515945450971_2698465873672939413_n.jpg
  5. Don’t give their words life. When someone wrongs us like this, spreading rumors and causing heartache, you want to run around and shout from the rooftops- “Can you believe what this person said?! It isn’t true!!!” But when we do this, we end up giving their voices more power. We are further spreading the rumor!!! Don’t repeat it.¬†¬†Don’t give it life.¬†¬†Complain to your spouse, partner or besties, but leave it there.
  6. Allow your frenemies to expose themselves and then say goodbye to them. Perhaps the greatest gift a bully can give you is clarity around some of your relationships. If people believe the bully, or worse, if people participate in the gossip, they are showing you their true colors. Don’t make it a dramatic break up, just stop including them in your life. People with integrity will always stand up for what is right, even (and especially) when it is hard, no excuses. As my husband says, “Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has them and they all stink.” Shoutout to Mrs. Driscoll’s banner in her classroom in 7th grade: “What’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular.”¬†
  7. Spread your story, the truth, far and wide – with positivity.¬†¬†Send out a letter announcement or email saying your truth. Be your own PR agent – a PR Agent of Truth.¬†¬†While legal action is always an option, slander cases are rough on the accuser too. Consider this PR Campaign for Truth as a less costly, positive alternative to battling it out in a court of law (although that’s always an option if it gets bad enough to harm your potential or current relationships, particularly your professional relationships.)¬†
  8. When they go low, you go high.¬†Be the bigger person when responding to the michelle obama GIF by Election 2016-source.gifrumor mill.¬†I saw a mutual contact in a bagel shop a few years ago. She said, “Wow – Margo. Why are you so dressed up in a suit today?”. I looked confused and said, “I’m on my way to a meeting!” She, even more confused said, “She told me that you left your job to stay home with your kids.”. I smiled and said, “No, actually, I had been planning this career change for quite some time now – took my series exams the year before, …etc.¬† But how are you?” Ultimately, I heard from a few others that this person, outraged at the lie, became an ambassador for my truth, without me even requesting that she do so. This is the absolute hardest one for me. My gut reaction is to want to fight back. But, in every relationship in your life, you are doing a dance with the other person. Don’t engage in a revenge-bully tango with the Bully.¬†¬†It will ultimately bring you down to their level. Before you speak about someone, ask yourself: “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?”.¬†Keep your bucket full.¬†
  9. Engage in self care. Go to yoga classes. Start using self-affirming statements. Seek counseling if you need it. Don’t let it harm your mental health.¬†If anything, let this be a stimulus to Rise Up.¬†

And when all else fails and you want to scream? Go for it (in the privacy of your own home). Call your besties, pour yourself your favorite glass of wine or grab your favorite treat and remind yourself that¬†tomorrow¬†will be a better day and that bullies never prosper.¬†¬†Because after all, living a life of unhappiness and insecurity is punishment enough. Thank goodness that’s not you, right?¬†

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Margo is a married mom of 2, financial advisor and software developer in Maryland.