TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE. LITTLE CHANGES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
WHERE TO BEGIN
This is part 3 in a series. Click here or "Healing Your Kintsukuroi Heart" in the categories menu to go to the full series
Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
I started by looking at what wasn’t working in my life – aka – the symptoms – and working backward to find the underlying cause. Here’s what I mean. For me, the two biggest “problems” were my lack of money/resulting debt, and making poor relationship choices. Then I asked myself why it was happening? Why was I broke? Why did I invite chaos and negativity into my life in the form of unhealthy relationships?
Because of the deep seated beliefs I held about myself. If I really, deep down, thought I deserved better I would have required it. This concept was easier to understand when it came to relationships but not so easy when it came to money. On the surface I thought it was the economy or just my crappy luck. Perhaps it was to a degree, but honestly, it was just more chaos and a manifestation – or symptom, if you prefer - of how I saw myself… as in “not enough”. If I doubted my own worth how could I claim it?
Ok, so I discovered and named the source. I did that piece of the work for you and I’m happy to pass it along to give you the starting point. Now, your job is to accept this truth, fine tune it to fit your specific situation(s), and make the commitment to put the plan into action and heal yourself. It’s a large undertaking but entirely doable!
It bears repeating - How or why we originally acquired these feelings of low self-worth is irrelevant for now. Because regardless of how they got there, here we are. And now it’s up to us to fix it.
SO, IT REALLY IS ALL ABOUT US!
And admitting that we are at the center of our issues.
Doing this – acknowledging that how we view ourselves is the root of our issues - rather than blaming outward circumstances, or someone else – gives us the power to change. If someone or something else is the cause of our issues than there’s nothing we can do to change anything. Taking ownership means taking back our power. This part is crucial. You must own it.
So now what? Now we fix it.
THE FOUR-PRONGED PLAN OF INTENTION.
Moving forward, as the healing takes hold, good choices and positive movement will become more and more intuitive and a self-perpetuating upward spiral takes hold. Your thoughts, words and actions will be in service of your very best self and fulfilling your dreams. It will become second-nature.
THE FOUR-PRONGED PLAN OF ACTION.
Note: I strongly suggest writing this out with physical pen and paper. It connects you more deeply to the work.
Make a list of what isn’t working in your life. Start with the big things. What are you doing that you need to stop doing? Write it down. Now, what aren’t you doing that you need to start? Write it down. You’ll apply these things to your personalized Four-Pronged Plan! They will become the promise you make to yourself. Your mission statement. You can use pen and paper or purchase the workbook here.
Rule Number One:
No relationships of any kind with men for one year. None. No dates, no flirting, no phone calls, not even hanging out platonically with male friends (because they also offered attention and externally fed my damaged ego). It was absolute. No relationships. No men. Period. They were part of the problem and also a distraction and I could afford neither, so they were the first thing to go. I was officially and completely off the market.
What will you let go of that isn’t serving your higher purpose? What needs to go? Are you over spending? Talking smack about yourself and/or others? People pleasing or tolerating unkindness? Smoking, overeating, or another self-destructive behavior? Get very specific. Break it down into segments. Use my example above as a template. If it’s more than one thing, fill this part in more than once.
Your Rule Number One Template:
No (fill in the blank) of any kind for one year. None. No (fill in the blank), no (fill in the blank), no (fill in the blank), not even (fill in the blank) because (state your deep truth). It is absolute. No (fill in the blank). No (fill in the blank). Period. This is part of the problem and also a distraction and I can afford neither, so they are/it is the first thing to go. I am officially and completely (fill in the blank).
Rule Number Two:
Focus inward and practice self-care. I’d never really developed a true sense of self or figured out who I was as an individual. You need to get to know yourself and to be autonomous. You will also be kind to yourself, practice self-respect, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and there will be no more negative self-talk. You will stop putting yourself down or calling yourself names. Not even in jest. Like the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, you will say nothing at all. If you are going to change the way you feel about yourself, you must to treat yourself like you are important and worthy, and you must rewrite your internal dialogue. We will have an upcoming, detailed posts specifically on self-care and discovering yourself as an individual!
Note: If you let something slip out, if you refer to yourself in a derogatory fashion, stop as soon as you realize it. Look in the mirror if you can, but breathe and tell yourself this.: “I’m sorry. That was unkind. It’s simply not true. I deserve much better. Please forgive the mistake. I will do better next time. I am amazing.” Forgive yourself and breathe…
Rule Number Three:
Career. Many years ago, in 1998 to be exact, I’d chosen a career in holistic wellness. A field that I loved but, in practice, had never really enjoyed. I would now allow myself to be fully focused on developing and nurturing my career, to let go of the parts I didn’t love and pursue and expand the parts I was passionate about, to continue my education and become an expert in my field, to know my own worth and to claim it. Taking control of my debt also came under this heading. It’s up to you to decide if cleaning up any messes you’ve made becomes part of rule number 1 or rule number 2. We’ll address this further in upcoming posts/videos.
YOURS; Here's your template:
What will you begin to create? What steps will you take to live your dream, achieve your higher purpose. What will you do every day to live in service of making it happen? If it’s more than one thing, fill this part in more than once.
I will now allow myself to be fully focused on developing and nurturing my (fill in the blank), to create time and space to (state you deep desire) to (state your commitment to the process and how you will go about it and your ultimate goal), to own my right to pursue my dreams, know my own worth and to claim it.
RULE NUMBER FOUR:
This will come a bit later.
That's it, simple but not necessarily easy. If you are choosing to do the full program, the entire year will be devoted to helping yourself heal; mind, body, spirit and craft. Yes, one year! We are talking about very deep healing! You can also choose to try it for as little as a weekend - or one month - thee months or six. Or, you read the blog, watch the videos and put them into practice where, when and how you see fit. But again, very deep, long lasting, life changing healing takes a long time. I did it and it changed my life in ways I never dreamed of!
Take some time with this part – the next two weeks if you need it. Get quiet, sit with yourself. Do some real soul-searching. These are true commitments you’re making to yourself. You owe it to yourself. It’s time.
Quote of the Day
"Acknowledging that how we view ourselves is the root of our issues - rather than blaming outward circumstances, or someone else – gives us the power to change. Taking ownership means taking back our power."
If you can relate to any, or all of these statements to any degree, I’ll see you here in the next installment. Thursday, January 28th at 1 pm Pacific time.
Can you relate? Are you considering participating in this program? Please let us know what you think! Comment below... I's love to hear your thoughts! xoAmie
Read Amie's Book:
KINTSUKUROI HEART; More Beautiful for Having Been Broken
Order on Kindle or in paperback by clicking on the Amazon Affiliate Book Link below!
HEALING YOUR KINTSUKUROI HEART; How To Be Your Best Self & Achieve Your Goals; Part 2. Low Self Esteem is a Gateway Drug - Taking Responsibility
Healing Your Kintsukuroi Heart; Part 2
LOW SELF ESTEEM IS A GATEWAY DRUG.
This is part 2 in a series. Click "Healing Your Kintsukuroi Heart" in the categories menu to go to the full series.
Click here for part 1
Last week we identified that low self-esteem is the original “gateway drug” even if your challenges have nothing whatsoever to do with substance abuse. Click here to read the post. I also said that, even if you don’t initially think it applies to you, I’d illustrate how it may - so stay with me.
Today we’ll discuss how accepting this truth – that low self-esteem is source of our issues - can change this gateway drug into your gateway to healing.
LET’S EXPLORE SOME SCENARIOS:
Do any of these statements – or a version of them – resonate with you? Now read them again, but this time tack on the words “Because I feel so good about myself.” at the end. For a clearer illustration you can watch the companion video by clicking here.
Now you get it, right? It’s entirely contradictory. Any type of behavior that doesn’t honor yourself or who you want to be, isn’t in service of your dream, or in pursuit of being or becoming the very best version of yourself, comes from a place of feeling “less than.” People who truly feel good about themselves don’t think, speak, or behave in ways that are people pleasing, unhelpful, unkind, lack understanding or have a positive purpose – regardless of whether it’s directed inward or outward. There’s no shame in feeling less than. It just is. And the sooner you can embrace that the sooner you can get on with doing something about making it better.
Note – don’t confuse an inflated ego with a healthy self-worth! Ego is the opposite side of the same low-self esteem coin. People who feel good about themselves don’t have to blow themselves up in an attempt to impress others. A healthy self-esteem isn’t greater than or less than; It’s equal to.
SO, NOW WHAT?
I’ll tell you everything – step by step - in this series. Again - It’s free. There’s nothing to buy to gain access to all of it. If you’d really like you can read my book, Kintsukuroi Heart; More Beautiful For Having Been Broken, or order the companion workbook to this series, Healing Your Kintsukuroi Heart, both on Amazon, but you certainly don’t have to. All you really need is occasional access to the internet and a pad and pen. Oh, and a deep commitment to change… if only you could order that on Amazon!
HOW I AND WHY I CREATED THIS PROGRAM.
I had issues. Big issues. As I mentioned before, the specifics of how those issues presented themselves aren’t important right now. I’ll talk more about them in a later video/blog.
Initially, I worked through my issues by taking the traditional route of therapy, medication*, self-help groups and talking with friends, which all worked and I still recommend. But for me, they only worked for so long and only to a degree. They were either too costly, didn’t go deep enough or they addressed the symptoms and not the root cause; I needed to dig down and truly change the way I looked at things and, most importantly, change how I viewed myself. If I could do that, I knew my life would change.
*Note - titrated off of my anti-depression medication with the permission and under the very close supervision of my doctor. Never EVER replace the experience of another over the advice of your trusted health care professional!
Over the years I’d gathered inspiration through books and movies. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Under the Tuscan Sun (the movie). AYear by the Sea by Joan Anderson. Educated by Tara Westover. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Menton. The list goes on. (All linked below!)
However, most of the books and films in this genre, wonderful stories that I have deeply loved (I recommend them all and have linked* all the titles above and below), came from a place so unique that, although fabulously inspirational were, for me, mostly unrelatable or unactionable – the experiences of the very fortunate or wealthy, or situations so extreme that very few people find themselves – offering remedies that were simply out of my reach. I wasn’t in a position to take time away at the beach or travel around the world to find myself, I had to work! I didn’t have extra money or a scholarship to an Ivy League school. I deeply admired those who did and longed to be in their shoes, but I simply wasn’t. There were times when I couldn’t even afford to buy those books or a ticket to the movies, I checked them out of the library. But I read them. I watched them. They inspired me and gave me something to shoot for!
So, being a determined and resourceful little bugger and having the professional training, I devised a way to do these extraordinary things – to embark on a life-altering journey of healing – without leaving home and with rather ordinary resources. These “ordinary” circumstances are what often stops women from doing something extraordinary. You are my people and I am here to inspire you!
I put myself on an intense minimalistic, at home self-retreat. Exactly what I would do if I paid thousands of dollars to go away on retreat or soul searching quest. I committed to addressing my issues via holistic wellness, intentional physical exercise, and the mind/body/spirit connection. I tried new things. I practiced yoga and meditation, and began living with defined intention. I unplugged and sought peace, quiet, and solitude. These things are easily accessible and available to all of us for free or at very little cost. In fact, once I went into this wholeheartedly – a time of concentrated self-discovery and minimalism - I actually saved a ton of money. This realistic vantage point is one way in which I feel this program is different; it's wholly accessible and meets you at a place where many of us find ourselves when starting over.
I know it works because I created it, I’ve applied it, I’ve lived it, I’ve practiced it and afterwards, the really poor life choices I’d been allowing to enter my life on a daily basis became inconceivable to me. Not because I focused on changing those choices but because I changed how I felt on the inside. The positive choices I began making became a symptom of how I felt about myself just like the negative ones had been. I didn’t work on the symptoms –I addressed the root cause of the symptoms. I healed the person who was making them.
To be clear, I had to clean up the mess of some of those choices and so will you. Not to worry, I’ll help. I’ll give you the tools and we’ll go over all of it, step by step.
Now is your time to work on acceptance. To ready yourself to embark upon a journey of deep and lasting change and true transformation. Next week, we start the transformation.
Quote of the Day:
"The positive choices I began making became a symptom of how I felt about myself just like the negative ones had been. I didn’t work on the symptoms –I addressed the root cause of the symptoms. I healed the person who was making them."
If you can relate to any, or all of these statements to any degree, I’ll see you here in the next installment. Thursday, January 21st at 1 pm Pacific time.
Can you relate? Are you considering participating in this program? Please let us know what you think! Comment below... I's love to hear your thoughts! xoAmie
Scroll down for the YouTube Companion Video!
Read Amie's Book:
KINTSUKUROI HEART; More Beautiful for Having Been Broken
Order on Kindle or in paperback by clicking on the Amazon Affiliate Book Link below!
*As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases
Check out the video for three big announcements for the New Year! Let me know what you think in the comments! xoAmie
Order Amie's book. KINTSUKUROI HEART on Kindle or in paperback by clicking on the Amazon Affiliate Book Link below!
Thank you so much, xoAmie
Different ages. Different decades. Different circumstances. There are specific events in our lives that shift our paths, write our stories and break our hearts, adding layers, depth and complexity to the clean-slated girls we once were.
Each chapter in Part I of Kintsukuroi Heart is a non-fiction stand-alone story. A collection of vignettes offering glimpses of the exact moment in a woman’s life when something happens, either by choice or circumstance, that changes her course.
In Part II we see how these experiences, though deeply personal and unique, are the threads that intertwine and connect us all, fostering compassion and empathy for one another and, hopefully, for ourselves.
In Part III we see how, as women, like all forces of nature and works of art, our beauty is formed through refraction, revealed in dimension and contrast, shadow and light, our benevolence becoming both the result and the salve, the subject and lens. The road may be beastly but the result, if allowed, can be spectacular.
“Kintsukuroi: kin-tsU-kU-roi (noun) (v. phr.) ‘To repair with gold.’ The Japanese art of mending broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object rather than something to disguise, understanding that the piece becomes more beautiful for having been broken.”
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou~
Next week's post, Chapter One; Waiting Room on Thursday, December 10th at 10 am Eastern, 1: pm Pacific time
Want to read more now? I can't wait to share this book with you!
Order on Kindle or in paperback by clicking on the Amazon Affiliate Book Link below!
Thank you so much, xoAmie
10 Things to Start Your Day Right and Help You Feel Good About Yourself - Especially if you’re housebound!
This is an exceptional time we’re living in. The new normal is anything but. Even the most resilient among us may need reminding that being relegated to our homes to stay healthy, doesn’t mean we should act as though we’re home sick.
This is especially important if you suffer from depression, the late winter blues or early spring blahs, you’re just not feeling great about yourself, you’re grieving the loss of a loved one/marriage/relationship but on the road to recovery, you’re in early recovery from any type of addiction or otherwise trying to change or manage your mood or behavior. And if you’re not prone to any of these things but suddenly find yourself removed for your normal schedule due to social distancing or a self quarantine you may be finding it difficult to adjust.
Even if you’re feeling pretty good about yourself right now but you have a tendency toward feeling otherwise - or just want to stay motivated - these little shifts in your morning self-care habits can make a big difference!
Some may seem like no brainers - some may seem ridiculously simplistic - but if you’re staying home and beginning to feel not so great about yourself for any reason, letting the smallest of things slip can start to add up and work against you.
Here is my top 10 list of a.m habits to help you feel good about yourself!
1. Get up! When it’s time to get out of bed in the morning, do it. Although lying in bed and reading for an extra 30 or 60 minutes on a Sunday morning can feel like a wonderful luxury and a reward for a long week, doing it on a regular basis doesn’t set the tone for a productive day. Try getting out of bed a little earlier than you have to instead of waiting until the last possible minute. Laying in bed too long isn’t a good habit
2. Let the light in. Once you’re out of bed open the curtains, pull up the shades and let the sun shine in. Even on a cloudy, rainy or dreary day the effects of natural light on your mood are well documented.
3. Make your bed. It looks nice, it sends a message that you’re up and ready to start the day, it gets your body moving even if just a little, and if you suffer from depression it may help keep you from crawling back into it for the day - I’m speaking from personal experience on this one! Plus, getting into a freshly made bed every night feels really great!
4. Drink a big glass of water. Before I have my morning coffee, I have my water. It wakes up my body and get things moving. Starting the day well hydrated - and staying that way - can make a big difference in how you feel.
5. Have a have a morning grooming routine even - and maybe especially - when you’re staying home. Keep up - or step up, now that you have the time - your wake up routine. Do it for yourself if no one else!
7. Move your body. Whether or not I’m going for a morning walk or run (and right now we’re self-isolating at home), I do a 5-minute yoga stretch (my video is linked here) with deep breathing. Try it. You’ll be surprised with what a difference it makes! COVID-19 Tip: Now that we’re socially distancing and staying home, extending this to a full yoga practice or morning stretch and guided meditation can help you feel wonderful. It’s also a great way to exercise if you’re housebound.
8. Make yourself a good heathy breakfast. I make oatmeal every morning. It couldn’t be faster or simpler. ½ cup of dry oats, a few dashes of cinnamon, a banana, ½ cup of water and 1 minute in the microwave. Bam, I have a hot, heathy breakfast in about 2.5 minutes. (2 minutes and 23 seconds… yeah, I timed this, too.)
9. Tidy your home. I grab my Swiffer’s (see below) and do a quick dust of the furniture and floor. If you don’t want to use disposable wipes to clean your floor you can substitute washcloths on your Swiffer floor duster, like I do (see below). Just poke the washcloth through the holes instead of the disposable cloths. It only takes a few minutes to freshen your surroundings. Nate Burkus said “Your home should rise up to greet you.” I believe that truer words cannot be spoken when it comes to your home.
10. Set some goals for the day. Even if one of those goals is to catch up on some much needed rest or practice self care, put it on you list and get it done! Why not use this time at home to try something new or return to something you love and have long left behind. Put it on the list and do it!
A special note for skeptics: Taking care of your appearance matters. Why? Because you’re insides and your outside are not mutually exclusive. They are connected and both are parts of the whole you. I’m not talking about hiding behind a mask or false facade, I’m talking about simple things to let you - and your natural beauty - shine!
If needed, remind yourself that self-care and self-esteem go hand in hand and are self perpetuating in both directions. The lower your self worth the less you’ll care about these things and the less you’ll want to put forth any effort. Conversely, the more you value yourself the more invested you’ll be in how you feel and care for yourself even - or perhaps especially - if no one else sees it!
Here’s a litmus test. Have you ever left the house praying you wouldn’t run into someone you knew because you felt you looked an embarrassing mess? How did it make you feel? Now how about a time when you left the house feeling like a million bucks? Better, right? My wish for you is that you present yourself in such a way that you don’t care who you run into even if the only person you encounter is in the mirror. You should feel that good about yourself every day. Like I said before, it takes just as much time to put on something crappy as it does to put on something cute. It takes the same effort to put on an attractive pair of slip on sneaks* as it does dirty old flip flops. So up your game! You can do it and you’re worth the effort! The amount of time it takes to run a comb through your hair and chuck on some lip color is negligible.
No matter how grand or humble your abode, your wardrobe or your presentation, keeping it neat can lift you up and allowing a mess can drag you down. It’s just that simple!
*COVID-19 Tip: Do not wear street shoes in the house and if you do, sanitize them with an approved EPA-registered household disinfectant linked here. Of course be careful that you do a color test before wiping the tops and let them air dry thoroughly before walking around your house - lest you ruin a good pair of shoes or track a bleach solution all over your carpets!
Hi! My name is Amie and I hope some of you may find this helpful. It's my experience, strength, and hope in dealing with depression and how I went from using medication to Mother Nature to manage my depression. It ids an excerpt from my upcoming book and was firsts published on Tiny Buddha ❤️🌎☮️🦋☯️
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~John Burroughs
I sat on the front stoop sobbing, unable to move. Hunched over like a heaving dog hugging my knees and clutching a wad of decomposing tissues. About fifteen minutes before, I’d managed to get myself off the couch where I’d been parked, withered and absent, for the fourth consecutive day, and had made it through the front door.
Once there, I tried to stay upright, but like cool syrup I slid down the side of the wrought iron railing and down onto the steps. Now all I had to do was get up and walk to the mailbox and back and maybe I’d feel better. But I couldn’t do it. It was too much.
I hoisted my laden head from my knees and stared out the driveway to the mailbox about seven hundred feet away. It may as well have been ten miles… or fifteen feet. It didn’t matter, it was too far.
“Please just help me get up,” I pleaded to a somber sky. The help didn’t come and so there I sat crying, searching for the energy or the wherewithal to make myself move. Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, twenty-five… the time oozed by thick and distorted.
It had happened before, more than once, and had overtaken me at varying speeds and intensity. Sometimes it leached in with the change of seasons; like an inflatable pool toy left floating past the end of summer, sad and wilted, the air having seeped out in infinitesimal degrees. Sometimes I could fight it off, catch it before things got too grim. Not this time. I’d felt myself spiraling down, hot wind escaping me until I was in a deflated heap, slack and flaccid on the sofa.
It had happened a few years ago, although not this bad, and a chirpy classmate had suggested that I just “snap out of it!”
“Just… ‘snap out of it?’” I repeated.
“Yeah!! Snap out of it!”
“It’s not that simple,” I said.
“Sure, it is! Like the song says, ‘Put on a happy face!’”
“Are you kidding me right now?”
“No, I’m not kidding,” she said. “It’s mind over matter. Just distract yourself by doing something that makes you happy. Stop thinking about it… you know, snap out of it!”
I looked at the woman through a haze of disbelief and deadpanned, “Just snap out of it. Gee. Why didn’t I think of that?”
Another friend enquired, “Why don’t you just ask for help when things get bad?”
“Because you can’t,” I said
“What do you mean you can’t? You just pick up the phone and ask for help. It takes two seconds!”
“I mean you can’t; not when you’re in the depths of it. That’s the insidiousness of it. When you need help the most is when you’re least able to ask for it.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” the friend replied. “If you’re sick you call the doctor. If your car breaks down you get it to a mechanic. If you have a drinking problem you go to AA. When you need help, you ask for help!”
“That’s like telling someone who is trapped under a piano to walk over to the phone and call the movers,” I scoffed. “You simply can’t”
“Of course, you can! You’re not actually trapped under a piano and you’re not paralyzed, are you?”
“Well, no, obviously it’s a metaphor. But in a way you are… paralyzed, I mean.”
“Oh, come on… I think you’re being a little dramatic.”
“And I think you’re being dismissive and oversimplifying it.”
“Because it’s pretty simple. You just ask for help.”
“I don’t think there’s anything I can say to help you to understand how it feels. I just don’t know how to explain it if you’ve never experienced it.”
“Well, I think if someone needs help, they should just ask for it.”
I sighed and said “Maybe the name says it all. It’s a good name for how you feel. ‘Depression.’ There’s the word depression like a hole in the ground and you definitely feel like you’re stuck down in a hole. And there’s depression in the sense that something is pressing down on you. It absolutely feels like there is a physical weight holding you down. It’s inexplicably heavy. It’s heavy in your mind. It’s heavy in your lungs. It’s heavy in your body. Sometimes, when it’s really bad, it’s nearly impossible to move.”
“Nearly impossible… but not impossible,” my friend said. “You could still get to the phone.”
But that was then and now I was alone. No nonbelievers to convert nor pep talks to deflect.
Medication had worked to a degree and only for a while. The struggle to find the right prescription and dosage combined with the ever-growing list of side effects had proven too much. I also swore I could feel the drugs in my system, and they made me feel toxic, for lack of a better term, and I couldn’t stand it. So, under my doctor’s guidance I’d titrated off my meds.
I’d discovered that, for me, the best way to loosen the grip of despair and keep it at bay was intense, intentional, physical exercise. As I slowly increased the time I spent walking, then running, my doctor kept close tabs on my progress. It had worked. It was my magic pill and like any prescription, I had to take it without fail or face a relapse.
I’d found that he more/less I exercised the more/less I wanted to, and the better/worse I felt; it was self-perpetuating in both directions, and over the past couple of months I had gotten lazy; my laziness turned into malaise, the malaise had become despondence, and despondence had gotten me here. Sitting languid and bleak between a spitting gray sky and the gravel drive.
It was late September in Mid-Coast Maine. The days were growing shorter and winter would not be long behind. The hibernal season was always a struggle and it was harder to manage my mood. The window of opportunity was closing. If I didn’t get ahead of it straightaway there’d be no escaping without medical intervention. I had to move my body so my mind could follow, it was the only way out and would happen right now or not at all.
I had to dig down deep, excavate some minuscule untapped reserve, the survival instinct maybe, and use it to push back against the darkness with everything I had left.
Okay. On the count of one… two… three… I took a deep breath in and with the exhale, slowly rolled forward off the step onto my hands and knees into the small dusty stones. I looked out to the end of the drive, toward the empty road and the stand of pines beyond, then hooked my eyes onto the mailbox. Just get there. Crawl if you have to, but go.
I crept a few feet forward on all fours, the sharp pebbles jabbing into my knees and palms “I think you’re being a little dramatic…” I rolled my eyes and set my jaw. Sitting back on my heels, I pushed with my hands and came up into a four-point squat. I sat there for a minute keep moving keep moving then, fingers splayed on the ground, I stuck my fanny in the air, grabbed hold of my thighs one at a time, and hauled myself up.
Arms crossed over my stomach and chest, stooped and shivering, I hugged myself. Move. Move your feet Taking tiny steps, increments of half a foot-length, I shuffled forward; right, left, pause… right, left, pause… “God it’s so hard.” Keep going keep going…
Over the past couple of years I’d become an athlete, a trail runner. I ran twenty-five or thirty miles a week, up and down ski slopes in the summertime, yet right then I could barely move. There was nothing physically wrong with me, but depression is an autocrat and I’d fallen under its totalitarian rule. It forbade me from moving with my normal grace and ease and instead had me shackled and chained… but I kept going.
“You should die from this,” I breathed out loud. “If there was a true, proportionate cause and effect, feeling this bad should, in all fairness, kill a person.” Keep going keep going.
“But it doesn’t. It squeezes the life out of you but doesn’t actually kill you.”
I was halfway to the mailbox. I didn’t pick up my feet, just sort of slid them along, rocking back and forth like a sickly penguin leaving drag marks behind. It hurt to move, it hurt to breathe.
“Please help me,” I turned my face upward and beseeched the misting sky. “Please give me a sign. I need something, anything, so I know this will be worth it. If you do, I promise I’ll believe it and I won’t give up. I promise I’ll keep going.” Right, left, right, left. I was closing in on the letterbox, tears flowing. My body ached.
I got no sign, no random flash of light nor clap of thunder, just the sound of the breeze in the pines and my feet scratching in the pebbles.
When I was about ten feet away, I extended an arm, right, left, right, left, almost there… reaching… fingertips touching the cold damp metal. “I did it,” I feebly cried. Maybe there’s something in the mail today… maybe that will be my sign. I opened the box and peered inside. Nothing. Just a flyer from the market with its weekly specials—not even real mail, just more junk.
But with or without a sign, I’d made it.
Oh… God… I turned around and, clamping my Kleenex and the stupid flyer to my chest, stared blankly back down the driveway to the house. Now I have to do it again. It was so far. “Just get it over with and then you can be done.”
I breathed in and started back… right, left, right, left, right, left, I resumed my melancholy march. My gaze was fixed yet something moving high in a tree caught in my periphery… a bird; a crow or raven maybe.
I paused and looked up, and there he was flapping his wings just a bit, arranging himself on his perch. The huge chocolate-colored body and glorious white crown were unmistakable, even at this distance.
Bald Eagles were common up here, but this was no ordinary creature and I knew it. Strength, pride, power, Mother Nature to the rescue again. Yes, this was my eagle and I understood the message he brought. I sniffled, dragged my damp sleeve across my nose and cheek, and nodded. “Okay,” I whispered. “Thank you. This is good. I can do this”
I regained momentum. Right, left, right, left. I’m a runner, I’m an athlete, I eat hills for breakfast, Goddammit. Keep going. Hand outstretched, I grabbed hold of the railing and climbed the three steps to the house. I made it back, albeit barely, and let myself inside.
I got out of my wet clothes and wrapped myself up in my accomplishment and a fluffy robe. I would get a little something to eat, I thought, take a hot shower, go to bed, and watch TV. I still felt like hell, but I did it. I would get some sleep tonight and first thing tomorrow morning, I told myself, I would go to the mailbox again… and maybe just a little bit farther.
* * * *
When a person releases any type of toxicity from their lives or stops accepting their drug of choice, in whatever form it takes, after years of abuse, they discover all sorts of things about themselves that may have been masked by, or mistaken for, their addiction.
One of the things I unearthed when I got sober was a history of severe depression that I’d attributed to alcoholism; I was wrong, they weren’t one and the same. They were, however, mutually parasitic, two separate entities that fed off one another.
Which came first, the depression or the alcoholism, I have no idea and, frankly, it didn’t really matter to me. My substance abuse certainly exacerbated my despondency, but cessation didn’t cure it; I was left with chronic, sometimes debilitating bouts of despair.
My first twelve-step sponsor suggested we meet for weekly walks at the town reservoir, a three thousand-acre forested reserve dotted with pristine watershed lakes. It was to become a transformative practice.
Once a week, we walked and talked our way around a popular three-mile loop where I learned, among many other things, a quote that I believe helped save my life: “Move a muscle, change a thought.”
This quote introduced me to the theory that physically moving the body helps dislodge negativity and facilitates a healthy thought process. It also reintroduced me to my love of the woods, something I’d forfeited long ago to alcoholism.
The activity became so enjoyable that I began to seek out my new like-minded friends for a “walk at the Res,” building healthy relationships in a tranquil setting, eventually heading out on my own as well.
I’d walk the loop after work as the days grew long and hike for hours on sunny weekend mornings. I’d often catch glimpses of deer, even a doe with her fawn. It relaxed me and made me smile, which may not sound like much but for me, as sick as I’d been, it was a big deal.
Surrounded by the soft shapes and sounds of the forest, the whispers of the breeze rustling the leaves, the sound of water moving over rocks in the creeks and the birdsong in the trees, and the rich smell and feel of earth under my feet, I found the magical world I’d claimed as a girl and then left behind.
Being alone in nature I found peace and my very first feelings of joy as an adult. I’d forgotten that joy existed, let alone that it was something that might be available to me. Not to be understated, it also kept me occupied, away from dangerous environments and temptation.
As the happiness in my heart grew and my healthful body returned, I began going for short runs. It wasn’t easy, but I kept at it, physically challenging myself gradually, mindfully, and without impunity. The endorphins, already being released on walks and hikes, increased proportionately with the pace, the distance, and demand of the terrain.
I was feeling strong, happy, empowered; literally and intentionally changing the chemical balance in my brain. With the blessing and guidance of my therapist, I slowly replaced my antidepressants with scheduled, purposeful exercise, proud to be scaling my active participation in my recovery under the watchful eye of my doctor.
After several years, I traded regular visits with my shrink for the occasional tune-up with a sports physician. Nature was at the center of my spiritual healing and running and hiking had become my medicine. And like any medicine, if I kept taking it, it kept working and, well, if I didn’t…
Day by day, I had allowed one excuse after another to erode my commitment to exercise and disrupt my healthy routine, but I’d just sloughed it off. “No big deal,” I told myself. “I’ll get back to it tomorrow.”
But my “tomorrows” were adding up and before I knew it, momentum was lost and the pendulum had swung. Then, my relationship fell apart. My conditioned response would have been to run it off; take my anger and pain into the woods and leave it there rather than turn it inward. But it was too late. My depression had already taken hold and gotten ahead of me, so instead of hitting the trail I’d spiraled down and hit the couch… and I stayed there for days. It was a very difficult lesson, but I learned it. I have yet to make that mistake again.
Today, nearly twenty years after my long journey to the mailbox, I have a million things to do. But first, I went for a run.
I know I need to make intentional exercise a priority, and to celebrate the small victories when all I can manage is a short walk. When you’re depressed it can be hard to see this, but small wins are wins, nonetheless.
If you’re struggling right now, I get it. I know you can’t just snap out of it. I know it’s hard to ask for help. I know you might need medication, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But perhaps, like me, you’ll find it helpful to get out of your head, get outside, and get moving.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to never underestimate the healing power of physical exercise and mother nature.
Please comment below, sharing your thoughts and experience. xoAmie
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” ~Rumi~
We all know it by heart but when was the last time you watched The Wizard of Oz?
At the end of the movie (Spoiler Alert!) Dorothy realizes that all the characters who helped her get home, Professor Marvel/the Wizard, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, were all aspects of herself that she'd been unable to recognize or claim; Intuition, Brains, Heart, Courage. Glinda, the Good Witch, tells her that the power to achieve her goal was always within her, but she wouldn't have believed it until she was truly tested and learned it for herself.
Glinda was right. It had been easier for Dorothy to believe in others - physical representations who embodied these CHARACTERistics - than it was to inherently claim her power. Sound familiar? She had to witness them externally, become friends with them, develop a deep trust and rapport, then, through recognition, embrace them as her own - that was her journey. To see it through, she had to want something so badly - to get home - that she would face her deepest fears and fight every foe to make it happen.
The Longing for Home
Another point to ponder... is “home” a place on a map or a place within us... a state of knowing and belief where we come into our own, stand tall and occupy our space, and embrace our power? Maybe it's both? A physical location where we feel in sync with our surroundings... where the outside matches our insides. Where people, place, and things align creating a powerful energetic vortex.
Is the pull of Home our True North? Is the homing instinct the call of Self? Are the compass and the destination the same thing?
Knowing our truth and purpose works like a rudder, keeping us stable and on course. Once we know this it sharpens our focus and we're free to shine our light and do our thing, Wicked Witches, Flying Monkeys, and naysayers, be damned!
Like the girl said, "There’s no place like Home…"
Have you arrived Home?
Was there a force that moved you to go looking for it?
Was there an event that precipitated your arrival?
Is there a physical place where you feel your power the most?
Please let your voice be heard and comment below! Feel free to share this link, and don't forget to sign up to receive the latest posts!!
“Pure Water is the World’s First and Foremost Medicine.” ~Slovakian Proverb~
It’s not rocket science; We all know that two of the best ways to stay healthy, feel good, lift our mood, and remove toxins from our bodies are to break a sweat with intentional exercise and to drink plenty of water. Today we focus on the latter; H2O. How to help you get enough and make it more enjoyable!
I drink a lot of water. It helps me to feel more awake, clearheaded, and can help keep sore muscles and headaches at bay. It’s also great for our skin; that is to say, well hydrated skin looks younger and more refreshed! Unlike some people, I really don’t mind drinking plain, room temperature water but I also love infusing it with fruit and herbs. It’s a fun way to make it more flavorful, and when I’m having company at my home, it’s a quick and easy way to offer my guests one of the healthiest beverages you can drink while making it really special and pretty!
Every day at my spa I offered an infused water to my guests. Here are some of the favorites:
I recommend using filtered water and organic ingredients.
What You’ll Need
The “recipe” - if you can call it that - is an inexact science and pretty simple. The amounts can be changed according to your taste and you can mix and match as you please.
Per Quart/Liter of water:
Toss the freshly washed combo of your choice into the water and chill for 4 – 6 hours or overnight. Pour into a glass, through a tea strainer if you’d like, garnish as desired and serve.
That's it! Like I said, it's not rocket science but isn't it nice that something so incredibly good for you is so exceptionally easy?
How do you feel about these? Are you inspired to try something new? What are your favorite combos?
Let me know in the comments below!
How much water do you need? Here’s a great article from the American heart Association:
I use the My Water Balance Free App for iPhone to keep my water intake on track:
"When practicing holistic wellness, feeling good about ourselves means feeling good about every part; mind, body, and spirit, inside and out."
Today we’re focusing on the outside. Our skin! Why? Because if your skin feels nice YOU feel nice… and feeling nice is GOOD! Our skin is our body’s largest organ so let’s take care of it! Here are some very simple and inexpensive ways to keep you skin feeling soft and looking healthy, right at home.
Exfoliation, as I’m sure you know, is the sloughing off of dead cells from the surface of the skin. While beneficial, we need to be careful not to overdo lest we sensitize and dry the skin, nor do we want to be pulling on it. It’s better to do a little at a time for a cumulative and lasting effect than too much too quickly.
What you’ll need- I've added the links for the one I have at the bottom of this post!:
Once a Week to Once a Month
First, let me say that the term “Sugar Scrub” is a misnomer. You don’t need or want to “scrub” your skin! Moving forward, let’s call it:
Take about a cup of sugar in a shatterproof container into the shower, keeping it out of the direct flow of water. Wet your skin, turn off the water, and with a palm-full of sugar at a time, give yourself a nice light buffing, working your way from your collarbone* down to your feet. Use a soft, circular motion until you feel the sugar dissolve, paying extra attention to your elbows, hands, and feet. I never add any oil to the sugar simply because oil and water on the smooth surface of a tub or shower is a recipe for disaster in my little world! Rinse thoroughly - and please remember to rinse away ALL the sugar that may have found its way to the walls and/or shower curtain… ants and other critters LOVE sugar! If you’ve ever been to South Florida and left a soda can on the counter for a couple of hours you know what I’m talking about!! Proceed with the rest of your shower.
*A word about sugar on your face and neck: DON’T!! Sugar crystals have sharp edges and will cause micro-tearing on facial skin. Please don’t do it. Use a bamboo cloth or facial round instead. It’s gentle yet effective, sustainable, and has naturally occurring anti-microbial properties.
Every Day or So
Before you get in the shower, if you take a minute to softly brush your skin with a good quality, natural bristle body brush, you will not be sorry. It gently removes dry flakes, increases circulation and invigorates the skin. And it feels SO good!!
In the shower, set the water temperature to a comfortably warm level then make it just a little bit cooler. You don’t need to freeze but too hot dries the skin. I admit, I used to take scalding hot showers and baths but I’ve grown wiser with maturity (and when I say “with maturity” I, of course, mean with menopause and hot flashes.) Now turn off the water and suds up using your favorite (organic, naturally scented, paraben and sulfate free) soap. You can do this with or without your washcloth but if you put a dollop of soap into the cloth you’ll use less, and it adds one more exfoliating opportunity. Rinse off, using the washcloth to help gently wash the soap away from your skin, squeezing fresh water through the cloth as you go, until all the soap is gone. Turn off the water and while still in the shower use your wrung-out washcloth to “dry” yourself off, wringing out the cloth a few times as you go, removing the drops of the water from your skin. When you squeeze out the cloth, you’ll see how much water you actually remove! No need to scrub, a gentle gliding action will do the trick. Once again, pay special attention to your hands, heels, and elbows, giving them an extra polish. Step out of the shower and apply your favorite lotion or oil to your still lightly damp skin** - don't forget your feet - then air dry, no need for a towel. In just a few days you’ll really feel a difference in the softness of your skin!
** On really hot, humid days I use a lighter body lotion, applying a richer option to my hands, elbows, and feet. On cold or dry days or in arid climates, a couple of drops of oil in the lotion is very nice! I use unscented oils and lotions, adding a few drops of organic essential oils to customize.
To Shave or Not to Shave. That is the Question.
Only you can answer it. My suggestion is to do what makes you feel best, and do it for yourself. I lived alone for years and, even in the dead of winter, I shaved. Why? Because I love the way my legs and underarms feel when they’re smooth and freshly shaven. I did it just for me and for no other reason than because it made me feel good.
Hands and Feet
Soft, smooth, well-groomed hands and feet feel fabulous! Conversely, have you ever kept them hidden when you’re out because they looked like hell? I have, but no more. It’s so quick and easy to keep them in shape that there’s no need. Exfoliation, lotion, and simple nail grooming are your hands and tootsies best friends!
Before your fabulous shower sit for a moment on the edge of your tub or nearby stool, take your foot emery and spend a few minutes on the rough parts of your feet. It will take a little more time when you’re just starting this grooming ritual, but less and less as your feet improve. Remember, as when filing your nails, it’s best to move the emery in one direction across the rough, dry skin and PLEASE, be very careful not to over-do! It’s easier than you’d think to get down to tender skin, which often doesn’t reveal itself until hours later. It doesn’t feel good and you’ll have to wait to let it heal. Go easy and take your time, this isn’t a one-time fix it’s a cumulative process and part of an ongoing self-care ritual!
After your shower, and any other time you think of it, moisturize your feet. A couple of drops of peppermint essential oil added to the lotion is fabulous! Just be care not to slip afterward!
Do this foot treatment for two or three days in a row when you’re first starting out. Once your feet are soft and smooth, one or two times a week will do it, but apply the lotion every single day!
Wet your hands in the sink and “wash” them with sugar until it dissolves, then rinse and wash with soap as you normally would, dry and moisturize. If your hands are really rough, do this a few days in a row then once a week or so to keep them soft, liberally applying lotion every time. For daily care I find that drying my hands with a nubby towel after I wash helps to keep them soft.
There you go! Does it sound like a lot? It is! But like anything if you want something you need to put forth some effort! If you like, just pick and choose one or two things you’d like to try, but it’s really just two steps: exfoliate and moisturize.
Common sense guidelines:
I’ll be posting more specifics on skin, nail, hair, and face care in the upcoming months!
Please comment below!
Let me know if you’d like to see some skin care videos. How about some videos featuring some French experts from Paris, where I live?
Let me know if this is working for you, or any tips, concerns, or skin care woes you may like to share. Don’t forget to subscribe to have the blog posts delivered right to your inbox!
When it comes to making life changes, I write them down – I make a list. Why? Well, for this, I have two sayings:
Nearly every time I’ve made a change in my life, large or small, I started by making a list. When I changed my career. When I got out of debt. When I wanted to move across the country, and when I was hoping to travel across an ocean. Doing so has moved me (quite literally!) from “I’m considering this” to “I’m doing this”.
Granted, “turning a wish list into a to do list” may be over simplifying it a bit… there’s a process. But even grocery shopping is more effective when you’re armed with a list!
Let’s take my dream to start traveling internationally; I took that one item off my “Bucket List” and broke it down into the simplest of steps. I didn't worry about how I would accomplish it or anything else, just what I would need to do to go from point A to point B.
And then I just started doing them. You can Click Here to read my other blog “Daydream Voyages; How I Became a Solo Woman World Traveler in My 50’s” if you’d like the details of how I made it all happen.
I did the same when I wanted to move three thousand miles back to my hometown. The thought alone felt overwhelmingly prohibitive but then I wrote it down:
Moving To Do List
When you break it down in to bite sized morsels you can create a realistic, doable plan of action. Focus on one task at a time and the outcome will take care of itself.
The point is, you can either tell yourself it’s impossible, so why bother? or you can begin chipping away at a list. Time goes by either way. Want to move to your dream town? Turn your passion into your career? Heal your past? You can. People do it all the time.
It’s OK to start small… the more you do it the more you’ll see that it can be done. This is not just some Rah Rah cheerleader new age BS. I know. I’ve done it. xoAmie
Are you a list maker?
Do you have something that you'd love to do but it feels too big an undertaking?
What list will you make today?
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
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