Learning, transcendental meditation, wellness

My Stay at the Raj (Part 2): Transcendental Meditation

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Lawrence Sheaff painting at The Raj

The impetus for finding the Raj was a google search of “transcendental meditation retreats”. I have not meditated regularly in the past; however I have felt a strong pull towards it. Last spring I read The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. This was an excellent parenting book, and in it they talked about transcendental meditation (TM) and how beneficial and life changing it was for them. Google search (yep, I’m a google girl!) led to all kinds of amazing information about this well-researched form of meditation.

During our time at the Raj, my mom and I worked with dear TM instructor, Amy Ruff. She carefully selected our mantras, helped us learn to use them, explained the process the brain undergoes during TM, explained the role thoughts play in meditation, uplifted, encouraged, and laughed with us. My main goal in learning meditation was to relieve anxiety. My first day home, one daughter commented I looked thinner, the other said I had a much calmer energy. I replied “Thank you” to the first, and “Oh my gosh, really?!” to the second.

I am still at the very beginning of my journey, but I am anticipating my practice becoming richer and more positive as I proceed. I highly recommend TM for everyone! To find out more information and find a meditation center near you, go to: https://www.tm-women.org

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Learning, magic, nature, wellness

Awakened, Playful, Kind Woman

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Just listened to one of my favorite podcasts (www.awakenedwomanselfcare.com ) as I weeded my garden. Their guest, Asia Suler (www.onewillowapothecaries.com ), was talking about the capability we all have of connecting to plants on a healing level. I have not explored this intimate level of relationship with my plants, but I am open to the idea.  They are, after all, living things. And I certainly feel a consistent sense of calm and peace when I am among them that is hard to replicate in less natural settings.

Asia also highlighted the importance of playfulness. A sense of fun, doing silly things, thinking funny thoughts, smiling, laughing all are an important part of who I am, and how I need to relate with the world to feel happy and balanced. I live with two teenage daughters. If you don’t have teen girls, they’re a pretty serious group, at least ours are. My epic jokes and clever witticisms are usually met with groans and eye rolls. I remember being their age. I was not very playful (at least with adults), but I am grateful I am now.

Another important idea Asia discussed was the concept of “nice girl” vs. “kind woman”. This was intriguing to me. A perennial “nice girl” myself, I know the trap of people-pleasing and dis-empowerment enveloped in that characterization. Asia offered an alternative of being a “kind woman”. It’s a subtle shift, maintaining the integrity of the essence of “niceness” (kindness) without allowing others to take advantage of you. And of course, the acknowledgement that a person is an adult is respectful and empowering.

Thank you Christine, Emma, & Asia for sharing your conversation with us. If you have not checked out this podcast yet… I invite you to do so. No need to listen in chronological order. They vary greatly, so if one guest is not holding your attention, I urge you to try another. Here is a list of my favorite episodes to date:

Living in Alignment With the Magic of Earth

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Creative Boundaries and Balance

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Nurturing Kindred Spirits as Self Care

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The Magic in Creative Self Care

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Mastering the Art of Dreamboarding

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How Pain and Grief are a Portal to Purpose

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How to Work in a Holistic Vibration

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Sacred Exploration of Female Sexuality

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Tapping into Self Care
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magic, nature

I Believe

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In my childhood I spent part of my summers and Christmas vacations at my grandparents house. I love my grandparents, who have since passed, and hold these memories dear. Time with them included lots of singing, story telling, exploring nature, ice-cream sundaes, Yahtzee, puzzles, dressing up, antique-ing, Masterpiece Theater, and playful bickering (between the two of them).

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They had a large property that I loved to explore with my sister, their dog, or on my own. My gram taught me the names of the flowers and the birds, which I still know to this day. My grandpa identified all the trees, which I am less good at doing myself. However, he instilled a reverence for them, and my heart hurts when I see healthy trees being cut down as I know his did too.

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Talk of tomtes, elves, fairies, and Santa Claus were woven through much of our conversation. Surrounded by antiques, nature, and a genuine belief in magic by my grandparents; it was a natural I followed suit. I would imagine a fairy had just fluttered away from a shaking fern frond. Or my grandparents’ cat and dog would converse after we had left the room.

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I posted recently that I believe in love and motherhood, which is true. Along with that, I believe in nature and magic. I thank my dear Gram and Grandpa for highlighting the importance of both of these for me. I delight in the beautiful cloud formations, reflection of the moon, and glimpses of colorful birds. I also believe there are forces at work which I can not explain. I like that. It keeps things interesting–imaginative and awe-inspiring.

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As an adult I have combined these two passions in the form of fairy gardens. It started several years ago, and has blossomed into much of our backyard. There are two small girls that live next door to us (on our other side is my grandparents’ former home). It makes my heart sing when the neighbor girls’ grandma brings them over to see the fairy houses and flowers.

I think nature is magical and magic is natural.

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mental health, wellness

Zero or Ten

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My mental health has been (and still is!) an arduous process. Anxiety, depression, and addiction are deeply seeded in my family’s DNA. I know these disorders are prevalent in our society as a whole. I am using this entry as a means of making this issue clearer in my own mind. If feelings or problems are not your cup of tea, you may want to pass this one by. I will get back to posting about gardening and parenting soon.

Anxiety has been my primary disability for years. I operate at a heightened state of alert that does not allow me to inhale or exhale fully. A lot of my self-care continues to go into attempting to let go of this ever-present tension, and remembering to breathe to get oxygen to my brain. (I wish I was jesting.)

I tend to be less self-aware when depression is creeping back. For me, it often surfaces as trying not to feel. I will sleep a lot or numb-out on social media. I am an optimistic and busy person by nature, so anxiety is easier for me to accept than despondency.

Self-awareness of my addictive tendencies has allowed me to side-step the chemical dependency many grapple with. However, I am a compulsive person. As a compulsive eater, I have found sugar to be a very effective mode of numbing feelings. I made a vow to adopt a clean-eating life-style a couple months ago; so that is no longer an option when I am feeling the need for escape. My latest compulsions are essential oils and podcasts… not all compulsions are negative!

So I am coming full-circle back to self-care. It is interesting, self-care is easier for me when I am already feeling good. When I am most down, most in need, it is the most difficult for me to implement. Case in point, last night I was at the center our family frequents for therapy. My daughter had an appointment, and I was considering taking a bio mat session. My thinking went, “I don’t want to waste a bio mat session when I have such a severe headache.” My daughter pointed to the bio mat poster in the office that listed “alleviates headaches” as one of its uses. I had the session and felt better. My point being, it is so easy to snowball in the downward spiral. When I am low, I don’t want to do anything, however that is exactly the time I need to take steps to help myself.

I feel I vacillate between attempting CONTROL (anxiety) and attempting ESCAPE (depression). There is certainly much I have little control over and escaping feelings is a loosing battle. Yesterday the words that kept swirling in my head were surrender and release. I often joke that I am a zero or ten girl–all in or all out. It is very difficult for me to “just be”. My current goal for myself is to surrender. It is a work in process, but awareness is a good starting point.

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Learning, parenting, wellness

Motherhood

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Mother’s Day and my youngest daughter, Lara, turning thirTEEN this month have me reflecting on my parenting journey.

I am lucky enough to have an extraordinary woman as my own mother. Like all of us, her mothering story has not been without turbulence (some created by her, some by me and my sister). I think what smooths out all the bumps in the road is I always knew she loved me.

Like her, I am fiercely devoted to my daughters. They honor, humble, teach, delight, and (I won’t lie) horrify me daily. During a study of world religions in elementary school, my oldest daughter, Sage, came home and said, “I know what religion you are, Mom.” (Though a spiritual person, we do not attend church, so I was curious to hear her thoughts on the matter.) “You believe in love and mothering,” she decreed. I was grateful she knew that truth.

If you know me in person, you know I am a very involved parent. I fear the girls’ teachers groan inwardly when they see me approaching. I know the girls groan when I ask my tenth question of the day! And recently my sweet Lara, gently suggested I stop being quite so hovering in my parenting. I asked her what I was to do with all my extra love and energy. “Love yourself,” she wisely advised.

Was she the first person to ever tell me this? Of course not. Is it super powerful to have your child, whom you’ve been pouring your love and attention on tell you this? It was for me.

I am thoroughly enjoying the taking-care-of-myself phase I am entering. After decades of nurturing others, I must say, I am quite the accomplished nurturer. And after decades of ignoring my own wants/needs it feels quenching to have those depleted parts of me tended to.

Reminding myself there is value in pointing out my inevitable mistakes and the steps I am taking to remedy them; I apologized to the girls for setting such a poor example of self-care. I urged them not to follow in my footsteps, but to maintain their own well-being even when there are important people in their lives that they want to show care to.

Like me and my lovely mother before me, my kind-hearted girls are not going to be the mythical “perfect mother”. They might not even chose to be mothers. However, I think that if love flows through their intentions in their relationships with others, I will have imparted the philosophy of love that is so important to me.

Happy Mother’s Day and LOVE

to all the mamas and care-givers

past, present, and future!

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nature, wellness

New beginnings

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Spring is a beautiful time of anticipation and curiosity. I love seeing what each new day will bring in my garden, in my family, and in myself. Apparently today is the birth of a new blog. (Who knew?!)

I have been taking some time each day to uncover different areas of my perennial garden. It’s like unwrapping a gift to see the tender green shoots poking up from previous years’ plantings. Being outside, breathing fresh air, smelling the soil, seeing the transformation of the plants, hearing the birds’ songs–all of these things induce a meditative state in my usually whirling mind.

It feels good to slow down, breathe, and tend to the plants which simultaneously cares for my spirit.

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