I am a big fan of the holiday season, I absolutely love to cook, to mingle, catch up, slow down and in general I enjoy the opportunity to connect to what matters in life and enjoy the simpler pleasures. It doesn't matter if you are only taking one day or a whole week to celebrate, it's really easy for you to get derailed from the path you walk in your every day life. It can be very beneficial to take a break from your goals, your work, your exercise and diet routines, it gives you a chance to breathe and remember that determination isn't the only admirable quality of life. These breaks allow for you to detach the ego from the process, allow some creativity in, give your brain a break and, most importantly, nurture the Soul. Taking time to just be, without rules and regulations, can be the best way to connect to what really matters, that is to say, connect to your Soul's higher path and purpose. It's always good to see when you come back from a few days off what your first desires are, the things you prioritize and even remember, this can often be an indicator of what actually matters (versus what you thought mattered).
As beneficial as it can be to stop everything and enjoy the holidays, it can also be very distracting, making it very difficult to get back into your routine. Any positive daily routine is one that revolves around helping you achieve exactly what you need to make your life flow. Fortunately/Unfortunately the holidays typically requires you to do everything for or amongst the group as a whole. There is very little "me" time during the holidays because you are busy catching up with others, cleaning, cooking, decorating, partying, organizing, shopping for and with others. This can easily lead to personal depletion, that is to say that although you are enjoying yourself, you lose track of what you need to nurture yourself. Personally, I often end holidays dropping down from the high into slump of total exhaustion, physical and mental. There is a sensation that you just jumped off a train moving 100 mph and rolled into a field surrounded by absolutely nothing, all the while wondering, "What the hell just happened?!" If I don't do something about all of this quickly, that field turns into a desert and I feel lost. The reality check can be harsh.
Not only do I feel disconnected from my work, but I also feel very exhausted from continuous interaction with others. I love to interact with others, but I know myself well enough to know that I absolutely need some alone time in order to reboot myself so that I am once again operating at 100% and able to fulfill my duties. The fourth chakra reminds us that we are only as strong for others as we are for ourselves. You cannot serve and achieve with a half empty cup. You cannot love others if you have no love for yourself. The more I connect with my work the more sensitive I become, I am acutely aware of when I am not my best and it is typically because I need some time for myself.
Taking time for yourself to reboot doesn't require vast amounts of time or energy or money, you just need to know what serves you best. Emphasis on "you" because the most beneficial replenishing activities are done alone and quietly. Moving meditation, if you will. What do you absolutely love to do more than anything? Maybe it's going for a walk, a hot bath, a creative project, reading a book. What nourishes your soul? The key to getting back into the swing of things successfully is to revive yourself first. Uninhibited "you" time, minimal talking, minimal thinking, I dare-say minimal "doing"- essentially you want less of your mind and more of your Soul in this process. Although exercise is technically "doing," you are doing it without a lot of effort and that is a good thing. Less doing, more being. So treat yourself and do whatever you need to do, remember that this isn't selfish! Selfishness eludes self-centeredness and this is the complete opposite because one you nurture yourself you will be able to return to your life, your work, your people with more strength and awareness than you had before, and that is a gift to everyone.
Once you do what you need to do then you can start to get back into the swing of things. This is a good time to break out pen and paper and start brainstorming all the things that you want to achieve, all the things you want to do, your goals, actions steps, anything that is in the way. Make charts, lists, stories, anything that helps you to remember what you left behind and start visualizing it all again, you will likely find that it all floods back into your mind. Then get to it! Try to start with one or two really simple things to remind yourself of how easy it all is, then dig right in. Before you know it, you'll be better than you were before- ready to take on anything that the world (and your own mind) will throw at you!
I would venture to bet that most of us have read about or researched at least one diet at some point in our lives, in an effort to lose weight or just be healthier. There is information everywhere, on every talk show, magazine, news channel and social media- information about how to be healthy, lose belly fat, look younger, blah blah blah blah blah. It's somewhat overwhelming. The crazy thing about diets is that there is no one-size-fits-all, which I like to think of as a lovely testament to how unique and special we all are. What diet works for one person may be seriously detrimental to another. After studying many diets in my Health Coaching program the only conclusion that could be drawn was that you cannot preach one diet, you must encourage people to learn about themselves, experiment and find out what works best for them. It takes more effort, yes, but it is also much less discouraging than going 110% into a diet and seeing zero, or even negative, results, It is for this reason that I am a huge proponent for creating your own body wisdom, not taking mine.
This is a slow process that can take years to perfect and can change often, just the way your body changes often. It promotes awareness and (literally) trusting your gut. Eat slowly and carefully- what tastes especially good, what feels especially good. The first clue I had to my nut intolerance was my strong dislike for the taste of them. The first step is to clean up your diet - remove as much "junk" as possible.
The less processed the better off you are. It's simple- meat, veggies, fruits, whole grains. Despite what we have grown to believe, you do not need dairy, or processed snacks, or pretty much anything out of the middle section of the grocery store. I do 90% of my shopping on the right side of the store that typically has the produce, meats and dried goods (rice and beans). Yes, treats are certainly in order, but the majority of your diet should be simple. If I have treats in the house- I eat them- ravenously. I'm no saint, So my key is just them- sometimes a matter of eating well starts with not buying crap that will tempt you. Why would you torture yourself??
The thing with simplicity it, the processed foods have sooooo much stuff in them that if you are having a negative reaction to any one of them it is almost impossible to find out- but if your diet consists of straight-forward one-to-five ingredient items it is much easier to draw conclusions on what is and is no working. Also, a note on dairy: I know most of you love it, I used to love it until I was living in a place where I couldn't access it. After months of only having minimal dairy in my diet, once I came home it became very clear that I couldn't have it anymore, it destroys my stomach. When you stuff your body with food it can't have it eventually just stops fighting back, which is why so many people who eat dairy believe that it isn't actually a problem. The wonderful thing is, now that my body has been cleaned up from dairy I very rarely crave it.
Another key with "simple" is to actually keep it simple! We are incredibly skilled at making things far more complicated than it needs to be. I love to cook, that is one arena that I joyfully complicate. But if you don't like to work that works too! "Simple" doesn't have to mean making your own bread from scratch. Start where you are comfortable, and happy. Nothing is more meditative to me than cooking, so I love to make broths, breads and sauces from scratch. If that doesn't work for you then that is fine! Grilled meats, simple salads or sautéed veggies gets the nutrition to you the same way that some fandangled dish does. Start there, then maybe as you learn to love your food you will also learn to love the hands that create the meals and the work that goes into it. But maybe you won't, and that is fine too. I'm a big believer in energy- if you hate the process of making your meal, you will literally be eating your anger. Be mindful of what you are putting out and what you are taking in.
Once you simplify your diet it is just a matter of awareness. Listen to your body, it's trying to tell you something. If you aren't a very picky eater, then be aware of the things that you are craving, or that you really, really like to eat. Think less, eat more. When I'm not thinking too hard about a "well-rounded" diet I go straight for meat and veggies- I love bread, but ultimately when I don't think about it, it's often left out of the diet. I've slowly come to realize that when I do eat a carb heavy meal that I feel very sluggish after. Did I come to this conclusion because I said "I am going to leave all bread out of my diet"? Heck no! I don't have that kind of will power and I truly do love bread. That came from allowing my food choices to be driven by what makes me feel good. This means that this conclusion came from a long period of time. Regardless of what scientists say is best for your body, you CANNOT force your body and mind into habits, even if they are healthy. So eat, then feel. Do you get tired, does your belly hurt, do you get gassy? Or do you feel light, energized, strong? Gas isn't just funny, it's a great indicator that things aren't being happily digested.
Another big key of diets is timing. I know that I can eat a bigger, heavier meal in the morning with bready-things. If I ate that same meal for dinner time I would feel terrible. I'm running around all day so breakfast is my free pass to eat whatever and however much of what I want because most of it will be out of my system by the end of the day. Dinner, on the other hand, is in your belly for a few lazy hours before you go to sleep. It is just sitting there, slowly digesting. Just imagine then if you had salad and chicken for dinner, or if you ate a pound of pasta- the difference is huge. One will help you feel better when you wake up, the other will help you to not wake up. Dinner is intended to get you to bedtime, which is likely just 2-3 hours away. You do not need much nutrition because you are unwinding and resting. Breakfast requires lots of nutrition to kick your day off. Lunch I typically regard as somewhere in between- a medium sized meal balanced with a bit of everything. I can tell you right now that if I eat salad for breakfast I am not a happy camper. Dinner though makes me feel fantastic.
Ultimately, the key is to feel good. Guilt doesn't make you feel good, nor does deprivation, nor does eating crappy food and feeling sluggish the rest of the afternoon. My weight is perfect right now and it's not because I diet (I eat like a champ), but because I finally nailed down the foods that I can eat in large quantities without getting a nice little spare tire around the midsection. Back on the subject of energy- you absolutely cannot hate your body into perfection. Love is finding perfection in everything, Hate is finding criticism in everything. Food should bring you pleasure both in cooking and in eating, you should then feel love for the body you are nourishing. So be kind, have fun, be patient and eat up!
To wrap this piece of the puzzle up with some conclusions, know this:
Depression is similar to being stuck in a tar-pit. At first you fight like no other to get out, you may move a few inches before eventually getting physically exhausted, then you look around and see how far you moved for how much energy you put in and you get mentally exhausted. Before you know it you have completely given up, allowed yourself to be slowly devoured by this faceless beast.
I've been there, most of us have been there, down the bottomless hole that completely annihilates your power, your inspiration, your love, your joy for life. You know it's all there, somewhere, because you have experienced it before- but depression has a way of making you feel you are chained to a wall and the water bowl is about 3" out of reach.
So how do you fix the problem? Well first it is important to understand the different between "Cure" and "Heal." Curing insinuates a relief of the symptoms of the condition whereas healing means a return to health. Curing cuts a weed off at the base so that you don't see it anymore, healing pulls it out from the roots so that is it gone without the ability to grow back (unless you plant seeds- but that is a whole other blog). Healing is the key- the return to health, the return to your natural state of being which is to say 100% love, joy, wisdom, power and abundance. From an energetic standpoint Healing is synonymous with Love. Love is the ability to accept who you are and where you are right now, understanding that though it may not be where you want to be or who you want to be, it is still you and you must love you if you ever want to feel peace. That being said, energetically, healing is the ability to find peace and acceptance of exactly where you are right now because you are never actually broken, you are always whole, it's just that the whole of you might not be in a good space right now. When you are able to accept where you are and who you are in this space then you can actually start dealing with the problem that is putting you in the bad space in the first place. You are not depression, sadness, anxiety and all of that negative energy, that negative energy is within you and needs to be out. So stop fighting yourself and start fighting the negative energy that is within you.
My very dear friend recently told me about her stint with depression. When she was lurking in the darker, deeper spaces of this depression she went to lunch with her mother who promptly told her- in a not-so-gentle way that only mothers can get away with- that depression is a lack of gratitude. It's simple. It's harsh. It's true. Nothing is worse than being depressed and being told that you are wrong, BUT, if you are able to get out of your way for about 5 seconds you can see the power behind this statement. YOU have the power to heal yourself and it's as simple as being thankful.
Gratitude is the process of acknowledging all that you have, whilst Depression is looking around and seeing absolutely nothing. You cannot experience both gratitude and depression at the same time- it's impossible to see all that you have while feeling like you have absolutely nothing. What an incredible tool that is! Likewise, gratitude cultivates love. The more you see all that you have, all the beauty around you (and within you), the easier it is to find peace and acceptance for who you are and where you are right now. The beautiful thing is, no matter how awful of a day you have had you can always think of things to be grateful for. Every day, doesn't matter when, but every single day think of 5 things that you are grateful for. Something magical happens-
First, it's hard not to suddenly think of 10 or 20 things that you are grateful for
Second, you become aware that you are surrounded by an incredible life that has so much to offer
Third, a sunny day makes a world of difference!
Fourth, it's almost impossible not to smile.
Don't wait until you are sad or depressed, start now. The simplicity of gratitude exercises not only relieves depression, but it also heightens joy. Basically, with gratitude life only gets better. Do yourself the favor, do the whole world a favor, practice gratitude, now and every day.
“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
Chelsea M Latham
When I was a kid my mom would occasionally refer to me as a Reverend, because I had the need to speak so passionately about just about everything. Little did she know that some day I would build a business upon sharing the wisdom that I am so passionate about. So here you go, here are some bits and bobs of thoughts strung together for your enjoyment.