Where’s the beauty?

warwick 2

For most of my life I have found it difficult to see the beauty in things. Especially the small, every-day, run-of-the-mill things that millions of us take for granted. The hidden depths in the rock cracks, the dry grass lining the side of the highway, the scenery as you drive over the crest of a hill.

I’ve recently returned home from a very transformative holiday and immersion in all things self-care. And since I’ve been home it feels like I am looking out of completely different eyes. Even as I was driving the scenery outside my car window looked different. The views I would previously dismiss as ordinary were now extraordinary. No longer did I need to have the super extraordinary to see the beauty. All I needed to do was open my eyes.

moonrise

 

So if I couldn’t see these things before my holiday and I could see them after it, where is the difference?

armidale july 2014

The answer is in the beauty I now see in myself. It’s in the things I have always had but never been able to see through eyes unbiased by conditioning and self-hatred. I feel like my eyes have been covered by some kind of mask and my trip away has literally stripped it away.

I can now see the strength I have always held in my legs and hips. I can see the compassion I hold in my heart, the gentleness I hold in my hands, the power I hold in my mind. I can see that I have a whole lot of character in the dimples on my thighs. I can acknowledge that the pain in my knee is a result of the need to protect myself from the angst. And the curves on my waist hold the peaks and valleys of the suppressed emotions of a lifetime.

For far too long I have held it in and denied my beauty. For far too long I have pretended I am indifferent to the image I see reflected in the mirror. For far too long I have conformed to the societal belief that beauty equals skinny. For far too long I have minimised the reach and impact that I have in this world. My body has been instrumental in keeping me whole and it’s time I gave it the credit it deserves.

terrigal2 july 2014

Every hill, every valley, every dimple, every pimple, every freckle. The parts filled with fluid and the parts filled with fat. The parts that have carried me and the parts that have allowed me to learn from my mistakes. And especially the parts that now allow me to recognise and reconnect to the freshness and the beauty I possess.

What was once seen as mediocre I now know as beautiful. As stunning. As incredibly full of character and depth and possession and precision. What was once seen as non-existent I now know as present. As full of character.

terrigal17 july 2014

And what was once ignored now needs to be nourished. Nurtured. Loved.

terrigal9 july 2014

Self-Care is Key!

self care burnoutIt’s been ages since I have blogged on my personal page. I have lots going on right now and I have decided that I need to make some time to attempt to process some of it. I have been focusing on my career for several months, doing posts on my other blog, The Mindset Effect, as well as working and meeting university commitments for the first practicum experience of my master’s degree.

I’ve been finding that time for myself has been rare. I’m still doing personal training sessions twice a week, which is going well (and is a whole other blog post). Getting out of bed for those 6am sessions is really tough! I keep telling myself that I need to get to bed earlier and it rarely seems to happen. Something else seems to crop up. Every. Single. Time. I am making a concerted effort though.self care hardest job

With all of my commitments, and with the current summer heat, which always takes a lot out of me, I have been pretty stressed. I promised myself last year, when I knew what 2014 would look like on a weekly basis, that I would make time for me. Take it one day at a time and make sure that I spent time every day or two doing some self-care practices. And the academic year hasn’t even started yet! So I know that if I continue to do the same thing I am doing now, for the rest of the year, I am going to fall over pretty quickly.

Work has been crazy. Exciting. But crazy. As of March 1 I will be working 3 days per week even though I am employed for 4. My practicum requirements for uni dictate that I do at least 1 day at a placement. And I need to do another day on campus. So that means I really need 6 working days in the week to do everything. Doesn’t add up, right? So, I have applied for study leave. And have been told I need to keep my work output at a 4-day-a-week level. With the help and support of my colleagues we have developed a plan to make that happen. And the preliminary response from clients has been nothing short of phenomenal! Not that they know why we developed the plan in the first place, but they don’t need to know. The bottom line is that this plan will help a lot of people develop their resiliency and capacity to handle stress in the long-term. It complements the organisation’s long-term strategic plan on building up client capacity, it will keep my stats up, and it will allow me to complete my degree requirements without having to reduce my income and risk the roof over my head. A win-win all around.

self care fill cupThe stressful part of all this for me is that the phenomenal response not only indicates how our clients are craving opportunities like we are offering. It also shows me that I could spend more time implementing this plan than doing the other work I do. And it means that I run the risk of overloading myself by trying to get everything done and end up burning myself out.

So I need to make sure I take care of me. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Don’t try to do everything and be everything for everyone. Self-care is key. I need a mantra. Self-care is key. Self-care is key. Self-care is key. Self-care is key . Self-care is key . Self-care is key!!

self care meditation silence

 

Rituals to let go

Mum. Grief.

Two words that will forever be associated in my head.

excuses kill dreams kill excuses instead

On Thursday I did something I’ve needed to do for a while (and didn’t know I needed it). I had tears flowing on and off most of the evening.

My mum died in October 2002. Since then I think a part of me has known that I haven’t grieved for her in the way I need to. Instead I have coped the way I always have with tough stuff. By avoiding, by burying. The pain. The hurt. The sadness. Usually with food. Mostly unhealthy food.

I would sit for hours numbing myself, watching mindless T.V. while eating. Chips, twisties and chocolate have always been my fall back options. But anything would do.

Every diet ever invented provides a plan that restricts or even eliminates specific foods. When I started the 12WBT it was no exception. I have always turned to food to avoid or numb my emotions to the point where I wouldn’t even know they were there most of the time. “I never get angry”. Yeah, right. Only because it was hidden under all the food, buried deep down inside. So not having my fall back foods on the 12wbt plan ….

It’s been extremely challenging for me. To find alternative strategies has proven difficult. To even become AWARE of my emotions has been an issue. An enlightening and educative process. I feel like I am a lot more aware of when I am feeling emotions. I now acknowledge and recognise my anger. Yay, me!

More difficult has been the strategies. Or at least implementing them. Every time I try, I end up self-sabotaging. I go back to old habits and ways of coping. Namely, eating. My standby addiction. My excuses come out to play, in a big way.

It’s difficult to admit it’s an addiction. I know it is, but I don’t want to say it out loud. But that’s a whole other blog post …

let go of the past
Last week I was talking to a close friend and colleague of mine about rituals. She said she saw me in front of a big orange fire, creating a ritual whereby I was able to let go of stuff that’s been holding me back. Thursday and Friday (yesterday) I went to an annual work retreat where we get together for 2 days for professional development and some down time. My friend, after talking with me last week, organised a bonfire for Thursday night. Especially so I could do my ritual. I am so, so BLESSED!

I spent some time writing before dinner on Thursday, following a full day of professional development on grief and bereavement. Kind of fitting that my mum was right there. I allowed my hand to move the pen however it wanted and I wrote a letter to my excuses. I told them how they have helped me over the years. How they have protected me and kept me safe. How they have allowed me to survive. And about how they are now keeping me further away from where I am destined to be. My big, vast and promising future. I sent them all the love and care in what they have done for me in the time they have been my companions and then told them it was time I set them free. I thanked them and then let them go.

I cried most of the way through writing that one page letter. The words flowed very easily and it took about 5 minutes. I sat quietly for a while, did some breathing and mindfulness practice before rejoining the group. After dinner I went down to the bonfire with my friend and after everyone else went to bed we talked for a bit. She asked me, who was the one person, alive or dead, who I would call upon for support when I needed it?

Mum.

We talked about her. Her personality, her smell, what she did for me. The differences between her and dad. The biggest thing about my mum is the way she nurtured me. Something I have never really done for myself.

We talked about how I could call on her for support and nurturing whenever I needed her. I was in a flood of tears almost the entire time we were talking. My mum was with me by that fire. Watching. Waiting. Loving, nurturing, protecting.

letting go and shining bright

And then I threw the letter in the fire and watched it burn. Slowly, from the edge, across the paper from one side to the other. I watched those excuses disappear out of my life, little bit by little bit, knowing that I am STRONG, DETERMINED, COURAGEOUS. Knowing that whenever I need her, my mum will be there to support, encourage and nurture me. Knowing that I can do those things for myself.

All I need to do is trust. Myself, my gut, my mum.

After I got back to my room I felt quite wrung out. Drained. Tired. And somewhat cleansed.

Tomorrow is a new day.

I’ve got this.

I am looking forward to the rest of my life.

STRENGTH. DETERMINATION. COURAGE.

ME.

letting go for freedom