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That Which Nourishes Us

For as long as I can remember, I’ve associated the word nourishment with food. Healthy food, but food none the less. Only recently have I begun to consider the many ways we can be nourished in mind, body and spirit. Several weeks back I experienced something that nourished my body in such a way that food was not needed at a time when I would have typically “needed” to eat. That new-found wisdom led me to explore the multitude of ways that I can nourish myself giving me the inspiration for this post. For me there are eight (well nine but this is a PG blog and we won’t mention the S– word) categories of experiences and ways of being that nourish me. My hope is that by looking at my list you’ll begin to formulate your own so you’ll know where to turn when you’re feeling a bit  “off”.

FOOD 

Because food is the first thing I think of when I desire to nourish my body, that is where I’ll start. For many years I’ve had a love/hate relationship with food. At some point in Junior High School, I learned the concept of food, calories and input, output. Once discovered I began a 35+ year distorted relationship with food. I’ve never been a girl of moderation in anything thus I’ve always taken an all or nothing approach to food. I’m either eating VERY strictly or throwing all caution to the wind. There is no in between in my world. The concept of moderation has been one of the things I’d like to master in this lifetime, but it recently became abundantly clear that complete and thorough nourishment is much bigger than just food for me. Exploring other means of self-nourishment has begun to amend my yo-yo way of eating, creating more calm and self-acceptance. Certainly a more pleasant way of living!

MOVEMENT

Movement is my nice word for exercise. Growing up, I was the girl you could count on to be selected last for any team sport we played in Physical Ed. I was also the girl who periodically nixed dressing out for PE class by describing the monthly cramping I was experiencing. I would do nearly ANYTHING to keep myself from having to exercise. I understood how exercise could affect my burning of calories and yet I wanted to avoid it at all costs. As a young woman, I discovered running. As is my way in life, I took my running well beyond the stage of moderation, creating a hatred for it as well as a serious injury requiring an immediate halt to the activity. Even though I disliked the pain associated with my injury I was pleasantly surprised by the news that I couldn’t run for an extended amount of time. I’ve tried several types of movement in the subsequent years, never finding anything that truly clicked. I’m not a dancer, I dislike lifting weights and yoga has never turned me on. I must admit that after being a runner, walking was one of the “last” activities I thought I’d enjoy, but it’s been the only thing I’ve been able to stay consistent with. So, through walks in nature I nurture my body through the exercise I’m receiving as well as the beauty I’m seeing. Do you allow movement to nourish your body, mind and spirit?

SPIRITUALITY

Ever since I was a little girl, my relationship with God has been tremendously important. I can remember as an elementary school youngster, gathering my sisters in our front room to conduct “church” services. I served as Minister and read from the Bible, gave a “sermon” and served Kool-Aid and Saltines crackers for “communion”. I even gave the sermon during Youth Sunday at my church while in high school. While I have specific ways that I feed my Spirituality, I know and very much respect that others have very different beliefs than I. This understanding has come with age and I now have many friends that hold views very unlike mine. What I’ve come to find is that Spirituality means different things to different people, but one thing seems to unite most everyone I’ve spoken to. We all recognize that there is someone / something greater than us “out there” and we all derive a certain amount of comfort from this knowledge. I find that attending Church and daily prayer nourishes my Spirituality. What nourishes yours?

HOBBIES

From the age of 3 until I was 24 I studied violin and viola, playing in orchestras and string quartets. I made a decision at age 24 not to pursue a music career but that didn’t quell my desire to play. I’ve been quite blessed to live in a town that supported multiple orchestras for me to concertize with up until two years ago. The last two years have been very “dry” in terms of music, but I had the most amazing experience recently. I had the pleasure of standing in for another violist in a wedding string quartet allowing me to play with very talented musicians once again. What I found was that this hobby of mine “nourished” me more deeply than most of my normal food choices. I practiced for hours, through several meal times and never once felt a pang of hunger because my body was receiving exactly the nourishment it required. Do you cultivate and allow yourself to enjoy any favorite activities of hobbies? If not, this could be seriously compromising a fully nourished body.

SELF-LOVE

I’ll admit, this is one of the sections of my nourishment wheel that I’ve not been as successful with as I could have been. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found that you must have complete willingness to love yourself. For years, I believed that if I loved my self “as is”, I’d quit trying to improve the way my body looks and feels. What a crock of hoohah I’ve found that to be! Until you love yourself as is, you can’t expect your life to improve. Why would your body reward you with a better version of itself when you don’t appreciate what you have? Exactly. It isn’t happening. It’s only through self-love that we treat our bodies the way they desire to be treated, which creates the changes we desire. Nourish your body with self-love and you’ll be rewarded beyond your expectations.

RELAXATION

Relaxation used to create frustration in my life. As a child, I was taught that keeping busy and “accomplishing” things was the way to shine as a person. I carried that thought well into my adult life only to find that an overworked Laura is a negative and exhausted Laura. Relaxation doesn’t come second nature to me but I’ve learned to schedule myself down time to decompress. Yes, I’m one of those that’s had to schedule relaxation into my life at different points, but there’s no shame in that because it works. I actually took the time to sit down and write out activities that I find relaxing so that I’d have a list to turn to if I’m at a loss for ways to decompress. Not only is your body, mind and soul nourished through relaxation, it will also enhance your relationships. Have you been allowing yourself enough relaxation time? And if not, what are you waiting for?

WORK

I know that it’s up to me to make my job as great or as boring as it is. Three years ago, I started experiencing burnout and a sense that I wasn’t really “doing” anything with my life. It was at that time that I took inventory of what I do (I’m a color consultant), who I serve and what more I could do to enrich my working environment. Fairly quickly, I realized that writing was a pleasurable way that I could nourish my job, and I’m pleased to report that I’m in my third year of writing for a local Homes and Lifestyle magazine. In fact I’ve enjoyed writing so much that I started a blog about selecting color as well as the one you’re currently reading. Writing has enriched my job to a level that I find truly satisfying. If you’re job isn’t nourishing you in the way that you’d like, try brainstorming ways YOU can improve it rather than waiting for someone else to “fix” it for you.

RELATIONSHIPS

In order for your relationships to nourish you, you must nourish them. Yes, there are those that haven’t seen a friend in years and can pick back up where they left off, but I don’t believe that’s the norm. Each of us desires and needs human interaction and human touch. Through our relationships we receive these benefits while naturally nourishing ourselves. Think of each of your cherished relationships and see if you’re receiving what you want from each of them. If not, realize that you have the power to turn this around.

I am quite confident that the list of what nourishes you isn’t the same as what nourishes me. But, I do hope my list has given you the incentive and space to explore what’s truly important to you. Through this type of self-exploration, I believe you can, and will, actualize your ideal and beloved life.

 

It’s All In The Application

Learning is a passion of mine. Allow me to sit in on a seminar, read a self-help book, or research a topic online and I’m in learning heaven. But, if you grasp a concept and don’t apply it, are you actually “learning” anything? This idea has been rampantly running through my mind as of late and until recently I had no answer.

Over the years, I’ve invested many thousands of dollars in education. Some has been for personal growth, the rest related to my field of expertise. I’ve readily applied the work related knowledge to my color consulting, but been perplexed as to how little of the self growth information I’ve actually applied to my own life. I fully understand and relate to the topics, and in fact can write about or “coach” others on it, but my self-implementation is haphazard at best. Do I not believe the information will improve my life? Do I not trust those I learn it from? Am I lazy? I’ve spent many an hour wondering what the disconnect is until I can no longer deny what I know is true. I allow fear to dictate what personal growth knowledge I apply, or don’t apply, to my life.

Generally, fear is caused by the dread of unwanted or “bad” experiences, but fear can arise for other reasons as well. In my case, F-E-A-R is Fright Eliminating Amazing Results. That’s right. I have a fear of things becoming “too good”. This may sound entirely crazy, but I grew up being told how “easy” things were for me and it wasn’t always said in a positive light. I quickly came to realize that “easy” and a life that’s  “really good” can make others uncomfortable, and I certainly didn’t want any part of that. I’ve carried these feelings into adulthood and can look back on how I’ve allowed them to shape my life. So many women that I’ve taken personal growth programs with have grown by leaps and bounds, while my growth is best measured in tiny increments. Now I understand why. NOT applying what I’d learned was serving me by helping me live a small, hard-working life. Mind you, I’m not ashamed of the life I’ve led up until now. I feel blessed to have grown up the way that I did, but I’m also growing into the truth that “easy” and a life that’s “really good” is NOT bad. In fact, it’s what most of us desire. It just comes naturally to me.

So, where am I going with all of this? My acknowledgement of this awareness is key to my moving forward in a way that’s congruent with the way I wish to lead my life. Accepting my “easy” life and allowing myself to live a life that’s “really good” is my greatest intention right now, because I know it’s my truth. And in accepting and allowing, I’ve started applying more of what I’ve learned. Do I worry about push back from the outside world?  Yes, but I’m stronger now than I was as a teenager and have much more wisdom to back me up. The time to lead the life I’ve always wanted is now. Won’t you join me in stepping into the life you know you’re meant to live?

 

Are You Following Your GPS?

 

This past weekend I had a beautiful opportunity to fully experience self-trust.  Not the type that ensures I’ll complete a task, but the trust required to listen to my inner knowing or gut instinct. So easy it is to lead a “loud and busy” life that drowns out the call within, yet what clarity and peace come when we still ourselves and just listen.

Sunday afternoon I was tasked with picking up my son from an overnight stay at a friend’s home. Usually, this would present no problem at all because even though the friend lives out in the country I know exactly how to get there. Yet, the main road to access the family’s home has been closed for re-construction requiring me to “wing it” through the country side. I was already running errands when I found out about the road closure, thus unable to use Mapquest to suggest a suitable route. But, knowing the great sense of direction I have, I really had no worries that I’d arrive at my destination.

Lucky for me, it was a beautiful sunny drive on back roads I’d never traveled, giving me time to take in the beauty and wonder of the county I call home.The father of my son’s friend mentioned to take a right here, a left there and several more of each thoroughly confusing me, yet, I had no reason to believe I could actually get lost. After driving what I deemed “far enough” to have reached the boy’s home, I pulled out an old map I’d forgotten I had. Quickly I realized I was only half way to my destination, so I studied the map well and started off again. With my confidence high I started enjoying the sights again. Only this time, I started realizing that the further I got away from my home, the fewer road signs I passed. Mind you, the number of roads I passed didn’t diminish, but the NAMES of the roads did. After a period of time, I began to wonder if I’d actually passed the turnoff I’d been watching for. Given the lack of road signs, I knew it was entirely possible and worry began to set in. I pulled onto one of the “unnamed” side roads to pull out my map again realizing that I had very little chance of it helping if I didn’t know where I was. As I sat in my car along that small country road, I began to panic. Truly, I had no idea where I was. Fighting back a lump in my throat and hot tears, I took several deep breaths trying to determine what I should do. And, then it hit me… My cell phone has a Google Maps app on it that my daughter had shown me how to use last fall. My Google Maps GPS would show me the way! I didn’t know the exact address but I knew the road name which the GPS had no problem navigating me towards. It’s funny now, but it turned out that I was only 1/4 mile from the turn off I’d been searching for. I hadn’t yet reached it, and yes it was clearly marked. In my fear, I’d nearly given up when I was SO CLOSE to what I’d been searching for!

How often have we lost our way toward our destination in life, losing our confidence along the way, and given up? What I know for sure is that each one of us has an inner GPS system. Our Genuine Provider of Serenity. If we but still our minds and open our hearts, our GPS will guide us in the correct direction; just as my Google Maps GPS app did. When was the last time you trusted your Genuine Provider of Serenity? Hours, days, weeks, years? The more we listen to it the stronger it becomes and our confidence and trust grows in its ability to lead us where we need to go. So, just as you follow the GPS in your car or phone, begin following your inner GPS. After all, our Genuine Provider of Serenity knows only how to lead us to our highest good.

 

 

Absence DOES Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Many of you know that in addition to “Open to the Dream”, I write a blog devoted to paint color at inpursuitofcolor.wordpress.com. For the month of April, I joined a challenge which consisted of writing a blog post every day and I chose my color blog as the beneficiary of my creativity. Writing something daily for all the world to see was an amazing experience. I went into the challenge fully expecting to give up part way through, but quickly realized how incredibly satisfying a daily writing habit can be.

Then it hit me. Writing is more than just a hobby of mine. My writing is the fullest expression of who I am on Earth. Without it, ALL of it, I feel adrift in a Sea floating everywhere and yet no where, which is where I’ve been the past month. While writing about color was fulfilling it didn’t fully quench my thirst the way that writing about my dreams can. And yet, I know that had I only written about my dreams for the entire month, I wouldn’t have been filled to the brim with creative essence waiting to burst forth as I am now.

What I know for sure is that writing to only one of my blogs leaves my heart filled with a void from the absence of not writing to the other. The absence makes my heart grow fonder, which is where I am with “Open to the Dream”. So, I’m back. Very happily back, and thankful that you, my readers, share this creative experience of wonder and inspiration with me!

The Brevity of Life

If you’re nearing the half century mark as I am, you’ve surely noticed how long some days plod by, yet how quickly entire years seem to pass. That became ever apparent to me this evening.

A former co-worker and friend of mine passed away today at the young age of 46. 7 years go I decided to make a career change and within days of my leaving, she began a courageous battle with cancer. Once she’d successfully completed her treatments and celebrated her first cancer free anniversary, I allowed myself to let go of my strong attachments to my former job and colleagues. I bet it had been nearly a year and a half since I’d last spoken with my friend, so today’s news came as quite a shock.  Yet, this is not a “woe is me” plea for sympathy. I take great joy in knowing this woman’s life was rooted strongly in her faith in God, and that she’s quite content with where she’s now spending eternity.

This evening I’ve spent time in quiet reflection of my friend’s short life. It truly hit me that not one of us knows when our final day on Earth might be, and yet so many of us put off our hopes and dreams for tomorrow. Not one of us is assured we’ll see another daybreak, but we’re willing to gamble that there will be another day to seize our dream. One might assume this notion is shared only by the very young among us that are impervious to their mortality. And yet, you and I know that isn’t true…

If we’re fortunate enough to wake tomorrow, won’t you join me in a different way of being? Will you let go of the notion that I’ll do __________ just as soon as I’ve raised the children, paid off my home, lost the weight, found my soul mate… The list could go on and on, but our days won’t. My friend lived a full life pursuing her interests and dreams. Isn’t it time we do the same?

The Fuel Of Our Existence

Dreams copyFor as long as I can remember, I’ve admired people that literally glow from within because of their incredible zest for life. Those whose enthusiasm infects everyone around them, inspiring others to aspire to a similar way of being. And, as much as I’ve admired folks like this, I’ve also envied them from afar. What is their trick to enjoying life with abandon? Don’t get me wrong, there’s much I love about my life as well, but I don’t radiate with enthusiasm every day nor every hour. Not even every other day or hour.

“Insider secrets” I’ve gleaned from close friends with these qualities enlighten me to the fact that these people are chock full of dreams and faith. They allow themselves to conceive the experiences or things they wish to receive and have complete faith that this, or something even better, is headed their way. They rarely second guess themselves, wonder “how” it might happen, nor worry about whether it’s fair that they should receive the dream or not. They dream it, and believe it, through their faith.

The big take away here is that our dreams are the fuel of our existence. They are our inner fire’s kindling and if we allow them to burn out we lose our joie de vivre. Faith, is the oxygen that fans the flame, keeps it bright and allows us to believe in our dreams. Without both dreams and faith we allow ourselves to live a life of settling, reacting and merely surviving. A place I’ve found myself periodically over the years.

Aside from dreams and faith, what else do all of these people have in common? They get “out of their head”. Rather than think about their dreams logically from a head space, they allow themselves to connect with the feelings of receiving their dreams and then take action toward obtaining them. It sounds simple, and truly it is. Conceive it, believe it, and start seeking it. Let go of everything else.

So, now that you understand where genuine enthusiasm for life and a lit from within glow comes from, will you allow yourself to experience it? And, if so, what dream will you grant yourself faith to believe in? For me, it’s the dream of becoming more consistent in connecting with my faith and dreams. How about you?

 

Seeing the Positive

Seeing LifeMy true nature is not that of a positive person. In fact, anyone that knew me growing up will attest to that.  And yet, I’ve always wished that my first inclination was to think or utter something cheerful and positive. For what seemed like forever, I tried with all my might to be positive, but to no avail. I spent years struggling and searching for the right book or program that would teach me how to flip my inner negative switch over to positive, yet nothing ever changed. To be sure, the truth is that I never changed.

What I didn’t understand was that the path to positivity requires effort, but isn’t a struggle. The technique, while simple, demands focus and practice to become second nature, but isn’t hard. I believed I required a different way of looking at life when actually I needed a new way of seeing life. You see, looking and seeing are not one in the same.

I know now that I was looking for exactly what I expected to find. I knew negativity therefore I looked for negativity. Every where I looked, I found negativity. With my glass half empty philosophy, I looked for ways to prove that theory was true. The beauty in all of this is that finding positivity in the world is just as easy as finding the negative. All it requires is a willingness to see your surroundings and circumstances differently. Through new eyes.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “seeing is believing”. If we hold this to be true, and I do, than we need only to believe there’s positive energy flowing through the world in order to begin to see it. The best way I know to put on the proverbial “rose colored glasses” is through gratitude. Developing a new relationship with gratitude magnifies our ability to believe there’s positivity all around us making it infinitely easier for us to discern and see.

So, how do we stoke our fires of gratitude? The most simple way is to verbally express our gratitude as the opportunity arises. But, what if you truly have a day where nothing seems to go right and entertaining a feeling of gratitude seems down right impossible? That’s where a gratitude journal comes into play. The power of the written word is immense because the act of taking the time to reminisce and write about something we’re grateful for intensifies its influence on us. If you allow yourself the experience of taking 5-10 minutes every evening before bed to write out 5 things, people or experiences you’re grateful for, you’ll very quickly start to see a “new” world. It’s not that negative things won’t happen to you or that they won’t be present around us, but the power they once held over you will start to dissipate.

Like attracts like and this circumstance is no different. When we allow ourselves to feel and express our gratitude we feel more positive ourselves and it becomes much easier to see the positive actions going on all around us. When I first adopted this practice, I believed that my eyes had been newly opened to see all the positive things that had undoubtedly always been occurring around me but that I’d been blind to. While I firmly believe this to be true, I just as firmly believe that the positive feelings and energy I’m now finding in my life is attracting more of the same. It’s as though I’ve captured the market on compounding positive energy and it just keeps getting better.

So, while my true nature is not as a cheerful positive woman, I’ve learned to cultivate enough positivity in my life that one might believe that statement to be false. All it took was a little focus, practice and self encouragement for seeing the positive to become second nature.