Moving On to Live

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Have you ever seen someone do something terrible and get away without any sort of consequences? Even worse is when they may get rewarded or celebrated and we somehow reap a negative consequence, while they remain unscathed. Sorry if I’m bringing up a foul memory to mind. It’s ok to take a second to let it flare up, stew, and simmer down if you need. I’m going to attempt to help us take that foul stew off the stove and wash it down the drain, so we’re free to enjoy life more with the air cleared.

I recalled this stench of resentment mixed with justice recently as I’ve been re-reading a story. It’s a story in the Book of Mosiah about this guy named Amulon and his cronies, as I’ve come to call them. They were unjust men, who stole from the humble, murdered the innocent, and were beyond any crudeness or lewdness we’ve been seeing on the news lately. Not only that, they were supposed to be the government and religious leaders.

Thankfully, the people finally wised up and had an uprising, but they somehow managed to escape before the people could sentence any sort of just punishment. Fast-forward, and we get to a point where a group of the most humble and kind of the townsfolk are trying to re-settle themselves. Guess who barges in to desecrate the sweet-prairie life they’ve established? Amulon and his cronies not only butt in, but the ruler of the larger kingdom that the townsfolk settled in dubs Amulon king over their little settlement. To suggest that Amulon merely bullied these townsfolk would be an understatement.

Thankfully, for their well-being and sanity, these weren’t your typical townsfolk. They were praying folk. They were inspired to be patient, and obeyed. Then in due time, the Lord miraculously delivered them.

In some ways, despite the miraculous delivery, I’d find this story to be anti-climactic. No just-consequences are ever mentioned for Amulon. He seems to go by with a free pass. But as I was reading this story again, I stopped to observe myself. I realized that in the midst of my justice-nature, there was a vein of loathing, resentment, and unforgiveness. The funny thing is, I’ve been the one shouldering this, while those praying townsfolk who actually went through it merely moved on. The way they let the past drop off and instead focus on enjoying life reminded me of this stanza in one of my favorite poems, “A Psalm of Life”:

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Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

 

The example of these townsfolk humbled me to consider that maybe there’s a higher law to live than merely justice alone. Grace.

To me, grace is a state where justice and compassion are held equally. Where there’s a higher hope than just punishment, but a hope that a person can be empowered to healing and freedom from their destructive state. That a past is not necessarily a future. That instead, a person can change and rise to his or her highest self. And we can hope to celebrate their rising rather than revel in their final defeat. Grace isn’t the expectation of witnessing this change occur, but holding the hope and openness that someday they will be freed from the darkness they’re living in, to be a person of light. And in the meantime, our joy isn’t capped by justice alone. We can let the dead Past bury its dead and act in the living Present. We’re free to move on and live.

 

When You’re Feeling Yanked Around…

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

There are some days (let’s be honest, some seasons) where I just feel yanked to the next thing from the moment I arise ‘til the time I hit the hay. Do you know that feeling? During these days, we may even get our mindfulness practice in still, but it feels like we’re robbed of the day-long calmness we were told we’d have. I must admit though, during those days my practice is more on the rushed side than the truly mindful.

Because I’ve been going through a season of these pulled, yanked, and rushed episodes, I decided to take some inspired advice I’d read on Sunday—to retire early and arise early “that body and mind may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 124).

Have you ever thought to yourself during your yanked-days, “I think earliness is the answer”? Well, the promise of an invigorated body and mind was too sweet to pass up so I went for it. If this feels impossible, I actually found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought to get in an extra 15 minutes of earliness going to bed and getting up. It’s worth trying.

What I got today during those extra 15 minutes of mindfulness and prayer this morning was an unexpected lesson on my limited concept of time. It became a re-training of my mind in regards to the scarcity of time, and actually to the concept of scarcity at large. Here are some things I learned that I thought you may enjoy as well:

  • There is not a scarcity of time, energy, health, wealth or ability. There is only a learning curb that blocks us from understanding how to have plenty.
  • Rather than straining to get more of these items or that there’s just not enough of them to go around, we can have a sense of peace towards them as we shift our intent to use them as tools rather than as our pursuit.

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    Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
  • It’s easier to see how this is the case if we think of them in the context of a game, like Mario for example. Time, wealth, and health are tools in the game, but not the end pursuit. We collect stars to speed us up in time, coins to unlock opportunities, and mushrooms to give us health. All the while, we’re moving forward not with the intent to just collect the tools, but to use those tools to accomplish our pursuit—reconnecting with our loved one, Princess Peach in this case.
  • When we live to collect the tools of time, energy, health, wealth, or ability, we’re not living out our purpose and thus we’ll always be met with scarcity and that yanked feeling. If instead we seek them as tools and live life using them as tools to fulfill our purpose, then we’re able to live more freely. Our attitudes can shift, for example, from thinking our family members drain our time, energy, or finances, to appreciating the connection we have with them and the unique perspectives family adds to life.

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    Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash

 

If you’ve been going through a yanked season lately, I hope this shift in perspective of using the tools of time, health, and wealth frees you from the constricted feeling scarcity can create. Use the 15 minutes of earliness to allow you space so you can have more creative energy to think of opportunities to collect more tools if you’d like, and reconnect with your purpose.

Chaos and Crumbs

For the past few weeks, I’ve watched how the feeling of things being out-of-control can suddenly switch us from able to disabled. The “out-of-control thing” can be a feeling of trying to set a routine and it keeps slipping away. A partial opinion someone has of us that we just can’t help them see our full picture. Trying to support a sick loved one. Or the clutter that has crawled into our closet, kitchen, or computer from loved ones or ourselves as we’re trying to manage life’s demands. Whatever that out-of-control thing is for you, know that you’re not the only one who gets incapacitated by it every now and then. We’re not weak for feeling that way. We’re growing.

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Photo by Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash

When chaos comes, we may feel all we have left are crumbs of ideas, energy, support, or solutions.

But at least we have crumbs.

I’ve been thinking about this when random moments of chaos have affected me or those around me lately. For some reason, the idea of crumbs brought me solace. In the midst of pain and pressure from chaos’ crumbliness, I think we can learn from our little leftover remains.

  1. Its ok to have days of hearty harvests and days of scraping from the bottom. Just like the seasons, our days will vary in abundance. Some days we’re functioning at a Spring state with bounteous energy and flowing ideas. Other days we’re more in a huddled, frigid Winter state. Both seasons, we have something to give and receive. When I have those free flowing days with buckets full to share, I find myself still needing to receive my husband’s counterbalancing thoughts to prune and hedge my decisions. During the winter freeze and crumby days when I have little to give, I can still offer warmth to huddle next to. What this looks like may be extra delegating, voicing my needs more, or drawing loving boundaries for activities or people to better care for myself.
  2. Every crumb counts. Imagine your favorite meal or desert. Every last drizzle and morsel of that deliciousness is savored and celebrated. That means that when we’re depleted, every little bit that we do have to give to ourselves, our families, or our work is enough. Even if they say otherwise, let it be a truth we can anchor in knowing that our best is enough (1). Because our seasons can change, that means our best also changes. We can give ourselves some space in productivity, in helpfulness, in nurturing, and wherever we tend to excel in or be leaned on, knowing that it’s ok for our status and abilities to fluctuate. But what we do give, if given with our best, will be for good.
  3. Be determined to move forward. Crumbs can only support us for so long. I’ve used these crumby moments to be a flag and indicator to myself that things have got to change. And the things I can change are 1) my attitude and 2) my actions. For my attitude, there’s nothing like listening to a favorite song that anchors me to remember truths or to be grateful. A few of my favorites are “Blessed” by Martina McBride, “Baba Hanuman” by Shantala, or any song by JJ Heller. As for actions, you know the list: exercise, sleep, talking/counseling, nutrition, praying, serving, exploring nature, acupuncture, or reading.
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Photo by Abele Gigante on Unsplash

This has been a topic I’ve been thinking about for a while and so writing it was actually a challenge because it’s been a learning by observing process rather than anything measured or clinical. I hope through this conversation we can each be more patient with ourselves through the chaos and crumbs. We’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful when you’ve felt out-of-control or crumbly. Who knows, if we as women link our crumbs together, maybe we’ll end up with a loaf to share.

(1) Ruiz, Miguel. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. San Rafael, Calif: Amber-Allen Pub, 1997. Print.

Uncovering Anxiety

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When we’re talking about anxiety, it’s important to uncover the various shades of what creates those wide-eyed, tight chest, cat-got-your-tongue feelings. When we learn to identify the specific feelings more, we can be more proactive in addressing some of these all-consuming sensations. The way we’re going to do this is by looking at some old Eastern perspectives on emotions and their associated channels in our bodies called meridians.

  • Lost or vulnerable. These are the emotions associated with the Small Intestines meridian. If you can think of different times when you’ve felt the interruption of those anxious feelings, have you ever noticed a correlation with them in situations when you’re doing something totally new or performing?

I often feel this leading up to a presentation I’m about to give. By knowing my pattern, I work on this meridian by gently breathing in and out this feeling of vulnerability. Then I shift my focus to breath in and out the feeling of accepting my best. I do so while massaging the Small Intestines 3 point. When you make a fist, it is located by the knuckle of the pinky where the skin pouches out.

  • Frightfully overjoyed. This is an unfamiliar term in our Western society, so the way I describe it to patients is that it’s when we look happy and just fine, but don’t feel that way inside. It’s like the feeling when also we laugh nervously. This is the emotion of the Heart meridian. I see this most often appearing in more of our close-knit relationships. For example, when a loved one may have hurt our feelings or misunderstood us, and we’re not sure how to address it, so we just try and play it off.

With this “frightfully overjoyed” feeling, its best to first breath in awareness for the hurt or anticipation of being hurt. Then, when you feel ready, you can shift to breath in the feeling of being safe and authentic. You can do so while massaging over the Heart 7 point. With the palm up, this is located on the inside of the wrist, on the pinky side, in the crease where the hand connects to the wrist.

  • Food for thought: in Eastern medicine we also focus on nourishing the mind and body through specific foods. Here are some good foods to add:

Cinnamon
Honey (in moderation, teaspoon-amount)
Berries
Leafy greens
Olives/olive oil
Cucumbers
Papaya
Garlic/onion

If you want to really enjoy diminished feelings of anxiety, also avoid processed and sugary foods. (Hint: foods that have come out of a drive-through window or box.)

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By practicing these breathing and acupressure points daily, you’ll be able to train your reflexes to breathe and expand when you start sensing those anxious feelings of constriction. Add some fresh air into your practice, either by going outdoors or opening the window to continue to flush out those congested sensations further. The food suggestions will also help calm and tone your nervous system. If you’re looking for more info on creating safe places for yourself, check out our Boundaries blog series from last fall.

Hope you enjoy some of these Eastern options! Post if you have any thoughts or questions, and share the health with your friends 🙂

More info on locating those acupressure points :

https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/si3

https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/ht7

You are Needed

Do the menial tasks ever get to you? Sometimes it can feel like they take over life and then our identities can end up wrapped up in being identified with those tasks. What if there was no such thing as a menial task? Instead, every task could have meaning. That’s actually reality—it just depends on our intention.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Let’s consider a “menial” task for a second. How could something like sharpening a pencil be meaningful? If it was a pencil picked up by someone like Van Gough or Walt Disney, then it’s easy to see the value. But what about us? Well, even Disney had to start somewhere. He went through millions of pencil-sharpening moments to build his abilities to a state where he could express his heart’s desires to be animated for all to enjoy. Our pencil-sharpening moments might be to build our sketching capacities too. It may also be for building our writing or blogging skills. It may be for personal use rather than public, like journaling our feelings to make better sense of our thoughts. If it’s for a public or personal purpose, it’s still meaningful.

What about the times when those tasks feel like they’re just to respond to meaningless assignments or roles? It still depends on our intention. There is no such thing as a meaningless assignment or role. Even picking up garbage is needed. Without it, we’d have no places of retreat to enjoy beauty, nature, or peace without feeling cluttered. We’re the ones who assign and dub things or roles as meaningless, but we could just as easily shift in realizing how meaningful each task and person is, including shifting our perspectives about ourselves.

You are needed.

What you do is needed.

If you didn’t do it, who would? Maybe someone else could, but it would not have your voice, your fingerprints, your experience, your beliefs, your creativity embellishing it with unique hues and patterns only you own. You have specific causes, strengths, cares, and tastes that bring matter to this world. Literally, if you didn’t care about something or like something, then it may never be considered and therefore never created. You matter because you bring matter to life. Sometimes that matter is not physical like a sketch. Your matter might be a transference of an idea, the rearing up of a person, or the feeling of being noticed or safe. Your inspiring thoughts come alive and make a difference on the rest of us.

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

During this Valentine’s season, take a moment to share some self-love with you. Consider what good you share and breathe in some meaning back into the things you do that you might have lost touch with. Then take a moment to consider someone around you, either a loved one, co-worker, or the person next to you at the traffic light. Consider the good they’re sharing and why we need him or her in this world. You may even be able to let them know, even if it looks like a random thumbs up and smile from the lady in the car next door 🙂