Wondering as you Wander

There is an old church song that came to mind today and would not leave, the beginning is "I wonder as I wander...". It's a pretty song, and though I do not know why it popped up today, I'm not sorry to think of it again. As we consider the meaning of WONDER this month, it feel it is perfectly timed.

It brings up the notion of wandering as well and it seems to me that wandering is something we just do not do enough anymore.  We seem to always have a purpose when we walk or when we sit down to think. There is great value in simply wandering, whether it is in a mall, around a city, in your backyard, or out in a larger nature space. Allowing yourself to meander unhooks movement from having to be anywhere special, and allows for happy discoveries and new paths to be noticed and taken. Physically wandering lets the mind become free of needing to keep track of time and being somewhere specific.  It lets the mind also begin to wander and WONDER.

My husband and I love to travel and see new places, and we often plan lots of activities and sights to see. When I think back, however, some of our best travel and life stories came from wandering. The wandering did not always result in finding the most amazing sight or experience, but very often it resulted in memorable events and people who we would not have met otherwise. Had we not wandered a bit, we would have missed them and what they brought to our lives.

So allow yourself to wander. And if you cannot do it physically, allow your mind to wonder and wander. A bit of wandering daily will greatly enhance your creative and problem-solving processes, and could bring untold value to your life experience.

XO,
Karen

Photo by Luis Del Río Camacho on Unsplash

 

Creating A Daily Crafting Practice

I don’t know about you all, but for me time is flying by faster and faster everyday. I can barely keep up with what I have to do, let alone do the things I want to do. Creativity is an essential part of my life, my being, and my wellness, and if I don’t devote enough time and energy to it, everything else in my life suffers.

I decided to challenge myself to create a little every day. To facilitate this, I placed a blank art journal, a pen and a tray of watercolor paints on the ottoman in the living room. At least once a day, I take the journal and pen and express myself, without judgement. The journal is full of blank pages, and it I don’t like what I make I can always try again. I use a pen that is not waterproof, and I love the yummy feeling of the lines blurring as I add water and color to the piece. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and I find it helps to reduce stress and anxiety, inspire creative thinking in all areas of my life, and gives me a relaxed clarity.

For me it is art journaling. For you it might be something else completely. I just urge you to take a few short minutes out of your busy day to create. Here are a couple ways you can do that:

1.    Keep a small creative project with you for down times, just in case you have a moment to work on it- a small sketchbook and pens, colored pencils, a small knitting or crochet project (one involving small pieces that later get put together into larger pieces work well for this), a journal to write in, etc. Write a poem, a haiku, sketch a flower, doodle, write what you are grateful, or just play!

2.    Make a commitment to spend at least 10 minutes per day doing something creative, no matter how silly what you make seems. Play like you did as a child, creating for creativity’s sake. It is the regular practice of creating that is important here, not the product. 

I wish you peace, joy and love this hectic time of year and always. Taking a few minutes for your creative journey every day will help you to stay relaxed, happy and present.

With love and creative light,
Ann

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Appreciation Throughout the Season

Appreciation Practices

The end of the year is often a challenging time for us.  There is much to do, there are family expectations, and there can be emotional "pop ups" as we navigate the holidays. One way to stay even and grounded is to adopt a practice of appreciation.

One way to do this is to use our Appreciate kit and write things you appreciate on your appreciation frame daily. These can be little or big things, people, places, and so on. This is a very simple practice that gives great reward when done regularly.  You can do this in a journal as well, but it helps to keep your list where you can see it. 

It is also helpful to consider including "negative" things that occur and to actively acknowledge the gifts in them. This is a very real way of turning lead into gold, and keeping your life more positive.

Another lovely thing to do is to tell one person each day what you appreciate about them. People do not hear this kind of feedback often enough, and the difference it can make to you both is great.

Of course, we would like you to keep crafting or doing anything else that keeps you centered, calm and engaged in your life.

Also, we've included our instructions for writing and using Affirmations here. Affirmations are another helpful personal practice. If you do not use it this season, consider it a gift for the future year.

HOW TO WRITE AND USE AFFIRMATIONS

Make a commitment to practice positive thoughts and input for your mind on a daily basis. Affirmations are a wonderful tool for doing this, and they work best if you say them aloud or write them out.  When you say or write your affirmations, you are giving instructions to your subconscious mind. We know that the subconscious mind gives all messages equal weight, so giving it more positive input in the form of affirmations works to counteract the negative input some of us are so good at giving ourselves.  
Say or write your affirmations out daily, or even more often. You can write them on your frame, and then read them aloud to yourself every time you see it. When you do this, take a moment to actually visualize what you are saying or writing. Affirmations work best when you create the reality for yourself each time you use them.  

How to Create an Affirmation

1.    State affirmations in the present tense.  
Affirmations must be stated in the present tense because your subconscious is quite literal.  If you say something like “I’m going to be rich.” Or “I am becoming thin and fit.” the message sent to your mind – the reality created, is one where you will get there someday, but not now.  You want the mind to believe it is happening now.  Say things like “I have more than enough money every day.”  Or “I am healthy, fit, and slim.”

2.    State affirmations in the positive.
The subconscious mind does not comprehend concepts like “not”, “don’t”, and other negative qualifiers.  If someone says to you “Don’t think about a pink elephant”, what happens?  You think of a pink elephant.  Your mind completely ignores the word “don’t”.  Always create a picture of what you want – NOT what you want to avoid.  So say something like “I am confident and competent when I speak in public”, instead of “I won’t stutter and feel nervous when I talk in front of this next group.”  

3.    Be specific.
There are countless stories of people who are successful at picturing and achieving what they want, only to find they had neglected to include a critical detail.  Since your subconscious mind is an excellent engine for creating reality, be sure you are clear and exact about the reality you say you want. Karen has a friend who used this technique to find a romantic relationship. When she met “the perfect man” he fit all the criteria she had so carefully pictured. She realized, however, that she had not specified that this beautiful soul have a job. Don’t say, “I have a new car”, when you mean to say, “I have a new car that gets 25 or more MPG and seats 6.” 

Affirmation Writing Exercise:  
Pick something you would like to focus on in the next week and write at least one affirmation for it. Remember the guidelines.  Present Tense, Positive, and Specific.

We appreciate you!
Ann and Karen

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Take a Break

When times are chaotic and crazy, and we feel powerless to do anything about the pain we see and feel in the world around us, it’s easy to overwhelm to the point of shutdown. Times are like that now. When I feel myself getting spun out, pulled into the drama of life in these times, I consciously choose to take a break, recharge and regroup.

It’s like when I am doing a time sensitive project. I work like crazy to get it all done, and although frazzled and frayed, my mind commands me to keep going, going, going. I will catch it, just in time before collapse, and force myself to rest, to relax and meditate. I often fall into a deep sleep for a few minutes then, awakening fresh, revived, and energized. The time I allow myself is a gift not for me but for the project at hand, which still usually gets completed on time or sooner, despite my mind’s fear about taking that break.

I encourage you in the midst of all your doing, and praying, and worrying about the plight of the world to occasionally stop, lay it all down, and retreat deep into source to be replenished. How do I do that? I rest, breathing deeply in and out a few times as I let my body sink into the comfort of my bed. I cover myself with a blanket, soft and arm. I float, and then I sink deeper and deeper until I find the light of source deep within. I let go, I listen, I rest, and I arise emanating more light to shine on those I love. Taking some time for yourself today may be the best thing you can do for the world around you.

Wishing you peace, light and love,
Ann
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Just Breathe

I sat in that waiting room contemplating the possibilities, the completely different paths that could momentarily be put in front of me by the revealing of my test results. In that moment, the results of my biopsy for endometrial cancer were present, in the hands of my doctor, but still unknown to me. They were like Schrodinger’s test results- the reality of a positive or negative outcome both absolutely real in that moment. Until spoken aloud to me, it could go either way. Anxious from a week of waiting, I sat there focusing on the positive outcome, affirming and seeing it come out the way I wanted it to. Then something interesting happened. I let go of expectation, and just trusted that whatever happens will be exactly the right thing and will lead me to what is in my highest and best good.

I was called back to the doctor’s office. I think every single part of my body was tense as I sat down in the hard, wooden chair across from his desk. He told me that the results were back and that they were negative. It took a moment for that to set in. I relaxed then, melting from an icicle into a stream, and for the first time in a week I was able to really breathe.

I am usually pretty good at the breathing thing. I have had my children breathe through emotional and physical traumas too numerous to mention, have breathed through childbirth, grief and loss. I have breathed through love and pain. This was a particularly challenging one, and it was difficult to get there. I should have written it all over my life last week, BREATHE on sticky notes in my car, on my bathroom mirror, on the window by the sink, on my computer. BREATHE, just breathe, and make it through this very moment, and then the next, and it will be okay.

I will try my best to remember the importance of breath, today and every day. I encourage you to go ahead and write those BREATHE sticky notes and put them everywhere. It’s like they say on an airplane- put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. When life begins to feel like a slow motion plane crash about to happen, BREATHE first, then get busy. I am so grateful that I can breathe easily again.

With a big breath and a sigh of relief,
And love,

Ann

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

The Power of Surrender

I received some unexpected news a few days ago, like really out of the blue news and it threw me for a loop. In the quest to figure out my severe anemia, I was sent to a gynecologist, an ultrasound revealing a non-fibroid thickening in my uterus. This doctor casually told me that I needed to have a biopsy to check for cancer, and most likely a hysterectomy to quell the anemia. Hysterectomy I saw coming, but cancer? WHAT? I got caught up in the whirlwind of it all for a couple days, feeling desperately out of control, suddenly robbed of my peace of mind and the illusion that I have any control over anything ever. I immediately tried to take control of my circumstances, obsessively troubleshooting, planning and figuring out every eventuality. My immediate thoughts were of my family, and how to keep all of the wheels rolling and plates spinning no matter what.

I was terrified. I was afraid of being dependent, weakened, and compromised, unable to care for myself for even a little while. The more I tried to figure everything out, the worse it got. Then, two days later an epiphany- my power lies not in control of the situation but in control of how I react to it. I chose to view the situation as a gift, an opportunity to let go of physical and emotional pain that has built up in my body. I was able to let go of trying to figure it all out right now, and trust that it will all work out in divine right order. I have a feeling that when the biopsy is done, all will be fine. I will have the hysterectomy and let go of all the sad memories along with my scarred uterus. The happy memories I will keep- my beautiful living children. My power will be in starting over, freshly.

The world is an overwhelmingly crazy place lately for many of us. It is easy to feel powerless. Remember to breathe, pulling your attention into your heart and into gratitude. Our power lies there, in the light of love. Keep loving no matter what, for the Earth and her inhabitants need it now more than ever.

Loving you all, powerfully,
Ann

 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Light in the Darkness

I haven’t felt like writing lately. I never know what to write when I am mentally, physically or emotionally down. In those times, annoyed and berating my lack of ability to just ‘get over’ whatever has me down, it is difficult to see how I could possibly make a difference. Was this something I was taught or absorbed as a child? Or as an adult, studying consciousness and transformation? It doesn’t help that healers are often held to a higher, unrealistic standard to display positivity, light and love even when we humanly hit rough patches.

As a reserved introvert, this sort of thinking sends me deeper within myself until I eventually turn the tide. This time, however, I am determined to take a different approach; writing anyway, creating anyway. Isn’t that what art is all about? Only having been taught to hide all of the negatives, it is difficult to think of splashing them about for all to see.

I am reminded of a lesson in authenticity I learned when I participated in a theatre workshop a few years ago. We five women each drew from our lives to create sketches which we then performed together. My portion dealt with the struggle to balance all of my responsibilities as a mother and wife before making my way to the symbolic cup of paint brushes, which I never actually made it to. At one point, the other women, portraying my children, climbed all over me, their voices escalating and bringing an all too familiar feeling up from my own life. I looked pleadingly at the teacher and said, “Help! They aren’t listening to me!” His response was, “Well make them!” I proceeded to subdue them with frustrated screaming. It felt horrible, exposing my dark side like that, but also human, authentic and real. When we performed the piece in front of an audience it was liberating to share humanity that they could relate to.

I am writing today and it is making me feel better. I will go home and do some crafting. Perhaps soon I will find the courage to make some real art that exposes more of my humanity, grief and pain, loss, love, passion, magic, mystery, and the eternal light of the spirit. Next time you are down, I hope you will have the courage to keep creating, for all of the darkness and light of your being is beautiful, precious and irreplaceable. 

In love and light,
Ann