Sun-dappled Sundays: the need for calm

CalmnessKnowing when to rest is a huge accomplishment for me.  When I’m feeling anxious and stressed, I know that I need more time to do less.  Don’t we all!?

tracy arm fjordTell me, where do you go (physically or in your mind) to find calm? What represents calm to you? I love water (the fluidity, the power, the flow) and feel peace when I’m near it, even if it’s only a little desk fountain.  I love being in nature.

StillnessWhen I’m feeling my best, these are the ingredients:

  • Enough sleep
  • Connection to those I love
  • Spirituality – reading, praying, quiet time
  • Gratitude practice
  • Time for expressing myself creatively

This week, I am practicing finding a few minutes during the middle of the day just to go for a walk around the block.  It is helping me settle my mind and body and breathe.

What can you do to add a dose of calm to your day?

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Knowing when to rest

water flowing“I am not a hero if I deny rest; I am only tired.” ~ Susan McHenry

A former work colleague and I used to have an unspoken contest to see who was the most busy.  She would tell me about her rushed morning of going and doing and I would share all the tasks on my own list.  I wonder what we thought the most busy of us would “win.” It was as if we derived our self-worth from our to-do lists.

Two different variations of “tired” have taught me that this type of thinking is frivolous.  First, the exhaustion of having a newborn baby.  Surviving on very little sleep and caring for the entirety of another person’s needs, you are useless if you do not take care of yourself.  Second, the bone weariness of clinical depression years before that.  Lack of self-care and rest can lead to feeling so overwhelmed and unmovably heavy that you can’t even begin to complete the simplest of actions for yourself or for anyone else.

small streamAfter these major life lessons, I finally know my limits.  I don’t always listen to the first warning bells, but I know enough to eventually recognize the feelings of exhaustion and to give in to them.  There comes a time when I need soft hours of quiet.  I need to allow my energy to be replenished.  As a highly sensitive introvert (HSP and INFJ, to throw some acronyms at ya), I require lots of alone time and space in order to thrive.  And I finally know enough about myself to not feel guilty about that.

The current week’s lesson in Brené’s e-course is on cultivating stillness and calm.   I totally relate to what Brené writes in The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are: “We convince ourselves that if we stay busy and keep moving, reality won’t be able to keep up.  So we stay in front of the truth about how tired and scared and confused and overwhelmed we sometimes feel.”

water and leavesIt turns out that stillness does not have to be literal.  According to Brené, it’s more about creating a mental clearing and giving ourselves the chance to “feel and think and dream and question.”  For me, that breathing space is so necessary.

It reminds me of Sylvia Boorstein’s book, Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There.  It’s rather counter-cultural to us.  It is so important to pause, to breathe, to daydream, don’t you think?

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Pike Place market, Seattle

partial bouquet

I’m delighted to share some signs of spring with you all, just in case you don’t have flowers in your neck of the woods yet.  These photos were taken last August in Seattle at Pike Place Market, one of my favorite areas to wander around with a camera.

bouquets and prices guitar handszinnias vegetable standwhite flowers piles of veggiesoutside veggies one lily guitar player fruit stand flower stand bouquets bouquets and prices

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! On Monday we’ll be talking about limits and knowing when to rest.  :)

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The struggle to accept ourselves

piece art“Feeling unworthy or insecure, we create a goal, in hopes that achieving this will make us feel good about ourselves.  Then we’re off scheming for success, preparing against failure, stirring the water, hoping it will go clear.” ~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, “Stirring the Water”

This quotation is causing me to take a look at my motivations and priorities.  Why do we undertake something? What are we trying to feel?

We don’t have to be finished in order to be whole.

In other words, it’s completely ok to let something sit unfinished for awhile.  Or to decide to just let it go completely.   Why is this impossible for me? What am I afraid of?

Tell me, do you face these same questions?

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Healing your art scars

Journal pageI am on a journey to be the best Naomi I can be.  I want to be the highest version of myself every day, in every moment.  And that means switching some of the negative messages I’ve got filed away in my head.

I just learned from Brené Brown (in Part 2 of her e-course) that as children, we are rather uninhibited in our creating, but somewhere around age 9 or 10, we start to incorporate messages from society around us and we begin to censor ourself.  Huh.  At first I thought, “I don’t think I censor myself.  Maybe that didn’t happen for me.”

As I listened to Brené talk about her own thoughts about creating art, I realized I’ve got mental blocks, just as she said. It’s time to heal those.  Perhaps you do the same? It doesn’t have to be with art… it is with anything that you absolutely love doing and feel wonderful doing… but you don’t actually let yourself do it often enough.

IMG_0030It has been a few weeks since I’ve been in our office to paint or create anything.  Why? Partly it is because I think that taking that time for myself would be self-indulgent.  Also, I compare my end-results to other people’s work and come up lacking.  Partly it’s that there are so many other things I “should” be doing.

Making art is self-care for me, not self-indulgence.  I’m learning that part of “cherish,” my word for this year, is making sure I take time for the things that make me feel my best.  Only when I do that can I truly be myself and find out more about who I am.  Like I said before, I am on a journey to be the best Naomi I can be.  That involves making space in my days for creativity.

Brené also encouraged us to think about new ways to unleash creativity.  We’ll see if I do any of these!

New ideas

Think about this today: How can you heal your scars and allow yourself to play? Share in the comments if you feel like it.  :)


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Start with noticing

Tree and skyFor 38 years now, I have thought that external events and people shaped my life and that I was living within the small framework of my ability to respond to those events.  I could give you endless examples of how a friend’s rejection could shake me to my core.  I was letting things outside of myself determine how I thought of myself, what mood I was in, and how I responded to everything else.

No more.  There is no reason to give anyone or anything that much power over us.

Bridge in snowThe very first step of beginning to think in a larger way seems to be simply noticing how you are reacting to things within your own mind and body.  Michael Singer writes a great deal about this separation between your thoughts and your true self in The Untethered Soul.  I wrote a great deal about this amazing little book, but to give you the gist: You are not your thoughts, feelings, or opinions.  You are that still, quiet being inside noticing those things, moving through those things, observing, breathing, loving.

PlantThis is mindfulness and mindful living.  Notice how the coffee cup feels between your palms.  Notice how someone’s voice sounds in your head.  Notice how your feet feel as you place one foot in front of another.  Notice what goes through your head as you’re hearing the news, or a friend talks with you, or when looking out the window.  Notice whether you are observing, making judgments, jumping to conclusions, feeling gratitude, feeling anxious… simply notice.  This will help you separate your true self from everything else.

Then we can start from there.

Bubbles in waterWhat do you think of this? Do you notice an internal shift when you reclaim that power that you’ve given away and decide for yourself how you are going to feel?

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