Friday, December 26, 2014

Reflections for the New Year

It's hard to believe that 2014 is nearly over. One of the things I have really struggled with this year was finding peace in the midst of stress and difficult moments. It is through my relaxation and yoga practice that I am learning to really cultivate a sense of "calm amidst the storm".

My desire for 2015 is that I will continue to develop the ability to find peace when things are chaotic around me. I know that this year is going to bring some very difficult and challenging moments with facing another time of separation from my husband, starting a new placement within my job, starting post graduate study which I have to travel long distances for, and then eventually organising our big move at the end of the year. This year is going to bring a lot of challenges (and those are just the ones that I already know about and can mentally prepare for!) Knowing in advance that there will be many challenges to face gives me the advantage of being able to set some healthy coping mechanisms in place....Of which my best means of coping is going to be establishing a really strong pattern for my yoga practice - even if that means only 15 minutes a day. Getting into the routine of daily practice means that I will take at least 15 minutes a day solely to focus on relaxation and grounding.

So that is my first New Year's Resolution - to devote a few minutes every day to yoga

Secondly, as my mantra for the year - I Am Here - I want to ensure that during my yoga practice I am really focusing my energy on grounding. On remembering that even if all else around me feels chaotic and difficult in that moment, I am still here...I am still me....I am still alive and well, and present in this moment. 

The third focus for me this coming year is continuing on my journey towards healthier eating habits. I have started seeing tremendous improvements with my health and my thyroid levels are starting to improve, so it is definitely worth the effort. I struggled this Christmas with making poor food choices and too much sugar over the past week, but I am determined to get back on track and really focus my energy on foods that actually improve my health. 

My biggest fitness goal this year is to keep working towards increasing my running fitness level. I would ideally love to be back running comfortably where it's really enjoyable. Long-term goals for that would be to be running about a 10K by this time next year. 

Those are just some of my goals for the coming year, what are yours? Have you taken the time to reflect on what you would like to achieve for 2015? Have a think about how you will cope with the challenges you might face BEFORE you face them.....Think about what lifestyle changes you might need to make in order to support healthy coping. Think about ways you can increase your fitness and improve your health. 

"If I only get today, I want to make today count. If I only get today, I want those around me to know that I loved them and for those who cross my path to know that they matter. If I only get today, I want to finish it well" ~ Namaste

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Living in the present moment

For many years I have been enthralled by the concept of living in the present moment. I attempt, as best I can, to embrace the here an now....To let go of all that no longer serves me, and to focus my attention on the blessings that are right in front of me.

This is, of course, all very well and good on paper - but it's surprisingly challenging to live it out in your daily life. That is, I guess, why I practice yoga. Because it allows me to focus my mind on the present moment (even if it is but for a moment in my day). I acknowledge my humanness, that I cannot seem to quiet my mind when the stresses of my day surround me.....but at least for a short time in my day I mindfully focus my energy on this moment.

I encourage you, even if it's just for ten minutes of your day, to just stop what you are doing and focus on this moment in time. Focus on the many blessings in which you have (the very breath of life that you breathe) and offer up some gratitude for those gifts. Acknowledge those around you whom you have come in contact with today, and offer loving-kindness towards them and thoughts of wellbeing for their lives.

I do not pretend to walk around in a state of euphoria, being grateful for everything and never stressing over the little things in life....No, this is not me. I acknowledge that I get overburdened, stressed, tired, grouchy - just like everyone else. But what I am saying, is that with the effort that I have, I will attempt every day to strive closer and closer to the place where my mind can come to peace and serenity.....where my mind can rest, and can appreciate all that God has done for me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Becoming a caring culture

If I know one truth about life, it is that no matter who you are, you will face hardships and trials at some point along the way. No matter how old or how young you may be. It's simply part of life.

Walking through the valley's allows us to enjoy the mountain-top view all the more when we reach the top.

My curiosity lies in wondering why we cannot seam to recognise this truth in one another. We don't seam to be able to relate to the shared human experience that we all have. When someone is hurting or experiencing a stressful life-event, it absolutely amazes me at the amount of people who turn the other way and shield their eyes from this reality. Not to mention the amount of people who feel the need to HIDE the truth of their struggles from the world, for fear that they will not be accepted or acknowledged.

So, what would happen if we changed these mindsets? What would happen if we created a caring culture in which each of us recognised the shared humanness we each possess? What if we saw in each other our own pain and struggles? I wonder what that world would look like?

This week, I encourage you when you look in the face of those who cross your path, look a bit deeper.....imagine what it must be like to walk in their shoes.....Offer them a word of kindness or encouragement and show them that they are NOT alone!!




Monday, July 1, 2013

Serenity

I love these quiet spots in the forest where you feel you can sit and just forget about all the troubles that might be weighing you down. Travis always makes fun of me because it's when I find a spot like this that I like to sit down...He always says, "Is Teniah having a 'Peaceful Moment'!"...."Yes, she is!" haha.....

I find that these spots somehow offer a sense of serenity and comfort. I feel like no matter how stressful my day was; no matter how annoyed I am; no matter what others are saying or thinking about me....It is in this moment where I can just let it all go.

I think that is the thing I love the most about the area where I live - there are a LOT of these little peaceful spots to be found. (Or maybe it's that I'm in a place in my life where I'm always looking for them?....) Perhaps that's more accurate.....Perhaps there are peaceful spots everywhere and we are too pre-occupied with our own stresses in life that we overlook those quiet moments?

I challenge you to try and find a place of tranquility this week. Maybe it's in your house somewhere; maybe it's in a park, or by a lake, or sitting by the ocean. Wherever you go to find that place of stillness....embrace it, and just let that moment cover you. Let the quiet of that moment just overpower all the stress and all the troubles that you are holding on to.

I have been looking further into loving kindness meditation over these past three weeks, and as part of that meditation I have been seeking these peaceful moments where I can offer myself kindness and offer that same kindness out to the world. Where I can take a moment to say, "May I be safe. May I be peaceful. May I let go of all that no longer serves me. May I live in this world with ease". At the same time offering up this intention towards those I love, towards those I struggle to love, and towards the universe as a whole.



Friday, January 18, 2013

Tearing Down the Walls

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”~ Randy Pausch


I think I have shared this quote before, but it's worth having another look at. I was reminded of this quote today at the end of my run because the past two runs that I have completed have been a real mental challenge for me. I have really struggled to keep going in the midst of the urge to stop and walk, but I have somehow managed to completely run both routes. This is not only a huge physical accomplishement, but also a psychological achievement for breaking down those walls that keep me from my full potential.

I believe that each person has their own personal struggles and challenges, whether those challenges are eating disorders, addictions, depression...You name it. I believe that everyone has "brick walls" in their lives that keep them from living fully in the present moment. I also believe that if we want to experience that full joy and peace in this present moment then we need to either tear down those walls, or discover some way to climb over them......We must prevail.

There is so much joy and happiness to experience in this life. I cannot begin to express the personal achievement and fullfillment that I find in overcoming these road-blocks and in pushing through. There is something magical about getting to the other side and knowing that you wanted it badly enough to make it happen.

I experienced this with my degree - I never really dreamed it would be possible to graduate from university and have a career. The feeling at the completion of that goal was undescribeable!!! The same I felt the first time I tramped to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up, the same I felt when I summited Trinchera, the same I felt when I ran my first race.......It's that feeling of having achieved your goals, but also that feeling of knowing that you wanted it badly enough to fight for it.....

Whatever your challenge is, whatever wall is keeping you from meeting your goals, I encourage you to keep pressing on - keep tearing down those walls!!!

 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hiden Strengths

"It is possible to use all of our traits as strengths, if we are mindful of them and purposeful in their use." ~ Angela Marchesani

I came across this article today and thought how incredibly relevant it is to my own life. As I reflect on things that I want to improve in the coming year and ways in which I need to focus attention on maintaining my own health and wellbeing, I am all the more mindful of how often my own life is negatively impacted by giving too much of myself to others. 

I like to think that having a caring nature and having the desire to help others is a positive thing. However, many times in my own life this same strength has nearly destroyed me as I have been used, abused, emotionally drained, and overwhelemed by the needs of those whom I am helping. At the end of the day sometimes I wonder why it is that I help all these people, but then no one reaches out to help me? It feels out of balance sometimes and then I start to withdraw and avoid those people whom my heart is actually telling me to reach out to. It's almost a "self-preservation" response. In an atempt to protect my own heart from hurt, I avoid the situation all together. Or I develop a certain sense of resentment when I have given so much to someone who offers nothing in return. The article above really brought this to light as I could completely relate to the author and understand how her strength had also become a weakness at times. 

In the article, Angela uses an analogy of our life being like a play where we possess many characters who are created for different roles. Everyone has a character who takes the lead role (mine is caring), but they also have other characters that would like to share in the limelight. (Have a read of the article, it really is worth the time). After having read this article I realise that I need to take a really close look at my life and acknowledge the different "characters" which I have. I need to call on those characters in times when I feel that my strength of caring is weakening. It may be that in calling on those hidden characters that I find a new "lead" who is perfect for the role at hand.

Instead of walking away or avoiding situations in which my caring nature gets overused and burned out, I need to call on my other characters to step up to centre stage and take a turn. This will allow for me to maintain my personal values without having such a negative effect on my own life. (Turning away from someone in need does NOT line up with my personal values, and at times I have thought this was my only option in order to preserve my own sanity. I was not at peace with the response, but I thought it was the only way.) I am grateful to have been challenged to think in a different way now.

As I enter into 2013, I want to enter with a fresh mindest and be ready to call on all of my characters to play a part in my life. I do not want my strength to be my weakness. I want to acknowledge that there is more within me that can work towards maintaining my personal values and it doesn't have to be a job for only one character. 

If you feel, at times, out of balance or feel that your strengths sometimes weigh you down, I encourage you to take time to reflect on  your personal values and on ALL the character traits which you possess that may help you achieve and maintain those values within your life. Make 2013 the best year of your life!!! 


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Discovering a Thing of the Past

Sometimes the past actually is worth having a look at.....Today was a day of discovery for me as I took a culinary journey in the past to discover a fantastic grain that was used by many indigenous people - Amaranth.

I had heard of this incredible super food a while back and had bought a small bag - which has sat un-touched in my pantry for many months. I really just never knew what to do with it and never took the time to search for a recipe. Today it is chilly out with a constant drizzle and after a hard run I was searching for something comforting and filling to enjoy for lunch. My eyes fell on that sad and lonely bag of Amaranth and I thought, "hey, why not?" I decided to give it a go and just prepare it as it said on the back of the package.

Amaranth is a great source of calcium, iron, and protein - which is especially helpful for folks on vegetarian diets or other restricted diets. (They say that Amaranth actually contains more calcium than a glass of milk...so there you go....no need for that added dairy!)

I simply simmered 1 cup of Amaranth on the stove with 3 cups of water and then added a dash of nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon. I cooked this until it looked done (took about 40 min as my stove was acting up and it took ages to actually start boiling). I add a handful of raisins at the end and about a tablespoon of aguave nectar and then let it just sit for about 10 min. The result was amazing and way better than what I had anticipated. (Plus it made at least 3 big portions, so I have lots to enjoy the rest of the week!)

After discovering that I actually love this grain, I began researching how to "properly" cook Amaranth and found some new recipes. I will definitely be trying out some of these and will share them at a future date. One if the biggest suggestions I have so far is to boil your water FIRST, and then add the Amaranth. This will cut down on the cooking time tremendously. You should really only need to cook it for 20-25 min and then let it sit for about 10. Just something you can do while you check emails and that. You don't really have to watch it or stir it.

So, if you are like me and have not given much thought about the tride and true foods that worked so well for our forefathers....maybe give it a go and see what you think!