The Reminder

The Reminder

“This year will be better than last year.

This month will be better than last month.

Today will be better than yesterday.

Look for the signs.

Keep the faith and just keep showing up.”

– Carol C.M.


Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take care + be well,

Carol xo

Toxicity, Negativity and Reality

Toxicity, Negativity and Reality

“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day.  Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation.  In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.”  – Anthon St. Maarten [Divine Living: The Essential Guide to Your True Destiny]


There is so much going on in the world right now, and I have been thinking a lot about the energy surrounding our environments, and the collective effects of indisputable or obvious negativity and toxicity.

The dictionary states that the word positive means: 1. Something positive.  2. the state or character of being positive; a positivity that accepts the world as it is.  While it’s opposite, [the word] negativity means: 1. the expression of criticism.   2. pessimism about something, failing to see the good and concerning oneself with bad outcomes, or expressing hopelessness.

The word toxicity; however, can lead one to conjure feelings of impending doom.  It is a word that makes me think of something that could take over my mind and body and render me completely helpless. It is a word that signifies and embodies danger and the probability of eventual demise.


“Negative means separating energies, while positive means unifying energies.  It’s not about being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – energy is quite neutral, actually…one just feels better.  Simply imagine that being negative creates distance between the hearts of two people, while being positive brings them closer together. – Alaric Hutchinson [Living Peace: Essential Teaching for Enriching Life]


One thing that has captured my attention is how, in recent times, it has become acceptable to correlate anguish and sadness with negativity and toxicity.  Why have these emotions become a part of a majority opinion that imply anguish and sadness are harmful and pestilential, when they are more likely to denote the presence of a tender soul experiencing a delicate and temporary situation.

Should we place feelings such as anguish or sadness in the same category as hatred, envy, gossip bullying or something much more defective and personally damaging like narcissism – all of which are clearly harmful, toxic and negative behaviors that can be hard to avoid in today’s social “climate?”

Every despairing situation is not a sign of negativity or toxic behavior, and our propensity to hold that belief can be toxic and harmful in itself.  If we become desensitized to recognizing pain in others we are open to losing our humanity; and if we lose our empathy we are open to no longer care about others. What connects us to others is being able to empathize with them. Is that something that we are willing to lose?


“Even when something is not your fault, toxic blame has no place in your life. Focus on your own empowerment and healing.” – Bryant McGill [Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living your Best Life]



It is natural for us to try to avoid pain and sadness, but is that realistic? What if those feelings and emotions are a part of your life path, your soul work, your life transformation? If it is, should that process of growth be interrupted? Wouldn’t it wonderful to watch the whole intricate process unfold, and witness the unabashed life affirming growth manifest?

We are all flowers pushing our way through concrete, and lotuses growing through mud. That is the [hidden] beauty of our being. It is the growth and experience that make everything worthwhile and what gives everything meaning. Trying to navigate through rough times is by no means as negative or toxic as causing others harm, or trying to affect anyone negatively in some way – and that is the truth.

Until the next post.


Blessings,

Take Care +  Be Well,

Carol xo

Can You Imagine?

Can You Imagine?

Can you imagine,

waking up to the light of day

and feeling as though you have nothing to say?

Can you imagine,

walking past the same room

that you’ve passed every day,

that room that you’d stop by

for a while just to say “hey!” ?

Can you imagine,

looking inside that now empty room

as you struggle to accept that everything has changed?

Can you imagine,

each morning – whispering “hello”

to a part of you, a remnant,

who was called to go

far away to another space

where serving a higher purpose

could now take place?

Can you imagine,

for a minute, closing your eyes

to once again see

that smile that would bring comfort

and make joy materialize?

Can you imagine,

the numbness felt each night

as you pass that room again

and once more recall

that nothing is “right”?

Can you imagine,

having the worst happen to you,

yet you still feel grace

because your faith is true?

Can you imagine feeling grateful,

because you raised someone special

and that love for your child is eternal

and what helps get you through?

Can you imagine?

Can you?

By Carol C.M.


Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo

Feeling is Living

Feeling is Living

“Don’t numb yourself any further with busyness or forced happiness.  Feel what is bothering you so that you can learn to adjust to the change instead of pretending that it doesn’t exist.” – Carol C.M.

10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You.

10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You.
Computer and social media use have become an ever increasing part of our lives.  I remember when my kids were the only ones in our household who stayed continuously connected to the computer, other digital gadgets, or used any type of social media platform throughout the day.  Well, a lot has changed over the years, as I am sure it has for many other families as well, given that more adults use their computers and smartphones today for a variety of reasons, not just for work.
Many adults today must stay connected to their devices and/or social media for work purposes, but a larger majority stay plugged in to maintain contact with family and friends from near and far or just for sheer entertainment.  Still, young adults are leading the way when it comes to staying digitally connected.
It’s often very hard to not reach for our smartphones when we hear that little signal from our phones letting us know that we just received a like, a comment or a new follow.  Similarly, email updates can add to our “digital anxiety” when we receive an email notification and suddenly feel compelled to see what surprise awaits us in our inbox, or we suddenly realize that there are a host of emails that we need to delete. Furthermore, who has never been enticed to check their phones before going to bed at night? We have become a “plugged-in” society and it seems that, in many ways, this way of life has somewhat removed us from society instead of helping us become more connected to each other. It is funny how something that was originally designed with the intent to make life easier has fallen short of helping us feel more at ease in life. If any of these feelings resonate with you then it might be time to consider doing a digital detox.
A digital detox consists of taking a break from all digital life for a specified amount of time.  The time can be any length of your own choosing and based upon your own unique needs. I usually make an effort to take one at least once a year for a week, but some people have been known to take a much longer break. How you plan your digital detox is all up to you.  I must add that if you are going to do a digital detox and you are online regularly, make sure to let your followers know ahead of time that you will not be posting anything for a while and provide them with a brief explanation of what you will be doing; otherwise they may lose interest or have concerns about your absence. Trust me, they will thank you for it and you will be glad that you did it.      
Here is a list of my top 10 benefits of doing a regular digital detox:
  1. A digital detox allows you to ease through your day, feel less pressured and get a lot more accomplished.
  2. Allows you to live “in the moment” and pay more attention to “the little, but meaningful things.”   
  3. You get to take control of your life once again – even if only for a short time.
  4. You will find yourself with the freedom to eat your meals more mindfully.
  5. You get to set an example for your kids and show them that it is alright to focus on other things in life besides our computers and smartphones. 
  6. You will find yourself  feeling a sense of calm and relief as you unconsciously become “deprogrammed.”  
  7. You will be contributing to your physical health by spending less time near harmful EMF’s (Electronic Magnetic Fields), increasing your change of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and improving your adrenal system.
  8. You will be teaching yourself to become less dependent on digital devices and social media.
  9. You will be contributing to your mental health by reducing the likelihood of depression, ADHD and other conditions that are related to excessive digital device and screen time use.
  10. You will find that you have more time to spend with family or friends and do the things that you thought you would never have time for. 

If you decide to do a digital detox I wish you a happy, peaceful break from being continuously “connected” – Enjoy!

Until the next post.


Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo

How I Fell in Love with Hiking

How I Fell in Love with Hiking
My first hiking trip was taken on a whim.  It was an idea that arose from a discussion between my husband and myself regarding what we should do for our upcoming Anniversary.  My husband can be quite accommodating when it comes to letting me chose a locale for a trip or a night out, but the idea that I had in my mind at that time was one that I wasn’t sure that he would be willing to agree to. Yet, much to my delight, he agreed, albeit his agreement was not without some hesitation.
I wanted to visit the desert for a considerably long time.  It’s a landscape that I am often drawn to and have always had a fascination with. Although I would have also loved another quintessential night on the town, complete with a delectable dinner at a lavish restaurant, that option could not contend with a trip to the desert. More specifically, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Desert – Not this time. I guess you could say that the desert was calling me and I could not say no.
After further discussion about our choices, my husband expressed that his less than enthusiastic response to my request, (at first), was because of his disinterest in desert landscapes. This just happened to also be when I learned that he’s more of a forest kind of guy. We laughed at a few of his jokes about there being absolutely nothing in the desert to do or see and I begged to differ.  He acquiesced,  I smiled and then we proceeded to make our trip reservations for Joshua Tree National Park.
I think people thought that we must have lost our minds when we told them what we planned to do for our Anniversary that year, and maybe for a second, we too, began wondering whether we were making the right decision. Who wants to jeopardize spoiling their Anniversary? We had never been hiking before. Nor had we ever done anything outdoorsy for any special occasion, so this was something that was unusual, but I really wanted to do something different and my husband agreed that maybe it was time for us to start trying things that were different. We were definitely up to the challenge and looking forward to discovering what the desert had to offer.  Little did we know at the time that we had just made one of the best decisions that we have ever made during our many years together as a married couple.
We conducted a bit of research on the park and learned that Joshua Tree National Park is considered to be a highly spiritual place. We were skeptical, but still very curious to know if this held any truth.  That element alone played a big part in making this trip exciting.
We went during the spring, so the weather was hot, being that it was the desert, but it was also moderate and not as hot as it would have been had we went during the summer. This made for a comfortable visit. Going during the springtime also made the desert seem more like a desert oasis because we got to see a lot of wildflowers, the bright colors of the flowers on the cacti and the landscape was a lot more verdant that we expected due to the previous season’s rains. My husband was surprised to see that it did not seem like the typical desert he had in his mind and I was amazed at how beautiful everything was. It could not have been more perfect.
The first trail that we ventured to was the Split Rock Loop Trail. I was in awe of the rock climbers and we were both so fascinated with their skill and bravado that we had to stop and watch them for a while. Moments later we decided to try the 2 mile loop trail there which was very invigorating. That was the moment that we began feeling like we were suddenly hikers.
Next we visited two popular spots known as Skull Rock and Elephant Rock. Skull Rock is exactly what it sounds like. The trails here are relatively easy to hike, but they are filled with large boulder like rocks that we spent a lot of time climbing to the top of to enjoy the many gorgeous views of this area, especially during  a sunrise or sunset.   These became one of our favorite spots and we revisited this area several times that weekend. Not just because of the views and attractions, but it was one area that we felt the most spiritual energy. The energy here was magical.
I love nature, so I had to stop at the Arch Rock Nature Trail.  This trail has one of the most unique rock formations in the park. The namesake Arch Rock is a slab of rock shaped like an arch or a bridge. This is also another popular spot in the park and is often quite crowded most of the time. We weren’t able to get a good view of Arch Rock during that visit but we did get to enjoy the other sights of other odd rock formations as well as the .5 mile hiking trail.
The last trail that we ventured through was the Cap Rock Trail.  This was a short .4 mile trail loop with extensive views of Joshua Trees. It was quite picturesque during the twilight time during the spring, and it presented us with more stunning views of wildlife and wildflowers.
As you can see, we chose to hike short, easy trails during our first hiking trip. We did this because of our inexperience and because we wanted to take it easy until we were able to learn more about hiking and hiking safety.  Initially, we had the impression that hiking is very much like walking, but it isn’t.  Especially when you are exposed to the elements and wildlife that you would not ordinarily be exposed to on an average walk. We also, at the time, were not prepared with enough supplies should we had made the mistake of wandering too far out into the desert and lost our way back to where our car was parked.  That would have been devastating, not to mention irresponsible on our part. Safety is key when hiking.
Still, that trip back in 2016 inspired us so much that hiking has become a favorite pastime for us.  It is a way that we’re able to spend quality time together and stay healthy as we grow old together.  It has also been a very helpful outlet for us during our bereavement, so we are both very glad that we took on this hobby before losing our son.
What I love the most about hiking is the way that it makes me feel. I love how it centers me. I love the way that it reminds me of how connected we all are to everything. It is exercise for the mind, body, heart and soul. It’s also the only exercise that I can think of that is mentally, spiritually, visually, audibly and kinesthetically stimulating while also being relaxing at the same time.  If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy that doesn’t feel completely like exercise and that allows you to also enjoy all the beauty of nature and life, I recommend that you try hiking. Get out in the open, enjoy the fresh air and discover all the ways that this form of adventure can excite and inspire you.
Until the next post.

Blessings,
Take Care + Be Well,
Carol xo

Balanced Healing

Balanced Healing

 

“The waves ebb and the waves flow, and yet I never tire of watching from the shore, the way the waves rhythms show their intensity, then inactivity; as if to remind me of what I already know in my heart and in my soul, which is that to life there must be balance, and happiness is empty if sadness we must forego.”

– Carol C.M.

Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo

Thank You, I know you mean well, but…

Thank You, I know you mean well, but…

“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman.


Help is supposed to be a good thing…Right?  Sometimes, though, it doesn’t feel so good.  Sometimes we try to help others by trying to present a solution to their problem without knowing that we may be making their problem worse.  Additionally, sometimes we unknowingly force our own personal beliefs and values onto others, or we might not notice that we are being passive-aggressive in the way that we are attempting to offer help.

When this happens after loss it can sometimes leave both sides wondering, “What just happened?” Sometimes it occurs right after a loved one has passed, and sometimes it  happens long after the funeral has ended and the person grieving is still trying to adjust to the effects of their loss, but when it happens it is always something that the person grieving almost usually never forgets.

I understand. I understand completely. When someone dies it is hard to find the right words to say. We’re always concerned about whether we are saying the right thing to the person who had to say goodbye to someone that they knew. Someone that they cared for and in many cases loved.

We all know of some of the standard ways to address those who are grieving. Ways that we have become accustomed to.  I know because I have used some of those words myself, but that was before I could even begin fathom what it was like to lose someone whose absence meant that my entire life would change and never be the same. It was long before I knew what it was like to lose a child. Long before I experienced losing someone who wasn’t supposed to leave this earth before me, (or anyone else in my immediate family for that matter.)

To anyone wanting to offer condolences to the grieved, please understand that person’s loss may not be the first loss that they have had to endure. They may have lost many people in their lifetime, and as a result, they may not feel that this particular loss was a part of God’s plan, or that “it was for the best.”

Maybe it was a part of God’s plan and maybe they are in a better place, but the chances that someone who just lost someone is going to agree that what happened was for the best is very slim.  This is especially true for parents who have lost a child. Losing a child is considered to be one of the hardest forms of grief to overcome. It’s exhausting.

So, a little word of advice from a grieving mom.  The next time that you a presented with the chance to extend your condolences to someone, remember that person has just gone through what might be the most horrible time in their life and your thoughtfulness and  could make a world of difference.

One of the best condolences that I received was “I am sorry for your loss. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.” This let me know that the person felt bad about what happened, but it also let me know that they understood that I was going through a tough time and that they would be there for me if I needed anything.

If you are unsure of what to way, simply say exactly that, say that you’re unsure of what to say. Say that you are sorry and that you don’t know what to say because that will be better than saying nothing at all; and if you want to be a bit more expressive just try not to say anything that may be offensive. Sometimes its best to keep it simple and straight to the point, but being considerate of someone’s loss and their needs usually never fails.

Until the next post.


Blessings,

Take Care +  Be Well,

Carol xo

15 Ways to Conquer Those “Blues”

15 Ways to Conquer Those “Blues”

When I stepped outside and onto my front porch this morning a cool breeze brushed against my face. I also felt a bit of warmth from the fall sun; and both sensations were very soothing.  I turned around to close my front door and while doing so I could hear a group of leaves bustling down the street behind me.

Naturally, I didn’t have to turn around to know that they were leaves that had recently fell from the neighborhood trees.  In my mind I called upon past memories of the season and I thought to myself, “this only happens once a year.”  This was fall in full effect and as I turned around to face the street, all of the leaves began to then scatter to different areas of the street and into yards like little colorful children laughing and playing a game of tag.

It’s always the little things that capture my attention, and where I find some of the most intriguing things to be grateful for.  Practicing gratitude allows me to readjust my focus so that I am always able to find “something” good in everything.  Even those things that I normally would not find pleasing – like cold weather months, for example.

When fall arrives I know that I will now have to try to plan my outdoor walks and hiking trips a bit more carefully for the next few months, if at all, and this alone contributes to my “blues” along with grieving and missing the sunshine.  However,  the cooler months also bring with them the opportunity to sit or lay by a fireplace fire, and if I keep looking on the bright side and maintain an open mind, I will also be able to appreciate the fact that I can still perform other exercises and activities indoors. Optimism is a beautiful thing. I guess that is why we as a society celebrate it.

A big part of conquering the “blues” involves maintaining a positive outlook once the weather changes. Yet, as I have discovered, this isn’t always easy to do especially if the shift to cooler weather and shorter daylight hours are affecting you while you are grieving. There are a few things that anyone can do to help make this time of year more pleasant and more manageable and I have listed fifteen tips below that I have personally tried and that seem to be helpful.

  1. Practice gratitude – Find something in every day, no matter how big or small, to be grateful for.  Begin by noticing something good about the changes that come with both the fall and winter seasons.
  2. Get a pet.  Pets can help keep you stay healthy by encouraging you to stay active. It may also help to care for something else other than yourself.
  3. Open your curtains or blinds as often as possible to allow the sun to shine in and keep your mood positive.
  4. Exercise or find another way to keep you body active for a few minutes a day.
  5. Take up a new hobby or start a fall or winter craft. This can be especially helpful in easing any grief.  Try creating something in honor of the person who has passed away or create something that sparks your interest. Either way, creative expression is good for managing feelings and emotions.
  6. Find an exercise buddy to keep things exciting and for accountability.
  7. Eat healthy and don’t feel bad about treating yourself to a favorite treat once in a while…think balance.
  8. Volunteer or donate to a cause that you care about, or that your loved one cared about. When we help others it can give us insight and remind us that things aren’t as bad as they may seem.
  9. Join a club such as a grief group, book club or hiking club, or any club that sparks your interest. This is a great way to maintain social contacts and prevent feelings of isolation.
  10. Create fall or winter rituals such as decorating for the holidays, cooking holiday meals, baking desserts, (especially those that your lost loved one enjoyed), or burn  candles and make a fire in the fireplace. These things can help you enjoy the “warmth” of the season.
  11.  Avoid negativity  – Surround yourself with positive people and positive environments.  Negativity can be stressful and may trigger unfavorable emotions and memories.
  12. Look forward – Create something special to look forward to in the coming year such as a memorial event,  or a solo or family trip or vacation.
  13. Stay social – Spend time with family and friends, share family memories and create new ones, or simply get together with friends to watch a movie or have brunch or dinner out at a restaurant.
  14. Play music – Listen to your favorite music regularly in your home or car to give your mind a break.  You may also enjoy playing a little holiday music during the holidays to add a little cheeriness to the gloomier seasons.
  15. Create a morning and evening ritual – such as practicing meditation, yoga, prayer or journaling as these practices can help with maintaining a positive outlook.
Thankfully, seasons change, and “the blues” will too, but until the seasons actually do change and bring back the longer, brighter days with the trees and other foliage beginning to show hints of a less monochromatic world  we have just a few months in which we can savor the beauty that fall and winter bestows us. Let’s enjoy it together. Shall we? Happy October!

Until the next post.


Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo

1-800-273-TALK(8255)

1-800-273-TALK(8255)
September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  I know… my post is a little late considering that we are now a few days into October, but the truth is, I wanted to wait to post this because oftentimes we tend to forget about the causes that we support the moment that the cause’s awareness month has ceased.  So, in a way, this is my way of reminding myself and others to remember that suicide is something that we should not just think about every September.  Suicide is something that we should be aware of year round.  This is by no means because I think that it is more important than any other cause; but because I think that it isn’t thought of as often as it should be considering that it appears to be a considerable, perplexing and somewhat mysterious problem affecting many individuals, their families and friends.
The topic of suicide is often something that people find uncomfortable discussing despite the fact that is such an important issue.  People, who for whatever reason, ultimately reach a point in their lives where they feel so despondent that they eventually feel that continuing their lives is no longer an option must be hurting, immensely, and beyond anything that anyone else could ever imagine…(I, of course am postulating here.)
We have witnessed celebrities and people who seem to have it all chose to end their lives and we are left to wonder why? Many of us have also witnessed people who lived less extravagant lives make the same decision again leaving us to contemplate what happened.  It is evident that there are many people hurting and suffering in silence – all while leaving their families, friends and others with the impression that everything is fine and normal as usual.  Yet, those are only appearances. Appearances that we tend to inaccurately assess; or perhaps maybe it is that they are just more adept at ensuring that no one ever gets a glimpse into that nebulous side of them – again for whatever reason.  Let’s think about that for a second. Really let it soak in.  You can’t help consider that something is terribly amiss here; but what is it?
From what I remember from my psychology courses when I was working on completing my degree a few years ago and through my own research, there aren’t any known actual causes of suicide.  However there are a few risk factors which include the following:
  • Family history
  • Mental illness such as depression or bi-polar disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficult relationships
  • Extreme hardship
  • Grief and loss
  • Extensive emotional and/or physical pain, and
  • Having had attempted suicide previously
Moreover, individuals considered at risk may
  • Seem extremely sad, withdrawn and hopeless
  • Lose or gain weight
  • Appear to be tired all of the time
  • Behave in an unusual manner 
  • Seem to avoid their usual activities or lose interest in them.
  • Talk often about life insurance and wills, suicide, or other things related to death and dying 

One important thing to remember is that it can be difficult to detect the symptoms associated with suicide, namely because they tend to hide their true feelings of sadness, by trying to appear “normal” by preoccupying themselves with work or other busy tasks.  They may also exhibit an abundance of energy or excitability and any of these can lead someone to miss the hidden signs of despair.
If you know someone who might appear to be exhibiting any of these signs. Consider reaching out to them because they need to know that someone is by their side.  They need to know that someone cares. Sometimes the reason that they don’t reach out to anyone themselves is because they were once taught to believe that feeling sad, depressed and hopeless is just weakness. Some were also brought up to believe that seeking mental help is also a sign of weakness or unnecessary when there are other sources of help such as through attending church for example. Yet, being that the cause could be medically related that belief is not very helpful. What is more helpful is listening to the person and trying to help them find the good in life again. What is more helpful than that is assisting them with finding a medical professional to help them in ways that no one else probably can.  Lastly, I’ll end by writing (typing) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number one more time, you know, just in case you forgot it.  1(800) 273-Talk (8255) Pass it on to someone… anyone who you believe may be able to benefit from it.  
Until the next post.

Blessings,
Take Care + Be Well,
Carol xo