Breaking Away

Breaking Away

I have a confession to make. I jumped the gun. About a month ago, I became so overwhelmed, (or should I say that I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed), that I almost gave up. I almost gave up on Salubrity and Soul. Yes, that would have been a terrible thing to do! Especially since (as anyone who has followed my story knows), I waited so long to start it. But, what’s even worse than that is I kept feeling that I would be letting not only myself down, but my son down as well.

So instead of giving up, I decided to just take a nice long break and get back to everything once I feel better prepared to add blogging; and all of the added social connecting that comes with it.

I wrote about “unplugging” once before in my blog post 10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You”, but for some reason this time I needed more than a little digital detox. I was burned out and needed something a little more serious. What I needed was a sabbatical – a blogger’s sabbatical. Which is not a real term to my knowledge, but I think it has a nice little ring to it – don’t you?

“Rest is not idle, is not wasteful. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing you can do for body and soul.”

– Erica Layne

I cannot deny that the holidays, memorial event planning, awareness projects, work, overcoming the surprises acknowledged after finally gaining closure after losing my son over a year ago and an unexpected health concern all took a huge toll on me. The writing was on the wall and all I had to do was make a decision. Was I going to try to control and conceal it? Or was I going to take my well-being into my own hands and handle it in a healthy way? The healthy route, obviously, attracted me more.

“Self-care isn’t always manicures, bubble baths & eating healthy food. Sometimes it’s forcing yourself to get out of bed take a shower and participate in life again.”

– Meredith Marple

I knew that there was really only one thing to do, which was to bring everything that I was doing to a grinding halt, and just immerse myself in a sea of self-care. What’s more healthy and wellness minded than that? To notice the signs of burnout and potential additional bereavement issues and then heed to them. To care for yourself when you need to.

There is no shame felt here. Just gratitude and grace. There is no guilt here either. Just a sizable amount of self-love and a sense of contentment. Knowing that in all of my struggles suffering and vulnerability, I still have the faith and courage to keep moving forward – even if that also means that I have to slow down a little bit as well.

On the humorous side, one great thing about this “sabbatical” is that I didn’t have to obtain permission to take it. My only requirement was to seek inspiration, offer myself patience with regard to writing, and to rest and take really good care of myself. Which I did by doing a lot of meditating, a lot of healing baths, nature walking, journaling and changing some of my eating habits.

“Be you, love you, All ways, always.”

Alexandra Elle

While the payoff for taking this “sabbatical” is that I have been able to apply greater focus on enhancing my skills and creativity, assess my needs for engagement and productivity; but in a much less frantic manner. That is a complete win-win in my eyes.

Taking a break isn’t a weakness. Neither is taking as many breaks as you need – especially when you are in the process of healing. It may be the only thing standing between your failure and your success; and at least a break will energize you a little better than any attempt to just continue pushing on through.

Until the next post,

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well.

Carol xo

Eating Healthy While Grieving

Eating Healthy While Grieving

One of the things that happens to the bereaved right after losing someone is that we tend to seek out things that will help us fill our recent void. Our bodies begin to crave more rest, and a host of other things – one being great tasting foods.  Grief often tends to cause our appetites to change; and while some will experience a loss of appetite, others may experience an increase in appetite as the need to gravitate towards foods that elicit a dopamine release from the brain cause us to feel all warm and fuzzy inside and completely comforted.  This is all due to the stress that comes with grief, and just as with any other form of stress we may know of our own “go-to” foods that we find personally healing.  In fact we can all probably conjure in our minds right this very moment, (I am sure), a dish or recipe that we know has the power to make us instantly happier at any given moment.  For me it’s my Mom’s curried chicken recipe or just about anything with, garbanzo beans, dark leafy greens, avocado or Italian. Those foods always go straight to my soul and make everything better. 

But, back to how grief either increases or decreases our appetite.  In the days weeks and first few months after losing my son, I lost my appetite which resulted in my losing 12 lbs.  Food was the farthest thing from my mind and I remember every time that I did eat, regardless of whether or not it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, I felt as though I was forcing myself to eat.  I was forcing myself to eat, because I knew that eating something was the only way that I was going to have any energy to keep running back and forth to the hospital, plan a funeral service and take care of all of the lose ends and important tasks that must be taken care of after someone passes away.  

Even though my appetite was not there I knew that I had to eat in order to stay somewhat healthy.  Sadly, though, I found myself in a bit of a fast food whirlwind grabbing unhealthy, easy, non-nutritious foods to sustain myself which as you probably already guessed, left me feeling even more depleted.   

Something had to change and I needed to find a way to get back to normalcy and start eating healthy again.  So, I began by gradually increasing the days that I would cook healthy meals at home instead of eating out or grabbing fast food. Starting with two days a week at first, and eventually leading to making healthy home cooked meals 6 days a week – it took me 4 months to return to my usual healthy eating schedule. 

One thing that made it easy to do was to cook in bulk so that we would have leftovers available, (either from the previous day or frozen), if something came up and I was unable to cook one day.  Another trick that I used was to pre-make healthy juices, smoothies, vegetable and fruit plates, soups and salads and I kept them at hand so they were easy to grab from the refrigerator for a quick snack or lunch.      

It is not uncommon for the grieved to receive food from friends and family after the funeral has passed, and this practice can be such a wonderful blessing when you are too emotionally and physically and weary to cook anything. I can’t stress enough how much helping the grieved in this way can mean the world anyone who has just lost someone. However, that is not something that we can rely on for the long haul. 

Therefore, having and idea of how to implement a healthy meal plan and and what to include can be invaluable not just to the bereaved while adjusting to a new way of being, but it could also be helpful to anyone who might be feeling overworked, over stressed, just plain tired or for any reason. 

During the spring and summer months we will usually feel satiated after eating just about anything light, but for a lot of people there is something about fall and winter that moves us toward craving comfort foods such as stews, hearty soups and casseroles. There is something about the cooler months that have us reaching for foods that warm our bodies as well as our hearts. The good thing is this, we don’t always have to abstain from enjoying those delicious comfort foods. 

For example, one way to still eat them and avoid adding extra pounds, or eating unhealthy, is to change a recipe so that it becomes healthier, but still tastes great. This is what I did with my lasagne recipe when I stopped making it with meat and all of the extra, delicious, but unnecessary cheese. It is absolutely scrumptious!  I will post a recipe for that lasagne this week in what will be Salubrity and Soul’s new recipe section, and it will also be posted on the Salubrity and Soul Instagram account.   

If you have found yourself in the same unhealthy conundrum and feel the need to eat healthier after loss or just prefer eating a decent home meal try:

  • Asking friends and family for help with obtaining home cooked meals. 
  • Creating your own home cooked meals by making larger amounts of precooked meals and either freezing them for later, or to enjoy as leftovers during the week. 
  • Avoid fast-food by buying pre-packaged meals.  Many of which can are now vegan, vegetarian, low-sodium or gluten free. 
  • Make homemade soups, stews and casseroles in a crock pot or instant pot to save time and your energy.
  • Order food from a good restaurant instead of grabbing unhealthy fast food and have it delivered.    

As you can see, there are several things that you can do to help ensure that you are eating as healthy as possible while dealing with loss, and I will have more tips and tricks for maintain your health while grieving in the coming weeks.     

Until the next post,

Take care + be well,

Carol

Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Blessed”

Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Blessed”

The words “I’m Blessed” is a phrase that I have used quite often in the past to express the way that I feel about all of the good and wonderful things that I have received and accomplished in my life.  There is no harm in celebrating the good that occurs in our lives…right?  However, one has to ask, does that change if we become a bit too zealous in our efforts to celebrate ourselves and we begin dismissing the misfortune of others?  Does it change if all of the good that we receive changes us – and not for the better? 

I stopped saying “I’m Blessed” a few years ago when I began a volunteer position working with foster youths helping to ensure that they were receiving proper care with regard to their health and well-being in their prospective foster homes.  Just hearing those two words at the time would make me cringe whenever I heard them coming from my mouth or from the mouths of others.  All of a sudden that little special phase began to seem shallow to me, and I just didn’t feel comfortable using it anymore. 

Another reason why I stopped saying it was because I began to notice that there are a lot of people who do not have a “typical” family structure or a “typical” shot at some of the opportunities that others have. Not to mention having the “good fortune” of celebrating the holidays with their loved ones in many instances. I also began thinking about those who had lost their homes and loved ones in recent storms and natural disasters. Once all of this began to infiltrate my mind – well, it was a given that I, personally, no longer felt comfortable using that phrase. 

Once I really began to pay attention to how common these issues are, I realized how egotistical I must have sounded to give myself so much praise and attention when I really didn’t need it – any of it – because I have enough. More than enough, even with all of my own personal struggles and imperfections. I still have enough, and I don’t need to tell anyone about my blessings because we’re all blessed in one way or another. As a result, it became more important for me to just appreciate my blessings and be thankful for them in silence and with grace.

I think the word “blessed” can sometimes be taken out of context to go beyond simply meaning “to be fortunate” or “lucky” and is often instead referred to as being something “more than“, being “highly favored” and exalted by a higher power which is often the result of performing some spectacular act, or just being successful or having a perfect family, appearance or life.

Once I began practicing gratitude as a way of celebrating myself and all of the things that I am fortunate to have or have experienced in my life, everything changed. For one thing, I can honestly say that I am now a more humble and open person and someone who is always conscious of what others may be going through.  Now I count my blessings instead of professing that I am blessed. You and I – well – we are all blessed just for being; and we shouldn’t feel any obligation of having to have had accomplished something  to receive those blessings. Besides, blessings often run out, while gratitude is often the gift that keeps giving; no matter what the situation.  Speaking of giving… I hope that you will join me by still celebrating yourself, (in whatever way you need and prefer to), but by also remembering to always make an effort to try to be a blessing for someone else whenever possible. Blessings to everyone!

Until the next post,

Take care + Be well,

Carol 

Magic Obscured

Magic Obscured

I know that you’re in there.  I can sense it.  Why do you diminish yourself?  Can’t you see how luminous and exquisite you are?  Like nebulae from an undiscovered galaxy.

Please don’t dim yourself.  I want to experience your essence, so speak to me with uncommon explanations and words so true to you that when the words leave your mouth they drip from your lips like the juice from nectarous ripened fruit.

I want to breathe your reality and watch as your words float effortlessly from your soul to mine.  I’m not going anywhere.  I am listening.  Now, show me who you really are.

– Carol C.M.

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