An Experience in Late Spring Desert Soothing

An Experience in Late Spring Desert Soothing

Hello Everyone and Happy Thursday! I just returned home from a slightly extended, (and much needed), trip to one of my favorite places to visit in Southern California – Joshua Tree National Park.

It was exciting, relaxing and wonderful as usual – this was my third time visiting this national park.

I missed not going last year, tremendously, because I was deep in the throes of overcoming grief, and I didn’t realize exactly just how much I missed the desert until I was finally able to once again step foot onto the coppery, tawny hued hot sand and dirt of the very beautiful Mojave-Colorado desert inspired landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. You really have to visit this part of the earth to truly appreciate just how welcoming it is.

To back track a little bit, I didn’t go last year because it just didn’t feel right. I even made reservations twice last year, and cancelled them just as soon as I made them. So, I know deep down I wanted to go badly, but my need to hibernate at home and learn how to live without my youngest child was so much stronger. Sometimes I think that my son may have even had a hand in my not going because I was no where near ready to enjoy myself – as one should when on vacation.

My last visit was just a few months before my son’s death, so as you can probably imagine, this trip brought back so many memories of when he was still physically in my life.

This year though, I was more prepared for the adventures and physical exertion required for such a trip; as well as the opportunity to release some really heavy internal turmoil and manifest a hint of personally relevant rehabilitation. The desert offers many opportunities for reflection and healing and my heart and mind are now in a good place – a place of equanimity.

This trip was quite different from my previous trips to Joshua Tree National Park in that it was less about reaching a specific peak, enduring a strenuous trail, or taking a lot of pictures so that I could post them to Instagram. In fact, for the first time ever while traveling, I gave extra attention to avoiding my smartphone while away. I wanted to make sure that I would be fully immersed in my trip, and that required me to be fully present in every moment so that I could obtain the most from my experience with nature, and the culture of the area, while there. Trust me, it was by no means easy, and I was tempted to get on my phone a few times to post photos on social media and to create a post here on Salubrity and Soul, but I didn’t and I am glad that I was able to keep my promise to myself and to ensuring that I would be able to have the best possible connection to my trip experience.

I did take a few photos eventually though, because I had to have something to remind me of my trip besides the Joshua Tree t-shirt that I bought. I just made sure that capturing photos from my trip just so that I could let everyone know what I was up to at the moment was not my main focus – or a focus at all.

This trip was was less about physical activity and more about becoming one with nature, more specifically, the desert – and and allowing it to teach me about surviving, overcoming, adjusting to harsh conditions and thriving while in that state.

I love being in the desert and I figured if anything was going to propel me to another level of healing in my bereavement it would be within the lessons learned from watching the example of resilience from the delicate but oh-so-mighty desert.

One of the first things that I noticed was the abundance of plant life and wildlife at Joshua Tree National Park this year. It was obviously more green and more bright with colors from a variety of plant species that were dormant during my last visits – (and my 2017 visit was pretty exciting as far as seeing color and running into fauna was concerned, so that should give you a little hint to the eye-catching changes that left me in awe.) I concluded that my increased sightings of lizards, birds, insects, desert rats and rabbits were the result of the increased plant life which undoubtedly was the result of the fact that the desert had received quite a bit of rain earlier this year. This part of my trip was something that I enjoyed witnessing as it made my trip even more pleasurable and in a lot of ways – more spiritual.

Joshua Tree National Park emits such a deep, raw energy within its boundaries that I would describe as being very cleansing. Maybe it has something to do with it being a high desert, or maybe it is because when you are out there it is almost as though you are visiting another planet, or because the desert holds a great deal of “fire energy”, or perhaps it is due to it being a vast land once inhabited by ancient natives and still feels like it.

Whatever the reason, many people, myself included, love to visit this desert public land for the visual aesthetics, the physical activity offerings and the spiritually stimulating opportunities.

Had I decided to go last year, I know that I would not have enjoyed myself as much. It would have been a very solemn and mentally draining trip and I don’t believe that I would have been able to even entertain the thought of going out for a hike each day; or try new restaurants in the area like I was able to while on this trip. It feels very good to be able to open up myself up to new experiences once again – and in a place that fills me with so much joy and peacefulness.

Have you ever gone on vacation only to return home feeling as though you now need a vacation from your vacation? I have, but that never happens to me after visiting Joshua Tree.

I am grateful for every moment of mindfulness along the trails that I hiked and every awe-inspiring view that captured my attention and my heart. The connection that I receive with every visit here never fails me. This time is no different. Right now I feel transformed, invigorated and inspired to share the lessons of resilience that I learned from the desert.

Thanks for reading!

Until the next time,

Take care + be well

Take Care + Be Well

Take Care + Be Well

Hello and “Happy Friday” everyone! Let’s talk about wellness today! The title of this post will be familiar to those of you who have been following Salubrity and Soul for a while. Those are the words that I usually end each post with because I wanted to remind you, my readers, to be gentle with yourselves when facing difficult times, and to remember to take care of yourselves every day since those are probably two of the many, different and best ways to live a happy and fulfilling life no matter what.

I am curious? What do you think of when you hear the word “wellness?” If you are like me, then you might instantly get an image in your mind like the one featured in the header picture of this post of someone in a yoga pose. Or, maybe you’ll imagine someone wearing a facial mask, or getting a massage. There are so many images that come to mind for me for the word “wellness”, truthfully, and my favorite of all time, (which may seem a little strange), is the word “balance.” – Yes, that is correct, I said the “word” balance – only in my mind the word balance is in great big bold type lettering. Strange, right?

I think the word “balance” became synonymous with wellness for me when I took a health and wellness course in college and learned that in order for wellness to take effect the whole body should be in a state of equilibrium. The body may be well, but what if the mind isn’t? And – vice verse? This also reminds me of how dieting is less effective when the focus is placed solely on eating the right foods, but not exercising. And – vice verse. Which leads me to ask the question, “can we consider ourselves well if we only focus on one area or type of health and wellness?

“Wellness is both the quality and state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. It is also an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating disease. ”

Interestingly enough though, it will never be enough to just drink our green juice and do yoga. Or getting our regular medical check ups and taking our vitamins and minerals; or getting enough sleep and following the latest series of wellness fads.

No matter what, the mind will always be another aspect of wellness if we want to work on being as completely well as possible. Those other things I mentioned in the previous paragraph are important, but what about conditions such as grief or depression? How is wellness connected to those types of conditions?

Well, it’s as simple as this… It’s all about being able to adapt. Even if we are not able to adapt right away or immediately. The important thing is to just be able to do it at all. Because without being able to apply adjusting to life challenges the likelihood for change becomes slim and can result in stagnation.

Life changes all of the time and throughout our lives. So too, must we adjust to those changes. It’s the inability to adapt that will set the foundation for illness instead of wellness.

This can be somewhat of a slippery slope though, because you don’t want to be someone who shuts down emotionally and simply flows with nonchalant ease through every one of life’s difficult and challenging moments without allowing yourself to fully process what you’re experiencing during those difficult moments. Can it really be healthy to just push our true feelings way down deep inside of us and then plant an everlasting, (but inauthentic), smile on our faces – for any reason? How can that be healthy? You still want to and need to acknowledge, feel for and care about the people and things that mean a lot to you. – Just remember to adapt – when it’s time to.

However, we should also want to be committed to our lifelong growth and development. We should also be striving for equilibrium between the body and the mind since that is probably the best way to prepare ourselves to be in a state that will support our ability to have both the mental and physical strength to handle anything. Taking care of our mental health as well as our physical health – that is what wellness is – and taking care of just our physical health will not always contribute positively to our mental health. They are not always synonymous. Do you agree or disagree? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments section.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + Be well

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

Gratitude

Gratitude

“Gratitude soothes and heals the soul.”

– C.c.m.

Some days won’t be as good as others, but there will always be something good in each day. The key is to keep looking up!

Until the next post…

Blessings, love and light,

Carol

Food + Family + Friendship and The Ties That Bind

Food + Family + Friendship and The Ties That Bind

Have you ever noticed how meals, when shared with others, can make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside and create a sense of community? Throughout our human history sharing meals is one thing that has always brought people together. Over the holidays I was reminded of how it is one thing that has also always sustained us through good and bad times alike.

It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, or what food is being served; there is something special about “breaking bread” with others and sharing a moment of gratitude for just being able to have such a moment in our lives – all while satiating and nourishing our bodies, (and minds), as is the case with delicious food that either reminds us of good times with those we have lost; or stirs and excites the senses as we share thoughts, smiles and laughter at the dinner table.

Although a good meal sustains us by providing us with the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, you have to admit that we also, generally, have a love of how a simple taste or smell can bring a great big smile to our faces; or even take us back down memory lane – and if you love to cook like I do – then I’ll bet that you, too, have also had the pleasure of watching someone’s face light up from a meal that you cooked. These are smiles created by meals that were made with full hearts and love; and sometimes those smiles are created by the connection created from just being a part of something that warms the heart. A meaningful togetherness. What a truly beautiful aspect of life that is.

Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo

Welcoming 2019

Welcoming 2019

Happy New Year! December was an engrossing month for me. Not just because of Christmas or because the spirit and activities of the holidays were in full effect, but because in addition to all of that loveliness I had the opportunity to experience a few things that brought me just a bit more added holiday cheer, profound happiness and joy.

For starters, I received exciting news that one of my children had plans to get married and I also received news regarding my son’s accident which helped me to gain some closure with regard to the details of his accident and eventual passing. Both of these occurrences were blessings and really helped to make an otherwise stress laden, but truly wonderful and exciting month a much more rewarding experience overall. In fact, those were the best Christmas gifts that I could have ever received…but, enough about my December. I hope that you had a great Christmas and were able to enjoy the holidays with those you hold dear to you… and for my fellow grievers, I hope that you know that your loved one(s) were with you sharing every moment of the beauty of the holidays with you.

“There are 365 days in a year and you will meet all the colours of life throughout the year: The blue, the black, the pink… Only blue is not a life only pink is not a life, only black is not a life! Life is all the colours!”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Now that 2018 has passed I know many of us have made resolutions for the new year. Some of which will be successful throughout the year; and some that will probably fall to the wayside in about three months or so. Just remember that the good thing about new year’s resolutions is that you can always begin again if yours did not work out this time; but if you can stick with yours for the remainder of the year (and possibly thereafter), even better and think about how wonderful that feeling of accomplishment will feel!

The reason why I mentioned the possibility of not fulfilling a resolution is because, in all honesty, it is a common reality. We can promote positivity and motivation tactics until the sun falls from the sky, but the truth is that sometimes sticking to our resolutions can be difficult, not just for the bereaved, but it can happen to anyone and for any reason. Sometimes it just isn’t the right time to start something no matter how much we may want to do it and that does’t mean that that person is a failure or lazy, it just means that maybe there is something else that might need to be that person’s central focus at the moment. What I know is that if someone wants something bad enough, they will do everything in their power to try to achieve it – in such an instance the question is never “why not?”, but “when?” and the answer to that is always when they are ready. So “Cheers!” to the new year and to success in all of our resolution endeavors!

Until the next post,

Blessings!

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol

The Last Mercury Retrograde of 2018

The Last Mercury Retrograde of 2018

Greetings everyone! Today is the last Mercury Retrograde of 2018.  If you are familiar with astrology or the metaphysical side of spirituality then you are probably familiar with the term Mercury Retrograde.  If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, it is a planetary event that takes place 3, (sometimes 4), times a year in which the planet Mercury appears to travel in a backwards motion when viewed from earth.  It has been determined, though, that it is not actually traveling backward but is just moving very slowly which gives the illusion that it is moving backward. Scientifically, this process is known as apparent retrograde motion

Mercury Retrograde dates for 2018 were 

March 23rd – April 15th  (In Aries)

July 26th – August 19th  (In Leo + Scorpio)

November 17 – December 6th  (In Sagittarius + Scorpio)

It’s About Communication

How all of this relates to this planetary event is that since the planet Mercury is associated with communication, whenever mercury goes retrograde it tends to wreak havoc by causing errors in all forms of communication and it can also affect human behavior, cause delays, issues and problems.  The types of communication that can be affected include, but are not limited to:

  • Speaking + listening
  • Reading + learning
  • Editing + researching
  • Selling + buying

With this in mind, as you might guess, whenever this event occurs the likelihood that you may be misunderstood, get into an argument with someone, misinterpret things, not pay good attention to things or make mistakes is high.   A few other things to be wary of are:

  • Starting anything new 
  • Merchandise purchases 
  • Agreements + contract signings
  • Dating + relationships
  • Having surgery
  • Mailing important documents
  • Equipment breakdowns
  • Travel issues
  • Sudden + unexpected change of plans
  • Email + social media mishaps
  • Losing things + forgetfulness
  • Etc…You get the picture don’t you?

Pseudoscience?

Is this just pseudoscience?  Maybe… but for anyone who has experienced the results of mercury retrograde or believes in the influence of planetary alignments it is an actuality.  Mercury is not the only planet that “retrogrades’, but it is the most popular type of planetary retrograde event.

Not So Bad…

Whenever mercury goes retrograde it is a good idea to pay close attention to the possibility that problems may arise and trouble may ensue. So, it is probably best to steer clear of agreeing to anything or making any important life changing plans until mercury retrograde has ended.  There are some people who consider mercury retrograde somewhat ominous, but there are many others who choose not to view it in that way and see this event as a time of opportunity. 


The good thing about mercury retrograde is that we can prepare for it and work around it or decide to carry out an action at a later date  – Thankfully.   

A key thing to remember about mercury retrograde is that it always involves another sign and the element associated with that other sign. What does that mean? Well, if mercury is in an earth sign at the time that it retrogrades any problems can usually be eased by applying a bit of practicality instead of  wishful or hopeful thinking. If in an air sign analyzing and careful thought or discussion can be helpful. If in a water sign it’s all about using your intuition, and if mercury is in a fire sign, the best thing you can do is use your creativity and be daring and bold in your approach to attempting to fix any retrograde related problems.  

This current and last mercury retrograde was actually the first time, (that I really noticed it having an effect on me and my life.  Initially, I had not even considered that all of my recent miscommunication issues and delays were  because of mercury retrograde. Yet, when they kept happening over and over again that is when I began to get a little concerned – and then earlier this week it hit me… Of course! Why had I not thought of this sooner?  It was just a little planetary interference.

As you can see, mercury retrograde is not all doom and gloom. It is a time to:

  • slow down a bit and set or reassess any intentions, priorities and goals.
  • Tune into your intuition.
  • Change any bad habits that you may have.
  • Set new personal affirmations.
  • Express your creative side.    

Goodbye For Now

It will be a while before the next mercury retrograde event:

The Mercury Retrograde dates for 2019 are:

March 5th – 28th  (In Pisces)

July 7th – 31st  (In Leo + Cancer)

October 31st – November 20th (In Scorpio)

So, smile! If this is something that you follow and believe in then there is plenty of time to prepare for any commotion that the next events may cause you.  Now we can all focus a little more on holiday meal planning, gift giving, thinking of new ways to remember and honor lost loved ones and all of the cheerful loveliness of the holiday season – for me – that is a gift in itself (thank you for that experience mercury retrograde) and what a great way to welcome the Christmas season and ring in 2019! 

Until the next post

Blessings!

Take care + be well,

Carol 

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

Just Be Thankful.

Just Be Thankful.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

– Melody Beattie

As the month of November comes to an end I begin to sense the spirit of gratitude slowly fade away. The “month of gratitude” may be over, but I do not plan to stop practicing gratitude thereafter. My gratitude practice is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that makes every day of my life a magical and wonderful journey of discovery and appreciation. Even in the midst of grief and profound loss.

Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take care + be well,

Carol xo