Leading By Example

There’s a lot of weight to this statement, and it’s a concept I believe in deeply.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but it would be wise to remember that – for all of us – those opinions are our own. Our views are colored by our own filters and experiences, and therefore highly personal perceptions, which leaves room for both accord and disagreement. It also means there is no right or wrong because our journey in life is entirely unique – what we “see” can never been seen by another in precisely the same way. 

We are also entitled to share our opinions – free speech, after all!  But (and this is very much my personal “opinion”) it is not by vehemently expressing our views, or opposing others outright, by which we can change the world. At the end of the day, our opinion isn’t what matters at all…it’s how we conduct ourselves.

Our behaviors, actions, reactions, responses, attitudes…they culminate as our “example.” We can change the world when we lead in this way, because our behaviors can – and do – affect those around us. Good, bad, and ugly! The difference in the impact an opinion will have is that a statement of what we believe is simply that… While words are powerful things, they can go in ears, and out them as quickly as they were uttered.

The other side of it is that many will nod as if to say they hear you, but move on without putting an ounce of effort in listening to anything you’ve said. Our behaviors, however, are more defined – they become concrete actions, which are (in a way) the proof in the pudding. We can say many things and behave in a way that is wholly contrary. OR, we can say many things and back that up by taking actions in alignment with those words.

A fine example can be found in observing children. We can say “you should never do X,” then do X ourselves, and watch the children following suit by taking action X. The actions are so much more meaningful than the words we use. While again I personally believe that words can be powerful things, it is important to note when a dissonance between the spoken word and the taken actions occurs, it will be the actions that are followed and believed.

For many reasons, beyond the ones I have mentioned, the quotation really hits home. We live in a world where opinions are forcibly thrust in our faces on a regular basis – it’s much harder today to escape someone’s political diatribe (even when tailoring your social media feed!), for example, than in the past. You see it almost whether you like it or not. 

As for me, though, I’m not really interested IN those opinions. I’m more concerned with attitudes, behaviors, and actions. I care more about how a person is conducting him or herself, and you better believe that it is based on those things that I will formulate my estimation of them. (I’d fully expect others to do the same and hold me to this standard.) 

The actions of others speak volumes (versus the pretty things one might say.) I know for myself that a person’s conduct (his or her “example”) will change my environment a great deal more than by what they have to say. Because again, it is the actions that are telling us all what they REALLY believe. Which of those two would you follow?

Things Are…And Aren’t…What They Appear To Be

I posted these photos on Instagram because, as an athlete, I’m often around other people exercising, aiming for fitness or sport goals, or in a sports class. Our goals, our aesthetics, our abilities, and our priorities are all different and I make a HUGE point to remind people that comparison is never a helpful tactic. But when I say that, I don’t just mean comparison to other people – what they have or don’t have, how they look or don’t look. . .  – I also mean that we need to be gentle with ourselves

Our own mirrors, cameras, eyeballs (!). . .can tell very different stories simply based on angle and lighting. Hell, time of DAY can make a difference too – did you just have a huge glass of water? Have you eaten three meals already? Are you a woman dealing with cyclical change?

Sometimes people say very kind things, but they say them in a way as if to put themselves down… That makes me crazy. We all have room for improvement, but we also all have a lot to be proud of. When we see images of people in “perfect” shape it’s easy to be hard on ourselves – because I’ve grown up in sports (which I consider a great thing!) I also have the side effect of always wanting to achieve. To – absolutely – my own detriment sometimes!

What we ourselves (a highly visual species) post on social media generally portrays the happy, the fun, the good, the ideal “stuff”…but not as much the rough patches, the blemishes, the mistakes. As with everything, we all have our own reasons for that…and tons OF them. For some of us, we look to one another for inspiration and motivation. We also like to share funny and personal tidbits along the way – we are connected to friends, after all. But it’s important not to forget the human element, and that there is more to what we see.

Lately, I’ve gone easier – I was down and out with a cold, I’ve been struggling with a back problem…it’s just been harder to push myself to the limit. BUT…I’m doing okay. I’m healthy and have a LOT to be thankful for (I’m serious, I could write a monster gratitude list off the cuff.)

Being off my game doesn’t mean I’m suddenly a horrible person or I’m not still doing a good job! I make little jabs at myself (NOT nice and NOT a good habit, ps – I work on that every day) but I’m never going back to depriving myself. Fortunately when I was doing that, I didn’t think I looked well at all, and it was not the result of wanting to change my figure. Still, that unhealthy propensity is there and it takes daily reminders sometimes that my own EYES can deceive me…just like yours and everyone else’s can. 

Social media definitely doesn’t help that case so I think showing that appearances are easy to alter is a positive thing. It’s okay to post the good and happy and pulled-together…but just don’t forget that everyone has imperfections. Lighting and angles also play a big part – both for good and for not-so-good. We aren’t getting professionally airbrushed like celebrities in Vogue (well, maybe some are!) but there’s still room for focal shifts!

 

 

Traveling Nutrition IV

I’m always amazed – and sincerely touched – by the support of social networks from like-minded but total strangers.  We all have different goals, needs, and circumstances…but it’s neat to see the general camaraderie surrounding the broader aim to stay healthy, and make good choices for ourselves.  I posted a few photos from a recent trip and was touched by how many folks even cared.

I’ve enumerated at length how utterly terrifying traveling used to be for me – the eating disorders that accompanied my PTSD made leaving my parents’ home, at the time, nigh impossible – forget getting in a car for hours, or – god forbid – getting on a plane.

I worried about what I would eat, if I could eat, who would be eating what types a foods around me. . . The prospect was enough to launch a generally debilitating panic attack, so to be able to travel at all now…and with some ease…is a gift I never take for granted.

What makes it a TON easier is to have the support of those closest to me – I’m not sure where I’d be without it, to be honest.

img_0886

The most recent – a rather last-minute – trip was to a car show out in California.  Long flight, several hours in the car on both sides, and lots of fast food (that my stomach couldn’t handle if I wanted it to!) When I travel I always pack a plethora of snacks, but in this case, I brought extra.

The great news beyond that, though, is that SO many places have options – they may not be main menu options, but they do exist, you need only ask. Yes, even on the plane!

Protein can be a little tricky to travel with but there are packaged options that don’t need a refrigerator, such as turkey and chicken jerky, nuts, and tuna, chicken, or salmon packs. I get a few looks sometimes but I feel my best when I eat as close to my “usual” as possible so it’s all good. 🙂 

Whole fruits like apples and freeze dried version are a sweet option to tote along, as are pre-portioned snacks like peanut butter crackers. When out to dinner, fish and chicken prepared as simply as possible are great choices, along with veggies to fill you up.  One of the restaurants had a “salsa” as cocktail sauce with their shrimp and I actually used it as a salad dressing because it was so good, and had very little in it (versus a heavier dressing whose ingredients I’d be unable to decipher.) 

img_0854

As for airports there are lots of options hiding out – turkey slices or chicken breasts are generally available where sandwiches are made, salads are always available, fruit cups are offered at coffee bars and meal establishments…even boiled eggs can be found in some places as well (sometimes they are even in pre-packaged salads too!) It may be a mix and match but you can definitely find options that work.

img_0929

So don’t lose heart if you have to be on the road or away from your usual meals at home.  It is definitely doable to eat clean and to be satisfied – a few snacks in your bag can help when cravings hit, and most of the time a restaurant is MORE than happy to prepare something more simple.  Don’t be afraid to ask!

More Deliciousness

Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James

This article – Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James – came to me via Tiny Buddha and I had to share.

To add a spoiler, I’m not necessarily backing up the article because I think meditation (specifically) is the end-all-be-all necessarily – phenomenal it can be, everyone is different, and meditation is both a highly individual, and incredibly varied practice.  But I DO like a lot of what is said (and do like meditation personally), and I appreciate that Mr. James is willing to say “positivity” isn’t always what’s needed.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-3-39-15-pm

I’m a positive person but that does NOT mean:

  • That I’m peachy 24 / 7
  • That I don’t make judgements
  • That I’m not an inherently flawed human being

Trust me, I am.  I make mistakes ALL the time.  I * try * to see sun and roses, but there’s plenty of rain and storm clouds too.  While I’ve been mistaken as someone who presents only that happy image, I’ve never been anything but honest about the fact that I am as much a tempest as Mother Nature – some days you don’t know what you will get.  I’ve felt badly enough about it in the past to land myself in some very abusive situations, but. . .  While I have a long way to go, I no longer fundamentally think there’s something “wrong with” me because I feel so deeply.  

As an Empath I respect this idea that some days the LAST thing you want to hear is “BE POSITIVE!” (*insert friend with annoyingly feigned smile here*)  While of course I (and anyone who might chime in with the phrase) am *trying* to be helpful, it may not necessarily be the best default. . .

img_9883

Sometimes you just don’t damn well feel like it, and that’s MORE than okay.  I’ve had a problem with minimizing, justifying, and avoiding the act of “feeling” in the past – some days it’s more important to sit with the discomfort to get to the root of things. 

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-3-38-01-pm

Two of the things stood out most for me from the article: 

“Like Instagram and other forms of social media, this “positive thinking” movement seems to be about living up to an ideal standard of perceived perfection all the time. Not satisfied with looking “perfect,” now you’ve got to think perfectly, too.”

True.  Scary.  Thank you for putting this solidly in verbal terms!

and. . .

“…authentic masters understood that negative thinking is part of the human journey, and that it’s okay to feel less than your best sometimes. And they also knew that it’s a quick route to self-hatred to expect any more of yourself.”

Thank you, again, for reminding that it’s okay to feel whatever emotions we feel.  There is not right, and no wrong.  We are allowed.

So yes. . .I love the designation of “professional cheerer-upper” that some friends and family have given me.  I feel honored and blessed by the compliment – right or wrong, I identify with bringing joy to others.  BUT…  BUT.  I’ve got my sad, grumpy, frustrated, gloomy, and altogether dark days too (article on that, by Madisyn Taylor.)  I’ve had to do a TON of work to recognize that it is not only okay to feel those things…but also to not want to “be positive” for a time.  

If all we ever saw was the sun (or that was all we were TOLD to see) then it wouldn’t be such a glorious thing, would it? There’d be no special positivity associated with its warmth or energy at all – so then what’s the point?  

No….I’ll take some showers along the way, and expose my soul to the rain when I need to.  Sometimes, that’s exactly what it needs – the positivity will find its way, not to worry.

 

Taking a Moment With Mindfulness

Many years – moons ago, it seems –  I was introduced to the concept of “mindfulness.”  I’d been practicing mindfulness most of my life without realizing it…and I hadn’t realized, because I’d not always *quite* had the hang of it. Still, I was vastly more spiritual than I had words to explain, and my ever-wandering mind, and proclivity for all thing magical, led me – both knowingly and not – down the path.

After at least a decade and a half of Alexander Technique, Craniosacral and Somatic work, EMDR, Brainspotting, Martial Arts, and countless spiritual endeavors, I fumble a little bit less. . .  But I’m still learning, and have leagues yet to go – lifetime pursuit, as so many things are.

But it isn’t required that we are necessarily graceful with it.  Fluidity comes with consistency, and mindfulness is very much a way of life.  It is therefore a quotidian ritual of sorts that we evolve with, and as a result of –  to expect mastery instantly is almost an injustice, as the (sometimes clumsy!) journey is what facilitates learning at the deepest levels.  It’s not unlike meditation – widely known to be a challenge at first – as it becomes smoother with time.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-8-29-27-pm

Life these days feels intensely hectic – I want to say more so than ever but I’ve only know this Earth, and time, for 38 years!  The influx (and imposition – *cough* *cough* social media!) of technology has created a reality in which “connectivity” is at the ultimate high. 24/7, to be exact.  There are many blessings born of such advances, but there are also massive changes afoot – ones which I daresay are reprogramming human beings at the most fundamental level.

We are all born with a magical capacityALL of us.  We all have the ability to tap into the same natural resources that have allowed us to survive as a species from the beginning of time.  But it feels frighteningly apparent that even children – generally more adept at awareness than overly-conditioned adults – are also losing the ability.  

It isn’t just about looking down at a phone while crossing the street – awareness out the window and then some!  It’s also in losing the ability to “read” others – the read the non-verbal cues, to FEEL, to SENSE… Children drown nearly as much in the virtual world these days, to the degree that even THEY don’t see the full picture anymore… 

Scary thought…

The good news?  That extra-sensory ability never truly goes away.  What’s happening is more that we are – byproduct of a civilized, modern society – conditioned OUT of our natural abilities.  Our senses become duller because who needs to be aware of danger when getting dinner involves takeout, or benign shopping aisles?!  

Oh, and that “6th” one?  It gets completely shrouded by all the noise.  Sadly, modern man somehow thinks a 6th sense is actually supernatural.  Ever notice that animals have it?  Right…well. . . *reminder* : we ARE animals.  We have it too.  Just —> noise, noise, noise! 

Enter mindfulness.  

The practice of mindfulness brings back the precise moment in time in which we find ourselves.  For me, it is seeing each letter as I type my words, hearing myself speak them as they form, seeing the pause of my fingertips, hearing the  music that is playing in the background…

Human beings have always projected ahead, and reflected on the past – for instance, planning a hunt to gather food, and drawing the hunt on the walls of a cave after the fact.  But nowadays, that practice is so multi-fold that stress tends to weasel its way in to the process, leaving us frazzled and forgetful of the moment we are actually IN.

When we DO take a deep breath…and take the moment in…our heart rate actually slows down with us.  Our very life force, how about that?

Mindfulness is the place in which perspective is purest, in which our emotions no longer control us (this is a wonderful practice for anger and the anxiety-prone), in which our innate magical abilities awaken.

It can have other great effects too – we might actually enjoy our food, eat less instead of devouring (I’m guilty of that!) It gives stress a swift kick for a time too (something we all need!) Mindfulness can catch us in the act of judging, or just before an argument that we needn’t have… It helps us to become better all around.

Mindfulness is like the free gift of wizardry!  We have the power to create, to subdue, to awaken, to affect, to manifest, and to see.  Our feelings are deeper, our heart unfolds, and suddenly. . ?  It’s like we are truly alive.

At a time of the year when life is particularly stressful – and focused on the superficial in many ways – take a moment (or, better…SEVERAL) and relax into your breath. 

Feel.  

Sense.  

BE.

The magic will do the rest.

Blessed be,

❤ 

Silence Is Better Than Bullshit

Really, though, I don’t have to justify. . .

Explain. . .

Or elaborate on this one.  

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-4-13-10-pm

Can someone spread the word?