Friday, December 28, 2012

Hiden Strengths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Discovering a Thing of the Past

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

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

Amaranth is a great source of calcium, iron, and protein - which is especially helpful for folks on vegetarian diets or other restricted diets. (They say that Amaranth actually contains more calcium than a glass of there you need for that added dairy!)

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finding the Fullness and Completeness that is YOU

Something that I have been mindful of in the past month or so, and something that I have contemplated over and over throughout my yoga practice is the idea of finding completeness within yourself.

I must clarify here, that I am not saying that God is not apart of that. When I view my own efforts in my life, God is obviously a part of that effort as His spirit is alive within me. What I am saying here, is that my fullness and completeness does not rely on anyone else. I do not need a friend or partner to fill an empty void in my life. What I need is to recognise what is causing that void and find it's completeness within myself.

The real reason for my contemplation stems from how much I have relied on my husband, in the past, to fulfill my needs. To fill in the gaps of emptiness, to provide the love and acceptance that my heart desired. To heal the brokenness within me, and cover the past hurts. In the first years of our marriage I placed certain expectations around him with the intent that he would fulfill all of those needs. When he has not been present (either physically or emotionally) I have grieved over this loss and emptiness. (Many military wives can probably relate to this experience during deployments and trainings). Recognising that my husband is likely to leave again on business for several months next year, I wanted to get a grounding on these emotions and really understand where they were coming from and how to respond to them. I realised after much reflection that the reality is that I was relying on my husband to fill spaces within myself that only I can fill.

After having this revelation I began a journey towards finding my own fullness and completeness within myself. In coming to terms with the "needs" that I have and the roots of where these needs come from. Through self reflection and being present with these emotions, I hope to truly develop within myself a stronger, more confident, and independent woman.

Already through my yoga practice, and through journaling and self-reflection, I have made huge strides towards achieving this. I believe that because of this, I will have a totally new and refeshing perspective on our time apart in the coming year. I believe this time will be enlightening for both of us and will strengthen our relationship by strengthening us as individuals.

It was a bit ironic when I got the email today from Yoga Journal about this same concept: Soul Mate I really encourage you to have a read of this article as it offers some really valuable points and may prove to be just the push you need in your life to search yourself for answers, rather than relying on someone else for those answers.

I know that I have many friends who believe in the "Knight in shining armour" and the idea that when they find their ONE sole mate, it will be the "missing piece" in their life. I highly encourage some self-reflection here to recognise that you have everything you need within yourself to be whole and complete. When you find that completeness within yourself, I believe it is THEN that you find true happiness with another.

Every day my love for my husband grows as I learn to love myself more and more, and to rely on him less and less for that fulfillment. Through finding contentment and peace within ourselves as individuals we can become a stronger and happier unit.

Mantra: "Allow yourself to sit with the emotions that you experience today and acknowledge that these feelings are part of who you are. Let yourself be right where you are at as you find contentment in the person that you are." ~ Namaste

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happiness is in THIS moment

One of the most valuable things that I have learned in life is that the present moment is all we have. We cannot live in the past, and we have no idea how much of the future we will even experience. It is only in the here and now that we can truly be present and find happiness. It is only in THIS moment where we can influence how we respond to circumstances and change the way that we react.

This understanding has become so foundational in my life, and as a result, I have really been enjoying the time that I have been given. After finishing off my degree and awaiting the start of my new job, I have had more time on my hands to really embrace the things that bring me joy. As part of that, I have also realised how much time I waisted each day not taking advantage of the things that bring me peace and happiness.

This realisation has caused me to have a new perspective on my life and make some changes towards adapting my daily routines to include plenty of time to just be present and enjoy the life that I have. I have increased my daily yoga practice which has brought me so much physical and emotional release. Every day I also do something that I love; wheather it be painting, quilting, reading a book, talking to a friend on the phone, or just spending time with Travis. It's about ensuring that every day is filled with some form of joy and pleasure and taking the time to embrace the beauty that is there.

Once I had a close look at my life I also realised that I need to focus more attention outward and become more invovled in the community and giving to others. I found while I was studying that between study and work my life became quite a bit self-centred (more due to the circumstances than a selfish nature). Now that I have been freed from my relentless hours of study, my life can now focus a lot more on doing for others and getting involved. This is definitely one of the most positive changes that I plan to see in 2013.

As for my running, and taking the time to really physically become more active: well, that has been a fabulous achievement. I am now back to where I was about a year ago and gradually starting to see that strength come back with every day. I will start a new training programme in January and see where it leads me. For now, I am truly pleased with the progress.

Mantra: "Let go of all that no longer serves you and embrace the happiness that is offered to you in this present moment" ~ Namaste