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I went to Earth Center Pottery at Tyler Park Arts Center as a continuation of my efforts to become more of a local, deepening new friendships, as well as to productively move through my grief process (aka: mourn / express, acknowledge & integrate).

The special event I attended was similar one of those paint & sip social events, but with clay, but a bit more loosely structured. How perfect--the night's project was to create a "Memory Box." The participants of the workshop were given very general guidance and were also told, that if we wanted to, we could simply make a vase.

I was a bit nervous in a new environment and around all new people--many of which knew each other already. I tried to refocus my energy & attention on allowing myself to experiment and check-in with how I was feeling inside. Thankfully, I managed to tap into my "playful" mindset and began to imagine and experiment with ideas of what I might like to make.

 

After 3 hours of heartfelt experimentation and focus on staying connected with my feelings, I was helped by the instructor to make this.

Mourning & Creative Expression: Memory Box (pre-kiln)
 

A couple of weeks later, I came back to add finishing touches, and was so engrossed in glazing and painting the details that I accidentally ended up closing out the studio (4 hours later...oops!)

After a couple of weeks more, I was able to come home with this lidded memory box. I enjoy seeing it each morning--with all its 'imperfections' and how it came to be, knowing what it is: a tribute to our Love; a keepsake, complete with hidden details for us.

We mold the moments of our life with whatever actions and attention we will; and the fire of time forges the energy we used into the memory of what remains.

Mourning & Creative Expression: Memory Box (finished)

I've realized that creative expression can be a boon beyond my imagination.

There's a sort of transformational magic each time I work through seeing and expressing what's in my heart--acknowledging the pain, the hidden beauty within reveals itself.

In it, I feel connected more deeply to my beloved, to myself and to the present as though I am visiting eternity. I am healed, at peace and loved.

#griefmourning #creativeexpression #practices

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I drove up to the Peace Village yoga retreat listening to the rest of my most recent audiobook "How to Be a Stoic" by Massimo Piglicci and periodically checking-in with myself mentally, physically and emotionally/spiritually (as is one of the mindful practices I have adopted into daily life over the past year).

About an hour and a half or so into the journey, I hit traffic. The ETA suddenly jumped far beyond the check-in window listed out I read in the email confirmation. I noticed the familiar twinge of embarrassment and admonishment just beginning to show up inside me.

I noticed the familiar twinges of embarrassment and admonishment start to show up inside...

...recognizing what it was about, I checked in with my intentions and subsequently decided "asked Siri" to call the retreat center so that I could focus on what was in my control: my attitude and my actions.

I chose words as concisely as I could to briefly provide clarity: identify who I was, why I was calling and which would best resonate my intent. I indicated that I was still en route and that the GPS provided an updated forecast that showed I would arrive late; and asked if it was still okay for me to come.

The woman on the phone responded with a calm, matter-of-fact "Yes. It's okay. Keep on coming up. See you when you get here." The voice inside me dialed down momentarily into silent disapproval as I thanked her and our conversation ended.

A moment later, the voice began again in protest... Was she irritated? Was she bored? Did she even care?

Without judging the voice's concerns, I redirected my awareness to recount the known facts:

1. Circumstances & Control: I left home when I left. Many other people got onto the highway when they did. Those collective were decisions that have put me in the circumstances of the here and now. Only one of those decisions was under my control.

2. Actions & Intentions: I called to express respect (for the time, effort and space Peace Village was holding for me) and to inquire whether this turn of events changed their willingness to receive me. I made my inquiry with understanding and intention to unconditionally accept whatever the outcome was. What others feel, or choose to think, say and do is outside of what I can control.

3. Orientation & Current Conditions: I received a confirmation that all was well with continuing on my way. The reception appeared welcoming at face value. My decision to call, the spirit with which I chose to focus on were in my control.

The nagging discomfort inside faded into nothingness shortly thereafter. This stuff is like practical magic!

It took just minute or two (if that!) to do to restore my peace and emotional stability in that instance...

Months of regular practice is continually cultivating my courage and more regular peace of mind which is encouraging me to stay disciplined. My peace returned and I continued on my way, having maneuvered through discomfort again.

I was able to return to my enjoyment of learning more secular ways to support this healing path. Oh, Epictetus... You make so much sense the way that Massimo shares his experience with you! It sounds like much of Stoicism, Buddhism, Psychology, Logotherapy and other philosophies (including ADJUST of course!) share common themes, which somehow we've forgotten and need to be reminded of... primarily that we have some responsibility in controlling--better yet: cultivating / shaping our life's experiences.

Self-re-discovery is such an amazing journey.

Although I arrived with quickened steps through the door, I wore an open heart and smile to greet the experience...

As the rest of me caught up from the sprint between the car and the front desk, I was beginning to realize that my comfort zone too was catching up--expanding 145 miles north from home, and although incrementally on the surface, growing leaps and bounds on the inside.

The reception I received was warm as the woman stepped out from behind the desk, pausing momentarily from juggling others who appeared to be late arrivals as well, so that she could show me where I could set my bags for the moment and where I could go for the dinner then the evening's next talk.

I am continually delighted and so grateful for the opportunities and means to integrate what resonates into practices to actively co-author my happily EVEN after.

I can't wait to see what happens the rest of the weekend!

#exploring #Stoicphilosophy #recommendation #overcomingobstacles #ADJUSTLifestyleDesign #practices

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Earlier in the week, I got an email reminder about the retreat I had signed up for a month or two ago. As I read it, a part of me hesitated.

The self-limitation I had been living with for over a year was staring me in the face.

It would be the first time I would leave home for an overnight stay on my own, IF I went. This IF was a self-limitation I had been living with since Nelson's sudden death... always staying (if not simply sleeping) in our physical home, our sanctuary.

The seed of doubt began: Maybe you should consider canceling and give up the spot to someone "more ready" to go...

I went back to the Peace Village website to re-read the description to see how I felt...

As I sat for a minute acknowledging the feelings that were coming up inside of me, there was an intuitive and comforting impression of "Yes, go. This is another step aligned with your values, your aim and intentions..." inspiring me to stay open to possibility of continuing to expand my comfort zone.

The "something" was pranayama. It was called out "on the menu in the 'sampler' of practices" that were going to be covered during the weekend along with yoga, meditation, journaling and a number of contemplative practices.

Over the past year, I began to more intentionally integrate quite a few practices into my daily life. The empowerment to incrementally and intentionally ADJUST has been instrumental throughout my healing process; and now, as support for me to continue to strategically grow into a better version of myself each day.

I stumbled across Max Strom's TEDtalk sometime ago, where he touches on grief with regard to his focus on breath work. His talk resonated with me on a number of levels!

During the talk, he demonstrates some breath work which I tried (and retried) and personally found effective for easing some of my own discomfort.

I retried these exercises periodically (when I remembered to pull it up); but otherwise simply became aware of my breath mostly as part of guided meditations.

Strom noted that he felt that meditation, while very useful, is actually very advanced... we were skipping over "the breath"

And that made so much more sense to me when I saw that so many people I know seem discouraged or intimidated by the idea of even trying meditation. Breathing is so much more accessible. I had to learn more!

Pranayama seemed like another avenue I wanted to look into...one that might be more accessible; more universal--across belief systems. None of us can deny breath connects life in our physical bodies, right?!

My interest continued to peak through synchronicity in the months that followed seeing Strom's TEDtalk. I found myself occasionally compelled to "do a google search" and eventually also began clicking through old and dissatisfying videos. There just didn't seem to be much "out there"... The urge to understand "how does this work?" (because it just does, somehow!) and "what else can I try?" had been growing again in recent months.

I wanted to be able to observe, try, receive feedback and ask questions of an expert in person. I asked yoga instructors, meditation practitioners, and mindfulness experts questions about breath work; but the time together was either limited or constrained to phone or text.

...and here it was, highlighted in the retreat description: an opportunity to learn in person. A pranayama expert was on the panel and would lead sessions throughout the weekend!

Seeing how this opportunity aligned with my values, intentions, and goals is what inspired me to act.

With my intention at the fore (to grow, connect and share the best of myself continually throughout the days of my life in order to help others), I felt a comfort in seeing how this retreat aligned.

So... I took a deep breath, and mindfully gathered up enough clothing, driving snacks and courage for 2 nights away from our home: mentally and physically preparing myself and the house.

#TEDTalk #mindfulness #practices #exploring

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