Taking Care of Number One


lit-candle-reflection ©public domainPsst… Hey you. Yeah, you. You know who you are. You are the perpetual nurturer, hand holder, volunteer, and shoulder to cry on. You’re likely highly sensitive, empathic, or just an all around generous, kind and caring human being.

The problem is, like many people who are nurturers and caregivers, you probably put taking care of yourself on the back burner over and over again. Pretty much the only time you stop taking care of everyone else is when you finally wear yourself down to the point that you get sick and are forced to lay low for a few days. Even then, you’re probably still cooking dinner, doing laundry and washing dishes.

Like a flashlight in the dark, if you keep on burning through the night without recharging your batteries, you’re light is going to burn out. Or think of yourself as the proverbial candle burning at both ends. Eventually you will run out of fuel, and those who have come to depends on you will no longer be able to reap the benefits of your kindness and generosity.

It is important to remember that you can only give out what you’re allowing yourself to receive. And this means that neglecting to take care of yourself can negatively impact the quality of care you give others. You’ll get cranky and short tempered with those who need you, skip important steps, or make a serious mistake.

Now, while a long vacation is certainly a fabulous idea, it’s probably not practical unless you really do happen to have a lot of vacation days that you haven’t used up. (And oh my god, if you do, I’ll take them!) At minimum, taking the time to recharge your batteries can be as simple as taking a half an hour a day to yourself. The important thing is making even just a little time to give yourself a break, show yourself some love, and maybe even a little pampering.

Here are just a few things you might try to give yourself a little recharge:

  • Take a walk in the woods, a park, or the beach
  • Sit quietly outside with a cup of coffee and your newspaper or book
  • Make a little time for a sport you enjoy, such as golf, swimming, canoeing
  • Draw, paint or do something else creative
  • Treat yourself to other hobbies that make you happy
  • Have a candlelight bubble bath
  • Get a facial, manicure or pedicure (or all three!) or do a home facial
  • Get a massage: some therapists offer shorter chair massages that can be more affordable than a full massage for those on a tight budget.
  • Have a Reiki treatment or other type of energy therapy
  • Enjoy a glass of wine and a book before bed
  • Animal Therapy: Play with your pets, walk your dog, or see if your local shelter needs people to walk dogs and play with their cats.
  • Take yourself on a date to the movies or lunch
  • Meditate (And if you think you don’t have time check out this book!)

This certainly isn’t the be all end all list of things to do, and you might find something completely different to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Sand on my ToesYou don’t have to do all the things, and you don’t have to dedicate hours a day to taking care of yourself, it’s just important that you think about your own well being every day, even if it’s just a quick meditation break or a walk around the block.

Once you’ve taken care of yourself, I promise, you can go right back to taking care of everyone else!

Love & Light.

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To Bee or Not To Bee


Bee on Dandelion

It’s spring in Maine, finally! The insect life is waking up, and I’ve had a few encounters with bees recently. I try to pay attention, and even follow my own advice when I have more significant or unusual animal encounters. If an animal makes significant repeated appearances, or if you find the appearance particularly meaningful, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s something you should pay attention to.

In this case, the bee encounters certainly stood out. There was one or two bees who chose to follow me for a walk, another one very determined to get into my car, and a fourth one was a bumblebee just meandering through the produce section in the grocery store. So, should bees of any variety make their way into your life, it might be time to look into what the buzz is all about (just one pun, I promise!).

Bees have long been a powerful symbol in many cultures, representing the sun, fertility, royalty, gods and goddesses. Their seemingly improbable ability to fly can represent achieving the impossible. They gather pollen and contribute to the fertility of countless plants, creating food for themselves and ultimately the world. In their creation of honey, they transform sunlight into liquid energy.

If the bee is buzzing into your life, you may need to find faith in your ability to to take flight and achieve the impossible. Maybe you need to become more aware of what information you gather, distribute, or ingest. Make sure you’re taking the good parts of life and leaving the destructive bits behind. Share only the positive, energy giving honey.

Are you being too much of a worker bee and attempting to do too many things? Do you need to take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labors? Maybe you’re working so hard that you’ve forgotten that you even once enjoyed what you’re doing. Wallowing in the labors of collecting your pollen and forgetting to enjoy the beautiful sunshine that has made it all possible.

A visit from bee may be reminding you to stop and smell the flowers, value your own productivity, creativity, and industriousness. Take time out to enjoy the sun and the honey. Trust in your ability to get done what you need to without working yourself into a frenzy. And maybe, just bee.

The Baby Dichotomy


angelBWI have to count myself as fortunate that most people who know my husband and I have stopped asking why we don’t have kids. Now that we’re in our 40s, and we still don’t have them, I think most either presume that we just don’t want them or they know the painful truth – that I have had four miscarriages. It took a long time to conceive, and they just did not last.

For each pregnancy, we were equally hopeful, equally terrified, and then equally devastated. In a society where amazing medical breakthroughs happen all the time, we are left with what minimal insurance we can afford through the Affordable Care Act. And even when we had decent insurance, the kinds of things that would help us conceive -and stay pregnant- are financially beyond our reach.

Now that I am in my 40s, other complications add themselves to the mix. How can a person who was a high risk pregnancy in her 20s and 30s pull off such a miracle over the age of 40? After the last one a few years ago I firmly decided I never wanted to go through that again. Since then, I have waffled back and forth on a monthly, weekly, sometimes even daily basis. I think about my younger self, raised in a society where little girls grew up, got married, and had babies. That part of me thinks of myself as an abject failure. The core sense of being a woman, of how I was supposed to be someone’s mom, is broken.

I spend a lot of time telling myself that now that we’ve been married 20+ years, living the “no kids lifestyle” for so, so long, that there is no way we could possibly even adjust to being parents now. Then I waffle back and think well, we adjust to my husband’s changing jobs and going back to college. We adjust to my own rather regular changes in career and life directions. We are not yet so old and set in our ways that adjusting to being parents would be impossible.

Then, I waffled back to, yeah, but holy crap each failure sucks so much, and I really, really don’t want to go through that again. Then I waffled back to yeah, but what if… What if I really am meant to be someone’s mom? What if this next time IS the right time? What if by waffling in the wrong direction, we are missing out on that important little person in our life? Then, I waffle back to, well, we don’t have very good insurance. How could we even financially afford the medical expenses that could likely result from the trying to make this one last effort stick?

white-lily-flowersMaybe we could adopt. This is something we’ve considered. But again, the financial uncertainty scares me. Other random fears like adopting a child with physical or mental/emotional troubles terrifies me. At the same time I realize that even a child of my own could have the same troubles, so that’s not really all that much of an excuse. Then, there is the decision of trying to adopt a baby, or adopting an older child, and all those different implications.

What is the answer? I don’t know yet. I suppose the clock really is ticking at this point and decisions should be made. I should, of course, better educate myself on some of my options. But naturally, we often find ourselves “too busy” for those things which are the really difficult, even painful, decisions.

Why do I even feel compelled to share this story with the unknown (and known) public? Many reasons, I suppose. First of all, I am fairly certain I not the first woman in history, or possibly even the only woman I know, going through this situation. I want to help others maybe feel less alone and dysfunctional, while helping myself feel less alone and dysfunctional in the process.

I was also intuitively compelled to share it. I’m not even entirely sure where it came from. Maybe one of those countless posts that go by on Facebook about the bond between a parent and child, or “share if you have awesome kids”. Maybe I’m not the only one sometimes tempted to share them because I think my fur kids are pretty awesome.

rain dropMaybe I share it because someone out there right now needed to know that they aren’t crazy for having the same waffling thought train.

Maybe someone else needed to read it and think twice before asking their friend or family member or coworker, for the countless number of times, why they don’t have kids yet.

Maybe someone else needs to see that a spiritual person working on walking a spiritual, awakened path does not always have their shit together as well as you might imagine.

Maybe it’s to help those naysayers who dispute continued efforts to improve and expand our healthcare system that it’s not just lazy, dysfunctional sponges that need help and access to better health and reproductive care, but every day, average, hard-working, loving human beings that could use a little more help preventing the massive financial burdens caused by health care expenses of every flavor.

Maybe it’s every one of these things, and more, that someone out there needs to hear. Meanwhile, I will go back to working on getting my shit together, while hopefully giving you a little more insight on your own…  (:

Love & Light

When the Storms of Life Rage On, Don’t Get Too Prickly


I’ve had people tell me that hikes are boring. They clearly haven’t gone for a hike with me! I think that people kind of forget that there’s more to hiking that just plodding along the trail. Sometimes you never know what’s just around the corner, or hidden in the brush alongside the trail.

StormyLast week on a hike, I was racing a pretty ominous looking thunderstorm. Let’s just say it turned into more of a jog than a hike, as I turned around to beat feet the 1.6 miles back to the car. I decided I had a better chance of not getting struck by lightning if I turned around rather than trying to continue another two plus miles to finish the loop.

Along the trail, I was startled by something ambling along the path. A chubby little porcupine! He got into the underbrush and it was difficult to photograph him, so I chalked it up to a fun memory. About five minute later, I see another chubby little shape ambling down the trail in front of me. Another porcupine! This one didn’t seem to care that I was hiking along behind him, but it was just far enough ahead that I had a hard time capturing a good photo. I did however start to think about the frequent appearance of this prickly little critter.

Porcupines amble along through life, and with the exception of a few predators – primarily fishers and mountain lions – have earned the respect of the animal kingdom. They are generally peaceful, they don’t “throw” their quills, and their major defense actually requires that an attacker get close enough to truly harm them before it does it’s job.

PorcupineCabelasSpringfield0511In animal wisdom, Porcupine often represents a reminder not to spend too much time caught up in the seriousness and gravity of life. Honor your playful spirit, and take time to wander through nature, or simply through your imagination, and hunt for treasures.

Don’t let negative old barbs or pain from the past haunt you and drain the happiness from your present. Don’t allow yourself to become so prickly that people are afraid to come near you. Trust that when you really need it, your defenses will help protect you.

Go forth and shed your quills.

Love & Laughter,

Tricia

It’s the Little Things


forest smallOkay yes, it has been a while since I wrote anything. To be fair, it’s been a kind of hellacious summer, and to be honest, I’ve kind of let it get to me. However, recently I’ve decided that even if I don’t give myself time for much else, I need to at least take some time out for what I’ve been calling Nature Therapy. I’ve been making a point to get out and appreciate nature and the truly beautiful state that I live in, Maine.

Getting outside for a hike or a paddle changes my mindset, even if it’s only for a little while. I take my camera with me, and I go with the intent of finding and appreciating the wonder that is nature. I walk along, thinking about the flowers and critters and smelling the balsam fir and the fallen leaves. I listen to the songs of birds, the buzz of bees and frequent scolding from red squirrels. I revel in that non-silent silence that you find when you’re deep out on a trail with no modern distractions.

When I was preparing to finally get back to writing on this blog, I kind of first planned a bit of a rant about being judgmental, but I could not quite get it to flow the way I hoped. Two things changed my mind. red squirrelOne was this Sunday’s message from my minister, who spoke about “Something is Wrong”, and with it she spoke about the judgment and treatment of our fellow humans, and it gave me a different spin on the thought that I want to write about. So, watch for that coming up next. (You can listen to this message here. This particular message starts at 11:30)

The other thing was that afternoon’s walk in the forest, where I had an entertaining encounter with a red squirrel and another one with a damselfly, and I realized that what the world needs now is good news. It made me think that sometimes what we need are the little things to help us change our mindset, turn down a different path, or look at the world in a slightly different light.

I decided that one of the things I would start doing on this blog is also writing up some of the entertaining things that end up happening to me on my walks in nature. A reminder to everyone to take the time out, find your nature therapy or book therapy or whatever little thing makes your world even just a little bit better.

spiderwebA reminder that sometimes when you’re trying to see the forest for the trees or staying on the path, because that’s how you get to the end, you miss the journey. You miss the cheeky red squirrel, the ambling porcupine or the spider web glistening with rain drops.

So, yes, I will write about personal and social responsibility and growth, but I’ll also take the time to share some of my nature therapy with you, in the hopes that it will help inspire you to go experience some of your own.

Peace & Hope

Tricia

Getting to Know You


Winter TreeSometimes people reach a point in their lives where they feel alone and neglected. Perhaps people they have always relied on are no longer with them. Close friends or family members have crazy schedules and life troubles that draw them away. Kids grow up, relationships end, and they find themselves feeling lonely and abandoned.

It is easy to build a life that is surrounded by other people. Many people grow up with close friends and family, move on to college and marry young, always surrounded by people; always depending on and being depended on for support, entertainment, love and attention.

Sometimes we spend such a huge chunk of our lives surrounded by people and responsibilities that we lose track of ourselves; that sense of what it is like to be one single, solitary person. It can be hard to find yourself suddenly alone and dependent upon no one but yourself. Mentally and emotionally it can be like suddenly being locked alone in a room with a complete stranger.

It doesn’t mean that you’re in as extreme a situation as being stranded alone on a deserted island, but perhaps a long term relationship has ended, a close friend or mentor has passed away. You may feel like you have been alone for a long time; trying and failing at relationship after relationship.

Redwing Blackbird SilhouetteChances are you are not destined to spend your life alone, but sometimes God, the Universe, Great Spirit, whomever you like to imagine is out there, intends for you to get to know yourself again. Learn about this stranger you spend more time with than anyone else. Get to know “I”, and become comfortable in your own company.

Learn who you are without a second, third or fourth person involved. Find out what makes you tick. Rediscover what brings you joy; what skills or hobbies you forgot you loved; try new things; learn what new adventures you can have.

Have a conversation with yourself. A journal is a great way to have a running dialog with yourself; writing it by hand encourages you to ramble on without worrying about spelling and grammar checks. Start simply; discuss the weather. Then perhaps talk to yourself about what has happened to get you where you are today. Ask yourself how you got there, what you’d like to do now. Grow bolder and ask yourself what you would do if you knew you could not fail.

ZenOnce you discover that you’re not so scary to spend time alone with, begin to understand who you are and how you work, and become comfortable with who you are on your own, you are opening yourself up to new and positive changes. Along the way, you are increasing your chances of finding new relationships, or perhaps rekindling old ones, that are happier and healthier, and will grow along with you.