Valentine’s Day Gifts for You!

Valentine’s Day Gifts for You!

Buy A Gorgeous Piece of Jewelry for Someone You Love – You!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. What better way to assure you receive a thoughtful gift you will love than to purchase it for yourself?

I selected pieces of jewelry from Modern Artisans that include hearts–what a concept for Valentine’s Day, right?

Modern Artisans offers an amazing variety of pieces created out of sterling silver, brass, bronze, copper, or pewter. Many of the pieces also include gemstones, glass, or leather.

Each piece of gorgeous jewelry at Modern Artisans is handcrafted by an independent American crafts person. None of these works of art are manufactured by a machine in bulk quantities.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see the affiliate link disclosure at the end of this article.

 

Some of My Favorite Pieces

 

These necklaces are created with the ability to trigger a memory or inspire a dream…

 

 

 

Bracelets with the Valentine’s Day theme going on…

 

 

You deserve a new pair of earrings…and you will find a wide selection of gorgeous earrings to choose from at Modern Artisans!

 

 

Modern Artisans offers a variety of brooches in distinct styles.

 

Wall Art & Decor

 

Don’t forget your furry friend this Valentine’s Day! Read my post on Pet Accessories for Valentine’s Day.

See For Yourself

I recommend checking out the Modern Artisan website to browse the style categories–you will discover a unique selection of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, pocket knives and accessories. Best of all, each jewelry item is a work of “wearable art” handcrafted by an independent American artisan.

 

 

*Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will direct readers to additional products or services. I carefully select my affiliates and will always provide honest feedback regarding these links. I may receive products or a small commission when you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you.

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Holiday Sadness: ‘Tis the Season

Holiday Sadness: ‘Tis the Season

This woman has a crazy look on her face like she is stressed while holding her hands on her head.

Coping With The Holiday Blues

This is the time of year when our senses are inundated by colorful and stimulating lights, decorations, and media. We are faced with a full schedule of activities and commitments with the assumption that everything–and everyone–must be merry and bright.

Our to-do list continues to grow while our resources–time, energy and finances–shrink. It is often difficult to cope with all of the added expectations, especially if we are feeling sad. Many of us feel down this time of year. As a mental health counselor and someone who struggles with the holiday blues I can attest to this. It is difficult to function at the level we would like to in order to get everything accomplished. And if you already struggle with depression this can be a really difficult time.

The main point I want to make is you are not alone.

 

Why We Struggle

There are reasons why this may be a trying time. Financial difficulties is one. Many of us struggle to make ends meet throughout the year and now try to fit all the seasonal extras into the budget. The added expense of gifts, decorating, travel, and cooking and baking can be quite expensive.

Time and energy both run short. There’s decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, etc., etc. to take care of.  Fa la la la la. Exhaustion seems to be right around the corner just like all those bell-ringers wanting donations.

Expectations for a Hallmark Channel Christmas often run high. We may see perfection in the media, and then set our sights on having the ideal Christmas. This is unattainable, of course, but we still want it!

 

a black and white photo of a stuffed bear sitting by a lake

 

Everyone looks so happy and loving in all those holiday specials on television. Loneliness can become overwhelming over the holidays. We may not be able to see the people we care about the most for whatever reason. Or thinking about spending time with family actually adds to our stress and sadness. Many of us feel obligated to visit with people we don’t see throughout the year even though there’s a very good reason why we avoid them the rest of the year.

Grief can really make this time of year difficult. If we went through a break up or someone close to us passed away during the year it can be grueling. This year my family had to put down two cats we had for 17 years and I know this will be hard. The holidays often trigger loneliness and sadness. Unresolved grief can make us dread participating in any holiday events. This happens even if it’s not the first holiday without someone.

 

wrapped presents under a christmas tree

Plan of Action

The key is to plan ahead.  Obviously, when you are on a tight budget it helps to start a Christmas fund the day after for next year. However, if you are like me, that never happens. Consider cutting back on gift giving. It is honestly not good or necessary to purchase gifts if it keeps you from paying your bills or puts you further in debt.

Begin early to get as much of your shopping and baking done ahead of time. Research easy recipes, do online shopping, and delegate whatever chores you can to others who are able to help. I know this is tough when you are alone. But ask for help when you can.

Minimize your expectations of yourself. Is mixing up dough, rolling it out, using the cookie cutters, baking and finally decorating cookies something you enjoy? If the answer is no, it’s really not worth your sanity. Reduce your stress by letting go of some of the things you have always done but hate doing. Go to the store and buy cookies already baked just waiting to be decorated. Or buy the ones already decorated. Life is about choices!

 

a plate of christmas cookies

 

Say no to attending events that you dread. That yearly party where everyone gets drunk and obnoxious is a good place to start. If your family gathering turns into a family feud every year, consider calling instead. Or, go early and leave early. Assess all of the possibilities and only do what makes you happy. Your obligation is to yourself.

Talk to someone if you are grieving. Your holiday will be different this year and it doesn’t help to pretend you’re not hurting. Journaling is helpful for processing grief. Writing a letter to the person or animal you lost can also make you feel better. Think about starting a new holiday tradition in honor of your loved one to keep them a part of your holiday celebration.

 

a woman's hand holding a cup of tea

Self-Care

Many of us, myself included, could spend a bit more time and energy on self-care. This is especially true during the holiday season when we have added duties on top of all the usual day-to-day things we do.  I am going to say this as clearly as possible–make self-care a priority.

Go out for a walk to get fresh air and sunshine. Physical activity helps produce feel-good chemicals in the brain. Vitamin D from the sun is difficult to get this time of the year especially in the north. If you have a dog to keep you company on a walk that is an added blessing. Animals are great for reminding us to relax, not worry and enjoy the moment.

 

2 people walking their dog on a trail in the woods.

 

Take a break and enjoy a cup of your favorite tea, call a friend to chat, or take a nap. Read a good book, listen to Christmas carols, or take a warm bath.

You can read our article on why self-care is so important here Calgon, Take Me Away!

Volunteering at the animal shelter, food pantry, or your local nursing home is a wonderful way to curb loneliness. There are plenty of opportunities this time of year to help those in need. When we offer kindness to others what we receive back can make the holiday much brighter.

For more ideas on reducing stress check out our article on Self-Care Tips.

 

orange and white cat peaking out from under a christmas tree

What Really Matters

This is a great time to assess your priorities–not only for the holidays but for your life overall. Who do you want to spend time with and what does this look like? Letting go of that which does not serve you and focusing on the things that bring you peace and joy is a wonderful commitment to yourself for the new year and beyond.

I urge you to go out and look for beauty in the little things. This may be in nature. Or visiting with your neighbor for a few minutes. Take a walk at night and look at the colorful lights. It can be the simplest things that warm our heart and bring peace to the moment.

 

Outdoor christmas tree covered with snow

 

We would love to hear your tips or tricks that help you maintain your sanity during this busy time of year. Please share in the comments below.

Have a Peaceful Holiday Season!

Sandra

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10 Self-Care Tips to Start Practicing Today

10 Self-Care Tips to Start Practicing Today

a stack of rocks balancing

10 Self-Care Tips to Begin Today

 

Accept What Is & Let Go

In his book The 7 Laws of Spiritual Success, Deepak Chopra discussed the power of acceptance and letting go. Wisdom comes from accepting that even though we may want things to be different they aren’t. Letting go of the desire to control the outcome offers us freedom and peace of mind. Sometimes we need to get out of our own way and allow the Universe to steer the ship.

 

Embrace Creativity

Creativity is abstract, divergent, and subjective. It is important because creativity takes us away from doing things the “right” way, toward embracing our own uniqueness. We utilize and trust our intuition in the process. Creativity allows us to feed our imagination and step into the unknown, relying fully on ourselves. It really is as liberating as it sounds!

 

 

blue and white paint on a pallet and a hand holding a pallet knife

 

Read our article on creating an intention board here.

 

Own & Express Your Emotions

Being true to your emotions will ultimately make you feel better about yourself. Authenticity is the highest form of self-respect. When you speak your truth from your heart, you open yourself up to possible pain, true. But also to being connected and validated. Your soul is affirmed when you have the courage to allow others to see your true self.

 

 

Forgive–Yourself & Others

We may have perfectionist ideals for ourselves, passing harsh judgement if we feel we failed or simply didn’t do something “good enough.” I propose you be kind toward yourself, as if you are your own best friend. Because you need to be. What words would you use to comfort and support a friend who feels they have failed? Turn these upon yourself next time you catch yourself being critical of the most important person in your world–you.

This will impact all of your relationships in whatever context they are in. We are all human beings have a human experience. Practice kindness toward yourself and others. 

 

Practice Gratitude

Positive psychologists contend gratitude is more than feeling thankful for something. It is a deeper appreciation for the tangible or intangible things in our lives that allows us a connection with others and the Universe.

 

Everything is energy. Like attracts like. What we put out we receive back. Practice gratitude for even the little things in life and good things will come your way. 

 

Two young women friends having fun together outdoor in city back light - friendship, interaction, happiness concept

 

Joy–Laugh Often

The psychological and physical relaxation generated by laughter has been studied and proven in the world of research. Laughter takes your focus off negatives like anger, guilt and stress, leaving you in a positive state. Joy allows you a new perspective–to see difficult situations as a new challenge to be conquered rather than a threat to retreat from. This builds resilience and strength, and ultimately self-confidence. 

 

Mindfulness–Just Be

Be Here Now–this is actually the title of a book written by Ram Dass in 1971 on spirituality, yoga, and meditation. The world is a stressful place and can be overwhelming. The importance of, and need for,  living in the moment is becoming more evident every day. Backward thinking often leads to depression; future thinking can turn into anxiety. Keeping our focus in the present moment allows us to be present with each new experience from a place of peace. 

Read our articles on Mindfulness Techniques and on how to Use Your 5 Senses to Practice Mindfulness.

 

 

Business cat with glasses and book

 

Nourish Your Intellect

Build your sense of self by seeking a variety of learning experiences–check out the theater, arts, or travel. Attend classes, read, have deep conversation, and explore topics you know nothing about. Observe what is around you mindfully, using all your senses to really ground you in the here and now. Get involved–volunteer for a cause close to home or far away.

 

Receive From Others

This is often a tough one. Learning to receive goes against everything we learned in childhood. Isn’t it better to give than to receive? Isn’t taking a sign of greed and grandiosity? I am stamping my feet and shouting not true!

Learning to receive is important because it keeps the flow of Universal abundance in a constant state of movement. Do your part and accept what is offered to you–if you want it, of course!

 

the silhouette of a woman doing yoga as the sun sets

 

Treat Your Body Like the Temple It Is!

* Accept and respect your body exactly where it is. This can happen when we dispel the negative messages stored in our head and love it unconditionally as it is right at this moment. 

*Think about what you put into your body today. First and foremost, water is critical. Experts recommend 11.5 cups of water every day.  Also, eat fresh foods, avoid excess caffeine and sugar, and limit alcohol consumption. Kick the tobacco habit, please!

*Get your body moving by trying yoga, hiking, swimming or any activity that gets your heart pounding a bit. Even 8 minutes of exercise a day has a positive effect. 

*Respect your body by choosing your intimate partners wisely. Respect begets respect.

*Sleep is crucial. Journal before bed to get the random thoughts out of your head. Do yoga or mediate to quiet your mind and ground yourself. Practice good sleep hygiene–for example, go to bed at a descent time each night. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

 

I hope you find this helpful on your path to self-love!

 

Til next time, Sandra

 

 

 

 

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Yogic Breath

Yogic Breath

 

Holistic Health Through Proper Breathing

Breathing is one of the most neglected aspects of human functioning. This is because it’s a natural process and doesn’t usually require any conscious thought. Therefore most people take breathing for granted. Improving how we breathe can have a positive impact on our health.

It has long been accepted that emotions affect the breathing process and breathing patterns affect our emotions.  Scientists have verified that the slightest change in respiration creates changes in the rest of the autonomic nervous system. And physical reaction is a basic essential part of our emotional state.

Respiration affects the right vagus nerve, which in turn controls the autonomic nervous system. This system regulates the secretion of adrenaline, thyroxin, and other hormones of the body. The secretion of these hormones plays a major role in creating your emotional state. Being mindful of your breathing pattern allows you to control your emotions.

Poor breathing produces anxiety, irritability, and tension and is the main obstacle to emotional health. This is a powerful statement when considering our ability to control how we feel.

 

 

If you pay close attention to the breath you will observe the link between breath and emotions. Notice when you become emotional the breath becomes shallow and erratic. Emotions such as anger, depression, and fear all have individual characteristic patterns of irregular breathing. For example–when your are angry the breath is held after inhaling, while depression is often characterized by deep sighs and long pauses after exhalations. 

 

Side view of meditating woman sitting in pose of lotus against blue sky outdoors

 

Basic Yogic Breathing Technique

  • Close your eyes and relax.
  • Slightly interweave your fingers, and place your hands on your belly over the navel area.
  • Breathe deeply into your naval area, filling up your belly.
  • Breathe with a slow breath, feeling your fingers pull apart and come back together. Try to match the amount of air you are taking in with that which you are exhaling.  Focus on making each inhale and exhale as smooth as possible. Do this for 15-20 breaths.
  • Now move your hands up to your ribcage. Continue with the smooth breaths, first filling your belly, and now your rib area. Focus on the exhale, first releasing from the ribs and then the belly, keeping it smooth.  Do this for another 15-20 breaths.
  • Move your hands up just below your collar bone. Breathe into your belly, ribs, and now the chest area. Keep it smooth. Release from the chest, ribs, and finally the belly. Practice this, and repeat 15-20 times.

 

Woman doing yoga pose on a beach at sunrise

 

There are many yogic breathing exercises that achieve specific results.  Breathing techniques have been developed with a wide range of effects. The benefits include increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, raising or lowering the blood pressure, and promoting relaxation. 

A calm and alert state is attained by mindful, smooth and even diaphragmatic breathing. This allows the individual to truly experience the emotional state and regulate it, rather than allowing the emotional state to control us. When we are cognizant of the emotion we can address the anger or anxiety in a rational way. We have difficulty thinking when our brain is not receiving enough oxygen!

Peace & Love, Sandra

From the book Healing the Whole Person by Swami Ajaya

 

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Learn Easy Midlife Mindfulness Techniques

Learn Easy Midlife Mindfulness Techniques

Woman with her arms raised to the heavens

 

10 Intentional Ways to Start Improving Your Life Today

 

Mindfulness has become quite popular in the areas of self-awareness and self-help. Living in the moment–with greater intention for the present–is not just a great philosophy. Mindfulness is good for your health having been proven to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, among other things.  

 

  1. Gratitude

Being grateful for what you already have in your life. Start a gratitude journal, and write down the blessings from each day before you fall asleep. Make a gratitude list to post on the fridge as a reminder for those moments when you feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

 

Woman doing yoga pose on a beach at sunrise

 

  1. Yogic Breath

Our breath impacts our emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. The wonderful thing about mindful breathing is it’s available to use everywhere. Utilize yogic breath when you are sitting at the stop sign and are late for work, or in the waiting room at an over-booked doctor’s office, for example. Please see our Free Resources tab, under the heading Self, for a free downloadable handout on yogic breath.

 

  1. Self-Nurture

Self-Care is the foundation of all that we are and do. Mindful self-care is often a foreign concept to most. It’s critical to take care of yourself in order to fulfill all the roles that you take on in life. The analogy of the flight attendant telling passengers to put on their own oxygen mask before attempting to help others is a good one. You will become exhausted, angry, depressed and burnt out if you don’t practice self-care.

 

A wooden path into a forest mindfulness

 

  1. Be in Nature

The peace we can experience when we are still in nature is beyond comparison.

 

Mindfully using all of our senses makes the most of our time in nature. The best mindfulness practice is to pay attention to what we smell, see, hear, etc. wherever we are. And nature provides our senses with a wide array of soothing stimuli. As the great writer Frank Lloyd Wright advised “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

 

  1. Letting Go

Once we learn to go with the flow, to ride the wave, to relax the need to control the outcome, we are on the path to mindfulness. Letting go is not about no longer caring about how you live your life. It is about trusting the universe to provide you with the right outcome. Make your mantra I will let go and just flow.

 

VISION - DREAM signs

 

  1. Visualize

Creative visualization is the art of using mental imagery and affirmation to generate changes in your life. It is a powerful technique to manifest our desires. Studies have found visualizing the results you desire improves performance in areas including sports, public speaking, and attaining life goals.

 

 

  1. Learn to Receive

Vulnerability is difficult for most of us. We receive the message be strong from parents and role models, it’s everywhere we look. However, we must change our perspective on vulnerability–it is not a sign of weakness. Really, it is being brave enough to ask for what we need, and willing to receive with an open heart and mind.

 

sunset over a lake

 

  1. Clear the Clutter

Clearing the physical clutter in your environment not only impacts your space, but also your emotional well-being. When you have a cluttered home or office, it is tough to relax and be productive. Try getting rid of stuff you don’t need first, and then get organized with the remaining items.

 

  1. Pay it Forward

Kindness is the current buzzword; the message to practice kindness is everywhere. Kindness in its simplest form is defined as being considerate or helpful. Holding the door for someone, smiling at a stranger, or phoning someone you know is struggling are all simple, yet significant acts of kindness. It doesn’t need to cost you a penny, but might just be the one connection that helps another person make it through their day.

 

person walking on the beach at sunset

 

  1. Discover Bliss

Only you can determine what feeds your soul, provides you with joy, and motivates you toward change. Have you always wanted to take an art class or learn to downhill ski? Follow your career dream of becoming a designer? Do you want to travel more? Become an advocate for homeless animals? We all need something that we are passionate about. If you aren’t sure, start an intentional search for what is missing in your life.

 

Living your life mindfully takes practice and persistence. Midlife is the perfect time to make changes to improve your life. And if you are like me and have monkey brain, it takes a bit more effort. Be patient with yourself as you practice this state of being present; it often goes against how we have lived for a long time. Mindfulness is well worth the effort, leading you toward connecting to your true self, and living an intentional life.

 

“In today’s rush we all think too much—seek too much—want too much

and forget about the joy of just being.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

 

Till next time, Sandra

 

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Healing Your Heart with Rose Quartz

Healing Your Heart with Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz for Healing Your Heart

One of my favorite crystals is Rose Quartz.  Not only is it beautiful, it’s also a powerful healing crystal. It epitomizes everything love!  Rose Quartz, referred to as the heart stone, vibrates with goddess frequency to heal your heart from past hurts and to steer you on your way to finding healthy love.

A soft feminine energy of compassion and peace, tenderness and healing, nourishment and comfort radiates from Rose Quartz. It guides a Divine loving energy to flow throughout the entire aura, healing mind, body, and soul. 

Wearing Rose Quartz opens the heart chakra to the love of self and others. In order to attract and maintain a healthy relationship, we must first love ourselves. This is often a difficult concept to accept due to childhood abuse or neglect, or past relationships we have been in. Rose Quartz can support you in your healing and journey toward self-love.  Read our article on Self-Love here.

a pink heart with a line through it

Spiritually Rose Quartz help the heart to both give and receive love, this being one of the most important aspects of this healing crystal. We need a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves to offer a healthy spiritual center. Feeling connected with the Universe or a religion are two examples of how to fulfill your spiritual needs. Rose Quartz opens us up to the possibilities, and helps us find and maintain the connection right for us.

 

 

 

For the physical body, Rose Quartz stabilizes heart trauma and imbalances. It grounds the individual in a higher energy frequency of love, minimizing the impact of stress on the physical being. Rose Quartz can be helpful to anyone who needs a stronger, more stable heart.

a magenta heartRose Quartz inspires the love of beauty in oneself, in others, and in nature. This crystal is known to spark the creative imagination in all artistic ventures, including art, music and writing.  I always wear one when I am painting or working on my blog. Read our post on Intuitive Art for Soul Connection.

While writing this post, the song composed by Burt Bacharach What the world needs now, is love, sweet love…keeps drifting through my headThe world desperately needs love and light as we go through difficult times on planet Earth. Make an effort to spread love and compassion to others. Rose Quartz is an excellent talisman to assist you in this endeavor.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless

garden when the flowers are dead.  – Oscar Wilde

Peace & Love, Sandra

Disclaimer: This is informational only. If you have a medical or mental health issue please see your doctor for care.

 

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Pet Ownership: Holistic Health Benefits

Pet Ownership: Holistic Health Benefits

white dog on a hiking trail

Pet Ownership for Holistic Well-Being

“The best therapist has fur and four legs.” Unknown

 

Ask anyone who has a pet and they’ll give you a variety of ways in which they benefit from spending time with their furry friend. Pets add to our lives immeasurably. From a holistic health perspective owning a pet is good for your body, mind and soul.

According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology individuals who own pets see the doctor about 30% less often than those who don’t. 

Here are eight reasons why owning a pet can help your mind, body, and spirit.

 

  • Fresh air and sunshine–just being out in nature can provide stress relief. The sun provides vitamin D that helps fight physical and mental conditions including depression, obesity, and heart attacks.    

 

  • Physical activity, whether it’s walking your dog or playing catch, gives you a natural energy boost, allows you to let off steam, and makes you more physically fit.

  • Having a pet to care for can give you a sense of purpose. Nurturing your pet gives you something positive to focus on. Watching your pet flourish will offer you a sense of fulfillment.

 

  • The act of petting and grooming your dog or cat brings them comfort and is also a stress reliever for you. When you connect with your pet your body releases oxytocin–the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief. This helps reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.

 

  • Pets teach you the practice of mindfulness. Animals are excellent role models on how to be present in the moment. Depression is about being stuck in the past and anxiety is created due to focusing on the future. The photos and videos you have of your furry friend can bring you back to the moment wherever you are!  Read our post on mindfulness techniques.

 

  • Pets can be great companions and they help reduce loneliness. They are also intuitive and will seek you out when you’re feeling down–refusing to allow you to remain in a state of isolation and sadness.

 

  • A furry companion can get you out meeting people. Walking your dog or spending time at the local dog park can keep you from isolating yourself. Dogs are naturally adept at making friends and can help you connect with new people. There are also groups that meet based on the pets you have–you already have something in common before your first meeting.

 

  • They love you unconditionally! Nothing compares to the obvious joy displayed by your pet when you walk in the door after a long day at work. This can is the ultimate mood-lifter and stress-buster.

 

Zola a pitbull yellow lab mixed breed dog.

There are countless rescue animals who need a home and would make a wonderful companion. Both of my dogs are rescues and have added so much joy to my life!

Pets offer so much and expect so little in return. The rewards of pet ownership are many. If you don’t currently have a furry companion consider the holistic benefits–and please adopt don’t shop.

 

Read our post Creating A Zen Space for Your Pet and Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays.

 

If you are blessed with a best friend with paws I would love to hear how this has added to your life!

Peace & Love, Sandra

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t your best friend deserve a

surprise delivered to his/her doorstep?

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From a Walk to a Run

From a Walk to a Run

How A Rescue Dog Became My Running Coach

Midlife finds me doing quite a bit of self-reflection. This happens to most according to all the articles I’ve read about midlife survival.

Looking back life has been busy and even chaotic at times. I spent many years as a single parent, working two, three, even four jobs at a time while taking care of a home, pets, day-to-day stuff, you get it. It all takes time, energy, and willpower.

 

Starting Out

Back in 1985 I felt lost and hopeless. Suffering from depression after my first divorce, I was desperate for a change–a big change. So I joined the Air Force.

San Antonio here I come! Not having a clue what I had signed up for, I started running to prepare myself physically. I was in great shape once I arrived in Texas.

Soon I was assigned the role of pacer–running along the other woman at 5 a.m. every morning, encouraging them not to give up. You can do this was my morning inspirational message to those who struggled to keep going.

 

Fast Forward to 2017

The years have added a few pounds–at least fifty, admittedly. Food has become an emotional crutch for me, as it is for many. Sugar is my love, my addiction.

Not that I am a sloth by any means. Walking is something I have done daily for years. Nature is my sanctuary; I love to explore the many trails we’re blessed with here in central Wisconsin.

White Dog Wrapped in Purple Blanket
Falkor My Love Muffin

 

 

My first rescue dog Falkor came into my life in 2015. You may have read about so-called needy dogs? I agree, there is no such thing. However, he could be described as such. We bonded instantly and I love him completely.

Falkor is chill, maybe even a tad lazy–he’s happy staying home and sleeping at my feet as I type.

 

 Then Came Zola

Zola a pitbull yellow lab mixed breed dog.One day while waiting tables at the small town cafe where I worked my sister sent me a FaceBook post. The ad offered a female pitbull-lab mix for free. As an animal lover I’ve read plenty of horror stories about what happens to dogs–especially pitbulls–who are available for free.

Eventually I connected with the owner and went to meet Zola. I brought her home for a trial run to meet Falkor. Surprisingly they bonded immediately–I had been warned Zola didn’t care for other dogs. Past experience had shown Falkor responded okay around smaller breeds, but became protective when a larger dog approached us.

Zola came home to stay the next day. It quickly became evident she didn’t have experience walking on a leash. Walking two dogs at once was a challenge. Admitting defeat, I began walking each separately.

A walk for Zola is more of a jog–she is a 55 pound power horse. Her extraordinary level of enthusiasm and energy never seems to wane.

One day while out for a walk I noticed we were moving faster than the woman jogging across the road from us. Realizing we could pick it up just a tad and we would be running instantly inspired me!

This epiphany was the beginning of my midlife return to running. Zola and I now run along the trails–not at a break-neck speed–but a comfortable jog. Slowly the weight is coming off. I’m feeling healthier and the sugar cravings have decreased.

At 54 I proclaim it’s never too late to return to something that once added pleasure to your life no matter how much time has passed. Midlife is for reinventing yourself–the possibilities are endless.

a pitbull yellow lab mixed breed dog laying in the sun

Am I ready to sign up for a marathon? Definitely not. I have, however, added this to my growing bucket list!

Do you have an inspirational story involving your fur baby? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Peace & Love, Sandra

 

Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog.

 

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Self-Love for Well-Being: Calgon, Take Me Away!

Self-Love for Well-Being: Calgon, Take Me Away!

pink heart on a blue background

Learn Self-Care to Improve Your Life

 

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,

deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha

 

Creating a healthy lifestyle starts with self-love, and self-care is the foundation for this. Unfortunately, taking care of ourselves is often a foreign concept to many of us.

Can you relate?

 

Tired businesswoman lying on the table with trash papers

What Happened?

There are reasons for this, of course.  We may have spent years as a caregiver, whether it is of children, pets, partners, or parents. Many of us lose ourselves throughout this process.  We can easily identify the needs and wants of those we care for.  But what about our own needs?

Maybe you were raised in an environment that wasn’t nurturing–taking care of yourself wasn’t even an option.  Quite possibly you were told be a good girl and take care of your sister, your father, your grandmother, etc. These messages can lead to self-neglect early in life. It isn’t intentional–it just becomes habit.

If you didn’t receive unconditional love as a child you may have grown up thinking you were not worthy. This  leads to low self-esteem and surrendering to self-neglect. This gets us into relationships where our needs are not met. We settle and stay, convincing ourselves this is enough. Or maybe to avoid loneliness, having to pay the bills on our own, or because  we have children with the partner who doesn’t give us what we need in the relationship.

 

woman baking

 

Giving and never receiving is all we know. We may feel empty inside. Ignoring your needs leads to exhaustion and anger. How many times have you put the needs of others ahead of your own?  No, that’s fine. You go ahead … I will stay with the kids… eat later… handle all the housework myself…bake for the board meeting when I can’t stand those bitches… 

There is also the belief in our society that it is selfish to take care of your own needs, to do something for yourself that goes beyond basic personal care and into the realm of pleasure. Guilt has the power to keep us stuck and unfulfilled–but only if we let it.

Whatever the reason for our lack of self-care, the good news is we have the power to change this

 

Don’t Let Your Early Experiences Define You Today

It’s overwhelming to think about making change. Awareness is where it all starts. It is never too late to change your life for the better.

Let’s start with simple ideas to begin your self-care journey. Listening to music that inspires and feeds your soul is an easy one. Music has the power to sooth, heal, and inspire. Another important factor is your environment important–is it decorated to your liking and in some kind of order? Are the people you call friends and family actually loving, fun, and supportive?

 

Asian style jacuzzi in spa room

 

Remember the last time you took a luxurious Calgon bubble bath, with a candle lit, filling the room with the scent of lavender, while your favorite jazz musician crooned in the background?  No?  I kind of guessed that would be your answer.

Deciding to take better care of yourself includes treating yourself with kindness and forethought. Acknowledge your needs and commit to fulfilling them. Consider the possibility of pursuing your dreams–only you can decide what this means. Now you can begin experiencing true joy and peace.

 

Woman doing yoga on the beach at sunset.

 

Self-validation leads to embracing our personal power. Our vision of personal identity starts taking form. The realization hits–my life is mine to create as I choose!

 

Your New Self

This self-nurturing and affirming way of being radiates out from our core and has a positive impact on our relationships. Our self-confidence expands as our needs are met.

Naturally, we assess our lifestyle and how we spend our precious time and energy. Changes start being made regarding the people we allow into our sacred space.

 

Person hiking in woods

 

Your new philosophy of self leads to a courageous and profound process of transformation. The desire to purge everything undesirable and energy-exhausting from your life now unfolds. Clearing the clutter, healthier eating and spending more time alone in nature feel so right.

Surrounding yourself with uplifting people, music, effects, and pursuits is crucial for your progress. This self-care acknowledges your worth and guides you to creating a life of passion and purpose!

 

Read my articles on Self-Care Tips and Intuitive Art for Soul Connection.

 

How do you rate yourself regarding self-care and self-love? What have you done to nurture yourself this past year? What are you going to change in the future?

Till next time, Sandra

 

Traveling is Marvelous for Self-Care!

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Aromatherapy for Mental Health

Aromatherapy for Mental Health

brown glass bottles of essential oils

Ease Your Mind With Essential Oils

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils, also known as essential oils, to establish and maintain psychological and physical well-being.  The oils are extracted from the flowers, bark, stems, leaves, or roots of a plant.

As a form of alternative medicine, aromatherapy promotes holistic health. Simply inhaling the aroma from essential oils promotes healthy brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin where they travel through the bloodstream to promote internal prosperity.

Try putting a few drops of the essential oil of your choice into a diffuser or a pot of hot water. You can also put the oil on a cotton ball or tissue and inhale the aroma. This is handy for at work or when you are driving.

How we think and feel is impacted by many factors in our environment. The odors in our environment are one of these factors.

 

a lavender field
A Lavender Field

Our Sense of Smell is Quite Complex

The ability to smell comes from olfactory sensory neurons located just inside the nose. Research shows our sense of smell outperforms all of our other senses in regards to the number of physical stimuli it differentiates between.  Why not use this powerful sense to improve your daily experience?

Essential oils can directly influence our holistic well-being. Many people use aromatherapy for emotional stabilization and enhanced mental functioning. It can be effective in treating depression, anxiety and insomnia. Mental clarity and focus can be improved as well.

With hundreds of essential oils available it’s a bit daunting to know which essential oil to use for what ails you. I’ve made a list of some of the best oils to use to relieve stress, enhance your mood and promote mental clarity.

 

a grapefruit and a yellow flower in the grass

Essential Oils for Emotional Relief

  • Agitation: Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Lavender, Mandarin, Sandalwood

 

  • Anxiety: Bergamot, Chamomile (Roman), Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Marjoram, Neroli, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rose, Sandalwood

 

  • Depression: Angelica, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Cypress, Geranium, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon Verbena, Orange, Patchouli, Pine, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang

 

  • Fatigue: Angelica, Basil, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Marjoram, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sandalwood

 

  • Fear: Chamomile, Hyssop, Melissa, Myrrh, Neroli, Rose, Thyme

 

  • Grief: Cypress, Frankincense, Hyssop, Juniper, Marjoram, Rose, Rosemary, Sage

 

  • Insomnia: Bergamot, Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Mandarin, Marjoram

 

  • Isolation: Chamomile (Roman), Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Rose

 

  • Memory Stimulators: Basil, Bay Leaf, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage

 

  • Self-Esteem: Bergamot, Cypress, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Orange, Rosemary

 

  • Stress Relief:  Angelica, Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Patchouli, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang

 

Pink roses on a bush

 

Read our article on Self-Love for Well-Being

 

Safety Tips

Always use oils blended with a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba or olive oil, to name a few). Essential oils are highly concentrated and can burn your skin or create an intense allergic reaction. Never apply oil directly to your skin.

When using aromatherapy less is more! Using more than the recommended amount can actually cause the opposite of the desired effect. For example, Lavender is used to promote sleep–but stimulation can occur if too much is used.

Disclaimer 

This aromatherapy information is intended solely for educational purposes. It is not the intention of the editor to advise on health care. These statements have not been assessed by the FDA. It is not the intention of the editor to advise on health care. Please see a medical professional about health concerns you have.

 

Read 10 Tips for 10 Self-Care Tips to Start Practicing Today

Have you tried essential oils for treating emotional issues or to help you focus? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

Peace & Love, Sandra

 

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