Embracing Self-Love and Boundaries

I love all of me: My huge feet, my eclectic style, my writing, my playlists, my sometimes shitty artwork, the books I read, the books I keep saying I’ll read, my chapstick, my sometimes-too-often-ice cream, my current healthy eating, my coffee, my tea, my flu symptoms that encouraged me to write, my scarf I never wear accept when I’m playing dress up in front of the mirror, my lovely new daydream mug (score!) that I found for a $1 at Goodwill, and all my change that-is-oh-so-precious-because-I’m-oh-so-damn-broke. I almost through one of my cats in but he wouldn’t stay still and I don’t exactly love either of them right now…tolerate, that’s a much better word for them.

Self-love  vs  Self-absorbed 

Self-love is not the same as¬†self-absorbed. Self-love changes the inner dialogue from “I’m such an idiot” to “ok, it would probably be wise¬†not to do that again, but live and learn”. It’s about changing¬†negative self talk to¬†counseling yourself with the utmost care and respect. No one can ever be your best friend more than you are, no one will ever know your whole story better than you do¬†and no one will ever pick you up like you can. So, loving yourself is not about me, me, me or¬†degrading yourself to accomplish goals, it’s about treating yourself with compassion, and learning to love who you are so that you can give that love away to others. You cannot love anyone else wholeheartedly until you have mastered loving yourself, especially when you screw up.

How you motivate and counsel yourself will be how you motivate and counsel those you love.

Boundaries with yourself

Sometimes we need to light a fire under ourselves, like those of us are procrastinators. Ahem. Personally I need to Drill Sergeant myself sometimes. That is not a license¬†to bully ourselves. It’s never good to tell ourselves we are bad people, unless you are, but even then the true bad ones-like sociopaths- don’t exactly have negative self talk, they’re pretty grandiose…So, where was I? Oh, boundaries… Set a boundary with yourself to begin recognizing negative self talk rather than allowing it to run amok. Most of our¬†emotions, including an amygdala hijack, can be traced back to thoughts and beliefs we are telling ourselves so it’s healthy to become self aware.

Boundaries with co-workers or roomates

Everyone desperately needs boundaries and we do ourselves a disservice when we aren’t clear with other people about what’s okay and what isn’t. Let’s say you usually let a co-worker borrow just about anything on your desk but now they have stopped asking and go into your drawers whenever they need something. If it bothers you then this would be a moment to set a boundary. You could say “I’m¬†usually fine with you using things but I would like you to ask and not go through my drawers” politely the first time you notice it happening. If you wait and say it weeks or months later you may end up saying it in a passive aggressive way because you feel walked on. This will take some time getting used to but the more you do it the more clear your boundaries will become. It will help you to not harbor any resentment and your co-workers will respect your honesty. But it will take time if you aren’t already doing this. Be prepared for them to begin setting their own boundaries as well.

The same goes for roommates, but because it’s also where you relax¬†you may need to pick your battles more carefully. Maybe they took your clothes out of the washer to do a load of laundry and it really aggravated you. If you left it in there for a couple days, well then, that’s your bad. If, on the other hand, they did it the moment it finished it may be worth a conversation like this “I completely understand that sometimes we need to get laundry done right away,¬†would it be helpful to have designated laundry times for each of us?”.

If you don’t typically set boundaries, expect pushback.

Some people will simply never take responsibility for their behavior. That’s ok. They don’t have to. Some people will challenge you just for the sake of challenging you. Sometimes they will think your boundary is “rude”. You always get to decide what behaviors and responses are ok with you. When you set boundaries for how you want to be treated you will be happier and have very little resentment.

It’s totally NOT easy

Boundaries are difficult to set, especially when people are not used to you setting them or when YOU aren’t used to setting them. Just remember, boundaries are very healthy.

Boundaries with family and partners

We build many, many, many you have unspoken contracts with the people we care about. The most common is between partners¬†that you will be connected to someone no matter their behavior. When you voice what’s ok and what’s not ok, with LOVE and grounded confidence,¬†you will begin to decipher who really belongs in our life. You will lose friends, you will become estranged from some family members.The ones that stay will help you grow. When you set appropriate boundaries with family and significant others your message will become clear “this is how I want to be treated, this is how I will treat you back. If that’s not okay with you then I wont make space for you in my life”. You will begin to hold one another to higher standards, love bigger and forgive more often. This is the area that will flourish the most when you marry self-love with firm boundaries. Your circle will likely change, maybe a little, maybe alot. When you set boundaries through the lens of love and compassion you realize it’s ok if some people go, because you may just need to let them go in order to grow.

#AtoZChallenge: Questioning A to Z

I love asking questions, the more open-ended the better! So let‚Äôs have a little compounded alphabet fun:   Question your Asssumptions.  Allow for Alternate realities to the ones you Assume. Question your Biases.  Broaden your perspective. Question your Conclusions.  What other stories could you tell to suffer less in your Circumstances? Question Dogma.  Whom does [‚Ķ]

http://catherinechengmd.com/2016/04/21/atozchallenge-questioning-a-to-z/

The Metamorphosis of Bella and Kane

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Bella
Blue moth
Kane

“There’s no telling how it will affect you. Just know that it will.” ~unknown

An allegory about love, loss and transformation.

Bella

Bella was a beautiful young Kenna caterpillar . She was bright purple with teal spots, but beauty is subjective, and in the Kenna community, you were only beautiful if you were green. The brighter the green, the prettier. She was soft and kind, but not considered attractive.  She would see the beauty in everyone she met which made her vulnerable to hardship. She would be lied to, taken advantage of and remained naive to the games caterpillars played. Insecurities ran high with her. She wanted connection.

Kane

She found a dark, fuzzy Tomeo caterpillar that understood, for he was the same. Kane¬†left the Tomeo’s¬†because that’s what they all did, but he still yearned for connection. He was wiser to the world, being solitary he had to learn who to trust more carefully. A bird may try to lure you to its nest, a spider to its web, another caterpillar may be poisonous if you touch them. He knew the latter all too well because the tips of his hairs were poisonous to some species if he was startled. He became her best friend, her teacher, her mentor, her life partner. She didn’t know if she was immune to his poison but since Kane was always calm with her it didn’t seem to matter.

Their Shared Cocoon

They built a cocoon, ever so carefully. It took longer than others because they¬†were building it for both of them. It was strong and flexible, safe and comforting. Through the building of both their cocoon and their friendship, she learned to be more careful, more selective. Both metaphorically with who she trusted and in the building materials, because it would need to hold both their weight. Kane’s coat was soft and he now had more control over the poison on it, being able to protect them both from predators. He learned to see more beauty and have more faith that good things could happen.

When it was finished, they crawled inside, excited to soon fly together. For the next two weeks, their bodies liquified in order to take on its new shape. They would still become what they were meant to be but they would take on parts of each other since they were transforming in the same cocoon. Typically, they would have done this independently, but¬†Bella didn’t know how to build one and Kane was afraid of predators in order to gather supplies. They needed each other. They were connected.

The Transformation

They emerged a month later. It took longer since both of them transformed together. There was more for mother nature to sort through in order for everything to be as she planned. The correct wings had to be placed with Kane and correct coloring with Bella, for this, was pre-determined.

Bella became a beautiful magenta butterfly, built for basking on bright flowers in the sunshine. She felt confident in her new self and eagerly awaited Kane. Kane emerged dark and fuzzy with blue iridescence…but…he was moth, built to flutter through the darkness of nightfall. Their hearts sank. They knew it meant their lives were headed in different directions. They tried to learn to fly together anyway, but either way, one was left wanting. Kane began flying at night and Bella bathed in sunlight while mustering up the courage to practice more. She was afraid to practice without Kane. In the following days Kane found a female moth that could show him the ropes and Bella knew it was time to find other butterflies that could do the same for her. The sinking feeling was back and heavy like an anchor.

Mother Earth 

As Bella cried from¬†the treetops for Kane she heard Mother Earth whisper gently from the willow tree “my sweet girl, all is right in your plan. I know you miss your friend, but you have different destinies. You will find another that enjoys the sun as much as you.”

For a moment, Bella felt the folds of Mother Earth’s great nurturing power soothe her pain. She breathed in the crisp mountain air. The relief was short lived.

“But Mother! Why couldn’t you make us the same! Since we took on parts of each other, why aren’t we both half moth and half butterfly??” she cried. “My dear, you were made as you were meant to be.¬†Kane’s transformation gave you safety and healed your insecurities. Your transformation gave him optimism. Courage is now a part of your genetics. Only now can you truly fly.”

She cried instead. She didn’t want to fly without Kane. What if she fell and got hurt? What if no one accepted her, just like before? What if she was alone forever? The questions were endless. The tears were big. Then she slipped off a branch and had to flap her wings or come face to face with the forest floor.

So fly she did. On her own, because she had to. She felt the courage Mother Earth spoke of, traveling through her veins like the warmth of a mothers love. With the wind carrying her she began to enjoy the vantage points and everything she was able to see in the daylight. The more she flew, the less she thought of Kane and the more she was able to appreciate the lessons she had learned from him. Some days she missed his company more than other days. She missed him when she made a new friend or flew by a spot where they shared a good laugh. She knew he was always a part of her and she would always be a part of him, it was their genetics. She felt connection which gave her the confidence to be who she needed to be.

Sometimes connection to another person affects¬†us in such a profound way that we are never the same again. There will be good and bad parts. Some stay and some are meant to move on.¬†We experience it, we learn from it and we grow from it. When we allow our perception of the past to be balanced, accepting the good and bad memories, we give ourselves permission to move forward. It’s ok to be sad then happy, angry then sad, then happy again. When our connections to people shift it can be difficult to accept. Especially with love. It’s hard to let go of what was when everything seemed right. But things change. The world changes. People grow together and people grow apart. Connection is valuable. We learn many of life’s most important lessons through connection. Life is more emotionally charged because of it. Connection makes us feel alive. Connection makes us human.

Start a Revolution…In Yourself

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Personally I find self-discovery binges to be the most healthy, obsessive-compulsive binge we can embark on. Whether it’s meditation, western astrology, chinese astrology, any of the¬†ologies, spirituality, faith, therapy, crystals, personal growth books/workshops/seminars, nature, or simply conversations with friends. You name it, there’s a way for you to connect with your inner spirit,your soul. Find it. Your quality of life depends on it. Other people’s lives depend on it. One of my favorite quotes is by Ghandi:

Be the change you want to see in the world

You can’t create change, a revolution or any major shifts in consciousness without first looking within. Your friends will benefit, your family will benefit and even strangers will benefit. When your operating at your full potential, you’re genuinely happy and authentically YOU. Others will be brave enough to do the same, even if it starts with just your intimate circle. It will spread, like magic.

Here are 5 tips to find your calling:

1. Seek a mentor or many mentors

When you find healthy people to align with, people that you aspire to be like, magic will happen. Having a guide, or guides, will provide you with a stable platform of non-judgement while you sift through limiting beliefs. They will challenge you and hold you accountable. They will teach you different methods that have worked for them. They will give you new tools. They will accept you when you fall on your face, and you will, because they’ve been there. They understand.

2. Find a way to quiet your mind

Whether it’s nature, mediation, yoga, instrumental music or solitude. Find a way to cut down the chatter, both around you and in yourself. At first, your internal dialogue will be quite chatty. Don’t judge it, just let it flow through you. You may need to journal at first, to know that you can have an outlet if you need to. Eventually, try to just listen, not holding on to anything but watching the thoughts flow by like subtitles on a foreign movie. They will calm and you will be able to slowly discern which thoughts and ideas need your attention and which are fear, anxiety and judgment. This is where you have the opportunity to fully love yourself, be your own best friend and your own therapist.

3. Follow you creativity

You know those ideas that set your neurons on fire? The ones that you have to jot down or begin creating because you can feel it to your core? Listen to those. Create them. Start them. Express them. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s something mechanical. It¬†may not lead anywhere but you will feel fulfilled and accomplished for having tried it out.

4. Create a basic routine

This one can be the hardest but you can’t start a revolution without passion and commitment. Not all of us are in a position where we can leave our lives and be in a Buddhist Monastery, or Indian Ashram for a lengthy amount of time. Many of us, especially the ones in urban areas, are tight on money and have to work. We have responsibilities, families and commitments where people depend on us. With that said, a routine, where you carve out time for projects, creativity, nature, friends, conversations and solitude is essential. Make time for the things that feed your soul, things that rejuvenate your spirit and connection with your inner light. Those things are different for all of us-some its time with friends, for others is silence and solitude. It does’t matter what it is. Just make time for it.

5. Understand your brain and body

When you understand your brain and body you will learn your limitations and in what ways you can push yourself.¬†What type of learner are you? Do you see words in your mind or pictures? Are you better thinking on your feet or working with a specific plan? Is your work and life setup for you to succeed? For instance, if you are a business owner and find daily paperwork falling behind¬†while you work with clients,¬†then hiring a manager for office work would be essential for you. If you always get lost on your way somewhere, then you need a GPS. Maybe you used to do yoga and you keep telling yourself you are going to do it everyday. Then you don’t. Don’t judge yourself, just set realistic expectations. Start with doing it 1x/week at a studio, where you are more likely to be held accountable. Learn how you work without judgement and with full acceptance. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone but also be aware of your limits.¬†We all work differently. Once you know how you learn and what your strengths and weaknesses are¬†then you can set reasonable, achievable goals that fit YOU. Goals that fit YOUR brain and YOUR body. Not what society tells you they should be.

What does your revolution look like? What feeds your soul? How do connect with yourself? How are you affecting others? What do you WANT your revolution to look like?

Personal Growth or Just “A Growth”?

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So I’ve been fixated lately on “understanding it all”. There are boatloads of benefits that come with this tenacious curiosity…mixed with a lack of adequate sleep, poor prioritization and being late to work. I’m so very grateful that my boss enjoys this personal journey as much as I do. She’s quite forgiving that I have been late all this week because I’ve been obsessed with processing my emotions and my life while still needing to work my second job and follow through on my homework assignments for school.

The Burning Questions

Something upsetting happens and you begin to ask, “what does it mean? Where am I meant to be? What’s the right path? Have you gone from feeling out-of-sync to “in-tune” with your soul so much that things keep happening to validate your own curiosity? A friend reads you something random that you end up randomly reading the next day. A conversation with one person primes you to handle a conversation with someone else shortly thereafter? A burning question that is seemingly unanswerable gets answered through someone else’s scenario which¬†is exactly the same? Everything seems to be tying into everything else? Am I making any sense?

Unexpected Answers

I’ve been meditating often lately, asking questions, searching for answers and letting go of expectations. The other day a friend insisted reading me a page out of A Return to Love,¬†a book about compassion and love unburdened by the ego (as much as thats possible anyway). It resonated with me so much that I immediately bought it. I felt a bit guilty that I didn’t finish another book, recommended by a different friend, so hurriedly completed that one while I waited for this one to arrive. When I received it, I opened a random page just to see what I picked. As I began reading I realized…I was reading exactly the same page my friend felt the urge to share with me. The one page that made me want to buy it! I was hooked. Feeling accomplished that I finished the other book recommended to me, I called that friend and told her about the new one. As I was backpedaling a bit, due to her silence, and thinking I sounded like a crazy hippie lunatic, she reassured me that it was a bizarre coincidence. She asked “did you look into the page numbers and see if they mean anything?”. GASP! She was still with me! And curious! Ok, this never seems to happen! So, the natural next step was to thoroughly engulf myself in Numerology…mind you I do have a TON of homework to do with an exam coming up. Which means I’m interested in anything BUT math right now. None of these recent scenarios are really answers and yet I feel like I’m be guided smoothly towards them, well, except for the homework part.

Doubt & Validation

I though to myself, maybe I’m going too far. Maybe I’m questioning things too much. Maybe this is unhealthy because it’s distracting me from my laundry, my homework, my clock…Then someone else brought up a conversation about spirituality and another person spoke of¬†“higher vibrations” and our “higher selves”. I feel things shifting. I feel a power beyond myself, validating my thoughts and allowing me to let go of old stories and limiting beliefs. I’m bathing in hope, inspiration, creativity, beauty and connectedness. Examining my own nature no longer feels like a growth inside me that makes me overanalyze everything but personal growth that is allowing me to bask in this journey of self exploration with others that find it just as valuable and essential. I am so eternally grateful.

Revel in the beauty that is uniquely you

Enjoy every conversation and every interaction

Listen with eagerness and engage with enthusiasm

Let your inner light guide you without judgement or expectations

Trust your intuition

Live passionately