Make Art

This past weekend was a rough one for both myself and my anxiety. It was father’s day in the US, and honestly my anxiety was at an all time high on a personal level.  In addition to this the news of what is happening with the DHS at the Southern Border of the United States. The treatment of families and children at the border is abhorrent and paralyzing. I personally have contacted my representatives pleading with them to get rid of the doctrine that is causing all of this. After this it is hard to know how to devote my time.  After being left in this paralyzing fear what is left for me to do?

I must create.  After all of the good and necessary deeds I have taken as a citizen all I can do it share my thoughts on how to express myself in the world. All there is left for me to do is to write, to paint, to play music, and to continue teaching my students. I can volunteer. I can contact my representatives and voice my concern. I can register to vote but no matter what I must push on with my life. So should you. It does not help people to just wallow in the horror. There has to be a way to push.

The past year of recovery for me has been rough since my anxieties have paralyzed me at times. Now I am working on using the same anxieties to push me forward for action. In the darkest of times art is the truest savior. Even if it feels a little frivolous at times you must continue to push forward. Ideas have power behind them and expressing them are what makes the world special. Despite the pain leave the world a more beautiful place than you left it.

Part of the art I do is painting on seashells and I still think that it is important. I believe it to be a noble craft of creating something. At the moment I am working on a novel, I knit, paint seashells and keep this blog updated. What are the projects you are working on? Is there anything you like to keep updated. Please comment below as I would love to see what this community has in store!

Until Next Time,
Dawn

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Finding the Balance in Life

With each new week I am one of the few people who get up early on a monday. On Mondays I conquer the world and feel like I am finally starting to incorporate new habits. I have a long list of to-do items that I get done, eat healthy, and even meditate. On Tuesday however I seem to wake up groggy and  break the rules that I assined myself for “my new productive life” that I started only a day ago. I am lost and unable to find myself to do anything. This is where countless hours are spent in bed, on my phone, and completely gone from finding my way in life.

Setting the intentions for a new week is great at the beginning of a work week is great! However it is also difficult to get many of items on the “to-do” list crossed off. As the week trudges on it is  significantly harder to accomplish the goals you set for that week. For me this manifests with the messiness of my apartment, my eating habits, my exercise routine, and the amount of creative projects I would like to create. Make that most aspects of my life maybe expect for keeping in contact with friends and family.

The key to fighting this trend of being extremely productive for the first half of the week and a lazy bum for the rest has been to find a balance. No matter what life wants to balance itself out, so why not do it yourself! Believe it or not you can lead a mostly healthy lifestyle that fits salads and donuts, running and netflix, meditating and instagram! The key is more having a balance and not punishing yourself for indulgences. During the week I try to do a good job of eating healthy, getting work done, and I have even started running again now that the weather is nice. But on Thursdays my work schedule is crazy busy and I am exhausted. So on Thursdays I like to treat myself to an ice cream sundae from the ice cream place near me and an early bedtime while watching Netflix. I utilize it as a day of rest. I still live a mostly healthy life style bus as a human I allow myself time to rest.

When trying to better ourselves most of us love to do it in an overhaul. But the best way to find balance is to accomplish tasks little by little. I know for myself and the way my anxiety manifests if something is put off for a long time it will only eat me from the inside out. I get freaked out by how much of a mess my apartment is. So I have taken to try to clean along the way while I am making a mess. It is not the perfect solution but so far it has worked and brought my anxiety down.

 

As humans we need both time to work and time to rest. It is important to schedule both in order to find a balance. As someone who lives with anxiety this is a bit hard since often I used to feel terrible about taking time to relax since I would have so much work to do. But now I actually make sure I take time for myself and relish in my downtime. During my work days I have a 40 minute break between classes. Before I used to work through it, pace my classroom, and try to think of new lesson plans. Nowadays I actually use it to sit down at my desk, sip on a cup of coffee, and rest for at least half of that time. This small break truly helps me reset so I can give an energetic lesson at the end of the day.

Something that often gets overlooked even though it is extremely important is that it takes time for true results to show themselves. One of the big life things I have been trying to accomplish is being a bit of a neater person. I am nowhere near being a neatfreak but in general my cleanliness habits have gotten better. For months I felt like I was not making any progress then I saw my therapist I realized how far I had come.

The main things to take away are

  1. Allow time for rest and work
  2. Accomplish tasks little by little
  3. Results may come slowly but they will come

Thank you for reading. I will have another post up soon about trying to find a balance after a major life change such as graduation, mental breakdown, or through a time of grief. In addition I will be posting a special post tomorrow in honor of mother’s day.

Much Love,

Dawn

Meditating with Piglet

Beginning my practice of Meditation

 

Ding” the Tibetan singing bowl rings through my phone to start the ten minute meditation. I bring my attention to my breath. “breathe in. I know that I am breathing in. Breathe out I know that I am breathing out.” I say to myself repeating the simple mindfulness chant that I read from Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here. As air leaves my body at the peak of the exhalation so do my thoughts desperately running away from the present moment. My brain runs to my peers who began their adult life with fantastic jobs and are well adjusted to society. I take another breath and I start to think about Piglet

My mind wanders far away from me to the Hundred Acre Wood. Piglet and Eyeore were always my favorites which may make some sense since I have an anxiety disorder with recurring depressive episodes. Piglet was always the sweetest, always quiet and helpful like I hoped to be in the eyes of my friends. He seriously just wants to help and be there for his friends!  That is so wonderful. I love Piglet. I try to return to my breath grounding myself to the present moment. I open my eyes and glance down at the meditation timer on my phone there are approximately four minutes left. For nearly half of my meditation I have not focused on my feelings, my body, or myself at all but Piglet.

At the recommendation of my therapist, the media, and just about every smart successful person ever I have started meditating every single day. The goal is to take at least five to ten minutes a day to quiet my thoughts focusing on the present moment. This seems like it should be reasonable as well as an easy goal to achieve. However as mentioned in the paragraphs above it proves to be a challenge. There are even days in which I spend fifteen minutes trying to convince myself to be mindful for five! My goal is to be mindful for at least five minutes per day why is it so hard? “Piglet’s Big Movie” is about fifteen times that so I almost have no excuse. The truth is that any Meditation is hard. I personally use Insight Timer as an aid to my own practice of meditation. I have it set onto 5 minutes and after two weeks of practicing every day I give myself a pat on the back if I was truly mindful for one whole minute. Three minutes? Well then I deserve some chocolate cake. Being mindful is a skill. It takes practice. It is normal for your mind to wander, we are used to the noise.

For a few years I did not think that meditation was for me. I find myself squirming around unable to focus on my breath. I did not like many of the guided meditations I found. So I decided that meditation wasn’t for me since I clearly wasn’t good at it. I was wrong. There are other ways to be mindful and meditate than just sitting down listening to a recording about lavender. You can do a walking meditation, being mindful while sipping coffee, or even a shower. Meditation can be for everyone it just takes a bit to find the right fit. I am still not a fan of the popular “5 4 3 2 1” meditation exercise but I know many who love it. What does work for me is taking five to ten minutes in the morning to relax myself. I also love finding ways to be mindful while practicing music and coloring in an adult coloring book. Many guided meditations take you places like a lavender field I seem to prefer the Hundred Acre Wood. That’s perfectly ok!

In the two weeks that I have been meditating I have noticed a difference. My mornings do not feel as hectic even if I am carving out a bit more time to quiet my mind. I do not feel the need to check my phone as often, although I am still quite addicted. I also find myself being more productive. I put more thought and energy into projects. That’s only a difference of actually being mindful for two minutes, even though it is supposed to be ten. Of course meditation is not a cure all for everything but it does help!

Your brain is a wanderer and that is ok. Like anything it does take practice to meditate. If porgs start to fly in while you are meditating then that means you are human and a fan of star wars! Great but at least try to find at least one moment where you are grounded aware of where your body is in space and where your breath is. Perhaps thinking about Piglet wasn’t the best way to spend my meditation time but at least I remembered to ground myself afterwards.

Let me know what you think of meditation? Has your brain wandered towards strange places when you have meditated? If so where? Let me know and have a great day!

Best Wishes,

Dawn