Taking a break

I’m going to be taking a break of at least a week across all my blogs. I want to prioritise self-care, get back to centre, and be present for all of the changes going on. I’m needing time to recouperate, re-balance, reconnect, reflect and reassess on a number of different levels. To do so I need to withdraw from a lot of external output so I can go within.

The reassessing will also extend to my various blogs. As I’m shifting, growing and changing my ideas and feelings about my blogs are doing the same. I’m not the same person I was 18 months, a year or even a month ago, and I need to reflect on that and see how I can translate it into my online presence and content.

I will be back, but until then: take care of yourselves, remember you have a right to self-care, and you are allowed to change, evolve and move into new things.

Michelle
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Self-care & Wellbeing Purchases – Agave plant & photo frame

I’m going to start sharing some of the things I have brought/ bring in to my life that contribute to my self-care and self-love practice, as well as my overall wellbeing.

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For me plants are part of my self-care. I love watching how they grow and develop seasonally and year after year. Taking care of them reminds me to take care of myself too. I bought this little Agave at a local May fair, and found the pot a couple of days later in the local branch of Tiger Store.

The colours tie in just right with my Kwan Yin card (from Lindy Lawler), which I’ve had for some time. The card itself was getting all bent out of shape from being on my window sill, so I finally bought a frame for it. I notice it even more now, and the message – “Remember you shine with the brightness of a thousand suns” – is something that particularly speaks to me. Remembering to honour our heart and our gifts is important for self-care and self-love.

(c) Michelle G, She Holds The Bowl, 2018

When you stumble on the path or lose your way

Perhaps you stumbled or took a detour. Perhaps something cut you off, or you severed the link yourself…

There are times when most people struggle on their pathway, for one reason or another. The first step is to accept that you have become separated from it, and to look into the reasons it happened.
Some events are out of your control, and there’s no way you could have predicted them, but you do have a certain measure of control in your response. After the initial reaction (emotions, fears or feelings) it’s time to take a deep breath and assess.

Once you’ve assessed you can start to make changes, address issues, or begin healing in a manner that will help to bring you back into balance.
Finding balance could mean identifying values or boundaries and living more in alignment with them. It could mean asking for specific types of help or support. It could mean organising or planning certain things. It could mean centering and finding a way to cope with anxiety or fear. It could mean getting real with yourself about how your own thoughts, actions, behaviours or issues are holding you back, and addressing them appropriately.

After this, sometimes you will also need to look at whether the path you were on is the one you need to be on now. In coming more into alignment with your Self and your real needs and desires, you may find that your pathway is to take a different route completely.

Sometimes things from your past that were pushed aside or left behind are brought back in and reappear. Perhaps you weren’t ready for them before, but now they’re coming back in as you start a new phase and have more self-awareness.

Sometimes you get knocked about by a situation and need time to regroup and heal. Then, when you’re ready, you pick yourself up and step back onto the path.

Sometimes your faith is tested completely, and you don’t even know what your pathway is anymore. You might need to wait and allow things to develop in their own time. You may be waiting for some time; or not. It may even feel painful, like a separation from yourself or o/Others*. Sooner or later things will start to reappear, but perhaps in different ways. Don’t miss out on opportunities because they’re not the specific ‘thing’ you’re looking for.

Everyone stumbles, falls or has times when the path diverges, changes or gets cut off temporarily. Don’t give up. Know that eventually a change will come about. Trust, and believe that the road or signpost will reveal itself eventually.

(c) Michelle G, She Holds The Bowl, 2018

*o/Others – family, friends, God, Deities, Spirit, the Universe, etc.

I’ve started a new project – weekly oracle card readings

I’ve used oracle cards privately for myself and a few others for around 12 years now, but I’ve had a really strong urge to do weekly readings. I pushed it away for a while, thinking, “Who am I to do something like that?” But it’s something that kept surfacing, so I finally took the plunge and started a blog for weekly oracle card readings. This week I’ve also tried another setup and picked a card for the New Moon.

If you are interested in such things and would like to take a look then head on over to The Penguin’s Tidepool. I’m still exploring this medium in terms of ‘public’ readings, but it’s really challenging my beliefs about my capabilities and putting myself ‘out there’ in new ways. It’s a whole new creative, as well as spiritual, process for me and I’m loving it.

If there’s something you keep coming back to, something you just can’t shake off, give it a go. I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore new avenues. Even if they don’t work out or things change as you progress, you tried and you gained some different experiences in the process.

Michelle
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Chronic illness: You are not your diagnosis, and you are worthy of love

This week is M.E. Awareness Week.

I write the following from the perspective of someone who has M.E., fibromyalgia, migraines and other conditions. I’ve had M.E. for around 15 years now, since I was 17. I have spent various times being bedbound and (mostly) housebound. I am currently (mostly) housebound, so I know what it’s like to have something take over your life, where it feels you have so little say in what you can do.
It can be hard to separate your view of yourself from the illnesses/ conditions, but it can be done. We are all individuals and chronic illness doesn’t change that. We might change as a result of these things but we are not our diagnosis.

Remember that you are not your illness/ diagnosis. You are a person who lives with these things, and they define aspects of how you can live your life, but they are not You.

You deserve to be loved and appreciated just like anyone else does. Just because you have a long-term health condition it doesn’t mean you are ‘lesser’ for it. You still have your own personality, your own quirks and gifts, and you are worthy of being loved.

Never underestimate who you are because of the diagnosis you have received and the condition(s) you live with. You are worthy of being loved… and you can start by learning to love yourself for who you truly are. When you do, you teach others how to love you too.

(Michelle G, She Holds The Bowl, 2018)

Shared: Love Them Anyway by Mother Theresa – Paging Mrs Zen

Shared from Paging Mrs Zen:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.

(continue reading…)

https://pagingmrszen.com/2018/04/18/anyway-mother-teresa/

The Attitude of Gratitude – Gratitude Jar

I made a Gratitude Jar recently to help me see how much there is to be grateful for in my life, and to remind me of the abundance that comes my way. Every time something good happens, every time I receive a gift, unexpected bit of money, or find something I’ve been looking for (especially of it’s for a great price), I’ll add it to my Gratitude Jar. I also add times where I feel like my prayers have been answered, help has been offered, or someone has said something or put up a post that really helped me.

I had a plain jar but wanted something a bit prettier to inspire me, so I dug out my stickers and got to work. For the little ‘Thank you’ notes I cut up pieces of thin craft card, and every time I have something to add I will pick a piece, write on the plain side what I’m grateful for, and on the coloured side I’ll write “Thank you” with a little x (kiss) as a symbol of appreciation. It’s really simple to do, doesn’t take long to set up, and is a really good visual reminder of how to make Gratitude a regular practice in your life. It’s especially useful when you’re going through a rough patch; you can look at the Gratitude Jar and remind yourself of all the good that has come in for you already, and know you will be able to add something to the Jar soon.

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(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, She Holds The Bowl, 2018

Equinox 2018 Poem

Happy Equinox, everyone. May Winter’s pall make way for Spring’s more inviting shawl.

As it looked through the haze
The Sun saw it then;
The seed was a seed no more,
But with Spring’s eyes
It had shed its disguise
And was coming at last
Into bloom.
Out at last
From Winter’s gloom.

(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, She Holds The Bowl, 2018

(Also published on my other blog)

Thirteen Themes of Self-care – Self-care core principles

When you move into deeper levels of self-care you enter deeper levels of inner healing. As my own self-care journey has progressed I have come across several important recurring themes, so I thought I’d share the following tips to help you get started with identifying your own self-care core principles.

1) Find ways to engage in relaxation – Try to find a way to factor in whatever relaxes you on a regular basis. It helps to de-stress, gives you some time to take a breather, and adds something fulfilling and nurturing to your daily, weekly or monthly routine.

2) Reduce anything that isn’t contributing to overall wellbeing – Be honest with yourself. Whether it’s what you read or watch, people who leave you feeling drained, social media, activities you don’t enjoy anymore or junk food, try to cut it down or cut it out. Doing this leaves space for new things, pursuits or people to enter your life that add more benefit to your physical, mental and emotional state.

3) Work out what your values are – By working out your values you can start to identify where you’re not living in line with them, and can find ways to factor them in. When you go against your values because of ‘shoulds’, society, peers or others it can leave you feeling unfulfilled, stifled and drained. Finding ways to live by your values, and working them into your everyday life, helps you live a life more true to who you are.

4) Work out what your boundaries are – It’s okay to set boundaries! Part of being a considerate human being is compromise but there are times when you need to set firm boundaries for your own wellbeing. Working out what your boundaries are, and what constitutes a crossed boundary, helps you to stay more centred. It also means you have more confidence opening up to others without either shutting them out or letting them walk all over you. Identifying your values can also help to work out which kinds of people or situations you may need to use firmer boundaries with.

5) Identify mindsets that downplay your need for self-care – Certain mindsets either ignore the need for self-care or persuade you to keep putting it off. Unfortunately the result is that you then get to the stage where you have little choice other than enact self-care. Here are a few examples: the people pleaser, the workaholic, ‘soldier on’, ‘stiff upper lip’, pushing it all down, the busybody, the martyr, the saint, ‘keep busy’, ‘must be productive’, or ‘time off is for losers’. There are so many ways you can end up minimising your own need to take care of yourself. Recognising the mindsets that contribute to this mean you can be more aware, and you can then bring in self-care measures before you get to the flat battery, stressed or burnout stage.

6) Identify what is holding you back – What fears, beliefs or unhealed wounds from your past make you feel you can’t do what you want to do, be who you want to be or live the life you want to live? What (or who) perpetuates doubt in yourself and your ability to manifest the life you want to lead? What negative mindsets make you believe you’re not ‘enough’? Realising these are affecting you means you can start to address the negative impact they have on your life. You can then start to make changes that are more positive and beneficial.

7) Identify signs of overwhelm, overload or struggle – Being aware of the physical, mental and emotional manifestations of when you’re struggling, feeling overwhelmed or overloaded is a big help. It means that when these signals arise you can enact self-care before they take over completely. You will become more tuned in to your own needs and wellbeing, meaning you will know when to take that step back and implement self-care while things are more manageable. It also means you’re less likely to spiral or take it out on others unnecessarily.

8) Find ways to stay grounded and centered – Doing this gives you a certain amount of emotional, mental and energetic stability. It helps you to take a moment, when you feel triggered or things are starting to feel overwhelming, and take a breather to be able to come back to a calmer, more centred part of your Self. It helps you to feel things are less out of control and allows you to make decisions about the next step without resorting to a triggered reaction that may not be the best course to take. Finding ways to come back to your centre in moments of stress, struggle, overwhelm, strong emotions or pain can help to maintain a better overall balance.

9) Learn to prioritise – You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t get an unrealistic amount of work done in an unrealistic amount of time. You can try to, but ultimately it leads you further from your own wellbeing. Factoring in others’ needs is an important part of being compassionate, but when it goes too far and you forget to also factor in enough of your own needs it leaves you with a deficit. Likewise, an unrealistic workload, to-do list or itinerary adds extra stress, can lead to feelings of inadequacy when you can’t do it all, and can become demoralising and draining. Learning to find a balance in these areas is very important, and it’s also important not to take too much on. You may be a super parent, partner or employee, and you may be super-efficient with the right workload for you, but you’re not Superman or Superwoman. Finding the right balance for you is crucial for self-care.

10) Work out what you want from life – What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? What sort of person do you want to be or become? Working out what you really want from life – beyond the superficial – can help you identify steps and ways to bring these things, or something similar, into your life. If you have worked out your values these can also help to show you what’s most important to you, and can help to make you more aware of goals or needs you haven’t recognised before. Learning about these things can help you to take the steps to implement changes in your own life, and perhaps even recognise the fact that you need to identify the steps to manifesting them in the first place. If you don’t know where you’re heading you can’t plan the journey. This helps you build up a road map to a more fulfilling life.

11) Find ways to build and maintain self-worth – This is a big one for a lot of people. It’s easy to think you have enough self-worth when things are going well, but when life throws a curve ball or you get hurt it’s common to feel low and to question or doubt whether you’re ‘enough’. Finding ways to build and maintain your own self-worth that don’t rely on outside influences or the approval of others is highly important. Doing things that make you feel good in yourself, doing things that reinforce your sense of worth in your own mind is vital. The support of others can help, but to create a more centred and lasting sense of worth you need to learn to find it within instead of searching for it outside of yourself.

12) Spend time in the right environment – We’ve all been there: the event where there’s an uncomfortable energy in the air, the meet-up or call from a friend that ends up as another moan-fest, feeling trapped in a relationship or job that ends up dragging you down… The right environment doesn’t just mean indoors or outdoors, it’s wherever you are spending your time. Whether it’s a place, situation, job or relationship, it’s an environment. Any of these are factors in your ability to self-care. Each provides a chance to be nurtured, nourished and content or, conversely, stifled, drained or discontented. Sometimes a bit of time away helps, but sometimes there’s a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out the things that aren’t nourishing, because you can try to address that relationship, or find a way to do something you love and enjoy to balance out and lessen the impact of a stifling or boring job. Whatever you do try to create a balanced environment – one that supports you – in all areas of your life.

13) Patience – All things happen in their own time, and accepting this can take away some of the stress you may feel when waiting for something. I left this one for last because change and implementing it can take time, and self-care is a journey and a process, not a destination. Be patient with yourself, your progress and the manifestation of change. Learning to let things flow and not trying to force them is self-care in action. Patience, and allowing things to happen when they happen, is a vital element of self-care.

I hope you’ve found these useful. I will add that I’m still very much on this journey myself, but having these as a reminder can be very helpful when we don’t know where to start, how to continue, or even when we’ve fallen off the self-care path temporarily.

(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, She Holds The Bowl, 2018