Friday, September 1, 2017

A Few Things...8.30.2017

A few things that have been making my days, lately:

*Having the time, motivation and mental "space" this time of year to start a new art project

Making a linocut for block printing on fabric. If it turns out, the fabric will become wristlets/pouches to be sold at the Kristkindl Market  at Blumenhof Winery this December.

* The Anthony Robbins documentary "I Am Not Your Guru". I had to watch this after I heard about it because I give Anthony Robbins credit for my desire and motivation to go to college at the age of 30, after I had my three kids. It sounds cheesy, I know, but I was struggling with "what I wanted to be when I grew up" and bought this set of cassette tapes to take with me on one of our vacations, hoping for some direction. It's been so long now, I can't really remember the specifics, but off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure his message had to do with "you ARE smart enough and good enough", "set some goals" and "don't quit". I am happy to say that it worked. Anyway, the documentary also had some cheesy moments (lots of crying at his seminars), but the take-away from the movie was enough to make me immediately (and I mean, immediately) get into the car, drive to Barnes and Noble and buy his book 'Awaken the Giant Within'. I'm expecting similar, miraculous results as I make my "what I want to be when I retire" plan. I'll keep you posted ;)

*The series "Glow". M. and I were not expecting to like this, but it is really great entertainment that doesn't take itself too seriously (I mean, come on, it is based on women's wrestling in the 80's!). Plus, it has a few of our faves from Mad Men on it ;) Check it out!

* Anything I can get my hands on that is  written by Dr. Kristen Shepherd. I follow her on social media and it seems as though every post is, somehow, relevant to my life.  For example, her Facebook post on 8.29.17.  Her message- forgive yourself, forgive other people, let go of the past. Seems like a simple concept, right? But, really, it's so complicated. I've been working on this for two years and the day before her post was a really rough day. But, after reading those words, I noticed that my mood lightened a bit. I kept replaying her words in my head all day- and on the way home from work, for the first time in two years, my mind was open to forgiving. Not completely, yet. Just a little sliver. And not to the point that I want some people back in my life. But, a kind of softening or openness. It's hard to describe. But I could tell that my mental load had lightened a bit. The next day was the best day I've had in a long time.

*Making and using a gratitude jar. Monday was such a bad day that the only thing I had to write down for my gratitude jar was "I got four quarters in change after putting a dollar into the vending machine for a Rice Krispie Treat". Although that is a pretty good thing (!), I probably wouldn't have thought any more about it if I hadn't written it on the paper and dropped it in the jar that night. Now, I will probably remember that little bit of gratitude for a long time.(Although, I had to really talk myself out of feeling guilty about not paying for the Rice Krispie Treat ;0) Gratitude- even for the small things, is a good thing.

My gratitude jar. I'm happy to say that it has a lot more contributions now.
*And this (pic below). Yes, I got another tattoo. I've had it for a few months now, but, for some reason, people are asking me about it a lot lately. I usually just keep it short and say "I just wanted something pretty on my arm". But, really, there is much more to it. You see, as you probably know, I've had a rotten couple of years. This tattoo is a reminder that I made it through the crap even stronger than before and that there is always a chance for a new beginning. And through it all, M.'s words to me were always "Be Graceful". So I used his handwriting for those words and chose a lotus flower (it grows through mud to be strong and beautiful) with a stem that is the Celtic symbol for "New Beginning". So, this, along with words from my kids on my other arm, just make me feel good when I look at them. So, so worth it :)

I now have full conversation on my arms: Be Good, Be Graceful, Be Still, Be Strong and Be Happy. I think I'm done for a while ;)

So, those are my feel-good tips, as of late. I hope they help someone out there who may be reading this. Have a GREAT Labor Day weekend!  Juli

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sharing, 8.2.17

I thought a little sharing would be a good way to start the day, today- a couple of beautiful online shops, a short book and some inspirational words. Enjoy!

The shops:

Storm Club: My step-daughter, Laura, opened her Etsy shop! She makes amazing, porcelain ceramic and sterling silver jewelry. Each piece is unique- designed and crafted by Laura (who studied ceramic sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute) in her Brooklyn studio. Check out Storm Club here.

Photo above is taken from the Storm Club shop and shows the Ophelia necklace. So pretty!.
This is not the greatest photo (because I took it!), but shows one of the pieces I've been wearing a lot lately (along with earrings that match!). This  photo does not do her work justice at all. So, really- go to the shop! Her work is beautiful
Soul Mantras: I've ordered several pieces from this shop and shared them on Instagram a couple of times. Liz's shop contains healing crystal and hand-stamped, personalized, jewelry and trinkets There is something special about receiving something from Soul Mantras- the packaging, the handwritten notes, inspirational cards and stickers, etc. make you feel like the owner personally knows you. I highly recommend it! Find the shop here.

The book:

Boundaries and Protection by Pixie Lighthorse

I finished this book in just a few hours and ended up with many bookmarked pages. So good! It was just what I needed to read this summer, as I have lots of extra thinking time on my hands. A quote from the back cover is a perfect way to describe it:

"To be able to change the world we need to learn how to get along better with each other. This beautiful much-needed book is a good place to start." - Susannah Conway

Everyone needs boundaries and everyone needs protection, right? This book offers the guidance you need to gracefully ensure that you set boundaries for and protect yourself while respecting the boundaries of others and their need for protection. Check it out and/or purchase here.

And the words:

Native Spirit Oracle Cards and Guidebook:

I've been using oracle or divination cards as part of my daily practice/morning routine for about six months now. I know they seem a little "woo woo" to some people, but I try to keep an open mind about it. I truly and wholeheartedly believe in intuition, but I also know that sometimes you are tuned into your intuition and other times it just isn't happening. On the days where I truly need answers and I pull a card that seems to provide the exact answer that I need, I choose to believe that intuition, energy, spirit, etc. played a part in it. Other days, when the cards provide a more generic message or one that just doesn't seem to be as significant to me, I still believe that it's something I may need to consider and keep in mind throughout the day. Plus- the illustrations are awesome! Find them here.

So many of these cards have resonated with me, but this is the most recent one. "Wounded Healer". From the guidebook by Denise Linn, an abbreviated version of the explanation:
Healing energy and vitality are flowing though you and to you. Whatever needs healing in your life is being resolved. Your so-called faults are becoming your virtues. No matter what happened in your past- it doesn't equal the future. The cracks are where the light enters the soul. Your strength lies in the difficulties you've overcome.

And, finally:
The Yoga of Awakening: Chakra Flow

Seane Corn has become a staple for me lately, as she includes prayers throughout each of her yoga sequences. Yesterday, this is the prayer offered near the end of the sequence:

"Invite into the space anyone you have a resentment towards. See not their face or story, but see their soul. Remember that they, too, are here to learn what love is; that they, too, are dealing with limited beliefs, trauma and fear; that they are also learning and growing- but in God's time- not in yours. See these beings as your teacher, as a spiritual guide, here to shift your consciousness through experience. You came together to do interesting spiritual work- whether or not they realize this is between them and God. Your lesson, your opportunity, is to transcend. You can't change what is, but you can evolve your understanding and grow. Cut the chains that have bound you in resentment, forgive and give them back to spirit. Imagine all of the resentment in your body draining out of your hands and into the earth beneath you. Release the judgement for self and others. Release all of the anger and shame. Let it go. "- Seane Corn

I know! Right?! Oh, my. So good. Find her website here. Even if you aren't into yoga, I think you'll benefit from checking out the website and reading (or listening to) her words.

I'll leave you with that one, as I'm gearing up for the Art of Education online conference today. I'm looking forward to getting back into work mode. Have a great day!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tibetan Healing, 7.25.17

July 2- 7, 2017. No blow dryer. No makeup (well, okay, I used mascara!) No air conditioning. No solid walls. At times, no electric. Geckos everywhere. Frogs. Wild pigs. Not one familiar person. How does that sound?

If you know me, and you read that, you would assume that I had a horrible time, right? No. Just the opposite. This trip was just what I needed- to step outside of my comfort zone and relax into things that make me uncomfortable. It sounds cliche' and a bit exaggerated to say it was a life changing week- but I'm saying it anyway. Along with above-mentioned items, there was also extraordinary vegan food; the most thoughtful, enlightened and kind people; deep and engaging conversations; daily lessons in Buddhism; yoga and meditation three times a day; and even though there was a routine and schedule every day (which I thrive on), there was also free time to explore the Big Island (which is meditation in itself).

The retreat was held at the  Kirpal Meditation and Ecological Center in Pahoa, Hawaii. Obviously, it is not a hotel, so it is not for everyone (but as soon as I hit "publish" here, I'm going over to their site to give them 5 stars). They have an awesome staff who were very conscientious and attentive to every need we had (even my annoying food sensitivities) and prepared three awesome, vegan meals each day- with 4 courses each night, for dinner. Clean, minimal, open-air cabins and a meditation pavilion are set on ten acres (surrounded by black sand beaches) where they grow much of their own fruits and vegetables. Every structure is open-air (yes, even the restrooms!) and solar-powered and water is harvested, filtered rainwater. The views were incredible, as the grounds were very thoughtfully landscaped and cared for and surrounded by rainforest. So cool.

As I researched a variety of retreats, I kept passing on this one because one of the reviews mentioned an excessive number of frogs on the property. (Long story- but since age 4 or 5, after a nightmare about bullfrogs, I've had an intense dislike and fear of frogs!) But, something about this place kept pulling me back to it. Finally, a little voice told me that there must be a reason for it and that stepping out of my concrete-loving, frog-avoiding, comfort zone was probably the reason. I'm so thankful that I listened to that voice!

So, other than being in awe of the beauty and laid-back vibe of Hawaii, what did I learn? Too much for one post, but here are just a few things:

*Friends and kindred spirits can be found anywhere. These people. Oh, my. There was just something so different about every single one of them. Not once did I hear any complaining, gossiping, criticizing or judging (not even the one time when politics came up). They were all so peaceful, content and thoughtful. We had extended conversations about things like prayer, how to make the world a better and more loving place and what we would change about ourselves to be better, more loving people. Oh, my. I loved it. And even though they were all experienced world travelers, they made me feel like a valued and important part of every conversation. They all knew that I am pretty new to this healing journey and that Hawaii was actually the farthest I had ever traveled;  but they also knew that I have in fact, lived a life, and definitely had something to contribute to the group. The level of unconditional acceptance and belonging was something I had never experienced before.

* I can do hard, uncomfortable things. It might not sound like much, but being dropped off at the airport, alone, to navigate through four unfamiliar airports, going to an unfamiliar place with no familiar people, was scary to me. Now that I've done it, I feel empowered! And I'm already planning the next trip :)

*Lu Jong
Even though I've had a regular yoga practice for eight years and have been serious about meditation for the last year, I had never heard of Lu Jong, which is basically a combination of both. It is an ancient Tibetan practice, used to heal your body and mind by opening blocked channels of energy. Each day, we studied each movement at length, along with various lessons in Tibetan Buddhism. The best way to convey the way it makes you feel is to pull a quote directly from the Lu Jong website : "And as one practices Lu Jong, love develops – love for the practice, for those that gave us the practice and for the way the practice makes us feel!" Perfect.

*Being outside, surrounded by nature, actually feels good! I'm sure the beauty that is Hawaii helped, but coming from someone who is chronically deficient in Vitamin D due to lack of sunlight, that is a surprising realization! When I got home, it actually felt weird to be indoors for any length of time after, basically, being outside for 6 straight days and nights.

 This trip was truly a turning point for me. To summarize the lessons learned, though, I would have to say that this trip, again, was a reminder to me that "crisis is a gift". This came up several times during our Buddhism discussions and is a lesson that seems to be following me around this year. Really, though, if it wasn't for the previous, crisis-filled years, I know that I would never have had or taken advantage of this awesome opportunity and experience.

A couple of "shout-outs" to end this post. First, to Farrah Garan- our teacher. Seriously, such a special, caring, patient, loving and happy person. Have you ever been around someone so positive that you feel better just standing next to them? Well, that was Farrah. Seriously, one of the best teachers I have ever had (and I've had a lot!). Inspiring to say the very least.

And finally, to Little Man. This trip was actually his Mother's Day gift to me. I know, right?! You guys, this kid is special, I'm telling you. He is the most introspective, caring, loving and intuitive almost-22-year-old you will ever meet. He loves his momma, for sure, and knew I needed some major spirit-lifting. And, my-oh-my, my spirit has been lifted. I love you, Colbey Ray.

My job now is to pay it forward, learn more and extend everything about the magic of that week into every day of my life. I can't wait!

I hope you are having the best week! Until next time :)


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Complicated Grief and Silver Linings, 6.9.17

Grief. It is a crazy part of life. I'm fortunate that I haven't experienced grief on quite the level of many other people out there. But the types of grief I have the most experience with are complicated and have their own unique set of challenges. I've been reading about grief, lately, and this list, explaining the different types of grief, has been very helpful. Disenfranchised grief was the first one to present itself in my life, with the loss of Ruben J. (You can read about that grief here and here). When death occurs after several years of divorce, I think most people just assume that you aren't, or shouldn't be, negatively affected at all. But that's not the case. It took me a lot longer to work through that grief , I think, because I felt like I couldn't (or shouldn't) openly show people how much the loss affected me.

That was over five years ago. More recently, ambiguous grief (grieving the loss of someone who is still alive) and secondary loss have reared their ugly heads. Even though this recent grief is not the result of old age, physical illness or accident, the end result is the same. Loss. Huge loss. But what seems even harder to take is that it was/is a completely senseless and avoidable tragedy, involving many people, spanning many years and caused by a combination of some very ugly vices, with each party involved claiming a unique 'variety-pack' of them as their own. This disgustingly messy scenario  has led to the loss of a very significant person in my life and, as collateral damage, several others. It is overwhelming, to say the very least, and the hardest thing I have ever been through.

What makes any kind of "complicated" grief so hard is that closure is elusive, if not impossible. I have been anticipating the "end" (either good or bad) for quite some time now. So, after a long period of tears, frustration, worry, guilt, anger, anxiety, sleepless nights, apologies, rejected apologies, counseling, distance, space, awkward conversations, anticipation, etc., I had a decision to make. Should I let go or continue to be dragged? And I decided that, for the sake of my healthy relationships, my mental health and my self-respect, I had to let go. I felt guilty to be relieved. But, I was. I am. One day, after some time and distance, maybe the scenario will improve. But my life will not be put on hold, holding out for that hope. If it never happens, I have to be okay with that, too.

Because of my position in this situation, I've thought that letting go is not an option. But now I know that being dragged is no longer an option.

Looking back on the past several years, I realize that I've pretty much gone through the five stages of grief several times and have, again, ended up at acceptance. And now...I'm trying to go a step further and recognize the positives that can come from grief or loss of any kind. Once you get to a certain point, you can clearly see all of the very good things, good experiences and good people you still have. Things may be different, but that doesn't mean they are bad.  Hopefully, if you are going through a similar situation, knowing that may, at the very least, brighten your day a little and offer some hope for brighter days to come.

I have learned, through crisis and grief...

* You gain new perspective. There is nothing like a crisis to make you see certain, basic things in a whole new light. Lately, in my case, I've gained a newfound appreciation for the simple concepts of trust and truth and how they are a sacred and essential part of any relationship. Without them, what is the point of  anything, really? Lack of either one will only lead to something negative.
I've also realized the power of words. The power of kind words. The power of unkind words. And that, sometimes, using no words is best. This one was/is hard for me. If you know me, you know that patience is not one of my virtues ;)

*You  realize who provides your strongest support system. Through a crisis, you realize who can  really, truly put their own agenda aside to just be there- to listen and to understand. As a result, some people become your foundation, your rocks, and others fall away. Through this crisis, I've developed a newfound appreciation for people I once took for granted and a newfound appreciation for, and bond with, the people in my very solid, albeit small, circle-of-trust.

*You are forced to dig deep to develop a way to cope that works for you. I've read that people who have a strong spiritual practice are able to deal with crisis more effectively. So, through counseling, listening, reading and contemplating, I've developed a very grounding, new-to-me, spiritual practice. One that is very unique to me, makes sense to me and one that I have needed and have been looking for my entire life. That practice is now something I look forward to every day.

You learn to focus on the future. You always need something to look forward to. If for no other reason, as my husband says, it keeps you from looking back on the past. Ironically, I'm now pulling from my past to plan for my future, as I've had a renewed interest in psychology. In an effort to understand what has happened over the past several years, I've spent many nights looking back on my old college papers written on psychological theories and disorders and many nights spent "diagnosing" with the DSM 5. This has led to serious consideration of  a second (retirement) career in a therapy-based field. Using yoga, meditation and art as therapy has saved my sanity and if I can use this experience to help even one other person get to the other side of a crisis in one piece, that would be amazing.

*You develop grit. Just like with physical exercise (stressing your muscles to make them stronger), going through emotional stress can make you mentally stronger. Through this crisis, I have found strength that I never knew I had.  Was I aware of this developing strength? Heck, no. Because some days were so bad that I was just focused on getting through to the next day. But all of the above-mentioned items have taught me how to cope with the sad, the angry and the frustrating moments. Considering that I have been, as M. put it, "grieving and being pushed to my limits at the same time", for a considerable period of time, I realize that I am now doing very well. Do I still have bad days and moments of weakness? You bet. But the difference is, they don't last long because I am aware enough to recognize that it was just a bad day or a weak moment. It doesn't mean I'm a bad person. It doesn't mean I'm a weak person. It just means that I am human.

*You realize you only have control over yourself. You can only control how you react, what you say and what you do and that there is no way to control how other people react, what other people say, what other people do or what other people believe. You just have to do your best, speak your truth and speak the truth and keep moving forward.

So, my message here- there is always a silver lining. You just need to look for that little speck of light. Eventually, as you get through another day, that light reveals itself even more and suddenly, you realize that the good days are far outweighing the bad days. Remember, as Glennon Doyle Melton says here , "Crisis is a gift". So, "Carry on, Warrior."

Have a great day and remember- something wonderful is about to happen, right?!


P.S. If you are dealing with loss in your life, please check out Option B. It has recently become a wonderful resource for me.


Friday, May 5, 2017

On Prayers and Words, 5.5.17

Writing a blog post not long after coming out of general anesthesia is probably not a good idea, so forgive me if this makes no sense at all! But, I suddenly felt like writing. Go figure. I considered a "Lately" post, but I'm still at a loss for really considerate, thoughtful, helpful or  meaningful words. As I've said here before, I have so much to say that I can't really narrow anything down. So, I'm continuing to work through the "stuff" in my head by making things with my hands and letting the art do the telling. Yay! for art therapy, right?!

Teach me...( guide me, lead me, inspire me, show me, tell me). Original, multi-media collage painting. Acrylic paint and paper on canvas board. 16" x 20"

First up, a prayer painting. I have no idea where this came from, because if you know me, you know that the word "prayer" is not one that I am inclined to use. But, prayer has been on my mind, as I feel like that is what I've been doing a lot of lately. But not in the typical, religious or religion-specific sense of the word- just asking for guidance, reassurance, etc. from a kind of energy I feel around me sometimes. So, I pray (my way) pretty much every morning and every evening. It's something I've added to my daily routine, beginning with my Field Guide Deck  (which you can order and read more about here). Each day, the chosen card gives me something to focus on and think about at the beginning of day and it gives me something to reflect on at the end of the day. I love using them and can't recommend them highly enough. I'm looking into purchasing another deck soon, so if you have a suggestion, leave a comment for me! (I'll blog about how I use these cards in a later post.)

So, as part of this new routine, one morning, I actually saw a new painting in my mind. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like, including the composition, colors, shapes, forms, etc. It just came to me, out of the blue,  as I wasn't even considering a new painting at the time. Very new experience for me, for sure, because I usually struggle with new ideas, especially very clear ideas, for paintings. But, as a result, this one felt like it just fell out of me and onto this canvas. Pretty cool feeling.

Altered tins- step 2- collaged paper and paint.

And, my "Secrets" series of reclaimed/upcycled, altered tins has begun taking shape, thanks to a very unexpected week off due to "flood" days at our school. This project has been on my mind for a long time and I'm glad to finally be starting it. I have a lot of ideas for the embroidered "Secrets" inside the tins, but I'm starting with words from my husband that I have felt compelled to write down over the years. I am so lucky to share my life with someone who has such a kind, gentle and calm way about him and who is so knowledgeable and confident with words and doesn't hesitate, in the least, to use them. (One huge lesson I have learned lately is how important and powerful words are, in either a hurtful or helpful way.) His words have given me more confidence, reassurance and support than I ever thought I would have in my life.  I know this sounds sappy and I've probably said it here before, but he is, truly, one of the greatest gifts of my life.

So, the first few pieces in this series, is, in a way, a reflection, of sorts, about how lucky I am to hear sentiments like this on a regular basis, but also as a way to give other people a chance to give these words to someone without having to actually say them out loud. Because, let's face it, some of us just aren't very good at that, right?

Altered tins- step 3- words and more paint. Then a gel medium finish coat.

Embroidered, reclaimed fabric for the inside.

Tin #3 is a work-in-progress today- so no photos yet. Also, I'm in the process of researching ways to secure the fiber pieces inside the tins. Once I find a something suitable, I'll be listing them in my Etsy shop- hopefully very soon! 

I have to end this with a huge "Congratulations!" to my 21-year-old baby boy- who has officially gone from Little Man to Working Man. He accepted a job offer, in his chosen field, just five days after he graduated from college. I am one very proud momma, that's for sure! Way to go, Colb!

Hoping there aren't too many post-anesthesia typos and/or incoherent thoughts here. Thanks for reading, either way. And have a great weekend! Juli

Friday, March 10, 2017

Word Roundup, 3.10.17

Hello! It has been a while, hasn't it?! I've had so much to say. And, then, I've had nothing to say. I read this  as I was pondering saying a lot, a little, or nothing at all. So, I think, for a while, I'll let my art tell the story, as I've realized that words have been steadily creeping in.
Therapeutic words.
Sometimes a single word.
Sometimes a short poem.
Sometimes a phrase or movie quote. 
Sometimes I paint the words.
Sometimes I cut and paste the words.
Sometimes I stamp or sew the words.

Elizabeth Gilbert quotes, "...standing in your own truth and walking in you own path".

"The ordinary arts we practice every day, at home, are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."- Thomas Moore

"Be grateful for the sanctuary within you..."-Elena Brower

"Life is very heavy to me and it is so light to you."- Unbearable Lightness of Being

Be Still. Be Steady. Be True.

"Let's never come here again, because it would never be as much fun."- Lost in Translation

"I like to think about the life of wine.How it's a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it's an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I'd opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your '61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline. And it tastes so fucking good."- Sideways 


Believe in You.

Home. Peace of mind. Fresh start. Wild wonder. This is real. Believe.

These words tell a story. And there are more chapters to come.  Have a great weekend!  Juli

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Loving-Kindness and Painting Meditations, 1.28.17

I've written about meditation before here in this space, but I've delved into it a little more deeply over the past few months, so I thought I'd share a couple of those ideas in this post.

This first one has made a huge difference for me lately. Several months ago, I began seeing a Life Balance counselor who taught me, what she called, a Loving-Kindness Meditation. It's simple to do, doesn't take much time and really does make you feel more loving and more kind. If you are having negative feelings toward any one, or about anything in particular (and I know most of can relate to that, especially this past week!), I highly suggest trying it.   Here's how it works:

First, find a nice, quiet spot with space just to sit cross-legged (or as Peanut says "criss-cross applesauce") on the floor. This is really all you need, but sometimes I like to be more ceremonial about it and light a candle and turn on some kind of meditative music. I prefer to do this in the morning, so I can feel like I started my day off on a positive note, but the time of day doesn't really matter.

Okay, first, imagine what loving kindness looks like to you- visually. Picture it in whatever way feels right to you. For me, it felt right to imagine a huge cocoon of love and light. Now, reflect on yourself being wrapped up in all of the love and light that you can imagine., inside of that cocoon. Stay with that thought for a bit.

Next, think of someone (or a group of people) who is extremely deserving of your loving kindness and picture yourself wrapping that same love and light around them.

Next,  imagine that same thing for every person in the world. I know it's kind of hard to imagine the entire world at once, but to make this easier, I pictured the Coke commercial from the 70's. ;)  (Link is below, if you are too young to remember it or you don't watch Mad Men!). But you can imagine it in any way that seems fitting to you.

After you reflect on the world being wrapped in love and light, finally, imagine sending and wrapping that same loving kindness cocoon around the person (or group of people) you believe is least deserving of it.  Simply imagining that you are wrapping someone you have issues with, in light and love, tends to soften those hard feelings and makes it easier to let go of some of the negativity surrounding them or the difficult situation.

I have done this almost every, single morning for the past several months. While it hasn't changed my current, difficult situation, it has certainly made me feel more loving and more kind to all of the people I share my life with on a daily basis. It has made me more aware of how my words and actions affect other people and how their words and actions affect me. And I am no longer willing to accept negativity being brought into my life and I won't be the cause of negativity in someone else's life. Needless to say, positive thinking is pretty powerful, right?!

The second meditation is not your typical idea of "meditation", but lately, I've been inspired by these addictive, meditative instagram videos and this post on the Cozy Things blog.  It seemed like a different, more creative approach to those adult coloring books that are so trendy right now.  So I broke out my painting box and have been keeping it next to the couch, along with some small canvas boards and scraps of watercolor paper,  so it will be easy to finish a quick painting in the amount of time it takes to watch a movie, wait for the meatloaf to bake, listen to a podcast, etc.  Sometimes I'll use a photo reference, sometimes it's just an abstract, watercolor and Sharpie piece- completely unplanned, unstructured and stress free with no expectations of the outcome.

My painting box (a gift from my step-daughter several years ago) has become one of my favorite things.

Abstract watercolor and Sharpie

Watercolor pencils and Sharpie

Bird. Acrylic paint on 5 x 7 canvas board. Two days after I posted this painting on Facebook, I read this, again on Cozy Things.  Funny! We both must have had birds on our minds that weekend.

I hope this helps someone out there deal with the stress, anger and anxiety that seems to be so prevalent lately. And, I hope you are at least trying to have a great, stress-free, weekend!  Juli