50 Things (replacing anxiety for peace)

It instantly calmed my breath.  My shoulders relaxed.  A smile crept onto my face.  My mind quieted.

I’m no expert at meditation and my discipline in the world of exercise has something to be desired but I found an instantaneous solution to my anxious mind.  50 Things.

Now there have been gratitude journals out there for years and the word gratitude is practically a catchphrase.  Here, on the porch watching the sun rise, or deep in the waters of a warm bath, or lying in bed with my mind wrought with worry, 50 Things soothes like a blanket and a glass of wine.

I have friends who are just cool.  Just easy.  I feel like a sped up record next to them.  My shop is closing up north, my new shop is opening and we pray for customers  One daughter needs to find a job, the other hopes we find success, the dishes are not done, and the puppy ate my bike helmet.  I feel them all most intensely!  But those 50 Things quiets and glides me into the day or night with peace.

 

Try it.  Whisper aloud to the Creator and your guides and ancestors 50 things that you are grateful for.  Try to make them slightly different each time.  For brightly colored marigolds, and pumpkins on the porch, for blue jays waking me at dawn, and hot coffee in a mug my friend gifted me, for each child, and their friends that love me like a mom, and for my husband, and the bumper crop of potatoes, and my visiting granddaughter and granddog, and autumn, the new shop, new beginnings, hope, geraniums….

A breath of anxiety releases and wafts through the cool morning dissolving into sunlight and a new day begins.

10 Ways to Be Happier

Happiness.  Happiness is one of those things that can elude as quickly as it comes.  Particularly now that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is settling into our bones and spirits, are there ways to assure happiness?  To establish a sort of hardly wavering inner peace?

evans

Here are some things that can be incorporated into our lives to help make happiness a more prevalent constant.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.  Write down five things each morning or night (Or by golly if it’s that bad, day and night!) that you are thankful for.  I did not think this would work but am amazed at how such a simple act can really change one’s attitude.  It will begin simple and perhaps grumbly or rather broad.  Thanks for my catThanks for my coffee.  I am thankful for my family.  But it will quickly turn into I am thankful for the soft fur of my cat against my cheek.  For the early morning sunrise and the strong cup of coffee to revive me.  For the sweet texts that I receive from so and so… There is much to be thankful for.

2. Meditate in the mornings.  Seriously, meditate for 25 seconds. Whatever.  I look out at the beautiful mountain peak with ribbons of lavender and rose iced across its tall stature and close my eyes.  I think of a word.  Light.  Peace.  Love.  Forgiveness.  I try not to venture off of that word.  Deep breaths.  It changes the whole game.  Yoga is a great practice to add to this.

3. Become self reliant.  Listen, it would have been real easy for Doug and I to fall into the depths of despair for a much longer span of time.  We could have gone on government assistance, picked up our food stamps, and done the whole woe is me for a lot longer.  But instead we became determined.  We have the ability to work and we work hard.  Doug got a job.  He was not able to get back into the well paying field he was in.  He is working for slightly more than minimum wage.  We opened the shop on faith.  After being homeless for seven months it would have been easy to lose faith.  Don’t lose faith.  And don’t lose faith in yourself!  We are buying fresh, delicious food.  We got an apartment.  We gave up a car.  We are making it work.  It would be too easy to keep up the blame game and feel sorry for ourselves.  Happiness reveals itself in self reliance.

4. Become the Queen of Swords.  Okay, this one might require a bit of explaining. I have a dear friend, a Hopi elder, a wise man, who explained to me that I am imbalanced.  When making a decision I will first consider the feelings of not just everyone around but the impact on dogs in Italy and the children of Kenya.  I will worry everything to death.  What will my decisions cause?  I then will consider my passions.  I will finally think of what is the best decision for me and then lastly money.  I need to be the Queen of Swords! he says.  I must balance my decisions.  To make a swift and sound decision that benefits myself is unheard of to me.  But important. We give until we are depleted. We must begin to make decisions based on our own needs.  If we are well and balanced everything else around us will fall in line.  It is NOT our responsibility to ensure happiness and fairness or to take care of the entire world for everyone.  It is only our responsibility to live our life fully, be kind, and take care of ourselves first so that we can care practically and fully for others.

5. Do more of what you love.  Instead of being so busy caring for others, making ends meet, doing chores, doing what we think we ought to be doing, we ought to be coloring, or painting, or gardening, or singing karaoke, or eating out, or hiking, or…. We are not guaranteed 84.5 years.  Each breath, each moment is an opportunity to do what we love.

6. Get outside.  Therapy is cheaper in nature.  Get outside, walk along Mother Nature’s trails, listen to the birds, see an eagle fly, smell a ponderosa tree while the sap is rising, watch chipmunks scatter, smell the rain coming, touch a fuzzy mullein leaf.  Know that our life’s problems are rather mundane and we are connected to all things.

7. Connect with Spirit.  Your idea of God, Creator, or Spirit is exactly right.  Your connection with Spirit is written in each of your cells.  Worship with smudge herbs and a feather, with the Bible, with a candle, with a whisper of thanks, or by picking up trash.  Be connected.  Whatever your version is.

8.  Surround yourself with folks that inspire you, who love you, who make you happy.  Just because you are related to someone does not mean you have to have them in your life.  Our people enter our lives in many ways.  Since we only have so much time to offer, spend it with those that bring you up.

9.  Spend time with an animal.  A pet can truly bring joy and peace.  We take our minds off of ourselves for a moment every time we stroke the soft fur of a purring cat or take a happy dog for a walk.

10.  Watch what you put in your body.  Its mineral and vitamin content, or lack or, it’s source, it’s way of getting to you, all make a difference.  Eating powerful food gives you power.  Our mood can be directly related to the candy bar we ate instead of the avocado.  There are also herbs that help with anxiety and more severe sadness.  Find a real herbalist to make them for you (not a health food store).  St. John’s Wort, Borage, and Lemon Balm are just a few.

These are tried and true ways to add joy to your life.  To ensure happiness.  It is easier to get back to happiness when we are wavering or side tracked once you incorporate these.  Start with just a few.  Add more on.  Do what you can but ensure that happiness becomes a part of your life.  You are worth it.

 

 

 

The Gratitude Journal and Poem a Day

 

Can an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety cure be found in a journal?  $280 to apply for an apartment.  Run down trailers for rent for $1500.  The 10,000 people coming to Colorado every month for tech jobs and weed are making us Coloradoans struggle to live here.  It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed about the next step.  Is it in another state?  Is it here?  Is a miracle around the corner?  Is…whoo!  No wonder I have been taking so much of my herbal anti-anxiety that we make in our charming shop!

I decided to start a gratitude journal.  So cliché, I thought.  What am I going to write?  I don’t have much to be grateful for.  The first few were the basics, my husband, my kids, my coffee.  But now they delve deeper.  The feel of my kitten’s fur against my cheek in the morning.  Maryjane saying, “I love you, Grammie.”  The deer outside the door.  The customers that trust me to help their family with their health.  So much to be thankful for.  I find that I am less anxious in the mornings.  I am even…happy.  The dawn seems brighter.  The coffee tastes better.

I also gave myself a challenge to write a poem every morning.  The beginning ones were sad and simple.  One paragraph, sometimes no rhyming at all.  Now they are elaborate stories or sweet inspirations.

I encourage you to purchase a beautiful journal.  Gratitude. Poetry.  Memories.  Trust me, you will be glad you did.

The Powwow

The drum beat sounded

of heartbeat and womb

the dancers took their place

Their colors swayed in grace

and pride

Their feathers told stories

as their leathered feet

rose and fell softly on Mother Earth’s breast

Singing in tones unheard

in other cultures

whirled the sound into reverie

Every drum beat my heart

every step my ancestors’ lives

every note a page in history.

 

 

 

Smudging 101, Deer Visitors, and the 10%

IMG_2282

There is a Talking Circle at my shop the first Sunday of each month.  Not really church, just a place to be with others and pray traditionally with Native influences and customs.  This last Sunday we talked about focusing our energies on the 10%.  90% of what we worry about is what the media tells us about, world issues, family issues, and many, many things that we have absolutely no control over.  As we focus more and more on the 90% we lose track of the 10% of things we can control and our gifts that we carry that can assist in this world.  Focusing on the 90% leads to anxiety and depression and helplessness.

IMG_2280

Last night I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and helplessness.  How can we possibly afford anything in the state that has the newly highest cost of living?  How can we survive?  How can we stay near our babies if we had to move?  and on and on with scenarios that may or may not exist.  I went to sleep early as slumber will renew me and oft give me answers.  I woke up renewed.

IMG_2278

Within the realms of the 10% I can choose my back up plan in case we cannot get the large farm.  I could very well be an urban homesteader while making a difference in a career.  The career that I would be best in (in my opinion) is teaching young adults.  So, I relooked at my curriculum choices for school with a renewed sense of purpose.  I will let things unfold naturally, while saving money, since I cannot see the future.  No matter how hard I try.  Meanwhile I call on strength from the Great Spirit and the Directions.  This is how to smudge (prayers and blessing).

IMG_2281

Traditionally Cherokee prayer herbs would consist of Sweet grass to renew positive energy, Sage to rid negative energy, Tobacco as an offering to the Great Spirit, and Cedar as an offering to the spirits; animal, plant, and the deceased.  In a pottery bowl (heat proof) place the herbs desired and light.  Using a feather to spread the smoke around a room, over thyself, or in the Four Directions.  Any feather will do.

We call on the spirit of the East direction for strength and hope and faith.  We give thanks to the Creator for all the things in our lives and our own life.  We thank Grandfather Sun for rising each morning and providing warmth and light. 

We call on the spirit of the South for childlike wonder and awe, for lessons, and we thank our four legged brethren for providing us with companionship, food, and clothing, and to the plants for giving of themselves for food and medicine.

We call on the spirit of the West for strength, health, and endurance.  We give thanks to our ancestors for guiding us and praying for us.

We call on the spirit of the North for calm and wisdom.  We thank the north for rain and snow, for lessons learned, and for peace and breath.

We call on the spirit of the sky (galun’lati), to the star people and Grandmother moon for protection and inspiration.

We call on the spirit of the Mother Earth (alohi)for caring for us, for her life, therefore our life as we pledge to be more careful with her.

We are thankful for the ceremonial fire as our prayers are taken upward on the smoke and carried on the winged ones’ feathers and for our connection with all around us. 

We draw the smoke over ourselves that we will have a clear heart, a love for all, and will do things in the right way. 

And as my breath and peace came forth, the beautiful deer (ahwi) came to see me.

Wishing you peace and less worries….ehmenah.