When we choose our food, we choose our health. We are what we eat.

We are what we eat. When we choose our food, we choose our health.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Let food by thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. Hippocrates

Yesterday when trying to edit the photo for my blog a comment that said I needed to reload the photo popped up. After three tries I was locked out of my Word press account. Panicking a little, although it is not life or death if a post gets out or not. I went into admin and after proving I wasn’t a robot got into my WordPress account but still couldn’t edit my photo. I chose one that was right side up and posted.

The upside is, my son showed me a better way to access and edit my photos, so even though I still have the problem with Word press I will have a better method of editing my photos. We don’t know when a problem presents itself that we may learn something from, we wouldn’t have learned without the problem.

This can happen in all areas of our life. When a heart surgeon Dr. Steven R. Gundry feels he can help more people through nutrition than surgery I’m willing to experiment with what he says and figure out if it works for me. He thought he was eating a healthy diet, running and weight training but when he tweaked his diet he got healthier. Since starting Plant-Based Whole Food (most of the time) in 2015, I am healthier.

Leaky gut is what he promises this diet will heal. Leaky gut is something I’m sure I’m dealing with. This is the reason I am tweaking my diet.

Today is the start of my daughter’s and my three day Plant Paradox kick start. Because I spent yesterday with my sister, we aren’t ready. My daughter had to leave for work by six thirty. She said she didn’t know what to take for lunch so she grabbed something from the fridge.

Certain members of the family are looking at us like “Why are we doing this”? As an experimenter of food, and perhaps now a commenter on it, it is an important part of my journey. We are what we eat, and certain foods affect us in certain ways. The Plant Paradox is a plan to help us figure out what plants may contribute to certain problems we have. By listening to our body we can nourish it and remove what is not nourishing to it. This is a continuation of the experiment with food I have been conducting for years.

When we look at the robustly healthy older adults in their eighties and nineties we wonder how they got that old, that healthy. They aren’t always people who never had a health problem. They are often people who have taken their health in hand and worked with their body instead of against it.

Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to have time for illness. Edward Stanley

Mom didn’t eat much fat because of a gall bladder problem for forty years. She watched what she ate instead of having her gall bladder removed. When she ended up with high cholesterol and my Dad didn’t, she started eating more fat.

It isn’t just luck that Mom is as healthy as she is. Part of it is how she has managed when she’s had problems. She’s eliminated foods from her diet that bother her. She has gone whole weeks on cream-of-wheat porridge while she figured out what the offending foods were. She didn’t go to the Doctor for a pill, she figured out what her problem was and fixed it. You can’t do that for everything but a lot of our lifestyle diseases are caused by what we eat, and they won’t be fixed until we change our way of eating. Everyone’s body is different, what works for one may not work for all.

Mom can’t eat canola oil, hazelnuts, or cherries. Spinach is a healthy food that can cause problems for people prone to gout. These are all healthy foods. We can be working hard at getting healthier but if the foods we are eating to make us healthier aren’t ones that agree with our body we may be going in the wrong direction.

This is not a one size fits all. Our ancestors figured a lot of stuff out so our ancestral diet will likely work for us, but often there are certain diseases accompanying certain ways of eating. Many of us are no longer of one ancestry; we may have more to figure out or less.

If we start from the premise we should be healthy, and if we aren’t there is a reason, and if we look for it we can find it, we might be on the road to health. We have a place to start. Will we live to a healthy hundred if we do this, not necessarily? If we can live till we die as healthy as possible that’s good enough for me.

Is nutrition the answer to everything, probably not? Can we make our food work for us instead of against us? Can we figure out what those foods are?

Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. Bethenny Frankel

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, health, and love.

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The Plant Paradox Quick and Easy: The 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Live Lectin-Free Paperback – Jan 8 2019


The power of groups. Tapping into group energy is more powerful than doing things on our own.

Tapping into groups is more powerful than doing things on our own. The power of groups.

Photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Let the enthusiasm and energy of the group be your fuel. Unknown

Yesterday my son, his girlfriend, my daughter and her husband ran a 10K marathon. My husband and I looked at each other a couple of days ago and said we should join too, but we didn’t.  They have another story to tell, and we do not. The energy before the start of the marathon was probably palpable. It would have been great to be there just to feel that energy.

Life is about doing, getting involved. As we sat recounting the race with them we looked at each other and said, “maybe we’ll join next year”. This was the year to do it. We’ve missed it. Who knows what will happen next year? We are driving for two hours to see my sister. Would we have been so stiff today to it? We went for a 5K walk instead.

A Toastmaster’s buddy ran this year’s Boston marathon. An accomplishment few of us will achieve. The weather was awful, she wasn’t happy with her time, but she’s glad she did it, and the people were wonderful giving support the complete length of the marathon.

We can’t do everything but what we do and what we don’t do make up our life. When it came right down to it, even though we wouldn’t mind doing it, when it came to putting our money down and committing, we passed.

It’s not a big miss; some people will damage themselves from doing it. I’ve hurt my knee in the past and it took a long time to heal. If I hurt it now would it ever be the same? A few people passed out, how embarrassing would that be?

Our stories are the choices we have made, we can’t do everything. Some things would have been interesting to do. Getting together is one of the most important things we do. We do it when we get together and laugh as we recount our exploits. When we join a group of like-minded people to learn, experience, or accomplish something.

Man’s brain may be compared to an electric battery… a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery. Napoleon Hill

We were listening to a Youtube video yesterday. The speaker was comparing social media to porn. It might be better than nothing but it isn’t the full experience of having a relationship with someone. Relationships matter, we need to be face to face, sitting over dinner, coffee, going for a walk, playing sports, or being part of a group.

We don’t do well alone. People talk about finding their tribe. Their group of like-minded people who “get them”. When Mom and Dad moved to B.C. and moved to a small town they always went to the Farmers Market every Friday. This is where the retired farmers congregated. It was a thriving Farmers Market because it was a meeting place for likeminded people who also bought some vegetables and fruits. The majority of the people who went there weren’t only looking for fresh carrots.

Groups have energy. When I was looking to rejoin Toastmasters I went to a few groups. When I went to the one I joined, it felt right. How do we create that energy? I’ve joined groups who had that energy and lost it. Could I have been part of the problem?

We might not know how to create that energy; we know it when we see it and feel it. Is there a group of like-minded people we should look into and consider joining. If we are already part of a group should we get more involved? We can tap into the power of groups, it might change our life.

Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life forever. Amy Poehler

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Small changes lead to big changes. Start small.

Start small. Small changes lead to big changes.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change. Jim Rohn

It is getting to be great walking weather when it isn’t raining. Even if it is raining it isn’t always worth canceling a hike. My son invited us for a hike a week or so ago. We said we’d go if it wasn’t raining. The day arrived wet and dreary, the other person showed up and so did we.

A few other brave souls braved the trail that day. It was very enjoyable even though it was wet. Much more enjoyable than if we had stayed home and done nothing.

Life is like that, we can get out and enjoy life, deal with the less than desirable or we can sit at home and do nothing. We are usually happiest when we get involved in life. It is easy to talk our self out of going to the gym, making plans with friends, making plans with family or even our spouse.

We start projects and then they sit there. Every time we go near them we feel bad because they aren’t complete. They always say if you want something done ask a busy person. The people who have all the time in the world don’t seem to be pushed to finish or even start things.

Do we make a mistake when we keep ourselves too busy? Is it better to live a more relaxed life? Does it depend on what we are busy doing, or how we spend our relaxed life? Are we busy going for a walk or to the gym instead of relaxing in front of the TV?

We all have twenty-four hours, no more, and no less. What we do with our twenty-four hours is ours to decide. My garden is beginning to call out to me. It needs time and attention. I see houses where nothing has been planted in twenty-five years. It seems a shame to not plant anything. When one of our neighbors moved into his new house he looked over at my garden disapprovingly, and said, “I’m a fancy Gardner.” He only lived beside us a few years, but in that time we never saw his “fancy gardening” skills. His yard was as bare the day he moved out as it was when he moved in.

He was waiting until he could do his “fancy garden”. Maybe it was time or money but because he couldn’t do it perfectly, he didn’t bother. Sometimes we just have to do what we can, because doing something is better than doing nothing.

It is surprising what we can accomplish if we apply ourselves to projects with small bits of time. An hour here, an hour there and we have a painting, a novel, a fit body, a painted house, a garden. We lament we don’t have time, but we have the same amount of time as the people who accomplish things we only dream of.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. C.S. Lewis

They go to school and get degrees, raise children, volunteer, go to the gym, grow their own vegetables, build things, renovate their house, and read books. Obviously, it’s how we use our twenty-four hours.

We can say to our self, “If I’d started sooner”, but there are people who start any number of things late in life. There is now, this is all there is, what we start now will grow and develop and in twenty-five years might become something. We think we should have saved for retirement earlier. We should have bought stock in any number of companies, earlier. We should have developed that idea earlier. We should have planted that tree earlier. We should have watched what we ate and gone to the gym earlier.

What’s stopping us from embracing what we know we should have done earlier, now? We feel overwhelmed by choice. We are pulled in so many directions we have a hard time choosing.

As I sit here I wonder could I go for a walk or the gym every day. My mind is telling me no, no, no, that’s too much of a commitment. It is easy to talk ourselves out of doing things. I’m going to settle for the commitment of walking more. That is doable. I can deal with making a commitment to be better, but trying to be perfect makes us not bother to do anything.

Is there some change we want to see in our lives? Can we start small? Can we develop it into a habit?

Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Instead, focus on making one small change at a time. Over time, those small changes will add up to big transformation. Don’t give up. Unknown

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Habits: The Power of Habits – Creating Habits For Success to Change Your Life Paperback – Nov 28 2016

5 out of 5 stars   3 reviews from Amazon.com |

Knowledge is power. A food journal helps us determine what foods work for us and what foods work against us.

A food journal helps us determine what foods work for us and what foods work against us. Knowledge is power.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn

If we have nagging health problems we need to become detectives. I have been a health detective for years. One of my tools is a food journal. After going plant-based with the Starch Solution I relaxed my food journal entries but didn’t stop them entirely.

As I get ready to start the Plant Paradox Plan the food journal is coming back into play. If you are like me and sometimes a nagging problem presents itself it is hard to go back mentally over the last few days and examine every morsel that entered my mouth.

With a food journal, it’s easy. What is so great about the food journal is over time if you note every time that problem presents itself you can see if there is anything you ate every time it happens.

If our immune system in on extra high alert it means our immune system attacks when something is similar to what it is defending us against. This is why it sometimes attacks our own tissue. When we get our immune system back on normal patrol, we will still want to know if something we eat ramps it up to high alert.

If we believe that health is our natural state, and illness, pain, congestion, headaches, migraines, unexplained weight gain or loss, poor sleep, acne, psoriasis, or any other of the health problems we are sometimes afflicted with are not our normal state. Then we need to figure out how to get our body back into its normal state.

It may seem like a big leap to think small things like plant lectins could be the cause of all our problems. Small things become big things. Everything starts somewhere, what if Dr. Gundry’s Plant Paradox has some answers, even if not all the answers, is it not worth trying?

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Margaret Thatcher

This is what I am thinking. My daughter is looking over the list of Yes and No foods and thinking what is she going to eat? The strictest part is a three-day kick start, followed by a six-week phase two. After that is where it gets tricky. Some people will be able to bring back some or all of the foods with lectins in them in small or large quantities depending on how their body reacts. Other people will find their symptoms return if they eat certain foods.

If we keep a food journal it will help determine which of the foods bother us. There are ways to cook certain foods with lectins to mitigate lectins. When we pressure cook beans and legumes lectins are rendered safe to eat for most of us. Everyone will have to be their own lectin control board. Some of us may find white bread we make our self may be okay, others may find commercial bread okay, some may find bakery bread okay but only from some bakeries. Others will be able to eat any bread and baked good they like.

We may find we have one offending item and every time we treat our self to it, we develop symptoms. Knowledge is power. It is our choice to try something new. It is our choice to see if improving our gut health improves our life.

What if when we change our diet to what we think is healthier, and most of it is, but we might incorporate a problem food or two that causes us problems.

What we may be sensitive to may be one of the things we love most or something we hardly eat. It may be the newest health food that promises to be the answer to our health problem but instead creates one.

Our body is unique, what works for some of us, will not work for all of us. We need to beware of cookie-cutter solutions. Our ancestors came from different places, ate different things, our immune system may be on high or low alert.

Knowledge is power, and if we keep track of what we eat, how we feel when we eat certain things or eliminate certain things we can determine how to make ourselves healthier. We need to quit looking for only one answer. Everyone may have part of the answer and we have to put it all together to be as healthy as we can be.

One of the worst things we do is believe all we can do is live in misery. It may be the truth that some things we just have to live with. We also might have a lot more power to change things than we think, and what if it starts with what we put on our plate? Can a food journal become your best friend?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tzu

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The Plant Paradox Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes to Help You Lose Weight, Heal Your Gut, and Live Lectin-Free Hardcover – Apr 10 2018

 


Healthy gut, healthy body. We build our health with our spoon and fork. We are what we eat.

We are what we eat. We build our health with our spoon and fork. Healthy gut, healthy body.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A healthy gut is a happy brain. Did you know? 90% of serotonin (mood stabilizer) is made in your digestive tract. Unknown

How many of us think we are just the way we are, in control of our thoughts, cravings, what we eat, and when? Our body is just the way it is because of genes, and getting older has to come with aches, pains, and disease. What if a lot of what we think isn’t true? According to Dr. Steven R. Gundry author of The Plant Paradox, we are a condominium for all the bacteria that resides within us. These bacteria can live in harmony or it can be like the Wild West in our gut.

Dr. Gundry’s analogy is we are at the lake singing camp-fire-songs. All is right in our world and our condominium until the gang members move in. Our immune system is now on alert, the trouble is it gets on such high alert that it attacks everything, even our own healthy tissue. This causes inflammation, which causes a lot of pain and suffering.

It is the gut bacteria we feed that multiply and they don’t all eat the same things. We need to be careful about our food selection so the gut bacteria that keep us healthy are the ones we feed. He also says that the right gut bacteria can renovate our body and promote health.

Some people have such serious illness that in order for them to recover a fecal transfer from a healthy person is required. This person is usually a family member. In one of his talks on YouTube, he talked about a woman with a serious infection that was given a fecal transfer from a family member. She was a runner. Within one year not only did she recover but she gained thirty pounds. The family member she got the fecal transfer from was thirty pounds overweight. The gut bacteria she received called out to be fed and by feeding them she gained thirty pounds.

Quite literally, your gut is the epicenter of your mental and physical health. If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health. Kris Carr

Plants make us healthy, but plants also have developed ways to protect themselves. They don’t want to be eaten; they developed lectins that affect us and other animals. These lectins cause a lot of problems for many of us. He believes that with the high fiber movement we quit preparing foods the way our ancestors had developed to deal with the lectins. The lectins are found primarily in the husks, peel, and seeds of plants. When we eat white rice, white flour, peel our tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, etc we remove some or most of the lectins. Pressure cooking is another way to deactivate lectins in food.

My daughter came across Dr. Gundry on YouTube and leaky gut is something I am familiar with. When I went plant-based following Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution I believe my health improved and I lost weight over three years. My health still isn’t quite what I think it should be. Dr. Gundry says he thought he was doing everything right, hardly ate junk food, jogged, lifted weights, but was still overweight. He lost seventy pounds following his program and gave up his heart surgery practice because he believes he can do more good promoting health through nutrition, than trying to fix people through surgery.

I picked up his book last night and will implement many of his suggestions. If it is any consolation knowing we will have to give up foods we love he does recommend, chocolate, berries, nuts (not peanuts which are legumes), olive oil, avocadoes, goat, sheep, and water buffalo cheese. He also recommends ghee (clarified butter), which I have never bought but it will be on my shopping list today.

We are what we eat, and who we feed in our condominium. I’d rather sing campfire songs than have warfare in my gut. Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” We are all our own experiment when it comes to food and creating better health for ourselves. Can this be the tweak to create our healthiest self, for our best life?

What we’ve come to understand is that the set point, the balance point of inflammation in the body is really dictated by one fundamental issue, and that is the permeability of the leakiness of the gut lining. David Perlmutter MD

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Wealth and scarcity. Having more isn’t always the answer. What we do with what we have is.

Having more isn't always the answer. What we do with what we have is. Wealth and scarcity.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. Buddha

What does it take to consider ourselves wealthy? Is wealth just money? According to Dr. Jim Muncy author of One Door Two Locks, wealth is having what we need to fulfill our purpose in life.

If we go with this definition then adding things to our lives that don’t help us achieve our purpose is not necessarily a step in the right direction. Everything we add takes a chunk out of our life. When we go to the gym that’s a chunk of time we can’t spend somewhere else. Belonging to community groups, taking roles in the Church, starting a side hustle, hobbies, time spent with family, friends, watching TV, going to sports events everything takes time away from something else. Owning a larger home, a second and third property, these take chunks of time to maintain.

I’ve watched parents spend so much time coaching a sport after their child no longer plays it that their child appeared deprived of the time they needed with their parent. The parent was so busy being the volunteer of the year they didn’t see how much their child needed them.

It is easy to be so busy helping others we deprive our families of what should be theirs. The other day a pastor was talking about how his marriage was falling apart because he was looking after the Church flock but his wife felt neglected and last on his list. The members of the Church always needed him, and he was always there. When his wife needed him he wasn’t. Even when he set aside time for his wife the members of the Church would need a ride somewhere and they were going that way so the date or weekend they planned had a parishioner in it. The Pastor’s wife never complained because she was a Pastor’s wife. His wife signed up for a shared ministry but she was on the sidelines.

Jim Muncy says wealth comes from having what we need and not being distracted by what we don’t need. Poverty comes in two forms. There is a poverty of scarcity, which happens when we don’t have what we need. There is also a poverty of bondage when we are tied to things we don’t need.

True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and of the mind. Kevin Gates

There is a book I picked up in Indigo one day and I can’t remember the title. The author was talking about abundance and scarcity in relation to hornets and honey bees. When you look at the hornets’ nest they have an abundance of materials to make their nest out of so they are not elegant. The premise of the book is how we live more elegant lives with less, and cluttered wasteful lives with more.

We live in a wasteful society because we have an abundance. When we didn’t have abundance people did more with less. If we watch documentaries of the Victorian Age everything was used. Even bones were sold after they had been used in every way within the household.

There’s a blog called The Zero-Waste Chef she asks how can colonizing another planet that cannot support life be easier than mitigating a crisis on a planet that can and does support life?

It is an abundance that is causing most of our modern problems. It is abundance creating the plastic garbage disaster in our oceans. It is the abundance of food around our waistlines causing most of our health problems. Our healthcare costs are skyrocketing because we are killing ourselves with our knife and fork.

What would it take to consider ourselves truly wealthy?

Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. . . . Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. ” — Robert F. Kennedy

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One Door, Two Locks: The 7 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Success in All Areas of Your Life Paperback – 2009

5 out of 5 stars   3 reviews from Amazon.com |

Food is the stuff of life. Who are we depending on for our next meal?

Who are we depending on for our next meal? Food is the stuff of life.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Maimonides

If you ate today, thank a farmer. If you are able to accomplish anything in life you need sustenance and our food comes from land or sea.

Only a few countries in the world produce enough food to feed their population. 16 percent of the world’s population today depends on food produced somewhere other than in their own country. In 2050 that number is expected to jump to 50 percent.

Canada is one of the countries listed as being food self-sufficient. We should be very careful to keep it this way. If we can’t grow enough food for our own people, we are no longer in control of our own destiny.

One of the things growing up on a farm teaches us is the carrying load of land. There is a limit to how many cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, or chickens that can be raised on a finite piece of land. It isn’t different for people or countries.

We haven’t done that well with famines in the past; will we do better with a much larger population?

Just like they tell us in an airplane we must put our own oxygen mask on first. When it comes to food self-sufficiency every country should be figuring out how they can feed their people if no other country has a surplus to sell to them.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Alfred Austin

A victory garden is a vegetable garden, especially a home garden, planted to increase food production during a war. These victory gardens were started in World War 1. In 1917 Charles Lathrap Pack created the National War Garden Commission to encourage women at home to grow and preserve their own food. Crops in commercial production would then be available for troops and allies overseas.

Posters with sayings such as “Sow the Seeds of Victory” promoted this idea. Instructions were given on how to garden, from sowing seeds to harvesting and preserving crops, as well as saving seed for the following year.

There is a resurgence of victory gardens based on self-reliance, sustainability, healthy eating, and ecosystem support. It gives families food security. It also protects against the effects of multinational seed conglomerates gobbling up small seed companies in an attempt to control the world’s food supply. The “Victory” in modern victory gardens is freedom from the conventional food system. It is taking charge even to a small degree of what we eat. It is about making a difference in our own lives, being the change we want to see in the world, and giving up feelings of helplessness by doing something meaningful, something positive, something productive, and something important.

We can wring our hands and worry, or we can be proactive and make a difference. Is it possible that everywhere in the world people can do some small thing to make life better? Does better everywhere start with plants? Can every country improve its potential for food self-sufficiency?

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. Michael Pollen

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Self-expression. Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey.

Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey. Express yourself.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Without self-expression, life lacks spontaneity and joy. Without service to others, it lacks meaning and purpose. Laurence G. Boldt

The joy of self-expression is the true joy in life. It is when we express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas as beautifully as we can that we find true joy in life. When we feel, see and experience the expressions of nature and other people we feel a connection to others, the greater world and even to ourselves.

How great it is to go for a walk and see the first flowers of spring. The sunshine, the spring flowers, a blue sky with fluffy clouds, the first shoots of green grass, the chirping of the birds. Regardless of what is going on in our life this expression of new life, of a new season gives us a sense and feeling of joy.

When we express our self we explore who we are. We examine our thoughts, beliefs, goals, dreams, ideologies, fears. Through self-expression, we may find out what is most important to us, our purpose.

It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. Humming, singing to our self, doodling is all self-expression. It isn’t important if our self-expression is shared with the world. It is important that we do it.

We may hesitate to put our self forward as an artist, but when one looks at the works that are put forward there seems to be room for everyone. A painting may look like a mess but when we notice the title “Feelings” we realize they captured the subject perfectly.

We hear journaling, art, music, and dance is recommended as therapy because they are forms of self-expression. They help us get what we are feeling on the inside, outside of us.

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is. Jackson Pollock

The first thing we all worry about is, are we doing it right, instead of worrying are we doing it at all. We judge and second guess our self, we are our worst critic.

We can get into trouble if we express ourselves in inappropriate ways. Just yesterday I was shown a video of a young woman expressing herself outside of her house with nothing on her bottom half, the police were called. She looked full of joy but obviously was having an episode of some kind.

They say the second regret of the dying is they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Even on a bad day, we have so much to be grateful for, so much to enjoy, yet we sometimes wallow in self-pity, misery, and despair. Even if life isn’t always what we make it, it is probably how we see it. We hear people in the depths of despair finding the positive in the life of their son or daughter no longer with them.

We can be happy, we were fortunate to have had someone in our life, even if they are no longer with us. Had they not been in our life, we wouldn’t have this hurt, but we wouldn’t have the joy they brought us either.

Often people who have been to the depths of despair have much to teach us. They have a depth and understanding of life that comes from facing the worst, rebuilding their life, going forward from the darkness into the light.

Many people find a way to express themselves after a tragedy, they find it healing. It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. There are many ways to express our unique self; they aren’t just singing, dancing, writing and art. Can we sing, dance, hum, doodle, paint, knit, quilt, play an instrument, write, do public speaking, photography, fashion, coding, plan a special event, build something, bake or cook, journal, make a comic book, write poetry, quizzes, create games or anything else we can think of? Just do it!  Can we express ourselves and make our self and the world better?

A labor of love is exalted because it provides joy and self-expression to those who perform it. Dennis Kimbro

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude and love.

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Painting Abstracts: Ideas, Projects and Techniques Paperback – Nov 1 2008


Set new goals, and dream new dreams. Explore your creative side.

Explore your creative side. Dream new dreams, and set new goals.

Your creative work will tell your story. Pamela Slim

Yesterday watching a makeover show a woman was talking about letting out her inner self. We can call it our inner diva, Goddess, artist, entrepreneur, poet, comedian, or spiritualist. Whatever part of our self has been put on hold or not yet developed while we did the important job of looking after home and hearth, husbands and children. We can be in the workforce and not have this hidden self-developed, maybe because we are in the workforce. He or she is longing to come forth, sometimes we don’t know what is missing in our life and this is what is missing, the part of our self that isn’t being expressed.

We think it is a simple thing to get a new hairdo and makeup. It might be best if we can do the two together but it is so easy now to get a new hairstyle and many makeup places will do full makeup for a reasonable cost.

When my daughter was getting married everyone encouraged me to get highlights. I was making do with a little box of hair color from the drug store and doing it myself. What he has done with my hair is so much better than what I was doing, so I’ve kept it up. When we find the right hair stylist they make us feel more like our self.

Men may decide to change their facial hair, grow a beard, mustache, or shave off the beard or mustache, or even shave their head. A new look isn’t only for women.

When a makeup artist shows us what a difference a little makeup can make and how to apply it, our life can change. We look at our self differently; we get a spring in our step. They highlight our best features and play down the ones we least like.

That little change can begin to show up in the rest of our life as well. We may realize it is time to bring something into our lives that didn’t fit in when our life was so full of child rearing.

What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit. John Updike

We can take ourselves out for creative exploration dates. Visit art galleries, art shops, spoken word venues, comedy clubs, maybe a choir is looking for members, we could visit local churches to join a choir, or maybe a local band is looking for musicians or singers. Check out our local Toastmasters, the library book club, take a class in something that has always interested us, attend a seminar, come out to a local club, visitors are usually welcome. We can join the local arts group.

At the writer’s group, we are mostly people who built a life doing something else. Becoming a better public speaker increases our confidence, and gives us the courage to explore other areas of our lives. When we find our voice we find our self. That may be our singing voice, artistic voice, whatever avenue we explore changes us in some way. Taking a dance class, or Zumba at the local gym can change our body image. We get over being self-conscious as we gain confidence and love the way we feel when we move our body.

This is a journey no one can do for us. We have to take it for our self. We have to accept we will not be good at anything new in the beginning, once we silence our inner critic we can enjoy the process. It doesn’t matter where we start if something doesn’t seem like a fit we can look at something else. There are so many ways to be creative, so many ways to express our self.

It may be clichéd but shouldn’t we all be on a journey of self-discovery? This is our life. Can we find what feeds our soul? Find what is the contribution we are to make, the one that leaves everyone poorer, especially our self if we don’t make it.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, learn, experience, or understand? Is the time to do it now?

The world needs your art. Go forth, and create it. Brian Gardner

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The hero’s journey and the dark night of the soul.

Butterfly signifying the hero's journey and the dark night of the soul.

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The cave you most fear to enter contains the greatest treasure. Joseph Campbell

It’s always darkest before the dawn. We feel like giving up. Our work doesn’t seem to be noticed. We feel unappreciated, we feel we can’t do anything right, our best still isn’t good enough. Our strength and confidence wane. Starting over seems easier than plowing through. It wouldn’t take much to quit.

We’ve all reached this point at some time. Some of us have spent quite a bit of time here. Some of us have quit, and we had to work hard to get going at whatever again. If we quit we can be like starting a diesel engine in the cold. If we keep going we feel like even though we are still going forward it’s probably pointless.

These times can be our “dark night of the soul.” This is different than depression. Saint John of the Cross wrote, “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he’s traveling on, then he must close his eyes and travel in the dark. Dark nights of the soul are not strictly religious experiences although they can be that. We may feel betrayed or forsaken and have no solid or stable ground to stand on.

Somehow we need to reconcile ourselves with whatever dream or fantasy we had about life that is no longer or was never true. Maybe we have become disillusioned by someone, something, a career choice, a life path; we actually reached a pinnacle or milestone and found it less than we thought it would be. We may be coming to grips with our mortality, our shortcomings or shortcomings of someone we love.

The truth it seems is before great things happen there is destruction. We need to somehow make peace that even though things are not what we thought they were, it’s okay. We are growing and changing. We need to make peace with the fact we are not in control, it may be better or worse, but it will be different.

People rebuild their lives, marriages, families, relationships, homes, businesses, communities, and countries all the time. When it is our turn we feel we’d like to pass this round. We were comfortable; can’t we just go back to bed and wake up to our old life?

Our dark night of the soul may seem insignificant compared to what other people are going through. Many people may think that’s hardly anything at all, do you know what I went through? Comparisons are odious. Our reality is our reality, our challenge is our challenge, and what shakes our life to the core may hardly cause a ripple in someone else’s life. We may look at what brings them to their knees and wonder, what, over that?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. Khalil Gibran

They say a dark night of the soul leaves a lasting impact on us. We are changed completely. When we exit a dark night of the soul we will discover that something was taken from us (for the better) our mistaken beliefs, our mistaken perceptions,  or our mistaken view on things.

The dark night of the soul is the Herald, the omen of change, our call to adventure. We are on the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell describes the hero’s journey. “A hero ventures forth from the world of the common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

The steps on the hero’s journey are:

Separation

We experience a call to action. Something shakes up our ordinary world, divorce, illness, the birth of a child, the death of a parent or someone close to us. Some form of crisis or suffering forces us from the comfort of our complacency. Our journey begins. If we refuse this call to adventure our life stagnates. For those who accept the call to adventure, life will never be the same again.

We may meet a mentor who guides us. We may pick up the right book, or watch the right video, or listen to the right podcast. We cross the threshold into unfamiliar territory. There is no going back. We are leaving behind who we were and opening up to what is waiting.

Initiation

We are joined by more allies, or we acquire new skills or develop an aspect of our self we’ve had on hold or previously ignored. We face the monsters. We are tested. This is the dark night of the soul. We must acknowledge our worst fears and use all of our skills and wisdom to overcome the challenge. We may be victorious, or we may not be.

Return

We have survived the initiation, but our journey is not over. We must take what we have learned and integrate it into our lives. We cross the threshold, we are different, we are more aware, and we have something to offer those around us. Maybe what we bring back is the knowledge of how to get through the obstacles and challenges. We may be called to teach others the skills we have learned. We resume our life in its new upgraded form.

We faced inner or outer demons, the feeling we can never be enough, that we must constantly strive to do and achieve to be worthy, we find our authentic self. We learn to listen to our self, our intuition, and our body. We find community among other seekers, and we feel reborn, healed and whole.

There are those who may take umbrage with the fact that many myths and stories of the hero’s journey are about men. The man goes out into the world, kills the monster, frees the maiden, comes back a hero and the maiden is his reward.

We don’t have to belittle the male journey and exalt the female journey. There are journeys for all of us, the whole point of this is we didn’t want this journey, we were forced into it. The take away is we were forced on a journey, we learned things we didn’t know, survived, thrived even, and now our life is better, stronger, different, and we are better, stronger, and different.

Do we all have a ‘dark night of the soul’? Have you gone through one? What were the rewards, lessons, and changes it brought to your life?

The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One or another, a guide must come to say, “Look, you’re in sleepy land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.” And so it starts. Joseph Campbell

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough" by [Brown, Brené]
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You Are a Heroine: A Retelling of the Hero’s Journey by [Liller, Susanna]
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You Are a Heroine: A Retelling of the Hero’s Journey Kindle Edition

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