Category Archives: Health and wellness
When You Lack Focus and Direction: Stop Looking for Your “Thing”
“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” ~Francois Gautier
Isn’t it funny—and annoying, and brilliant—how often things turn out to be nothing like we thought they would?
Six years ago I was recovering from a breakdown and reacquainting myself with my long dormant artistic side, and I remember spending a lot of time wondering what my “thing” was.
You know, that one specific thing in this life that I was destined to do to be fulfilled, and ideally from which I would earn a comfortable living.
I had always loved creativity, and particularly art, and had always wanted that to be my thing; I would be an artist, sell my work, and live comfortably on the proceeds.
There were a couple of problems with my plan, however. One was my upbringing, which told me that art was unrealistic as a way to make a living. As a result, I had done all sorts of things that were nothing to do with my original dream, many of which I hated (hence that final breakdown).
That mindset is not at all unusual in Western culture and is something many of us have to move beyond, but there was something else too.
I could not seem to pin down my love of art and creativity to one single focus. I experimented endlessly, on my own and in classes, with everything from acrylics to oils, from printing to sculpture.
And still I kept thinking, how will I ever know which is my thing? What’s the one thing I’ll be really good at and so endlessly enthused by that I won’t continue this constant dabbling?
How will I ever be a credible artist if I paint in a different style every time I put brush to canvas? How will I ever fulfill my dream of making a living doing what I love when I seem so scattered and unfocused?
Since no clear answer was forthcoming at that point, I just kept going.
Sometimes I envied those who seemed to be born already knowing what their thing was, like my friend who always knew she’d be a vet. I thought they must have or know something I didn’t. That perhaps there was something wrong with me for being so fickle and apparently unable to settle on just one thing.
But as it turns out, that seemingly flighty, unfocused, shallow dabbling was an essential part of the story, and not at all the waste of time I feared.
I learned two key things about what I’ve come to see as the “myth of the thing.”
- There is what you are passionate and curious about and would do for free (and often do), and
- There are all the ways in which that comes through you.
You are like a prism, full of your own unique mix of colors that join together to radiate a single beam—you.
In my experience, it’s unhelpful and limiting to assume that you’ll whittle it down to a single thing or work it out with your mind. After all, your mind has no real knowledge of your heart.
Your “thing that is not a thing” is already there inside you, but without taking action over and over from a place of curiosity and passion, you won’t give your personal and utterly unique filter a chance to make itself known.
I’ll always be insatiably curious and I think that’s a fantastic trait to have, not a handicap. Today, I love to paint, draw, write, bake, tend my plants, make things, research, gather and share information, read books and blogs, spend time at the beach, explore spirituality, travel, and learn whatever I can about whatever catches my magpie eye.
You might think I’m still dabbling. But all those things feed and become my thing that is not a thing.
So what is my “thing”? It’s being what I can’t help being. It’s being curious and creative; it’s exploring, playing, demonstrating and sharing what I learn through the filter of art and creativity; it’s helping, supporting, and encouraging people to find their own unique ways to express themselves creatively.
It’s doing what I’d do anyway and letting it evolve into something that feeds both me and others, and yes, it’s even starting to bring in an income. I am an artist, only in many more ways than the single one I envisaged.
My magpie eye isn’t hindering me from finding my thing; it’s part of how my thing manifests. That realization has changed everything, and my life is infinitely richer for it.
Without it, I would not have tried or learned so many things. I would not now have both a wealth of techniques and experiences and ideas to share, nor the understanding and empathy that comes with having trodden the messy meandering path myself. Both of those important factors unexpectedly became part of my work now.
While there are many things we all know to do to help us find out who we really are and what we’re here to do, like journaling or meditation, I have found the following also helpful in my quest.
It takes time, so give it time.
I know that’s hard, especially if you feel stuck in an unfulfilling job or other restricting life situation. Patience and perseverance will stand you in good stead, so do what it takes to cultivate them. (I suggest a spiritual or energy practice.)
Widen your view.
Your “thing” won’t only show up in the obvious places. My creativity doesn’t just appear in the studio; it’s in how I put a meal together, how I arrange my desk, how I use my day, right down to the tiny moments.
Listen to intuitive nudges.
Have you developed an unexpected interest in historical fiction? Head to the library. Do you have a sudden urge to grow something? Visit the garden center.
Not only might you find what you think you’re looking for, you also increase the chances of discovering something new that contributes to your clarity or brings a new opportunity.
Think of a task you do regularly that you find mundane.
Ask yourself, what could I change about how I approach this to make it fun or interesting? How can I apply my unique way of seeing the world here? It could be a mindset change, an intention or affirmation, or it could be the actual physical way you perform the task.
I have a system for folding my laundry that allows my mind to roam freely for a few minutes; that inner roaming brings in new ideas and insights. Thus laundry becomes not something that wastes my precious time but something that enhances it and brings me more into who I am.
Stop looking for that elusive “thing.” Start living your life in all the ways that are exciting and interesting to you, right down to the tiny daily details. Explore, create, discover, absorb.
With some thought and imagination you can do this within your current job, with your children, when you’re doing daily tasks. It doesn’t have to be grand and time-consuming.
And then you will find that your thing is simply who you can’t help being. The more of your unique inner rainbow you reveal, the more it will become clear who you are and what you are here to do. Just be prepared for it to look a little different—and a lot more beautiful—than you thought.
Lost traveler image via Shutterstock
Smudge sticks are tightly bound bundles of dried woody, resinous herbs, that are slowly burned as a way to purify and cleanse the air. While the roots of burning a smudge stick, or smudging, is in North American Native purification rites and ceremony, they can be used by anyone to bring the woody smell of the outdoors inside.
If you have a garden, chances are good that you have enough ingredients to make at least one smudge stick. The traditional and most popular herbs used in smudging ceremonies are white sage (Salvia apiana), Cedar (Thuja), Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata), sagebrush (Artemisia californica), and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). However, in my travels I have noticed that the smudging sticks available vary by region and there seems to be a lot of opportunity to branch out (so to speak) with other woody, resinous herbs including, but not limited to:
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), lavender, yarrow, juniper, pine, mullein (Verbascum thapsus), rosemary, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), mint (Mentha), Bee Balm (Monarda), and catnip (Nepeta cataria) to name a few.
On Growing White Sage in a Cold Climate: The other day I harvested a large white sage (Salvia apiana) plant that I have been growing in my garden’s sandy, dry bed. This plant is on the cusp of hardy in my area (I am in zone 5-5bish and its hardiness begins at zone 6), but this year I decided to free it from life in a pot to see how it did in the ground. Unlike the specimens I saw growing wild in Northern Mexico, my plant grew gigantic leaves, most likely the result of the wet season we’ve had. Still, it has a very strong, medicinal odour typical of the plant. I’ve left enough in that soil that should we have a mild winter, it just might live through to the next season.
When Choosing and Harvesting Herbs: Please be careful as some herbs — even the culinary types — don’t lend themselves well to burning and can be toxic or set off dangerous allergic or asthmatic reactions in some people. I have often seen common garden sage (Salvia officinalis) used to make smudges. Years ago I tried to burn some and did not like the smell. I have since read that this is not a safe herb to burn despite its safety in a host of other applications. When in doubt, burn a very small amount outdoors, in order to test the smell and indicate whether you might have a problem with a particular herb. I also have a dangerously strong negative reaction to yarrow, so again, please use caution with this herb.
Harvest herbs on a sunny and dry day. Moist herbs will grow mouldy inside the bundle where there is very little air. Pick herbs on the day you plan to use them; resinous herbs tend to dry very quickly and are nearly impossible to wrap tightly once dry. A final note that when harvesting from the wild please leave enough plant behind that it may live on happily and healthfully. Use a sharp knife or clippers to cut stems and never dig up the root.
Choosing String: Remember that anything you use to bind the bundle will eventually burn so it is advisable to stick with natural materials that will not give off a toxic fume or compete with the smudge smells. I try to use as little string as possible to avoid creating a strong burning string smell. I suggest using thin, organic cotton string when you can. Embroidery floss separated into 4 threads (they typically come as 6 threads) is strong enough. Use a single color of string or experiment by mixing colors. I like using a simple color to bind and a subtle colour that compliments the foliage to make the handle. Red is a common colour for ceremonial usage, which is why you will see many commercially sold bundles bound with it.
How to Bind an Herbal Smudge Stick
The key to making a successful smudge stick is in binding tightly. I liken it to cigar making in that a tight bundle of leaves burns more slowly. I also find that the plant materials shrink as they dry and a loosely tied bundle is more likely to lose bits and pieces along the way or fall apart completely. With that in mind, grasp plants firmly and give the string a tight yank each time you turn or tie.
- Step 1. Clip herbs into similarly sized lengths. Don’t skimp out — thick bundles smoulder slowly and are better looking. Pluck off any diseased or ugly leaves. Arrange the stems into a bundle and tie a tight knot around the stem end to secure. Wrap the string around the stems a few more times and then tie another knot to secure.
- Step 2. Grasp the bundle with one hand and begin winding the string on an angle up to the tip of the bundle. Try to use as little string as possible and pull tightly as you go. I find that large-leaved herbs don’t need much binding, while very thin leaved herbs, especially conifers require more winding to prevent the leaves from falling out. You can leave the foliage loose at the end or fold under to keep everything tight.
- Step 3. Turn the bundle around and begin winding down back to the start, creating a criss cross pattern overtop the first strings.
- Step 4. You can choose now to either go back up and down again, retracing the path you took with another layer of string, or you can bind off and complete. I find that the pass tends to create a tighter bundle and is a good way to pull in and secure any pieces that got away the first time around. Wind plenty of string around the base of the bundle to create a handle. You can use as much string as you want here since this part will not burn. Tie off and clip any loose strings to create a neat and finished look.
- Step 5. Set the bundles aside somewhere dry and dark where there is good air circulation. You can hang them using thin wires or Holiday tree ornament hooks wedged underneath the handles. You can also lay them out flat to dry, but here I suggest setting them on top of a screen or very loosely woven basket that is raised up off of any solid surfaces so that air can flow underneath and around the bundles.
Wait until your bundles are completely dry (this usually takes a few weeks at least) before burning them.
How to Use a Smudge Stick
Holding the “handle” of your smudge stick, light the end (a candle works best), being careful to avoid flyaway ends and falling embers or particularly combustable herbs. Hold the burning end over a clay bowl, ashtray, or other non-flammable container at all times. Allow the stick to burn for a few seconds and when it seems like it is going, carefully, gently blow or wave it to put out the flame. Allow the stick to smoulder for a few minutes; never leave its attendance. To extinguish, smother or crush the smouldering end until it goes out. Try to avoid using this water as this can ruin the stick for further use.
Include directions for use if you plan on giving bundles away as gifts,
Life is full of flowing energy. Energy flows like a river between all people and all things. It creates change. It is our soul’s life-blood.
But as you know, if a blood vessel is choked, a blockage is created and the whole system cannot function.
Our energy is the same way; it can also become blocked.
When a situation in our life is not allowing our energy to flow, our energy becomes stifled and can even create physical distress in our bodies.
Our bodies are deeply intertwined with our energetic body, our soul.
How Blockages Manifest in the Human Body
Energetic blockages can manifest as illness. Of course, there are very real, physical, scientific reasons for illness. Things of this world can never be IN this world without following natural, scientific laws.
However, the physical world and the physical body mirror the energetic world and the energetic body.
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I once head that if the Dali Lama doesn’t meditate he becomes an angry bear. He is quoted as saying that he meditated an hour everyday, unless he is busy, then he meditates for two hours. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m sure with his busy scheduled he has to find ways to stay grounded…
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Many professionals in restaurants and eateries are using or consuming the entire lemon and nothing is wasted. How can you use the whole lemon without waste?
Simple.. place the washed lemon in the freezer section of your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your foods.
Sprinkle it to your vegetable salad, ice cream, soup, cereals, noodles,
spaghetti sauce, rice, sushi, fish dishes, whisky…. the list is endless.
All of the foods will unexpectedly have a wonderful taste, something that you may have never tasted before. Most likely, you only think of lemon juice and vitamin C. Not anymore.
Now that you’ve learned this lemon secret, you can use lemon even in instant cup noodles.
What’s the major advantage of using the whole lemon other than preventing waste and adding new taste…
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What a powerful, much needed idea! Thank-you!
RELEASING NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS
During energy healing therapy I reached down to my feet (you can do this either with your physical hands or visualize yourself doing that), and pulled out and rolled up my beliefs about my mother, like rolling up a suit of clothes from my feet up toward my head. I pulled her image out of my cells, organs, glands, everywhere. I moved all the way up my body, slowly, concentrating on feeling where my negative perception of my mother was in my body and the discomfort of that, and pulling that out. Then when I got to the top of my head I pulled her all the way out and released her into the light and forgave her by saying “I release you to your wholeness. I forgive you. I forgive myself. I give you permission to forgive me. I give you permission to forgive…
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I’ve ended an association and a deep lesson this week, and want to take a moment to mark the occasion. I’ve been processing a very interesting type of person lately. At first I thought it was all outside myself but as I’ve meditated on it I can feel it has more to do with me (and what I am asking to understand) than this person and what they are presenting.
What is clear is that it’s important to not feed the story. Today, I’m sitting with a lesson from The Course in Miracles. “There is nothing wrong with this world, the world isn’t real.”
Sometimes I forget my belief systems and need to refocus and the truth. It’s slippery business working through human relationships in authentic and pure ways. I think the best lesson out of this for me is that sometimes the best thing we can do for another…
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