Blurry Vision

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I woke up this morning, and my eyes were burning as I tried to write in my journal. My first thought was that I need to get more sleep. My second thought was to put my allergy eye drops in like I always do so I can wear my contacts later.

A creature of routine, I reached for my glasses on my end table, but they weren’t there. First sign that something was up with my morning. They were still in my eyeglass case in the bathroom drawer. No biggie. I put them on, and my world got even blurrier. I took them off. Blinked. Put them back on. Nope. Can’t see a thing.

I noticed my contact case. Could it be? Yes. It was empty. I looked in the mirror and slowly peeled my contacts off my dry and irritated eyes. No wonder I couldn’t see! I slept with my contacts in!

I cannot remember when I had last done that! It quickly reminded me of another time I couldn’t see. My husband and I both wear contacts. One morning I complained that I couldn’t see out of my blasted contacts. It’s a normal complaint, because contacts have always been uncomfortable for me. I dislike glasses even more (that is a story for Family History prompt), so I only wear them when I absolutely have to.

Luke, who never complains about his contacts, couldn’t see either. We went on about our day completely bewildered and hoping our vision would clear. Of course it was Luke who had the Eureka moment and asked if I put his contacts in my eyes! We took them out and put in our new ones. Lo and behold, we could see! Needless to say we now make sure our contact cases are a different color!

Yes, I could prompt you to write about times in your life when you didn’t see a situation clearly and invite you to use this story as a metaphor.

Personally I like the goofy story. Write about a time when you and a friend, partner, sibling, etc mixed something up and had a good laugh about it. Or you couldn’t find your phone and realized it was at your ear as you spoke to your friend about not knowing where your phone was!

Can’t make this stuff up! That’s why it’s priceless! So write it down!

Are you Listening?

Girl listening with her hand on an ear

Last night I had a dream that I was in a training. Everyone was sharing their journal entries after some very serious self-inquiry. My friend was sharing her entry with me, but there were so many distractions around me that I didn’t listen to what she had to say. It was obvious from her face that she was waiting for my reaction, and I felt bad that I hadn’t fully concentrated on her words as they meant so much to her.

Yes, it was a dream, but there have been many times in my life that this happened to me. Someone was talking to me, and I would wait for them to take a breath so I could get my opinion in. Or I’m on the phone with someone, but I also click through Facebook. I’m introduced to someone at an event, and I’m actually listening to the music, so I don’t remember their name. The worst was when my son, Stephen, brought it to my attention that I tuned him out when he spoke about his video games. Yes it was hard for me to understand some of what he was talking about, but it was important to him.

It’s hard to admit, but by doing so I became present to the fact that if I truly care about what people say to me, then I need to listen with my whole body, mind, and spirit. Of course it depends on the situation. A friend and I may be shooting the breeze and just gabbing to pass the time. We may be talking while walking or paddle boarding, so the multi-tasking is appropriate. However, when someone else’s body language is serious, tense, or upset, I now tune out the world and focus completely on them.

The alternative is like my dream. She feels bad that I didn’t hear her, and I feel bad that I didn’t take the time to listen. Journaling is about being honest. And being honest about when you aren’t completely authentic is tough to do. I don’t want to regret not taking the time to fully absorb what someone trusts enough to tell me. I want to be there 100%. Now I know that I’m listening.

Have there been times in your life that you tune out or don’t give someone 100% of your attention and it caused tension or upset them? Do you remember a time when you didn’t feel listened to? Write about how you can fully listen the next time you speak to this person or let them know that you need their full attention.

Settle in Sundays

Camp Cammarata

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Most of the gang celebrating Justin’s bday

It all started when the boys were little and their cousins stayed on the weekend, during school break or over the summer. I have always loved having lots of kids around and wanted to build that strong bond amongst the cousins. As the children of my siblings, my nieces and nephews are extensions of a beautiful family that I cherish.

I remember my twin nephews, Alex and Anthony, staying over when Nick was about 1. They were all so little and excited about the sleepover. I think my sister was more nervous than excited, but they survived, we tried to do it at least a couple times a year.

As more kids were born (11 in all amongst my family, my two sisters, and my brother), the sleepovers grew and turned into Camp Cammarata. It included everyone sleeping in the living room or basement, going to the town pool to swim, and taking walks in the woods with the dogs.

After Nick passed, these sleepovers lasted for a few days and was a constant solace to Stephen who missed his sibling. I think it was also a balm to his cousins, who felt the loss deep in their hearts, as we were always a very close family.

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Connections bonded by love

I hope that the memories created during these visits and sleepovers are as deeply felt by my son, nieces and nephews. Taking the time to be with those you love, especially when they get older and move away is paramount to keeping a tight family even tighter.

I miss the years when our kids played together with love and joy. Well they played nicely most of the time. As much as they played together, they fought too!

Camp Cammarata will always be here for anyone who wants to come and stay! Full breakfast included!

What are some summer or annual traditions that you have with your family, whether siblings, cousins, or children? How can  you create strong bonds among extended family or within your family as children grow up and move away? What feeling do you want to create with your loved ones–commitment, love, togetherness, honesty, openness, fun? You are the catalyst.

Who Do you Love?

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We are busy. We get wrapped up in our daily lives and engulfed in our jobs. Days, weeks, and months go by before we realize that we haven’t connected with the special people in our lives. Those people who make us better, who make us smile, who are the reason we get up in the morning.

Sadly we often lose those we love and don’t tell them how we feel while they were here. Or maybe we did, but miss being able to do that.

I have often written letters to my son and my dad after they passed, because there was so much I wanted to say. And I tell those I care about how much I love them and how important they are to me. Do I say it enough? I hope so.

Today, let those you love know how much they mean to you. If there is someone who passed away, you can always tell them how you feel and they will hear. Or write a letter in your journal about a memory you have of them, how much you love them or how they impacted your life. It’s a connection and a memory that will always live on.

Down Time

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Alysia’s cat Sonya taking some downtime. Photo by Alysia Thomas

If you’re like me you push yourself to fill your days with work, exercise, getting a decent meal in, seeing friends, and trying every which way to get ahead. We live in a world where busy is better and even if it’s social media busy, at least we don’t appear to be wasting time.

I believe I fill many hours with useful endeavors, but I can waste a lot of time searching through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’ll push myself to cross off those items on my list and try to be everything to everyone. Even if we are doing good work, eventually our bodies say enough is enough.

Then I crash. Yes, I’m in my crash phase as I have been sick since Tuesday night and now have an upper respiratory infection. And see! Instead of going to bed, I have to make sure I get my daily journal prompt out!

Getting sick forces us to completely erase all the appointments on my calendar. Sadly that meant canceling my workshop tonight, but that’s why I’m giving everyone something to write about.

When our bodies break down, it forces us to reevaluate what we are doing with our lives. Sometimes you just get sick, because it’s winter and germs are abundant. But sometimes it’s because we have too much on our plate, and we don’t know how to slow down. Mine is probably a mixture of both. So for the next couple days, I’m going to rest, but also am going to write about the priorities in my life and what is filling space. And instead of filling that space with useless chitter chatter or negative propaganda, I’m going to create some down time where I can journal, read, or just enjoy the world around me.

Now it’s your turn. What are your priorities? When you get sick, what is the first thing off your list? Where do you slow down? What do you find doesn’t really feel all that important anymore?

Can you eliminate these non-priorities while you are feeling healthy? Can you allow some down time in your life to just enjoy where you are? What would that down time look like?

As I take the time to let my body heal, I hope you will enjoy some down time and write about it.

What you Manifest

 

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

I told the adults in my journal writing workshop last week that one of my favorite books is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I actually listened to the book and loved the dog, Enzo’s voice. I always say that books can purely entertain, but when they are most needed, they can transform.

I found this book the year after I lost Nick. The main character, Denny, suffers loss and is drowning in his grief. I had adopted my dog, Zoey, who found and saved me, so I could relate to Enzo trying to save Denny.

But what transformed me was Enzo’s mantra: “That which you manifest is before you.”

If I wanted to live a full life in the midst of my grief, I had to create it. I had to do the work. “It’s not easy being green,” my dad used to say. And it sure ain’t easy being sad, lost, heartbroken, devastated, and uncertain about life. This path I have been placed on has been treacherous, rocky, happy, crazy, and life-changing, but I have followed it.

This year I am manifesting my passion–writing and bring the art of writing to anyone who wants to manifest it. I was worried about having enough experiences to write about in my daily prompts and bringing all sorts of journaling workshops into the community. I didn’t need to worry, because I have come from a place of joy, wonder, and selflessness. I want to manifest hope, and I do that through writing and teaching.

My other creation for 2017 is publishing my middle grade novel called The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs in October. During 2016, I tweaked it, but it wasn’t until I committed to publishing it through my company that it became real. By focusing on that goal, that dream, the people I needed to help me accomplish this have crossed my path. I see my vision. I see good people who need hope to get them through the hard times, so they can bloom and manifest their dreams.

What do you want to manifest? What is your focus this year, the next six months, a month from now, or tomorrow?

Write the details, see it as a manifestation, not a wish. Create an action plan and stick to it. It’s all before you if you do the work.

The Dogs Ruined my Meditation!

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Yes I know. Quite adorable Zoey and Dakota

I sat in my library where I usually do my meditation. The dogs like to be in there, and it’s better than them banging on the door to be let in. They will calmly sit at my feet. This morning they kept barking at our neighbor’s dog as they walked by, they chomped loudly on a bone, and basically were a nuisance. I got mad and said, “You are ruining my meditation!” What did they do? Went back to barking and chewing.

That got me to pause. My dogs weren’t ruining anything. They were being dogs. By barking at Bindi walking by, they could be protecting their space and me. Or they could be saying, “Let’s play together!” Chewing on their bone is part of their daily routine, and I’m sure satisfies some craving.

They didn’t ruin my meditation. I let outside forces affect my inner calm. It’s easy to be calm and centered when life appears that way. But when the dogs of life let loose or those black clouds appear, all the yoga, meditation, and calming techniques can blow up in your face if they aren’t practiced daily.

I wondered about one technique that I could do before I got upset or overwhelmed and would help me get centered. In meditation one cue is to always reconnect to a part of your body that is touching something–your feet on the floor, your back to the chair or your fingertips touching. I usually connect with my fingertips touching and feel the energy in my palms. This simple act brings me back to the present moment and allows me to pause before reacting. I could have done that this morning and realize that yes the dogs are being loud, but I can choose how I react.

I’m going to try this during my day when stressors and emotions get the best of me. It takes a conscious effort, and about 21 days to create a habit. If the black clouds in life get the best of me, then I will take a deep breath and start over again.

What stressors or crises do you currently have in your life? Write them down and why they are stressing you. What is a simple technique that you can incorporate into your daily routine to pull you out of the downward spiral of emotional stress? For example, keeping a stone in your pocket and rubbing it; carrying worry, mala or rosary beads that can be held or counted. Rubbing your hands together to create heat and a connection to you. It can be anything that immediately places you in your body.

Try it out and let me know what works for you.

Being With What Is

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I will be the first person to admit that I am a control freak. Not so much that everything has to be in its place (just ask my husband), but more like I need to be involved in anything going on around me. I need to keep striving to improve, fix, and adjust. That’s fine to an extent, but when you wear as many hats as I do, you have to let others take the reins on how something should be done.

When I first began yoga two years ago this month, I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t do many of the poses. I was very inflexible, and the strength I had developed from other forms of fitness didn’t always serve me on the mat. I have always been very competitive and hard on my body.

Yoga exercised my mind and spirit as much as it exercised my body. Eventually I understood two concepts. One, if I stayed in the moment (the pose), I was more aware of what was happening in my body. I relaxed, because I didn’t dwell on what had to be done at home, at work, with my writing, or with my family. I didn’t think. I enjoyed or sweat through the pose I was in.

Two, I accepted what is, which translates to accepting myself. If I fall out of a balancing pose over and over again, it’s all right. I take a deep breath, often laugh, and move on to the next pose or keep trying. When the last pose is done, I go on to the current pose. I don’t think about what comes after, but revel in the joy of being in the moment, of being with what is. Being in the moment and with what is gives me a sense of freedom to explore and releases that need for control all the time.

It can be difficult to do, especially if you are dealing with health issues, loss, or any crisis that bombards your mind. But by being with what is right now, you can live in the present moment and not worry about tomorrow. You can enjoy now.

What can you move aside or let go of, so you can be in this very moment with what is? This may be releasing your expectations of what your body should look like, how your health use to be, or what your life was like. Write about where you are at this very moment only.  Write about how this feels to you.

 

Settle in Sundays

Family traditions take all forms. Some are passed down generations to generations, while others are newer based on changing times and situations. Some are formed through tragedy, but deepened by love.

Last night was one of those newer traditions with A Purple Tie Affair. My niece, Marisa, has been involved in this event with me for the last few years. Her mom, my sister Michele, also attended and helped throughout the evening. Organizing and volunteering for this event year after year becomes a healing balm that lets us honor those who are fighting cancer and remember my son, Nick, who lost his battle. My hope is that this tradition builds unity across a community, as well as spreads love, strength, and joy within my family. Through tradition, we can raise awareness.

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Tradition comes in all forms. They can be started by anyone and be as simple as getting coffee once a week with a friend or as complex as an annual scavenger hunt on Easter Sunday. It can be finding a beautiful way to remember those you love.

What new tradition will you form with your family or friends?

 

Step back Saturday

tractor-trailer

Looking back at my week, I actually accomplished a lot, managed to walk my dogs, and got some exercise in. I’ve been focusing on meditating every day, so all in all I felt positive. Yet last night when I went to bed, I felt anxious and out of sorts. I physically didn’t feel well, and I know that my emotions or some underlying issue affects my body.

I went to bed with this intention: What do I need to see? I had just seen this intention from Robert Moss’ blog (great one to follow on dreams) and it made sense to ask this specific question instead of getting deluged with too much insight. This was my dream:

What I Don’t Need Dream

I volunteered to drive a tractor trailer somewhere. I also told a dad that I would drive his son home after the soccer practice that my husband coaches. He didn’t ask anyone to drive his son, I just volunteered.

Then when I was leaving to go to the tractor trailer, I saw the kid’s mom and his sister in a cast. I was going to ask her to just go pick up her son, but I felt bad about his sister. She yells telling me to make sure I didn’t forget. No thank you or I’ll just get my kid. Then I realize that they live all the way in downtown Albany. I feel trapped.

I’m driving the tractor trailer and am pretty amazed that I can do this. I’m almost to my destination when I take a turn too sharply and the trailer flips onto its side. I get out and my phone rings. Some friend of the family wants to know why I haven’t picked up the kid yet. I explain my situation and say that they will have to handle it. I feel bad, but relieved. I turn around and the tractor trailer is gone.

Feeling: Totally trapped. Snowball effect of saying yes.

Reality check: Except for the fact that my husband coaches a soccer team, everything was extreme, which is common in dreams. If the dream was fairly normal like something I would do, then I may not have paid attention. The fact that I was driving a tractor trailer, which I have never or probably wouldn’t ever do was a big message for me.

The question that of what I needed to see turned into my asking, What Don’t I Need?

I don’t need to get involved with anything that has absolutely nothing to do with me. I don’t need to fix the world; I only need to work on me, take care of myself, and from that positive place, I naturally help those who need it. I’m not talking about family and friends where we want to help each other and that is what we do.

I’m talking about filling the space so that I don’t have any time to reflect or do what I’m called to do–write. I also didn’t take enough time to do yoga. It’s important to me and by stepping back and looking at my past week, I see the pattern of stepping in where I don’t need to.

Why do I do this? Well that’s a totally different journal entry. What I was meant to see is that I need to make space for writing and that is what I will do.

Catch Phrase to remember what I needed to see: CUT IT OUT!

What do you need to cut out of your life that doesn’t serve you or is stopping you from fulfilling your purpose? If you aren’t sure, write the intention “What do I need to see” in your journal and keep open to the answers. In addition write “What I don’t need.”